ttrentham

Sep 282021
 

Oh, our governor. I saw this in the news and now there’s some behind the scenes reporting from Politico. This really is a sign of the disproportionate influence of a former President on his party and the state and local governments. He has no authority to call for an audit and yet, the state scrambles for one where he won by 600k votes and there are no signs of issues with the election. This can’t be interpreted as anything other than an attempt to undermine free and fair elections in the United States.

I hope this new MAGA group (clever re-appropriation of the acronym that I learned about via a neighbor’s yard sign) achieves its stated goals and we kick this sorry excuse for a governor out of office. He’s turned Texas into a hellscape that I never dreamed possible despite the many years of Republican leadership.

 Posted by on September 28, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Sep 012021
 

Watched Malice at the Palace, part of the Untold documentary series on Netflix last night. I remember the media and David Stern jumped on the players but the fans were to blame along with the lack of police and security especially for what everyone knew would be a hotly contested game. It’s true that the players should never go into the stands. It’s just not worth it. The fans were charged but they ultimately got off easy. Their behavior was truly despicable.

Feel bad for all of the Pacers. Metta World Peace was clearly a troubled guy who was trying to deal with his mental health issues. You can see he does feel bad for the outcome. Jermaine O’Neal’s career was pretty much ruined and Reggie Miller lost his last real chance at getting a ring. I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to the NBA in 2004 so I never realized that it had such a broad reaching effect.

 Posted by on September 1, 2021 at 5:19 pm
Jul 302021
 

From VoteAmerica:

We have officially hit more than 460 anti-voter bills this year. This really is an astounding milestone. The onslaught of anti-voter attacks is the most intense and direct threat to voting rights we have seen since the days of Jim Crow.

Many of the most recent bills that have been introduced are coming out of Texas, which as I’ve said before is one of the most egregious perpetrators of voter suppression. So far during their special legislative session, 18 anti-voter bills have been introduced. Here are the stats on these bills:

– 13 bills have passed out of committee and are waiting on a full chamber (House or Senate) vote

– 5 bills are waiting for a vote in committee

– Note: Many of these bills can’t move forward after the walkout by members of the House which broke the quorum they need to pass legislation

If you go back and re-read some of my past emails, you’ll notice I mention Texas quite frequently. I’m tracking Texas so closely because their legislature has introduced a grand total of 85 anti-voter bills this year. That’s 18% of the bills I’ve been tracking. No other state comes close to this incredibly aggressive number of bills (the next nearest state is Arizona with 31 introduced anti-voter bills).

And then there is Indiana where voting rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a law that purged voters’ registrations without providing adequate written confirmation and notice procedures. Voter registration purges are one of the most common ways states disenfranchise voters.

 Posted by on July 30, 2021 at 10:33 am
Jul 282021
 

I had a friend post recently that the cottage that they had lived in on Elizabeth Street between South Congress and South First when they first met and had their first child had been demolished. It’s a pretty consistent story particularly in South Central Austin where housing used to be cheap in the 80s and early 90s but is now astronomically expensive. We also started talking about the changes on South Congress in the comments.

The timing is interesting as it coincides with the release of Liz Lambert’s documentary about her role in transforming the San Jose on South Congress in the late 90s (which I still need to see). The two are obviously related. I have many of my own stories as I’m sure anyone who has lived here for 30 years or more does too. I’m not going for one of those cranky posts where I claim that it was all better before. I’m happy with some of the changes. I’m not happy with others. I’m not the same person or in the same life situation now as in 1991 , 2001 or 2011. I was here in all of those years though so it lends some perspective that someone who moved here in the past couple of years will not have. I’m tempted to just throw out a list of things that only people who have lived here over that time will or will not remember.

  • South Lamar
    • Maudies was a Pizza Hut (look at the architecture. It’s obvious once you know)
    • The shopping center just up the road where Alamo Drafthouse is now was once a massive parking lot with strip mall that contained a moderately sized grocery store, a music store and a few other small local businesses
    • Horseshoe Lounge anyone?
    • Trudy’s South with the crazy bar smoking area in the middle.
    • Pinthouse S Lamar in the same shopping center as Trudy’s South was a Chili’s, people.
  • South Congress
    • Amy’s Ice Cream was the first Schlotzsky’s
    • Future Protocol / SpyCloud was a porn theater called Cinema West. Prior to that it had apparently been a reputable theater that started in the 1930s called the Austin Theatre where Stanley and Livingstone was the first feature. Cinema West shut down sometime in the late 90s. Here’s the ABJ story about it becoming Future Protocol in April 2000

I wrote this back in April and left it as a draft. Fast forward to now and there’s an article about Liz in Texas Monthly. There’s also an article about Slacker 30 years later which links a related Statesman story about the changes to Austin since that heavily sources a survey that my former boss (not direct but the Founder/CEO of the company that was my first “real job” in Austin), Peter Zandan has conducted for many years. Both of the articles bring up other long gone Austin spots from the 80s like the original Quacks on The Drag, Les Amis which ironically became a Starbucks and then Mad Dog & Beans. Sadly, Fricano’s, the deli that went up roughly in the same area also has gone away. So I guess now I’ve been here long enough / am old enough to reminisce about multiple generations of changes to local Austin businesses. We also now have lost the original Alamo on Colorado and the Ritz downtown location. At least the Village location is reopening. Now get off my lawn.

 Posted by on July 28, 2021 at 8:08 am
Nov 032020
 

This was also sitting my drafts folder since 2007. I intended to document the entire trip only ever made it this far. I’m publishing it as is.

We just got back from a ten day road trip to Montana and back. My second cousin’s wedding in Big Sky, Montana was the excuse for the trip. It was by far our longest road trip as a family and it actually went pretty well. Until this trip, I was the only one of the four of us who had slept in a tent. We opted to stay at KOAs for several of the nights to save money. We bought a tent and some sleeping bags for a total of roughly $50.

Our first night was spent at a KOA in Salina, KS. We drove straight through from Austin to Salina, leaving at 7am on Wednesday and arriving at Salina in the evening. I got stopped in Fort Worth by a cop I passed. The Wife pointed him out, but I wasn’t paying enough attention. I had to play the repentant dad to the meathead cop to avoid a ticket. That was the only cop encounter of the trip, thankfully. We pretty much blew through Oklahoma with a rest stop for a picnic lunch. Dinner was in Newton, KS at the Dairy Queen. We couldn’t find much else by the time we got there.

I’d stayed at one KOA in high school, so I don’t have much experience with them. I’ve now learned that they vary wildly from location to location. Their own sites are somewhat informative, but I’m wondering if there’s a good site with ratings by travelers. Salina has tent sites right by the entrance to the camp, so we had cars passing us on and off through the night. I had no problems, but it kept The Wife up. Most KOAs are pretty close to the highway, so you’re not really out in the boonies camping. It’s just a cheap way to stay. They average $23 per night for a tent site, though some are more expensive. I’ll get to that later.

We left Salina, KS at 8am on Thursday, headed for the KOA at Douglas, Wy. We’d gotten reservations at Salina and Douglas beforehand. We barreled through KS and eastern CO without much more than rest stops. Our first spontaneous stop was in Fort Collins for a beer tasting at Fort Collins Brewery and Odell Brewing. We got the kids a growler of root beer at Fort Collins Brewery and brought back some samples. Odell Brewing was a little fancier, but I think I liked the beer at Fort Collins better. We skipped New Belgium Brewing. I hate Fat Tire.

We hit Douglas just as a storm was gathering in the mountains. It meant a windy night and a lot of lightning, but thankfully we escaped the rain.

 Posted by on November 3, 2020 at 4:46 pm
Nov 032020
 

Side note: this has been sitting in my Drafts folder since 2007 so I’m just posting it as is.

I just read this post over on The Disney Blog. Like many things over the past 10 months, it’s reminded me of my family’s trip to Disneyland in March. We only spent a couple of hours in the Grand Californian, but it was one of the most relaxing times of the trip. Whit captures the feeling of being there as an adult. It’s time to finally post a recap of our trip before I forget it all.

Before last March, I’d visited Disneyland once with my family in the summer of 1987. I’d also visited Disneyworld in March of 1982 with my mother, sister, and another family from school. My dad sat that one out.

We stayed at the Disneyland hotel or “on property” to use the proper lingo in the Bonita tower. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel means that you have to walk through Downtown Disney to get to the park entrance. We had breakfast with the characters in Goofy’s Kitchen. We ate dinner at Hooke’s Point. Also ate at House of Blues the first day. Ate at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Catal as well. In addition to having lunch at the Blue Bayou, Golden Horseshoe and Bengal Barbecue. We had brunch at Granville’s (which I think has since changed names to Steakhouse 55) on the last day with an excruciating van ride to the airport.

I was underwhelmed by Fantasmic and think we were just too wiped the night that we stayed for the parade and fireworks. The three-year-old balked at the Matterhorn and Snow White’s ride was too scary for her as well, but we got through it. I’m still partial to Space Mountain and Peter Pan, myself.

I think California Adventure gets a bad wrap. The food over there is certainly nothing of note. We ate lunch at the wharf / pier area one day and the only thing I remember was the microbrew stand where I was able to grab a welcome beer during all of the saccharin-y goodness. We did the princess dinner one night at Ariel’s Grotto, purely for my 3-year-old daughter. She loved it. The rest of us endured it. The two biggest thrill rides, in my opinion, are at California Adventure: Tower of Terror and California Screaming. I found the Redwood Creek challenge trail oddly relaxing. I was able to sit while my 7-year-old did the zip lines and treehouse. I was amazed that we got him on both Tower of Terror and California Screaming. He made repeat trips to the roller coaster, but once was enough for the Tower of Terror. The more recent movie tie-ins tend to fall short of the traditional rides. Monsters Inc. was impressive only for its set design and the Indiana Jones ride was also underwhelming. Unfortunately, the Haunted Mansion was closed while we were there, but at least we got to do Pirates of the Carribean before its revamp to coincide with the release of the movie. The Tiki Room was another pleasant respite from the heat and the crazy crowds. I agree wholeheartedly with Wil’s assessment during a visit the month before we went.

 Posted by on November 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm
Aug 052020
 

There was an article in the NY Times Magazine about Jon Stewart at the end of June to coincide with his new movie. I had starred the e-mail with it in Gmail to follow up and read it. I finally got around to doing that this morning. Great article if you’re a fan of his or watched The Daily Show. (Who remembers when Craig Kilborn hosted before him and did 5 Questions with a celebrity guest at the end?).

This was my favorite quote:

What is broken about Washington isn’t the bureaucracy. It’s legislators’ ability to address the issues inherent in any society — and the reason they can’t address them is that when you have a duopoly, there is no incentive to work together to create something better. Plus, you have one party whose premise is that government is bad and whose goal is to prove that, which makes them, in essence, a double agent. All these things coalesce to make problem-solving the antithesis of what we’ve created. We’re incentivized for more extreme candidates, for more extreme partisanship, for more conflict and permanent campaigning, for corporate interests to have more influence on the process, not less. The tax code isn’t complicated because poor people have demanded that it be that way.

 Posted by on August 5, 2020 at 11:13 am
Aug 052020
 

I’ve watched the first 8 episodes of the ESPN documentary that is ostensibly about the 1998 Chicago Bulls season, but uses that season to make multiple jumps to the past to follow threads for a while and then jump back into the “present” season. It has worked pretty well and even my 10 year old who is not the biggest sports fan has gotten into it enough to want to watch it with me.

I’ve never been too worried about bad language in front of him, but the “mature language” warning all over the documentary is warranted. Jordan lets loose quite a few f-bombs in every episode and some of the language / trash talking in the last couple of episodes is a bit cringe worthy in 2020.

We got season tickets to the Dallas Mavericks in 1983 and started going to the games pretty regularly though we split the season with two other families. We went pretty regularly and had seats behind the basket on the Mavericks bench side. I believe it was section 121 at Reunion Arena. The next year was the rookie year for Jordan and his fellow UNC classmate, Sam Perkins, who joined the Mavericks.

One of the highlights of having season tickets was getting to go to the 1986 NBA All Star game and getting to see All Star Saturday. Sadly, if you’ll recall, Jordan was injured his second season and he did not participate in either the dunk contest or the game. That’s the year that Spud Webb won, beating out Dominique Wilkins.

I was lucky enough to attend Dean Smith’s Carolina Basketball School in the summer of 1986 and the summer of 1987. Kenny Smith was still at UNC at the time (now part of the awesome TNT basketball crew) and I remember him working with us on drills. Michael Jordan also came that first summer and did a short clinic on the courts outside of Granville Towers, the dorms where we stayed during the camp. They then had a pickup game with current and former UNC students including Jordan and Kenny Smith. I had some crappy 110 film camera shots from it but I can’t seem to find them anymore.

The documentary is now on Netflix and it’s definitely worth a watch especially if you watched the NBA in the 80s and 90s as I did. It gives quite a bit of insight into Jordan.

 Posted by on August 5, 2020 at 11:04 am
Dec 242019
 

I got two e-mails from Texas politicians today. I’ve been on John Cornyn’s mailing list for many years. I like to keep tabs on my Senator even if I didn’t vote for him and I generally don’t agree with him. I never bothered to get on Ted Cruz’s list apparently. Digging through my Gmail account, I don’t have much from Kay Bailey Hutchison either. I’m also getting e-mails from Beto O’Rourke. They’re quite a contrast. O’Rourke’s is much more personal and less tone deaf than Cornyn’s.

Here’s O’Rourke’s

Here’s Cornyn’s

My favorite thing in Cornyn’s is the small print footer that’s included in most of his recent e-mails.

I’m not sure which staffer wrote it but they need a proofreader.

“help stop the dangerous policies being pedaled by the left to oppose our president and replace our conservative Texas values”.

It’s not in Oatmeal’s 10 words but it needs to be. The phrase is “peddled”, not “pedaled”. I’m not sure how you pedal policies, but I suppose you could peddle them. Lol. Google knows:

Double Lol. Also according to my Gmail account, that footer has been in 126 e-mails from Cornyn since March 12th of this year which is the first time it appeared. His campaign used O’Rourke as a fundraising tool for most of those e-mails, particularly at the beginning of this month when he dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary and it was rumored he might join the primary race to run against Cornyn with most of the subjects of those e-mails having “BETO WATCH” in the subject.

 Posted by on December 24, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Aug 302019
 

If you don’t already subscribe to Austin Kleon’s newsletter, you should. I first found him via a blog post for an Austin City Limits taping that I attended at the old studio. He almost always has at least one cool link or tidbit to share.

Today’s newsletter linked Stop Blaming ‘Jaws’ from Heather Havrilesky in 2013. I didn’t know that she wrote for NY Times Magazine. I recall liking several of her writings on Salon back in the early 2000s. The amusing part to me is that she pretty much wrote the script to 2018’s The Meg with that mock 2014 version of Jaws. I wonder if she’s asked for a cut of the royalties?

I’m not sure I completely agree with what she says in the article though. It’s true that the writing and directing in Jaws is far superior to any summer blockbuster (or most movies for that matter) made since. But that’s really true of the film industry in general. You can still say that Jaws caused the studios to chase the massive box office takes in the summer, maybe just not the subsequent decline in quality which probably happened for a number of reasons.

My go to example for this is Network. The writing and directing in that? So amazing. And it would never get made today. It’s on Netflix. If you’ve never seen it, you should go watch it right now.

 Posted by on August 30, 2019 at 12:35 pm