Oct 112004
 

We had a great night out this evening. We traded babysitting with some friends so that we could attend a screening of Stand By Me at Alamo Village with Wil Wheaton in attendance. It also turned out that M. and J. were hosting a letter writing party for MMOB just before the screening.

After dropping the kids off, we headed to the letter writing party. It was really good to see M., J., and Baldo again. We don’t hang out enough and need to do it more often. We didn’t stay long, but we got in there and did our part (I hope) to motivate some registered voters in Florida to do their vote thing and show Bush that he’s not wanted anymore.

Since we know how the Alamo can fill up, we arrived about 45 minutes early. It’s a good thing that we did. Not only did the screening sell out, but Bookpeople sold out of all of their copies of Just a Geek. If I’m not mistaken, some people have to wait until tomorrow or later this week to get their copy. Luckily, I already had mine from Amazon (thank you Amazon Visa Reward Points) and I brought my copy of Dancing Barefoot that Wil self-published last year.

In a tribute to the film, there was a pie eating contest beforehand. Three brave Austinites volunteered for the honor of shoving their faces in pies along with Alamo proprietor, Tim League. The contest lasted three minutes with the only female contestant emerging victorious. She had commented offhandedly that she’d like a kiss from Wil as a prize and he enthusiastically complied when she emerged the victor.

Wil gave a brief introduction to the film before it started and then we all sat back and watched the film. The print was pretty low quality. There were a lot of sound artifacts and it completely cut out for part of the scene where the boys confront the junkyard owner and Chopper. At the end of the film, Tim tried to cut the credits short to start Wil’s talk, but Wil proclaimed that he’s “kind of a dick about credits” and made us all watch them (understandably). Once the credits finished, he talked a little about how much the film means to him now and then opened it up for questions. Some of the questions were so common that he’s already answered them in his FAQ. He talked about re-shooting the scene where they finally find The Body and about a water park that was near the hotel where they stayed in Eugene, Oregon. He also touched on how much the film means to him after almost 20 years and how that meaning has changed over time. After the talk, he signed books in the lobby.

Of course, when it was my turn, I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say. You never seem to have enough time at these signings. Anyway, he noticed that I had one of the earlier copies of Dancing Barefoot and gave me a really sincere thanks for buying it. He pointed out that it was the response that he got for that book which allowed him to write Just A Geek and get the deal with O’Reilly. I asked him if he had gotten to see much of Austin and he told me that he felt like a 15-year-old (apropos for the screening) in that he spent all of Linucon at the hotel playing games. Here’s hoping that he can come back again and experience a little more of what Austin has to offer.

Tonight’s screening reminded me once again how cool this town is. The Wife and I stopped at Gingerman on the way home for a pint and we ran into K. J. who was planning a Dogtoberfest benefit this coming Sunday for Blue Dog Rescue. We’ll be there for sure.

 Posted by on October 11, 2004 at 6:33 am
Sep 282004
 

Ok, so I’m a little late with the second ACL post.

On Friday, we checked out Trout Fishing in America, Rebirth Brass Band, and Franz Ferdinand. Trout Fishing was great. This was our first time checking them out live since starting to listen to them a year or so ago. I’d heard about the height discrepancy between Keith and Ezra, but you have to see it to truly appreciate it. I highly recommend them, especially if you have kids. Big Trouble is a good album to start with. I haven’t got much to say about Rebirth Brass Band as much of their performance was spent dealing with a tantruming soon-to-be-two-year-old. I’m not a big fan of New Orleans Jazz, but I can say that their sound certainly carries. It was damn loud even though we were 20 feet back from the tent that housed the stage where they were performing. By the time Franz Ferdinand came on, The La had worn herself out from the tantrum and fallen asleep. However, she still managed to croak out “Push me, mama” whenever The Wife stopped pushing the stroller. The Wife bravely stayed in a less populated area of the park pushing her around while Andy, Rachel, Anne and I took the boy for a somewhat closer view. The Boy digs Franz Ferdinand’s Gang Of Four inspired single, “Take Me Out” and really got into the live performance of it. From what I could see of it, it wasn’t a bad show. We left before they finished.

Luckily, we got babysitting for Saturday night, so we could enjoy The Pixies. Anne went earlier in the day to hear Cat Power. I would’ve liked to have seen Old 97’s, but it didn’t happen. Anne, Rachel and I went at 5 and The Wife arrived at 7. We parked ourselves at a spot where we could see both the Cingular stage and the Bank of America stage. Modest Mouse had already started when we arrived. They were pretty good. As with most of the festival, I felt like I was really too far away to really get into any of the bands. I decided just to sit back in my collapsible lawn chair, have a few beers, talk, and enjoy being outside. Modest Mouse was followed by My Morning Jacket, Dashboard Confessional, and Neville Brothers. My Morning Jacket and Dashboard Confessional (DC) were underwhelming. DC seemed to have the bigger draw with The Kids. I found their singer’s voice annoying. The Wife arrived during their set and went off to see Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. I should’ve followed her, but was too lazy and stayed put. I was already familiar with The Neville Brothers from my Sound Warehouse days. They were fine, although still not my music of choice. The highlight of the evening was definitely The Pixies, despite the crappy sound which included several moments of feedback. They played a lot of stuff off of the older albums, “Bone Machine” and “Where Is My Mind?” among the highlights, and made me regret not having seen them in my high school/college days at a smaller venue.

Sunday was our longest day at the festival. Unfortunately, we missed Earl Harvin Trio, but arrived at 2pm to ensure that we got a good spot for The Roots. I’m a huge fan of Do You Want More?!!!??! and haven’t ever had the chance to see them live even though they seem to play Stubb’s every few months. I was unfamiliar with most of the material that they played and this particular performance seemed more rock than hip hop, so much so that they reminded me of Fishbone on more than one occasion. In the end, it was a great live show. I recommend going to see them if you haven’t had a chance, although I’d pick a time when the sun wasn’t baking me alive. Their show more than any of the others reinforced for me that the festival needs to be about a month later than it’s current date. After The Roots, we trudged across Zilker toward the Cingular stage for Elvis Costello. On the way, it became clear that we were going to have to seek shade for at least part of the afternoon if we were going to survive the rest of the day. We ended up at the H-E-Buddy Beach, which is usually sand volleyball courts, but were converted to an impromptu beach with umbrellas, plastic chairs and beach toys. It was supposed to be for families with kids and this rule was enforced by security until the sun finally went down. We made the beach our headquarters for the rest of the day, occasionally venturing out of the shade of the umbrellas to check out another stage. I listened to Elvis Costello, Spoon, and Pat Green from the beach. The sound was pretty bad for the bands unfortunate enough to be on the Cingular stage (Costello and Pat Green) and I really can’t stand Pat Green or any music of that genre, so I just closed my eyes and pretended I was on a beach but with crappy music. Some of our group went over to see Wilco at the other end of the park. It was obvious when Wilco finished as it seemed that every person from that end of the park walked past (and through) us on the way to Cake. I took the boy a little closer for a few of their songs. I really liked Fashion Nugget and Prolonging the Magic. I distinctly remember listening to Prolonging the Magic incessantly around the time The Boy was born and looking forward to singing “Sheep go to heaven ” with him. “I Will Survive” has to be one of the greatest covers ever recorded. Once again, I couldn’t really get into the show because I was so damn far away. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky?

The Verdict?

  • Too damn many people
  • Too damn hot
  • Too many KGSR-friendly bands. I need some more raunchy/hard rock.
  • Hudson’s On The Bend had the best food
  • The beer selection sucked ass. In retrospect, it’s probably because they were limited to those that come in a can. Glass was a no-no and I guess they didn’t want to mess with kegs.

The line-up next year will have to be as good or better than this year to get me to fork over $160 again and even then, I might have to be persuaded.

 Posted by on September 28, 2004 at 5:09 pm
Sep 202004
 

The reviews of this year’s ACL Festival are appearing on the blogs of various friends. I’ll have a more proper review with a picture or two up tonight along with some shots of the kids in the login required section of the site.

The common complaint this year seems to be that there were just too many people. One side effect of the number of people, estimated at about 70,000 each day of the three day festival, was that it was virtually impossible to call another person at the festival via cell phone. I tried several times only to get a busy signal or a voice mail message that was never delivered. Frustrated that I couldn’t contact friends to meet up at a particular location, I switched to text or SMS messaging and discovered what thousands of japanese schoolgirls already know. Text messaging is fairly easy with a T9 phone and pretty damn reliable. I was able to text back and forth and meet up with R. several times throughout the weekend. People in the U.S. don’t seem to have gotten the hang of this feature that’s generally included with most phones and phone plans these days. So, my message to the ACL 2005 Festival-goers: Text, baby! Text!

Of course, I did run into some problems of my own. The Wife supposedly has text messaging enabled for her phone, but she wasn’t able to send at the festival and I tested sending messages from her phone to mine back at the house on Saturday without any luck. Guess I’ll be calling AT&T sometime this week to get it sorted out along with why she doesn’t get a indicator when she has voicemail.

 Posted by on September 20, 2004 at 4:34 pm
Sep 072004
 

On the way to work this morning, I was listening to Morning Edition on KUT. KUT ran a story about increased traffic at Bergstrom and buried in the report was the following sentence:

Airport police can now stop you for a random inspection as you drive up to the terminal.

I’ve e-mailed the KUT news department to try and get more information as I couldn’t find anything on the ABIA website, although I did find a really cool feature that allows you to check on the security lines before going to the airport.

Am I the only one troubled by this or is everyone o.k. with random searches in the name of security? Has anybody personally experienced a search?

 Posted by on September 7, 2004 at 8:48 pm
Jul 272004
 

I read about this somewhere earlier today, but I can’t remember where and I just got the e-mail from Alamo to confirm it.

There’s a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Crawford tomorrow night with Michael Moore in attendance and he’s invited G.W. who’ll be in town. You can get all of the details here. If I were single and had some time on my hands, I’d be so there. There’s got to be an Austin blogger with the time and inclination to participate. C’mon. Let me live vicariously through you. Please?

 Posted by on July 27, 2004 at 11:42 pm
Jul 232004
 

I’m somewhat of a beer geek and an especially rabid beer geek when it comes to very hoppy beers. Stone IPA and Ruination IPA, which, sadly, you can’t get here, are some of my all-time favorites. You can imagine my delight when I learned that an award-winning IPA from Dogfish Head is coming to Austin. Let me be the first to officially welcome Dogfish to Texas. I hope your brews are worthy of their reputation.

Incidentally, Bitter End is a good place to get a locally brewed IPA with some formidable hoppiness, the aptly named Austin Pale Ale. Anybody know of any other local brews for a certified hop-head?

 Posted by on July 23, 2004 at 6:01 am
Jul 222004
 

To those exiting Quarry Oaks to Braker Ln:

The red, octagonal shape with the white writing on it is called a stop sign. If I’m not mistaken, in order to get your driver’s license, you learned that sign means that you need to stop in front of it and check traffic before proceeding. Stop signs are generally there for a reason. In this case, cars entering the office complex from busy Braker Lane need to be able to proceed unimpeded into the complex so that cars don’t back up into the road, possibly causing an accident. By not stopping, you are introducing the possibility of a second accident with those entering who are under the apparently mistaken assumption that their fellow drivers will obey the most common and basic traffic signs.

I apologize in advance to the next person who fails to obey the stop sign and might not have had a chance to read this letter. I’m probably not going to be very polite to you. See what you get for not reading my web site?

 Posted by on July 22, 2004 at 5:44 pm
Jul 122004
 

I wrote last week about the return of Howard Stern to the Austin airwaves. Today, I stumbled on this story in the Daily Texan. I was kind of surprised that I didn’t see it on one of the other Texas blogs, but I guess it wasn’t much of a story. Perhaps the local morning DJs are feeling the pressure with Stern’s return? Or they’re just plain stupid.

 Posted by on July 12, 2004 at 5:50 pm
Jun 182004
 

Austin seems to be a favorite test market for companies, mostly food and beverage operations. For a while there, it seemed like I was offered free samples from a different energy drink company every week and there’s always those cigarette people trolling the bars for new lung cancer victims.

Now, it looks like Wendy’s has decided to test locations without dining rooms and we’ve got one. It’s on the northbound frontage road of I-35 between 6th and 7th. I noticed it a few weeks ago while taking The Boy to school. I guess it’s a reasonable idea to intersperse locations with dining rooms with those that don’t, but I don’t think it’d be wise to switch over entirely. You can have a smaller staff and it probably saves on air conditioning costs by virtue of the smaller space. Since people don’t generally stay and spend more money at a fast food restaurant anyway, it doesn’t make much sense to offer an atmosphere that would encourage them to hang around, a strategy that works well at coffee places.

McDonald’s seems to have the opposite strategy. They’re adding things like wireless access (provided by local company Wayport), a move which seems odd to me since no one really wants to hang out a McDonald’s except kids under 12. It might work well at the locations with playgrounds, but otherwise it’s a waste of time and effort.

Thundercloud Subs has had that drive-thru location on S. Lamar for quite some time. I wonder how its revenues compare with other locations.

If you or your friend are victims of side effects from cancer drugs, please, visit http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/current-xarelto-lawsuits/.

 Posted by on June 18, 2004 at 5:19 pm
Jun 182004
 

Ever since missing Tony Bourdain’s book signings at Bookpeople , I’ve been somewhat obsessive about checking their event calendar. I’ve made it to a few book signings lately and The Wife and I tag-teamed David Sedaris’s appearance this evening.

She went early to get a line number as it was projected that the turnout would be very big. It was. By the time I got there, several hundred people were already in the store and they had closed off the second floor so that the only option was to hear him over the speaker system. The family was next door at Whole Foods, so I went over there to get something for dinner. We ran into all kinds of people that we know. The Wife ran into Baldo and his parents before I arrived. We then ran into Jason & Angela and an old co-worker of Michele’s who also attends some of the same yoga classes as The Wife. The reading started at 7 and I didn’t get my book signed until 10:30. I read the first 5 or 6 stories. I laughed out loud once. He plugged the same book, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, that he plugged at the signing that Scott attended earlier this week. Sedaris apparently has a colossal dislike for cell phones and cameras, so I was unable to take my traditional book signing cell phone camera shot for the moblog. He makes up for his hatred of cell phones with a love for smokers, however, as he let anyone with a pack of cigarettes cut in front of the rest of the line. He’s hoping that the favorable treatment of smokers will spread. Fat chance.

 Posted by on June 18, 2004 at 6:25 am