For those locals who missed him last night, I just saw that Bruce Sterling will be on TechTV’s The Screen Savers tonight. He flew to San Francisco early this morning after doing the book signing here last night. It airs locally on channel 239 at 6pm, 11pm and again tomorrow morning at 7am.
I went to Bruce Sterling’s reading for The Zenith Angle last night at Bookpeople. I haven’t been to very many book signings, but it was a modest turnout, definitely smaller than the Neal Stephenson signing last October. Sterling is in the middle of his largest book tour ever and seemed relieved to be back on his home turf for a day. He even commented that he decided to wear some old sandals as opposed to socks and shoes, something he wouldn’t normally do at a signing in another city.
He started off talking about his annual SXSW party which has apparently grown to such a proportion that he’s vexed as to whether or not to continue the tradition. He’s convinced that cell phones and text messaging were a contributing factor to the size of the party this year. He used the story of the party to tie into a brief commentary on on globalization and then also related it to his new book. I managed to read the preface while waiting and he read the first chapter aloud. I found his reading style a little odd. His delivery was enthusiastic and endearingly geeky. There were certain passages where he clearly looked up and paused briefly, expecting laughter from the audience.
While I’ve read many of his articles in various magazines, the only book I’ve read is his collaboration with William Gibson, The Difference Engine, which I didn’t particularly care for. So far, the new one seems like it’ll be a fast read. It’s set in the recent past with the first chapter occurring on 9/11 and looks like it’ll be part thriller and part commentary on recent events. He mentioned during that signing that he’s currently working on a book set fifty years into the future.
I’ve seen news reports in both the Statesman and News8 in the past week about the intersection of Third and San Antonio. (I’d link to the Statesman article by Ben Wear last Monday, but they only make the last 7 days available online. If you have an Austin Public Library card and have gotten an online PIN from them, you can access the last several years through the APL site.)
My legion of loyal readers will recall that I recently ranted about this intersection. I’d like to see the statistics for the number of accidents at that intersection since converting San Antonio to two-way. Someone’s going to be seriously injured at that intersection if the city doesn’t figure something out soon.
Yet another embarassing incident in Austin has made national news. Coming on the heels of the Ozomatli arrests and the Jason Patric arrest (whose charges, I might add, were quietly dropped recently), we have a boat capsized by a group of people who were apparently a little too enthusiastic about viewing naked sunbathers at Austin’s infamous Hippie Hollow.
I heard about the barge capsizing on News8 last night and they mentioned that it occurred near Hippie Hollow, but I didn’t put two and two together until CNN spelled it out for me. When I first moved here in 1989 for college, I was dragged to Hippie Hollow by a misguided friend. He was certain that we were going to be treated to a bevy of naked bathing beauties. Reality set in before we even got halfway down the path to the shore when we passed a middle-aged man who hadn’t yet covered himself.
Let me go ahead and spell it out for any new Austinites or tourists: Hippie Hollow is mainly populated by fortyish or older white men, probably over-the-hill hippies who feel the need to maintain their ideals, but haven’t maintained their bodies. If you’re looking for a cheap thrill, I suggest the Internet (at least until Ashcroft and his cronies take that away from us).
P.S. How slow of a news day must it be for CNN.com to list this as one of their top stories?
No Pants Day is this Friday. Be sure to check out the No Pants Day song penned by my former co-worker, Stinky Del Negro. What are the odds I can get work to participate?
I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but I’m single dad this week. The Wife’s on vacation to San Diego. As a consequence, I’ve been downtown around 3:30 the last few days collecting the kids from school/daycare and I’ve seen some interesting things.
Yesterday, as I drove down San Jacinto, I saw local filmmaker Rick Linklater walking with three or four other dudes near Fourth Street.
Today, as I came south on I-35, I noticed two guys standing on the Twelfth Street overpass. They were holding up a large sign that said, “Say no to gay marriage”. Now, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but it’s clearly illegal to do crap like that as it creates the potential for an accident. As we all know, drivers on that stretch of I-35 don’t need any help with accidents, so, being the good citizen that I am, I called 311 and reported them. With any luck, Austin’s Finest took some time out from harassing musicians and actors and made take their opinions elsewhere.
I’ve probably spent more time in the Sixth/Fourth street areas than is healthy since moving here 15 years ago. I was down there practically every weekend from 1996 to 1999. These days, I only get down there about once every couple of months. I managed to get out for SXSW one night this year and saw Unsane in a tent at the corner of Red River and Sixth and Don Caballero at Emo’s later that same night where I ran into some old bandmates. The Wife and I happened to be out one night during Mardi Gras last month as well.
It seems to me that not only has the police presence increased over the past few years, but I think they’ve also become more aggressive. They look like they’re just waiting for an excuse to jump on somebody and throw their ass in jail. There’s got to be some sort of middle ground. I keep thinking of the cops in New Orleans at Mardi Gras. They’ve always give me the feeling that they’re there to prevent any major stuff from happening, but they’ll generally tolerate some stupid drunk nonsense. They know that the people are there to spend money and have a good time. Sure, if someone gets really out of hand, you’ve got to crack down, but I think the APD is really overreacting. I’m all for thinning out the dirty hippie jam bands and treating fancypants actors like everyone else, but aren’t they taking it a little too far?
I videotaped The Boy’s game this past Saturday and made a quick attempt at editing it down to his better highlights last night. The results are less than satisfactory.
My camera skills need work. I’m not used to watching everything through the viewfinder and have a tendency to look up from the camera when there’s more action. Of course, this means that the camera stays where I last looked or ends up pointing at the grass or something.
The transfer is crappy as well. I’m not sure why, but there’s a lot of pixel noise and distortion. I don’t think it’s on the original tape, so I might try to use different quality settings. I’m using Windows Moviemaker which comes free with WinXP and I let it choose the settings on this attempt. Also, since Moviemaker only outputs to WMV and AVI files, this is a problem for the non-Windows viewing audience (Jaja). I may spring for Quicktime Pro and try that out.
The cheesy music is an attempt to drown out my lame dad comments during the game. The Wife made fun of me for the music selection. At least I didn’t add titles, yet…
You’ll either need the latest windows media player (windows | mac) or something else that’ll play WMV files. If you’ve got WindowsXP, you’ve already got the media player, but you may need to download the newer version or codec updates if you have problems playing the file (sound with no picture usually means you don’t have the right codec). You can get those through windows update. Also, be warned that it’s a fairly large file at almost 9 MB. Now that I’ve finished with all of the excuses and disclaimers, here it is (he’s number 15).