Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tea party tantrums prove effective

Our Rep. Doggett had his first hometown Q&A rally (this past Sunday) since the health care bill was signed into law. Since last August when he was one of the earliest targets of the Dick Armey/Glenn Beck minions at what was previously a regularly scheduled, civil, and organized town hall style meeting, it has become necessary to have more provisions for the security and safety. The last couple were held at the AFL-CIO meeting hall, and both times the room has been filled to capacity and beyond (to the point where the Fire Marshall has to be mindful of crowd size) and these are mostly supporters plus people who aren’t necessarily supporters but just people who are able to ask a question in a civilized manner. I don’t know how many people the room holds but it looked like a good 200-300 people, and they put speakers outside the building so the overflow crowd can hear.

But, out of this rally of a few hundred supportive or otherwise civil people, who gets all the news coverage? It’s the Tea Party tantrum (which looked to me like maybe a dozen people at the most) which protested with yelling, a bullhorn, yelling into a bullhorn, etc., that gathered outside. To add to the newsworthiness of it, there was a skirmish (captured on video and posted by a rightwinger) which they called a “fight.” It was not a fight if they are talking about what is shown here. An “Organizing For Change” (OFA Obama-oriented group) person decided to stand near the opposition and try to out-yell them – then was manhandled by a security guard. All the news media jumped on this incident and the presence of the dozen protesters (one even reported that a thank-you rally turned into a fight! It didn’t! We were there, indoors where the event was taking place, and were barely even aware of any skirmishes outside.

Mayor Leffingwell also said a few words, and a reminder that the City Council of Austin voted to endorse a single-payer bill back in 2008 (when Leffingwell was a Council member), and as we know, single-payer is now pie in the sky, at least for the time being until this country (and the government) becomes more progressive. Doggett has been working hard on this health care bill, including preserving the Public Option, and although most of us (him included) would have wanted a more progressive product, we finally got something that I believe still has a ways to go but is a major improvement.

[edit 4/3: Video now available of Doggett speaking at the event]

Local rally coverage
[KXAN] [News8]

Lloyd Doggett: "We Must Turn Down the Volume on Hate" [video]

[addendum: The Statesman breaks ranks and posts more accurate coverage here.]
[addendum: Link for OFA Austin site]

Monday, March 29, 2010


[original, with responses]
Resolved Question
(from "Edna + Herman = Love")

If I Am Pregnant Will The Baby Be Part My Man's Wife Too?

I heard the DNA might get mixed because they are married and it would be 50% him (because he is a man) and then 25% me and her. It has something to do with a baby needs two x's and one y and that is how a child gets it if the dad is married, right?

P.S. Don't worry, he is going to leave her soon because he loves me. She is a psycho though and is holding on to him even though he hates her.

Additional Details
I am only asking because I don't want my baby to look like her. She is gross.

found on newly discovered blog facepalm.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seen on Saturday

A gorgeous, perfect day in Austin, Texas. We had nothing planned so decided to go downtown and ride the new MetroRail in its debut week while it's still free, then have lunch at Cafe Mundi before it closes down. Started out stopping by the Library, where a yucca stem pressed itself against the eave and a bird built a nest at the top.

Also on the yucca was this green anole (which is brown for some reason)

Downtown at the train stop, the recorded voice informed us that MetroRail does not run on the weekend. OK. Drove over to Cafe Mundi and were sad to discover that it is already closed (apparently last week was it) and workers were there hauling stuff out of the building. Another favorite place bites the dust. {bummer}

Here's a person with a job that I hope I never have to do. On a day like today (80°) it's not horrible but in the summer it would suck.

MrB couldn't resist snapping this billboard. He is a sucker for cute animals or things that look like them. I guess this whisky-maker knows that.

Moving on from the Cafe Mundi disappointment, we went to this Lebanese restaurant that is located in a re-purposed Taco Bell. I love to see that! If you are local, this place is located right next to the Curra's Grill on Oltorf, and is a hell of a lot less crowded.

We stopped by the Farmer's Market and saw this car parked there. Something you don't see every day. To be honest, I barely took notice of it at first, just thinking somebody was pulling their boat (something to expect on a beautiful day).

How great is this thing? Pretty great.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SXSW day crawl - Fri, day 3

Day 3 and beyond... Started the day again at the Hilton for Elliot Brood (Toronto, Canada), followed by the legendary John Hiatt:

...and 2/3 of the Dixie Chicks (Martie & Emily), with their side project, Courtyard Hounds:
Now I have seen all of the Dixie Chicks perform, just not at the same time. After the Hilton morning, the day continued down the road with Bobby Bare Jr. and more local female musical goodness with Sarah Jarosz highlighting yet another Paste party, co-sponsored by Vanguard (Sugar Hill). We are acquainted with Sarah and her parents, they are all wonderful folks and it's great to see Sarah blossoming into a rising star. She has the talent.

We sat with a nice Canadian couple (about our age) who had driven down from Ottawa -- we were getting pretty comfy on an upper deck with free intense coffee drinks and hard ciders, with a view of the band, and working on a good old sunburn for awhile. Hit the pavement again to go down to Momo's for their party, and got to see a couple of local bands we hadn't seen (although the band members are ones we are pretty familiar with). There was Drew Smith/TED (I don't know what TED means), The Coveters (shown below) featuring Suzanna Choffel, Ed Jurdi and Warren Hood. After them there was a nice long set from St. Cloud. Momo's had great music (as it always does) and we saw lots of people we knew there, but decided to hit one more spot for the day. The Sin City Social Club party at Maria's Taco Xpress had Jesse Dayton on stage when we got there, followed by the band we went to see, The Trishas. I'll tell you what - just check them out, it's 4, sometimes 5 young Texas women with a lot of soul, great vocals, songwriting, fiddle, guitar, mandolin. Love them. They need to be famous.

Maria's was packed to the hilt and it was time to home to the cats, and we proceeded to have the only transportation screw-up of the week when we got on the wrong bus going the wrong way and it took a couple of hours to get home.

After 3 gorgeous weather days, the rain and cold, cold wind moved in on Saturday - and we were pretty much wound down by then anyway. The Cactus Cafe was having free music (acoustic singer-songwriters) from 4-midnight, best listening room in town. We saw Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore, Matt The Electrician, Dana Falconberry, Mike Schoenfeld, and Graham Weber. They were all amazing. Only ended up with one pic from Saturday: Dana Falconberry

This is the last year for the Cactus Cafe. A boneheaded bureaucrat (who has the power over the building where it resides) wants it closed, and even if the forces of "Save The Cactus Cafe" manage to keep it open, it will be run in a completely different way. Either way, it's killed. If you've never been there, hit it before the end of August.

Festival regrets: managed to miss faves Or The Whale and Band of Heathens, and the never-seen-before Watson Twins and Black Prairie despite opportunities. This is merely from lack of super-powers and super-human strength. Later.

That's it for 2010's SXSW day crawler coverage from the Blueberry pit.

{addendum: Statesman gallery Day 3}

Monday, March 22, 2010

SXSW day crawl - Thu, day 2

Thursday, we were back at the Hilton nice and early, and again got a great table with comfy chairs right in front of the stage. We saw 3 up-and-coming bands that we didn’t know much about but probably should have. We saw Dawes, Frightened Rabbit, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Now, sometimes at radio gigs you might be seeing a stripped-down version of the full band, but it still sounds good.

Dawes (CA) had really impressive vocal harmonies and songwriting. I might describe what I heard as Fleet Foxes gone Americana, singing a Jackson Browne song with Avett Brothers flair. Jeez, that didn't make sense. No wonder I don't write critiques for a living. Anyway, I intend to buy a CD. I felt sorry for them on Saturday, because their official SXSW showcase was on the big free outdoor stage at Auditorium Shores, a great opportunity for exposure, and the weather was foul and windy and cold, plus the grounds were very muddy from the previous night's rainstorm.

Frightened Rabbit (Scotland) was just a couple of guys with guitars (on this morning). I learned that the radio feed was not really live but a bit on delay when the lead singer uttered "this is fucked" because of a mis-managed capo, then played a song with the same word in it, and the radio folks didn't freak out at all. Great drinking music, I don't care what time of day it is, and coffee will suffice.

Carolina Chocolate Drops (NC) had come recommended beforehand, and they didn't disappoint. Their sound is old-timey, gypsy, hillbilly, folk, gospel, very, very rootsy -- then they mix it up good, all in the same pot. We really do hope they come back here (look at previous posting for video from this event).

After the Hilton, we went to 2nd Paste party. The first band on was Damion Suomi (FL), (yes, that's the name of the band leader). They've got a hard Irish folkie sound, strong percussion. I liked them.

They had one of our favorites on next, Shearwater. They are an Austin band, but we don't get to see them very often here as they mostly tour, and mostly in Europe. They've got a beautiful, eclectic sound. A couple of pics of Shearwater:

Even though there were some possibly interesting bands coming up, we decided to see what was out there on 6th.

Who could resist this kitten?

yup, pretty much everywhere...

loading in

We were planning on seeing Or, The Whale at the Beauty Bar, but that place was a sardine tent with maximum volume (was in no mood for that) so we opted for lunch at Koriente next door, and caught the bus to a far south coffee shop (The Stompin' Grounds) and saw Rocky Votolato (Seattle, WA) and Ben Sollee (Louisville, KY)/Daniel Martin Moore. I wasn't familiar with Rocky, but he was excellent. We were there to see Ben (cellist, pop/folk singer/songwriter).

It was 5:30 and we'd hit the streets at 7am so we headed home. A great day with great weather (just like Wednesday).

{addendum: Statesman gallery Day 2}

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SXSW day crawl - Wed, day 1

{* additional video added Mar 23, see below *}

KUT radio is having a morning showcase this year at the Hilton to rival KGSR's at the Four Seasons. At KGSR's you need to get down there about 5am to even come close to getting a good seat (unless you don't mind squeezing yourself into 4 sq ft on the carpet next to the couch where you are dodging shoes, cameras and tripods), and the performers only play 2 songs, but they offer a great (unlimited) breakfast for only $5. This year we didn't go to KGSR, and went to the Hilton's KUT instead, where there is no breakfast (except what you want to buy at the Starbucks) but some of the performers played as many as 6 songs, it's free, and if you get there by 7am you can get a comfy chair with a table that is right in front of the stage. Choice made!! We saw Carrie Rodriguez (a local artist who left for awhile and just moved back) and Brazos, another Austin artist. Hayes Carll was supposed to play and had to cancel. These things happen.

After the Hilton we got in line for the first Paste magazine party. The guy behind us in line said that Givers (Lafayette LA) were good, so we checked them out. They were very high-energy.
{* Paste Mag has posted video of the Givers! *}
Freelance Whales (Queens NY) were a treat, and then we watched Suckers (Brooklyn NY) while we waited for stage turf for Okkervil River with Roky Erickson. Okkervil is one of the hottest bands from Austin, and Roky is a legendary local musician who was one of the first to play psychedelic music with the 13th Floor Elevators. There was an amazing documentary made about him called "You're Gonna Miss Me." The amazing part is that Roky is still with us and able to perform. I loved watching Will Sheff's face while Roky was playing... there was joy. Here's one of our videos from the show:

After Rokkervil we walked down 6th to the bus stop, and went down to Jo's Coffee on S. Congress. They had a full lineup of music going too, but we just had a sandwich and headed home.The cardboard sign says "Irish I was drunk." This was St. Patrick's Day, but the only difference between this day and the rest of the week is that we saw a lot more green shirts. There were a couple of St. Paddy's parties, of course, but hardly noticed among the hundreds of other parties.

Liz Carpenter RIP

Liz Carpenter was Press Secretary for Lady Bird Johnson during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and because she was there at the time, the task fell to her to write LBJ's statement that he delivered to the nation after the assassination of JFK. She was also assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education under President Jimmy Carter, on the International Women's Year Commission under President Gerald Ford and on the White House Conference on Aging under President Bill Clinton. She co-founded the National Women's Political Caucus and co-chaired ERAmerica.

We got to spend a good part of an evening with Ms. Carpenter in 2005 while side-by-side occupying the front rail of Willie Nelson's all-star benefit concert for Asian tsunami relief. She said she was writing a book about Bobbie Nelson (Willie's sister and piano player) but I don't know if that book was ever published. She also gave us a giggle at one point when she said she didn't know who Joe Ely was but he sure did sweat a lot.

She was an author, and progressive activist to the end, a Texas treasure, a yellow-dog Democrat and a true Austinite.

[Liz Carpenter/LBJ Library] [KXAN interview, commenting for her own obituary]

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops, checking in

We are doing our annual SXSW day crawl and have been too busy (or tired) for anything more than a tweet or comment here and there. Coverage coming soon, but in the meantime, here's one of the things we attended. This was Thursday morning in the lobby of the Hilton. We had a great seat for this.
Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Carolina Chocolate Drops - SXSW 2010 - KUT 90.5 from Andy Uhler on Vimeo.

[LINK for photos, etc. from KUT]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maximum Capybara

CAPYBARA sings to a capybara. from mark harrison on Vimeo.

We seem to be obsessed with capybaras lately. This video is not helping. This band (Capybara) is in town now for SXSW, and Caplin Rous, local resident, is the other star of the video. Caplin is mainly interested in nom noms, although he adds a few eeps to the musical mix. I don't how the band kept their composure during the song. I would have been cuted-out and giggling, but then I am not a professional musician (or any other kind).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Caturday Cat Embarrassment

OK... I will admit doing this when our cats were younger, and probably would do it to Jax now if I had any balloons, which I don't.
via FlickFilosopher

South By Bring It, SXBI 2010

March is here, bluebonnets are popping up (see pic above), trees are budding out like crazy, and soon every hillside will be covered in colors. Also, March means that SXSW (south by southwest) is coming up (actually the film and interactive festival parts of it already started, but we don’t generally attend those events, it’s the gigantic music festival that officially starts on the 17th that I’m talking about) and we will either be hopping busy, dead tired, dealing with cats who are starved for attention and pouting without their normal routine… or all of the above. It’s the biggest international music conference in the world. And we never neglect our cats, despite what they might tell you. We build our schedules with them in mind. They are teh godz.

We are badgeless and wristbandless, and take in 4 days of “day parties” which sometimes happen at night. There are literally thousands of bands/artists… not sure of the count of bands officially playing (about 2,000 I think), plus the unofficial ones who travel in for gigs that week plus the who-knows-how-many that live here and are not on tour elsewhere. The day parties/side parties typically go from noonish to 7-ish with live music, free beer, sometimes free food. Record labels, Instrument-makers, PR firms, clothing people, regional music organizations, radio stations, magazines, breweries and other drinkmakers – have parties… lotsa parties, hundreds. There’s no one source with ALL the party listings, but this is one that I find the most helpful. The real madness begins around Monday, the 15th and goes for a week. Noooo, I haven’t heard of most of the bands either, but I think that most of them are worth hearing. Even if they aren’t your cup of tea, if they’ve made the cut for a showcase (or a party, for that matter), somebody thinks they are worth a listen. I get a real kick out of some of the party names, and but I love reading the band names! How about these with a shit theme?
Expensive Shit, Shit and Shine, Shitty Carwash, Shithawk, Bad Shit, Bubblegum Shitface Experience, Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!, Psychedelic Horseshit, The Bassturd
...and I noticed while searching for that last one that "Saturday" has a "turd" right in the middle of it.

I like to just create a listing of preferred events, work up a loose plan, and see what happens when the day gets here. We will see people we already love and also discover some new ones.

One thing I love about this festival is that I am not working during it. I take a few vacation days from the day job, and my side job (related to the music industry) has shrunk down quite a bit (intentionally on my part) so that I am now just frantically trying to plan a schedule but not doing that in addition to getting other people (those who ARE working it) ready for their shows.

Here's a pretty good post from a writer from IndyWeek.com, whose situation and reason for going is different from mine, but he hits the nail on the head quite a few times. [LINK]

Click here for my past writeups (back to 2006) of this Mad March festival.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Just another reason to pass health care reform

If health care reform goes through, Rush Limbaugh has threatened to leave the country, and perhaps move to Costa Rica. I can see why... Costa Rica has a very high life expectancy partly due to a great health care system. Up until 2009, Costa Rica had government-run universal health care, and now they have a system that includes private insurance, but a public option is available to all. [source]

So... let's not tell Rush about this. We don't want to discourage him.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Weary Kind

Ryan Bingham performs his (and T-Bone Burnett's) Oscar-winning song.

It was nice to hear Stephen Bruton's name mentioned (twice) during the ceremonies too.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Free food, free music, free Texas beer

Normally we don't go out much during the week, but Tuesday was Texas Independence Day, and there was a party at Roadhouse Rags with free food (from Torchy's Tacos), free Lone Star Beer, and free music by La Tampiquena. We took a mini-movie, but this is one is much better. The videographer caught us in the crowd shots at the beginning. The song is "Loretta" written by Townes Van Vandt, and the band puts a south Texas spin on it.

They also had a cake with a beered-up version of the "Come and Take It" flag. It was a great little party, we like this band, saw some friends, and we still made it home by 8 to watch LOST.

On Thursday, I had won a trivia contest to get into the Shiner Party where they'd be giving away a couple of SXSW badges in a drawing. Again, there was free Shiner beer, and free food (which was Czech hors d'oeuvres, and looked like lotsa meat so we took a pass on the food). The band was Brave Combo, a world-famous polka band (they've won at least one Grammy, and have been immortalized on The Simpsons). They were pretty good, as polka bands go. I took a video of a conga line on one of the songs. The sound is not that great but it was fun watching the people dancing by.

The table behind us (among others) were trying to see how tall a beer bottle pyramid they could build without it falling down. As you can see, this one did pretty well. They restacked and toppled about 4 more pyramids after this one, and I have to say that Shiner's beer bottle glass must be extra strong because none of them broke after falling multiple times. I had about 3 beers (my limit) but didn't win anything.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Dive-By Shooting

Walked by this saloon this week, wondered if it was open since the parking lot was completely empty.
I guess people must wonder that a lot. Here is their sign.

Furbaby Friday - Sun Godz

Prince Henry in his royal carriage. We carry him from room to room or onto the screened porch in his fleecy bed. It keeps his stress down and feels good on the old bones. He doesn't mind a back scratch.
Jax wants you to know one thing - you're blocking his rays and invading his personal space. Just do your little clickety-click and leave him alone. Damn the paparazzi!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Little stack of DVDs

We have been getting a lot of movies from the library lately, including these:

I really liked this movie, “Big Fan,” starring Patton Oswalt. The main character is a huge NY Giants football fan with a dead end job and still lives with his mother even though he’s nearly middle-aged. Even though I'm not a sports fan, but as a moderate fangirl I kind of understood where the character was coming from (although I have been more fickle in my devotions). I think that big fans of different things have more in common with each other than big fans and much lesser fans of the same thing because of the level of devotion you find in the big fans. (having a lot in common does not mean they will have anything to talk about though... not sayin' that).

Back to the movie hero... his dilemma begins when he is beaten up by his idol… his favorite player, and I won’t spoil it any more than that, but I will spoil something that was revealed in the special features in an interview with Ain’t It Cool News’ Capone: Patton Oswalt is Neill Cumpston. If you read AICN, you know the writing style of lots of the reviews and member comments – and Neill Cumpston wrote brilliant satirical AICN reviews that spoofed them perfectly. I am sorry that Patton was outed as Neill. Here are a few samples of his reviews (think grown man with a teenaged maturity level, and there are no reviews of non-action-oriented movies because Neill wouldn't go to something like that):

Matrix Reloaded
Sin City
Batman Begins
more Neill

If you want to read some of Patton's writings as himself, which are even better, go here.

Another recent DVD brought home from the library is Taking Woodstock. I know that a lot of people found this to be charming and cute and funny and touching, but it really didn't do much for me. I really thought I would have liked it more, since it was directed by Ang Lee who also directed Brokeback Mountain. In the extras he says how funny these characters are. I guess the potential was there, but for me it was unfulfilled. The story of how Woodstock happened is fairly interesting, and I wouldn't mind reading Elliot Tiber's book (that this is based on), but if you don't want to do that, here is a long essay on the subject by Tiber (long but shorter than a book) which covers a lot of what you'll see in this movie.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a documentary about a metal band and all their ups and downs, their past fame, how they've coped after decline, jobs, family issues, tour disasters/successes, the struggle to make a new record, etc. You might think you are watching another version of This is Spinal Tap, but this is a real band, and the story is not fiction. This is really worth seeing even if you aren't into metal music (and I'm not).