Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve, the misses and the missed.

Snagged this bit of brilliance via a FB friend, it is rather perfect in describing many of my failed attempts at having fun on a New Year's Eve celebration package - or forget having fun, I would call it a success even if it was just pleasant or a little bit worth doing.

There are different types:

  1. The house party in the suburbs (belonging to a friend of a friend) where I don't know anyone and don't meet anyone interesting, where I end up watching the Ball Drop in Times Square at midnight on TV, sitting on a couch with a couple of other strangers who also feel awkward while a handful of others are getting shitfaced in the kitchen.

  2. The low-end package deal, which includes dinner (maybe a spaghetti with rolls and side salad, and a couple of free drinks) and a marginal cover band. These are very much like an economy wedding reception except that I, again, don't know anyone other than the other couple we are with. I don't polka and gave up disco in my 20s. The band will play Proud Mary, Love Shack, Start Me Up and will finish the night with New York New York.

  3. The higher-end package deal, which will include either dinner or hors d'oevres, a glass of champagne at midnight, a marginal cover band (see: #2 low-end package deal), and a hotel option. These affairs always made me the most uncomfortable because everyone is trying to "outdress" each other, the line for the bar will be looong (and that is where you will spend a lot of time - either that or your date will be in the line while you are alone). The hotel part does rock though. I hate being in a car after midnight on New Years.
Can you think of a few more typical New Year's Eve things to do or not do?

The only thing I like doing on NYE is spending time with people I know and like, or doing something special - just for its own merit, not because it's NYE. Back in 2008 we went to Momo's for the last public Austin performance of one of our favorite bands: the South Austin Jug Band. They went out in style, bringing in as many ex-members as they could, and it was fantastic. I thought of it today when one of the band members posted this video of mine from that show on FB - it was a tribute to our favorite music club which closed its doors abruptly this week (the club where they and many other favorite bands got started) - more gentrification taking place in that location (no doubt). Momo's will relocate (they say) and musicians keep going but some things will just be memories... for auld lang syne.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pink stuff and super heroes

This is just so cute - what a smart little girl. She's upset about the gender stereotypes in toys. Well, so am I!
I didn't have kids, and didn't have to deal with such things, but I remember liking all kinds of non-girly things as a kid. I played "War" with my cousins (played with sticks for guns and tin-can string communicators), loved my little plastic soldiers along with all the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs ruled! I never got to be a Princess on Halloween, maybe the Princess outfit involved $$$, and being as we were poor people I always went as a hobo - but I don't remember wanting to be a Princess either. I had a few dolls, Barbie etc., but preferred stuffed animals like my cat Purrsilla. For a reason that I will never know, my favorite stuffed animal that I always slept with as a toddler was an alligator. It was not a plushie toy. It was a REAL dead baby alligator that had been stuffed with cotton but still had the real skin and tiny teeth (I named him "Kilroy."). Not sure what my parents were thinking there... a trend that would continue...

Even now I don't really go for the "pink stuff."

Found via Huffpo

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

JC is fussy about footwear

OK, fortunately I am not familiar with this song. I say 'fortunately' because I think it is total schlock and makes me want to punch something. For reference, I am talking about "Christmas Shoes," the original version you can hear at this link, a video starring Rob Lowe, of all people.

I know that Patton Oswalt's blistering and hilarious commentary on the song have been around for awhile, and this version with animation has been posted for a couple of years now - but I just ran across it. This really matches my attitude this time of year. Great stuff!


Seasonal greetings

Wishing everyone a fun holiday, whatever it is you are celebrating! I am rather enjoying the dark cloudy days, after a summer that was extra hot and dry. It will be returning again soon enough.

I am off work until after New Years, and just hoping to spend time hanging around the house and sleeping later than 4:30AM every day. We will go out for live music and to the movies. No travel plans.

Card image from zazzle.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weather humor

Here's a funny for your Monday morning: Jeff Tweedy from Wilco on the 7-day forecast.
[Youtube video was removed but you can see it at this link]

I have been down with a cold (or allergies, but it sure feels like a cold) since last Wednesday. Had to miss a great guitar show at the Saxon Pub on Saturday night because nobody wants to sit next to a person with a cold in a crowded space, and just in case I was contagious I didn't want to inflict this on anyone. That's all the whining I can muster. Basically all is well. My employer shuts down for the holidays (Dec 23-Jan 1), always an excellent benefit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home Time

Now that we have an empty nest, it's actually possible to travel a bit, so with MrB getting a 4-day weekend (Friday and Monday, the 23rd and 26th off) coming up for Xmas, he suggested maybe an overnighter somewhere, suggesting, perhaps, Marfa. Neither of us have been to Marfa, and it looks like (A) the town appears to be half tiny desert town - half art display and (B) most of both would likely be shut down for Christmas.

Also, it takes over 7 hours to drive there, and we'd probably need to bring our own food since Texas outside of Austin is not known for vegetarian cuisine. Maybe a road trip to Alpine and Marfa during wildflower season would be better, and the shops will be open.

Next idea... mine. Head over to Santa Fe, NM. They will probably have a veggie cafe or two, and there might even be snow in case we'd like to have a white Xmas. Since driving in snow and ice sucks, I check out Amtrak. Pull up website... OK, Amtrak... I want to leave on Dec. 23 from Austin, TX and go to Santa Fe, NM.

Sorry, nothing leaving on the 23rd. There's one leaving on Dec. 24th at 9:30AM, gets into St. Louis MO at 7:19AM on Dec. 25th. Leaves St. Louis at 4:00PM that day, gets to Kansas City MO at 9:40PM. After a layover of only an hour this time, you go from Kansas City to Lamy NM, arriving at 2:20PM on the 26th. Then you get on a BUS and ride the rest of the way, arriving at 3:40PM. 55 hours. $330 apiece (and that's one-way).

Here's what that route looks like (for those not closely familiar with USA geography).

Another disappointment is that despite Santa Fe's association with trains (re: the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe, and see the photographic evidence of a depot) apparently I can't get all the way there from here by train!! Remember that old song? Here's the Rosemary Clooney/Harry James version. Reminds me of a road trip I made in the late 90s which included Chattanooga TN, and I discovered that the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (Glenn Miller version) is no longer a travel option.

I looked at flying details just for comparison. The cheapest flight I found through Travelocity was $546, which leaves at 7:00PM and drops you in Houston TX about an hour later... where you wait ALL NIGHT for a 6:35AM flight to Dallas, then from Dallas you fly (in a puddle-jumper, I'm sure) the Santa Fe, arriving at 10:30AM on the 24th. The next cheapest flight was over $800, and other options were over $1100 Again, that's one-way, round-trip was about $650, so a bit cheaper than the train/bus combo that takes 55 hours.

Yeah... I don't think so. I think we will probably stay around Austin for the holiday. It will be sweater weather and the margaritas will be frosty.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Free music weekend

Lots of live music this weekend! We won tickets for radio KGSR's annual anniversary party, third time we've attended it. You can't buy tickets, you have to win them through radio promos - hoops of various sizes to jump through. We went to the Kung Fu Saloon last Sunday at 3pm, I put my name in the box and it was the first one drawn! I was excited for this one because the headliner was Dawes (from CA), which is one of our favorite bands right now. This is my video from the event below.

Dawes, web|wiki, Fire Away

On their latest record, Jackson Browne sings on this track (and a few others), the band has toured with him and they just recently played at OWS, Zuccotti Park together. These are some pretty awesome videos. There are a lot of camera-shutter sounds, but those cameras are important (and sound better than some of the drunk racket on the other videos).

Here they are at OWS with a Dawes song, "When My Time Comes":
More at the links:
Mic check and "Casino Nation" | A new JB song, "Which Side Are You On?" | "Lives in the Balance"

Another band we enjoyed at the radio party was GIVERS (and I believe it's proper to not add "the" at the beginning and capitalize it) from Lafayette LA. We saw them a couple of years ago at the SXSW Paste party (always a sure thing for great music), and even ended up in their Paste video. Typical us, always bopping up and down right by the stage. This is a really fun video, especially when the kids finally quit being *cool* and came down to dance.

GIVERS, web|wiki, I Saw You First

On Saturday we drove down to Gruene Hall, where another of our favorite bands was playing a 4-hour free gig. It was a good time, and the room had really good sound. Here's a video (and the shakiness goes away after a few seconds). Enjoy this mighty fine instrumental.

MilkDrive, web, Horseshoe Bend

Here it is Sunday and I need to try and make myself useful. That room upstairs isn't going to paint itself. Not sure I will be painting it either... we shall see.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Weekend on the town, and on the other town

Been trying to finish this "Weekend Update" for several days now. We are both feeling much better and hoping the intestinal maladies don't return. I got better just in time to have about a day to prepare for MrB's mom, sis and BiL to visit. They drove down from St. Louis for a wedding south of town here, so they were not as thrilled as the locals over the *wonderful* soaking rain that started on Friday and still continues today (Monday). We had a good time. They are really nice people, and this weekend proves that political opposites CAN get along and keep things friendly (if you can manage to not discuss politics). That ugly head only reared once when BiL was shocked that there would be a street named after César Chávez - and when MrB responded it's because the population of Hispanics in this area is quite high (the most non-controversial answer possible), the question arose "are they legal?" Actually there are streets named "César Chávez" in many American cities, and a whole town named after him in Texas. I am thankful that the issue of farm labor was not brought up and hashed out in the car. I don't think that anyone wanted that.

With the rain turning that sightseeing trip to the Lake into a bad idea, We took to the shops. Friday we started out at Magnolia Café for a fantastic brunch, followed by browsing Prima Dora, Off the Wall, and Uncommon Objects on South Congress (SoCo), followed by Waterloo Records and Toy Joy. I would like to mention that Toy Joy has a vegan soft-serve that was to die for, and the omnivores all agreed. Also, if you get to visit this town, Toy Joy and Uncommon Objects are must-do experiences!

Friday night we took Mom to the movies, and we finally got to see The Descendants after illness kept us from using our Thanksgiving Day tickets. I saw fewer first-run movies this year than usual, but this is surely one of the best of 2011. We all liked it a lot. One thing I *didn't* like was the fact that when it first opened, I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR, and the guest on that show revealed a MAJOR plot point spoiler. I will not do that, but I will say that one of the things I liked about it was that it normalized the experience of living in a place (Hawaii, in this case) where the people and the culture are often stereotyped, used as a theme, and almost made cartoonish. I've lived in many places (including Hawaii) and those regional prejudices really bug me.

On Saturday the rain was still pouring down, making beautiful mud for our poor old distressed trees, and making a drive around the Lake a bad idea... still, so we went down to the historic Gruene area of New Braunfels. That town was hopping! They had a good-sized tent village of kiosk shops, plus all their regular little quaint shops. We had lunch at the Gristmill restaurant, a huge place with great views - and the server tried to talk us into the smaller order of onion rings, but we were having none of that "small" stuff, just bring us the bigguns.
. The Gristmill is right next door to "Texas' Oldest Dance Hall" Gruene Hall, which is a great place. On weekends they have music all day and all evening, (free in the daytime) so we got to listen to the White Ghost Shivers play for awhile. The place was packed! Here's a taste of the Shivers and their 20s-style Swing Jive.

Saturday night we watched an old Terrence Malick movie, Days of Heaven, on DVD. I really didn't care for Tree of Life (still, I think we can expect to see it in the Oscar lineup for this year) but have been checking out some of his other stuff, esp. since we got to see him in action with Christian Bale this Fall, so now it's personal. Anyway, we liked it (MUCH more than Tree of Life, speaking just for me).

It was a nice time spent with the folks, I hadn't seen them for about 6 years. This coming weekend we've got more stuff planned than we can cram into it. I like working but I live for the weekend.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

House rule

More like a guideline, really.

The history of music without drunk piano players would likely be very different...

DRINKS on the piano, now that's a good rule. ;-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Month from hell rounding out nicely

Just wanting to check in here. Over the past month, we've both been sidelined with illnesses, but at least we are taking turns. Earlier in the month, I guess I picked up a nasty bug that made me progressively ill for a week. I semi-recovered for the next week during which MrB endured a couple of days of food poisoning brought on by something at his office Thanksgiving party - then we were both pretty well for one day (Friday) when we went out to see The Band of Heathens and the Beckham Brothers. It was a great show and we got to see friends and dance by the stage - but on Saturday that intestinal virus hit me again with a vengeance. It is now Tuesday night and I am no better yet. I have seen a doctor and gotten some advice, trying to eat some of the recommended foods but there's really no point in eating food at all. MrB has gone to the store to get me some Pedialyte, Ensure and some more Imodium.

All this is right before an extremely rare visit from MrB's family in a couple of days, who "can't wait to see our house!" Well... maybe I actually can use the illness as as excuse for my dust-bunny collection.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A few days off, if you are lucky

Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. The real events which made up 'the first Thanksgiving' I'm sure would not resemble the picture postcard described to us as children and continued to believe in as adults, but it's fair to say that some people were just happy to be alive and making the best of their circumstances.

Most people love Thanksgiving. I'm one of those rare ones who never liked it. Family gatherings have always been on the painful side of awkward, and the only memories of the holiday that I can conjure up that are worth it are the ones that involved alcohol. It's worth noting that alcohol has ruined as many as it has redeemed.

These days it is much easier. The #1 thing I am thankful for is that I have not had to endure a traditional Thanksgiving for quite a few years. MrB has been my hero in this. We are both Thanksgiving 'orphans,' he because his immediate family is in another state, and I because I have no immediate family other than him. We will spend part of Thanksgiving seeing a movie and ordering off the menu at the Alamo Drafthouse while watching The Descendants. The rest of the day we will do whatever the hell we want. Thank you MrB for not insisting that we conform to society's norm.

The #2 thing I am thankful for is not having to deal with the abominable Black Friday. Isn't this Xmas's evil twin? And it's only in America, driven by a pretense of holding back Xmas with Thanksgiving, it all explodes on Black Friday. Every year people are injured and even killed by people stampeding through the store doors when they open - and there is a war over which retailer will be open first. Almost none of the ads I see are about the Thanksgiving holiday, just BF. I really believe that Black Friday has grown to be nearly as important. Some of the big retailers like Best Buy and Target are opening at midnight on Thanksgiving this year (instead of the once-shocking 5AM Friday) so the staff has to be there on Thursday night. There have been petitions against it, but those will have no effect against this impending buygasm. Black Friday is like Christmas without the fake facade of pretending that it's about something other than raw consumerism. Ugh!Our Black Friday plans only include going to see The Band of Heathens. Will see some friends there, I'm sure, and hear some great music.

I've been bitten by the redecorating bug. Not sure if I will be able to capitalize on this enthusiasm by actually putting some paint on a wall, but I am most thankful that I am lucky enough to have a few paid days off, and that we haven't yet sunk to the point where the average Joe or Jane no longer have any benefits such as that one.

November 22

Remembering the awful events. I have written about them previously. At one time, the truth was known by some, but I'm afraid that too many in possession of it have now died, and many of those would never have revealed it anyway.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tiny arrows made of metal pierce the heart

It's been a week of adjustment, mostly to the loss of Henry. I've been 'under the weather' as the saying goes, hoping to be on the mend soon. We love The Jayhawks, and went to see them in a theater setting on Friday, very different from other times. They seem to be in a constant state of breaking up and reuniting in different configurations, so it's a treat to catch them on tour. They very much remind me of Buffalo Springfield. It's a sweet sound, but a lot of their music has an edge too. This is one of their new tunes, called "Tiny Arrows."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Henry - In Memoriam

When a really elderly person dies, people don't always ask the cause. "Old age" will suffice and is assumed. Everything was just worn out. Henry was 20, which is 96 in human years. I believe that "old age" was definitely a factor. He'd had a bladder stone for quite a long time - years - and we knew that at some point the stone could get lodged in the wrong place, and his time would run out. That is what happened. His age and frailty were a factor because a stone that size could have been removed (while it was still in the bladder) through surgery. A special diet might have helped also, but he was too old to endure invasive surgery, and was already on a very different diet to control something even more risky (diabetes). His quality of life has been borderline for a very long time, due mostly to severe arthritis, near-blindness and asthma. Our relationship with him for the past few years has been one of giving lots of meds and taking care of his needs. His pain was somewhat relieved by steroids, adequan and buprenorphine, but he got to where he wanted us to keep our distance for the most part. Maybe that's a pain thing, or dread, or just grumpiness. It was OK. Part of life, if you make it that far.
Note on the wink: He had a squint in that eye due to a recurring itchy irritation, but it makes a cute picture.

How we got him
For some reason a 4-month-old kitten was wandering around outside in January 1992 in Missouri. We don't know if he was put outside or just lost, but was nearly frozen when he came to my friend's door and he chose the right door. She already had 4 cats and told me if I didn't come and get him she was going to have to take his to the shelter, she also mentioned that he had claws and purred really loud. Perfect! I already had a clawed cat (Alex) and didn't want a declawed companion for him because Alex played rough. Her daughter had already named him "Phil" (I think after Phil Lesh of the Dead) but I named him after Prince Henry (aka Harry), son of Diana, and didn't learn until later that the day we picked for Henry's official birthday (Sep 15) was also Harry's birthday.

Younger Days
Henry was an ultra-sweet tabby who got along with other cats (and all people) but Alex was an abuser and not a little bit psycho, so Henry had to learn to deal with the hell-beast. He never once bit us (or another cat) and was very affectionate and not a bit mean. The cutest thing he would do, and he did this almost every day, was to get on the bed with us, crawl under the covers, then lay on his side facing me with his head laying on my pillow. Then he would purr big and make kneading biscuits on my face. What a sweetheart. ❤

When he was about 5, I brought him home a little black kitten buddy who we named Duncan. Henry and Duncan were inseparable for Duncan's entire 11 years of life, until he died of heart failure.

I know that Henry mourned him, and was never the same after he died (Alex and Duncan both died in 2007 just 3 months apart). I think that's when he really started to age. Frankly, I think it's when I started to age too. We still had Jax (our other stray we took in as an adult) with his health issues (we lost him last year) along with Henry's. We now find ourselves with an empty nest. It is going to be quite an adjustment, but I think it's best to leave it empty for a good long time.

We went through the house and rounded up our entire supply of cat supplies, including a tall stack of cat beds, meds, syringes, towels, fleecy blankies... all will be leaving the house for the animal shelters. There is too much need out there to even think of hanging on to any of it for "later."

Maybe possibly someday we will be able to go somewhere if we feel like it for a weekend or even longer. I think that we did a great job taking care of our furbabies throughout their lives and they were shown great love by both of us, but often I put more value on their health and needs than on my own. All things must pass.

More Henry

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Catblogging: Nothing to see here

These two neighbor cats were in the middle of a standoff when I came outside to play cop. The managed to muffle the grrrs and do their best to present a "who? us? we aren't doing anything" facade. After the picture was taken, Fluffy skulked across the street and got under a car, followed by Martin, who was so interested in stalking Fluffy that he crossed the street in front of a car. No harm done from vehicles, and hopefully no bites or scratches. I worry about the outdoor kitties.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Celtic Festival Saturday

The Celtic Festival was this weekend, and we were able to make it there on Saturday after having missed it for a few years. The weather was amazingly wonderful, a perfect match for the ambience created by the music of whistles, pipes and fiddles. Pictured above are brothers Niall and Cillian Vallely with John Doyle (left to right, on button accordion, uilleann pipes and guitar, respectively). Also saw John Williams & Jeff Moore, Scots Ed Miller (who lives in Austin and has a wonderful radio show of traditional music on KUT) & John Taylor, and locals The Tea Merchants. While we were sitting in the front row for some bands, a kid with a guitar case came over packing a chair, and placed it next ours (in the aisle) to get a good spot for the music. He was intently looking over his schedule booklet (pictured) - obviously a big music fan. Then, I realized that he was the kid pictured on the cover! I mentioned that, and he said "Do you want me to sign it?" and, of course, I did. You can see his sig right there: "DAWSON." He said that his big brothers were in one of the bands playing the festival, and that he had his guitar so he could take part in a workshop. He said he didn't want to do anything at the festival except see the bands, and I totally understand that (same way myself)! I'm glad I got his autograph, someone who loves music that much might just be a famous musician someday.

We also got to pet the little-bitty horses. These miniature horses are part of Minis and friends, a charity org that takes the horses to visit people who might benefit from some animal company, such as people with disabilities or in nursing facilities. I am generally not in favor of breeding animals, or making animals work, and that applies here (to the breeding part of it), but oh how cute these little guys are! They seem to be treated more as pets and working critters, so I can overlook that part - at least somewhat.

Now that Sunday is here, I've been unable to drag my butt out for any kind of entertainment. Just waiting for Monday to hit, at this point. Back to the routine and waiting for another Saturday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Arrests at OccupyAustin

The police have arrested 38 people at OccupyAustin on Saturday night. Apparently there is some new rule about not allowing table with food on them to be set up at City Hall between 10pm and 6am. Some of the arrests were over those, and the rest of them... "trespassing" is the charge I've heard, which makes no sense. City Hall is public property. There are things you can and cannot so there, as there are in most public places, but this is all clear as mud right now. Thankfully, there was no violence on the part of either side, and no known injuries.

There is a video stream of the event archived here, along with current live chat and video here, where I am now watching a live stream of at least some of the people being released from jail. This is all going to be hashed out in a public forum. At least that's what I'm hoping. Transparency.

News coverage from the Statesman (our newspaper).

One of the weird things about these arrests is that they happened just a couple of blocks from Sixth Street, which is always closed off on Saturday night so the partiers can stumble freely across the streets, and on a Halloween Saturday night on top of that!! It would have been difficult to find a drunker, rowdier place than that... but get that food table outta here with yer bags of hot dog buns and bottled water - it's a threat to health and safety.

Friday, October 28, 2011

An observation...

A set of fuzzy ears on the head can make nearly anything look cuter.

(No, not my cat. I totally snagged this.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Silly Hats, Trashcan Music and Giddy Thrall

Saturday was an epic day for us, at least by our current standards. Usually it's me who wimps out, too hot, too late, too this, too that, {whiiiine} but sometimes things click.

Saturday morning at 10, MrB participated in the annual costumed bike parade which is part of New Belgium's traveling beer/bicycle/acrobatic festival called "Tour de Fat" (a reference to Fat Tire beer). Most people wear some kind of a costume or at least something fun. MrB rides in a Santa coat & and hat with red shorts. This year I wore a hat and shirt that looked like a zebra. It was a very, very silly hat. I will wear it again. New Belgium produces a lot of good beer, and 16 oz. of it could be had for $5. One of the acts was a couple who were yo-yo professionals (yes... that's correct). They were great. In the days of Ed Sullivan they would have been world-famous.

We allowed ourselves a pit stop at home to medicate the kitty (literally) and soon headed out to the Gypsy Picnic to see one of our new favorite bands, Delta Spirit, at 6:30pm. I'm pretty sure we were the oldest people in the crowd. I don't even care. I love this band's energy. The trashcan in the title refers to one of their songs where they use a trashcan lid as an instrument. This video did a great job of capturing their finale, which was a song I can't identify yet, morphing into that old standard "SHOUT" (Isley Bros.). It still works and still gets the crowd involved, same as always. Hell yeah! (if you don't have a chance to see it all, slide over to the 2:20 mark.) Not typical of the rest of their music, but they are worth checking out (their website has pro video, also try Spotify, iTunes...)

Now for the whipped cream AND the cherry on top. First of all, this town doesn't usually get star-struck. It's a film town, and reports of big movie stars making candid or *secret* public appearances are commonplace. But the recent 2-day visit by Johnny Depp to promote his new film, Rum Diary, and to receive a special award at the Austin Film Festival left the town in what the Austin Chronicle appropriately called a "giddy thrall." For me it was the (rather poorly-kept secret) appearance at the Continental Club, playing guitar onstage for an hour and a half with his old friend Bill Carter (whose songs are more famous than he is, such as "Crossfire" that was covered by SRV). Oh yeah, and Billy Gibbons was there for awhile too. And we were in the front row, pressed up against the stage just a few feet from Depp. If you want to see some much better shots than mine there, click here.

Here's a little local video and news coverage of his awards, etc.

This is my video, a Bill Carter song called "Willy the Wimp" that was also covered by SRV. We waited in line for 3 hours (for a 12:30 AM show). No wimps here. Not this time.

UPDATE Oct 26: Yahoo is featuring one of my videos in a story.
UPDATE 2 Oct 26: also linked to one.
UPDATE 3 Oct 26: Another Youtuber named AbbyandJohnny stole my videos and uploaded them to her channel. Now some of the media outlets are linking to those. Now that's just low-down and dirty on her part.
UPDATE 4 Oct 27: NME has a few of mine posted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Classic Rockers

Here's your soundtrack for this post. It's a driving, beautiful, electric instrumental from Peter Frampton, who we saw at ACL-Live on Tuesday. Amazingly, and despite his cuteness as a youngster, I only became a fan of PF within the last 2 decades. The other time we saw him was in the late 1990's in Carly Simon's club up at Martha's Vineyard, a pretty small place where I saw the show from my favorite spot - with my arms resting on the stage. Close. Not only can he sing and play the guitar, he loves the audience, engages them one-on-one all the time, and he's funny. Good show. No doubt.

The other event happening in the ACL-Live venue (which is called The Moody Theater) is an exhibit of some of photographer Jim Marshall's most famous shots. Click here for his website and then click on the 'iconic' link at the bottom. There you will see a lot of the ones hanging in the gallery. They also have a few giant ones that are used as wallpaper, or in the case shown with Mick here, wrapped around a column. A delight!

I am still trying to recover from staying up until midnight on a Tuesday, then getting up at 4:30AM for work. Like Frampton, most of the people in the audience, and the subjects of the photo exhibit who are still living, I am getting up there. This week I experienced my first Senior Discount. The 20-something at the cash register (poor thing) asked me if I might qualify for the discount. I said no, but then he said it was 55. Oh well. I do look 55. That's because I'm older than that and don't mind admitting it. (I'm no lady, that's why.)

And it's past my bedtime.

Do You Feel Like I Do?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Austin 10/15 March

The 99% are too big to fail.

I've been in quite a few marches in this town, and this was one of the largest. I really think it had to be at least 1500-2000 people. It was as wide as a lane of traffic and went on for several city blocks, from the middle I could not see the end or the beginning of it. City Hall has been "Occupied" for over going on 2 weeks now in support of Occupy Wall Street. The permanent occupation is rather small, probably a few dozen, but this march was BIG. There was a rally at City Hall, then a march, first to a nearby Chase Bank so that people could close their accounts there as part of the protest, then it continued nearly to the Capital and back to City Hall. The police were great, and there were no arrests (at the march) that I'm aware of.

The Media
Booos and hisses to most of the local media outlets for their coverage or lack of it. I mean, Seems like if 10 Tea Partiers get together on a sidewalk they'd be on everybody's top news and lead story. As for local TV network affiliates, they were piss-poor. The Fox affiliate's top local story was that someone had been caught on hidden cam shoplifting. Astonishing. NBC affiliate KXAN led with the story of the pro-gay marriage event and march held the same day. A cool event (that deserves coverage) where they held about a dozen mock same-sex weddings and about 100 people or so marched to the Capitol. ABC affiliate KVUE had what was worse than no coverage. They claimed that Chase Bank was targeted because earlier this month Chase began charging a $5 fee on debit transactions. WRONG twice. First, that is not why Chase was targeted. Second, it is Bank of America that just added that fee, not Chase. Chase was chosen merely because of proximity. The other unfortunate part of the KVUE thing is that linked to their 'coverage.' Laaaaaame.

YNN (which is a cable-only local news channel) had the best coverage. They have an article AND decent video at the link.

Our one newspaper had a small photo gallery linked on their web-version sidebar (not sure what will be in print as I don't read printed newpapers).

Some notes on a few of the signs.

"$ Millions from schools paid to Valero Oil Company." Here is what that one is about. Valero and other refineries say they are owed around $135 million from Texas in tax refunds, with Valero's share around $92 million, even though all parties are aware that $62.8 million will have to come out of the already-bleeding public school fund. More here. Yes, I know... this one is backwards. The other side says "We Are The People."
"The government of America Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. SHAME!!!"
"Hey Top 1%, Yer Killin' Us!!" Nice cleaver.

Coffee Party!
So true.

Here's a video that I shot. It captures just 1:45 minutes of people going by. Chant is "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."

This movement is not partisan. It encompasses plenty of stuff that has been traditionally lumped in with left or right wing, but there is some commonality. There is a minority of folks (a bit more righty) who could also fit in with Tea Party philosophy. They want to end taxation, and maybe even the government itself. Many worship Ron Paul. They seem to part ways with other TP platforms in that they understand that war must be funded by taxes, and they are not in favor of establishing a theocracy. As we were leaving, there was a guy singing a song about his hero, Joe Stack (the sociopath and terrorist who flew his small plane into a building as an attack on the IRS, killing himself plus one other person inside it (an IRS agent), creating widespread trauma and destroying an office building). I'm sorry, but I am not supporting that. at. all.

The lefties are not against taxation, and want the rich and the corporations to start paying their fair share. They want fair consumer dealings and protection from fraud. They want more regulations on Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big [whatever]. I fall into that category.

Most of the people in this movement, left and right and middle, I believe are in favor of abolishing Corporate Personhood of Citizens United, and unlimited and anonymous political donations that, in effect, buy elections and gut democracy. The Occupy movement is about democracy, no matter how you slice it up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Skiing uvula

Art at City Hall. 'Uvula on skis' is what it looks like to me. Not sure what it is.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sooo Twentieth Century

My old cell phone is beginning to be a source of embarrassment. It works alright as a device used for communicating audibly (the classic definition of a phone) but is handicapped when it comes to typical modern expectations. Technically, it has texting capabilities, but really, that feature was always questionable, and here lately it not only truncates messages, it also truncates the sender's phone number... so not only can I not read the message, I can't even tell who even sent it!

I got a text stating "[my name]: appointment w" and the phone number was chopped off at 5 numbers as shown in the pic. I have a dentist appt. next week, so I called them to ask if they texted me (which I do not remember OK-ing - I was set up for email notifications, not texting, or so I thought), and unaware that I also had an email from them (as this is not a smartphone), I told them not to text me anymore, as it only confuses me and also gets charged to my phone bill. grrrr. If I were to compose a text, it would require using the old-style alpha-numeric keypad (so to type an "S" I have press the "7" four times), and this is a real disincentive to use it.

Recently I had to explain to friends that I was sending them links via email (suggestions for places to meet), but when I left the house to meet them later I would not be able to communicate via email as I do not have a smartphone... oh yeah... and I would prefer that they don't text me either. {sigh}

Pain in the ass.

This is that same old story where technology comes along, something that's a total luxury, and then becomes so commonly used as to be a standard. When it becomes standard, then you "need" it because that's the way people communicate. I guess the time has come for a dataplan... and an iPhone.

Next year. Must have.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pandora... really?

I'm supposed to evaluate each of Jim Morrison's nipples with a simple thumb-up or thumbs-down?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Blind Pilot

Give a listen, this is beautiful stuff.
We first saw this band in 2009 at one of the SXSW day parties. Really enjoyed them then, and it seems that they've been picking up lots of buzz since then. These pics are from a live in-store at Waterloo Records that preceded a sold-out evening show here in town.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Big dirtball

How dry it is...
This big planter sits on a patio of a local restaurant. With half the pot broken off, the dirt remains solid.

(That post title probably made you think this was another Rick Perry post, huh?)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guitar show Friday

Eric Johnson and Sonny Landreth are doing a really limited tour (just a few dates in Louisiana and Texas) as co-bills. Both will play their own stuff and there will be some playing together, as seen in the video above. It's at the Paramount Theatre, a proper venue with seats and carpet and velvet and the whole deal, usually has good sound. I am excited, I will admit!

Love the Google Street view of the place and its marquee!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Needs a caption

Stop calling me "Crusty."

I'm in bread, NOT inbred!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ACL Festival Day 3


little hurricane (whole set, near front center rail)
Got to this stage by Rock Island in order to maneuver into place for The Greencards. This is a good band with a configuration like White Stripes: guy on electric guitars ("Tone") and girl drummer ("CC"). Their band tagline/self-applied genre is “dirty blues.” CC threw her sticks to the crowd, and there was a big scuffle over one of them right by us. One man tackled another one and they both landed hard with our backpack underneath them! Luckily nothing in it was broken. We manage to yank that free, and since the area was rather cleared then, I was able to easily grab my territory. The man on the bottom continued to hold onto his prize drumstick for dear life while the man grappling on top of him refused to give up, despite security guards promising him that they’d get him another one. Totally crazy.
The Greencards (whole set, front center rail)
This is one of our favorite bands. We’ve been seeing them as often as possible since 2003. Incredible instrumental work, songwriting, and vocals. They never fail to make our day. They are amazing.
Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses (front rail far right, whole set). Bingham is hot as a firecracker right now. He worked on the Crazy Heart soundtrack with T-Bone Burnett and co-wrote "The Weary Kind". Over the past year it's won him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, Critic's Choice for "Best Song," and Americana Music's "Artist of the Year." First time for us to see him live was on Sunday. The video below is from that very event. The film crew with Malick, Bale and Bennett was there again backstage, there were sightings of the actors (in fact, you can see Haley in the video below, the pretty girl in the black camisole). They filmed MrB a lot (close up crowd shots) and maybe Blueberry too. I was keeping my head down for the camera.
We headed for home after Bingham. We had sunburns, hurting feet, a mile yet to walk to the bus stop, and Monday morning, 4:30 AM coming around too soon.

ACL Festival Day 2


A little more rain fell, and it was wonderful even though we were out in it. Alison Krauss & Union Station restricted stage seating to her band's guests (which included Robert Plant and Patty Griffin - I think the cat is finally out of the bag on this local celebrity couple) so we watched from the front. Beautiful show. I sooo love this band and everyone in it.

After AK&US, we went to the tented stage for
Gillian Welch (and David Rawlings). Gillian has played this festival a couple of times previously, and they put her on one of the big stages. For some reason they didn't this time. The smaller stages at ACL, especially if the acts are somewhat acoustic, fall victim to really awful sound bleedover from the other stages. I have been front rail center for a small stage band before, and could still hear the band from another stage equally well. This thing is the elephant in the room, performers put up with it because they are troopers, and not enough audience members complain or if they do, it doesn't make any difference - the festival will sell out.

Anyway, here is Gillian and David: The Revelator

And here is the band that was playing on the nearby stage and was scheduled to continue for another half hour, the first half of Gillian's set. Skrillex: "Kill Everybody"

She went out on a limb and had them postpone her start time until Skrillex was finished. It was sooo much better that way for everyone, but it delayed the stage schedule and some people may have felt inconvenienced by that.

Here is a bit of prime ass-holery from Billboard Magazine's tweet:
The aged + child crowd in Gillian Welch tent seems not amused by the rave happening across the way at Skrillex. #ACL #dealwithit
Deal with it? So it's perfectly alright to have both those performers going at the same time and place? It takes nothing away from the listening experience of the acoustic, quieter performance? Our only problem is that we are old? Or there are kids in the audience? (there are all ages in ALL the audiences.) This is the opinion offered by a representative of a MUSIC magazine? #assholejustdoesntgetit #goodongillian

My Morning Jacket was the headliner we chose for the night, and again, did not really attempt to get close. It was a beautiful night, and little damp and cool and cloudy, unlike the nights we've had here for several months when it might still be 100° out. Most of the crowd was at the other end of the park, so we had the opportunity to have some space around us, look up at the sky without feet stepping over your face, and dance in big wide circles (like nobody was looking). They sounded really good. They've been around for awhile and never caught on with me, but I'm ready to listen now. Nothing like an old new discovery.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ACL Festival Day 1

We had the kind of passes that allowed us into artist backstage area as well as limited stage-side seating. These are wonderful to have because you can recharge your psychic batteries (as well as your *literal* batteries) in a place that’s not a marching throng of sweaty humanity. They also have free (for tips) beverages, snack food, somewhat air-conditioned restrooms with flush toilets and actual soap+water. These things make a LOT of difference, and we are grateful to our friends for this gift.

I like to see my favorites, but also really like the opportunity to see someone I've never seen, and in some cases I might not have even heard of them. Just walking by the back of the crowd doesn't count, gotta stay for at least a song.

Friday Highlights

Ha Ha Tonka (3 songs, front)
Good indie band from Missouri. Yes, that's right. Our old stomping grounds.

Delta Spirit (whole set, stageside)
Have been wanting to see this band for awhile. Don't have any of their music but plan on changing that. It was great to be able to watch them from the stage.While we were there, we noticed below us that one of the cameramen below us (we are on a kind of railed catwalk) is totally obsessed with this gorgeous blonde and keeps filming her instead of the band. Well... these things happen. More about her soon...

Cave Singers (2 songs, tent stageside)
Have seen this great band before, but got there too late to get a good viewing spot, and the side seating had obstructed views PLUS bad sound, so we moved on.

Ray LaMontagne (2-3 songs, side rail)
Everybody has heard Ray's music. It's been used in television shows and I think) commercials. Very soulful, great voice.

Bright Eyes (whole set, stageside)
Had never seen this band before. An exciting and intense show. Here’s a zoom-in of center stage.Lead singer Conor Oberst about to crowd surf. I love this one because of the facial expressions in the crowd!
While standing in line, the woman ahead of us mention that the “Tree of Life” guy was making a movie here, so that explained the previous 'groupie-ogling cameraman'. The woman being filmed on the stage for Delta Spirit was Haley Bennett, and during Bright Eyes, the movie crew came striding down the center aisle of the crowd and proceeded to enter the stage from the (audience) left. Here is one of my shots, and we didn’t figure out who the actor was from that distance... and, in fact, did not until Monday...... which is probably a good thing because I probably would have melted on the spot. Here is someone’s video of them as they were preparing for the stage approach:

We missed all but one song by Gary Clark Jr. for that bit of excitement, but he is a hot local gee-tar player so we hope to catch him soon in Austin somewhere.

We didn’t make the most of the headliners at the festival, mainly because the only way to get close to the stage is to “camp out” there for many, many hours during the day. I have done that plenty of times, but not this time. Stageside viewing was not available for Coldplay, so we watched about half of it from way back on the lawn in a throng of people. Other than the in-person laser light show, I think I would just as soon watch on Palladia or ACL-TV if I can’t get close to the stage. Anyway… Day 1 was a blast, and a tiny bit of rain fell, which made us all ecstatic.

Here’s a collection of links about this still super-secret Terrence Malick film starring Christian Bale that was filmed at ACL-fest.

Superhero Hype <---- check out these great photos!
NY Mag
The guy (on twitter) who got the candid video
First showing

(I did not care for Tree of Life, but will have to see this one - just because...)