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. ;-)