Better than bad, It’s good

Alamo RulesYesterday, Andy and I along with nine other Austinites with quick mouse hands and cash to spare had the opportunity to meet with Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. Giving a small number of people the opportunity to meet with filmmakers/actors/creative people is a new concept at the Alamo. This was only the third such gathering; the past two playing host to Peter Bogdanovich and the creators of HomestarRunner. Like the others, it was a huge success, due in equal parts to the collection of people who had gathered, the fantastic lunch prepared by Alamo – South Lamar’s chef, John Bullington, and the easy hospitality of Tim and Karrie League.

The married co-owners of the Alamo Drafthouse have been treating Austin to their unique brand of cinematic creativity since 1997, and each year brings new gifts to area film fans. Themed dinners, live music scores, celebrity appearances, rolling roadshows, video karaoke, film festivals, Mr. Sinus send-ups, and road rallies have gradually populated the Alamo pantheon over the years, all the while serving beer and pizzas to grateful patrons. Their recent addition of the celebrity luncheon could easily be a high-dollar sell-out in less scrupulous hands, but instead the Alamo has fashioned a reasonably-priced means of sharing the love among the hoi polloi.

In between bites of powdered toast crusted crab cakes and LOG, we talked with Tim League about their unappreciated first theater in Bakersfield, the nearly-missed development of the S. Lamar theater, and many points in between. Even while the Alamo franchise is poised to expand nationwide, the Leagues have circled their wagons around Austin; other cities might get the form, but we’re the only ones who will continue to get all the unique functions that Tim and Karrie dream up.

The Alamo Drafthouse was recently voted the top movie theater in the country, clearly based on more than just serving up Buds during Wedding Crashers. Over the last several years they have ingrained themselves into the Austin social scene, simultaneously drawing on the city’s unique culture and helping to define it. Even as Tambaleo and others fall alongside Liberty Lunch as casualties of progress, the Alamo stands tall as part of what makes Austin special.

During the lunch, John K. discussed some of the difficulties he’s had over the years with entertainment company executives, told us the origins of Ren and Stimpy’s names and answered plenty of other questions. After lunch, he passed around Jimmy The Idiot Boy and George Liquor figures along with a membership card to the Official Spumco Secret Membership Lodge and a promo card for the new Ren & Stimpy DVD sets, including the upcoming Lost Episodes set. He then broke out a sheaf of paper and a box of black markers and set to providing each guest with a personalized portrait. He worked quickly and confidently on each one, occasionally glancing from paper to subject. Each one was finished in roughly five minutes or less, a testament to years of unbridled doodling. Once he was finished with the portraits, he graciously posed for photos and it was time for us all to say goodbye until the screenings at Alamo Downtown.

Later that night, we made our way downtown to the screening and Q & A with John K. . He showed a sampling of cartoons spanning his current Ren & Stimpy work, some of the flash stuff that he did with Spumco in the late 90’s, some commercials, a video, and a few other assorted cartoons. The Q & A was amusing with only a few rabid fanboy questions. John K. mentioned some of the things he’s said in other interviews about his early influences including Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. He also expressed an interest in securing a direct-to-DVD deal sometime in the future, figuring that he’ll avoid some of the problems that plague him trying to get his stuff on television. Personally, we think he should take another stab at delivery over the Internet, but with some changes over the first attempt in the late 90’s. Our screening was followed by three more sold out screenings with different content on Saturday and Sunday night.

For posterity, here’s a rundown of both the lunch menu and the program for yesterday’s festivities.

The Menu:

Powdered toast crusted lump crab cakes with carmelized onion, green chili & orange cilantro aioli.

Arugula salad with fresh fig and radish tossed with blackberry vinaigrette.

Pepper seared duck breast with ginger sour cherry sauce, nishiki cake and roasted carrots.

…..And LOG for dessert!!

The 7pm program at Alamo Downtown:

Naked Beach Frenzy
Mighty Mouse – Mighty

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