Archive for June, 2006

Blades and bed knife

handmowr.jpgAll is sharp on my reel mower, perhaps even keener than the day it was new, decades ago. Thanks to Austin Outdoor Power Equipment, the blades on the reel and the knife itself are better than ever. It’s become so that “push mower” now seems to mean “non-self-propelled power mower” instead of “non-power mower.” My faithful lawnmower has left dullness behind. I found Austin Outdoor Power Equipment via the Jane Greig Q&A column in our local daily (June 18, 2006; sign-in required). The price printed in the column was obviously way, way too good to be true and there had obviously been other misunderstandings, but Austin Outdoor Power Equipment does indeed do the necessary sharpening, with real (or reel) care, including the bed knife, and for a worth-it $30 and in less than a week. Although some of their many customers with heavy-duty professional equipment appeared to be suppressing a smile or two when they saw my trusty old mower, to their credit the fine folks at Austin Outdoor Power didn’t laugh at me. I know that more and more people are discovering the pleasures and ease of using an old-fashioned hand mower but are flummoxed when the time comes for sharpening. This is why I’m extolling the excellent work at Austin Outdoor Power. Thanks for the crisp-cut, not torn, St. Augustine blades, and thanks for extending the useful life of my mower!

AFS screening Elephant tonight

elephant_150x200.jpgAustin Film Society’s De/Re: Constructing the Narrative series is screening the Gus Van Sant masterpiece Elephant tonight. The movie’s about a school shooting on the scale of Columbine, and in direct contrast to its subject matter it’s very dreamlike, almost as if there’s no reaction or consequence. The kids in the movie were picked from screen tests Van Sant did with regular teenagers, adding to the realism in the film. Elephant won the 2003 Palme D’Or in Cannes and you should jump at the chance to see it on the big screen.

Tickets are $4 for the public and free to AFS members. The show is tonight at 7 at the Alamo Downtown.

“Refrain, audacious tar”

pinafour.jpgJosephine thus admonishes her sailor beau as he woos her. She’s the daughter of the captain and he sails before the mast. Only four performances remain of this delightful production of H.M.S. Pinafore brought to us by Austin’s own Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Consummate comic singers Frank Delvy as the Captain and Russell Gregory as First Lord of the Admiralty bring down the house. Janette Jones, the Little Buttercup, is the best one ever. The audience laughs aloud throughout and leaves smiling. Every word can be understood. Those aged 18 and under are admitted for just five dollars, and we saw scores of kids enjoying this show yesterday afternoon. The 14-piece orchestra plays these authentic arrangements rousingly. An 18-voice chorus rings out from the stage. The seats are comfortable at the Crockett High School performing arts center and it’s easy to buy tickets upon arrival. The female choristers are in suitable garb, but the lucky featured actor-singers are wearing some of the best and most becoming custom-fitted costumes seen on any Austin stage lately. I want to know more about the mysterious Jason Hays. The program says, “He loves making people look their best.” That’s obvious, and he succeeds. Anyone who loves music, comedy, stagecraft, vocal singing, or orchestral arrangements for the stage should not miss this show, a true theatrical treat.

Net Neutrality

For those that are living under a rock, there’s legislation winding its way through both the House and Senate that could potentially change how we interact with the Internet. The issue is commonly referred to as “network neutrality” or “net neutrality”. You can find a lot of information at Save The Internet.

The current and most pressing action is happening in the Senate Commerce Committee. Our own Kay Bailey Hutchison is a member of this committee and will have a say in where this issue heads out of the committee. If you support Net Neutrality, then you want to contact Sen. Hutchison via phone, fax or e-mail and let her know that you’d like her to support the Snowe/Dorgan amendment (S. 2917).

Here’s her contact information:

DC Office – 202-224-5922; 202-224-0776 (FAX)
Austin Office – 512-916-5834; 512-916-5839 (FAX)

You need to contact her office in the next few days as it’s expected to be taken up either tomorrow or Wednesday.

If you’d like to read more on the issue, here are several articles:

Beautiful biscuits abounding

frisco.jpg “What will you be ordering: breakfast or lunch?” was the query from our waitress. “A little of each,” was the answer. We were lucky to be seated right away yesterday at the Frisco. All seats were filled during the entire time we were there and there were always a few waiting for diners to finish dessert (yesterday the pies were apple and pecan, and people were buying entire pies to take home). I felt so fortunate that biscuits were still coming hot from the oven. These may be the best biscuits in Texas. They’re completely homemade. They’re fluffy and flaky. They’re never tough. They display just the right degree of golden doneness. My favorite vegetable special yesterday was turnip greens with bacon. As always, the slaw was so delicious that some people had to order extra. Frisco Specials were the preference of the dining companions; for me, it was a Top Chop’t ground steak, without that frozen texture, well-done just as ordered, not tainted with saltiness, and with that outward brownness that comes only from a long-seasoned grill at very high heat. As always, there were many familiar faces to be seen and there was much meeting and greeting. It was wonderful to arrive while there were still biscuits, biscuits impossible to duplicate at home without more practice time than most can ever even dream of investing. I love it that the menus stay on the table so that you can plan what to order on your next visit. We were among the few parties with no orders for French-fried onion rings, which made us exceptions for sure.

Krrishness equals grreatness

Krrish delivers grreat entertainment value. This Bollywood superhero movie pleased a large house at today’s 2:45 showing. The actresses had nothing much to do but look pretty, although of course the star danced with the hero, and very well. For me the don’t-miss sequence was the hallucinatory dance-and-disaster episode at the circus. There’s much Singapore scenery on view, and we’re assured that no orangutangs were treated badly during the filming of this spectacle. It may be imagination, but today’s “small” popcorn seems to have shrunk in size compared to last week’s “small” popcorn. As always with these screenings, it’s best to double-check the Tinseltown south schedule, which can change from day to day. Here are some links to what others are saying about this entertainment treat.

Spinning on SoCo

Friends of Sound is hosting a Grand Opening party today from noon to 10pm. There will be DJs all day, and 50 cent specials on thousands of records. And oh yes, there is free beer.

FoS is located at 1704 (or 1407) S. Congress and more information can be found at

Feelin’ Groovy

My car wouldn’t shift out of park yesterday and it had been doing this weirdness for a couple of days so I took it to Groovy Automotive on 41st and Red River, and they were awesome. They charged me very very little and gave me a student discount on top of that, so that was really great. I was impressed with the speed at which they handled my issue and the straightforward way they dealt with me. Seriously, my minor issue cost me $34 and they could have been really sneaky and said it was soomething huge and charged me a bazillion dollars and it’s not like I’d have any clue either way. But they were honest and fair and they will see me again someday. Hopefully it won’t have to be anytime soon.

Join the Austin Ducatisti

GT1000.jpgWhile the rest of Austin wants you to slow down, the boys over at Mototek just want you to ride on. And you can ride in high style this weekend while Mototek is offering demo rides on their new Ducati SportClassics in addition to free refreshments, posters, and shwag-aways.

Long known as one of the nation’s top Aprilia dealerships, Mototek recently added Ducati motorcycles to the marquee after Terry Gregoricka sold the Ducati Austin dealership to focus on managing his Ducati race team. The newly conjoined dealership will soon set up shop in the 2nd Street district at 3rd and Colorado. But while they wait for final build-out, you can find Mototek and their fine Italian machines at 7535 N. Lamar (just south of 183 in the old Ducati Austin / D&L Suzuki building). The open house is scheduled for today and tomorrow, although Italian logistics had owner Jay Bernard anxiously awaiting the bikes’ arrival this morning. If you’d like to do more than look at pictures of the new GT1000, tomorrow would be the safer bet to swing by.

It’s not often that you get to toss a leg over a 12-grand Italian motorcycle without eliciting dirty looks from the sales staff, but this event is part of Ducati’s “tribal marketing” strategy that emphasizes community-building over advertising. Ducati’s take on viral marketing has gone beyond just posting an executive blog, with the company developing products such as the SportClassics and forthcoming Hypermotard concept bike based on feedback from Ducati enthusiasts (who are called “Ducatisti“). Ducati is even selling a street-legal version of their MotoGP race bike, which seems to defy the definition of prototype racing while affirming the company’s heritage and committment to fulfilling the dreams of its most stupidly-rich customers.

A few years back, I toured Northern Italy aboard a Ducati Monster and visited the factory outside Bologna. It was something akin to a religious experience, if such a thing can take place in a dirty Italian business park. The visit cemeted my love of the Ducati brand, but the temperamental behavior of my rental bike also confirmed that I’ll likely never shell out premium cash for quirky technology. Like boats and blondes, Ducatis and are best when they belong to a friend.

But if you’re OK with expensive maintenance and the requisite purchase of a new Ducati-branded wardrobe, then by all means buy into the sweet sound and supple handling of these Italian delights. With Ducati’s tribal marketing and Mototek’s exquisite collection of bikes, addiction has never been so rewarding.

Come meet the Movie Musketeers

The Movie Musketeers from the Austin Movie Show will be at the Regal Gateway 16 for the 7:30 showing of the New Adam Sandler film, “Click“. We’d love to talk to you after the movie and get your opinions on the film for the show which will be on Sunday night at 10:00 on cable channel 16. So if you have the inclination, check it out and come talk to us outside the theater afterward. If you’re not familiar with the Movie Musketeers, check out some previous segments here. We’d love to get your opinions for the show!

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