Archive for July, 2006

Head’s up on J5, and where the heck I’ve been

The inf-ingcredible hiphop group Jurassic 5 will be doin’ it live at Stubb’s tomorrow w/ openers X-Clan. Tickets are $23/25 and the show starts at 8 Were I not broke and busy as all get out for the next two weeks, I’d be there with bells on.

This past weekend I was in San Jose for the Blogher Conference (why yes, I’m supernerdy and awesome) and I can’t begin to tell you how much I missed home. Seriously. But on the flipside, making friends with all these brilliant, fun, confident women means some of them will probably come in for SXSW! So that’s very very exciting. I got a lot of questions about Austin and I felt really proud talking about it because there’s so many great things to be said. So, happy to be back, learned a lot, rocked out with mommybloggers, etc.

National flower of Austin

sunflow.jpgNo longer treated as weeds, common wild sunflowers are permitted by more and more people to bloom in some corner of the yard. They need no particular attention, of course, springing up and thriving as they do beside hot pavements and on any broken soil. It’s true that they’re coarse and that the hairy leaves and stems are irritating to some. The yellow flowers on these plants taller than people provide nectar to many butterflies. Even people who don’t molest them while they’re blossoming often uproot them when the seedheads begin to form. This deprives many birds of a favorite food. Right now, we’re predominantly seeing whitewing doves and entire families of cardinals. In this photograph, along with the yellow sunflowers it’s possible to discern zinnias, ruellias (wild or Mexican petunias, low and blue-violet), yellow and orange cosmos, and tithonia (Mexican sunflowers, red-orange). The fine, feathery leaves belong to fennel, also attractive to birds and butterflies. Helianthus annuus requires nothing but to be left alone. If the browning leaves and departing flowers seem to be an eyesore, it’s possible, once the seedheads form, to bend the stems down to lie inconspicuously horizontal on the ground, so that the seeds remain available to nourish birds and to grow flowers in the year to come.

Austin’s Day of Infamy – Follow-Up

I wrote last week about tomorrow being the 40th anniversary of the UT Tower Shooting. I’ve been updating that post periodically over the past week as new posts have cropped up. I’ve got a few more today:

Lastly, thanks to the Austinist for marking my original post as one of their Best of the Austin Blogs picks last week.

Check out Part 1 and Part 3.

Black and Blue

Black Joe Lewis is the man. He, with his rockin’ band, blasted some killer tunes at the Hole in the Wall last night. Some slow blues, some smoking 60’s punk screamers–it couldn’t’ve been more perfect. Black Joe has just got the most killer voice. One of Black Joe’s sidemen, Walter Daniels, of South Filthy and of Big Foot Chester and Jack ‘O Fire fame, smoked on the harp. It’s great to see a youngin’ playing this wonderful style of gut-bucket blues. Keep the flame alive Black Joe Lewis!
Black Joe Lewis plays Sundays at 10 pm at the Hole in the Wall.

Put Me In

Traffic was light on the way into downtown this morning until I got to the light at Cesar Chavez and I-35. The line of cars at the left turn lane was unusually long. It wasn’t any better as turned and headed west. The parking lot across the street from Iron Works BBQ was packed. “Must be something going on at the Convention Center,” I thought. It was then that I noticed packs of larger than average guys, some with matching sport shirts, baseball caps, and a few wearing those Bike-brand polyester shorts.

“Coaches.”

No, the Friday Night Lights filming hadn’t taken over the city. It’s the Texas High School Coaches Association 2006 Convention & Coaching School. The lots between 2nd and 3rd, Congress and Brazos were filling up fast as well. Good luck parking downtown today. Now, give me 5 laps!

No “motiveless malignity” here

Coleridge’s phrase does not apply to the Iago figure in Omkara; he has his reasons. The plot of this movie parallels that of Othello without copying it. For instance, an heirloom jeweled belt is the handkerchief of the play. I’ve seen the play performed badly several times, I’ve seen the movie in which Laurence Olivier was Othello with his greasepaint practically dripping from his face, and I’ve attended a half-dozen productions of Verdi’s Otello. Omkara is a very interesting addition to these realizations. This version is set in a political milieu and Omkara / Othello is a paramilitary or security operative for a politician. Cassio / Kesu is an immature and naive leader of the student faction of the political party. Despite the fact that this is a tragedy, there are occasions for singing and dancing, and this movie makes the most of them. Kareena Kapoor is as wonderful here as she was in Chup Chup Ke. The two male leads are compelling. Although there is “action,” this is not an action movie. The end is known. We were a party of two at this movie and each was afraid that the other was not enjoying it. Both of us did, but this movie isn’t for everyone. It is beautiful to behold. It does, however, take its time to set the mood and deepen it. This is quite a good brief summary. Omkara is playing at the AMC Barton Creek Square. I hope that this promoter keeps bringing Indian movies to Austin.

A Kid’s Favorite Food

Took my son to Central Market for his favorite Macoroni and Cheese. It’s my favorite too since it’s so cheap and it comes with a free soda. He has decided the north Central Market has the best mac ‘n’ cheese. He used to have to play on the playscape after we ate, but he’s outgrown that–he’s nine. He seems content with wandering the aisles digging the great food at CM. I guess he’s becoming a foodie.

Here’s our favorite make it at home from scratch mac ‘n’ cheese recipe.

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour (use slightly less than a 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
5 slices American cheese (you can experiment with the type of cheeses you want to use.

Cook the macaroni until soft but not mushy (remember you’re making mac ‘n’ cheese, not pasta). While the macoroni is cooking, melt the margarine or butter in a saucepan (I like butter best for this recipe). Once the butter is melted, add the flour, salt and pepper, and stir. Take the saucepan with the flour mixture off the burner. Slowly stir in the milk. Put the saucepan back on the heat. Heat to boiling, stirring all the while. When the milk mixture has boiled for one minute add the cheese to this mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted. Drain the cooked macaroni. Add the macaroni to the cheese mixture and stir until mixed together. If you want you can eat at this point, but I like to put the macoroni and cheese in a casserole pan and bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the top is slightly browned. You can also sprinkle extra cheese of your choice on the macaroni and cheese just before baking it.

Source: Betty Crocker’s Kids Cook!

Super and semi-

super.jpgThis image is staff-painted tempera on a window over one of the doors at the Westgate movie theater. Its mate is a giant Superman emblem. When the weather gets hot, the hot get cool, at the movies. Today we passed over Superman and went for My [Semi-]Super Ex-Girlfriend. The entire plot’s encompassed by the title. Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman are good sports; Eddie Izzard and, to a lesser extent, Wanda Sykes do some scene-stealing. Much of this movie appears to be filmed on the streets of Manhattan and those around Prospect Park in Brooklyn. This movie’s all silly, low-key fun. The best sequence, and the one that provoked the heartiest and most extended audience laughter, employs a denizen of the deep. Stay for the clever cartoon end-credit sequence.

Jazz & Funk

Went to the Continental Club to see Mike Flanigin play in the Lounge. Mike plays Thursday thru Sunday at 10 pm every week. He’s a great Hammond B3 Organ player. He said his backing players vary from night to night. Last night he was playing pretty jazzy stuff. Other nights it’s more bluesy and funky depending on who’s backing him up. The Lounge is next to The Continental Club and above the tattoo shop. It’s a great place to listen to the music and hangout. Basically, it’s a big hip living room, with a bar.

Mike also plays in Barfield – The Tyrant of Funk, another of the Continental Club’s regular bands. They hold down the Tuesday 10 pm slot. I haven’t seen them yet, but I listened to their record and it is some funky stuff.

Personal wind farm

breeze.jpgThe conventional wind farm comprises turbines that generate electrical power from wind-turned blades; mine employs battery-supplied electrical power to generate wind. My first Squeeze Breeze cost a dollar and was found on an Albertsons remainder table. Now, thanks to Academy Sports & Outdoors, I enjoy the gale-force effects of an array of Squeeze Breeze water misting fans. These take two AA batteries and use them very efficiently. The William Cannon store stocks them currently in three lurid color combinations. There’s a carrying strap, the trigger when pressed releases a spray of cooling water (broken into a mist if the fan’s in operation), and the aperture for filling is large enough to admit ice cubes for additional chill. In this household, where there’s no air-conditioning, we especially prize them because they stand up on their own and are really good (and quiet) personal fans for use, for instance, on a cluttered computer desk. We like them also when we’re outdoors reading in the screen tent after supper, and they’re great to have along at the bus stop. These are invaluable accessories for hot outdoor events. If they’re not sold on the grounds at the ACL music festival this year, somebody can make a fortune waylaying those afoot and headed for the entry gates, complete with a 100% markup over retail.

The old ads used to say, “It’s fun to shop at Academy.” And at least at this store, it certainly is. I truly hate to shop. The employees at William Cannon know their stock and know where it’s to be found. They assist the shopper and one another. They’re cheerful. Because I dislike shopping so, I want the sought-after to be found, and found fast. If it’s not available, I want to know that right away as well. I was there in search of a particular sort of footgear. It was carried in a broad range of sizes. There are places to sit and mirrors for viewing shoes. Members of the staff find the styles and sizes, bring them to the customer, and assist in lacing where necessary and in putting them on and taking them off the foot. They were helpful with impatient children getting ready for the new school year. I saw no Brannock measuring device, but I’ve been in dedicated shoe stores selling much dressier and more expensive shoes with service not half so good.

Members of the staff know their fishing tackle and sporting goods and are not condescending to their female customers. It really was fun to shop at Academy. The Squeeze Breeze mister fans were located in the camping department.

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