Archive for October, 2006

Halloween Round-Up

Austinist has a list of horror films showing around town tonight. However, they left out a two classics showing at Spider House in addition to Alien.

  • Freaks (1932) – Spider House Patio – 9pm – Before Alien
  • Nosferatu (1922) – Spider House Patio – Midnight – Free – Right after Alien

Chipotle is giving away free burritos today to customers dressed like a burrito or other Chipotle food product. I know what Ozzy Osbourne is dressing up as today. I’m guessing the price of a roll of aluminum foil is cheaper than a burrito? Can’t Freebirds come up with something better?

The kids from Escuelita Del Alma will do their annual downtown trick-or-treat rounds this afternoon, so watch out for all the little ghouls, goblins and princesses. They’re ending their walk at city hall this year to deliver postcards of support in their bid to remain downtown in the face of new development that could displace them.

News8Austin takes us on a tour of Haunted Austin. I’ve also heard that the now vacant Hard Rock Cafe building may have a ghost or two.

Cool enough

choccake.jpgThe pot roast and the Sonoran pork stew taste great and will help us get through the week but just weren’t pretty enough to go into the picture along with the pumpkins, the Breton chocolate pound cake with five ounces of chocolate, and my very last bottle of Adams pure vanilla extract from here in Austin instead of Gonzalez. Yes; now that the weather has at last changed, it’s fun to engage in marathon cooking and baking sessions.

Thanks are due to the South Austin farmers’ market for the beautiful eggplant that’s already gone and for the chiles and three kinds of summer squash, plus thyme, that went into the Sonoran stew. The pumpkins are from the pumpkin patch at Grace UMC, just a block from Congress. The three eggs for the cake are local Del Valle eggs from Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress. This is a very forgiving cake recipe as to the size of the eggs. It even worked very well at 7,500 feet above sea level, and most cake recipes do not, without alteration, and it will bake in the oven of a wood-range, too.

Having violated the first rule of cooking and baking, which is to assemble all ingredients and equipment beforehand, I really panicked when vanilla was at first not to be found. And then I found this bottle, which I’m going to keep even after it’s empty. Vanilla is good pretty much forever, so long as it doesn’t evaporate. This bottle goes at least as far back as 2002, the last year that the Adams Extracts business was in Austin. Part of the label says “true fruit flavor.” Until 1955 Adams was on San Gabriel, but then moved out to a new showplace on the San Antonio Highway, later with the address of 11266 South IH-35. That used to seem so very far away!

Areas of My Expertise

Hodgman.jpgMost of you probably already know John Hodgman as PC from the Get a Mac ad campaign for Apple. He’s also a contributor to This American Life and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

He’ll be at BookPeople tonight at 7pm, plugging the paperback release of his book, Areas of My Expertise. BoingBoing had a post earlier this month on the book tour and other Hodgmania. He’s supposed to be very funny. Go check it out!

When Houses Had Yards

If you’re like me, you’re kicking yourself for not having had the time last weekend to attend the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour in Austin. And if you’re not kicking yourself yet, take a gander at garden designer Pam Penick’s photographs and summary of the tour. Austin gardens of all styles and sizes were open to the public.

* Stone House Vineyard. Vineyard and gardens of the Stonehouse Vineyard in Spicewood.

* Poth-Gill Garden. A playful little garden filled with native plants and flowers and a clever fountain. I especially like how the back stucco wall accommodates the tree and creates a spot for a collection of potted plants. If you’ve bought a cottage in one of Austin’s central neighborhoods, this garden provides a perfect inspiration for what is possible in a small place.

* Hornickel Garden. Another smaller garden but one with a more formal design and planting. Definitely a garden to entertain in.

* Arth Garden. A streamlined garden, small but with strong architectural lines. This garden has a very 1950s modern feel to it. It’s definitely a garden to relax in and not fuss over.

* David-Peese Garden. You’d expect the founders of Austin’s Gardens nursery to have something special and their garden doesn’t disappoint. It is spectacular in its choice of plants, its design of stairs and ponds and fountains and outdoor living spaces.

* Reed-Badger Estate. This Pemberton Heights garden was designed by Penelope Hobhouse and looks the part of an English estate transplanted into Central Austin. Definitely a fantasy garden. Fortunately for the current owners’ pocket-book, they have well water to supply the garden.

One thing makes me very sad is the current trend in Austin to build houses without yards. Here we are blessed with a climate where, save the worst days of summer, we can spend a great deal of our lives outdoors. Earlier residents of Austin capitalized on this asset by building small houses with large yards that had plenty of outdoor living spaces. I grew up in a family of ten and our various 3 bedroom houses never seemed crowded because we kids were outside playing.

Take the tour and take a whiff of what can be done if we bring back the yard.

Your vote is your voice

earlyvot.jpgThe courthouse has the homelike and neighborly atmosphere that I used to enjoy at my old precinct, now abolished. I’ve always liked the courthouse, anyhow, for its snack bar and the lively bulletin boards and the offices that always seem to have that personal touch. I’ve never been in that building without seeing somebody I know. It’s too bad that more and more services that used to be available there have been moved out to Airport, where the property-tax office has been now for a while. We considered voting yesterday at the H-E-B at Congress and Oltorf, but there was a line. Those eligible to vote but still undecided may wish to check the local League of Women Voters site, which has links to early polling locations, to Election Day precinct locations, and to the LWV non-partisan guide to candidates and issues. Pay attention to warnings about the special Congressional election, if relevant to you, because a straight-ticket vote doesn’t work for that. Some were having a bit of difficulty in advancing to the pages containing the Austin municipal-bond election, so that’s something else to watch out for. There’s lots of traffic connected with the Book Festival this weekend, so it’s best to stay away from Eleventh Street.

Austin Wii Party


Wiley got to attend a super seekret invite only preview party of the unfortunately named new Nintendo console, Wii, last night. (What the hell was wrong with Revolution anyway?). Check out his full review here.

I’d really like to get one of these, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that it’s ok to spend over $200 on a console. Sure, it’s cheaper than an XBox 360 or a Playstation 3, but what happened to $99? I got bills to pay.

News Flash: Zombies To Invade Downtown!

I’ve seen this a few different places, but you’ve only got two hours left before the onslaught of the undead.

From Natasha:

Join other zombies as we terrorize downtown in our search for delicious brains! We will meet Friday, October 27th at 7:30pm at City Hall to organize our zombie invasion. The mob will last for about an hour. The route we will take will take us from 1) City Hall to 2) 4th & Colorado to 3) 5th & Congress and finally to 4) 6th & Brazos. The group will take various methods to get to each point so it seems that zombies are coming from all directions.

What to Wear: If you show up still living be prepared to be eaten and turned into the undead. There are really two ways to go here, freshly killed or decomposing corpse. A freshly killed zombie will look normal except for some obvious flesh wounds. A decomposing zombie will have been around longer and therefore be in a much worse condition. Be creative!

I’ll look for photos on Flickr tomorrow, but if anyone sees any or attends, please link them in the comments.

Update (2006.10.31): Here’s a flickr set from the zombie flashmob.

Benefits of a Good Education

Earlier this month, Austinist pointed me to the UT Campus Safety reports and they’ve been providing endless amusement ever since. I couldn’t help but post a few highlights from last night.

You’ve got to love the sarcastic tone of the reports and kudos to the second subject who appears to have thoroughly marked his territory at the intersection of Guadalupe and 26th. I can’t help but wonder what these people have planned for the rest of the weekend. It was only Thursday night for cryin’ out loud. I guess they’re just trying to live up to the #1 Party School ranking released at the end of August. Well done, kids.

10-27-06, at 12:33 AM. – 2000 BLOCK RIO GRANDE
Public Intoxication: A UT student was observed staggering and stumbling as she attempted to walk along a flat sidewalk. The officer observed that the subject was missing a shoe. During the investigation, the officer detected a very strong odor of alcohol on the subject’s breath and noted her confused state of mind. The subject informed the officer that she had drunk too much at a party and that the boys were kissing her. She then informed the officer that she got upset when her boyfriend left the party. The officer allowed the subject the opportunity to use a life line and contact a friend, the friend hung up on her. The subject was taken into custody for Public Intoxication and transported to Central Booking.

10-27-06, at 2:07 AM. – 400 BLOCK WEST 26th STREET
Public Intoxication: A UT student was observed falling into a metal fence while providing alcohol-enriched compost for a local area home owner. After filling the allotment, the subject continued to vomit on himself. During the investigation the officer observed that the subject had attempted, unsuccessfully, to evacuate other bodily fluids. During the investigation, the officer detected a very strong odor of alcohol on the subject’s breath and observed that his eyes were bloodshot and watery. While talking to the subject, the subject lost his balance and fell, causing the officer to catch him before he hit the ground. The subject was taken into custody for Public Intoxication and transported to Central Booking.

10-27-06, at 3:28 AM – 100 BLOCK WEST 21st STREET
Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor (2 Counts): A UT student was observed supporting another UT student as both were attempting to negotiate the hidden contours of a straight sidewalk. During the investigation, the officer detected a very strong odor of alcohol on the breaths of both subjects. The officer discovered that both subjects were under the legal age of 21. Both subjects were issued a field release citation for Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor.

Voter Beware

An article from Tuesday’s Washington Post has been making the rounds on The Internets. Apparently the voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic, a company based here in Austin, are truncating names of candidates on the final summary screen in Virginia. Since reading the article, I’ve been meaning to double-check that we use the Hart machines here in Texas and wondering if we might have the same problem. Well, this News9Austin article that just appeared in my RSS reader removes any doubt.

Kinky Friedman becomes “Richard ‘Kinky’ F.” Carole Keeton Strayhorn is “Carole Keeton St.” And Texas’ senior senator? Just call her “Kay Bailey Hutch.”

The Washington Post article said that Hart Intercivic hoped to have the problem fixed by next fall. Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, seemed to be taking the matter seriously. I wonder what Dana DeBouvoir will have to say?

The complicates an already somewhat confusing election. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, two congressional districts in Austin aren’t included in straight ticket voting. For instance, if I want to vote a straight democratic ticket, my U.S. House Rep., Lloyd Doggett, isn’t included in that. I have to be sure that he’s been selected on his own in addition to the straight ticket.

TV Party at the Alamo Drafthouse

I’m a complete movie snob. I like to think I rarely watch TV. I don’t have cable or a TIVO. But AJ is not much of a movie fan and so over the years of our relationship while he’s working late at nights, I’ve been sucked into the arcing plotlines of Gilmore Girls, 24, Lost, Prison Break, and Veronica Mars.

Now the Alamo Drafthouse (Austin’s most inventive think-outside-the-big-box cinema) has gotten TIVO. I can keep up with some of my favorite shows on the big screen, without commercials, glass of red wine still firmly in hand. Add an order of jalapeno poppers or apple cobbler. Can TV get better than this?

For our anniversary, Tuesday, AJ made the ultimate gesture of love and took me to see Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars. The sound was too loud so he sat with his fingers in his ears instead of holding my hand. Still watching TV with a group of people while eating and drinking beats watching it alone. (Is that the appeal of sports bars? Who knew.)

Reserve your seat online by buying a $5 food/drink voucher.
Tuesday: Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars
Thursday: Smallville, My Name is Earl, and The Office
Midnight Friday: 2 hours of Battlestar Galactica

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