Archive for December, 2006


Austin Grocer Now there’s no need to leave the house for weeks, if we’re snowbound (not likely!). Thanks to the South Austin Farmers’ Market in the El Gallo parking lot, we have more of the very best and tastiest spinach I’ve ever tasted, and organic as a bonus. Rudolph’s Christmas tree lot next to the Taco Xpress Walgreens on Lamar is sold out; the Austin Optimists (North Lamar at San Gabriel) still had a good selection last I knew. At the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress there are still a few little items celebrating one entire year of existence. And Chef Keem has rolled out several elegant new flavors of his chocolate bars, including Bavarian hazelnut coffee bean and spiced rum raisin, wrapped in foil and slid into a custom Farm to Market Grocery wrapper printed on elegant laid paper. Heading for the H-E-B at Oltorf and Congress after a quest at Sun Harvest that didn’t net the sought-after item but did result in finding some good seed packets, we sat for a while at the Thornton Road grade-crossing for a train so long that it had a pusher unit at the end. At H-E-B we found everything on the list, including all three El Galindo products (unsalted chips and both corn and wheat tortillas). On the way out, we encountered a living person unloading the contents of several carts and placing certain perishable items in insulated containers (partially visible at right) with chill-packs. We had seen the Austin Grocer van in this lot more than once, but had never seen more. I asked permission to take this picture and learned a lot about how this service works. If I had remembered its existence, I would have been glad to avail myself of it several times during the past year. I won’t forget again. So, we’re home in plenty of time before the broadcast of Don Carlo. My guess is that rain’s a more likely prospect, but I’m ready for anything. Let it snow!

Small-town Austin

studebak.jpgFootloose and fancy-free, we dined at leisure downtown, where we heard much juicy gossip from loud talkers at neighboring tables and confirmed that one of the waiters used to be at McCormick & Schmick before coming to Louie’s 106, which was very busy, well after the noon hour, and where the sea-creatures and the veal came hot to the table. Some diners were ordering champagne splits in broad daylight. On the way to dine, we chatted with the agent showing the building pictured, on Sixth Street a bit east of the Avenue. This is the Studebaker sign that faces the alley. The next-door building once housed Butch Hancock’s little gallery and shop. Anyhow, the guy showing this very handsome nineteenth-century building told us it’s being offered at $3.2 million. We saw Ben Barnes crossing the street, looking younger than ever, if that’s possible. We learned that the new Joe’s Bar & Grill over on West Avenue is serving very good mini-hamburgers and has a shuffleboard. We changed out our borrowings at the library, which was very busy and where there were additional familiar faces to be seen, and then headed home. The amazing thing about Austin gossip, no matter how improbable, is that it’s usually true. Austin temporaries have already headed out of town, and bewildered-looking tourists have begun to arrive. I love Austin when it shrinks down on the holidays. We could even hear the bells chiming from downtown this morning.

Alamo Drafthouse is Blogging

Not sure how I missed this one, but Alamo Drafthouse has added a blog. Even better, they’re posting trailers to YouTube. Brilliant! Now if we can just get them to overhaul that damn frames-based site, I’ll be in heaven.

BoingBoing gave our favorite theater some link love today since they’re showing Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era on January 8th.

If you’re looking for last minute gift ideas, check out their swell holiday schwag. The Wife got me this pack for my birthday last week.

St. Arnold Comes to Austin

sag2a.jpgI like St. Arnold’s beer. I’ve liked it for quite some time, particularly the Amber. I’ve been known to grab a Lawnmower or an Elissa on occasion, but Amber is definitely my favorite. I’ve run into the St. Arnold people at Gingerman a few times and they’re always very cool and personable. I’ve always dug their marketing, perhaps it’s the lapsed Catholic in me.

The St. Arnold people have started a blog and a campaign to get some of the Texas laws governing microbreweries changed. Essentially, they want to be able to sell their product on the premises. They can’t do that now. If you take a tour of St. Arnold in Houston or Live Oak or Independence here in Austin or Real Ale in Blanco or Rahr & Sons in Ft. Worth and find a beer you like in their tasting room, you can’t buy it there. You have to find a store that sells the beer and get it there. Stupid, eh? No reason you shouldn’t be able to buy a six pack or a keg from the source.

Texas wineries successfully lobbied to be able to do this a few years ago. The microbreweries say that laws like this are the reason that Texas only has 5 microbreweries. Just 5! When we typically rank near the top in state beer consumption! What’s up with that? Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing in California, and home of my absolute favorite beers, agrees with them.

Much of the commentary points out that this should really be a non-issue and passed with relative ease. I hope so. I’m looking at you, Eddie. Now somebody needs to start a lobby to get Real Ale to brew more Lost Gold IPA. I’m just sayin’.

Pyrotechnical public service announcement

hen.jpgHere are the City’s fireworks FAQs. For a week now, we’ve been hearing reports in the middle of the night. This morning’s newspaper brought the Black Cat ad supplement, complete with a map to the locations of the sponsoring stands. The names of the selections featured are a testament to the faith placed in the power of nomenclature as a marketing tool, especially the appeals to Texas and Longhorn pride. Here are just some of the packaged selections: Texas Stampede, Lone Star Assortment, Longhorn, and Spirit of Texas. In the general catagory my favorite is King of the Block, for delivering Global Warming, as the package all but guarantees. Here, we’re law-abiding types, igniting nothing more awe-inspiring than sparklers, although there is a little paper-packaged Hen Laying Eggs (still sold by the local fireworks stands), which is 25% of the modest decorative-only poultry collection that also includes a wind-up tin pecking-chicken toy (courtesy of Atomic City or Terra Toys), an old yellow plastic hen complete with eggs, and a wooden Plymouth Rock hen handmade by the Terra Toys folks in an early incarnation, perhaps even when it was downtown on the Avenue before moving to Congress south of the river. Those who like their fireworks to be spectacular and legal are waiting for the First Night display over Town Lake at midnight as the old year becomes the new one.

Sweet Santaland

I have an in with a friend of a friend who’s dating a guy who knows a so-and-so and I’ve been getting to go to some shows at Zach Scott lately, and even though this is only my second one I’m just sold on it, really. I love Zach Scott. Loooooove it.
Ever since I’ve moved here back in 2003 I have wanted to see Santaland Diaries. It’s one of my favorite David Sedaris stories in one of my favorite Sedaris books (“Holidays On Ice”) and I had kindof a picture in my head of how the play was going to be done, and I was prepared…for something COMPLETELY different.
This was just excellent- first, they had the dazzling and deliciously saucy Meredith McCall sing us some songs to get us in the mood for some bawdy holiday fun, and then Martin Burke came out and performed “Dinah”, based on “Dinah, The Christmas Whore”; another story from “Holidays”. Martin Burke has a boundless, contagious energy that’s absolutely essential in a comedy cast of two, and this piece is perfect for showcasing that as he flows effortlessy through different characters. Then Meredith sang a couple more songs (far too few, I would love to have had more from her), including a song by Jason Robert Brown, which I was really excited about because I love him. And then the piece de resistance- Martin performed Santaland Diaries.
Santaland Diaries the story is pretty lengthy for a short story, especially one of David’s. Santaland Diaries the play, however, is a rapid-fire succession of anecdotes interspersed with zings! and jokes and one-liners. It is just hilarious. Martin has this way of interacting with the crowd like that one cool lady at Universal Studios who remembers you and waves as you go through the Terminator 3D show with your Dad for the eleventh time that day- he makes it feel less ike a theatre, less like a play, and more like the most outrageous story youve ever heard from your friend across a table at Schlotzsky’s. It’s a beautiful thing.
I think that comes out a lot with Zach- there’s an edginess in the production but a familiarity in the performances, you know? Even with Rocky Horror there was still so much audience interaction with Joe York you felt like you were trapped inside that mansion too.

Looooooved Santaland Diaries. Absolutely loved it, and it runs until January 7th so you have plenty of time to see it after you finally get rid of all those cousins :o)

An appeal to collective wisdom: T-shirt division

How foolish I was to think that all seasonal shopping quests had been successfully completed. Has anyone seen a T-shirt that says “defend South Austin” and has a weapon graphic of some kind? If so, where? Better yet; where can this elusive item be purchased? To paraphrase the famous quote from The Scarlet Pimpernel, “I’ve sought it here, I’ve sought it there; I’ve sought that T-shirt everywhere. Is it in heaven? Is it in hell? It must be found so that all will be well” (and so that the last item on the list can be checked off and we can have some fun around here). The most recent confirmed sighting was on Sixth Street, in the vicinity of the Jackalope. I’ve never seen one of these garments myself, but I’d like to, as well as acquire one and complete that wish list I’ve been toting everywhere around town. Really, I know somebody who truly, truly wants one of these, and now I’m beginning to be interested in having one for myself. Hocusing one up at CafePress or one of the screen-print joints here in town just wouldn’t be authentic. Seekers want the genuine article. Come on! Help Santa out here (and make some local designer happy, too).

Zilker Tree Spin

Zilker Tree Spin

MSW wasn’t the only one at Trail of Lights last night. On a whim, I decided to try capturing the Austin holiday tradition of spinning under the Zilker Tree. I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

Trail of Lights

trailoflights.jpg I took my fiance and a couple of our friends and their daughter to see the Trail of Lights last night, and we had a blast. I’ve seen the trail before, but the rest of my companions hadn’t, and our friends were particularly skeptical about the tree because they’d seen a lackluster report about the tree on a local news show. They were won over by the holiday spirit and the twinkly and festive lights. The crowds were thick, but the weather was perfectly cool, and we didn’t mind our leisurely stroll. Our token child, our friends’ one-year-old daughter, was more interested in people watching than admiring the lights, so the crowds were a great thing for her. We even managed to take a few photos, like this one of the entrance.

We entered the trail towards the end because we parked near Lake Austin Boulevard and walked along the Town Lake trail to get there. We found our way in at the Zilker Zephyr station and admired a few displays before taking a break at the Trails End Cafe for hot cocoa and coffee (and so I could take a look at the fire pit). We merged back into the flow of people to walk through the finale display and then up the hill to the tree. I insisted that we needed to see the tree from underneath, and no one was disappointed. I even convinced one of our friends to spin a little, but I think it made her dizzy. We then continued on, towards the official entrance to the trail, which I described as standing-still fireworks. The entrance and the exit are definitely my favorite displays. Make some time to see the trail this year. You won’t be disappointed!

Because it’s in print

It must be true. . . . In today’s NYT Style section, we follow Austinite Michael Hoinski as he follows Friday Night Lights actor Taylor Kitsch on a night out in Austin “Texas Forever (via Canada).” In for a mention are the Driskill and the Broken Spoke, with a photo of the actor and his brother playing shuffleboard at the Spoke. We, and The Great World out there beyond Austin, learn a little about where rhinestones are “not required, but encouraged.” . . . In this month’s Woman’s Day, Austinite Cathy Bonner encourages American women to use the 30-minute process she devised: “What I Want Next,” blurbed as “a new way to figure out what you want–and how to get it” (February 2007 issue, pages 62-63). The magazine’s editor-in-chief makes this article her main tout of the month, calling it “the real deal.” . . . And The Onion, recently available at fine newstands everywhere around town, really does have Austin-related content, so pick it up and find those local pages, with tightly edited local listings and way more local ads than might be expected, evidence of intentions to be here for quite some time to come. . . . This I only learned while at the dentist’s, scouring the waiting-room periodicals for diversion. In the September-October 2006 issue of Where To Retire magazine, an article entitled “8 Low-Cost Towns With Great Home Prices” (byline Nina J. Stewart) lists Austin right up there with Knoxville, Greenville, Ruidoso, Fayetteville (N.C.), Augusta (Ga.), Pueblo, and Spokane among the places described in this fashion: “The housing prices are below average, and the quality of life is high.”

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.