Archive for January, 2007

Tweedy cut from a different cloth

I, being the luckiest girl in the universe, got to see Jeff Tweedy tonight and yesterday over at Hogg Auditorium, and I am desperately infatuated with him now. I worked the first show and was happy to do so- Jeff is the lead singer of Wilco, and has had a few other semifamous bands to his credit- among them Loose Fur and Wilco-precursor Uncle Tupelo. I only knew some Wilco songs, and was not the most ardent fan, but watching him play alone, backed only by several guitars lying in wait upstage, fingers flying over the frets, I was completely seduced by the simplicity and beauty of his music. That man is a surgeon with a guitar. He played songs from all the bands, and told us stories in between songs. He has this incredible stage presence, and hilarious rapport with the audience, which seemed to be mostly die-hard fans. I resolved to return the next day.

When I went back tonight I was kinda hoping for the same show as yesterday’s, but no dice. Completely different, but still wonderful. He only repeated a couple of the songs from the night before (Remember the Mountain Bed was not one of them, boooo), and made completely different jokes. I hate when musicians have an audience schtick, some pre-written banter, and Jeff is totally schtick free. Between these shows and the UNBELIEVABLE Ghostland Observatory show at Hogg on Friday, I think it’s been a pretty solid week concert-wise.

The Sinus Show, no more!

sinus.jpgWhile we were taping the Austin Movie Show yesterday, I found out that The SInus Show is calling it quits. They cite “personal issues” as the reason. One of the sinus performers is continuing on with “Master Pancake Theater”. I found this article on The Austinist about it.

For anyone who might not know, The Sinus Show is much like the cult TV classic, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” also known as MST3K. If you don’t know what that is then I’m afraid you must immediately report for “Carousel” (That’s a Logan’s Run reference, so if you’ve never hear of Logan’s Run…Ah, nevermind).

In fact the show used to be called “Mister Sinus Theater” until there were some legal rumblings from the MST3K camp. The Sinus Show was basically three guys who would give a live commentary over mostly really bad movies. I say mostly because they also did some movies like Die Hard, which I don’t think fall into that category, but are still fun to heckle and skewer.

Sadly, despite all the things I heard about how great they were, I never got around to seeing them. I always heard they were one of the best shows in Austin.

The official statement from the Sinus Show:

“After six incredibly fun years the Sinus Show is ending its run at the Alamo Drafthouse. Our last show was January 13th. We are sad to see it end, but we are also proud of the shows we’ve had. Over six years of bad movies, unrestrained jokes and partial male nudity– it’s been a blast and we’ve loved being a part of the Alamo.
We understand there’s plenty of questions– what’s next for Sinus? What’s next for the Alamo? — but for now we’d rather simply say thanks for all the people who have come and laughed with us.

Thanks Austin.

The Sinus Show”

Owen Egerton had this to add:

“I’ve had some of the finest times of my life doing Sinus Shows. Austin is great place to hear people laugh. I look forward to many more laughs in the years to come.”

Day pass of weirdness

keep Austin weird bus passThis is my favorite all-day ticket so far. Usually the images are of Austin landscapes or architectural works. This was good for 24 hours’ worth of Austin-weird rides. I wonder how often this image appears in the rotation or whether it’s been recently introduced. At any rate, this Keep Austin Weird pass was new to me.

A fresh Capital Metro schedule goes into effect this coming Sunday, January 28. As always, the update page makes this claim: “Minor schedule adjustments to improve operation.” This language never seems to be used when the change in schedule is to add a run or to shorten wait intervals. The library is always one of the best places to find the new maps and schedule books. Sunday, they weren’t there yet, but they will be. Other locations that supposedly offer the schedule booklets (certain supermarkets, for example) always seem to dig them out grudgingly from a carton in some back room instead of keeping them visible.

In case it’s not legible from the image here, the descriptive language running down the left side of the pass, which might customarily say something like “Plaza Saltillo,” says “a state of mind.”

Paul’s Stone Sculpture Garden

Stone Sculpture Over the winter holidays, South Austin became a little less weird. When Paul sold his house along East Bouldin Creek, his front garden decorated with fantastic sculptures of stacked stone and wood disappeared. I used to take everyone who came to visit me to see Paul’s work. It was the highlight of the neighborhood tour.

I talked to him one day to tell him how much I admired his work and to ask him how the sculptures were held together. Glue? A metal rod? They weren’t. They were just carefully balanced. He laughed saying that people would walk by and touch one and the sculpture would tumble. The person would make off in a hurry. Small animals and weather also brought the stones down. Paul would just restack them into new sculptures. The garden was always changing.

Jill Nokes, an Austin landscape designer and author of How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest is writing a new book, Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home which is rumored to include photos of Paul’s sculptures. I hope it’s true.

I’ve posted a few of my own photos to Flickr.

FronteraFest 2007 and St. Nicholas

webster06.jpgFronteraFest 2007 kicked off last Thursday, a couple of days late due to the ice storm that hit early last week. KUT had a report on the festival on opening day.

You can check out all the details on their site, but here’s a quick rundown. The 14th annual fringe theater event is grouped into three sections:

  • The Short Fringe (25 minutes or less) at Hyde Park Theater
  • The Long Fringe (90 minutes or less) at Blue Theater and City Theatre
  • Mi Casa Es Su Teatro (site specific productions around town

The festival runs into February with the Short Fringe performances judged each week and culminating in a Best of the Fest week at the end.

I’m going to check out St. Nicholas, an entry in the Long Fringe. It’s written by Conor McPherson and performed by Ken Webster. Performances are Wednesday, Jan. 24th at 7pm, Sunday, Jan. 28th at noon, Friday, Feb. 2nd at 10:45pm and Saturday, Feb. 3rd at 8:15pm at The City Theatre, 3823 Airport Blvd. Suite D. Ken performed this piece last fall at Hyde Park Theater, you can check out the page from those performances and some links to reviews here.

Waiting for the headache

Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on a work by J. M. Coetzee, with music by Philip Glass, is attracting worldwide attention. The Austin Lyric Opera is performing this on split weekends, Friday and Sunday this past week, and Saturday and Monday, January 27 and 29. Coetzee conducted his doctoral work here in Austin and mentions Austin and the Ransom Center from time to time in the writing he does for various periodicals.

Koyaanisqatsi at one time seemed to play continuously here in Austin, with an accompanying permanent preview. I once heard some of this Glass-composed music when I had a headache and I’ve never forgotten the relentless throb, throb, throb, which doesn’t make for eager anticipation of Waiting for the Barbarians.

The hanging figures that so captivated the reviewer for the local daily (she likes it that they “levitate up and down”) do not find so much favor in today’s NYT review (“In Austin, Echoes of a Distant War in an Opera’s American Premiere,” byline Steve Smith; log-in may be required): “Mummified mannequins dangling above the set, illuminated from within, were a heavy-handed touch.” The NYT reviewer does love the singing and the conducting.

Before there was Austin Lyric Opera, there were day-long bus trips leaving before dawn from the Villa Capri near campus and returning after sunset, heading to Dallas or to Houston to hear opera performances. Joe McClain and the wonderful Dr. Walter Ducloux were among those who went on these trips and these two were later co-founders of ALO. The nucleus of the ALO membership comes from those who endured those grueling bus rides. Remembering the early days, Philip Glass or not, and however unenthusiastically, I’ll be checking out WFTB. Tickets are still available.

Now I’m Really a Runner

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d voluntarily drag my butt out of bed at 6:00 a.m. on a cold, wet Saturday to go running in the cold and wet and actually be happy about it, I would’ve told you you’re crazy. C to the RAZY, man. But that’s just what I did this morning. After training for almost 6 months with AustinFit for a half-marathon, I feel I can say I’m really a runner. I got up in the wee hours (or what I consider wee hours, anyway) to run (sometimes wade) 7 miles, making sure to get in my last long run before the 3M Half Marathon. And just a couple of weeks ago I completed my first-ever double-digit run (10 miles). And I enjoyed it. Me, former Expert Couch Potato. Weird, huh? But I really do dig this running thing now. Not only do I feel healthy and fit, but it reminds me of some of the reasons I love Austin. There’s nothing like running across Town Lake on a clear morning with a view of downtown. And Austin has so many awesome trails. And RunTex. And the mayor is encouraging us to do stuff like this. I don’t want to stop running now that I’ve started, so I’m looking for other races to train for, maybe the AT&T Austin Half-Marathon (my original goal) or the Capital 10,000. And then, of course, there’s triathlon season to look forward to. What ways do you enjoy getting (or being) fit in Austin?

Lone star, three versions

lonestar.jpgThe mysterious “PARTI DE RIEN 1988″ created this copyrighted composite image containing two lone stars, one the famous sign on the Drag, and the other the one seen atop the dome of the Capitol, although the lady and the lone star are replicas of the one pictured here, having been replaced during the course of the restoration. The famous beer sign may be seen in a photo image, by and courtesy of Metblogger mss. The back of this handmade card bears the title “Lone Star,” along with the legend “U.S.A. $2.” I know that, although I wrote on and mailed off many, I have kept some of these handmade cards; this is the second design to surface. Someone told me that there may be a person’s name in addition to “parti de rien” on one of the designs that used to be sold at the Congress Avenue Bookstore, among other places. I hope to turn up one like that and I’m still hoping to learn more about this artist so appreciative of Austin.

Waving proudly; curling, too

Austin is national headquarters for those who do not envy the lank-locked. Naturally Curly, the Web site of local women Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber, who are themselves not among the smooth-tressed, comes in for a mention and Ms. Breyer for a quote, in yesterday’s NYT (“Taming Frizz and Setting Curls Free,” byline Marcelle S. Fischler).

In the days of jumpsuits, Austin men went to the barber once a week (and got their shoes shined there, too), and Austin women went Saturdays to have their hair set for Sunday at one of a few establishments, most of which, surprisingly, are still open and still offering the same styles, decades later. Younger people tended to leave their hair alone or cut it themselves, although some, male and female, would pay Big Bucks for the ministrations of a unisex stylist, usually in an old house somewhere near campus. Females being blued or blondined divided into two parties: those who went to an old-style place and those who had their hair rinsed, tinted, streaked, or otherwise colorifically altered right out there in front of everybody. Kids whose hair wasn’t a riot of curls used to be told their hair was straight, only to learn later that very few people have straight hair; most of us fall into the category of the somewhat wavy, neither frolicsomely frizzy nor smoothly and completely straight.

Sometimes I think that the economy of Austin depends on the acupuncturists, massage therapists, tattoo artists, landscape designers, personal trainers, chefs, musicians, carpenters, stone-masons, tile-setters, pest-control technicians, ghost-writers, graphic designers, and hair stylists, all exchanging services with one another, with the nexus of any barter network always being the tonsorial expert, and somehow I think that waitstaff and bartenders fit in there somewhere, but maybe this is merely a impression derived from my personal universe and, anyhow, that’s a subject for another day.

Dead Bird Verdict? Cold and Bugs

According to News8Austin and some AP stories I’ve seen floating around today, it was parasites and an overnight ten degree temperature drop (doesn’t that happen all the time around here?) that killed 63 birds and caused downtown to effectively shut down last Monday. It’s been interesting to hear the conspiracy theories. I guess that rumor I heard about the poisoning wasn’t true. Not surprisingly, the shutdown cost local businesses quite a bit in lost revenue.

No word yet on what kiled those birds in Australia.

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