Archive for April, 2007

A gold star

I love this picture! It’s of a star on the capitol fence. So pretty.

On perma-hold

There were about a half-dozen flickers, two accompanied by noise, and then the power went out for real at just a little before 1:30 this afternoon. At just a few minutes after two, the power returned. In the meantime, we had seen two trucks from the electrical utility and two police cars and lots of neighbors trying to find out how widespread the outage was. We took turns holding on the report line, which wasn’t answered before power returned. We’ve been told before that top priority goes to the neighborhood reporting the most instances of trouble. At least there wasn’t an endless loop of the same few bars from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The crank-up radio offered no news, including on the City’s emergency station. If there’s any word about this event at all, my guess is that, once again, the squirrels will take the blame. I’m just glad that we have a gas stove and that we weren’t using the oven, which is electric, at the time. Now we can open the fridge again. I’m hoping that this does not recur, at least not today.

Barber shorn of the extraneous

Tomorrow at 3 pm is the last performance of the Barber of Seville. A review (local daily) and the Austin Lyric Opera company itself have made much of the supposedly barebones production values, since scenery apparently is minimal and the orchestra shares the stage with the singers. I haven’t yet attended this show because I swapped my usual Saturday tickets for Sunday ones, but there’s nothing novel about a minimal Barber and ALO itself has used very spare, yet novel and evocative, stagings for performances of various operas at the old Coliseum and at the Paramount.

The first performance of The Barber of Seville that I ever attended was right here in Austin, at the Capitol Theater (eventually the first Ruta Maya and now Halcyon). We sat on bleachers, and the performance was sort of in the round and was accompanied minimally, by two pianos if I remember correctly. The house was full and the audience enjoyed every minute. At the Coliseum, now of fond memory and known for its wrestling cards, concerts, and as part of the livestock show grounds as much as for anything else, we experienced the most enjoyable performances ever of Rigoletto and also of Carmen, again partly in the round and with bleachers for seating. Special effects for the transformation in Cenerentola (Rossini’s version of the Cinderella story) at the Paramount amounted to darkness and some sparklers.

So nobody should be deterred from attending The Barber of Seville. The music will be great, both singers and orchestra, and people will leave humming the tunes. It’s at the Riverbend Centre, which seems to be a l-o-n-g way from Austin central, but that’s the only drawback and, of course, for many it’s closer than the UT campus. And there are no bleachers.

Somewhat slender, but not totally tenuous

That’s the connection between a book by a used-to-be Austinite and Austin. I recognized the author’s name, so I borrowed the book from the library. The name is Adrienne Martini, and the book is Hillbilly Gothic, subtitled “A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood.” The name was familiar from the Chron and also from Austin Mama, to which Adrienne Martini contributes an essay sort of monthly. The events recounted in the book, which is in great part a memoir of post-partum depression, take place in Knoxville. As to Austin, the author thanks her old editor, Robert Faires; the dust jacket carries a blurb by Marion Winik, another former Austinite and Chron contributor; and we learn that the author lived behind a Walgreens and that Austin is hot, hot, hot three seasons of the four. I don’t think she loved Austin, describing it in the book as “being strip-mined by Hollywood and the recording industry for all of its cool, indy cred” and saying that summer “spanned from April to October” and writing of the “oppressive sunlight.” Why did she decamp? “After five years there, I was ready to leave. Austin is a great place to live, as long as you don’t mind the constant heat and oppressive hipsters. But it was time for me to go. I’ve never been a good fake Texan and am completely unable to embrace the expensiveness that is their birthright. There’s too much sun and too much sky and too much space.” Adrienne Martini now resides in Oneonta, New York, reportedly the birthplace of Jerry Jeff Walker. She has her own blog.

More Bomb Threats? WTF?

The Statesman is reporting that there have been two bomb threats to St. Edwards University and one to the Texas School for the Deaf since 10pm last night. This is in addition to the bomb threat that shut down St. Ed’s on Tuesday and in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings on Monday. I was going to stay away from talking about any of this, avoid drawing parallels to the Charles Whitman shooting, but this is getting ridiculous. What the hell is going on around here?

Zilker Park rotates its 9 hold disc golf course

Today, Me and a fellow amateur (i.e. really lame) disc golfer went to play a few rounds at Zilker Park only to find they were in the middle of relocating the holes. From what I understand, they have two different nine hold courses that they rotate every now and then. One helpful player we ran into said that the configuration they moved to today is the better of the two in that it’s a bit of a longer course and less of a practice course and it also has better tee boxes that are easier to distinguish. Since they were in the middle of reconfiguring the course, we went and had our usual flogging courtesy of Pease Park. Man, that course completely makes us feel like the new pretty boys in a Federal prison of the kind mentioned in Mike Judge’s “Office Space”. They’ve recently moved a few of the baskets at Pease too (just some minor moves), so if you haven’t played it recently, check it out too. We’ll probably check out the new Zilker configuration on Friday. Now if we just take about 72% of the suck out of our game, that would be something!

Austinite Lawrence Wright Wins Pulitzer for Nonfiction

Austin author Lawrence Wright won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction with his book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Wright apparently also plays in a local blues band called WhoDo. He has a copy of an Austin-American Statesman article about the book from August 6th, 2006 on his web site.

Congratulations also to fellow Texan, Ornette Coleman (born in Ft. Worth), who won for his recent release, Sound Grammar.

Free Cone Day Today – Ben & Jerry’s Locations

fcd_2007.jpgAs many of my Metroblogging brethren have pointed out, today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s. From noon to 8pm you can go to the location at and pick up a free cone.

You’ve got 4 locations to choose from in and around Austin:

If I remember correctly from last year, there’ll be at least one non-profit group at the store soliciting donations and giving out information as part of the cone giveaway.

Update (2007.04.17 2:30pm CDT): De-nied. A group of us went over to the Gracy Farms location only to find it closed and the Free Cone Day sign with the time scratched out and written as 4pm-8pm. What’s up with that? They’re not opening at the normal time AND they’re not giving away the free stuff until 4? Boo.

Potbelly is Coming!

Potbelly Sandwich Works at Arbor WalkI was introduced to Potbelly Sandwich Works on a business trip to Chicago four years ago. The franchise has been around for 30 years and mostly in the Great Lakes area of the country, but it looks like they’re undergoing an expansion.

There are two locations opening up in Austin this Spring, one at the new Arbor Walk shopping center at Braker and Mopac (where I took this picture this morning) and one at 2316 Guadalupe. It looks like it’ll be at least a week or two before the Arbor Walk location opens.

It’ll be a welcome relief for the lunch sandwich market around here. I’ve been sick of Thundercloud for years and I’ve never been a big fan of Quizno’s except for those crazy hamster commercials they ran a couple of years ago. Schlotzsky’s isn’t bad. I’ll hit Delaware and Texadelphia for the occasional cheesesteak. I’ve nearly gotten tired of Jersey Mike’s, but I still don’t mind going there. Subway isn’t really even worth mentioning.

Hell, west, and crooked

That’s the way everything loose in the yard was blown during the night. Brand-new leaves were just sucked from the tree limbs and a lot of entire limbs came down as well. We found our plastic stacking yard chairs a half block away, and not a half block to the south, either, which is where they’re usually to be found when the winds are fierce; they had gone in a completely different direction. Usually the old saddle blankets draped over them go along for the ride accompanying the chairs, but it took a long time to find the blankets and one may have turned into a magical flying carpet or something and be in another state by now.

One of our neighbors does a lot of yard work for other neighbors and he always likes to talk about the number of lawn-and-leaf sacks he’s filled: “I filled eight sacks at Miz’ So-and-so’s today” or “Guess how many sacks I just filled at Mr. Round-the corner’s.”

Today I finished filling the compost bin, about the size of a cord of wood, and then went on to fill nine sacks and I’m not done yet. Miraculously, or maybe just because it was pinned down with heavy duty staples and well guyed, too, our screen tent did not tear, collapse, or blow away. And how I love that great invention, the spring rake.

The local daily reports that some parts of town experienced higher winds than others. There continue to be sporadic gusts with quite a bit of force, and it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on the NWS forecast for tonight. I already have earmuff-style OSHA-approved protection to guard my hearing against evil leaf-blowers; now, as the litter only temporarily snagged on high keeps dropping from the trees, I’m considering acquiring my very own hard hat again, because I lost my old one, and I’d hate to get beaned in my own yard.

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