Archive for May, 2012

Times change, Austin Java

Early Saturday we were debating where to go for a late breakfast, Austin Java came up. When I first came to Austin in 2004, Austin Java down on Barton Springs was a joy, eclectic, fun staff, interesting customers, wifi and endless coffee as well as some tasty food and great salads.

Back sometime I think in 2009 it changed to table service. In the “good ole days” you showed up, ordered and paid at the counter, they gave you a number, you found a table and either eat and left, or eat and stayed. Either way, it was simple transaction. I stopped going when they switched top table service, I met early one Thursday with Keith and Dan to discuss arrangements for an upcoming event. The visit went like this… Find a table, wait for menus, wait to order, wait for food, wait for check, wait for credit card processing and then constant “can I get anything else requests”. Even in an efficient, less waiting process, it was still 5-step transaction.

So, Saturday with my guest we decided to pass. Early Saturday evening we walked down from deepest Bouldin Creek, did a bit of the trail, the footbridge and decided to head to Shady Grove for dinner, we emerged from around the back of the new apartment building, between Uncle Billys and Austin Java, Uncle Billys seemed packed, Austin Java, not so much tables available inside and out the front. Around at Shady Grove there was a 25-minute wait for a table indoors and longer for outdoors, we waited.

So whats up with Austin Java, anyone else? Are the other Austin Java’s on 12th and Lamar and at City Hall table service? Is there something else at play here?

Bernie: locally filmed movie a local attraction

Violet Crown CinemaThe movie Bernie is must-see entertainment.

It’s now playing in town at the Violet Crown Cinema and at the Arbor. On-line advance purchase appears to be requisite to see it at the Violet Crown; an attempt to purchase tickets at the door there was met with information that the next two shows were already sold out. So it was on to the Arbor, where the much larger house was nearly sold out.

This movie is laugh-out-loud fun. The audience even applauded spontaneously a few times. Look for familiar scenes from San Marcos, Bastrop, Smithville, Austin, and more. Quita Culpepper and Dale Dudley are on-screen presences.

Everyone loves different aspects of this movie. Here are some of my favorites: Jack Black’s singing, the singing and especially the choreography of the stage scene of “Seventy-Six Trombones” from The Music Man, the dialogue, the costumes, the humor generally, and the performances of everyone, in particular that of Richard Robichaux and, yes, those of Shirley MacLaine and, especially, Matthew McConaughey.

This would be a movie to see even if it weren’t set in Texas and weren’t filmed in part nearby. You won’t have a favorite scene to compare with the favorite scenes of others if you don’t go see it while it’s here.

Hudson River school of painting: last day for this show

Today’s the very last day for a wonderful traveling exhibition at the Blanton Museum. There’s still time to get there before it closes at five.

It’s called “American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting.” Views of the Susquehanna, Hudson, Saco, and other rivers and panoramas of Niagara, Lake George, Saranac astonish in their beauty. The 119 works of art are for the most part quite small, and the frames are as interesting as the art displayed within them. There’s always instructional material in addition to the labels mounted on the walls; look in the slots in the middle of the banks of benches in the exhibition halls.

The Blanton cafe and gift shop are worth visits for their own sake. There’s a gift in every price range for every age: books, toys, stationery, tabletop items, and much, much more.

Cinco de mayo conjunto fest

Fiestas Patrias for el cinco de mayo this year was two days; we had to choose one and were glad that the Sunday weather and the Sunday conjunto music made us and everyone happy, happy, happy! This is an annual event for all ages, and all ages were out on the dance floor.

The talented UT conjunto led off the program, followed by Los Pinkys, Los Texas Wranglers, Henry Zimmerle, Santiago Jimenez, Jr., and many, many more.

See toy-camera images and unedited videos, and make a place on your calendar for this event in 2013. You’ll be so glad you did!

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