Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Be your own Daddy Warbucks

So, I still need to file my report from my field work in Corpus Christi (SB2K10, woooo!). But I am putting that off because today happens to be Tuesday, my new most favorite day of the week.

Tuesday was never high on my list of days in the past, mainly because around 1pm on Tuesday I usually realize DEAR GOD IT'S ONLY TUESDAY. Shouldn't we be further along in the week by now? But I've discovered that one of the best deals in town happens on Tuesday, and now I have a reason to live through Monday every week. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the beauty that is happy hour + 1/2 price burger day at Annie's Cafe on Congress.


In LA there was an abundance of good happy hour deals, probably because everything is so overpriced during the other, emotion-neutral hours. Mike and I were slightly disappointed with the happy hour selection in Austin, despite the fact that the drinkin' here is so much more affordable to begin with. SO when we discovered the Annie's happy hour, we ran around in frenetic circles until we were too dizzy to hold our cocktails steady without spilling.

The happy hour at Annie's is one of the best in this town or any other. $3 off their high-class, grown-up cocktails (hello Austin Old-Fashioned and fancy St. Germaine!), $1 off draft beers and, best of all, a carafe of wine (3 healthy glasses!) for just $6. But here's why Annie's happy hour is best on Tuesday -- it's also half-price burger day. This means you get a Texas-sized burger with grilled onions and melty cheese plus a mountain of crispy French fries for about $5. If you are not a mathemagician I will break it down for you: $5 burger + $6 carafe of wine = $11 bellyful of winey, beefy goodness.

So don't be surprised when you see me on a Monday and I'm singing at the top of my lungs, "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow! You're only a daaaaay a-waaaaay!" Because the rest of the week may be a hard-knock life, but on Tuesdays I can totally be my own Daddy Warbucks at Annie's.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gas - it's natural

So, I haven't really said anything yet about this year's South by Southwest and that's because I'm kind of pretending it doesn't exist. Once SXSW Music starts, it feels like the entire city has gone on grown-up spring break -- the weather has usually just turned glorious, there is free booze and food at every turn, and everyone is in such a great mood it's as though the city water supply is spiked with a healthy dose of ecstasy. (Do people even do ecstasy anymore, or was that just a '90s thing?)

Sooo the music festival starts tomorrow, and I am currently sitting in a Hampton Inn hotel room in Corpus Christi. And then I am off to LA for the remainder of the week/weekend. On one hand this is great because it means I can expand my Texanthropological research to a new city, rack up some frequent flier miles AND see my LA friends (hi guys! expect to be bear-hugged to the point of suffocation in T-minus 2 days!). But on the other hand, whiiiiiiiining. And saaaaad faces.

I did crash a couple of SXSW Interactive parties, though, so I feel good about that. AND I got a VIP ticket to a SXSW film premiere this morning at the Paramount Theater!

Mike's cousin Mark has spent the last year+ in Louisiana making a documentary about the largest natural gas field ever discovered in North America, the Haynesville Shale. The movie is called "Haynesville," and it made its North American debut today during SXSW. Since we're kinfolk of the producer, we got to be VIPs! This didn't mean a whole lot considering the film was free and anyone could come, but I am going to keep right on feeling special anyway.

You know how when you go to see something that someone you know created, you really want it to be good? But you're scared that it won't be, so you kind of brace yourself? Because either way you have to give them rave reviews and this is stressful when you are a bad liar like me. Thankfully "Haynesville" ended up being one of the best movies I've seen in a while, and maybe the best documentary I've ever seen.

It appealed to the nerdy environmentalist in me because it had lots of good facts about natural gas, which I'd been totally ignorant about. And it explored America's abusive relationship with energy in an engaging, enlightening way. But better than all that were the human stories that were layered in to the film. These stories are hilarious, infuriating and moving, but most of all they made me want to have a tangible, positive impact on my own community. And they made me believe that it's possible to do so.

Y'all should see this movie. It's an independent film without wide distribution, so you'll have to buy the DVD or check for screenings near you. Here's the website for more info: http://www.haynesvillemovie.com/

I'll be gathering research on spring break rituals in Texas for the next couple days, so stay tuned!

(P.S. I hope that those of you who thought this post was going to be about farts are not too disappointed. Your time will come, I'm sure.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sweaty with spring fever

It's crazy gorgeous outside, so it's criminally lame for me to be inside on the computer right now, but I have half an hour to kill before I bike off to the Zilker Park Kite Festival. So here I am!

I am super sweaty with spring fever, and I thought I'd share what we were up to all day yesterday with our trowels and rakes and whatnot. Now, historically speaking, I do not have a green thumb. Exhibit A, the plant from Ikea that I either over- or under-watered, not sure which:

Um, those leaf thingies were originally poking out all over the place like, "Whee! I am pokey and fun!" But now he is just all, "Hrooooo, I am a droopy sad plant begging to be put out of my misery." However, I like to think that this is not entirely my fault, as maybe Ikea's plants are constructed like their furniture and aren't meant to last longer than 6 months.

Before yesterday I had never planted anything in the ground because I've never owned any soil. But thanks to the affordability of Austin and the first-time home-buyer tax credit, we have our own house now! And it came with soil!

So I picked out a little flower bed in the backyard as my first project. I am kicking myself for being an idiot and not taking any "before" pictures. But basically it was just a scraggly patch of nothing-much. So I dug up all the scraggles, and here's what it looks like now, with a few begonias and a "grassy lassie" aloe plant and a few other bits and bobs:

This maybe doesn't look particularly special, but I am immensely proud of my first gardening attempt anyway. Mike has been laughing at me because whenever he comes in the backyard I am just standing there, completely still, staring at the flower bed. Sometimes I'll be carrying something into the house from the car, and I'll have to stop for a few minutes with my arms full and stare at the flower bed. This happens anytime I complete any sort of DIY project -- I have to spend at least 3 hours staring at it: inspecting it, appraising it, appreciating it, memorizing it, whatever. Because I made that! Me! I did it! Ooooh pretty.

We spent a big part of the day at The Great Outdoors nursery buying plants and picking the brains of their incredibly helpful staff. They helped us select some things that hopefully won't shrivel up into tiny tumbleweeds in the impending summer heat. I have the most hope for this "seedum" that Mike planted in a rusty old tractor part he found on his family's ranch. This stuff just looks tough:
Anyway, off to the kite festival! Yaaay, spring!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Forward

I'm super excited to spring forward tonight. Yaaaay longer days! We've got a little spring fever at our house and spent all day shoveling and tilling and planting in the gorgeous weather. Here's a small preview:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pics from "Pastries and Pasties" at Emo's

You will just have to take my word for the fact that it was much awesomer than my drunken pictures might indicate.

Mmmm, cupcake cook off.

Cupcake trophy!

Barebones Orchestra. Surprisingly folksy for a band with skeleton facepaint.

Fish-headed burlesque dancer? Apparently I only took poor pictures
of the weirdest stuff. And no good pictures of anything.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cupcakes and sweaterpuppies

There are certain moments in world history when two things came together and revolutionized life for the better. For instance: peanut butter and jelly, Salt 'n' Pepa, chicken and waffles, Steven Tyler and whoever Liv Tyler's mom is.

Prepare yourselves, my friends, because an equally monumental union is happening tomorrow night. I present to you an event guaranteed to delight at least four of your senses: "Pastries and Pasties, a Burlesque Cupcake Cookoff!"

That's right: cupcakes AND BOOBIES.

Photo from last year's P&P, borrowed from Wired.com

When I found out about this, I fell down dead from the excitement. Luckily it was a temporary deadness, because otherwise I would have to miss the most exciting moment of my life, happening tomorrow night, Friday, March 12 at Emo's. People, cupcakes are my very favorite non-Tex Mex food. They are personal-sized! They are pretty! They taste like happiness with glee-flavored frosting! And then there's the boobies. Everyone likes boobies -- if you say you don't like boobies, you are lying.

I've been wanting to check out Emo's for some time, since it's one of the most famous venues in town and some awesome bands have played there (hello, Johnny Cash!).

Here are the basics for Pastries and Pasties:
March 12th, 2010 8pm-1am
At Emo's, 603 Red River

Dancing ladies include:
Kitty Kitty Bang Bang
Big Star Burlesque

Musical acts:
Barebones Orchestra
Clyde and Clem's Whiskey Business
John Pointer
Soy Bombs

Other intriguing acts:
Dr. Sketchy
La Fenice
Sensei Strange

Cupcake bakers are:
Polkadots Cupcake Factory
The Cupcake Bar
Toot Sweet
Holy Cacao
Delish Cupcakes

Go to the website to get your tickets. And then let's all go to Emo's to get an eyeful AND a mouthful! Hee!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tacos for breakfast! Google Maps for bikes!

This is kind of the most exciting morning ever. I just found out that Google Maps is going to add bike routes to its Austin maps, which is going to revolutionize my transportation! Austin is such a manageable size and we live so central to everything, we ride our bikes a LOT. But it can be terrifying trying to navigate a busy street with no bike lane, so Google Map directions would be amazing. Maybe I won't have to wince with fear of impending death and dismemberment every time I pedal downtown.

Austin 360 article on this Google wonderfulness here.

But wait, that's not all! The New York Times has an ongoing love affair with Austin -- they've posted several complimentary articles in the last few months. Most recently, they published an homage to one of my very favorite things about Austin -- the breakfast taco. When we came to Austin and discovered this most perfect breakfast food, I wondered how it could have possibly eluded me all these years. I mean, eggs and cheese and bacon and yumminess in a tortilla? DUH! It seems so obvious; why isn't every city all over this? Especially LA, land of the taco truck?

The article mentions Tacodeli, which definitely has the best breakfast tacos in town. One of my favorite things on a Saturday morning is to walk down to Jo's Coffee Shop on South Congress and order myself a migas Tacodeli breakfast taco. Migas = eggs, avocado, veggies, corn tortilla strips, magic.

And in the future I will be able to ride my bike to breakfast tacos anywhere in town without fear of getting my brain scrambled!

The New York Times article is here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I have spoken before about my love of the Alamo Drafthouse, the place where most of my paycheck ends up each month. Well, last week Mike and I attended an event at the Alamo that I have been dying to see for at least three years -- "Mortified." According to the official website, "'Mortified' is a comic excavation of the strange and extraordinary things we created as kids. Witness adults sharing their own adolescent journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories and more."

People, this is comic gold. I don't know what compels the human race to document our most embarrassing years in pen and ink, but thank god. Because when it is unearthed again many years later, it is pure, mildly uncomfortable entertainment. Kind of like "The Office" meets "My So-Called Life," but REAL.

Lucky for those of you that missed last week's show, there is another one this Wed., March 10 at the Alamo downtown. And for those of you who live in LA, your next local show is Wed., March 17 at King King. Yay yay!

At any rate, I've been inspired to dig up some golden literary nuggets from my own past to share with you here. The below diary entry is dated July 18, 1993:

Dear Diary,
Hi. No, wait. Howdy, hello, hey! I'm really happy. Today we got back from 2 weeks vacation at Newport Dunes. It was
cool! I'm writing because I need to record a very important date in the history of my life. On Wednesday, July 14, 1993, at the age of twelve, I got my first boyfriend. His name is Jeremy Elting. He has medium-brown hair, gorgeous deep-blue eyes, and freckles. He moved to Newport Beach from Utah. He is fourteen years old. We did not kiss or hold hands, but we hugged good-bye. It is my hope that we will stay in touch, and close, by mail and phone. I miss him already.


I was clearly delusional, and I'm sure this boy had no idea that hugging me one time made him my boyfriend. You may be surprised to learn that we did not stay close through the U.S. mail, so he was spared from my dramatic love letters recounting our magical hug in painstaking detail. Additionally, I just tried Googling "Jeremy Elting," and he appears not to exist. Perhaps my one true hug was wise enough at the ripe age of 14 to give me a pseudonym and dodge any possible stalking via the postal service or landline telephone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Texas Independence Day 5K Run(s)

One of my New Year's resolutions was to re-dedicate myself to my Texanthropological research on this here blog. Well, January snuck by me, so I figured I'd make it a Chinese New Year's resolution... but here we are in March and I'm now behind according to several different calendars. Luckily International Women's Day is here, aaaaand seeing as how I'm an international woman (?) I'd better seize the day!

Maybe you're wondering what's been up with Texas. Well, a lot has been up with Texas -- in fact, way too much to cover in one blog post. So I'll start with the most recent thing: Texas Independence Day.

I was especially excited for this year's Texas Independence Day, seeing as how I'd accidentally left the state and completely missed this high holy day last year. The day itself (March 2, a Tuesday) passed without much fanfare other than a few Davy Crockett quotes getting thrown around, including the favorite: "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas." (Said in response to a lost re-election bid in his home state of Tennessee. Davy and his coonskin cap were two of the key players at the famous battle of the Alamo. Remember?)

Anyway, to celebrate the great state of Texas and its proud, coonskinny history, I signed up for the Texas Independence Day 5K run this past Saturday. I had been expecting a Texas-sized turnout for this event, so the scanty group of a couple hundred runners at the starting line was slightly disappointing. What was NOT disappointing was the several-stories-tall Texas flag that was hanging from a crane over the Congress bridge, where the race started. Also disappointment-free: the dude in period costume who shot an antique rifle to signal the start of the race, the several people wearing Texas flag running shorts and the surly, mustachioed bikers who served as the pacesetters for the runners.

If you were one of the first 50 finishers, you would receive the highly coveted prize of a super nerdy baseball cap featuring a historic Texas flag: retail value $10. Thinking I was just out for a leisurely, Texas-appreciation-filled, Saturday morning jaunt, I didn't think much of this wearable trophy. That is until the last, oh, 20 steps of the 5K.

Throughout the race, I'd been steadily tramping along, passing several people along the way. But I definitely hadn't, like, "trained" or anything ahead of time, so I didn't think I was in contention for any sweet, red, white and blue headgear. Plus, I had boldly stuffed my face full of sausage pizza and spicy pasta the night before, thinking to myself, "Carbo loading! Yay!" But come Saturday morning, mid-5K, there was no yay. There were only angry tummy rumbles so sinister that I was afraid to even relieve any pressure (if you know what I mean).

But thanks to high school cross country, I could not bear to ease up, no matter how angry that spicy sausage became. I could see the finish line! I was Forest Gump! I passed six or seven pairs of Texas flag running shorts as I kicked it in. But then with 20 or so steps to go, my tummy exploded into intestinal gunfire the likes of which the Alamo never experienced. I slowed up slightly, concentrating all my efforts on keeping my insides inside. Just as my pace went from all-out sprint to medium jog, a couple of runners overtook me. And as they crossed the finish line, I heard the race official on the other side yell out, "Forty-niiiiiiine, FIFTY!" Damn you, spicy sausage pizza pasta binge! If not for you I would be wearing an ill-fitting, poorly designed, man-ish baseball cap right this minute! And every day for the rest of my life.

But no. The only thing you get for being #51 is the bitter taste of broken dreams and the clinging stench of failure. Or maybe those things were because of an urgent, post-race appointment with the port-o-potty. Hard to say which.

Anyway... go Texas!