Monday, September 29, 2008

Die Mosquitos, Die!!!

Today, between my classes, I decided to venture outside to thaw out my extremities from the tundra-like atmosphere of the Ragsdale building.  I thought to myself what a beautiful day it was and I should get out and enjoy it.   
I chose a spot under a tree, far away from any wafting cigarette smoke and loud people, and proceeded to begin enjoying the outside atmosphere (and to do some school work, of course).  As I typed away, enjoying the soothing sounds of a nearby waterfall, I noticed an itch, then another.  Mosquitoes, dammit!  Bloodsuckers!  When will they die?  Seriously, we've had hardly any rain this year.  It's almost Fall, for chrissakes!  
So, now here I sit, in the tundra, my feet and hands frozen solid.  Back to square one.  

Achy Feet and Dusty Lungs.

As you can see from my lack of posting, I have had a crazy week chocked full of fun and music, music, music!!!  It all came to an end last night when the final notes rang out at the Band of Horses show at the 2008 Austin City Limits Festival.  I didn't have the energy to stay and watch the festival headliners The Foo Fighters, a band that I have only a marginal interest in.  
As for the festival.  This was the first year that I didn't attend all three days.  I had other obligations on Saturday that kept me from attending.  I did get to go on Friday and for a good part of Sunday.  And today, the sad reality hit me:  Time to get back to the business of school and work. 
I did get to see some great music.  Some highlights include the aforementioned Band of Horses and M. Ward, along with the Silversun Pickups, Okkervil River, Hot Chip, David Byrne and Mates of State.  The Swell Season, featuring Glen Hansard of The Frames and his girlfriend Marketa Inglova (you may remember them and their songs from the independent movie "Once"), would have been a highlight if I had been able to hear it properly.  Their delicate harmonies accompanied by a string section and a full band were drowned out by Alejandro Escovedo wailing away on the stage right next to them.  This particular stage has had a history of sound problems throughout the years of ACL.  I noticed that they are playing The Paramount Theater later this year.  This might be a more appropriate venue to showcase their wispy, orchestral songs.  Count me in.
Some acts that I was sad to miss:  Vampire Weekend, Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, MGMT, Conor Oberst, Beck, Yeasayer and AA Bondy.  Oh well, better luck next year.  I'm sure by next year I will have forgotten about my achy feet and dusty lungs of the present moment.  
Now that ACL is over, I have the Fun Fun Fun Fest festival to look forward to in November and the mother of all festivals, South by Southwest, which I like to refer to as my adult Disneyland.
Bring it on!

Tribella at Fitzgerald's H-Town.

As we drove into Houston on I-10 I didn't know what to expect.   I could see some of the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike from the highway.  Lots of trees had been uprooted, some skyscrapers and buildings downtown had plywood over a lot of the windows and there was debris strewn every where.  I'm sure that this damage is minor compared to the onslaught that Ike inflicted on Galveston and other surrounding areas.  My thoughts go out to the people who were affected.  
On a lighter note, I was there to see Tribella perform at Fitzgerald's, opening up for Houston buzz band Girl in a Coma.  I had reluctantly given up a day of the ACL festival to come to Houston to see these ladies rock out.  I thought to myself 'This had better be good!'  
According to their website, Fitzgerald's is one of the oldest and widely recognized music venues in the greater Houston area.  From the outside it looks like an old two story house that has maybe seen better days.  The inside is cozy and dark, featuring both an upstairs and a downstairs venue.  Tonight's event was in the downstairs venue, which featured a large stage and plenty of indoor seating with an spacious outdoor patio if you felt like experiencing some of the post-Hurricane mosquitoes.  Our waitress at the restaurant across the street said she loves the place but is always afraid the floor might cave in, especially in the packed upstairs area.  Seeing that the show was happening in the downstairs area with a wrestling (yes, I said wrestling) event being held upstairs, I hoped that tonight would not be the night for that to happen.  Luckily it didn't.
Tribella didn't disappoint.  In their short but sweet 45 minute set, they managed to bring an innovative and professional vibe to the stage, with the colorful lights providing a fitting backdrop for their multi-faceted sound.  Singer and guitarist Sarah Glynn managed to crank out solid, catchy guitar licks while belting out intricate and layered vocals, reminiscent of Tanya Donnelly of Belly.  Drummer Dena Gerbrecht kicked out the beat, peppering the songs with exciting drum rolls and fills, looking like she was having a blast the whole time.  Bassist Rae Goldring, looking stoic on her side of the stage, rounded things out with smooth bass lines that complimented Gerbrecht's excitable drumming.  
Glynn and company rocked the stage with a reckless abandon, especially on "WTKN," an upbeat number with echoing guitar crescendos and a catchy vocal line.  "Saucer Eyes," with its infectious chorus and two-part harmonies, was a definite crowd pleaser.  They closed the set with the riveting "Feel Feel," where Glynn sings "I take it all back/I take it all back" like she really means it.     
The two bands in between didn't seem to fit the bill, with their thrash metal sounds and sometimes unintelligible vocals.  My guess is that they were chosen because they were female-fronted and local.  Girl in a Coma was great, but sounded kind of muddled and fuzzy compared to the clear, concise rhythms of Tribella.   

Band of Horses: ACL Festival.

It was 6 o'clock on Sunday evening and the sun was setting on another Austin City Limits music festival.   We ambled over to the Dell stage to check out The Band of Horses.  At this point, I felt like I had inhaled about 40 lbs. of dust.  Remember last years lush green landscapes and temperate climate?  Well, this year was more akin to the "dust bowl" ACL Festival of 2006.  With very little rain this summer and strict watering restrictions, I could see why, but it didn't make it any easier.  
Back to the music.
We got to the stage early because some friends had a blanket pretty close to the stage and we didn't want to miss a minute of the show.  Plus, we needed to rest our dogs after all the walking.  
Band of Horses took the stage at approximately 6:28, ready to rock for the masses.  Immediately, from the first notes of "First Song" off of their 2006 debut "Everything All of the Time," you knew that this show was going to be a good one.  It was.  They plowed through the set, which included a good mix of songs off of their latest "Cease to Begin" and the debut album, as well as a couple of new songs and a cover.  The mix was great, highlighting their beautiful harmonies and lush wall of majestic sound.  Ben Bridwell, the band's leader, seemed amazed and humbled to be playing for such a large and attentive crowd.  His remarks in between songs reflected that humbleness:  "Look at you guys.  You're beautiful.  This is amazing," he exclaimed from the stage.  
Instead of waiting until the end, Band of Horses launched into the familiar guitar line from their most recognizable song "The Funeral" about halfway into the set.  The crowd, of course, went wild, singing along throughout all six minutes of unadulterated bliss.  Some other highlights included crowd pleaser "Is There A Ghost," and the soft and subdued "Great Salt Lake."  The new songs sounded great as well, especially the song sung by keyboard player Ryan Monroe.  
They ended the stellar set with a cover of "A Good Man" by the obscure band Them Two.  All and all an excellent end to the festival.


M. Ward Electrifies ACL Festival.

The dust billowed up around the WaMu tent on Friday afternoon.  I was ecstatic because I was finally getting to see M. Ward, one of my favorite performers of all time.  I had tried to see him at this years South By Southwest, but the lines were super long so I moved on.   With its lush soundscapes, stellar song writing and reverb drenched vocals, his 2006 album "Post-War" is considered to be a masterpiece by a lot of people, including myself.  His songwriting and vocal style takes you back to a simpler time, when the record player and radio were king. 
At first, I found it strange that Ward was playing in the smaller tent, rather than one of the larger stages.  But my first step into the shaded tent changed my mind.  Ward had a full band that included not one, but two drummers.  Ward wailed away on an old Gretsch guitar, playing intricate solo parts that complimented his smoky vocals, which sounded just as good as the record, if not better.  
Occasionally, you could hear Gogol Bordello cranking out their Eastern European gypsy punk on the AT&T stage, a few hundred feet back.  But for the most part, Ward and his band were loud enough to drown out the music bleeding through from the other stage.  Much to my delight, they rollicked through most of the songs off of "Post-War."  Some of the highlights included "Chinese Translation," "Rollercoaster," and the wonderful Daniel Johnston cover "To Go Home," which also appears on "Post-War."  They also played a few new songs, which left me excited for the much-anticipated new release.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Serie Project

Coasttown, Texas by Sodalitas
Serigraphy is the process of printmaking commonly referred to as screen-printing. The Serie Project, headed by Sam Coronado, an Austin Community College graphic design professor, is a non-profit Latino arts organization that produces serigraph prints created by up and coming and established artists. Each artist creates a serigraph print of one or several of their pieces of work and The Serie Project makes the art available to the public through a series of numbered, affordable prints. Some of the prints are also exhibited at various museums around the country. This service is provided at no cost to the artist.
Every year The Serie Project invites 15 to 18 artists to participate in the program. The artists are selected through a juror and referral system. The artist is then invited to Coronado Studios to work with a master screen-printer, learning how to create and produce a 50 edition run of their prints. Each year anywhere between 750 and 900 prints are produced.
While attending Mr. Coronado's graphic design class at Austin Community College, I had the opportunity to visit the studio on the east side of Austin. The studio, which is located in an inconspicuous old house, is also rented out to local artists and screen-printers for poster and t-shirt production. I saw a lot of colorful concert posters hanging on the wall created by some talented artists. So far, over 150 artists have participated in this program and many of the prints have been featured in museums and other venues across the United States and in the PBS feature Art Journeys.

Check out the print above and other affordable hand numbered and signed prints here.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz tells the story of Oscar de León, a self-proclaimed 300-pound "ghetto nerd," who lives his life immersed in a fantasy world somewhat modeled after the world found in his numerous science fiction novels.  Oscar Wao, a slang term for Oscar Wilde, collects comic books, plays role-playing games, reads countless science fiction and fantasy novels, and watches nerdy shows like Dr. Who and Star Trek.  But underneath hides something way more real and human, Oscar's insatiable quest for love.  
The book, which shuffles through several decades and two nations, tells the story of the De León family while illuminating the dark, corrupt history of the Dominican Republic.  It is filled with references and footnotes about this history, especially focusing on dictator Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist from 1930 to 1961.  The narrator is Yunior, a friend of the family, Oscar's roommate at Rutger's and sometimes boyfriend of Lola, Oscar's older sister.  Yunior, the total opposite of Oscar, is a weight-lifting womanizer, who epitomizes the ideal of the typical Dominican male.  But somehow, the chemistry between Oscar and Yunior works, and is even endearing at times.       
The language is loose and lovely, fluctuating between Spanish and English with science fiction references sprinkled throughout, creating a loveable slang-riddled Spanglish.  Diaz conveys the Dominican-American experience, and ultimately the human experience as a whole, in this dazzlingly wonderful, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.


The Walkmen- You & Me

Picture yourself in a tunnel.  In a basement.  Looking out a distant window.  
The Walkmen's new album "You & Me" evokes some of these daydreams and more.  Its swirling tones and opera house acoustics open up to reveal colors you never imagined existed.  This is one of those albums that takes a few listens to realize the impact this release has left on your aural imprint.  You may find yourself absent-mindedly humming a few bars here and there of this album.  Some highlights include the moody power ballad "The New Year," "Postcards From the Islands," "Red Moon" and the stunning closer "If It Only Were True."  
The lyrics dance out to you, emerging from beneath the heavy wave of lush horns and hypnotic guitar stylings.  "The darkness is wrapped all around me tonight," singer Hamilton Leithauser proclaims in "Red Moon,"  a hauntingly mournful love song about missing a girl.  
Yes, Leithauser's Bob Dylan-on-steroids vocals do take some time to get used to if you are used to more refined vocals, á la Coldplay.  But after you get past that aspect, you are hooked.  It reminds me of the feeling I had upon first listens of The National's "The Boxer" or Pela's 
"Anytown Graffitti."  
"You & Me" is definitely one of the best releases of 2008.

Listen to The Walkmen here

Ghost Town.

He sees dead people.  Ghosts.  Lots of them.
Last night I saw "Ghost Town," a comedy starring Ricky Gervais, creator and lead actor of the original BBC version of "The Office," Téa Leoni and Greg Kinnear.  "Ghost Town" features Gervais as Dr. Bertram Pincus, a miserly dentist who is definitely not a people person.  In fact, he goes out of his way to avoid interactions with other people at all costs.  Luckily, being a dentist, he can stuff cotton into his patient's mouths if they talk too much.  Things start to change for Dr. Pincus after he "dies" for seven minutes during a routine colonoscopy procedure, waking up only to find himself able to see dead people.  Ghosts.  Lots of them.  These ghosts wander Manhattan, stuck in a kind of purgatorial limbo, needing to take care of the unfinished business that keeps them grounded.  They all want Dr. Pincus to help them tie up loose ends, the most persistent being Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear).  Frank, who comes off somewhere in between lovable and a slimeball, wants Dr. Pincus to interfere with his widow Gwen's (Téa Leoni) impending marriage to a man that Herlihy deems not so worthy of her attention.  
If at first you can't picture Ricky Gervais as a leading man in a romantic comedy, Gervais quickly convinces you otherwise, stealing the show with his acerbic wit and hilarious one-liners.  Yes, the plot is not terribly original, but the superb cast makes this ghost story stand out amongst the redundancy.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Woodland.

Last night, after attending a Democratic rally in Hyde Park, some friends and I headed over to The Woodland on South Congress for some food and half-priced bottles of wine.  Yes, that's right.  The Woodland offers all of the wines on their wine list for half price on Sundays.  What a deal!  The cool thing is that the wine list changes fairly frequently, giving you an opportunity to try a lot of different wines.  We started off with a Tempranillo and a yummy Syrah.  The Tempranillo was earthy and full-bodied with a hint of cherries and vanilla.  The Syrah was a little lighter and smoother, but definitely tasty.  We chose some food items that would accompany the wine.  Several people had the veggie burger, which i've had before.  They make their own veggie burger from nuts, seeds and grains.  It is delicious with a deep red color, prompting some of the vegetarians to question whether or not it was a veggie burger or a real one.  I opted for the grilled salmon with asparagus and shoestring potatoes.  The salmon was cooked perfectly and tasted great, especially when complimented by the smooth Syrah.  We finished off the night with a French Burgundy.  This wine was robust and delicious, and a bargain at $18.  
The Woodland also has some delicious signature cocktails that can't be missed.  One of my favorites is the SoCu, a gin martini infused with cucumber puree and garnished with a sprig of rosemary and cayenne pepper.  This drink is so good it's dangerous.  

Author David Foster Wallace dies.

Some really sad news.  Critically acclaimed author David Foster Wallace died Friday at his home in California from an apparent suicide.  He was 46.  Such a waste.  
Wallace was best known for his epic tome Infinite Jest, a smart and original novel set in a futuristic America lost in the grip of addiction.  This novel established Wallace as a truly original, postmodern writer of the 1990's.  Mr. Wallace told Laura Miller of that the book was an effort to describe America as it approached the millennium. 
Girl With Curious Hair, a hilarious book of short stories, is one of my personal favorites, particulary the LBJ and Jeopardy stories.  These stories use real life characters in a fictional setting, producing a hauntingly playful effect. 
Wallace, who has written several essays for Harper's and other prominent publications, was also a gifted nonfiction writer.  Some of his subjects have included John McCain and tennis star Roger Federer. 
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, his best-known nonfiction work, is a collection of pieces with subject matters ranging from carnivals to cruises to tennis.  
Mr. Wallace will be sorely missed. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Social Schmocial

What is up with all of the social networking sites out there these days?  First I was on Friendster, then Myspace was the cool thing to do (I still like this one the best), now i've joined Facebook to keep up with all of my friends.  Plus, let's not forget Linkedin, Twitter and all the other countless sites out there.  It's hard to keep up with.  I know, I torture myself by joining these things.  
What really annoys me about Facebook is all the applications people send you.  "So and so sent you a flower.  Send a flower to 8 of your friends to get flower power!"  Seriously, I get about 10 of these every day.  I don't have time to send every one in the known universe a flower, a green plant, a Hershey's kiss, etc... The funniest?  "So and so sent you a limited edition kismet karma."  
I did find a lot of my old high school friends on there, so I guess it's not all bad.....I think.  
These are crazy times we live in. 

Austin and Beyond: Live Music in September.

I consider myself to be an avid fan of music.  I research exciting new bands, I buy tons of music, whether it be digital or hard copy, and I love to go out and see live music.  Fortunately here in Austin, the live music capital of the world, there is no shortage of bands that I would like to check out.  The month of September does not disappoint on the live music front.  
Here are a few of the shows I am excited about this month.  

Sept. 8th:  Woodgrain at the Parlor.  (all-instrumental heavy outfit)
Sept. 12th:  Las Damas at Hot Mama's Espresso.  (this is my band, so i'd better show up!)
                     The Whigs and Tokyo Police Club at Emo's (The Whigs rule!)
Sept. 13th:  Dr. Dog at the Parish.  (Takes you back to a simpler time)
Sept. 20th:  Pinback at the Mohawk.  (Mellow math rock)
Sept. 21st:  Ani DiFranco at Stubbs.  (an old favorite)
Sept. 24th:  Stereolab and Atlas Sound at La Zona Rosa
Sept. 25th:  Summer Wardrobe, The Breathers and Tribella at Lovejoys.
Sept. 27th:  Tribella and Girl in a Coma at Fitzgerald's in Houston.
Sept. 28th:  ACL Fest and Conor Oberst at La Zona Rosa.

Old school vs. new school.

Face it.  Austin is growing.  With its booming growth in full swing, Austin is turning into a big city, much to the chagrin of the old-school, keep Austin weird contigent of the population.  I fall somewhere in between the pro-growth, Dallas-like population and the old-school one.  Seeing that i've only lived here nine years, I don't have the clout to claim to be a "true Austinite."  But i'm also not a newcomer either.  
I have mixed feelings about the whole growth issue.  Yes, the traffic blows, as i'm sure almost everyone living in Austin will agree.  Yes, there are condos sprouting up left and right, prompting the old-schoolers to chime "Who's living in all of these things?"  I've never seen so many cranes in the Austin skyline.  I prefer to live in a house with a yard, but I know that's not everyone's preference.   
Along with the negatives there are some positive things to consider.  First, Austin is slowly becoming a first class dining and arts city.  There are unique restaurants and businesses popping up everywhere, and I love it.  Being an avid diner, I love to try out new restaurants.  I still love the old stand-bys like Uchi (yum!), Vespaio and Wink, but all these new options are refreshing.  Some places I would like to try:  Olivia, Mulberry, Tomo and Primizie to name a few.  
I also like the idea of a walkable, pleasant looking downtown area.  I love what they've done with the whole Second Street District.  I think this can only be a positive thing for our fair city.  
I also like to see all the new upscale boutiques and stores.  I'm far from rich, but I do like to indulge myself every so often.  
The verdict?  Grow on Austin!  

Poster Art.

Lately, i've been helping out my partner by doing some managing and booking for her band Tribella.  The best part of this job is creating posters for their various gigs.  I also do posters for my band Las Damas as well.  I love to think about the gig and the venue and visualize a theme and color scheme unique to that particular show.  I've been doing this for a while with the bands i've played in throughout the years.  Back in the day (yes, i'm old) I used to create posters without a computer.  The old hands on approach.  I still love to create things that way, but as I become more familiar with graphic design, it's fun to challenge myself to try to recreate the vision in my head on the computer.  So far, I have been successful for the most part.  Although it is sometimes frustrating trying to figure out how to create something on Photoshop from scratch.  
Here are some examples of the fruits of my labor.   

The Art of Nate Schnell

I wanted to write about Nate Schnell,  an up and coming Austin artist that i'm super excited about.  A couple of months ago I picked up a copy of Rare magazine, a really cool local magazine that features a wide array of things that have to do with Austin.  I always pick one up when it comes out.  Best of all, it's a free magazine!  You can find it at a lot of local Austin businesses.  What caught my eye about this particular issue (June 2008) was the amazing illustration featured on the front.  The piece depicted a bunch of abstract birds roosting on a tree within an eye-catching orange and green color scheme.  I immediately wanted to know who the artist was.  To my delight, more of his colorful illustrations were featured throughout the magazine.  
His drawings meld together screen printing, acrylic paint, pencil and ink to create beautiful representations of nature.  
You can view and purchase his work on  I hope one day to be able to afford a piece myself.  

ACL Festival

This is the first year I have opted to not purchase a 3-day pass to the Austin City Limits Festival happening later this month in Zilker Park.  I decided that it wouldn't be worth it for several reasons:  First, i'll be out of town on Saturday night and some of Sunday morning.  I couldn't justify spending that much money for a day and a half full of music.  Second, the price!  Every year the price consistently goes up and up.  If there were more bands I was excited about, I wouldn't hesitate to pay for a pass.  Foo Fighters?  Not so much.  There are some bands that I will be sad to miss like Vampire Weekend, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Silversun Pickups, MGMT and others. I'm more excited about the prospect of SXSW, my favorite time of the year in Austin.  I love to soak up all it has to offer, heading to day parties and official shows to catch up and coming and established artists here in my hometown.  Austin transforms into a whole other place during that week in March.  
My problem is the feeling of "missing out."  What if something really, really exciting happens and i'm not there to see it?  I have this issue a lot.  
So maybe......I will brave the heat to at least go on Sunday.  That way I won't have that feeling of missing out.  The best of both worlds!

Road to BBQ.

A few weeks ago some friends and I embarked on a journey through the hill country in search of some delicious BBQ.  I had recently acquired an atlas called "The Roads of Texas" featuring all the roads of Texas, from the interstates to the backroads.  This is a wonderful atlas.  It is chocked full of little hard to find roads that you never imagined existed.  With a little help from a site called Hill Country Outdoor Guide and my handy little book, I mapped out a route from Austin to Llano.  
The drive started on Highway 290 heading west.  We turned onto Highway 12 and followed 3238 past Hamilton Pool, a beautiful natural pool shrouded by greenery.  We made a few twists and turns after that and ended up on a scenic dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  Not a soul in sight.  We drove through pastures, encountering a few stubborn cattle along the way.  We also saw deer, a vast array of colorful birds, rabbits and even a turtle crossing the road.  We meandered along at a slow pace, taking time to enjoy our peaceful surroundings.  Large limestone cliffs and huge trees shaded the road.  Occasionally we would stop and get out to admire our surroundings.  We had to cross a creek several times.  Luckily we were traveling in a jeep, so it could handle the small amounts of "off-roading."
A couple of hours later we arrived in Llano, our BBQ destination.  Llano is cute little town with a lot of historic buildings and a small town vibe.  We crossed the Llano river and headed up the road to Cooper's BBQ.  Cooper's is pretty famous around these parts.  It has consistently been written up in Texas Monthly and other publications as one of the best BBQ places in Texas.  When we arrived we were greeted by the pit master who proceeded to lift off a giant grill lid to reveal a huge spread of meat.  We opted for the brisket (my favorite), the turkey, sausage and pork tenderloin.  The pit master dipped the meat in a huge vat of BBQ sauce and slapped it on a plastic tray.  It was sent off to be weighed and wrapped for our eating pleasure.  We sat at family style tables decorated with checkered table cloths and  loaves of white bread.  We ate our BBQ off a piece of butcher paper.  It was delicious and cooked to perfection.  These folks know BBQ!
On our way back we stopped at Pace Bend Park to take a dip in the clear waters of Lake Travis.  I was too full to jump off the cliffs!  An excellent day indeed.

Asian connection.

I just came home from a mediocre meal at Hai Ky on East Oltorf.  My friend Rae gave the place rave reviews.  Me being an Asian food afficianado, I just had to give it a try.  Not impressed.  I had the Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli Bowl.  The tofu was hard and chewy and I had to add a ton of hot sauce and plum sauce to give it some flavor.  My friend had the Beef Pho and loved it.  Maybe I need to try a meat option.  For some reason I always opt for the veggie option when dining Asian. Maybe it comes from my many years of being a vegetarian.  I eat meat now, but fluctuate between being a meat eater and a vegetarian.  My own little internal conflict.  I will give Hai Ky another try since my friend loves it so much.  Maybe another dish would fare better.
I am an Asian food freak.  I could eat it every day, especially Thai or Vietnamese.  Unfortunately, my partner doesn't share my enthusiasm, so I often find myself dining alone.  I'm always seeking out new places to try, but I do have some old favorites that I frequent often.  Some of my favorites include the Lemongrass Tofu at Mekong River on Sixth Street.  The tofu is cooked to perfection, not fried to a tasteless, chewy pulp.  Mmm.  I also love the S6 with tofu at Thai Noodle House on the drag.  It is a yummy coconut milk curry soup with tofu and crispy veggies.  They top it off with a handful of Lays potato chips.  I know that sounds weird, but it is delicious.  Another favorite is Thai Tara on West Sixth.  Their Tom Kha soup is to die for.  I also love their basil tofu with egg noodles.  If you haven't been to this place, give it a try.  It's worth it.  How could I forget the wonderful lemongrass tofu sandwich at Lulu B's.  Lulu B's is located in a trailer by the Office Depot on Oltorf and South Lamar.  
Now that I have a new car and don't have to rely on the bus for transportation, I can branch out and try some of the places in North Austin (South Waco to me).  I've already tried Sunflower on 1-83 and Burnet and Thanh Nhi on North Lamar.  The basil tofu at Lemongrass was excellent.  
Wish me luck on my quest!

Monday, September 1, 2008

I heart the Alamo Drafthouse!

Do you ever wonder where the Alamo Drafthouse gets its hilarious shorts and commercials played before the main attraction?  I'm not talking about the actual previews advertising upcoming studio releases.  I'm talking about the funny, sometimes scary shorts they dredge up from the vaults.  
The other day my significant other and I decided to go see the Patti Smith documentary "Dream of Life" at the Alamo South.  The movie could be a post in itself.  It was beautifully shot, but very dark and disjointed throughout most of the documentary.  Patti seemed to be in an eternal drug-induced state, messed up hair and all.  
The shorts beforehand were what made the experience memorable.  One short featured a Tony Bennett look alike singing really badly while a scantily clad 60's girl danced in the background.  I think the song was called "Scorpio."  Next up was a hilarious break dancing montage straight out of the 80's.   I was told that the Alamo frequently gets random footage mailed to them and the management decides which reels make the cut to be included in the pre-show entertainment.  
Sifting through all of the footage would be one of the best jobs ever.  
I also love the "public service announcements" which let you know that talking will not be tolerated during the movie.  My favorite is the one featuring Chuck Norris.  "Don't talk during the movie or Chuck Norris will choke you unconscious."
The shorts are just one of the many reasons I enjoy the Alamo Drafthouse, especially the South location.  The food is good (especially the veggie burger and their pizzas), they have a pretty good beer selection (hello...Arrogant Bastard ale on draft!), and the service is also good.  Plus, in addition to the latest releases, they also feature more obscure and original movies that you can't see anywhere else.  These days I don't want to go anywhere else.  Why would I?  Beer and food while watching a movie.  
I heart the Alamo!