Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I need help

Yesterday, I stumbled across this list of the 10 worst sci-fi movies

Number 1 was no big surprise--Battlefield Earth, as it's really really bad, probably top 10 of all-time worst movies regardless of genre. If you haven't seen it, you're either a lucky bastard or in need of an education, but I can't decide.

Anyhoo, I had this weird desire to watch the dvd commentary just to get some kind of insight. I have so far resisted this desire and am doing all I can to keep it from getting the best of me.

Monday, November 05, 2007

[Insert "Puttin' on the Ritz" joke here]

The Mrs. and me went to the new Alamo Downtown Saturday afternoon and saw Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited." The movie was your pretty typical WA movie, with all his stylistic elements present and accounted for. Unfortunately, the characters were lacking something, and I'm not talking about Natalie Portman lacking pants, which was fine by me.

As to the theater itself...

Ok, I had to go back to the car for something, so I wasn't paying super-close attention as I walked in, but the first thing I noticed, or didn't notice, was anything identifying the place as an Alamo Drafthouse. There is of course the neon Ritz sign, which I'm glad was kept, but otherwise I don't remember seeing anything that said "Alamo." Maybe it's still to come. Just inside the doorway on the right was a Mondo Tees counter. There's not much on display here other than binders to flip thru to find your iron-on. A little further in on the left was the ticket counter. It was non-descript, just a counter with your standard service-industry touchscreen device. Nothing say what movie at what time in what theater. And at the back of the lobby were the restrooms. We didn't use these until after our movie, at which time a table selling copies of the book "Little Children" had been set up, almost blocking off access to the restrooms. And we just guessed that they were the restrooms, as again, there was no signage pointing out the way. There were signs denoting men's and women's but we didn't see them until we got right up to them. Something I really like that the Alamo seems to be doing (on S. Lamar and here, at least) is that they design the restrooms so there's no door, meaning you don't have to worry if the person exiting before you washed their hands or not. Nice.

Our flick was in the small theatre (100 or so seats), which is upstairs to the right. The big room is... upstairs to the left. (No signs) Pictures taken throughout the history of the Ritz line the stairwells. You enter the auditorium at the front, beside the screen. There's six or so long rows and then a few more in the back that have maybe five-six less seats. I was immediately hit by many odors of newness--new carpet, new carpet glue, new paint--and wondered if that was going to give me a headache. It didn't; hooray! This screen is not quite stadium seating, but I wasn't as bugged by that as at the Village. Unfortunately, there is only one way to exit the seating rows so make sure you empty your bladder before the movie (there's also no breaks in the tables like the Village and Old Downtown). Another improved feature is that the paper and menus no longer live on the table. Menus get slots under the table every couple of seats and the paper gets a holder on the back side of the tables.

The menu seemed to be pretty much the same. Our drinks and popcorn did what they needed to do, i.e. sate us. It was between meals for us so no cooked food. Picture and sound were fine. There was a little flicker when they started rolling the film, which made me wonder if the projector was stabilized but it went away before too long. And as it was a late afternoon show, 6th Street was not in full effect so there was no exterior noise to fight.

I'm curious to see the big theatre. I wonder if the rows in there have aisles at either end or not. I'm guessing they don't and that it's due to the narrow property. I also want to check out the VIP boxes they got up in there. 

Overall, not a bad addition to the family. We liked stepping out onto 6th Street where we could turn left and walk down to the Jackalope for a beer while figuring out where to eat dinner (Moonshine's). I'd like to see something saying you're at the Alamo Downtown b/c it's an awesome place and it should be trying to tell everyone as such. Also, some information/directional signs inside. I think this is something that will happen and they maybe just ran out of time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I don't know if this is just me, as in my nature, or if it's a byproduct of my job:

I spend 12-13 hours a day doing a bunch of shit for other people (I know, you do too, but sorry, this is my blog). When I get home, it's dark, generally has been for an hour and a half or so already. Sometimes I've eaten before I get home, sometimes I haven't. But I'm so zapped from organizing other people's travel, and their specific needs, for which they'll make what should be an easy choice into one that's harder than it needs to be, that it's all I can do to wind down and spend a couple of hours with the Mrs. before hauling myself off to bed. And that's something that it pains me to do each and every night, because it means that when I wake up, I have to do it all over again.

Today, now, I need to be mowing the yard and fighting some weeds, before we go to a couple of birthday things tonight. But in spite of the coffee I've had, the idea of getting up and doing something like that is tortures. The idea of doing anything for myself, for the house, whatever, is so very, very taxing. I'm tired just thinking about it. I have a problem with a little thing called will power, I know, but this is ridiculous.

So, a byproduct of my job, or an internal flaw? And that's a rhetorical question, by the way, unless you can give me some answer that in no way contains a cliche. And good luck with that, b/c I know mine would all be cliched. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard for me to get up and go outside if it wasn't for the fact that my work phone rang as I was getting out of bed this morning. That I had to put a plan B on hold for somebody, before breakfast, when maybe this was something that could have been brought to my attention yesterday. So this person can maybe attend a meeting that a published schedule hasn't shown him attending for 2 days. Or that it's just plain disheartening to think that I actually thought they wouldn't call me this weekend, which is the first thing to happen on Saturday morning.

I think what may suck the most for me right now, is that b/c I'm on call, I don't feel comfortable going out and having fun, doing my own thing, b/c I don't know that it won't get interrupted by work bullshit. So I can't get any release from the stress and pressures of work, b/c it feels like I'm always working.

Guess I'll go mow until my pocket vibrates, telling me to enact plan B or not.

Monday, June 26, 2006

To the thief who broke into our house today...


I hope the cut you got on our window gets infected. I hope you dropped and broke our cameras before you got to the pawn shop. And I really hope some of the 10 calls you made from the Mrs.' phone were to some loser friends of yours, and that you just made it easier for the cops to find you.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

From the World of Late Night Surfing

I found an on-line graphic novel called Shooting War. Currently, 3 chapters are available and the 4th is supposed to drop today. It's set in 2011, where we're still in Iraq, John McCain is president, and live mobile video-blogging is de riguer. I'm a big fan of things set in a plausible future. I like it so far (the illustrations are great) and plan to see where it goes. Check it out if that's your thing.

Soaking In It

Yesterday, on the way to the HEB, I was stopped at the light at 41st and Red River. Looking in my rearview mirror as a car came up behind me, I was able to see only one part of the driver--his/her hands. Hands covered by light blue dishwashing gloves. Were they out of yellow, Tyler?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Barbecue, Bar-b-que, BBQ

A greater truth has not been spoken:

I believe that like sunshine and great sex, no day is bad that has barbecue in it.

Read, or listen, to the rest of the article here. It brought tears to my eyes and made my salivary glands tingle.

I loves me some barbecue. For me, it's like this great equalizer, eaten by everyone from ditch-diggers to presidents. Like the author says, you can eat it off of china (though you'd be pushin' it) or paper plates or no plates at all. There's something about setting that plate in front of you and smelling some good smoked meat, and whatever sides you may choose (potato salad and cole slaw are my usual choices), a couple of slices of white bread, and of course, the sauce....

I know, being in Texas, there are those out there who say sauce is unnecessary or forbidden and they're entitled to their incorrect opinion. Barbecue sauce is my #1 condiment. Ketchup & salsa can suck it. I like it with a little spice and not too watery. Kansas and the Carolinas can have their sweet stuff, but give this Texans a touch of heat, just enough to make my nose run.

So, where to for lunch?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lebowski Fest

The Austin edition of Lebowski Fest was held this past weekend. We went both nights and totally acheived.

Friday was kind of a bust. It was at Maggie Mae's, which should have been the first omen of doom. We got there about 9:15 and the Recliners were playing. I only recognized one member from when I used to see them back in the swingin' lounge days of the mid-to-late 90s, but they still did what they were meant to do. Knowing the movie was going to be shown on the rooftop deck at midnight, we headed up there and staked out a table. Later, the film's Nihilist band, Autobahn, performed a comedy/music bit. What I could hear made me laugh, but the sound getting piped up to the roof wasn't that hot (omen #2). Then the Yuppie Pricks came on and did what they do. I've never seen them, nor had any desire to, so pardon my indifference.

Finally, it was time to start the movie. It had been years since I'd seen it with a big crowd, so I was looking forward to it, imagining a Rocky Horror-style screening. And it might have been just that, which is what they had in Vegas last year, or so I would hear the next night. But there were technical difficulties that seemed to involve both the audio and video. And maybe because of that, maybe not, Maggie Mae's let their usual clientele of frat-boy goldbrickers and strumpets in. Apparently, Nihilism is a popular ethos for the collegiate crowd, because they sure as shit didn't give a rat's ass about the movie, standing everywhere (blocking our view of the screen), and too loud to hear the now-cranked audio of the movie.

So we said, "Fuck it, dude," and went home to watch the movie that should have won Jeff Bridges an Oscar.

Night 2 (Bowling, Costumes, Trivia, What Have You) went better. After a trip to the Quonset Hut for costume pieces and accessories, we made a mud pit in the back yard and did some belly flops. Uh, why? you might ask. Well, when you're dressing up as Walter's Buddies Who Died Face Down In The Muck, these things are necessary. Am I wrong?

The Highland Lanes were jam-packed and we hopped onto a lane with some total strangers, but not The Stranger. The bowling took forever, but I didn't care that much as I was having a great time, checking out some of the other costumes, getting the occasional knowing nod from other Acheivers. We had our picture taken with Big Lew Abernathy, one of the inspirations for Walter. He knew exactly who we were dressed as, said we were his favorite costume, and pulled out the original pair of Walter's yellow aviator sunglasses. Nice.

While we're bowling, there's also Big Lebowski trivia going on. Could I be in a better Geek Heaven? I think not. The first round consisted of 8 multiple choice and 2 fill-in-the-blanks. They then pulled 20 random names from the stack of those who got all the questions right. Not being 100% sure on a couple of the questions, I was bemusedly suprised (like the Dude when he finds out Jesus is a pedarast with a record and did time in Chino) when they called my name. For Round 2, they took us in a back room and gave us a page of 10 f.i.t.b. questions. Again, I felt that I got most of them, but there was a couple I wasn't too sure on, like the number of the Dude's apartment.

Shortly after Round 2, they held the finals for the costume contest, where they paraded everbody who dressed up on a stage. They did groups of Dudes, Walters, Maudes, and Jesus', though there was only one Jesus, and he wasn't in a purple jumper. Tragedy. Of the costumes that weren't those characters, there were some definite gems. A couple of Strangers, a couple of Jackie Treehorns, one red-bodysuited Nihilist with real oversized scissors, one vine-wrapped Dance Cycle, a Frame of Reference, an unintentional Little Larry Sellars, a Pissed-On Rug, and a Queen in Her Undies (definitely the most obscure costume). To be judged by audience approval, it sounded like we were top 5 at least. So it was a good thing that I put some muck in a tupperware and brought it with us for re-application.

Then came the announcement for the trivia finals. Son-of-a-bitch they called my name, along with 2 other worthy adversaries. First question: name as many symbols as you can that are on the Lebowski Fest Austin poster. Unfortunately, I had studied the movie and not the poster, so I floundered on this question. Next, were some verbal question; oh shit. If you couldn't answer, it went to the next person. #1: Name Autobahn's album. The guy they asked didn't know it, so it came to me: Nagelbett. Point for me. #2: Name Smokey's bowling team. Shit. None of us got it. (Answer: the Cavaliers) #3: Name the family diner where Walter and the Dude enjoyed a cup of coffee. All I could come up with was "Mel's." (Answer: Johnny's). The final question, or task, rather, was to name as many characters from the movie in 30 seconds. I saw my competitors' answer sheets and had several more than one and it looked like a few more than the other. Walking away, I felt pretty good, thinking I'd at least secured 2nd place. Any way it turned out, I'd be one of the top 3 Lebowski geeks in Austin. Good to know I could cross something off the Before I Die To-Do List.

Finally, it was time for the awards. They gave a few trophies out to the high bowling scorers (245 was the best). Then one for farthest traveled (Springfield, Massachusetts), and one for hardest traveled (car broke down 60 miles outside of Austin, with 2 dogs, 1 being a Pomeranian). Next up was the trivia. I got 2nd place and a golfer trophy (with removable club)! Very nice. On to the costumes--I can't remember the order, but the winners in the Other category (ours) were the Queen In Her Undies, the Nihilist, and the Dance Cycle. Then, it was on to Best Walter. No, wait, Best Group Costume... to Walter's Buddies. Woo-hoo! Competitors bested! Except we were the only group. Who cares, we won! Suck it, Lone Nihilist! Then it was on to the Jesus', Maudes, Dudes, and Walters. The guy who won Walter was awesome, really pulled it off, especially with the facial expressions. As he went up to accept his award, he pulled us up with him saying, "I couldn't have done this without my buddies!"

Then, it was good night to the Fest, and to Big Lew. At some point during the night, I overheard somebody asking one of the organizers if they thought they'd come back to Austin next year. He said yes, but only if there's more costumes. I've got some ideas, so consider yourself warned.

Pictures from the 2nd night are here.

Take 'er easy for all us sinners, Dude....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thoughts In A Car On A Monday

Once upon a time, I was going to be someone else.
Once upon a time, I was going to be somewhere else.
Once upon a time, I thought I mattered.

I'm just a cog in somebody else's wheel.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

His best moment... president of these here United States of America??

Removing the Taliban government in Afghanistan?
Capturing Saddam Hussein?
No Child Left Behind?
Medicare D?
Patriot Act?
Establishing the Dept. of Homeland Security?
Getting re-elected?

No. All those things pale in comparison to catching a 7.5 lb perch.

Look, in case you haven't guessed, I'm not a fan of this president. Unlike Republicans in the Clinton years who had their "He's not my president" bumper stickers, this guy is my president because I haven't stopped being an American, like him or not. And I would hope that his answer to said question would be one of those things I listed above, in spite of the fact that I think most of them are, in some way, detrimental to the betterment of this nation. (The only exception: taking out the Taliban was a good thing; if only we could have finished the job.) At least they're major accomplishments on a national scale that do affect the country. One would think his answer would reflect as much, but one would be wrong.

Y'know, I wouldn't mind having a president whom I'd like to have a beer with. But you know, while we're drinking our brews, I wouldn't want to talk about his 'ranch' or baseball or flying jets in the National Guard or what he's reading in the john or what he ate for dinner the night before. I'd be more interested in foreign policy, energy independence, how corporations came to take precedence over individuals in Congress, and I'd hope the president would be able to converse with me meaningfully on those subjects.

I sure wouldn't give a fuck about a fish.

UPDATE: perch? bass? Whatever. Though, as I was writing the initial post, I was remembering going fishing as a kid and all the little perch I used to catch. None of them were ever anywhere close to 7 lbs.