Monday, August 26, 2013

Update

(the Unicorn Cat uses its magic
 powers to lure Amy to Phoenix!)
Hullo!  Hope everyone's doing okay.  Amy was gone this weekend, so that's always a little weird.  Hopefully she's having a good visit with her family out in Arizona.  She was excited to see them and to play with her cousins. 
Friday night I dropped Amy off at the airport and didn't do a whole lot.  I'd had a long week and was sort of worn out.
I watched Killing Them SoftlyThe movie was decent, but not great.  It had some snappy dialogue and some good performances, but it didn't really do anything with the mob movie genre that we haven't seen before.  The movie takes place in 2008, just as the banking crisis is hitting and Wall Street is taking a tumble into decline.  The movie tries to draw parallels between the actions of mobsters in the criminal underworld and the unfolding of national news as political leaders tried to deal with the 2008 economic crisis, but the themes and metaphors of the movie are handled clumsily and without grace.  Ubiquitous televisions and radios in the movie blast voice clips from Obama, Bush, and other elected officials, all talking about steps that they're taking to boost consumer confidence and bolster the economy.  The gangsters in the film are also taking action to try to protect consumer confidence (albeit much more violent action).  It could have been an interesting twist on a pretty traditional mob flick, but the political-economic references were too frequent and too prominent, and by the end of the film you have Brad Pitt openly critiquing Obama's approach to the economy while watching him on TV.  The whole thing sort of falls apart and goes from interesting to sort of weirdly preachy.  A little more trust in the audience, allowing them to tease out themes instead of hitting people over the head with them, would have made this a better movie.

On Saturday I went for a bike ride.  I went out to lunch with Ryan and Jamie.  It was good to see them.  I ran a couple of errands and did a few chores.
Saturday night I joined my parents and some of their friends for a barbershop choir performance.  It was at least partially a celebration of my dad's birthday (which was last week-  happy birthday, Dad!).  I was kinda skeptical going into the show, but it ended up being a lot of fun.  I'm just a big fan of music in almost all of its incarnations, and it was sort of crazy to see the way that these guys can break down almost any song into a four part harmony and sing it acapella.  They sang everything from oldies hits (50's and 60's) to opera to gospel.  The performance is also helped by the fact that they have a sense of humor about what they're doing and seem to be really enjoying themselves.  
(this is what a wildly raging party looks like in your late 30s!)
So I got an unexpected amount of enjoyment out of the barbershop choir thing.  Who knew?
Afterward, I stopped by a birthday celebration for Kim over at Rio Rita on East 6th Street.  Kim and Sig had a babysitter, so they invited a few friends out for drinks.  It was fun!  Good to have a chance to hang out with Kim, Sig, and their merry band.  Happy birthday, Kim!

On Sunday I went for another bike ride.  I ran errands.  Did some laundry.  Went grocery shopping.  In the evening I had Mono Ensemble practice.  We're learning some Rolling Stones songs.  It's been fun.

After practice I got some dinner.  Stopped by Mandy's house for a few minutes to say hi to Camille (she's in town visiting from Boston).  Then I watched the news.
Then I went to bed.

The end.

Hope this is a good week for everyone!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Update

Hello!
How is everyone?  Doing okay?

(Lake Bell fields some questions
from a pretty enthusiastic audience)
Things have been going pretty well on our end!  Last Wednesday we joined some of Amy's work friends for an Austin Film Society screening of In a World, a new comedy by Lake Bell.  The movie is about a woman who's breaking into the industry of voice acting- a male-dominated field, as it turns out.  Lake Bell, the director and the star of the film, was in attendance at the screening.  Those sort of screenings are always a little worrisome for me.  I'm always afraid that the audience won't really care for the film or, worse yet in the case of a comedy, won't laugh at any of it. 
But the movie turned out to be really good!  It was a fun, funny movie about family, career, and romance, and it would have been a fun experience even if we weren't at a special screening.  Ms. Bell answered a few questions when the movie was over.  She seems like an intelligent, insightful person- serious about what she's doing without taking herself overly seriously.    I hope this is the beginning of a successful career for her as a director. Amy enjoyed it, too.  We had a good time.
Friday night we just sort of hung out.  It had been a busy week, and we needed some chill out time.  We went to Sap's and had some Thai food for dinner.  It was a nice evening.
Saturday I got up and went for a bike ride.  Then we ran some errands for our upcoming wedding.  Mostly shopping stuff. 
On Saturday we were also doing some dog sitting for our friend and neighbor, Mandy.  Mandy has two older daschund's, Max and Lucy, and a younger beagle/basset hound mix named Darla.
We had a surprisingly good time just playing with the dogs and hanging out with them.  Cassidy even came over and hung out with the dogs a bit.  Cassidy doesn't hop around as well as she used to, so it was really fun for her to just sort of be around other dogs in a relaxed, mellow setting.  We really enjoyed the dogs.  Amy really loves being a dog nanny (she also loves kids, but that's a different story).


On Saturday evening I went out for a bachelor party for Ruben, a friend of mine from work.  We went out for dinner at Taverna and went out for drinks afterward.  I caught the night owl bus from downtown so I didn't have to drive after a few celebratory beers, and Amy didn't have to pick me up.
(you know what makes a party fancy?  fake
mustaches...)
The party was fun!  I'm really happy for Ruben and wish he and Miguel the best of luck!  Thanks to Nancy and Afton for organizing.  Ruben's wedding wedding is the week before ours in October. Amy and I are both really looking forward to it!











On Sunday we got up and walked over to Central Market for breakfast.  I really like going out for breakfast.  I also really like the fact that our house is close enough to Central Market to walk.   We had unseasonably comfortable weather for significant parts of this weekend...
After breakfast we ran a few errands (we got a lot of wedding stuff done this weekend), including a trip to the store.  There was more dog wrangling and a few chores. 
In the evening we had band practice.  Everyone made it, and we sounded pretty good.  We're learning a few new songs.  Long live The Rolling Stones!  (come to think of it, they've already lived longer than many expected them to)
Band practice is good.  It's nice to have a weekly chance to hang out with friends and make music.  Amy has gotten used to the band practice routine, and she enjoys chatting with the guys as well. 
After the guys left we had hatch salmon burgers for dinner and watched Orange is the New Black.  We're pretty hooked on that show, but we only have one episode left in Season One.

And that was the weekend!
It was good.
Hope you're enjoying your summer wind down!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Update

So the weekend was pretty good.



(mid-week Mediterranean chicken!)
It was kind of a blur, and I'm not getting around to posting this until Tuesday, so, I'm not gonna worry about chronology too much.  I went for a couple of bike rides.  It was hot, but it felt good to get the rides in.  Amy and I went over to Ryan and Jamie's to hang out with them along with Matt, Nicole, and Juan.  It was cool to see all of them.  Happy birthday, Nicole!
We went to Barton Springs with Ryan and Jamie.  Got a little sun and floated in the cold water.  It was cool to hang out with them. Skipped the Jim Jims outside the gate, but stopped at an ATM on the way home so we could get snow cones.
We went with some of Amy's coworkers to Schlitterbahn.  We had a really good time.  We only hung out in the old part of the park.  The old section of Schlitterbahn has got to be at least 25 or 30 years old (or more) at this point, which makes it maybe a little dated for a water park, but I still really dig it.  I like the big, shady trees and the fact that it's built on a hill next to a river.  It feels sort of unique.  I think Amy enjoyed it, too.
Amy made enchiladas on Sunday, which were awesome, and I got together with Reed and made a little music.
Nice weekend.  It felt very summery.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Update

Howdy!  Hope everyone is doing okay.

The weather was hot this weekend in Austin.  I'm determined not to let the heat keep me inside all summer, but it's a bit of a challenge.

On Friday Amy and I raced home after work, changed into our bathing suits, and went to Barton Springs.  It was really pleasant.  The sun isn't quite as intense in the early evening, and the crowds started thinning out shortly after we got there.
After we got home and showered up we ate some pasta for dinner and watched Orange is the New Black.  We're really enjoying that show.  For those who aren't familiar with it, it's a Netflix original series about a relatively affluent woman in her thirties who gets sent to federal prison after being convicted on charges related to drug smuggling (she had a lesbian fling with a woman after college, and her girlfriend asked her to carry some drug money during a trip to Europe).
Orange is funny, sometimes poignant, and occasionally intense.  They've been doing a great job of developing characters within the dysfunctional little community of a women's minimum security prison.  It's a well written show, and it's based (not sure how closely) on a memoir by Piper Kerman about her own experiences while serving out a prison sentence.
Anyway, I'd recommend the show.  It took me two episodes to really come to appreciate it, but I'm liking it now.

On Saturday we ran errands and did chores.  I hadn't been on my bike for a while, so I did some riding around South Austin.  I was a little out of shape on the bike, and it was hot out there, but I managed to get in enough miles to chalk it up as a semi- legitimate workout.  I've found a new route around South Austin that lets me put in 12 miles or a little more and still wind my way back to my doorstep, so that's pretty cool (I don't really like having to put my bike into my car to drive places in order to go for a ride).
Saturday night Amy and I went downtown to meet up with some friends, Adam and Katie, for a few drinks.  We went to Midnight Cowboy, which I had heard about from several other people, but never actually visited.  It's a bar located in a space which formerly housed a massage parlour, and it has a sort of speakeasy theme.  The bar isn't clearly marked, and you ring a buzzer under the name "Harry Craddock" (a famous bartender from the U.S. who fled to England during Prohibition) in order for them to buzz you in.  The place specializes in upscale cocktails, and it has a cool, quiet ambiance, which is sort of unexpected down in the hustle and bustle of 6th Street.
We had a round of drinks there, and then headed over to Firehouse Lounge for another drink or two.
We had a really good time!  It was good to hang out with Adam and Katie and hear about their new house and their trip to Europe and Katie's adventures with the military industrial complex. (For real! Missile defense systems.  I kid you not.)  We'll have to do it again in the not so distant future.

On Sunday we got up and went out for breakfast.  We went to the grocery store.
I went for another bike ride.  A pretty long one.  I just decided to ride north through town, and then catch a bus headed back home when I couldn't handle the heat anymore.  It ended up being a good ride.
The bike that I ride is sort of weird.  I've talked about it before.  It's a mountain bike, but I've put commuter tires on it.  It's probably heavier than a road bike, and I'm not sure that the gears are set in just the same way that they would be for something designed for the open road.  All of this is to say that I think you end up working harder to go fewer miles on my bike than you would on a typical, light frame, skinny wheeled road bike.  My bike is good for me because I'm big, and I think I need a more rugged frame to carry someone my size.  So I tend to feel like I'm doing more work over fewer miles than a person on a road bike would do.  That's okay, though.  As long as I'm getting exercise and making my way around the city, I'm pretty happy.  Also, I can ride my bike on a few trails, sidewalks, and other bumpy surfaces upon which true road bikes would not dare to tread.
Sunday afternoon I had band practice with Reed and Eric.  We sounded pretty good.  I need to get my old Peavey amp repaired so we can have a backup amp for vocals.  We were playing with a three man lineup, and I played bass.  That sort of thing is good for me because with fewer people in the mix I could really hear exactly what I was playing.  With less people there's a different balance in terms of keeping things interesting, but not overdoing it.

Last night we watched another episode of The Bridge.  I like that show, too, although it's darker than Orange is the New Black.  It makes good use of its setting.  El Paso, we're reminded, is sort of unique in its status as such a large, metropolitan area lying right along the border.  Ciudad Juarez, just across in Mexico, is also a large city, but truly seems a world apart.  It's nearly a war zone, with its high rate of violence and various poverty-stricken neighborhoods, as compared to El Paso, which has one of the lowest crime rates for a city of its size in the U.S..
Anyway, The Bridge is a well crafted mystery with some interesting characters.  It's a kind of classic crime mystery with a different twist.  I'm still hooked.

And that was the weekend.  It was nice. 
Amy did some cross stitching and a pretty cool zentangle! 

Good mix of entertaining and relaxing.
I gotta keep riding my bike.  Can't let the summer heat beat me!!