Monday, March 24, 2014


The weekend was pretty good!  It's been a little annoying that it's been so sunny and nice during the week, and then gets cloudy and overcast on the weekends, but...  a small complaint about what was still a good weekend.

Friday night Amy stayed home to do some reading and hang out while I pedaled my bike down to South congress for the Honk Festival.  Honk is a brass band music festival that takes place in various cities across the country.  The brass bands involve trumpets, trombones, saxophones, bass drums, and most of the instruments that you might see in your typical high school marching band, but the groups are relatively small, and the music is more in keeping with a New Orleans second line parade.  The music is typically swinging and funky and fun, and people where costumes and dance and sing.

Honk Austin took place down on South Congress on Friday night, and in a more central location, near Spider House, on Saturday afternoon.  When I first got down there on Friday night, there was a sort of modest-sized crowd, but it steadily grew throughout the evening.  It was a good time!  There's something about those brass bands that just puts you in a good mood.  I'm already looking forward to next year. 

After the show I rode home.  I hung out with Amy and just about fell asleep in my chair.

On Saturday we went out for breakfast tacos, took care of some errands, got some exercise, and did some chores.  Saturday evening Amy and I went over to Ryan and Jamie's house to eat some barbecue in honor of Jamie's birthday.  It was a fun time.  Jamie's dad and my parents were there along with Matt, Nicole, and Juan.  Mom made some good barbecue, and Amy made some good eggplant dip, and Nicole made a cake.  Happy birthday, Jamie! 

(here's Jamie, pictured in her usual Saturday outfit)

Sunday we went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the Alamo Drafthouse (thanks for the gift card, Sinex family!).  We both enjoyed it.  It had some moments that really made me laugh, and a few sort of poignant moments as well.  It was an amazing movie to look at, from an art direction perspective, and it had an interesting story.  I would rank it up there with Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums as being one of Anderon's better films (although Tenenbaums is still his masterpiece, I think).  Ralph Fiennes was great.

After the movie I had band practice at Reed's house.  It was good.  All of us made it.

That night Amy made tortilla soup.  As usual, it was awesome.  I am spoiled.

That was the weekend.

It was good. 

The end!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SXSW, Rodeo, Birthday Update (mostly in picture form)

So last week was SXSW in Austin, Texas.  I've said this before, but SXSW takes a lot of heat from the locals.  It's too crowded, too loud, too corporate, too drunk, has too much traffic, brings in too many hipsters, and is just generally too much.
I hear all of those complaints.  Some of them have merit.  This year some crazy drunken psycho ran over about 23 people downtown, killing three.  It made the national news, and was absolutely horrible.
But that sort of thing (having some a**hole drive his car into a crowd) could have probably happened anywhere.
I still enjoy SXSW.  There are various aspects of it that will always be subject to debate and criticism, but I actually LIKE the fact that we live in a town that is willing to suffer some major inconveniences for a few days each year in the interest of celebrating live music.  Sure, the thing has gotten a bit corporate, and the big name acts have a tendency to steal the spotlight a bit, but there are still a ton of smaller acts out there every year who are doing their best to get noticed, playing their hearts out and hoping to get a record deal or at least reach a broader audience.
I saw a lot of music this year.
I took off Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for a little while, and I took all of Friday off.  I put my bike in the back of my car, and once I was done working, I would change clothes and go ride around to listen to music (parking is pretty crazy during South By, but shows can be sort of spread out, so bikes are a good compromise).
I saw a lot of music, and I don't want to go into detail about all of it.  I'm gonna post some pictures, and maybe write a little bit about it here and there.


This was the first group that I saw.  I was waiting for my friend Mark to show up.  They were shockingly good.  The trumpet player, Chihiro Yamazaki, was a bouncy, small girl, but she had a big, bright, powerful sound on the trumpet.  They were from Japan, and when I tried to talk to them a bit after their set, I found out only one of them spoke English.  They had at least one gig booked at the Elephant Room, though, so they had a little street cred.

Mark Kozelek at Central Presbyterian.  He plays under the name Sun Kil Moon.  Very cool and interesting.  Sort of a dark sounding singer-songwriter, with interesting lyrics and drums.  Different, and cool. 

Typhoon.  A large band with a big sound.  They were pretty tight, and pulled off some sort of nuanced, complex rhythms for such a large band.  I enjoyed them.

Real Estate.  Pretty cool.  Their music wasn't really slow, but still mellow.  As Amy said, they have sort of a "California sound".
Hurray for the Riff Raff at San Jose.  They do a pretty interesting country/folk sort of thing.  They had some songs that I really liked.

Los Lonely Boys on the roof at Whole Foods.  They're already pretty well known, but I've never seen them.  They put on a good show.  Texas bluesy rock with a little bit of Tejano/Latin flair (especially in the percussion).

Cassidy in the back yard.  Thanks for the fish eye lens, Jean!

SPEAK at Whole foods.  At first I was turned off a bit by the hipster garb, but they were actually pretty good.  Good guitar parts and keyboards.  Good vocals and harmonies.  Tight band.

Josh, me, and Mark in a selfie on the roof at Whole Foods
Dame.  From Los Angeles.  They were pretty good.  Pretty much good ol' fashioned rock.  I liked the lead singer's voice.  Apparently her name is Michelle Armstrong.
Dark Rooms at the GSD&M day party.  Interesting band, but I'm not sure that their sort of brooding, ethereal, electronic infused music was ideally suited for a bright, beautiful, sunny afternoon in ATX

Bone, Fur and Feathers at GDS&M.  They were also pretty good, but maybe not suited to a sunny, mid day show.  They had a bit of a psychedelic, trippy feel.  I was at this show with my friend, Mark.  We met the band's lead singer, LouLou, and found out that she had been performing for many years with Thievery Corporation.  Pretty cool

So I went to see bands on Thursday and Friday afternoons, and on Friday, Amy and I both took the day off and went to see music on South Congress.  We saw Fly Golden Eagle at San Jose (who were okay, but didn't blow me away) along with Hurray for the Riff Raff.  On Thursday and Friday evenings we volunteered at Central Presbyterian.  We checked badges and wristbands and made sure people were in the right spot.  Thursday night we saw Curtis Harding and Typhoon.  I hadn't heard of Curtis Harding.  He was pretty cool.  He played rock, and had a good voice.  Friday night we were there for Sun Kil Moon and Real Estate.  Both acts were good. 
Saturday we took the day off to do errands and chores, and Saturday night we went over to Mom and Dad's house for dinner with our family friends, Aleda and Charlie.  We had a really nice dinner, and it was great to see them.
Sunday we went to the rodeo and went to see Dwight Yoakam.  We had a really good time.  Dwight Yoakam put on a good concert, and we really enjoyed watching the rodeo events as well.  I would definitely be interested in seeing Yoakam again.  He has a really cool voice and good songs.

On Sunday we went to the Austin Rodeo!

Bronco bustin'!!

Amy happily awaits the arrival of Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam!  He was really good.  Definitely lived up to his reputation.  When your only complaint is that you wish he woulda played a little longer, you know it was a good show.

So that was pretty much the weekend.  It was a really good one. 
My birthday was on Monday, but I was a little pooped after South by Southwest and the rodeo and whatnot.  We mostly laid low on my birthday.  On Tuesday we got together with my folks and Jamie and Ryan for dinner at Cypress Grill.  It was a really nice evening.  We had a good time, and I appreciate everyone making it out on a Tuesday night to celebrate my birthday.
So that's about it!  I wrote about some of the local acts that I saw over on my local music blog, ATX Notebook.  Check it out if you are interested!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Hey!  Hope everyone is doing okay.
Our weekend was pretty good, but sorta low key.
Friday night we got to visit with our friends Jaci and Josh.  They were in town from Washington, D.C., for SXSW interactive.  We met up with them for dinner at Curra's.  It was really good to catch up with them.  They're good friends, and we were bummed when they moved away.  It seems like they're doing well, though, and it was great to see them.  They're in town for part of this week, too, so we'll see if they have time to meet up again.

Saturday was a rainy day pretty much all day.  Sunday was overcast and sort of dreary as well.  Kind of a bummer, given that last week was so nice.  Oh well.  We need the rain.

Saturday morning we had a guy come by and give us a bid for windows.  We're talking about putting some new windows into our house, so we're going through the process of pricing them.  Could be pretty cool...
Other from that we did grocery shopping, and then Amy went and got her hair done.  I took care of a few things around the house, got some exercise, and did some reading.
Saturday night Amy made a salmon dish from her Rick Bayless cookbook that involved a sauce with tahini in it.  I thought it was different, and I liked it, but Amy was a little less convinced.

Sunday we went out for brunch with my family to celebrate my mom's birthday.  We went to Jack Allen's Kitchen.  It was a good time.  Good to see everyone.

Sunday afternoon we took Cassidy for a walk, and I tried to trim the branches off of some trees in the back yard.  I planted an oak back there a few years ago, and I'm trying to make sure that the other trees aren't totally choking off its sunlight. 
Anyway, I did a little yard work, got some exercise, and then I had band practice with Reed, Jim, and Eric while Amy went to the gym.

Amy made shrimp creole, which we ate after band practice.  As usual, it was very good.

And that was the weekend!

Hope it's a good week for everyone.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Weekend Update

Well, Amy left to go out of town on Thursday to spend some time with her family out in Arizona.  It's always sort of weird when Amy goes out of town.  I was single for a long time, but now I find myself a little discombobulated when she's gone.  In addition to, of course, simply missing her, I guess I'm a creature of habit, so things just feel weird when we're not together and doing our weekend routine. 
So I took Amy to the airport on Thursday.  Friday I worked all day.
This weekend the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz down on 6th Street was hosting a film noir festival. My brother, Ryan, is something of a film noir aficionado.  He's previously flown out to the Noir City film festival in San Francisco, which is one of the bigger film noir festivals in the country.  Eddie Muller is the founder of The Film Noir Foundation and it's president.  He hosts film noir screenings on Turner Classic Movies, as well as appearing a various festivals and events across the country.  Eddie hosted this smaller noir festival in Austin, bringing a collection of films with him- several of which can't be found anywhere other than in The Foundation's collection.   The Foundation's primary objective, aside from educating people about film noir and sharing a love of the genre, is to work on preserving classic film noir movies.  Many of the old noir films from the 1940's and 50's exist on old film stock, meaning that they're subject to decay and decomposition if not properly preserved.  The Film Noir Foundation raises money and engages in efforts to both preserve and digitize these classic movies, and profits from the Foundation's festivals are used toward that end.

(Tough guys Eddie Muller and Ryan Steans)

Anyway, I rode my bike down to 6th Street early on Friday evening to meet up with Ryan.  We had a beer at Shakespeare's and then wandered next door for a screening of Too Late for Tears, a 1949 movie about a criminal who gets much more than he bargains for when his bag full of money ends up in the hands of what initially appears to be a run-of-the-mill house wife.  The film stars Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, and Dan Duryea. 
I had a really good time.  I enjoyed the movie, I enjoyed riding my bike downtown to see it, I enjoyed hanging out with Ryan, and I even enjoyed the bus ride home. 

(6th Street Noir)

(As a side note, on the bus ride home I ended up chatting with two guys who were sitting next to me.  In the course of the conversation they both eventually ended up revealing that each of them had gotten arrested for DWI at some point in their past, and now each of them rode the bus downtown when they wanted to go out and have a drink or two with friends.  They were polite, amiable guys, and I told them that Capital Metro ought to put them in a public service announcement.)

On Saturday I took care of a few chores and  got a little exercise.  Ryan came over and we went back down to The Ritz for a screening of Larceny, starring John Payne, Joan Caulfield, Dan Duryea, and Shelley Winters.  I really enjoyed Larceny- maybe even more than Too Late for Tears.  I enjoyed both movies, but in Larceny the characters seemed a little more multidimensional and well-developed, which, in turn, gets you more invested in the plot line as an audience member.  Good movie.

Saturday night I went over to a birthday/Mardi Gras party at Mandy's house.  It was a lot of fun!  I saw Kim, Sigmund, Andy, Rami, Camille, Greg, and a bunch of other people that I hadn't seen in a while.  There was music and drinks and fun!

(Mardi Gras in the back yard)

(dance fever!)
So that was Saturday night. 
On Sunday I did exciting stuff like laundry, taxes, and shopping.  I watched a bit of House of Cards (although only one episode, I think.  I don't have the stamina for "binge watching").
Sunday night we had band practice.  Reed, Jim, Frank, and I got together to play.  I thought we sounded pretty good.  Eric's been gone a bit, so we've gotten more experienced at playing as a four piece (The Mono Quartet?), but it's coming along nicely. 
And that was the weekend.  It was good, but I'm ready for Amy to come back!