Monday, January 28, 2008

Rooting for the Monsters

Kate and I saw Cloverfield Saturday night. I enjoyed it as a fun reimagining of Godzilla Takes Manhattan as seen through a digital camcorder, but was I really supposed to feel terrified when the movie’s one-dimensional yuppie caracatures were being chewed up and spit out? Was I wrong for laughing out loud when the Statue of Liberty’s disembodied nog came rolling down the block?

The idea that anyone could view Cloverfield as anything other than a popcorn-happy exploitation vehicle strikes me as ludicrous.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Giant Burgers of Fuegos

Kate and I tried a (relatively) new family-run restaurant called Fuegos last night. They serve "authentic Mexican and California cuisine," which translates into a eclectic menu of fish tacos, burritos, ahi tuna sandwiches and a giant burger capable of dislocating a horse's jaw. In a cavalier rebuke to my slightly elevated LDL, I chose the latter.

At $8.50, the Fuegos burger isn't the best deal in town, but it could easily feed two people. Start with a half-pound of cooked-to-order ground beef. Then throw on a mountain of grilled onions, cheese, bacon and avocado. I normally don't like Thousand Island dressing on my burgers, but it worked on this one. Kate's red snapper fish tacos were also quite good.

Fuegos is tucked away in a Latino-themed strip mall in the 7600 block of N. Lamar, just south of Anderson Lane. There's no access from the northbound side of Lamar, but this is food worth making an extra U-turn for. They don't have an alcohol license yet, so BYOB.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Air Canada Returns to Austin

Starting this spring, Austinites can once again "take off to the Great White North" without stopping to change planes.

After pulling out of Austin in 2000, Air Canada returns to town May 1 with a daily nonstop to Toronto. While the old Austin-Toronto flight was serviced with a mainline A319 Airbus, the new one will be serviced with a 75-seat Bombardier regional jet.

Thursday Trivia Grab Bag

During the Peenbeets’ salad days, we devised something called “Peenbeets Trivia Grab Bag” to keep our shows moving whenever someone broke a string. At first, I’d merely recite some arcane bit of useless trivia. Then we started involving the audience by handing out a cheap prize to whoever got the right answer first. By the end of our run, we’d occasionally do “Grab Bag” even when strings weren’t broken.

In fond memory of that, and because I’m too strapped to scrawl out anything more substantial at the moment, here are some far-out facts that could’ve easily been fodder for “Peenbeets Trivia Grab Bag:”

-Anson “Potsie” Williams from Happy Days is second cousin to Dr. Henry Heimlich of “Heimlich manuver” fame.

-Any month that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th.

-Huey Lewis scored a perfect 800 on the math section of the SAT.

-Fruit of the Loom, Acme Brick and Orange Julius are all owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

-Don Knotts was a regular on Search for Tomorrow from 1953 to 1955.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More International Flights for Houston

Starting March 20, Singapore Airlines will begin flying four weekly nonstops from Houston to Moscow with continuing service to Singapore. I’ve always heard Singapore Airlines has excellent inflight service – unless they catch you chewing gum.

Coupled with Emirates’ new nonstops to Dubai, Houston has really extended its upper hand over Dallas/Fort Worth in international air traffic.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Gray Lazies

As a dense fog rolls into town this evening, I'm reminded of the degree to which this current spate of cold, damp weather has turned me into a hermit. I can deal with cold and I can deal with damp, but having the two together chills my bones and fills my head with dead weight.

I've really been slacking over the last several days on getting out for my daily mental health walks and my TV consumption is through the roof. A few more days off the wagon and I'll have to rekindle the routine all over again. I can only imagine how I'd handle things if I lived in a clime where gray is the norm.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How 'Bout Them Cowboys, Adolf?

My pal Mark Fagan reposted this hilarious video from Kissing Suzy Kolber on the Chron’s sports blog this afternoon. Although it’s in German, it might be NSFW if you don’t want your colleagues to think you’re going all Aryan on them.

Although I remain a Dallas Cowboys fan for life by virtue of growing up in Dallas during the Golden Age of Staubach, is there really any doubt that if Hitler were a NFL fan, he’d be crying for America’s (and God’s) Team?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

For the Bride Who Has Everything

In the course of planning our wedding, Kate and I have stumbled onto a mind-boggling variety of wonderful products that go a long way toward restoring the dignity of marriage in America.

Take custom bridal lingerie, for example. If I was a blushing bride with traditional values, the first thing I'd do is go to and buy some panties with my hubby-to-be's claim duly noted right across the crotch.

What God hath joined together...let no thong put assunder.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kate's "Smashing" Encounter

As you might have surmised from my new profile photo, Kate and I are faithful fans of NBC's Friday Night Lights.

I got nervous when they introduced the Straight-Outta- Melrose storyline of having Landry bludgeon a rapist to death, but the delicious marital back-and-forth between Coach Taylor and Tammy continues to make FNL the best drama on network TV right now.

Since the show films in Austin, cast sightings are not uncommon around these parts. Last Friday, appropriately enough, Kate met Gaius Charles, the handsome young actor who plays star running back Brian "Smash" Williams. You can peep at her gushing account here.

I guess I’ll have to redouble my efforts to meet Minka Kelly, the fetching young actress who plays born-again former cheerleader Lyla Garrity.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Kate went to Dallas this weekend to try on wedding dresses, so I decided to indulge myself in a full-bodied reversion to male-pattern slothdom.

Instead of dressing up and going out on the town, I stayed home in dirty clothes, ate not one but two meals from Taco Cabana, drank wine from the bottle and listened to 80s AOR like Zebra and Fastway when I wasn't slouched in front of the TV, wistfully watching grainy video of my old bands. The only responsible thing I did was remembering to feed the cats.

Although the whiny little taskmaster in the back of my skull wants to tsk-tsk this abdication as a waste of precious weekend, I'm proud of myself for achieving a remarkably high level of contentment by doing nothing much in particular.

That said, I'll be glad when Kate gets home. I miss her and the cats are starting to get scared.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Subterranean Homesick Buffet

I "found" this illegally-placed sign stuck in the grass at the corner of Burnet and Anderson yesterday. I'm not yet sure which continent A+ Buffet's "Continental Food" comes from, but despite my slightly elevated bad cholesterol levels, I plan to find out sooner rather than later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Parking Garage Capital of the World?

Kate has a story today on the free side of the ABJ Web site about the Real Estate Council of Austin’s $101 million proposal to build five parking garages on the edges of downtown Austin with a circulator bus connecting the garages to downtown destinations.

This is a different parking garage plan than the "Austin Parking Enterprise" proposed by the city in conjunction with Mayor Wynn’s visions of circulating streetcars. So long as we’re building an arseload of parking garages at the gates of our increasingly-rarified central business district, why not go one step further by digging up a few streets and building canals where underemployed musician types can earn a respectable living as singing gondoliers?

I try to be reasonable about these things, but if they’re seriously thinking about saddling this garage/bus system with a moniker like “Boogie Around Town,” I'd have to reject it on aesthetics alone.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Nonstop Flights for Austin

Southwest announced yesterday that Austin will be getting new nonstop flights to Denver, Fort Lauderlale and Oakland starting May 10.

I’m particularly jazzed about the latter since Oakland is the one major Bay Area airport we don’t have nonstop service to. Southwest is also trimming its Austin service to Midland/Odessa and Nashville, but I think we can live with that (insert obligatory Permian Basin dig here).

Unfortunately, I’ve learned that having a nonstop flight from Austin and getting a reasonably-priced seat on such a flight are two different things. More often than not, it’s appreciably cheaper to cool your heels in Phoenix for an hour or so.

CLARIFICATION (1/11/08): Southwest already has nonstop Austin-Denver flights, so this really isn't "new" service.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wooten Elementary Locked Down

The elementary school that bears my neighborhood's name was put on lockdown this afternoon because of a nearby burglary. Neighbors reported several men were walking down Gault Street with weapons. Police suspected there was a man holed up in a house with a weapon, so the school was locked down as a precaution. Four people were ultimately arrested and charged with burglary of a residence.

I haven't looked up APD crime statistics for Wooten in a while, but there has definitely been an uptick in property crimes reported on the neighborhood newsgroup over the last several weeks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Horrors of Caffeine-Free Existence

Here’s how I know I’m addicted to caffeine. I’m fasting for a cholesterol test this morning and the lack of coffee is making me tired, achy and bristling with contempt for everything.

I’m never a ball of sunshine in the morning, but just saying yes or no is a chore today. I feel like curling up in a ball under a blanket and disengaging from the planet until I get my steaming cup of fix.

I hope I never have to quit caffeine. That would be ugly.

Monday, January 07, 2008

KOOP Damaged by Fire (Again)

Has any radio station in history been more beleaguered by fire than KOOP?

For the third time in two years, Austin’s eclectically-programmed community station has been knocked off the air by a fire. The station’s Airport Blvd. studios and offices sustained extensive damage in a Sunday morning blaze. An investigation into the cause is under way. KOOP executive director Kim McCarson expects the station to be broadcasting again in about two weeks.

KOOP’s previous home, a dilapidated building at the corner of 5th and San Jacinto that also housed Sweatbox Studios, was razed after a massive fire in February 2006, just weeks after incurring $600,000 in damages from a smaller fire.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Beetsolonely Enters Year 3 With Vigorous Thrust

Today is the third anniversary of Beetsolonely. My how we have grown from the legendary first missive, "Is this thing on...or did it fall off while I was dancing?"

As I write this message, thousands of child laborers are toiling in the bowels of sweatshops around the world to develop a massive stockpile of online gee-whizardry for you and yours to chuckle at from the comfort of your cubicle. Who would've thought a pack of cigarettes per child per day could generate so much mirth?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my Investor's Business Daily interview.

Friday, January 04, 2008

For the Love of Olan Mills

My pal Hunter Darby sent me this link to a laugh-out-loud collection of discarded portraits at List of the Day.

Believe it or not, there was a time not long ago when every other household in suburban Whateversburg had garish strip mall and/or department store portraits just like these hanging in the hallway or over the living room mantle as if to say, “Once upon a time, this family was just spiffy.”

If you were lucky enough to be dry humping on the couch with someone whose folks were out of town, one drunken glimpse at a young dad with his wavy Seventies mane could easily quash the moment forever.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Crick in Time

It's 3:30 in the morning and I can't sleep because my generalized self-loathing has flared up alongside an unshakable crick in the neck. I'm much more awake and alert right now than I will be when I'm at work in a few hours.

I feel like going outside in the bitter cold to run through the empty streets as fast as I can in order to wear myself down and maybe induce sleep. It won't work, though. I've tried it.

The only thing to do at this late hour is wait the spiral out until it collapses of exhaustion and hope I don't say or do anything to make things more unpleasant in the meantime.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Snoring in the New Year

Faced with the absence of the usual New Year's Eve party at David and Rachel's due to the blessed arrival of young Miles Wyatt six weeks ago, Kate and I rung in 2008 in relatively low-key fashion. Following an early evening toast with David and Rachel, we retired to our home and watched the History Channel.

I started to do the nods around 11:30, but when midnight beckoned, we switched over to Univision to watch the countdown live from Mexico City and Acapulco. With Times Square an hour ahead of Texas, watching the ball drop always feels a bit premature to me.

I thought I might regret not going out on New Year's Eve, but kissing on the couch as Don Francisco and a bunch of scantily-clad dancing women wished us a prospero año nuevo was just about right.