Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Peenbeets on the MySpace

In the interest of preserving the ephemeral detritus of my musical "career," I spent a good portion of today creating a Peenbeets MySpace page. I still need to get some photos up there, but the jukebox is up and running. Any time you want to hear "I Remember Joe," we've got you covered.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's 6:00 p.m. and I need to stop rambling about my dead band and get out of my pajamas.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Only the lonely?

After being asked repeatedly when she was going to give her daughter a sibling, Nataly Kogan wrote an essay that has now been picked up by Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog in The New York Times.

I've often heard people say you're depriving your child by not giving him or her a sibling. As an only child myself, I could interpret such a comment as an subtle indictment of my parents, but I don't. That's because almost every person I've heard lamenting the fate of only children grew up with one or more siblings they don't despise. They think about a world in which those siblings don't exist and it feels empty.

Fortunately for me, I've never felt "alone" or otherwise deprived by not having a sibling. I enjoyed the time I had to play by myself as a child. In our efforts to be "good citizens," I think we tend to overrate the benefits of companionship while understating those of solitude. Whether I had one child or six, I wouldn't want to raise kids that weren't okay with their own company.

Some people say only children tend to be selfish and antisocial. I would agree that only children may need extra adjustment time when they start interacting with other kids, but there's something to be said for the extra interaction only children get with adults. Parents who are keyed into this are likely to take steps to mitigate such challenges. To the extent that I can be a raving arsehole, I doubt the presence of a sibling would've done much to change that.

Which isn't to say I didn't sometimes wish for a guardian angel-type sibling to help me navigate the waters of adolescence. If I could've ordered up a sister willing to set me up with her hot friends, I would've, but who's to say fate would've acted in my favor? I could've just as easily wound up with a bullying older brother who beat the shit out of me for sport.

Either way, I don't feel deprived by what I don't long for.

The fellas serving the tables

There's a telling little tidbit in Chron reporter Richard Whittaker's recap of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature, held last week at the Four Seasons.

The Austin-based conservative think tank's opening lunch featured a debate between onetime Reaganomics architect Arthur Laffer and Center for Immigration Studies director Mark Krikorian over whether the U.S. should close its borders to foreign workers.

According to Whittaker, "Krikorian argued that immigration only imports more 'working poor' ('Just look at the fellas serving the tables here,' he told the diners) and that low-skill jobs could be filled by 'ex-cons, recovering addicts, [and] the disabled.'"

I suspect this Krikorian guy has never worked in food service before. Otherwise, he would know better than to lip off like that in front of the help. That's just begging to have your rubber chicken molested.

Click here for the full story.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Down with the sickness

Kate and I have been holed up at home for the past two days with a nasty stomach bug. I'll spare you the graphic details, other than to say I've never been happier to live in a house with two bathrooms.

Thankfully, the bug appears to be on a slow wane at this point. Unless the city is paralyzed by icy roads, I expect we'll both be back on the chain gang tomorrow morning.

This is the first time I've ever been laid out concurrently with someone else. Kate quipped that we were morphing into the bedridden grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite feeling rotten, it's been kind of nice to muddle through this alongside her. Maybe there's something to that "sickness and health" thing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

10 quick thoughts on the inauguration

1. I watched the peaceful transfer of power this morning in a darkened conference room with about 50 of my colleagues. Last time that many of us gathered around the TV in the middle of a Tuesday, we were watching the World Trade Center towers collapse.

2. I got a lump in my throat when Aretha Franklin was singing. Her voice definitely isn't what it used to be, but it was still Aretha.

3. I'm not a big Rick Warren fan, but I thought he struck a decent if not particularly eloquent tone today.

4. Joseph Lowery knocked it out of the park. Anyone who goes through what Lowery went through and comes out on the side of not hating everyone is a pretty good advertisement for his faith.

5. I wonder if 88-year-old John Paul Stevens is making retirement plans right now?

6. Two decades after Bush the Elder suggested atheists shouldn't be considered citizens, it was nice to hear Obama mention "non-believers" in his inaugural address.

7. After seeing Dick Cheney in a wheelchair, I can totally envision him playing Old Man Potter in community theater productions of It's A Wonderful Life.

8. Upon hearing that Ted Kennedy had taken ill at the inaugural luncheon, the last thing I wanted to see on CNN was a tight shot of John Cornyn's forehead.

9. Several instapundits clamored on about Obama's address not having a money shot for the ages, but I liked "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." Obama stepped on the trailing applause with his next line, but it would still make a nice soundbite.

10. Can't wait to fire up the electronic hearth and zip through the parade in TiVo time.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Tonight is the last night America will have to go to sleep with George W. Bush as its president. I cannot recall a time when the changing of the guard was met with such ecstatic, wall-to-wall coverage. Not even the suspicious one-two punch of Reagan's 1980 swearing in and the Iranian hostage release can touch Obama's impending inauguration.

In many countries, a man like George Bush would be fleeing into exile with no clean socks. Instead he gets to go live in North Dallas, where there are plenty of like-minded folks who will welcome his appearance at chamber of commerce lunches and black tie galas. After all, as the chorus goes, "He kept us safe!"

As much as I detest what Bush and his enablers have wrought upon the planet, I'm content to leave the carcass of his presidency to historians instead of lawyers. We're too far screwed to indulge ourselves in the luxury of a show trial. In a divorce like this one, it's best to cut your losses and run like hell.

Here's to the promise of having a new captain who actually cares about flying the plane.

Friday, January 16, 2009

US Airways pilot-turned-hero a Texan

The ace pilot who managed to ditch a bird strike-imperiled US Airways A320 into the Hudson River yesterday without killing anyone is now the most famous person to come out of Denison, Tex. since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A nasal revelation

This past weekend, I found out something about Kate I'd never known.

While studying in London during the fall of 1998, she went and got her nose pierced (or "jeweled," as her dad said upon greeting her at the airport). She was "actively" pierced until 2000. Once she pointed it out, I could easily see the piercing.

Not that there's anything wrong with Kate getting her nose pierced, but I'm a bit shocked that it never came up before in two and a half years of conversation.

I wonder what else Kate is hiding from me?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Levanta la bandera!

Here's a fine example of how not to do a Spanish-language TV spot from a business that should know better.

Several years back, my beloved Pancho's Mexican Buffet launched the "Raise the Flag" campaign. They even had someone write an appropriately cheesy jingle to help embed the phrase. When it came time to do a Spanish-language spot, Pancho's could've changed the Spanish translation to fit the meter of the jingle or they could've changed the jingle to fit the meter of the Spanish translation.

Instead, I'd wager they ignored the advice of their ad agency's creative team to save money and forced some poor session singer to shoehorn the lyric, "Levanta la bandera" into a wordspace that was only big enough for "Raise the flag." The result sounds like a mash-up gone horribly awry.

Ah, Pancho's. Is this some sort of cry for help?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

One Step Beyond

This 1979 cover of Prince Buster's "One Step Beyond" by Madness is a 2 Tone classic. It popped up unexpectedly on a compilation I was listening to yesterday. which reminded me of seeing the promo video air on Michael Nesmith's pre-MTV show, Pop Clips. The version above has an opening segment I've never seen before.

At age 12, I didn't quite know why the guys in Madness were line skanking out of a barbershop, but I knew I liked it. I still think this is one of the best music videos ever made and I bet it didn't even cost 10 grand to make.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

P. Terry's coming to Central Austin

I was disappointed to see the original location of Hill-Bert's Burgers on N. Lamar meet the wrecking ball late last year. Not only did Hill-Bert's serve above average (if not stellar) burgers, it was located in a vintage former Burger Chef. Now that most of the first wave of disposable fast-food architecture has been disposed of, I think we should preserve what's left as cautionary tales and/or totems of kitsch.

However, yesterday's Austinist report that P. Terry's is opening a second location at the Hill-bert's site more than ameliorates my initial dismay. I love P. Terry's burgers and absolutely lust for their french fries. In terms of quality and value for the money, I don't think there's a better burger/fries combo in town. The new P. Terry's will have both indoor and outdoor seating. Architect Michael Hsu's design incorporates some of the Googie elements of the demolished Burger Chef building, so it won't look boring, either.

It'll be nice to get P. Terry's north of the river, but having them within walking distance of where I work could prove to be too close for comfort.

Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton found dead

Sad news out of Michigan this morning. Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor Mich. home earlier today. He was 60.

Asheton and his drumming brother Scott formed the Psychedelic Stooges in 1967 with vocalist Iggy Pop and bassist Dave Alexander. The Stooges’ self-titled debut (1969) and Fun House (1970) helped lay the foundation for punk rock. Alexander was fired in 1970 and he died of alcohol-related causes in 1975. Asheton moved to bass for 1973’s Raw Power, making room for guitarist James Williamson.

The original surviving Stooges reunited in 2003 with Minutemen/fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt filling in for Alexander. I saw them perform a short live set at the Austin City Limits studio for Seattle’s KEXP during SXSW 2007. They only played songs from their disappointing comeback album, The Weirdness, but it was still great to see those guys in person.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Beetsolonely: The Fourth Season

Well, here we are again. But this time, we're seniors. And we're gonna rule the school!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cable tragedy averted!

Time Warner and Viacom kissed and made up just before midnight. I found out by switching on Bachelor Party with Tom Hanks on Comedy Central this morning. Not a bad way to start the ol' año nuevo if you ask me.

Kate and I rang in 2009 and the wedding of our friends Mitsi and Josh. It was a fun, classy affair at the Austin Woman's Club, a cool Victorian Gothic chateau (ca. 1874) located in the historic Bremond Block behind the central library. We got to see the First Night fireworks go off from the balcony, too.

Now it's time to take down the Christmas lights. My mom used to say it was bad luck to leave Christmas lights up after January 1. I think she just told me that so I wouldn't be one of Those People who leaves them up until March.