Thursday, August 27, 2009

She's having a baby

Now that we've made it past the three-month mark, I guess it's high time Kate and I went wide with the news that we are expecting a child.

The above ultrasound was taken last week. Although we were able to see the baby moving around, the technician had a hard time coaxing it into all the necessary positions at 8am. We still don't know if we are having a boy or girl, but I'm pretty sure he or she won't be a morning person.

Kate is grateful to be done with the first trimester. Morning sickness and fatigue are never pleasant, especially in extreme drought conditions. Fortunately, these symptoms seem to be abating as she moves into the second trimester. I find it amazing that she didn't stay in bed for the entire month of July.

This baby of ours is due sometime in the latter half of February. Impending parenthood has us both vacillating between excitement, anticipation and anxiety, but one thing is certain: I couldn't be happier to be embarking on this ride alongside Kate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cholesterol, ho!

For me, the only thing better than a plate of shrimp is a plate of shrimp that never ends. Accordingly, I'm a little too excited about the limited-time return of Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster. I'm guessing this is not the mindset of those who have to serve it.

In Austin, Endless Shrimp can be yours for a mere $15.99. This includes a salad that won't fool anyone and plenty of Cheddar Bay biscuits. Go easy on the latter or you'll lose valuable digestive tract real estate that ought to house gobs of hastily masticated shrimp.

I know endless shrimp is unsustainable and morally suspect, but as Sting once sang, when the world is running down, order more scampi.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Of beers and buses

If you live in North Central Austin and you like to drink some beers, congratulations. You sound like my kinda people. Now go read about reporter/beer blogger Lee Nichols' "No. 3 Bus Pub Crawl" in this week's Austin Chronicle.

I'm not a big fan of the No. 3 Burnet/Manchaca bus as a means of getting to and from the center of town. Its convoluted routing down Medical Pkwy. and through West Campus greatly hampers the line's utility in comparison to the No. 1 and the No. 5.

The No. 3 does hit a fantastic array of good places to drink beer, though. And it stops within a 3-block stumble of my home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The thrill of the chase

I've always wanted to shadow a tornado chaser, but as the Travel Channel's Tornado Alley U.S.A. demonstrates, it ain't all funnel clouds and grapefruit-sized hail.

There are no guarantees with weather, so you could fork over $2,000 to minivan your way around America's big wide middle and never witness a single wall cloud. Imagine hauling your ass all the way from London to Nebraska and coming up vortex-less. What a damn shame that would be.

Clearly there is a market need for a tornado chase outfit that balances the uncertainty of finding the business end of Mother Nature's wrath with the restorative powers of being on the business end of a table dance. If I were Warren Buffett, I'd double down on the first company that breaks up the monotony of fruitless chase days with a sampling of Midwestern men's clubs, particularly those with steak-and-shrimp lunch specials.

And what would this weather-porn dream factory on wheels be called? Titty Twisters!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hat Creek lassos former Arby's sign

Kate called me in Atlanta earlier this week to say the former Arby's "big hat" neon sign on Burnet has a new lease on life thanks to Hat Creek Burger Company. I couldn't wait to see the sign for myself because that's just the kind of dork I am.

I think the design is pretty smart overall. While I wish they could've used neon, I imagine it would've been inefficient and expensive compared to backlit plastic.

Best known for their trailer at 6th and Nueces, Hat Creek features fresh Angus beef patties, hand-cut fries and Blue Bell shakes. It'll be interesting to see how this new location fares against nearby competitors like P. Terry's and Moo-Yah.

Either way, I give 'em props for thoughtfully re-purposing a fading symbol of American fast food history.

UPDATE (10/5/09): Turns out they used some neon in the sign after all. Sweet.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hi honey, I'm stupid!

From our neighbors to the north, here's an interesting essay by Susan Krashinsky in today's Globe and Mail that dissects advertising's dependency on positing men as hopeless dumbasses in order to sell things to women.

With women controlling the majority of household purchases, marketers have determined that one of the easiest routes to a woman's pocketbook is by taking a swipe at bumbling male significant others. Krashinsky dissects five TV spots selling everything from hardware to ice cream that employ this formula.

Of course, men and boys watch these ads, too. While some men resent being portrayed in a light that would likely result in boycotts if the genders were flipped, it isn't very macho to whine about a TV commercial. More importantly, men stand to derive a tangible benefit from these stereotypes. If your wife thinks you're an idiot, she'll probably just give up on pursuing an equitable division of household labor.

Meanwhile, back on the couch, the crumb-crusted manboys of the world can safely pop open another beer, scratch their balls and say, "See that, baby? I is normal!"

Monday, August 03, 2009

Corporate parents send pundits to time out

The New York Times broke a story this weekend about the corporate backers of Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann brokering an end to their on-air feud.

Although the back-and-forth was good for ratings, the suits decided it wasn't so good for the long-term health of News Corporation or General Electric. According to the Times, Olbermann is standing down on O'Reilly's reactionary spew of half-truths in exchange for an end to O'Reilly's rant about GE's business in Iran. Salon's Glenn Greenwald explains how this agreement fits in nicely alongside other under-reported TV news scandals like the use of "military analysts" paid by the Pentagon.

Punditry masquerading as news is obnoxious, but quelling it via boardroom d├ętente is downright disturbing. Somewhere in the great beyond, Paddy Chayefsky is either giggling or gagging.

UPDATE (11:49pm): Olbermann broke his O'Reilly attack fast this evening, denying that he was ever party to a truce. However, his denial is at odds with the suspect timing of his previously announced moratorium on discussing O'Reilly and the statements made by GE in the Times story.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The flea market's on fire

Just moments ago, Kate and I were driving home from lunch with Rachel and David Wyatt when we saw a large cloud of smoke to the east. Apparently, the Austin Country Flea Market on U.S. 290 is on fire. That is no good. I used to love buying used vinyl, Mexican vanilla and silly T-shirts out there.

UPDATE (8/3/09, 11:50pm): Although about 200 booths were destroyed in Saturday's fire, the Austin Country Flea Market plans to reopen this weekend.