Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Greetings from warm and sunny Austin, Tejas!

After getting up very, very early for a morning flight out of Manchester, New Hamster, my Southwest flight made a brief stopover in Nashville to disembark the squares and take on a fresh cargo of goateed, tattooed, square-framed, comically be-hatted guitar-toting hipsters bound for the South-By-Southwest Film and Music Festival.

After touching down at the lovely Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (notable for its locals-only terminal vendor policy and the groovy three-piece combo serenading the baggage claim area), I was startled to discover (via voice mail) that my host for the week, Baron Von Doviak, had gotten his car swiped from the spot in front of his building THAT MORNING...meaning our carbon footprint on this year's SXSW will be just as small as last year, when the Baron's car died only minutes after picking me up at the airport.

Deciding to stay positive about the local constabulary's auto-recovery efforts and not let a little grand theft auto spoil the day, we made our way to Guerro's, a local Mexican food landmark, where I had the first of many margaritas and Shiner Bocks and enjoyed my new favorite Mexican meal, the Mauro Plato, which was like steak served in a big dish of gooey, cheesy French onion soup, but without the soup.

Then it was on to the Continental Club for more Shiners and margaritas and the multigenerational musical stylings of Planet Casper, a nice group of fellahs with an old-timey repertoire and a baby-face fiddle player.

After some billiards and fake video golf at Ego’s, I hit my first flick of the fest: Dreams With Sharp Teeth, a tribute to cantankerous sci-fi icon Harlan Ellison, a raging but entertaining egomaniac who was a big influence on my own teen and college pop-culture geekery with his cynical and insightful collection of media essays The Glass Teat, his gritty urban youth-gang novel Web of the City and classic episodes of Star Trek and, later, Babylon Five.

Like Ellison himself, Dreams With Sharp Teeth was fascinating but ultimately exhausting (or maybe it was just the fact that I’d been up since six a.m. and drinking since three p.m., Central Time), and the day ended shortly thereafter with the discovery my favorite pair of sunglasses had somehow gotten trampled underfoot by some fellow filmgoers at the Paramount Theater and a quick cab ride home, followed by a deep Texas sleep.

And now...breakfast tacos.

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