Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fillmore East bet settled

Creedence not only played there but did so several times, according to the Fillmore show site. The listing isn't perfect, though, bcause it has "Wilbur" not Wilbert Harrison, and only once, and it omits The Joy of Cooking, among others. We always had such good seats. How could I not remember who played? So there! It's astonishing how influential Sly & the Family Stone continue to be. This outfit is sampled almost as much as James Brown is. So many had a crush on Cynthia Robinson, the trumpeter. The bet arose because we were talking about the jukebox at Scholz's and how, as long as it was on there, Bad Moon Rising always had to played, right along with Waltz Across Texas and Two More Bottles of Wine (one of the few times that Delbert's version is outdone by anybody else's version of anything, but, since Delbert McClinton gets composer's royalties on this one, I'm sure he doesn't mind).

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"Lawyers in Arms"

In the Texas Lawyer for September 27 is a detail-laden account of two young attorneys who found themselves in Iraq. This requires signing in to be viewed on line, but with no obligation. These guys will probably never make partner after the experiences they've had.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A nostalgic scent

It was close enough to nose level at Fiesta Mart to attract olfactory attention. A little box of Bell's Seasoning is now perfuming a big chunk of the house. These days it's touted as a no-salt, all-natural, all-purpose seasoning. HHH used it when making dressing for roast chicken or turkey. The box used to be more nineteenth century in appearance than it is now. Did it have a little shaker hole as though it contained goldfish food? At Fiesta the space given to periodicals has been greatly reduced, so there are no more of those serial cookbooks from Mexico and no more of the little fotonovelas and cartoon books. The junky gossip magazines don't have the latest on the Gloria Trevi story yet.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Dancing and prancing on Tejano Street

Seventh Street was jammed all the way back to IH-35. Turkey legs and elote were enjoying brisk sales. La Tropa F was scheduled to take the stage at 6:30, but it was something like fifteen minutes later that all was ready. La Fuerza had the crowd in its pocket for a medley of hot conjunto polka music but lost it for the pseudo-hiphop portion of the show. Tropa F played nonstop from the moment it began until 8:00 pm and then played an encore that lasted another good solid ten minutes or so. The Tropa dress of the evening was black hats with desert-camo duster coats. Those who brought chairs didn't use them; they were up on their feet trying to dance amidst the crowd. David Farias was in fine voice and everybody was smiling. How wonderful to feel happy and be anong a huge crowd of other happy people! Tropa has so many great songs to choose from, but it fit in lots of favorites. We were sorry not to hear "Me gusta la mala vida," but "Corazon Herido" and "Juan Sabor" go a long way to make up for it. The stage was at Seventh Street and we parked over on the east side, by the French Legation and across from the Emily Little house.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


The person peering through the bushes in broad daylight was taking photographs for his son, who was born right here in this house. As I understand it, so were at least two more babies from that era. Although there was much clutter from the week's activities, complete with an overlay of Sunday newspaper, our revenant was invited in to take more photographs. At hand was a copy of the archival photograph of the house's early days that's from the files of the architect, Roy Leonidas Thomas, and now in the possession of the Austin History Center. Remarkably, our visitor was able to take quite a good photograph of the photograph, and a scanned version was sent on via e-mail also. The camera was a Konica Minolta Dimage in some iteration, perhaps the X50. Nearly every living person who has ever resided in this house returns to see it again. If we ever leave it, we'll probably do so also. Since we used to move every year or so before we came here, we must conclude that there's just something about El Mirador.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A gaping gap

The house we always called "Roy's Taxi" (a graduate student who drove for his day job was the inhabitant with the longest extended tenancy) is now gone. In its place two ugly out-of-scale structures will stand. "Roy's Taxi" was not considered to be of enough value to be protected by the City's regulations on historic preservation. It was one of the early houses on the gateway thoroughfare of a streetcar suburb just across the river from the historic original core of Austin. "Roy's Taxi" was a Craftsman-style bungalow with rooms of generous proportions. Newer houses have been constructed in the side yards of original houses, but thus far they have not been hideous and some have even been distinguished. This is the first removal along the entire length of the street. Austin is busy destroying the features that make it different from Anywhere, U.S.A.

Friday, September 24, 2004

'Round the desmesne

This week we've enjoyed our fifth round of oxblood-lily showiness. Additional stems of pushed up from the first location that bloomed, and the last location to appear each year has done so. We're seeing clockvine (thunbergia, the variety with orange flowers and black centers). There have been a few passion flowers. The somewhat cooler nights have refreshed the potted geraniums. After having been pruned and rained upon, the lantanas in business again for the butterflies, and we continue to see many, as well as hummingbirds. The hummingbirds prefer Turk's cap above everything else. Bees are busy in the hyacinth beans. The pods have popped and the seeds from the milkweed and the Pride of Barbados have dispersed. Both kinds of milkweed (asclepias), the purely yellow and the orange-and-yellow combination, are putting forth new flowers. The nights are cooler for sleeping. Orion is very prominent in the sky. Any day now we'll see evidence of spider lilies (lycoris). Summer's on its way out!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Craftsman versus Companion

Spending the weekend on running errands is nobody's idea of fun, but at least one will be brief. At Sears, if you buy a Craftsman-brand item and it fails, it can be returned with no questions asked. And the entire process takes just seconds. For decades, the grass and edging shears of choice have been a self-sharpening item from Sears. Perhaps because I'm left-handed, the aluminum casting that constitutes the bottom handle always breaks after about five or so years of constant use. It always breaks in the same place. The stress must come from edging, not trimming. Better for edging is a set of shears with the blades turned at a right angle to the handle, but these shears feel flimsy, perhaps because of the plastic handles. The plastic-handled set hasn't ever broken but, if it were to do so, it could not be replaced for free, because its a Compansion-brand item. When Companion was introduced, I'm not sure. It used to be that all tools were Craftsman, all tools had that great guarantee, and that was that. Now, there's Companion, probably made in a back yard somewhere in east Asia, and another instance of modern-day decline.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Still a jukebox, still plenty of comino

At Aus Tex-Mex Cafe, the Jorge Special is pretty much as always. Here's some of what's on the jukebox currently: Bobby Pulido (three CDs), Selena (two), Ram Herrera, Jay ("La Voz") Perez, George Strait (everything), Frank Sinatra (lots), Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana (plenty), and lots of C&W generally.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Sufis for Bush

This was found on our doorstep.
Oh, those goofy soofys.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Blinkers and earmuffs

It doesn't do these days to focus much on world politics, national politics, county politics, city politics, or neighborhood politics. It's best to forget about the state of the economy. Mend it, use it up, wear it out. When attending the movies, comedies are best. Don't listen to any music with sad associations or even to music with happy associations from former times. Don't do anything at all that might invoke nostalgia. Let newspapers and magazines age a bit before reading them. Attend to the garden. This is all sound advice. Especially for now.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

El Continental and La Terraza

In a rack at La Terraza was a newsprint tabloid not seen before, printed in black and white with red spot color. El Continental seems to be based either in San Antonio or in Houston. It features very simple and old-fashioned jokes into which are inserted the names of advertisers. The ads are very cheap. There were at least two full-page ads, one for a chain of San Antonio tire shops, each owned or managed by a different member of the same family, and a San Antonio chain of small markets and butcher shops, each photographed with hand-painted signs of the weekly specials in the front windows and each owned or managed by a different member of the same family. We're not seeing any chains of tire shops here yet (although there may be a two-shop outfit). The most similar markets here are La Hacienda, La Moreliana, and La Michoacana, all of which are in newer buildings than the San Antonio stores are. El Mundo is getting full-color ad inserts from builders, banks, furniture stores, and car dealerships. This was also at the restaurant. The soup was full of chicken pieces nicely trimmed, in a broth of chicken and tomato, with big hunks of field carrots and a piece of corn on the cob. To accompany it were a serving of rice and some pieces of lime. The charro beans were tastily seasoned with tiny bits of sausage and of a deliciously smoky bacon. Fried potatoes in cuadrito form were very good also.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A New Year's resolution nearly kept

Even though it's necessary fairly often to go to OfficeMax, except for a 6-pack of colored Sharpies, no pens or markers have been purchased. The resolution on stationery hasn't been so successful, because it was impossible to resist a Crane's sale or an offering or two at Book People and at, of all places, Target. But the supply is still working its way down. It's true, though, that if some laid paper could be found, especially with deckled edges, it would be tough to resist (Easton still makes laid 8.5 by 11 sheets, but not social stationery). I still have my Esterbrook yellow fountain pen and pencil set and they still look as new as the day they were given to me.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Parrot as villain

El Perico, one of the two leading villains of Mujer de Madera, favors parrot green in jackets, neckties, pocket squares, and the wardrobe of his entourage (when its members aren't dressed in black). He's often to be seen with a parrot perched on his shoulder. Now, as he courts the pitiless Piedad, he serenades her with Novia Mia (and sings along off key). It sounds as though the version is by Trio Los Panchos or perhaps Trio Los Galantes. Efrain, the other chief villain, wil have to go some to match this!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Accessory advice

Most people should not under any circumstances sport a cell-phone holster. There are people and occasions that are holster-worthy, but they're few. These people and occasions tend to involve outdoor work. On the other hand, the sight of a USB flash drive (or pen drive, thumb drive, key drive, or whatever you like to call it) clipped to a key-holder or even to a lanyard tends to spark conversation, if only about price and provenance. People who don't know about them are always curious. Word of mouth must certainly account for a lot of the increase in their use, especially because a lot of workplaces won't spring for them and are also opposed to their use for security reasons, except for those types who, say, might have reason to transport a PowerPoint presentation in that way.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Straws of yesterday and today

Although the strong colors in some plastic staws are handsome, there's nothing like a paper straw, ideally either stuck to the side of the glass or else dispensed from a patent sanitary device that offers one at a time. I think that the Beer Frame guy (Paul Lukas) once wrote a feature on either the straw-dispenser or its close relative, the Dial-a-Pick toothpick dispenser (made in San Antonio, and available with or without a pilfer chain). And then there are Flav-R Straws. "Just dip and sip." Can't we just return to the days of the plain pinchable (a la piecrust edges) paper straw with its own special type of almost, but not quite, dissolvable paper wrapping, the kind of paper not used for any other purpose? The kind that had a seam on the side that appeared to be held together by crimping and not any sort of adhesive? The paper is most resembles cigarette paper, but not so strong. Are there any other straw-nostalgia musings out there on the 'Net? Whatever Core77 is merits another look if the people behind it are interested in Paul Lukas.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Woo-hoo: the origin myth

Woo-hoo, woo hoo, blah-blah. Worse than hearing people say this is seeing it in written form in e-mail and at websites, usually complete with multiple exclamation points. Does this come from a television show? Or where? Does anybody know? Here's someone who has counted the increasingly frequent use of this pre-sentential exclamation as noted in the number of results produced by a search-engine. He speculates that the expression owes its popularity to The Simpsons.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Techno-triumph with cult camera

After KB Gear went out of business, a JamCam 3.0 found its way here at a price close to zero. The catch was that the available computer would never recognize the camera and download the pictures, no matter how many variations on installation were tried. But now, thanks to the lovely people at thejamcam, which is obviously a labor of love, both resolutions are recognized and can be downloaded, and via the USB connection. This camera feels great in the hand and also has a flash.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Spider-Man and Hiawatha

We'd been planning to catch Spider-Man 2 at the dollar movies, but since the sudden demise of the discount venue, we had to see it or risk not seeing it as it should be seen. It's down to just a couple of screens, and one of them is showing it only at night. Everything about the embodiment of Doctor Octopus is truly great. J. Jonah Jameson is embodied perfectly, also. Peter Parker selects Longfellow as the poet suitable to use in courting Mary Jane. Random comments are that the director certainly loves close-ups and that Maker's Mark certainly received prominent placement.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

"If we did that for you, we'd have to do it for everybody"

This is the "customer care" response that is usually preceded by, "No, we've never done that for anybody, ever." We listened to a very long and detailed bad experience with a local fencing service that will not be named, although it's identified by a musical motif from The Flying Dutchman in all its commercials on the radio (and probably on television). So now, because the outfit didn't make things right, the disgruntled customer, who speaks to dozens of people in the course of a week, is letting everyone know all about it.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Phenomenon without a name

When the manual or set of instructions is needed, it cannot be located. Long after the possession to which it pertains has been discarded or lost, however, the paperwork surfaces, usually when the search is on for other paperwork entirely. Where does it hide, in this establishment with very few drawers, shelves, cupboards, or closets?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"Now sleeps the crimson petal"

The movie reviewer in the New Yorker also caught the anachronism in Vanity Fair involving Becky's singing music set to Tennyson.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Signs o' the times

There are more and more prison tattoos (or at least prison-style ink, all very home-made) to be seen around town. This must be a portent of Something.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Your very own whatever on a stamp

For a surcharge,, authorized by the USPS as a purveyor, using an image that the customer supplies, will create custom postage. As the site announces, "All imges subject to approval. Copyrighted images may not be used. Pornographic or other inappropriate images will not be accepted. Individual images must be smaller than 5 MB." The list of restrictions is extensive. According to news coverage of this service, assigns personnel to review images for suitability. Wags at the Smoking Gun, among others, have challenged people to outwit the censors, with some success.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

All is Vanity

Vanity of vanities and we spent a good chunk of the day with the current version of Becky Sharp. K. noticed at the end credits that the choreography was attributed to the Farah Khan, the director of Main Hoon Na. I used to read Vanity Fair every year but have slacked off recently. The first reading was from that Five-Foot Shelf. Despite all vicissitudes the first paperback acquired is still on the shelf and, as I remembered, it does, even in that format, have some of Thackeray's drawings and embellishments, although not nearly so many as a library hardcover sometimes prints. In the movie, some liberties were taken with the plot, but an astonishing number of the characters and plot entanglements from the print Vanity Fair made it to the movie Vanity Fair. At any rate, the movie wastes none of the narrative time indulging in no "explanations" of anything and is a true feast for the eyes. There was nothing wrong with Reese Witherspoon's performance, and particularly enjoyable were the huge troupe of supporting players. Becky's treated with a great deal of sympathy; yet, the silliest review seen yet complains that Vanity Fair is "heartless"! This is definitely a big-screen feast for the eye and, as always, Rawden Crawley is the most sympathetic character if any such there be. We remember having seen a very good print of the version called Becky Sharp. When we got home, we looked up Vauxhall and Ranelagh. I think that K. will visit one of them in the course of reading Camilla, but I can't remember for sure.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

It's true; summer is drawing to a close

The spring rains and prolonged greenness of the leaves have made this fall's showing of oxblood lilies (rhodophiala bifida) the very best ever. They appeared first farther up the hill, but our first batch is now in bloom. One day they appeared; by the end of the next they were in full bloom. Yet to be heard from are the ones out back, the squirrel-planted random bulbs, and the ones on the oak motte. And not a one's been stolen yet. We continue to see yellow swallowtails and black ones, some gulf fritillaries, zebra longwings, and many, many clouded sulphur butterflies. Just as the gulf fritillary has a startling orange body to match its wings, so does the clouded sulphur (or sulfur) have a bright yellow body, but one that's even brighter than its closed wings (it's extremely difficult to catch a peek at the top side of this beauty's wings).

Friday, September 03, 2004

Austin third-best place for singles

Yes; creepy Denver-Boulder is the best place, according to Forbes magazine. And to top off today's bad news, we've learned that the dollar movie house in Wells Branch is being displaced by its landlord in favor of a Walgreen's drugstore. This will take away a favorite game, that of guessing which movies will be shown there at a lower price and which must be seen at full price if they're to be enjoyed on a big screen. The shopping center is far from fully rented. Why couldn't Walgreen's have gone into the vacant Albertson's? People seeing movies or hitting the McD's nearby constitute most of the visitors to the center. This movie house attracts people with children who can't afford to go anywhere else; it also gives a second run to movies like Barbershop, White Chicks, and Breakin' All the Rules. The popcorn's always fresh, and the kids who work there will miss their jobs. No wonder Austin's becoming such a bad place for single people.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Say no to "SoCo"!

When the new style editor came to the local daily, she asked for advice from the readership. There was a temptation to fire off an e-mail warning her never, under pain of deportation from Austin, to use "SoCo" when she writes about Congress Avenue south of the river. "Congress" (and sometimes "South Congress") do very well, thank you. So far, she has refrained from using the evil "SoCo" expression, but it proliferates everywhere, to the horror of all but newcomers and those from Elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


David Brooks, Tweeds, Orvis, Bean's, New Hero Native American, Mark Fore & Strike, Le Shack, Traditions by Pamela Kline, Carroll Reed, J. Crew, Talbots. A lot of this stuff is out there on Ebay and with the vintage dealers. It's a lot like weeding and, in the same way, makes a great displacement activity. Gwen's Petty, Evil, Judgmental Thoughts weblog knows all about this.