SXSW, baby!

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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paul
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SXSW, baby!

Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:03 pm

I am currently quite flibberty-gibbetey with all the allergy medicine I'm taking for the worst attack of Cedar Fever in the world. What better time, under a haze of gauzy dullness and aural weirdness (you listen to Estradasphere with a head full of antihistamines, stop-sneezy things, decongestants, runny-nose stoppers, and whatever else i've had in the last 12 hrs, see where that gets ya ) to enlighten you to the wonders of South by Southwest. There will be buffoons, there will be improvisatori, there will be ballet-dancers, there will be musicians, there will be Beauty, there will be wine. But be assured, there will be delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There will be much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might excite disgust. (Thank you Ed.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

South by Southwest, or SXSW, began in 1987 as a weekend-long music industry conference and festival. It has since grown to span 10 days in March, and now includes SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive events. The main site is http://www.sxsw.com/. You will find some hotel information here http://2008.sxsw.com/register_to_attend/hotels/, register in order to get badges here https://secure.sxsw.com/ec/of_sxsw/createNewAccount.php?product=reg-plat&ca_id=&token_id=&token_type=, badge information and FAQ http://2008.sxsw.com/register_to_attend/, video and podcast http://2008.sxsw.com/coverage/, and links galore. Specifics later.

A quick breakdown of events:

SXSW Interactive
March 7-11, 2008
If you are a techie, whether it's learning how to write or play games, or listening to CEOs and big names in IT talk about what they do and how they do it, if you're into all media technology, all the time, you may like the Interactive portion of the Festival http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/.
In their own words-
"The SXSW Interactive Festival features five days of exciting panel content and amazing parties. Attracting digital creatives as well as visionary technology entrepreneurs, the event celebrates the best minds and the brightest personalities of emerging technology. Whether you are a hard-core geek, a dedicated content creator, a new media entrepreneur, or just someone who likes being around an extremely creative community....etc."

Gamers will particularly love Screenburn http://screenburnfest.com/2008/, a participatory event becoming rapidly more popular year after year.

There's a web design awards show, a HUGE trade show and exhibition and more nerds than William Shatner's restraining order list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SXSW Music
March 12-16, 2008
Arguably, one of the most important showcase venues there is. More music than you could ever see.
In their words, last year -
"By day, the music industry's most accomplished and creative personalities collaborated, argued, and shared their experiences in dozens of panels, workshops, interviews, and meetings. Over 1500 acts showcased last year before more than 12,000 registrants from all over the world. Pop, jazz, country, blues, reggae, hip hop, electronica - every imaginable style of music, from nearly every continent - is represented each night at over 70 of Austin's premier stages, many within walking distance of one another."
There are pre-show parties, after-show parties, all-night "illegal" parties, and more accents heard than the Shop Steward Meetings at the Tower of Babel. There are panels and conferences http://2008.sxsw.com/music/conference/panels/, trade show & exhibitions http://2008.sxsw.com/tradeshow/music_exhibition/, and tons of everything music related. It's really quite insane.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SXSW Film
March 7-15, 2008
"...nine days here is like earning a mini-undergraduate degree in moviemaking... there's real information to be gathered at seminars on everything from Guerrilla Filmmaking to SAG Contracts..." -Entertainment Weekly
We are all about a documentary, what I'll try to focus on the Film portion of SXSW http://2008.sxsw.com/film/.
Here you will find a FAQ http://2008.sxsw.com/film/faq/, film panels http://2008.sxsw.com/film/conference/panels/, a list of panelists http://2008.sxsw.com/film/conference/panelists/ (no Harlan listed yet), and info on film parties and events http://2008.sxsw.com/film/parties_and_lounges/.

As you can see, interactive and Music run consecutively, while the Film runs throughout. Just thought I'd point it out. Some people miss it.

I'll be back in a bit and throughout the day and let you know what gives with all the biz.
The medium is the message.

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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:13 pm

Info related info for those who can't come, those who can, and nosy-nellies of all stripes.
Where to find dependable SXSW information:

For absolute truth, one will read http://blogs.indiewire.com/mattdentler/. This is Gospel from the Producer. Of course, he doesn'y have the kind of time to give you full coverage of events, and he is reticent about giving away too much right now before the Big Announcements, but if he says yes or no on a given issue, it's real and writ in stone. All others, take a number. You can also find the RSS feeds at http://sxsw.com/info/feeds/.

For a ton of coverage, and a lot of it pretty damn good there is http://www.sxswbaby.com/index.php. These are pros who've been honing their gig for years. They have a podcast and webfeed and stuff i don't even know what it is. Their minions range far and wide and they know many tricks and in and outs and who may do what where.

For local color there is http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/SXSW. You will also no doubt see the actual free magazine The Austin Chronicle, to be found in HEB grocery stores, tattoo parlor/ piercing shops, hair salons, odd boutique and porn shops, many restaurants and just generally littering the ground. You may get some in your special bag. :shock:

Unread and untested is - http://2006.sxsw.com/community_blog/ and, well really, if you just type SXSW, as you must have by now, you'll get a shitload of personal blogs vid feeds podcasts, etc, ad nauseam. Walking the streets, you will see hundred of news, radio, podcast crews, as well as millions of microphone wielding people just trying to get an interview with or Morgan Spurlock, or was it Kevin Smith? One of those guys with a beard, they're all interchangeable here. I didn't have web-cast, pod-cast, fly-cast listenability last year, so I can't vouch for any. Every single town, at least big city, seems to have a feed from here, so your local NPR, PRI, or even FM stations may be providing updates. As always, your milage may vary.

If and when I remember all the ones I'm probably forgetting, I'll put 'em up.
The medium is the message.

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Postby Moderator » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:20 pm

Unfortunately, in the last week we, my esposa and I, determined that we lack both schedule and budget to get to Austin for the Fest.

(Rest assured, we'll be there in spirit, but you guys are gonna have to handle the paparazzo moments.)
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:40 pm

That is a shame, but I will nevertheless tip a tipple to you and yours.
I have no idea what i'm a gonna do. Finances and time are telling me I can't volunteer, and thus get my get-in-the-door-badge perk, and I sure as hell don't have the real cash up front. I woulda bought a badge back in Nov., when they were cheaper but, well, who wanted to go then? :roll:

But it's all about rolling with it.

Take care and stay outta trouble.
The medium is the message.

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Postby markabaddon » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:00 pm

Paul,

In all likelihood I will not be able to attend either. I was hoping to make a Harlan related pilgrimage this year but with the divorce not final yet, as well as continued instability here at the paper, I am probably not going anywhere for a while.

BTW, I do owe you an apology, I meant to email you to say that I feel your pain on the job front. I was severed from my last job 1 week after my second child was born. I think you still have my number at work, call if you want to commiserate

Mark
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:11 pm

Here is how to get what you need while you're here. If some of this sounds simplistic, I'm sorry, chalk it up to plain speaking and clear understanding.
As always, questions are welcome. Answers will be thought out, if not correct.

Your best bet is to start doing this stuff online as soon as possible. People have been getting ready for this for months and, depending on how long you're staying, it may be difficult to get fairly cheap, close hotelery. I apologize for not getting to all this sooner (Boomer!). But registration can be started online.

You would go to http://2008.sxsw.com/register_to_attend/ and pick a badge that you wish to have. This can be done physically at a walk-in registration booth, but this facilitates the process a bit.

A word now of Badges. There will me multifarious talk of 'passes', 'wristbands', and 'badges'. This will, i hope, clarify somewhat.

1) Musicians and Panelists/Conventioners will receive their own very special 'wristbands' that have nothing to do with you, the general public. When you see David Byrne or Barry Sonnefeld with a wristband and you say, "Well i got one, too, from this or that place I went yesterday! Howzacome I can't get in?" the conference security will point out the difference and you will feel silly.

2) Last year (and presumably years before) there were grapevine whispers of mystical "day passes" that for a fraction of a badge price, allowed you to see the wonders of OZ. No such creature exists. It is either uninformed gossip or a shill trying to take your money. The only 'passes' that ever existed are ones that the actual volunteers can get if they happen to work that day and they forgot their own personal work badge at home. And that's no guarantee. SXSW is notoriously stingy with their badges, and more than once I've seen workers themselves kept from events. To paraphrase, forgetfulness is no excuse in the eyes of the law. This means every member of John Q. Public, and the famous people, too.
If you get a badge, keep it with you and guard it with your life.

I most certainly cannot speak for Harlan and his plans for who will or can attend his showing and/or panel, and I have no idea what is in the works for the viewing day. I believe registrants have some natural leeway in this respect. That having been said, in general, in order to get into anything at all, you will need a badge. I will repeat- in order to gain access to a music show, a panel, a trade show (any that are not open to the General Public) one must possess a badge. There is a small difference for Movie folk, which i will explain in a minute.

The types you can get can be seen here http://2008.sxsw.com/register_to_attend/ (the same place as the registry page) and the what-you-get main info is at the bottom of the page. They come in 6 categories, and they have a hierarchy. They're pretty self-explanatory, and in order to participate in MOST events you will need one of the following types of badges:


A- Student Badge~ This is new this year, and you'll need proof of student-ship. I'm unsure if that means all students from around the world, but the place to ask wold be http://2008.sxsw.com/contact/. These guys are tremendously friendly, and want to help. I volunteered last year, they're good people.

B, C, D- Music Badge, Film Badge, Interactive Badge~ These will be different colors and they are for exactly those individual panels and events designated. A Film badge will not get you into a Music event. And etc.

E- Gold Badge~ Like a Film and Interactive badge rolled into one. Don't ask why they don't have any other doubled combinations. They've been hearing about it for years.

F- Platinum Badge~ This is the Jedi pass, this will waive you through all gates. You are VIP, the Chosen, and have far too much time and money on your hands. You have total access to any and everything. Needless to add, this is a good one for those who will spend almost all their time here, or for those who want music and film access for the last week.

The hierarchy is as follows- Let us say you want to see a movie. Allowing for room, a Platinum badge person will walk right in and take a seat. Those with a Gold badge may also walk right in and take a seat, but some events or movies may make you wait until a certain time. I myself have had a Gold badge and had no problems at all, but I did wait in a line once or twice. I still saw my movie. A regular Film badge person will have been waiting in line until a certain time, then they will be allowed to be seated, and when capacity is hit, no more go in. Therefore, it behooves all to be early for line standing.

The difference i mentioned earlier is this: There are at least 4 different theatres that are playing movies all day/half the night, including one set up in the Austin Convention Center, or ACC. Last year it was possible, in the ACC theatre only, to physically purchase a ticket to see the movies showing there, room allowing. I don't know if the other theatres were doing the same, but it may be so again this year. It never hurts to ask. Having said that, an actual badge is your very best bet.

After you register online, when you actually arrive in Austin, the first thing you'll want to do is come to the ACC.

The nexus for everything, where to go to pick up your badge, where the info booth is located, where there are lounges and cafes, where most of the panels are held, where Screenburn is held, where you get your very special Tote Bag O'Goodies, and much more is the Austin Convention Center, or ACC.
You can find it online but the webpage is mostly the PR copy. I'll let you know some things after this break.
The medium is the message.

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Peggy
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Film Festival Pass

Postby Peggy » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:45 pm

There was mention - on the SXSW official website - of a film festival pass *just to see the movies*. Didn't get you into panels, etc.

They mentioned these were available LOCALLY ONLY from mid-February on. They made no mention of prices.

Do you know any more about this?

I *REALLY* want to go but have a hard time stomaching a $350-400 badge to go for one or two days only.
"And if you're like me, you need hope, coffee and melody..." - Robbie Seay Band, "New Day"

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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:49 pm

Here is how to get more of what you need while you're here. If some of this sounds simplistic, I'm sorry, chalk it up to plain speaking and clear understanding.
As always, questions are welcome. Answers will be thought out, if not correct.

The Austin Convention Center, hereafter referred to as ACC, has a physical address of 4th and Trinity St. It does however, take up three blocks on Trinity and 2 blocks on 4th. The other streets that border it are Red River and Cesar Chavez. Trinity and Chavez are the main entrances.

Now this is a little weird, but stay with me.
The building is designed with 4 floors. The escalators (2) go from the 1st floor to the 4th floor. There are elevators known as Main Floor elevators which go to all the floors. They are right in front of the escalators, amid the food stands, souvenir stands, etc.. There are OTHER elevators, but they do not have an option to stop at all floors. You will be given maps. If you get lost, look for people in shirts that have the word 'volunteer' on them. They will all be the same color and once you recognize it, you will see that shirt everywhere. These guys are tremendously friendly, and want to help.

Having said that, the cats in the volunteer shirts are just that, unpaid (we get perks), people glad to help with questions, advice, all manner of questions. They aren't a Task Force. They're not going to physically eject you from a place. The guys in the different colored 'Staff' shirts have immediate access to Security and Police, and will not hesitate to take you out if you are beating your wife, falling down drunk, or generally disruptive. Even the tiny ones. Especially the girls. But i digress.

When you come into Austin, you'll want to take an escalator to the 4th floor (just ride it up 'til it stops) You'll be herded to where you need to go. Since it's Film time it won't nearly be as crazy as Music time, but folks will be overworked just the same. If you haven't already submitted a picture for your badge, they'll take one of you right there and when your badge is printed, they'll yell your name, or look for you, or toss a penguin and hope it lands on you.

After you get your badge, you can wander around forever, or go back down to the 1st floor, the Main Floor, and there will be a monstrous auditorium-cum-warehouse and there you can pick up your tote bag. If you've just one badge, a Film say, you'll get one tote bag. If you have a Platinum badge, you will get three bags. They are lovingly hand-stuffed assembly-line style by the entire volunteer staff two weeks or so prior to the event and contain your Very Thick and Important SXSW Guide, all manner of maps and SXSW info, event guides, bus and shuttle guides, CDs, drinks tickets, magazines, condoms, ad pamphlets, hangover kits, frisbees, software to try out, voodoo dolls, stickers, clever little plastic doo-hickeys and more shwag than you thought there were trees to accommodate. Seriously, Rachel Carson would have a stroke. But it's all yours.

After that, the real fun begins: deciding what to do.
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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:54 pm

Peg, I hear you through and through. I am looking into all the SXSWs niches. Every new page gives you a link not on the previous page. If you see something, or if anyone sees anything, and I miss it, please feel free to put it here, or E-mail me. We're all in this together.
Lemme do some scrounging, though. Last year at the Alamo Drafthouse, I saw a couple walk up to the window and ask about buying tickets, the cat just shooed them away. It mighta been sold out, but as I say, i know they did it at ACC. I'll look, but keep hunting. And thanks for all the news you find.
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Postby paul » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:09 pm

I just saw this on the FAQ--

Q: Where do I pick up my badge?

A: SXSW Registration will be open on the second floor of the Austin Convention Center.



--------------------------------

Now, there are 2 possibilities here.

1) Either they have radically changed the way they do this, and people are taking the elevators to the second floor, which I HIGHLY doubt. Or

2) They are calling the top of the escalators the 2nd floor, in order to ease confusion.

When you stand outside and look through the windows, you see a monstrously tall escalator go up one way, come to a landing, then up the next way. Yep, we all call that two floors. Except it's not. Looking at the wall from inside, you can see the support beams where the second floor is, about halfway up the first escalator tier. Told you it was weird. This is fun!

Don't worry. One trip around, you'll have it all worked out. You're bright. Never mind the mohawked girl and her Elvis Costello boyfriend who look like they've been lost since Sid & Nancy came out, you're fine, I tell you, fine.
The medium is the message.

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Peggy
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Film Festival Pass

Postby Peggy » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:16 pm

Paul - mention of the film festival pass is on this page:

http://2008.sxsw.com/film/press/ffaq/

To quote:

"I am strictly a film fan and don't work in the business. How can I see films?
A SXSW Film badge is affordable for film industry professionals and fans alike. Avid film buffs with a badge will have the highest mobility between theatres. Registration benefits include the Trade Show, access to all panels, a Big Bag of goodies, and a chance to hob nob with some of the most important people in film. Additional ways to see screenings of the films are to buy a Film Festival Pass (available locally in Austin in late-February) which is good for the entire week or to buy single admissions at the door the night of the screening. "

No info about how much, and my (admittedly limited) searching could pull up nothing on the site about the cost of the passes in 2007.

I imagine it *MUST* be less than the badge but would like an idea - I mean, if it's a whopping $50 less, then who cares....
"And if you're like me, you need hope, coffee and melody..." - Robbie Seay Band, "New Day"

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Postby paul » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:42 am

I have hit the stone bureaucratic wall each time I ask about the availability of these passes. I KNOW someone knows, but they are being James Bond about it. All honest frontal assaults and personal contacts have no answer.

"It's a great deal, though." 'They' say. "Let me know how much it is and I'll be the judge of that," say I.

I will now try another avenue. Back with you soon.
The medium is the message.

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Postby paul » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:38 am

Apparently, last year Waterloo Records, a store that sells records, CDs, DVDs and tickets for band events, were the official promoters of these $50 movies passes, which worked as last place holders in the hierarchy. After badged folk got into a movie, the pass holders could get in as well. Word is they should have them this year as well, no word on date of availability or price adjustment, if any.

Don't know how i missed this last year, but I suspect since i was 'in the loop', so to speak, I was unaware of the word 'on the street'.
The medium is the message.

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Postby paul » Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:31 am

Here is one of those cute going-around-the-net "primers" on Austin, good for a laugh. I've updated it a bit. It is 80% true. The roads and driving conditions aren't quite as bad as this makes it seem. That having been said, don't be surprised at anything.

1. It's pronounced "AWS-TIN". It doesn't matter how they say it in other places.

2. Forget the traffic rules you have learned elsewhere. Austin has its own set of traffic rules. There is no book about them, all you can do is get in a car and learn them.

3. All directions start with "Go down Mopac 'cuz you don't want to get on I-35". (fyi: The name of Mopac came from the Missouri-Pacific Railway that passes along said highway.)

4. Burnet Road, Braker Lane, and Lamar Blvd. have no beginning and no end. And often double up on each other.

5. It is impossible to go around a block and wind up on the same street that you started on. The Chamber of Commerce calls this a scenic drive.

6. The 8:00 am rush hour is from 6:30 am to 9:30 am.
The 5:00 pm rush hour is from 3:30 pm to 7:15 pm.
Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

7. If you actually stop at a yellow light, then you cannot be from here. You may only apply your brakes when the end of a yellow light and the beginning of the red light create a burnt-orange hue. This is Longhorn Country, after all.

8. Realize that ninety-eight percent of the people within a 200 mile radius work, or have worked, for Dell. If you like being an individual, don't even think about working for Dell. Granted, they have benefits, but are you willing to sell your soul for them? You'll be branded like cattle and made to walk all over town with your Dell Tag around your neck or clipped onto your belt loop. When someone says "Michael Dell", Dell employees are trained to face Round Rock, hit their knees, put their face to the ground, weep, and rock back and forth.

9. If moisture is detemined to be rain, and not sweat, all traffic must immediatly come to a screeching halt. Ditto for daylight savings time, a female UT student applying eye-shadow across the street, or a flat tire three lanes over.

10. DO NOT attempt to access any road after an apocalyptic event like snow or SXSW. Also, construction on I-35 or 183 is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. Get used to it.

11. Remember- Certain Highway names are interchangeable:
Mopac = Loop 1
Capital of Texas Hwy = 360
U.S.183 = Research Blvd., Anderson Lane, Ed Bluestein Blvd. and Old Bastrop Hwy
2222 = Northland Dr., Allendale Rd. or Koenig Lane.

Also, don't forget Ben White/290/71 which also turns into Capital of TX Hwy/Loop 360.
Don't try to figure it out. If you question the intelligence behind this naming convention, people will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. They don't know why, either.

12. Now, a word on pronunciation.
The pronunciation of place names is one of those quiet conflicts that are played out every day throughout the Southwest as the numbers of Hispanics in areas originally colonized by Spain and Mexico continue to grow and in some cases nudge Anglos into the minority.

The first rule is to forget much of what you learned in school about Spanish pronunciation. Guadalupe Street, a major commercial strip that leads from downtown Austin up past the University of Texas campus, is pronounced "Gwada-loop." Don't pronounce the 'E' at the end, please.
For San Jacinto, another downtown thoroughfare, say "San Jah-SEEN-toe." To Mr.xx Gonzales, who grew up here, it could be "Juh-SIN-tuh." To others, including many newcomers who are part of the city's Hispanic population, which now constitutes nearly 80 percent of the total, it is "Ha-SEEN-to." Jacinto, after all, was originally a Spanish word, so why not pronounce it properly in the language of Cervantes?
Other idiosyncratic pronunciations include "May-ner" for the city of Manor and Manor Road, Pedernales is "PER-dan-al-is" instead of "Peh-der-NA-les" for the Pedernales River, and "MAN-shack", not "Man-CHA-ka." for the suburb, road and city of Manchaca. (Also realize that the city of Manchaca (MANshack) is in Hays and Travis Counties, and there is also a very long street in Austin named Manchaca (MANshack))
Palacios is pronounced "Puh-LAY-shus" instead of "Pa-LA-see-os.
Burnet Road is pronounced BURN-it, not Bur-NET. Koenig Lane is pronounced KAY-nig not KOH-nig. The old airport (Robert Mueller) is pronounced Robert Miller and is on Airport Boulevard. The new airport (Austin-Bergstrom) is no where near Airport Boulevard. It's on the outskirts of Austin in the city/township of Del Valle pronounced Dell Valley.

Natives of Austin are accustomed to hearing out-of-towners mangle local place names, but try to learn the correct pronunciation and you'll seem less the tourist.

13. Keep in mind that the sloppily dressed 'hippie' in worn-out sandals and earrings is probably the latest millionaire around here.
Which means- be nice to all people under the sun, including all the homeless folks on the highway corridor corners. Many of them have been here much longer then you and are looked upon protectively by random passers-by. In short, you never know whom you may piss off, so be cool.

14. Stay away from the Congress Ave. bridge at sundown if you dislike the thought of being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. It has the largest Mexican Free Tail Bat population in the US, and it's very awesome to see them depart at dusk, every dusk, a ribbon of black extending to the horizon, to go munch on 20 tons of insects, much to our relief.

15. And yes, we all know that there is a man wearing a teddy, a lace dress and a tiara on Congress Ave. His name is Leslie and he probably makes more money in a day than you do. Surely you have a homeless, celebrity drag queen that likes to run for mayor where you live, too?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ye gods, have i been up all night? Goddamn prescriptions. Jacking with my sleep schedule. Guess I'm feeling better.
The medium is the message.

rich

Postby rich » Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:22 am

I can vouch for #5. I've been to Austin 4 or 5 times now in the last 3 years or so, and I STILL can't find my way around. I'm usually very good at finding my way around areas after only a visit or two, but Austin has me flummoxed.

Don't matter, though. One very cool town, and, though happily married, I can also vouch that it has a huge good looking woman to average woman ratio. Seriously, even the moms are hot.


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