Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I had the opportunity last night to see the Austin-made ECHOTONE a weirdly-named, fascinating movie, directed by Nathan Christ.

I, and the rest of the sold-out audience, spent 1-1/2 hours in rapt enjoyment of a beautifully put-together film and its marvelous soundtrack.

Cinematography by Robert L. Garza, especially the shots from the top of a crane, on the top of a downtown Austin skyscraper, is breathtaking.

You will come away from this movie with a greater understanding and appreciation of musicians and artists who struggle to create and perform amid the challenges of the changing landscape of Austin. A list of the featured musicians is at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532946/

I am a Beatles, Roy Orbison, classical and jazz kind of person, and had never heard of most of the musicians; but, as a result of seeing ECHOTONE, I have a new appreciation for modern music. Dana Falconberry, especially, with her sweet voice and lovely lyrics, has stolen my heart. Did I mention how marvelous the sound is on this movie? Usually, I have complaints about sound: can't hear the dialogue for the music; uneven music levels, etc. This movie's soundtrack is absolutely perfect, thanks to Dave Kelly's post-production wizardry.

ECHOTONE is playing tonight, tomorrow night and May 1st, on 6th Street at the Alamo Ritz Theater, where you can eat dinner (or have a big basket of really good French fries with chipotle mayo, and become so engrossed in the movie that you spill the chipolte mayo down the front of your shirt), have a drink, sit in a comfy seat, and enjoy.

Here is a trailer for: ECHOTONE

This Austin movie about Austin artists is, itself, a work of art. Hope you will go see it and let me know what YOU think.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playing Detective

When I worked for Half Price Books on South Lamar, we noticed a car parked behind the store for several days. It was a rather new and good looking sedan. After about 4 days, I reported the car to the police, who had no interest in dealing with this car. This was during a time in Austin when a couple of bodies had been found stuffed in car trunks, and the news was filled with the story of a young woman who had been reported missing, so we employees had been sure an officer would be eager to check out this car. No luck.

We began to be quite concerned; and being of a literary bent, we began devising all types of plots surrounding the car's circumstances, thinking that any day we would begin detecting an unpleasant aroma arising from the trunk area. We decided to do some Agatha Christie sleuthing.

I began making phone calls to area rental car agencies, asking about missing cars. I discovered that the sedan had been stolen from an Advantage Car Rental outlet which used to be located down the road from Half Price Books, on the west side of South Lamar. The car had been missing for some time before finding its way to Half Price Books' parking lot.

The Advantage manager did not seem as pleased, as we had though she would be, to recover this car, which did not have a body in the truck, by the way. From Advantage's attitude, and reluctance to pick up the car, I presumed that they had already collected money for its loss from the insurance company, and the finding of the car meant reams of unwanted paperwork.

So much for good deeds. (And a dreadfully anti-climactic ending to my tale!)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Looming $25 Billion Texas Budget Deficit

In response to Paul Krugman's article in the January 7, 2011 New York Times:

This following article from the Austin American-Statesman shows the real price of the Texas budget fiasco. http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/state-budget-cuts-keep-brain-injured-texan-out-1157689.html

This story breaks my heart, and shows just how close many of us are to being Texans without any safety net at all. The young man in this story, a University of Texas graduate on his way to a bright, successful life, is now vegetating in a nursing home with no hope for therapy or treatment to help him regain his life and future. He did not make the "lottery" to be eligible for treatment. Do you remember Sarah Palin and her fear of Democratic "Death Panels"? Well, here is the Rick Perry Texas version of that - only it is not only the old - it is people in the prime of life who are being told the equivalent of, "Your life is not worth a plugged nickel. And, here, let me pull that plug."

When George 2 was Texas governor (1995 - 2000), he bragged about cutting Texas real estate taxes. As a result, my real estate taxes went from $2576 in 1994, when Ann Richards was governor, to $3939 in 2000, when George 2 left Texas for the White House, and Rick Perry stepped into George 2's boots. Under Rick Perry's regime, my real estate taxes (same house, no improvements) rose steadily to $6444 for 2010. Rick Perry also brags about cutting property taxes! What kind of accounting is this: fifteen years of real estate tax cuts equal a 150% increase in my real estate taxes?

But, my woes of trying to hold onto my house while on a fixed income with rising property taxes, is small potatoes when compared to those who are sick, maimed, injured, unemployed, homeless, hungry, cold, and mentally ill. These Texans are left out in the cold -- literally -- with no safety net except the kindness of friends and strangers. Friends and strangers, whether charitable organizations or individuals, who themselves are stretched to the breaking point.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Christmas Eve Surprise

This true Christmas Eve story starts at home. Here I am, slogging through gift-wrapping detritus, fingers sore from pulling and pushing tape onto hundreds of spots on almost as many packages, I certainly am not up to cooking. Or even putting together a sandwich. I know! Thai food to takeaway. I wonder if Thai Fresh is open on Christmas Eve?

Gathering my covered plastic recyclable containers, I head across the railroad tracks to Thai Fresh on West Mary, Austin, TX 78704.

I am a little bit disappointed that there are only 7 selections. Disappointment turns to happiness when I see that 6 of them are gluten-free. "Let's see. Fill this container with Silver Noodles; that container with Massaman curry; this one with Thai special dish; that one with rice noodles with chicken and egg; this one with rice stick with fried tofu."

"I know you can't eat this yellow curry -- it has a bit of wheat;" Jam, the owner says, " but would you like some of this bone-in chicken dish?"

Thinking of my budget and the fact that already I have five dishes, "No, I have chicken at home. But I will take some of your coconut milk ice cream."

As we walk toward the ice cream counter, a tall, slender man, spiky hair, modish dress, scarf around neck, swings through the door and announces, "I have never eaten here before. I will take one of everything!" "Well, that was theatrical," I think to myself. "He must be starved."

At the ice cream counter, "How about a taste of Anise Seed Orange?" I ask. "Yumm, I'll take that, and the Eggnog, and how about a taste of your Coconut Corn? Yes, that is delicious, I will take that, too."

At the check out register, Jam said, "That will be $7.58."

I look at her, dumbfounded. "For all this food?"

"Oh, the food is free. We are giving it away today! I am charging you only for the ice cream."

Can you imagine the surprised and happy feeling spreading from my brain to my heart?

"But, why?" I stutter as I pay for the ice cream and drop a big tip in the tip jar.

"Well, it is Christmas Eve, lunch is over. We want to go home, and it seems a shame to throw out this good food. So, I posted on facebook that we are giving it away." Laughing, she asks, "So, you didn't know?"

"No, I just wanted some of your delicious food. What a great Christmas present you have given me. Thank you so much."