Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween in Austin, Fort Building, and Bennu Coffee

A couple of weeks ago, ran a fort building contest in honor of the then-upcoming movie, Where The Wild Things Are.  Unfortunatley, by the time I discovered this beautiful project, there was less than 48 hours to construct the world's greatest fort and submit our photograph.  Eirik and Lennon guffawed at my eagneress to meet the deadline, but Eirik did a 180 change of heart after he saw the movie, and decided that our next game night should instead become PJ-Fort-Wild-Game-Rumpus night.  And so it was.

Our fort may not have been quite as artsy as some of the booooooom creations, but a fort shoved full of friends is a hundred times better than a fort with random objects d'art... like squiggly balloons.  Although, squiggly balloons are pretty cool.

The casualty of the night was the support beam of my couch, which split in the middle when someone stood on it to nail up part of the fort's ceiling, so this weekend, my lovely roomies are going to do their best Bob Vila impersonations and fix it, or the lady of the house will be very displeased.

As the evening died down, Merritt Fields was coerced into playing a song for us.  By this time, I had gone upstairs to bed since I'm old and have to work during the day.  But when it became apparent how amazing he was, I had to come back downstairs.  He played three songs - a Fleet Foxes cover, a cover of Just Walk Away Renee, and then an original.  Now, I'm scanning MySpace furiously, hoping to find a page where he has uploaded tracks, but no luck yet.

The creepy thing is, as I sit in Bennu coffee shop - which, being open 24/7, as I just learned - makes it my new official place,  (Dear Flightpath: demerits for closing early) - the Four Tops cover of the song came on over their Syrius radio, and I'd never heard it before last night.  And it didn't JUST come on, it came on at the EXACT minute I opened up Merritt's photos to crop and collage them.  Now I need to go pop in I Heart Huckabees.  Or, look up the tabs to learn to play the song, as it's now stuck in my head.

Before going any further, I suggest listening to the You Tube video of the song so you can hear it as you read further, and then imagine it a million times more heartbreaking, acoustic, and in a fort with fairie lights at 2AM.  Eirik described Merritt well when he said "Merritt's scary talented."

This week there's a lot going on in Austin since Saturday is Halloween.  It's been a busy week between meetings piled higher than the stack of clothes on my bedroom floor, the Keep Austin Beautiful awards luncheon (woot for getting an invite), calling police officers to break up a fight, and attempts at being social in between, so I hope I can muster the energy to make it out, (there's no way I'm missing the Elephant Engine High Dive Tour), and this large chai on an empty stomach is definatley helping - I'm already starting to pulsate.

Thursday - The Gossip played tonight at Emo's, and even though I missed it, I have to give them a nod because Beth Ditto hails from Searcy, Arkansas, which is right next to Cabot, where her sister was a sophomore/junior while I was teaching there, which is two-degrees-of-seperation-cool.

I'm actually going to declare it the night of Arkansans, because Hayes Carll played at Stubb's, and while he may be a Texas native, he's a Hendrix College Alum and thus, officially claimed. 

Friday - Elephant Engine High Dive Tour!!  Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani... holy crap why would you not go!?  It starts at 8PM at the Independent

Saturday - It's Halloween, so you damn better where a costume wherever you go.  One of my co-workers, Jewels Barschow, will be playing guitar and singing at Jovita's at 6:30, so I'd highly recommend going there for dinner.  Afterward, it just wouldn't be Halloween without the Rocky Horror Picture Show, this year live at Emo's

Sunday - Gogol Bordello is playing at Stubbs, but I hear they are sold out, which will really suck if it's true, because I LOVE Alex from Everything is Illuminated, and the soundtrack is pretty cool, too.  Sunday is also the Texas Book Festival, which I shall be exploring after church.  My church is doing a special Sunday concert with a forty voice choir performing Requiem during services.  Sunday morning is going to be amazing.

Monday - I don't know what exciting things are going on, and I shall probably stay home and recuperate.

Tuesday - It's open mic night at Ruta Maya.  Maybe I'll polish up my cover of Flightless Bird to torture a crowd other than my poor roommates. 

Wednesday - FREE ICE CREAM at Amy's from 3-7PM for their 25th anniversary.  Need I say more?  They were founded in 1984, and yes, I'm really good at math. 

Also, Rakim is going to be performing at Emo's, who I was informed today by our S.O.U.L. Sessions instructors, is THE best emcee alive, and they shook their heads, frustrated, when I misspelled his name four times trying to write it on a memo to see if I can pull some strings to get my kids a Q&A with him during sound check.  On such short notice, I'm skeptical, but we do have amazing board members, so I'll cross my fingers. 

What are your plans for the week?

This is Alyssa and I making our best metal faces at the Straylight Run concert at Emo's on Tuesday - because that band is totally metal.  Alyssa and I went to high school together, (eight years ago - oh my goodness), and didn't reconnect until I moved to Austin.  The last time I saw Straylight Run was in the Dickson Street Theatre in Fayetteville, Arkansas, while in high school, so it felt full circle.  The show was great - I love it when I can sing along to the old songs and the underage crowd can't - but seriously dudes, where was Michelle Nolan??

I also find it serendipitious that at the end of the show they played Something to Write Home About over the PA system, and when I last saw Straylight Run, they were opening for The New Amsterdams, and I also bought Get Up Kids tickets for November 18th at Emo's that same afternoon.  I will be the screaming fan girl at the front of the stage during that show, so be warned and don't get in my way - we're talking top five favorites of all time here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Event Planning 101: Fall Festival

The past several weeks had been a race towards the national after school programming showcase: Lights on After School. Every campus does their own party, fair, or exhibition, and families are encouraged to attend. Being new at my job, I initially hadn't thought of much to do aside from hosting our program instructors in a second recruitment fair. But then I hear that another group of schools had gone so far as to collaborate and host a parade, so the challenge to one-up was on.

Our event peaked at being a vendor recruitment fair, a student talent exhibition, a mini-fall carnival, and a hip hop show. Even though I've planned a wedding and lots of small functions, this is probably the biggest event I have ever coordinated and hosted. Maybe the wedding was bigger, but I had a year to work on that. This event came down to the two week wire.

As a reminder to myself for next year, and hopefully to help any one else with events to plan, I'm highlighting the key steps necessary to put on a successful event that doesn't leave one scrambling all over town on the big day. I totally put fifty new miles on my car the day of the event, so some of these items are things I will know better for next time. The handbook for Lights On After School filled a binder, so here are the essential don't-waste-my-time steps to hosting a larger event:

1) Plan your theme. We did Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos, then use that to guide activities and decorations.

2) Choose the activities. Ours were simple but still appropriate for young siblings: trick-or-treat bag making, papel picado making, skeleton mask coloring, a ring toss game, table pong, candy apple making, sugar skull casting, face painting, raffle prizes, and dinner.

3) Line up your entertainment (insure availability!). Luckily, I got to collaborate with Austin Voices to bring some of the Cipher on campus, and a member of Public Offenders runs a girls group for us every Thursday, so I asked her if her group was available to perform. My roommate, Eirik, (aka... Big Poppa E, aka... life saver), also volunteered to do a few poems, and then the students who are in performance based programming put together songs, dances, and poems. I made a set list and hung it on a big poster beside the stage so everyone could see who was up next without having to make programs. Also be sure, if you're working with kids, to think of how they can be showcased: art, photography, singing, dancing... whatever they've done. We had girls in a sewing program do a fashion show.

4) Communicate with people who are coming to help out at least every 2-3 days. Most people are busy and don't get back to you as soon or as often as desired, so sometimes a little friendly email spam is required to get confirmations or regrets. And then, even if you get a confirmation, RECONFIRM, and REMIND everyone to be at the event early for set up.

5) PUBLICITY. Can't stress this enough. Even though I made fliers to hang around the school, and put an announcement over the loudspeaker every day, there were still kids who acted like they'd never heard of the event. I had also relied on the school's phone tree to send automated messages to all the parents about the event, which was a mistake. The day before I went downstairs to insure that the message had gone through - BIG MISTAKE - it hadn't, so I had to scramble to hand call every family of kids with registration forms on file. And then, even though I'd advertised to all the faculty and all the student body, I still didn't see very many new faces. Next year I up the marketing.

My breakdancing/back flipping all around boy wonder child

6) Make a supply list, and start shopping early. Then, lay everything out and organize things into bags - for example - all supplies for a ring toss in one back, everything for skull mask coloring in another bag, that way everything's ready to go to it's assigned spot. Also think about how you want to decorate. We got mostly halloween decorations, and then used sugar skulls that kids had made and decorated in art class as center pieces on the tables.

The awesomeness that is Capoeira Evolucao

7) Make a map of the venue - I plotted out where each instructor and game moderator would go in advance to make sure that everyone got traffic. So instructors without snazzy performances would be by a fun game or a group with dancers to draw attention their way. I then assigned the staff to strategic points around the cafeteria to make sure the entire room had a supervisor watching.

8) Enlist help! Get volunteers, student workers, etc, to help with tasks. Make sure you know what tasks are critical for you to do, and which can be delegated. Then make sure they are there to help with set-up and take-down. It also helps if you are working with a good partner.

9) Have a welcome table with basic information like registration forms, sign-in sheets, field trip info, etc. Don't forget a camera!

10) Put signs everywhere. Label who goes where, what there is to do, what's going on, so people don't look confused and/or ask you questions all the time. If you're doing exhibition tables, it's also important to get poster board or tri-fold boards to make table displays, and have literature to hand out to people about the program.

11) If you're unsure of how something's going to work - practice! My biggest hurdle with this event was the sound system. I was told the PA in the cafeteria didn't work, so I had to borrow mics and speakers. Luckily, Eirik is also a sound system genius and was able to patch together a functioning PA system from a JCPenny bag full of cords and six borrowed mics. If he hadn't have been there, performances might not have happened. I'd made sure to enlist the school's tech guy early on, but even this might have proved too challenging for him.

12) Make sure there are trash cans, cups, napkins, forks, pens... all the little things that are easily over looked.

13) Pay attention to what's popular - the unexpected run away hits of the night for us were the ring toss, (also scrapped together - using found cones, coke bottles that doubled as prizes, and dog chew toy rings that were sewn together and had to be cut apart), and candy apple making. I think EVERYONE ate a candy apple - I had to send a staff member to go buy more in the middle of the event. Didn't see that coming.

14) Clean up as best as possible so the custodians aren't left hating you.

15) Thank all of the people who came out to help, who helped on site, etc. etc.

As stressful as it was to make sure that everything ran smoothly, I'm proud of how the night went, and I'm especially proud of the kids who worked hard to put perfromaces together and/or assisted with set-up, serving the food, and helping smaller children at the craft tables. Now I'm ready to kick-back and go to other people's halloween parties... as the guest!

Biggest challenge there is simply: what am I going to dress up as!?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Favorite Finds: Glam Rock Princess

Sunday night was the Ladies Rock Camp showcase, where the three bands got to perform their songs on stage in front of friends, family, and bar patrons.  My band went with a black and pink theme, (although one of our girls - a former Hell Mary roller derby girl, had to voice her concern that these were the colors of a rival team - but we went with it anyway), and I don't think there's any color combination better suited to rock and roll.  On Sunday afternoon I overslept during a pre-performance nap, so I had to throw on my pink knee socks, pleated skirt, and black t-shirt quickly.  In my fantasy world, I would have sported glam rock attire more like this:

Pink shiny dress by Claire La Faye: I love wearing dresses and skirts because they're easy to move in, and shiny + bright lights is the equivalent of getting extra star power on Guitar Hero. 

Bicycle necklace by Maureen Duffy: This necklace reminds me of vintage french art prints.  The fact that it's also black and rough looking makes it all the better to add a touch of edge to something sweet.

Mini chrysanthemum earrings by Pretty Littles: I don't have the earlobes to wear dangly earrings, but even if I did, I'd imagine having long earrings while hopping around would not be comfortable.  I'd go with something small, pretty, and poppingly bright. 

Black cherry blossom ring by LuLu Coco: Not only do I love big cocktail rings, but this one is also black and floral.  It seems appropriate to wear a fat ring when fingers on guitar frets will be the center of attention.  Plus, the seller is offering a buy two get one free deal on all of their rings like this. 

Flower headband by PBB Flowers: I hate having hair fly in my face, so I love headbands, even when I have a ponytail.  And this one is both feminine and bold.

Pintuck skull clutch by D's Chic Boutique: Skulls + just big enough for an ID, extra guitar pics, and maybe a capo.  What more do you need?

And of course, the final flourish: sparkly black chucks, like these Converse One Stars, which were sold at Target.  I have a pair in white, which I love.  Oddly, the price is only a few dollars off from the original Converse All Star, but I couldn't find any of the originals in the color sparkle, which negated a sale by my standards.  If you were going to be a rock star, what would your style be?  Goth ballerina?  Grunge goddess?  Blue jean virtuoso?

The showcase was held at Nomad Bar, which I will be visiting again in the future.  It's decorated with international currency, maps, and time clocks with major world cities.  As an army brat, I felt right at home.  They also had Mothership Wit, which just might be my new favorite beer. 

One of the Ladies Rock Camp bands on stage: Wild Things Disguised as Normal. 

Me with an extra belly thanks to my well-placed shadow, and our bassist Wendy, with Nikki in the background on drums.  My designated photographer didn't get any pictures of our guitar player, or all of us together, so if you have any better pictures, please send me some!

Terri and Melissa played for us after the Rock Camp bands, and Bonnie joined them on stage for a song.  I love their energy on stage and how comfortable they are as performers - it often goes unnoticed how much talent that takes until you yourself try to get on stage and realize it feels like you're standing naked on a pedestal - difficult to act at ease then!  The final band - if I understood correctly - actually formed at Ladies Rock Camp last year, called Butch County.  I'll be excited to see if anyone from this season keeps playing together in the future.  Either way, I can't wait to go back!

Rock Camp Weekend, Adrian & The Sickness, and Female Empowerment

One of many awesome things about this weekend was getting to see performances by local artists/the camp instructors and coaches, in what felt like private shows in the Griffin School auditorium.  Heather, the bassist from Adrian and the Sickness, was the coach for my band - Rock Candy - and her group performed for us Saturday night. Afterwards, we told Heather she couldn't come back in the practice room because she was too intimidating.  All three of those girls were incredible musicians - and I could hardly take a picture of Adrian because her body moved around the stage almost as fast as her fingers moved along the fret board.  They are having a CD release party at Momo's on November 7th; I and my housemates shall be there.

Saturday afternoon we got to see Elizabeth Jackson of Darling New Neighbors.  Any girl who can rock an accordion, a violin, has a beautiful voice, and can sing about amputation, gets high marks in my system.  Her full band has a guitarist and a drummer in it, and I'd love to see them live.  I'm curious how someone even gets in to playing the accordion - are there teachers for that in most cities?

On Sunday we got to watch our voice instructor, Akina Adderley, perform on piano with her husband on this drum-type thing from Brazil.  She writes her own beautifully heartbreaking songs and also does a killer version of Crazy.  Her full band is called Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys, and they play all over Austin. 

During the program, campers are divided up for instrument instruction.  This is Terri, who also did the song writing workshop, on stage with the drummer girls during a class. 

We got to run through a rehearsal of our songs on Sunday - I couldn't remember the ten lines of the song, so I'm reading them off the cheat sheet taped to the music stand.  Clearly, I could never act for soap operas. I gave up on playing chords and singing at the same time.  I also fail at patting my head and rubbing my stomach in unison.  Maybe next time. 

I really hope there's funding to bring Girls Rock into after school programming at my school.  From what I've observed, a large percentage of the female population at the high school where I work need female musician role models that don't base their careers on the number of gyrations they can make per minute while undertaking the difficult task of not busting the stitches in their clothing.

Eliminating the grey scale, most of my girls fall into the overly rambunctious and obnoxiously loud category, or the wilting flowers category.  I'd love to see them focus their energies into something both empowering and constructive, and/or realize that they are capable of being empowered and constructive simultaneously.  While the number of babies present on our campus could be a testament to lack of adequate birth control education, it's also an attribute of a severe self-esteem deficit.  The girls wield an obvious power over their teenage male counterparts, but many of them think this is the only source of power they have, which is a huge, and detrimental, fallacy.  On the wilting flower side, I also like the philosophy that "there's no sorry at rock camp."  Rather than say "I'm sorry" for little mistakes, girls (and ladies) have to say "I rock."  I have some girls at work who need to adopt this mantra. 

At first glance, it often seems that some of the girls have disgustingly high respect for themselves, but the swapping of studies for hem lines is evidence of confidence falsely presented.  Music may not be the path to empowerment for all girls, but it's hard to ignore that most of the girls who are not teenage mothers, don't get in trouble for dress code violations, and do better in class, are in band or a sport.  We've tried very hard to bring in a program that really engages our ladies who aren't in other activities, but current evidence suggests we're missing the mark for the majority so far.  A couple of girls actually participated in Capoeira today by playing the drums.  Perhaps this is evidence of musical inclination?  Hopefully, I'll get to find out. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Girls Rock Friday: Rock Camp Day One & Rosie Flores

Today was Day One of Ladies Rock Camp Austin. I'm signed on to a quartet as the singer and one of two guitar players - I have no idea how an original song will be formulated and ready to play by Sunday, (at Nomad! At 7pm! Come cheer!) but the organizers obviously know what they're doing, so I'll go forth trustingly.  Each band has their own coach and a practice space, and standing in front of a microphone to sing is one of the most empowering feelings I've ever experienced. 

We started today with icebreakers and a performance by Rosie Flores, then had a song writing workshop, then split up into our instrument groups for music instruction.  I got to learn a Le Tigre song on guitar, then went with the voice teacher to practice scales. 

After dinner, one of the Girls Rock campers and her brother came and performed for us - she's eleven, and he's eight - and they were amazing.  They performed three original songs.  What was I doing when I was eleven?  Watching Animaniacs and Full House reruns after school?

In high school, I was in a band for all of a week as the guitar player, but not having a drummer or any thing resembling a mentor caused an early break-up of the never-named group.  After moving to Austin, I auditioned to be in a band as a harmony singer on a whim.  I don't really sing harmony, at least not without lots of coaching, so I wasn't exactly first choice.  Nonetheless, I'd count those two hours in their practice space in front of a mic amongst my top ten well-spent hours of all time.  My entire body was rebelling against me even walking in the door, but I somehow maintained control of my feet and made it through the rehearsal.  I'm not delusional enough to think that I have a future rock career in front of me, but I am happy to know I can live the rest of my life being a little more aware of the stamina of my guts. 

Camp met today in the chapel of the Sri Atmanada School, and then moved over to the Griffin School.  Again, can someone please tell me where these types of programs/curriculums were when I was in grade school? 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two Exciting Things!

Hoorah - a new layout and a new banner I just put together using some of my South Congress in Austin photos... creating a look that I ACTUALLY like!   
Also - my first blog award! 

Thank you thank you Amy!  Now I need to go through my reader and decide who I want to pass it on to. 

Plan Your Week: Austin Poetry Slam & Magnolias Mud Dip

Wednesday is poetry day around here, and tonight was the quarter-final round of competition to begin determining the Austin team for representation at the National Poetry Slam.  Christopher Lee is one of my favorites.  He didn't win tonight, but he typically places top three.  Eirik broke out the Harry Potter Love Song, and my coworker Elizabeth finally made it out to a show with her girlfriend, Andrea. 

I'm embarassed to say that I haven't performed at a slam since leaving Little Rock.  It's yet to be determined if my fascination with spoken word poetry is based on appreciation of the art and should be left at that, or if it's a drive and I need to spend time writing, editing, and conquering my stage fright. 

After the show, it was imperative to eat, as my lunch consisted of a granola bar at 2 o'clock this afternoon.  I've gotten addicted to Magnolia's Mag Mud Dip.  And while I know I could easily make it at home for less than the six and change that a bowl costs, it's still so much better when ordered in a warm restaurant late at night.  Mag Mud is simply a concotion of black beans, cheese dip, and avocado, with a bowl of salsa on the side.  I will bite off finger tips to get the avocado.

Andrea and Elizabeth had never been to Magnolia's before.  It was a good choice of locale because Elizabeth has recently started a blog dedicated to her favorite food: breakfast tacos, and Magnolias has several options for a breakfast taco enthusiast. 

Andrea and I both got the tuna melt.  Cottage cheese is a side option, and I like to splurge the extra fifty cents to order blueberries on the side.  Lennon and Elizabeth seemed to think that this was an absurd combination, but I've been eating frozen berries over cottage cheese since my dorm room days.  I don't know why I still eat fish, but just like some people say with other meat - I'm not sure how I'd get by without it.  My taste buds aren't quite resigned to only being able to order salads at certain restaurants.  Not to mention that survival without HEB sushi seems implausible, and at the very least, unpleasant.

If you want to check out Elizabeth's new taco blog, (and I recommend you do, her demerit system for rating taco sellers is quite discerning, as is her palette), then visit Tacos Are For Breakfast.  To Magnolia's credit, she cleaned her plate, as did the rest of us.   

Since the weekend is almost here, I want to share my selections of the best offerings in Austin that are upcoming this week, (and then imagine how wonderful it would be to do all of them if I had the money for it):

First and foremost, of course, is Ladies Rock Camp, which is where I'll be all weekend, and today I got the AMAZING news that I don't even have to pay my tuition fee out of pocket, or take a vacation day Friday - it counts as a work trip/training expense.  I have the. best. job. EVER.

Thursday: Howie Day + Colbie Caillat at Stubbs.  There are two songs by Howie Day that I love enough to merit seeing him. 

Friday: Black Heart Procession will be playing at Mohawk, a favorite from high school, back when Clunk Music Hall was THE place to be in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  RIP, Clunk.  Also, if I were in to the gory movie thing, I'd be all about the musical version of Evil Dead that's going on at the Salvage Vanguard, complete with ponchos and "splash" zone for the blood baths that will ensue.  I'll stick to Sea World, personally.

Saturday: Oktoberfest + Built to Spill.  Damn!  I'm almost sad I'm going to miss these, but my day will be quite satisfying with guitars and awesome ladies during the afternoon, and then a Dia De Los Muertos/house warming party at night. Oktoberfest will be at Waterloo Park and Built to Spill at Stubbs. 

Sunday: Ladies Rock Camp showcast at Nomad at 7PM with Melissa Bryan and Pony Mistress.  Seriously, why would you NOT be there?!  It's my rock star debut.

Monday: Halloween Music Concert at Austin Theological Seminary.  The entire orchestra will be in costume and the blurb on the Chronicle says "why won't you?" Well geeze, I guess I need to go and wear one.

Tuesday: Emos + Straylight Run.  I haven't kept up with their new stuff, but they're old stuff was good enough that I'm still in love with it.  Also: Interfaith Communications through Austin Area Interreligous Ministries.  The topic will be the difficulties of compassion and it's at the First United Methodist Church. 

Wednesday: I don't even need to look at a calendar, because it's rumpus day, and there WILL be pictures.

What are your plans for the week?

Straylight Run - my favorite video.

Straylight Run - my favorite song.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Midweek Treats: the Parlour Pizza + Beer

The past two weeks have been consumed with planning a work event that finally goes down on Thursday.  Today, I shopped for supplies at Wal-Mart and it was horrific, involving ill-timed tax-exempt numbers and store managers who couldn't read.  Needless to say, it was a long day.  And everyone knows what long days merit: beer and pizza.  I've been anxiously waiting for the right moment to try out The Parlor in Hyde Park, as the outside door and deck sings to my love of dive bars with plenty of Newcastle on tap and pizza by the slice warming under heat lamps. 

In Little Rock, I frequented two similar establishments: Pizza d'Action in Hillcrest/Stiff Station and Vino's Brewpub downtown.  I'm getting a little misty eyed thinking about all of the elements that made them special: the fact that I never saw their interiors in day light, the graffiti on the bathroom walls, the throaty garage bands I'd go to see play from high school onward, the PBR...

There is something so inherently comforting about beer and pizza.  It's the cookies and milk of adulthood.  The Parlor didn't disappoint - oversized slices on paper plates, $3.00 pints of Lonestar, local art on the walls, and pool tables in arm's length of a juke box. 

There was also this guy, labeld "David," stalking Eirik from the corner.  He should have gotten Eirik... my lovely room mate trapped a cock roach in a jar candle earlier today and left it on my table.  After getting home, I didn't know there was a cockroach in the jar when I decided it would be nice to light a vanilla  candle to cover up the stink of Catan-playing boys.  Now Eirik is on the phone with Zara recounting how loudly I screamed when I took the lid off.  It's also important to note that when he started giggling, I put the lid back on the jar and hid it in his room.   

One thing I adore about Austin is the mural art on so many of the buildings.  Next Tuesday I get to take my kids on a graffiti field trip of Austin in preparation for a mural they are going to do in the school's club space.

I've lost my roommates to the game of Catan.  I don't really miss them, as the kitchen gets musch less messy when they're occupied...

And in case it wasn't obvious above, we now have our own lurking corner ghoul, although he doesn't lurk so much considering he sparkles like a Twilight vampire in sunlight.  He's now aptly named Sparkles, and he's patriotic. 

It seems only fitting to end with my favorite throaty garage band song: Bastards and Bridesmaids by Two Cow Garage, who I got to see play at White Water Tavern in Little Rock, and unhappily missed recently in Austin.  I won't make the same mistake for the Get Up Kids.     
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