Sunday, February 27, 2005

Man of the House

I have more books and bars to report on, but alas, laundry awaits...

Monday, February 21, 2005

Another mention of Hick Flicks in the local press, this one mostly complaining about the price. I thought there was no such thing as bad publicity? Not that I really disagree – seems to me they could sell twice as many of these suckers at half the price, but I have no spreadsheets to prove it.

And now, for amusement purposes only (no wagering, please), the official Moonshine Mountain Oscar picks:

BEST PICTURE: Million Dollar Baby
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
ACTOR: Jamie Foxx, Ray
ACTRESS: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Virginia Madsen, Sideways
COSTUME: The Aviator
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Sister Rose’s Passion
EDITING: The Aviator
FOREIGN FILM: The Sea Inside
MAKEUP: The Passion
ORIGINAL SCORE: Finding Neverland
ORIGINAL SONG: “Learn to be Lonely,” Phantom of the Opera
LIVE ACTION SHORT: Little Terrorist
SOUND EDITING: The Incredibles
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Saturday, February 19, 2005

It's a drizzly cold Saturday afternoon and I didn't feel much like leaving the house, but my obligation to you, my loyal readers, comes first. So I pried myself off the couch and set off to continue my quest to conquer...

Every Bar in Austin

2. Mother Egan's Irish Pub

Mother Egan's is probably best known for its Tuesday night trivia competition (as seen here in A Snapshot From Another Time), but today there wasn't much going on besides college basketball on the big screen TV. Their cuisine has won kudos from the Austin Chronicle for best pub grub, but I'm here to tell ya the veggie burger is mediocre at best.

Drink: One pint of Amstel Light

Jukebox: N/A. A guy sitting at the bar with acoustic guitar played some Beatles tunes.

Overheard: Two hotties at the bar categorizing men they know as various types of dickheads. Indecisive dickheads. Grabby dickheads. Drunky dickheads. One was a dead ringer for Tara Reid, in both looks and brainpower. I would've guessed they were participants in The Real World: Austin, except there was no camera crew to be seen.

3. Opal Divine's Freehouse

I decided to cross the street and kill two birds with one stone. Again, it's all for you people. Opal Divine's is a sprawling double-decker joint with front and side decks. On St. Paddy's Day they throw a tent over the parking lot and host some Irish music, including the once-yearly performance of Austin legends Shoulders. Not much going on today, though.

Drink: One pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Jukebox: Neil Young, The Animals, The Rolling Stones

Golden Tee Golf: Three holes, one under par

Okay. Time for a nap.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Son of the Mask

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Survivor returns tonight for its 347th season, and after the disappointing All-Stars and lackluster Vanuatu, I’m ready for a good ‘un. Word is they’re starting with 20 castaways and somehow or another three of ‘em will be leaving in the first episode. My pre-show rooting interest: Angie the tattooed New Orleans bartender. Of course, the beauty of Survivor is that by the end of the first hour I could hate her. Or she could be gone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

6. Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman

(NOTE: This is a book, not a bar in Austin. I understand that all this list-making will becoming confusing should I decide to have a drink at Catcher in the Rye or Finnegans Wake, or if I end up reading the Dickens classic Ginny’s Little Longhorn or Melville’s Carousel Lounge. But that’s the chance I have to take.)

Anyway, this book pretty much stinks. I’m guessing Waxman hoped to do for the late 90s what Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls did for the 70s, but a) Biskind beat her to it with Down and Dirty Pictures, which covers much of the same ground, and b) this book pretty much stinks. It covers too much familiar territory in the first half, and does so on such a rudimentary level, I have to believe her target audience is someone who hasn’t been to the movies or picked up a magazine in at least a decade. Her writing is flavorless hack-work and her grasp of the facts shoddy at best. The second half has a bit more personality, but quickly becomes a repetitive series of interchangeable anecdotes: egomaniacal auteur, a complete asshole who alienates everyone, lands studio deal. He refuses to compromise, makes picture his way, studio freaks out, demands he shorten it/remove sex and violence, etc. etc.

Waxman concentrates on six filmmakers who came up through indie flicks and made big zeitgeisty studio pictures: Tarantino, Soderbergh, P.T. Anderson, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze and David Fincher. The Tarantino stuff is especially over-familiar and rehashed; I would have preferred the inclusion of Wes Anderson, who really fits in better with the rest of the group, but maybe he refused to talk to her. I’m guessing the rest of these guys wish they had, too; she sure did take her bitter pills before putting pen to paper. The best thing I can say about the book is that it brought back that period about five years ago when, against all odds, a shitload of interesting movies all came out at once. Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Three Kings, Magnolia, Election, American Beauty, The Limey… It didn’t matter if you liked all of ‘em (I didn’t), there was a bunch of inspiring stuff out there to talk and write about. You really wouldn’t know it from reading Rebels on the Backlot, though.

Y'know, it's true! Superman is a dick!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Every Bar in Austin

Thinking about that 1000 Bars blog has inspired me to launch a new feature here at Moonshine Mountain, one that I already know is doomed to failure but which I will proceed with anyway, because it will be fun and will supply even more filler material to help sustain the illusion of "content" and "frequent updates."

As you may have gleaned from the header, the new project is this: to have a drink at every bar in Austin and keep a record of it here. Naturally, this is impossible. There's no way I'm gonna go to every shot bar, sports bar, titty bar, gay bar, scary dive, corporate hellhole and karaoke emporium in town. There will no doubt be bars that open and close before I ever get a chance to set foot in them, as well as pubs, taverns and saloons I'll never know about nor find. Not to mention all those borderline calls, like restaurants with bars in them or bars with restaurants in them or front lawns with kegs on them. But a man's gotta dream, yes? Thus, it is with great pride and no little shame that I hereby launch the first installment of "Every Bar in Austin."

1. The Dog and Duck Pub

This was the logical place to start. It is, after all, my neighborhood bar, within easy staggering distance of stately Von Doviak Manor. Inside you've got your British-style pub, complete with Scotch Eggs, Bangers and Mash and Bubbles and Squeak, if you're so inclined. Outside there's a deck in front and a patio on the side. It is with a heavy heart (cough) that I must inform you winter people that it was a gorgeous 76-degree happy hour on this mid-February afternoon as I kicked off this grand experiment. I enjoyed my beer on the front deck whilst reading Book #6 of the 50 book challenge (to be revealed shortly; that's some blog synergy for you).

Drink: One frosty pint of Full Moon Pale Rye

Bartender Banter: Glancing at the credit card slip from his previous customer, bartender dude confided, "Oh wow, that guy's name was Bernie Williams!"

Jukebox: Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, The Pogues

Overheard: Guy on cell phone: "Yeah, we're going to Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted for Valentine's Day, if you wanna double date."

Golden Tee Golf: Three holes, four over par.

I wish I'd seen this before embarking on the 50 book challenge. Maybe next year...

Friday, February 11, 2005

4. Joe Gould’s Secret by Joseph Mitchell
5. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

These two would seem to have little in common except that (very broadly) they’re both portraits of eccentric characters (one real, one fortunately quite fictional). But they’re also both books I got for Christmas from the same folks, albeit years apart, and they’ve both sat unread for no good reason until now. Thank you, 50 book challenge!

Joe Gould’s Secret reprints two articles from the New Yorker, both profiles of the same man, written 20 years apart. The first, shorter piece is a lighthearted “Oh, those kooky Village bohemians” take on Gould, a Harvard graduate and street person who lives on the generosity of his artsy friends while he works feverishly on “The Oral History,” an endless series of composition notebooks totaling millions of words worth of essays, observations and transcribed conversations. Although no one has read it in its entirety, or even close to it, many believe it to be an important work, and bits and pieces of it have appeared in small literary magazines. When not working on the book, Joe likes to crash parties in the Village and do seagull imitations or recite doggerel or anything else that will garner him attention.

The second piece, written after Gould’s death, is more of a regretful “let’s cut through the blarney” take on the same man. Many of the same events and anecdotes recur, but with a new perspective. Ol’ Joe doesn’t seem quite so loveable, and the Oral History may not be all it’s cracked up to be. I wouldn’t want to say more than that, except that this is a must-read for all writers and other creative types who get a particularly nasty shudder from the scenes involving R. Crumb’s housebound brother in Crumb or the “all work and no play” scene from The Shining.

Feel free to skip the Stanley Tucci movie, which I saw after finishing the book. It just gets every single thing completely wrong.

Here’s a nasty little tale, a violent, sometimes stomach-churning and often blackly comic first person account of life on a dreary Scottish isle. Our narrator Frank livens up his days by blowing up rabbits, feeding wasps into his elaborate factory o’ death, drinking down at the pub with his dwarf friend, and occasionally murdering a close relative. I’m surprised this never became a David Cronenberg movie – it shares the horror of the body and general organic ickiness with much of his work. In fact, there are several plot twists very much in keeping with the trend in today’s movies, so I suppose it’s not too late. I can’t say this was particularly deep or moving, but it was definitely a creepy read.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The new issue of the Austin Chronicle has (as far as I know) the first official review of Hick Flicks. And it's a good 'un! I'd say "Intoxicated and intoxicating!" is the ideal pull quote for the second printing. (Ha!)

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank some of my pals in the blogoverse for not only buying and reading, but taking the time to write some kind words about said opus:

The aforementioned From Here to Obscurity

The brazen Big Red Blog

The irascable Here Be Monsters

I raise my jug o' shine to y'all!

Moonshine Mountain congratulates High Hat honcho and From Here To Obscurity proprietor Hayden and his co-producer Emily on the birth of their rightful male heir! The High Hat fortune is secure!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Monday Morning Quarterback

It’s Moonshine Mountain’s annual Super Bowl wrap-up! Well, except that I’ve never done one before and I don’t really have anything to say about the Super Bowl. If I have an affiliation, I guess it’s the Patriots, but I’m not much of a football fan. I was happy for the New England fans the first time they won, but now it’s been three times and there’s all this “DYNASTY!” hot air and what with the Red Sox winning the World Series, I’m sure people are all done being happy for New England. (Maybe this is the real reason Kerry lost.)

No, I don’t know much about football, but I know movie trailers, dammit! Everyone and their brother has reviewed the Super Bowl commercials already (my favorites were the one with Burt Reynolds and the dancing bear and the one with the boobies), but what about the trailers that premiered during the game? Well, I’m here to rank them in order of piquing my interest:

5. The Longest Yard All right, this one has the Burt factor working for it. And we’ve already seen the evidence that a good Adam Sandler movie is not entirely out of the question. But a good Adam Sandler movie that also features Rob Schneider? That is definitely out of the question.

4. Sahara What the hell is this? All I remember about it is Matthew McConaughey, William H. Macy in a strange beard, and a great big greasy gob of CGI effects. Further research reveals this to be the first in what will no doubt be a long and successful line of action spectaculars starring McConaughey as Clive Cussler’s swashbuckling hero Dirk Pitt. I suspect it may well rival the Van Helsing franchise in both quality and longevity.

3. Robots This was cartoon robots right? With celebrity voices? Oh wait, I just remembered some Robin Williams shtick. I don’t think I can support anymore of that sort of thing.

2. Batman Begins Okay, this really didn’t look all that great either. What is with that Batmobile? It looks like something Ashton Kutcher would drive around thinking he looked really cool in. But I’m going with the theory that the whole Bat-nipple Ice Capades debacle of the Schumacher era convinced the powers-that-be that it might be a good idea to put together a watchable Batman movie to lure folks back to the theater. That way, they can rake in a little cash before they destroy the franchise yet again.

1. War of the Worlds You know, I wasn’t especially looking forward to this before (and it isn’t saying much considering the quality of the competition), but I’ll have to give this one the Most Compelling Trailer award. For a second there I found myself thinking, “Hey, aliens attacking the earth – that would be pants-pooping scary!” Which I’m guessing was the idea.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Wedding Date

The Boogeyman

Now, if they'd combined these two concepts, they might have had something...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It has recently been brought to my attention that it’s never too early to begin planning a bachelor party. Nine months may seem like a long time, but if you want to reserve the really good roller-skating monkeys, you have to plan ahead. Hey, sometimes it’s the non-traditional bachelor parties you remember most fondly. Sure, I’ll never forget crashing that one in the San Francisco bowling alley, where two highly-skilled professional ladies performed amazing and possibly illegal feats of flexibility. Then there was the one with the videos featuring highly-skilled professional ladies and unskilled barnyard animals, and the other one where the not-so-highly-skilled cut-rate semi-professional lady writhed and grunted on a stinky couch in a hot, muggy attic. Good times, good times.

But my two favorite bachelor parties featured no lewd content whatsoever, unless the sight of Harvey Korman cooking in shiny space drag pushes your buttons.

Yes, Mr. Big Pantz’s bachelor party was a small gathering, just a few beers and a steaming hot bootleg copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special. It may not sound like much, but oh, the laughing! The choking! The wheezing! The shooting gut pains! There were several instances where we probably should have received immediate medical assistance. Bea Arthur’s cantina! Itchy and Lumpy, having long conversations entirely in Wookie! The most embarrassing moment of Harrison Ford’s career! All this and Jefferson Starship, too! For my money, this is the high point of the whole Star Wars saga, but it seems George Lucas does not agree.

But even that magical evening is eclipsed by the Chief’s bachelor party, sort of a Sam Raimi affair centered around a woodsy cabin on a dark, quiet Maine lake. The secret ingredient: Super-Soakers. I confess, I cannot remember all the rules to the Most Dangerous Game, but basically there were hunters and the hunted, and playing cards somehow figured into it all. (Perhaps Mr. Big Pantz can help me out here. We could probably sell the rights to ESPN and they could air a celebrity version of it.) Of course, this might have been even more fun with the participation of strippers, but you can’t have everything.

(By the way, can you believe Adrian Zmed had his name above the title on the Bachelor Party poster? And equal billing with Tom Hanks? I bet he has that poster over his bed and cries himself to sleep every night.)