A place for creativity in relationships, the kitchen, the gym, the home, the garden and, ultimately, in life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dobie Theater: In Memoriam

Yesterday marked the passing of one of the last great arthouse cinemas in Austin. I am by no means a film buff, but I've always taken great pleasure in movies, and the Dobie housed some of my most significant film-going experiences.

I saw The Brave Little Toaster with my dad and little brother in the mid-80s in the tiny little theater's Egyptian-themed room. We spent the better part of the afternoon following the screening consoling my brother about having lost his beloved red cap in the theater, and even had the theater staff helping us crawl around the sticky floor in the hopes that it would turn up, which speaks to the dedication of the staff and the stubbornness of my then-four-year-old brother.

At age 14, I snuck into the theater to catch my first NC-17 movie, the creepfest "Kids" that launched the careers of Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson, and haunted me for years. I'll spare you a clip of some of the more gruesome scenes involving pre-pubescent-looking teens and their various illicit encounters, and instead share the trailer that may help explain why my 14-year-old self was so keen on getting into the Dobie for this.

Then came Hands on a Hard Body, which played at the Dobie for over a year, and was my first memorable encounter with a feature documentary. The movie is full of gems from the quirky and devoted characters desperate to win the hard body truck, and has even spawned a local Hands on an Eggplant Sub contest here in Austin.

As a senior in high school at the dawning of the Internet, the Blair Witch Project phenomenon seemed tailor-made to suck me in and terrify me. For those of you who weren't in the target demographic of suckers like me, the filmmakers created a buzz like I'd never experienced through their website, and used the teen rumor mill to successfully implant the idea that the footage in the movie was REAL and found after the three kids in the film disappeared during their search for the Blair Witch. Completely ridiculous in hindsight, my limited experience with the Internet allowed the marketers to create this alternate universe that carried us to the theater in droves to be haunted by the image of a lone young man standing in a corner facing the wall. No monster on screen terrified me as much as that parting shot in the film. I remember sitting in the front row, grabbing onto my high school sweetheart for dear life and hoping it would all be over soon. Having re-watched the movie recently, I can save you the trouble of going to rent it and tell you that while the film captured the collective teen psyche in 1998, it doesn't really have much to recommend it a decade later. The successful viral marketing of the film ushered in a new era in how media is publicized, leading to the disturbing recent attempt by the makers of "The Last Exorcism" to punish adolescent boys for using Chat Roulette in an attempt to drum up enthusiasm for their new film. Trust me, this scheme is sleazy.

Dobie, thank you for all the memories you gave me, even the ones that gave me nightmares. You will be missed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ultimate Renegade Garden

This has got to be the most amazing backyard garden I've ever seen. A family of four in Mesa, Arizona has created its own backyard ecosystem in an unfilled pool, turning a money/energy pit into a oasis of fresh organic veggies, fruits and herbs, as well as chickens and tilapia fish. You've got to see it to believe it.

I'm a novice gardener who's experienced more failures than successes, but I keep plugging away at it and am seriously inspired by people who get out there and make sustainable backyard farming happen in even the most inhospitable of places (namely, the freakin' desert). Here in Austin we're lucky to have tons of resources for the diy-minded home gardener and some really passionate gardening citizens.

This spring I participated in the Citizen Gardener workshop with my dear friend Sarah, where we learned the basics of organic gardening via the bio-intensive, raised-bed method for growing vegetables, as well as composting. It's free if you volunteer 10 hours in a community garden or $50 for the three classes, and they have new groups starting in the coming weeks.

The Garden Posse is our local group of guerrilla gardeners, where members transform public and private spaces into edible landscapes and use "seed bombs" made of seeds and mud to spread the love. I like that whole "make food, not bombs" ethos, and these people do some seriously cool landscaping all over town and all over the east side in particular.

In Pasadena, California, a family has been turning their home into the ultimate urban oasis, where they grow their own food, make their own biodiesel, raise chickens, goats, ducks and rabbits, and basically stay as off-the-grid as possible. People can really be amazing.

While I can't say I'll ever be the next Urban Homesteader, I do know that someday I want my yard to look like this:


And when we finally buy our own home, I'm gonna make food, not lawns.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Off the Train and Back to the Grind

After a week of blissful vacation in Chicago, Milwaukee & Madison visiting some of my favorite people, I can safely report that the train is still my favorite way to travel, beer & cheese are both my friend and my enemy, and the first workday and workout after vacation are still the most painful days of the year. 

My dear friend Mel made the fantastic recommendation of a train mystery novel to accompany me on the rails, and I rushed out the day before departure to grab a copy of Dick Francis' The Edge. The book was full of intrigue, espionage and madcap adventure, just like Mel, and it was simple perfection to sit in the observation car, listening to the train whistle and soaking up a little murder mystery. And if anyone wants to spot me $1000 for my very own California train murder mystery tour, check this out.

Devilish Fried Cheese
The Great Taste of the Midwest Beer Festival the day before we left was a fantastic send-off from a memorable vacation, with over 100 breweries repping more than 300 brews! Our awesome friends had to camp out for 8 hours to get the tickets months ago, and correctly assumed that would be enough to solidify our plans for a visit in August.  We capped that beer-drenched day off with fried cheese curds dipped in a bleu cheese dressing. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was as ridiculously decadent, over-the-top, unnecessary and delicious as it sounds. Madison is known for it's cheese curds, which you check for freshness by chewing them and listening for a squeaking sound, like a squeegee for your teeth as my man says. There's even a website for cheese curds, with etiquette rules such as "Never eat two cheese curds at once. It confuses them."

Madison Bliss
Considering the sheer volume of beer & cheese consumed, and the inordinate amount of time I spent with my feet up, the return to reality has been a bit of a slog. Yesterday was the first day back on the clock, and this morning I rolled out of bed at 6:40 am to return to my dedicated tribe of Therapy Bootcampers. I can say without exaggeration that there is no way in hell I would have made it up for this workout with these ladies, and I'm grateful to them for that.

Post-Vacation Leg Buster WOD

2 Rounds for time:
15 pushups
 25 situps
broad jump across field (approx. 10 jumps)
15 box jumps
25 tricep dips
lunge across field (approx. 15 lunges)
run 300 m.

We all finished in around 11:30, legs burning, sweat dripping, gasping for air in the 99% humidity. I may have felt like collapsing, but I'm so glad I got out there and got back to my routine. Vacations are the best and I may have returned a little blue about leaving some dear friends & so many fun times, but you can't live on beer and cheese alone, right?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gonna Board the Midnight Train: Part One

In preparation for our train trip to Chicago this weekend, I've been perusing lists of train movies and songs for inspiration.  Turns out there are some stellar train-centric films & music, and I'll post some of my favorites over the coming week for your viewing and listening pleasure (and because I just can't contain my excitement about riding the train).  We took the train three years ago from Los Angeles to Austin and it was one of my favorite travel experiences ever.  There's something romantic and dreamy about traveling slowly by train: meeting the other riders in the observation car, curling up on the tiny fold-out bed and staring out the window at the scenery passing by. Everything slows down, and I feel like I'm being transported back in time. I may even wear my Audrey Hepburn hat and big sunglasses to pretend I have an ounce of her glamour.


One of my favorite scenes in North by Northwest takes place on the train, with some of the best Hitchcock sexual innuendo ever.  Take this exchange between the dashing, if greying, Cary Grant and the tiny-as-a-bird Eva Marie Saint as they gaze lustfully into each other's eyes at close range:

Eva: I'm a big girl.
Cary: Yeah...and in all the right places too.

For 1959 this was downright tawdry, and the 3 minute long foreplay session was pretty daring.  But the most hilarious innuendo is in the film's final shot. Watch this and try not to giggle.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mama Grizzlies vs. Gerbils

I love Jon Stewart, Flight of the Conchords and bears. Until I saw this clip from the Daily Show, I wouldn't have known they had anything in common. Turns out they have the brilliant Kristen Schaal to thank for this lunchtime video break:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sarah Palin's Mama Grizzly Coalition
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

My favorite line?  "The only bears that don't vote Republican are the Berenstain Bears...Because they're Jews."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wonder Women

So I'm basically surrounded by amazing women.  Everywhere I look, there's another one appearing with words of wisdom, a big hug, a kick-ass attitude, some inspiration and a good, long laugh. I like to think of them all as Wonder Women, and I strive to be like them in friendship, relationships, fitness, talents and energy. My mom is definitely Wonder Woman #1 and I learned all my superpowers from her.

Last night I got an email from the always-fabulous Mel over at theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com asking if I would partner with her and the lovely Maggie for the CrossFit Central Women's Challenge in three weeks. Two wonder women if I ever saw them, and I eagerly accepted, putting out of my mind the intimidating unknown that is the Dreaded Double Workout on challenge day. Check out this video from last year's challenge, featuring some of my favorite superheroines:

Women's Challenge from CrossFit Central on Vimeo.

This morning I had the pleasure of putting together a fun workout for my Therapy Bootcamp ladies, and we welcomed a new addition to our little crew (way to go, Stephanie)! Four more Wonder Women who willingly tackle my WODs with grace and only a few grimaces. I'm going out of town next week so I'm leaving the ladies with a workout for them to complete on their own.  They've been at this for awhile, and I know they can do it.  But I am still demanding photographic evidence.  There was a request for an animal WOD again, so I'm thinking bear crawls, donkey kicks, frog jumps and crab walks are in order. Any suggestions?

These same ladies will be true Wonder Women with me in September when we take on the CASA 5K Superhero Run, in full superhero regalia. Now where is my cape...?