Rule 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
—-Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos
Back a few months, with Mother’s Day approaching, I was struggling with figuring out what to do.
I checked the Alamo Drafthouse app on my phone and discovered they were having a Mother’s Day brunch along with a showing of “The Sound of Music.” I remembered that Candy had said once, years ago, that this was one of her favorite musicals. It seemed a little pricey (at first) but I went ahead and bought three tickets. Nick would be up from Houston to visit and that would be a nice mother’s day.
I told Candy (couldn’t really keep it a surprise) and she was worried about Nick.
“I don’t think he’ll like the movie,” she said.
She reminded of one time, years ago, when She, Lee, and I were watching The Sound of Music on TV and Nick walked through the living room.
“What are you watching? What kind of sick stuff is this? What are they singing about? Anal Vice?” he said.
The song, of course, was not “Anal Vice,” but “Edelweiss.”
Alamo Drafthouse is the only movie theater chain we will frequent. The food (and drafts) are good, I love the bits they show before the films, but the real attraction are their policies. One, if they catch you talking or using your phone during the film, they throw you out. Two, and the big one for me, is they do not allow anyone to arrive late. It drives me nuts how, at a regular movie theater, people keep streaming in, searching for their seat, twenty minutes after the show starts. Assigned seats and these policies are the only way to make movie-going worthwhile.
I texted Nick to ask if it was OK for him to see The Sound of Music.
“Y’all paint me as some uncultured brute,” he replied. So he was good to go.
As it turned out, the thing was fantastic. It had seemed pricey at first – but the food was amazing and way more than worth the cost all by itself. The staff came out before the film and explained how hard they had worked on the menu (Austrian themed) and hoped we enjoyed ourselves. The film was sold out and the logistics of getting four courses of food (and wine) out to all those seats in the dark, during a film was incredible.
One good thing is that the film had an intermission and that was when they brought out the main course (Schnitzel, poached eggs, asparagus, tomato) so we could eat that with the house lights up a little. Of course, the movie was fantastic. Your forget how much these classic films were designed to be seen in a theater, on a big screen, and not on a television. Really enjoyable.
So, I’m going to keep an eye on the Alamo Drafthouse to see when they will do something like this again. A close eye – this one sold out in hours. It’s a really special special treat.
As I have said before, there is a local beer, a milk stout, made by Lakewood Brewing company called The Temptress. I think this is one of the best things in the world – not the best beer, best things.
The other week, at the Cobra Brewing Company event, I ran into a guy out in the yard wearing a Lakewood shirt. He worked at Lakewood Brewing. He was one of those people (at least on this day) that acted like he knew everything. The thing is, though, nobody knows everything… but he did know an awful lot.
So I stood there for a long time and pumped him for all the knowledge I could. Types of beer, good and bad local brews, the future of the local breweries, small business philosophies and how to grow, sour beers (the hottest, coolest, newest thing – awful, terrible, spoiled swill in my opinion) and on and on.
We talked about how difficult The Temptress is to make. Then he said that for this holiday season, Cinco de Mayo, they were making a seasonal special edition Temptress – the Mole Tempress.
I have mixed feelings about these special variations. Some are really good – the Bourbon Barrel Temptress is fantastic. Some are not so great – the Raspberry Temptress was too Raspberry-y. The thing is, how do you improve on perfection?
But Mole Tempress? That sounded interesting.
For those of you not from these here parts (or parts south of here) Mole is a complex, Mexican sauce made with hot chili peppers and a myriad of other spices. It is ground, reconstituted, and cooked into a thick paste that screams with flavor. It is good stuff.
This isn’t something that you would immediately associate with as a beer ingredient. But local craft beer can afford to experiment. That’s the whole idea.
Meanwhile, fast forward to now – this is the rare slice of pleasant weather time here in North Texas – the wonderful few days between the cold, wet winter and the killer summer heat. Bike riding time.
There was a terrible accident on Highway 75 – a semi tractor trailer burst into flames beneath a crossing turnpike. The entire highway was shut down. My cow-orkers were caught in the ensuing backup – some sitting stuck on frontage roads for hours. I saw the news on the early morning Television – but it didn’t affect my bike ride to work in the least.
As the workday wound down I somehow remembered a Tweet I had received from Lakewood Brewery that the Mole Temptress had been released. At about the same time I received another from the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that they had a keg of said brew on tap.
I had never ridden my bike from my work to the Alamo Drafthouse. I sat down with Google Maps and figured out a route, winding across a busy freeway and through a few varied neighborhoods. It wasn’t very far. A single beer on the way home would be a good way to mark a Friday after work (we are broker than broke right now – it’s all the entertainment I can afford).
So off I rode in the beautiful weather of the early afternoon. I had to wind around a bit – one problem with Google Maps route-finding is that it is hard to tell in a mixed residential/apartment/commercial/retail area if you can ride from one parking lot to the next or if there is a big wall there, invisible to the overhead view. Still, it took less time than I thought.
The theater was abuzz – The Amazing Spiderman 2 was premiering and there were costumed heroes, throngs of loud kids, and a big velcro jumping-thing. But they did have my Mole Temptress on tap.
It was good, very good. A complex, spicy mix – the hot pepper and chocolate flavors came through just right. I don’t think it was as good as the regular Temptress – but few things are. Maybe nothing is.
Still, a change of pace, a hot spicy cold drink, on a nice late afternoon, on an outside patio next to a gaggle of bikes… there are worse things.
A terrible Blackberry photo of my folding Xootr Swift parked next to a Yuba cargo bike (set up to carry a whole family) outside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Two different philosophies on urban bicycling.
Looking at my schedule on Thursday, I had a lot that I wanted to do that evening and on Friday, so I decided to take a vacation day and try and squeeze in as much as I could. After changing into bicycling clothes I left work and drove up to Beltline and 75 in Richardson, where the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is about to open and stashed my car in a quiet spot. I pulled my bicycle out of the hatch and rode west a few miles to the Big Shucks Oyster Bar on Coit.
The hard thing about using a bicycle for entertainment is the logistics. You have to haul stuff – phones and wallets and keys and locks and camera and extra clothes and emergency repair tools and this and that and the other. It’s too much thinking about what you have and how you can carry it and how you can keep it from getting stolen. I still haven’t figured out a good way to carry a folding chair on my road bike (my commuter bike with its plethora of racks is out of commission – I broke the seat tube the other day) so I left that in my car, where I could get to it later.
At Big Shucks, I locked my bike to the metal rail and settled in on the patio with a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and a Negra Modelo. When you think of shrimp cocktail you probably think about a bland, slimy mixture of large limp shrimp floating in some insipid watery sauce. A Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is a different thing altogether. It’s spicy, made fresh with firm, tiny shrimp with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and avocados. It’s a great warm weather treat. Every place makes theirs a little different, but Big Shucks does them as well as anybody.
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Negra Modelo at Big Shucks.
After a while, some more bicyclists showed up and we all finished our food, saddled up and headed out. This ride was organized by the Richardson Urban Bicycle Club – the same group I had ridden to see Dazed and Confused with a couple of weeks ago. We were riding back to the same place again, this time to see a double feature of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
I was a little worried about the crowd. Of course, there is room in a parking lot for a lot of people in folding chairs, but folks had been gathering since before noon. Some people had the brilliant idea of looking in the “free” section of Craigslist and grabbing couches. They had hauled a few over and set them up, relaxing for the afternoon. I worried for naught – there were a lot of people there (many dressed as zombies and a few as cops) but the place wasn’t overflowing and I was able to find a spot where the screen, though distant, was visible.
Going to this had been sort of a last-minute decision and I hadn’t thought much about what to do… but it was fun. There was a long string of food trucks and I had a Guacamole Pie from The Bomb Fried Pies. Then I went over to check out the breweries… and hit the jackpot.
If you’ve been reading here you know of my fondness for locally brewed craft beer. Dallas, as always, is getting into the craft brewery thing late… but also, Dallas, as always, is doing it in a big, serious, and very good way.
Tonight there were six local breweries set up, with two beers each. You bought a sample card, a small plastic cup, and a yellow wrist band… and had at it. Since the double feature couldn’t start until the festivities inside ended, and then there were two entire movies… there was plenty of time to try everything.
I have been to sampling tours at all of the breweries except 903, so I was familiar with most of what they had to offer. It was all good.
In particular, I enjoyed the 903 Roasted Coconut Ale and the Four Corner’s Block Party Porter… mostly because I had never tried those before.
Soon after sunset the theater let out, swelling the parking lot crowd, a pair of black limos coursed up front and discharged their contents onto the makeshift stage. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright talked up the crowd for a while. I’m not sure what they think about Texas – they seemed shocked by the heat, though it didn’t seem too bad to any of us. There were a couple of contests – beating a zombie with a cricket bat and screaming while shooting a gun in the air. One burly Texan managed to break the cricket bat over the zombie’s head – which I didn’t think was possible.
Everybody settled down and the movies began. Shaun of the Dead is a hoot, of course – perfect fair for an outdoor showing on an inflatable screen.
The crowd in the parking lot
Shaun is having a bad day.
After Shaun of the Dead ended most folks gave it up and went home – it was getting pretty late for a Thursday. I started to get up but then decided, “What the Hell,” and settled back in for the second show. I was able to scoot my chair forward and get a better look at Hot Fuzz – which I hadn’t seen before. Another great genre-mixing explosion of hilarity and bloodshed, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
It was about two in the morning when everything ended. I was very glad to have my car nearby – I didn’t really feel like riding my bicycle any great distance. That sort of thing makes for a long day. I felt like a zombie.
As always, I slept later than I wanted to and had to hurry a bit. I loaded my bike into the Matrix and drove to Forney, Texas for a bike ride.
Across the Metroplex cities and neighborhoods are establishing “Bike Friendly” groups. Where I live is Bike Friendly Richardson… one of the most progressive and active groups is Bike Friendly Oak Cliff… I’ve done a ride with Bike Friendly Cedars – and so on. These groups serve as advocates for the cycling communities within their areas – plus organize rides and other events.
Summer is here and the temperature is hovering up around the century mark. That’s not really too bad for a bike ride – you do create your own breeze.
Back at the restaurant, I had an excellent Shrimp Po-Boy. I hate to think how many miles of bike riding it takes to burn off the calories in a Po-Boy – but still….
The start of the Bike Friendly Forney Ride
Bikes waiting for Catfish.
I drove back home and installed my riding lights on my Technium (my commuter bike has a broken chain and I haven’t bothered to work on it yet). I had another bike ride to do in the evening.
Candy was going to a concert, so we grabbed a quick beer at Haystack Burgers – one of the rapidly growing number of establishments that serve a good selection of local craft brews (I had an El Chingon IPA from Four Corners). I stashed a folding chair in my car and parked it behind a Buddhist Temple – then rode a couple miles north to a taco joint where another local group would be meeting for the ride back south to a free showing of Dazed and Confused.
There is a well-known Austin-based chain of movie theaters, Alamo Drafthouse, that is building a new theater in Richardson at Beltline and 75. It’s pretty much finished and will open in August. To stir up excitement they are showing some free movies on a giant inflatable screen in the parking lot. The Alamo has a truck that contains some powerful ancient projectors they can wheel around for these events.
Back at the taco spot, I was an hour early and settled in to write a bit. Folks with bikes started to show up and after a while, right before I was going to walk over there by myself, they invited me over. We chatted it up a bit and then rode the short, interesting route back down to Beltline.
I stopped at my car and strapped the folding chair across my chest, bandoleer-fashion. It was spectacularly uncomfortable and stupid-looking, but it worked. I am going to have to figure out a better way to carry a folding chair on a bike.
Crowd in the parking lot of the Alamo Drafthouse, waiting for Dazed and Confused
Classic colorful street bombers at the movie.
There was a huge crowd for the movie. I had thought of getting something to eat and maybe another beer, but the lines were too intimidating, so I sat down, settled in, and watched the film. I had never actually seen all of Dazed and Confused all the way through – though of course I had heard of it. If you aren’t familiar with it, Dazed and Confused is a little comedy set in a small Texas town on the last day of high school in 1976 that has become an iconic touchstone for a generation.
I’m familiar with the times (I graduated in ’74) – though my high school experiences were much, much different than those in the film. What’s cool about the movie is the number of show-biz careers that started out in this little film – Linklater, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey… and more. Even Renée Zellweger was an uncredited extra – “Girl in Blue Pickup”. I’m afraid Dazed and Confused doesn’t hold together very well as a complete work of art – there’s no plot at all – but it has a lot of classic, fun set pieces, killer soundtrack, and has its time and place nailed exactly.
Renée Zellweger as an extra in Dazed and Confused.
And, of course, the classic Matthew McConaughey line – “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”