May 1, 2006

Austin Rocked.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:49 pm

Having attended more than a couple Blogmeets, I always find myself in the impossible situation of trying to capture the essence of one of these events.  On the simplest level it is a gathering of people who, on a good day, can string a few sentences together that make some sort of sense and do so in an interesting or humorous way.  People who can do that on a computer screen typically also do the same thing “live and in person”.  So what you have is a collection of folks who love words and savor the opportunity to use them with like-minded folks to the point of exhaustion.

It turns out that most bloggers like a cocktail or ten, but there are some who don’t drink anything stronger than soda (i.e. “pop” or “coke” or “tonic” for the uncivilized), and that doesn’t matter worth a damn.  Fundamentally, it’s all about words, sentences and paragraphs, ideas and stories, which is to say, it’s a Bullshitfest.

Given the impossibility of gathering all my impressions in a document that is not the length of “War and Peace,” I’ll just share some thoughts on the Blown-Star Blodger Tea Party and Ice Cream Social.

Initial Impressions.

When TJ and I got off the plane in the Austin Airport, we were searching for the first few “signs” of being in Texas.  We were looking for places with names like “Tex’s Rib Palace” or for people walking around sporting genuine cowboy lids.  What we found, right out off the bat, was a place called “Schlotsky’s Deli,” which seemed decidedly un-Texan to me.  Later, I learned that Schlotsky’s is a chain that is big in several states.  (In Jersey, a place called “Schlotsky’s Deli” would be owned by a guy named Schlotsky who actually makes the sandwiches).

OK, so much for Tex’s Rib Palace, but we thought, surely there will be peeps in the airport wearing cowboy lids.  I suppose I was expecting to see a guy walking around dressed like Hopalong Cassidy.  Instead, we saw a rather ample woman with Shocking Reddish, Purplish hair and a massive butterfly tattooed in that vast space between her neck and boobs.  Hopalong would have shit a pickle.

The good news is that we ultimately did get to see a few guys wearing cowboy hats, but I learned that, at least in Austin, cowboy lids are the exception rather than the rule.

Memo to my Texas friends who may be as dim about New Jersey as I was about Texas:  In Jersey, most folks don’t dress like “Paulie Walnuts”.


For me, the word “barbecue” is most often a used noun that denotes an event at which various things (but mostly hamburgers and hot dogs) are cooked on a backyard grill.  It is sometimes used as a verb to describe the process of cooking hot dogs and hamburgers on a backyard grill.

I learned that in Texas, it is a noun that describes a type of food.  Eating “barbecue” is something that Texans approach with a religious zeal.  I never got a definitive answer to the question, “So exactly what kind of food is ‘barbecue’?”

Best I can figure, it’s meat – lots of meat.  Sometimes it’s “rubbed”; sometimes it’s chopped up; sometimes it’s “pulled” (i.e. shredded).  Sometimes it’s brisket; sometimes it’s sausage.  Most often it is covered and/or cooked with sauce (or as we might say around here, “SOOO-us”.

Anyway, I can tell you that learning about “barbecue” was a most pleasant experience when we went to this place on Friday evening.  We brought in coolers full of beer and sat in a room that was rather like a barn with picnic tables in it.  The “barbecue” was reddish, plentiful and delicious.

I can see why Texans take it so seriously.


Sightseeing was kept to a bare minimum.  The guitar pickers and music lovers among us made a pilgrimage to the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue in Austin and to a place where a gazillion bats supposedly appear every night.  Stevie Ray was there, but the bats weren’t, which was fine with me.

Da Peeps

Truth is, that a blogmeet isn’t about food or sightseeing.  It’s about the peeps.  The meet could be held anywhere and the food only has to be edible (and preferably bulky so as to sop up the booze refreshments).  I’ve been to blogmeets in beautiful parts of the country and spent 90% of the time in a crowded, smoke-filled, very noisy hotel room.  It’s definitely all about the peeps.

Speaking of da peeps, we met lots of them from various parts of the country.  There were those whom I’ve met before and was happy to see again:

Rob  (My friend and heavy-hitter in the Blogosphere)

Denny  (Not Grouchy and not as old as some of us)

‘Neck  (Always manages to crack my ass up)

Boudicca  (It’s hard not to stare at this exceedingly pretty woman.  It’s even harder to keep from laughing hysterically at her way with a story)

Christina  (Speaking of laughing, Chrissy is the Queen of Laughter and warm welcomes)

T1G  (A gentle giant, but if he were to turn ugly, I would hope he would not turn in my direction)

Tammi  (Ask her about falling asleep at the wheel, but put your drink down first)

Zonker  (A blogmeet without Zonker is simply not a blogmeet.  Period)

Kelley  (Kelley came with child in utero, and she looked absolutely mahvelous)

Eric  (The Ambassador of the Blogosphere, for sure)

TJ (Super daughter and, in many ways, is a chip off the old block, but who fortunately has her mother’s looks)

Then there were the peeps who have been on my blogroll for some time and whom I finally got the chance to meet.  They will be moved to the appropriate place on Mr. Blogroll:

Shoe  (Super organizer and great fun to be with)

Dash (A Southern Gentleman, for sure.  Who among us men folks wouldn’t want to look like Dash?)

Livey  (A human bottle rocket, with a great sense of humor)

Marcus  (Sits back, smokes a cigar, waits for the right moment and drops a verbal gem every time)

Misha (the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler Emperor who strikes fear in the hearts of the politically correct)

Elisson (Yes, he is that twisted and funny, with a wit as fast as greased lightening)

Finally, there were those who were not on Mr. Blogroll and whom I was honored to meet for the first time.  They will added to the appropriate place in Mr. Blogroll:

Confabulator  (The go-to guy for Texas history and geography)

Walrilla  (Quiet at first, but definitely hit his stride after a few hours.  Damned nice guy)

Oddybobo  (A pleasure to be with, and I think she liked my guitar playing, which gets her bonus points)

Nancy  (A little shy, I think, but exceedingly nice.  Wish I had more time to chat with her.  Definitely next time)

Beth  (I only got to talk with her for a moment or two during the “barbecue” experience.  I hope to see her again soon)

El Capitan (Of flaming car fame.  Good guy with a terrific sense of humor.)

Leslie  (Ah, Leslie.  Real good peeps, she is.  And, bonus!  She can sing harmony and ballroom dance.  We’ll do both next time.)

Denita Two Dragons  (Very friendly, and she came to the “barbecue” experience armed with homemade pies.  Unfortunately, I had eaten about ten pounds of meat “barvecue”, and I was not able to partake.)

Knine  (Teller of marathon stories and is a guy who can poke fun at himself, which bespeaks a good sense of humor)

Bonus Peeps

There were a couple non-bloggers at the “barbecue” experience who are more than worthy of mention:

Susan (Christina’s pal whom I met in Jekyll and have had a bit of a crush on ever since.  She’s very easy on the eyes and is smart enough to have served as the collector of the cash at the “barbecue” experience.  Always great to see her.)

Christina’s Mom  (Wow!  This lady is a firecracker who has more energy than people one quarter her age, and she is one good-looking woman.  I think she got a couple marriage proposals at the “barbecue” experience).

Thank You Department

Special thanks to the following peeps:

To Shoe for the ride from the airport

To Dash and Bou for driving us to and from various places

To Rob, Denny and T1G for the pickin’

To Leslie for the harmony parts

To Confabulator for seeing to it that I was not the oldest guy there

To Elisson for demonstrating that classical music can be played well on a kazoo

To ‘Neck for letting me (the techno-disaster) play with his nifty pocket pc.

To Zonker for pickin’ up the smokes

To Eric for joining TJ and me for dinner on Saturday

To Christina’s mom for the gorilla-stompin’ wontons


To TJ for being a wonderful daughter and a most excellent travel companion.

N.B.  1. If I have forgotten anyone, I am truly sorry.  I did this from memory, which is sometimes less than reliable, particularly when my brain is well soaked in Shiner Bock.  2. The completion of the blogroll additions and moves may take a day or two.  I’m still kinda tired.

Da Retoin from Austin.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:09 am

After many, many good-byes to the fellow attendees of the Blown-Star* Blodger Tea Party and Ice Cream Social**, we hopped on our full flight (aren’t they all these days?) and made it home pretty well pooped but still with enough time for me to head to Mr. Recliner to watch The Sopranos.

It was a helluva party.

More later.

* h/t Kelley

** h/t Elisson


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