Barton Springs Saloon

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Bar Review

The weekends are notoriously fun and entertaining but life on the week days can be a bit boring at times for those who hold steady jobs, that is until Barton Springs Saloon came around.  Located directly across the street from Peter Pan Mini Golf at the intersection of Barton Springs Rd. and Lamar, this traditional bar has all the elements patrons expect out of a local watering hole.  The surprise however comes with the realization that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights are dollar beer nights which definitely means you’re in the Right Place at The Right Time.

This is no happy hour special, on what is typically seen as the top three most boring nights out of the week, when most people are at home watching their favorite weeknight T.V. shows before they slip into their P.J.’s and go off to bed, you could be down at the saloon “getting down” till two in the morning for the price of one drink on the weekends.  Mondays are Lone Star Longnecks nights, Tuesdays are Longneck Miller Highlife, and Wednesdays are Keystone Light specials that all run for a dollar all day long!  They also have all the other types of beer and liquor one would expect behind the bar, but the dollar beer specials are what makes going out on a Monday night worth while.

The atmosphere at this bar is laid back and more social than you’d find at a lounge like Union Park or Star Bar.  The inside is relatively small in comparison to the outdoor deck that seats around 30 to 40 people and fills up extremely fast.  If you want to get a table I’d say get there before 10:00pm, but half the people partying outside are usually just standing around in true saloon fashion which makes for a great environment to meet new people.  So if tonight seems like just another weeknight for you, go check out Barton Springs Saloon, a great place to get lit and save money!

Peter Pan Mini Golf is a great time in Austin for all ages.  Location is key for this place as it is situated at the intersection of Barton Springs and Lamar, right in the middle of all the South/Central action which is becoming more and more a hip place to be.  An unusual getaway  (as there are not too many mini golf courses still around that are located in the middle of a big cities these days) Peter Pan Mini Golf is a nice relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

What to Expect: This is not a new or modern mini golf course but a treasured relict of the past and icon of this part of the city.  Although a bit worn, its age simply reflects the years of good times customers have enjoyed here under the watchful and merry gaze of none other than Peter Pan himself.  This is an eighteen hole mini golf course with all the classic features like water obstacles, tunnels, and multilayer holes that sometimes leave you wondering where your ball went?  With the serge of technology we have experienced in the past decade however, mini golf is no longer the fun relaxing game/getaway it used to be.  Expect slower games as each hole you will constantly be stopping to take ridiculous pictures with the various cartoon-like statues.  These photos are undoubtedly only for Facebook and as a customer myself, putting your head into a fake whales mouth (hole 7) and snapping a photo, or seeing how many girls can fit on the back of a over-sized turtle (hole 12) while smiling for a “goofy” picture, is just annoying to everyone else and makes you look like a living joke of a human being unless you’re under the age of 12.

What to Bring: Beer! Yes it is true my friends, Peter Pan Mini Golf is the only”Putt-Putt” course I know of that is BYOB (bring your own beer).  This makes it fun for college kids to participate instead of just children and old people like you normally see.  So if you think you’re too old for mini golf, grab a six pack and a date and leave your camera at home when you come check out Peter Pan Mini Golf!

Hill’s Cafe

Posted: October 15, 2010 in Bar Review, Resturant Review

If you’re in the mood for some good old home cookin’, check out Hill’s Cafe!  Located on south Congress just South of St. Elmo Street, Hill’s Cafe is the epitome of an old fashion Texas diner.  The people are friendly, the mood is slow and steady (unless there’s some live music playing in the back), and the beer is cold and filling.

What to expect:  Known for their chicken fried steaks, this diner proudly displays pictures of Texas celebrities around the walls many of which were taken right in the restaurant itself; this adds to the feel that you are experiencing a part of living history while you dine on grizzled beef and listen to traditional country music.  What undeniably confirms the “Lone Star Vibe” you get while at this southern ho-down of an establishment, is (for males at least) when you go to use the restroom.  Not only does it say “for cowboys only,” but instead of naked pictures of fashion models plastered around the walls like some sort of sleazy collage you’ll find at almost any bar on East 6th Street, beer induced testosterone urges are pacified by a classy, wooden-framed picture of John Wayne leaning stoically on a shot gun, that boldly hangs over the urinal.  It’s enough to make a man weep just for being a man and who knows, maybe the women have the same picture hanging up in their “cowgirls only” section to drool over instead of admire.

Warning: This place will automatically induce what is known as “the Itis” in you as soon as you leave.  For those who are unfamiliar with this term, the Itis is a condition whose symptoms manifest themselves with such side effects as sleepiness, lethargic tendencies, and a need to sit on the couch and watch football…think aftermath of thanksgiving dinner.  Just like the warning on the back of a box of Benadryl, it is wise not to operate a moving vehicle after a delicious meal at this humble and hospitable restaurant just in case the Itis creeps up while driving home.

So grab your cowboy hat, dancing shoes, and make sure and leave a few notches on your belt loose because if you’re coming to Hill’s Cafe, you will definitely be in The Right Place, at The Right Time!

Today’s guilty pleasure is the song Desert Rose by Sting!  Unless you’re a homosexual art student, a wine critic wearing a bow tie, or a woman going through menopause, if you listen to Sting on a regular basis it’s definitely a guilty pleasure.  As men of our generation drool over sexy celebrities like Megan Fox or Keira Knightley, most women over forty fantasize about Mel Gibson (before he became an one of the most hated figures in Hollywood) and Sting.  Whether it’s the sensitivity of his voice or his outdated bleached blond hair, this often leather clad rock star serenades audiences from around the world with annoying vocals and his love for stereotypical liberal activist causes.

Desert Rose: Sting’s song Desert Rose is a rare insight into this Brit’s solo career.  Released in 1999 off his album Brand New Day, this song entrances audiences with wierd middle eastern style yelling and hypnotic background music that makes you feel like you are truly in the deserts  of some Arabian country.  It would be interesting to see Sting try and preform this song in that part of the world where he would most certainly be subject to some form of stoning or other biblical punishment for violating sound ordinances in the middle of the desert.  It is however quite catchy, which adds to its appeal as a guilty pleasure with a unique quality that seems almost transcending when your singing along in the shower engaging in escapist fantasies because you’re going through a divorce and you hate your job.  This song strokes Americans right where they like it because it makes them feel like they are engaging in some sort of cultural experience which, besides this the local Chinese diner down the street, may be their only glimpse into another culture.

Like a male version of Ellen Degeneres, Sting has been bringing a passion for equal rights for all people and a unique incite into the the world of prostitution (like in his classic Roxanne) to numbed down audiences for years.  If your not getting off on some of his early “classics” like “De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da” (whose lyrics resonate with a Kindergarten classes and 80’s music lovers alike) check out some of his solo work that can make you feel like you’re actually getting out there and experiencing the world without ever having to leave your cubical.  So if you are not too busy listening to U2 or any other 80’s sensation that should have stopped producing music when they heard Nirvana for the first time, check out Desert Rose by Sting!

Well you can’t live in Austin and have an entertainment blog without mentioning Austin City Limits (ACL).  Yes my friends its that time of year again where locals and out-of-town-folk get together to celebrate live at its best in Austin’s famous Zilker Park.  Going on its eighth year now, it has been more than interesting to see this festival evolve so quick to become one of Americas biggest and most successful attractions.

Bands to see:

Friday- The morning starts early with a hard choice between Austin’s own Asleep at the Wheel (a band thats been around for ever and plays a country style southern rock) and JJ Grey & Mofro (another southern rock band that will set the mood for the entire weekend) both playing at noon.  Then it’s an obvious pick when Blues Traveler goes on at 2:00 followed by Miike Snow at 3:00.  The Black Keys go on at 4:00 followed by a nice one hour beer break before Spoon takes the stage at 6:00.  After Spoon I recommend catching the first 15 minutes of Vampire Weekend before running to Robert Randolph & the Family Band at 7:15.  I will probably have to miss both shows because I will definitely be getting to Phish at least 2 or 3 hours early for a front row seat.  At 8:00 you have the option of not only two great bands but two totally different scenes.  For those who like decent rock songs with gritty vocals and a more hipster scene go check out the strokes, but if you’re in the mood to move your body underneath a hail of glow sticks and psychedelic drugs GO SEE PHISH!

Saturday- Although not quite as comprehensive as Friday’s line up, there are three bands who top my list for this day.  Broken Bells is a new-age electronic sounding band with vocals that play at 4:30 at the AMD stage.  Next I would recommend LCD Sound System who I really only have limited knowledge of but I keep hearing great things so I’ll definitely be checking them out to hopefully discover something new and exciting.  Last in my Saturdays line up is Muse who many have cited as a more stable and rocking version of Radiohead.  Muse goes on at 8:30 and based on their previous appearance at ACL in 2007, they will leave audiences blown away with their energy and creativity on stage.

Sunday- Sunday’s line up also has only a handful of bands I’m interested in seeing but it begins with a terrible decision one has to make between Band of Horses and The Flaming Lips.  Both go on stage at 6:00 and only have an hour slot which I find to be pretty ridiculous but both are completely different acts.  Band of Horses is rather subdued music that reminds me a little of Iron and Wine with a very distinct singer song writer quality about it that is pleasant and complex.  The Flaming Lips are just a classic almost must see if you’ve never seen them before.  Their stage performances are always incredibly theatrical and way over the top with trippy background music that turn the show itself into more of an experience than an actual concert.  Last of course isthe closing act (which I find the lamest and weakest part of the festival) and this year the Eagles are playing.  With few surviving member of the group serving up memorable songs that are undeniably rock’n roll classics, The Eagles for me will be more ceremonial than solid.  It is however the last act of the festival and the last chance you’ll get to drink a beer with your shirt off while listening to great music as the sun slowly sets over the city, before you start work again on Monday and have to get back to a life of routine and reality.

Rambo First Blood

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Movie Review

For all those who enjoy a classic action movie check out Rambo First Blood!  This exciting thriller will keep you engaged and entertained throughout the entire feature as one man takes on society and its injustices.  Like an Ayn Rand novel that positions the protagonist pitted against a civilization that has lost its heart and abandoned its soul, Rambo First Blood puts a knife and a machine gun in his hands to reclaim it.

Plot: A Vietnam Veteran wonders aimlessly into a small hick town after finding out the only member left in his company has died of cancer from toxic chemicals sprayed as defoliating agents during the war.  Having committed no crime and simply in search of a meal, the sheriff of the town played by Brian Dennehy hassles the tortured Veteran and arrest him on belligerent charges.  This sets off a sequence of events that leads the Veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) to boldly and violently escape from the jail and wage a one man war in the mountains.

For those who have written Sylvester Stallone off as a cheesy action star that is past his prime, this movie will show those from today’s generation that some of his early performances garner respect and admiration.  Like another one of Stallones’ classic roles as Rocky the determined and tenacious boxer, he again plays the ultimate underdog in this movie that exposes the depth of introspective resilience when faced with insurmountable adversity.  Rambo First Blood takes audiences on a wild ride that will leave you scared, shaken, and on an adrenaline high for hours after the movie.

Today’s guilty pleasure is The Antiques Roadshow!  If you watch The Antiques Roadshow on a regular basis and you are not an A.A.R.P. cardholder than it is definitely a guilty pleasure.  This television show is broadcast on PBS in the middle of the day giving senior citizens a confusing and frustrating choice whether to tune in or stick with jeopardy.  Like a frat party for nursing home residents, The Antiques Roadshow is a delightful look at how people who have held onto seemly pointless objects passed down through the ages, get a small bit of enjoyment introduced into their lives by finding monetary value in seemly nauseatingly boring knickknacks. 

If you read the Reader’s Digest, and play bridge on the weekends for entertainment, than you will certainly love this show.  Before shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers came around, The Antiques Roadshow was the ultimate in putting value on seemly disposable historical baggage.  With pretentious experts from around the world who either look like fossils in a museum, or hideously transparent makeup collages, this program is not only entertaining but provides educational masturbation for the elderly.

If Ambien and Nyquil have stopped gracefully sending you off to sleep, The Antiques Roadshow is a perfect substitute.  It may also help viewers with too much time on their hands, or not enough friends, rediscover certain lost treasures laying around your own house that you could one day bring into the Roadshow for analysis and appraisal.  So stop holding onto sentimental antiques past down to you from dearly departed relatives, they’re dead and this is your opportunity to make a buck!  If you are watching the Antiques Roadshow from your lazy boy, or wheelchair, you are definitely in The Right Place at The Right Time!