A Love Letter to the Alamo – Remember the Alamo!

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I wrote this review for the Alamo Draft House in Austin, TX, and sent it over to, Movie Theatre Blog. Geoff the guy who runs the blog is an old co-worker and friend. His love of film is inspiring. Here is the review (before he edits it, heh):

This is a review for The Alamo Draft House at the Village Shopping Center in Austin, TX, aka the Alamo Village. There are several other Alamo theaters in Austin but this was my first, and as they say, you always remember your first. More than that, I can’t get enough, even to this day.

The Alamo Village is a small theater that has none of the frills. The seats are not particularly comfortable, the atmosphere isn’t plush nor inviting, and the location is frankly quite forgettable.

But whenever a new film that I want to see comes out, I hope and hope that it’ll arrive the Alamo. Why? The reason you see a film at the Alamo is that it’s an experience. Each one of the Alamo theaters have a Chef, and serve alcohol. Yes, that’s right you eat, and drink as you watch an old film, or better yet a new one. Sin City and the Lord of the Rings was perfect for this screen. You can’t go wrong. You are in the company of others who are not there just to see the feature, but to experience a night out. You want to have a nice bit of food (sometimes inspired by the film itself) and a great beverage. Pizza, sandwiches, burgers and pastas are the fare – do you need anything else? Plus, the selection of beers and wines are quite nice. And desert is not out of the question.

How does all this work?

Well, we would always plan to arrive early, so we can order our food (it takes around 30 minutes to prepare) and have a drink. The seats have plenty of room in front and back to accommodate the helpful and quiet servers, as well as the bench dining table in front of you. You just write down your order on a piece a paper, and post it on the table. The server will spot it and pick it up. If they have any questions they’ll discretely inquire. That simple. Enjoy your film, and when the food arrives enjoy a meal while you watch. If you want more, write it down and post it on your table. When you’re done, they’ll bring a check around. You don’t have to move.

In this day and age when you can build your own surround sound theater in your living room and enjoy your own quiet and comfortable space it’s hard to go out. So that’s why the Alamo appeals to me. I don’t have to make the food, and it comes to me ready to eat with no dishes to clean. Plus, the Alamo draws in the movie going crowd, not just any crowd, but the ones that want to be there, and for all the right reasons – to enjoy great cinema no matter the surroundings. It’s an experience you can enjoy even if the film is horrible. Isn’t that a plus?

Anyone that lives in Austin already knows this. That’s why it’s a great town. I’m not a native Austinite, nor do I live there anymore. The experience of the Alamo is a reminder of how good the theater going experience can be. So this is not only a review for one of Austin’s best kept secrets, but a reminder for all of us to go out and find those theaters we love. We should get to know them and support them, big or small. We should do this because, like the old University Theater in Berkeley, CA, they might not be there when you want them the most.

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(how could you not love a group that puts on shows like this?)

Idea Duck Takes On NY!

Some friends of the giantmonster have done well. Last month at the yearly Toy Fair in NY Susan McKinley Ross’ game, Qwirkle made a splash.  Qwirkle took the show by storm and has been called one of the cool new toys of the show by The Washington Post.

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(click on the image to see the full article)

Since then the press keeps coming, most notably, a Press Democrat article on Susan and her company, Idea Duck. Read it here!

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It’s inspiring to see people go out on their own and make their ideas a reality, and it’s even better when they the audience enjoys them. Way to go Susan, I can’t wait to see more from you!

To purchase Qwirkle, go to the MindWare site. You might find it cheaper somewhere else, but MindWare will always have it in stock. Regardless, whats a few bucks when it comes to supporting hard working talent like this. Yeah.

RIP Eric Medlen 1973-2007

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Drag racing lost a young and talented driver today. Eric we will miss you.

What a terrible loss. It happened after the Gator Nationals in Florida last week. The track was a beast the whole weekend and 3 drivers tagged the concrete barriers during finals; Cruz Pedregon, Eric Medlen and rookie Ashley Force. Luckily, no one was hurt during the show.

John Force Racing, as many teams do, stayed behind to do some testing on the track the Monday after the race.  During a run Medlen blew a tire and ran straight into the concrete barrier that only a day before witnessed so much paint.

My heart goes out to the Medlen family.

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Update (Sunday, April 1st 2007):

After watching the Houston race today I wanted to post part of John Forces touching eulogy.

“He was the son I never had,” Force said in an emotional eulogy. “He was the leader of my Next Generation of drivers at John Force Racing. He loved his crew — you guys will never know love like that again — and he loved his mom and Martha, and, God, he loved his dad.”

“One time Eric had girl troubles, and he came to me. I walked him out in the shop and said, ‘Look at that car, Eric. That car will always love you. It’ll fix you when you need fixing. I said it will always protect you, and I was wrong. For that, I’m sorry, Eric.”