Thursday, March 22, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Great Movies

I spent Friday, March 9 - Sunday, March 18 at SXSW. I did catch a few bands (and beers) during the day, but for the most part I was making use of my SXSW Film Pass (a steal at $80 when you see as many films as I did--I think I saw 30!). Here are some notes on what I really enjoyed. I will post later about what I thought was just good, and what I thought was awful.


Girl Walk // All Day
This was an album length dance movie set to the mash-up artist Girl Talk's All Day album. It turned out to be exactly what a great SXSW experience should be--something I wouldn't have otherwise seen that turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone, though I think the experience may not be as great on a small screen compared to a big one. The main dancer danced live in front of us during the end credits. Available for free in chapters here:

Searching for Sugar Man
Interesting true story about a 70's rock legend that never knew he was one. There were a few surprises in this movie that made it quite gratifying.

Do-Deca Pentathlon
Really fun and sweet story about a rivalry between two brothers and how it affects the rest of their family. Also probably the best narrative movie in terms of pacing, character development, acting... all the things I want or need in a great movie. Almost the whole cast was there for Q&A.

Beware of Mr. Baker
About Ginger Baker, the drummer for Cream and Blind Faith. It has a great opening scene, and great animation, too. Director there for Q&A.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Work In Progress) & Tribute Performance
Big Star was a band fronted by Alex Chilton (formerly of the Box Tops) that did not have commercial success, but is widely acclaimed by critics and musicians. Sadly, Alex Chilton died shortly before he was to perform at SXSW 2010--a show I had planned on going to. The drummer, Jody Stephens, is the only surviving member and he was there to perform a tribute show following the concert of the band's third album.

God Bless America
Violent comedy and commentary on popular culture. I find it hard to disagree with the commentary, and though some of the killing that takes place in the movie seems unjustified in some cases, it's a fun fantasy.

Yellow Submarine
A hand restored version of the 1968 Beatles movie. I realized shortly after it started that I had never seen the whole thing before. Occasionally strange, but also a lot of fun.

John Dies at the End
Really strange things happen after some guys get injected with a mystery drug. I lost the plot after awhile, but the weirdness itself is enough to make it enjoyable.

America's Parking Lot  
This documentary follows a couple of tailgating Cowboys fans and their transition from the old Cowboys Stadium to the new one. This one is nice as it makes the point that the Packers appear to be doing everything right. And I respect the film makers/producers for having a beer chugging contest right before the screening.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

SXSW next week

Maybe I will revive this blog during SXSW Film/Interactive/Music festival that officially starts Friday, March 9. I had a great time at the film festival and day music shows last year.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Wake Up

Good news, the new cat has fully recovered and is getting stronger every day. She is also getting bratty! She will not let me sleep past 7 am and I am trying to come up with a way short of locking her out the bedroom that lets me sleep a little more.

The issue is that she will start licking my face (lips specifically) which is not all that cute after I start wondering how long it's been since she licked her butt. This morning I tried a number of techniques, none of which were successful enough for me to actually get back to sleep. The first, which I've tried before, was to lay at the edge of the bed on my stomach with my face turned outward such that she couldn't get in front of it without being on the ground. This works okay except that the rest of my body has to be on the edge as well, so I get worried that I'm going to fall off. This morning I also tried sleeping under the sheet (too hot), hiding behind a pillow (she walked over it), and covering my face with my hand (hand drifts away when I started to fall back asleep). Now I am considering making some sort of mosquito net hat/helmet.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

New cat

I am a glutton for punishment I guess. Saturday I went ahead and adopted a cat from the shelter. Her name is Tallie and she is 10 years old. She had diarrhea and flaky skin so I knew she was a little under the weather, but most cats at the shelter are not at their best one way or the other. I took her in for a check-up on Monday and it looks like she is a little worse off that anticipated. Her blood test shows a white cell count of 16,400 and normal is 8,500. So, this is a sign of an acute infection. She is also a bit anemic (26% red cells vs. 29%-48% normal). We started her on some antibiotics to help with the diarrhea on Monday, with a plan to switch to another antibiotic to address the infection after this course was done. I noticed she really isn't eating at all, so I called the vet this morning. If she still doesn't eat by tomorrow morning, we will probably switch antibiotics to attempt to get her appetite back.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


I'm not sure I realized how much of my life she was. Last night was tough. I could not fall asleep in my bed and ended up dozing on the couch with the TV on, catching bits and pieces of movies as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I don't have to check where she is before I leave or find her after I get home. I feel so lonely now. Now I remember how I felt just before I got her. Just so lonely to the point of tears. I remember it was even hard to keep from breaking down at the animal shelter as I was completing the process, due to how I was feeling in general. She was in bad shape. She hadn't been grooming, and seemed quite weak. I have proof of that now since back then when I held her for the first time, she did not meow or struggle at all. She was just lethargic and seemed to be barely hanging on. I was looking for a tortoise shell cat. They had a few and I don't think she was my first choice. She was older than the others, and definitely not as animated. But then she reached out her paw through the cage at me, and won me over. She had a bronchial infection and was a little underweight. I don't recall how long it took her to get better, but she did, and put on weight, and became a really happy and healthy cat.

She was a stray, yet she had been front declawed and spayed already so she had been someone's pet. Sassy was the name they gave her at the shelter, probably because she talked so much. (She never used her voice to get me out of bed though, polite that way!) She had been at the shelter for three weeks at least so one would think her owners would have checked by then. She was a fearless and adventurous cat, so I wouldn't be surprised if she got away from her owners and explored too far away to get back. Ha.. now that I said fearless I remember I have proof--she has chased a cat or two out of the backyard before. Pretty gutsy for a cat with no front claws.

She was really the only living thing I had daily contact with in my life, and I hers. There were many shitty days driving home that I thought to myself that well at least she would be waiting for me at the door and then she would tell me about her day. Then she would climb up the cat tree to get away from me, and then end up coming down to ask to go outside.

She was part of my life for almost two years, and I am hoping she enjoyed living with me as much as I did with her.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The death of my cat

I guess this might help. My cat died in front of me this morning, and I am feeling like it is my fault. Is there something I could have done differently to save her? Did I cause her death because of how I let her live?

Since I will never know what exactly killed her, I will never know the answers for sure. I can go through what happened and what I was thinking at the time. Maybe through this I can try to convince myself that I am just a stupid person and not a bad person.

I woke up to the alarm this morning and my cat was curled up at the end of the bed, which is normal. She has been perfectly healthy. It takes me awhile to find the motivation to get up, so I toss and turn a bit and during this she usually decides to get up before me. I glanced at her a few times as I was waking up and she remained curled up, which is a bit unusual. Eventually she stood up but immediately crouched and vomited some food. This isn't so alarming as she does this occasionally. The vomiting got me to finally get out of bed and get some paper towels to clean up the vomit. When I returned she was done, but still crouching. I cleaned up the vomit and pet her a few times. She was uncomfortable with this and jumped off the bed and crouched by the door. I don't recall if I noticed her trouble breathing at this point, but since she was still crouching I figured she might need to throw up again or was needed some time to recover.

I took a shower, and when I got out she was still crouching. At this point I definitely noticed she was breathing fast, shallow breaths through her mouth. While getting dressed I called my vet to see if it would make sense to take her there or to an emergency clinic. The lady gave me the location and phone # of the Round Rock clinic. At some point, my cat started laying on its side. She was breathing the same way, but looking at her stomach it looked like she was having convulsions as well.

We were almost ready to go and I was debating whether to put her in a carrier or just throw her in the front seat. I didn't want to disturb her so much so I decided on the latter. I couldn't tell if she was breathing regularly anymore, but every so often she would get a big breath out so I figured she was, I guess. I noticed what looked like a stretching motion and took that as a sign that maybe she was starting to feel better. Around this time I crouched down in front of her and she was able to cry to me a few times like she was in pain or calling for help. I left her for a minute to find my keys, wallet, etc. When I returned it took me a minute or two to realize that she was really not breathing. I don't know how long it took me to think to try mouth-to-mouth. I tried that for a few minutes but there was no response.

My guess is that she suffocated. So what am I beating myself up over? Maybe I could have got her to the emergency clinic sooner if I had realized the seriousness sooner. If I knew where one was, I wouldn't have had to make a phone call and waste time there. If I didn't take a shower, I wouldn't have wasted time there. Shouldn't I have thought to open her mouth and see if I could see anything stuck in her throat if she was having trouble breathing/choking?

Maybe by the time she died or shortly after I realized something else that might have something to do with it. I've been letting her out into the backyard, which has six foot high wood fences that she cannot get over. I was just thinking last night as I watched her run around how happy she is when she's out there. Last night she sped inside with a determined trot that I've only seen a few times before. She only does that when she's caught a gecko and wants to play with it inside. She brought it in and dropped it off in the messy bedroom closet. I followed her to watch, but she had dropped and lost it already. I didn't spend a lot of time looking for it and figured I or she would find it eventually, dead or alive. So I went to bed later that night with it loose somewhere. I probably had forgotten about it by then.

I think I heard my cat playing around in the middle of the night, so perhaps it was running around and she found it again. If it was small enough, I wonder if she could have swallowed it last night and then choked while trying to regurgitate it this morning? Or if it could have done some damage to her insides as she tried to eat it?

I won't blame myself for letting her outside. She enjoyed that so much and it made me so happy watching her have fun. But I should have realized that the lizard would be a choking hazard, and made a better effort to find it once she brought it inside. And I should have realized what was going on sooner this morning which could have saved her life.

If I find the lizard in the bedroom I guess I will feel a little better. I mean, I guess she could have choked on food or ate something else bad. But I would still feel that I could have handled things better this morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garden Update II

Where we last left off in July, my garden was going crazy growing cucumber and watermelon plants. They bloomed, but they never produced any fruit. Below is a picture of the cucumber plants in July, they ended up climbing all the way up the trellis, but all died a month later. You can also see in the lower left some of the pepper plants that I started indoors and transplanted outside.

I previously mentioned that the pepper plant I bought from Home Depot had flowered but also did not produce any fruit. When the cucumber and watermelon plants died, I basically gave up for this season.

I haven't checked on the plants at all over the past few months and figured everything would eventually die. This afternoon I allowed my cat to have some supervised outdoor time in the backyard, and during this I noticed that the pepper plants not only have not died, they have produced some peppers! The Home Depot plant has two small bell peppers. Another bell pepper plant has a smaller bell pepper growing, and a jalapeno plant has one full sized jalapeno as well as a couple smaller ones. So, after only FIVE months (the packages say it should only take 70 days), I may have produced some edible vegetables!

The bell peppers
The jalapeno

Now I just need to decide when to pick and eat 'em. And dig up the carrots to see how they are doing.