Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

Shoegazer Sunday: The Asteroid Shop’s “Dandelion”

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Here again is Austin’s own The Asteroid Shop with a live version of their song “Dandelion.” Imagine a cross between Mazzy Star and The National.

The guitar sound is fine, but they would be helped by having a female co-singer to harmonize with. They could really use a Hope Sandoval…

Saturday Dining Conspiracy Restaurant Review: Imperia

Friday, January 17th, 2014

310 Colorado St. (Austin, 78701)
(512) 472-6770

We’d been hearing good things about Imperia for quite a while, so we thought they were a good choice for the first SDC of 2014.

It lived up to the hype.

Imperia serves up pan-Asian fusion cuisine that draws equally from Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines (and probably a few others as well) in an attractive, understated space in the warehouse district (or what used to be called the warehouse district; they keep changing names and I don’t think there are any warehouses left). There’s a bar, but it doesn’t seem overemphasized the way it does in other downtown establishments.

We started off with the pork belly steamed buns, which were delicious but definitely smaller than the steamed buns you get at the average dim sum restaurant. The calamari was very good, with a nicely light batter, but not enough to eclipse perennial champion The Clay Pit. For sushi, we picked something that stretched the definition:”The Hot Mess,” which the menu described as “Snow crab and shrimp atop a honey and avocado roll. Topped with Dynomite [sic] sauce and Kochijyan butter,” to which I can only add “what they said.” The individual portions were very tasty and came out in an escargot dish. (I also had two pieces of unagi, which were fine but undersized.)

For my entree I had “Kinoko to Suteki,” which is a very savory steak and mushroom dish; the portions could have been a bit bigger, but it was in-line with downtown Asian fusion expectations. I also like the portion of Pad-Thai Dwight and I spilt.

I can’t find an online listing for the dessert I had, which involved creme brulee, ice cream, caramel sauce and decadence. Service was pretty attentive.

We ended up getting several entrees and appetizers, so the bill was substantial: more than $150 for three people including tax and tip. You’d be hard-pressed to get an appetizer, meal and drink for under $20, but you could probably do it for around $30. Just keep in mind that you’re not paying for Chinese food, you’re paying for a downtown Asian fusion restaurant, and adjust your expectations accordingly. (The biggest difference between Imperia and the late, unlamented Austin location of Roy’s is value. Though we ended up spending about as much at both places, we didn’t feel like we were being ripped off, and we didn’t leave still hungry.)

Besides price, the biggest problem with Imperia is their location in the warehouse district downtown. Unless you want to use the valet parking, there’s a good chance you’ll have to park several blocks away (I found a metered space on Republic Square). But Imperia is well worth the hassle, either for special occasions or if you already live downtown.

(This review will also appear on The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

Neal Barrett, Jr.: Some Photos

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

With Neal’s passing I thought I would pull out some of the photos I have of him and put them up here. The first couple are from Armadillocon, the rest from his Author Emeritus Award Party on May 30, 2010:

Neal Barrett, Jr., RIP

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Dang. Just heard that Neal Barrett, Jr. has died. One of the great Texas Gonzo writers with an impressive body of work.

He will be missed.

Condolences to his widow Ruth, his family and friends.

Texas 36, Oklahoma 20

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Well, no need to torment myself watching the UT/OU game, I thought. No chance the Longhorns win playing the way they have this year, I thought.

Texas 36, Oklahoma 20

The only sure thing about this UT team is that they’ll do the opposite of what I expect them to.

New defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has completely turned that unit around. And Mack Brown just might keep his job.

When You’ve lost Earl Campbell…

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Legendary running back Earl Campbell says that it’s time for Mack Brown to step down.

“Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen,” Campbell said. “I’d go on record and say ‘yes I think it’s time….[it's] very hard because Coach Brown is a very good man,” Campbell said. “I just hope he doesn’t stay…he’s done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don’t need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again.”

So how many years of grace does winning a National Championship give you? At Auburn, they fired Gene Chizik two years after winning a national championship (which also happened to be their first). That seems more than a little injudicious. Tennessee gave Phil Fulmer ten years after winning a National Championship. (And neither’s successor has set the world on fire.)

I was not among those calling Mack brown to resign when the team went 5-7 in 2010. Knee-jerk reactions to transient adversity are seldom warranted. But Brown has had several years to right the ship of one of the most institutionally powerful teams in Division 1 football, and has not managed to do so. Ultimately, Alamo and Holiday bowl wins are not enough for a man getting paid $5 million a year.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

Shoegaze Sunday: The Telewire’s “Feels Like Fire”

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Another Austin Shoegaze band (“band” in this case evidently being one guy, Stephen Thurman) shows up. “Feels Like Fire” sounds like Shoegaze by way of psychadelia with a little Devo thrown in for good measure.

Restaurant Review: July 27, 2013: Prima Pizza Pasta

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

(Here’s a restaurant review in route to its place on

Prima Pizza Pasta
6001 W Parmer Ln (the same corner as the HEB)

Once upon a time, this space was a CiCi’s pizza. And it closed. How hard can it be to make a profit at a pizza place when your primary ingredient is cardboard?

So I was somewhat skeptical when new pizza place went in there. Though situated at a semi-major intersection at Parmer and McNeil, it’s as far as you can get from the center’s anchor store (HEB) and still be in the same center. So how good could their chances be?

After more than a year: So far, so good. It really helps when you serve excellent pizza.

Things started off right with the garlic cheese bread, which was excellent; a fellow diner said it was better than that served at Reale’s, which is high praise indeed. Also good were the free rolls. (Alas, the calimari remains nothing to write home about.)

The pizza itself remains excellent, an exemplary example of the new York style soft thin-crust pizza; I’d have to compare it back-to-back with Reale’s to see which I prefer. In fact, I like the pizza so much that I frequently pick up a slice or two on Fridays. At some point I also want to try some of the non-pizza dishes, which have received a fair amount of praise from fellow diners. And the service from our waitress was also excellent, with many an preemptive soft-drink refill.

If you like pizza and live anywhere north, you should definitely make an effort to check out Prima. So far they seem to have remained undiscovered, and have plenty of uncrowded seating to enjoy some delicious Italian food.

Classical Allusions: Thermostat Edition

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Actual discussion with female co-worker:

Her: It’s so cold!
Me: (Looking at handy digital thermostat above my desk) It’s a balmy 73.4 degrees.
Her: I keep my apartment at 79.
Me: There’s just no pleasing those of you who hail from the realms of Tartarus.

Shoegazer Sunday: Experimental Aircraft’s “Meet Me on Echo Echo Terrace”

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Austin’s own Experimental Aircraft are another band in the shoegaze/psychedelia/post-rock netherworld.

“Meet Me on Echo Echo Terrace” is from their album Third Transmission off Graveface records, run by Ryan Graveface of Dreamend and Black Moth Super Rainbow.

One caveat: They seem to have the same video (or variations thereof) for all the songs on this album.