Sunday, April 24, 2005


Deep in the Heart of Texas, Part 2: Remember the Other Alamo!

So, last we left, Brother Cognito was sick, and that which we had been looking forward to all vacation appeared in jeopardy. Fortunately, he quickly got well and soldiered on, and we were all able to head off to that sparkling pearl of Austin...

The Alamo Draft House.

If you have never been to this place, you should go- especially if you live in the Austin area. It is the quintessential art house. It shows a buttload of documentaries, weird foreign monster movies, cult movies such as The Big Lebowski and The Princess Bride, and the occasional new release (they're gonna be giving away free Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters when Hitchhiker's Guide premieres). They also sell T-shirts. Lots of T-shirts, primarily movie-based with some anti-Bush and Hot Topic-style punk stuff mixed in. I picked up a ZombAid T-shirt before the movie started.

We were there to see The Sinus Show. The Sinus Show is basically the Alamo's take on MST3K (the official title is Mr. Sinus Theatre), with three local improv comics sitting in the front row and tossing out comments at the screen. The agenda for the night was a selection of John Travolta movies, so the Cognito Clan was much excited.

We entered the theatre at 6:15, where we took our seats and a waitress took our drink orders (oh yeah, and they serve food- more on that later). Instead of showing ads before the film started, the theatre showed clips from other features on mute, while a prearranged soundtrack was blasted over the soundsystem. We saw clips from a weird Barbarella rip-off, music videos by Run-DMC and The Clash, appearances by T. Rex on some American Bandstand-esque show, and something that will haunt me until the day I die.

A young, shapely blond woman (who, through discussion with our neighbors, we decided was Raquel Welch) striding about Mesoamerican ruins dressed like the high priestess of a religion where they did a lot of peyote. We didn't know if she was talking, acting, or singing. Oh, and she was surrounded by people dressed as the signs of the Zodiac.

Seriously. No, seriously. You haven't lived until you've seen a woman wearing the most serious expression on her face and a Libra costume where the tip of the balance covers her head. I was stuck somewhere between primeval awe and unending fits of giggles. And then people dressed like the Aztecs showed up. All I know is, when I die, that will probably be the last thing I see before I cross on to the other side.

Then came the trailers, which made me wish I could stay in Austin forever, just for the showings of The Big Lebowski at bowling alleys where they serve free White Russians. I mean, I don't really want to adopt kids, do I?

After that, the movie- or, rather, assemblage of film clips- proper started. The collection was varied, from the good (Pulp Fiction, Saturday Night Fever), to the bad (Perfect, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), to the earth shattering (Battlefield Earth), to the slightly uneasy-making (some tape about how Scientology has to pimp itself to celebs, y'all!), to the just plain questionable (some movie where John Travolta watches women making asses of themselves for a Chippendale). The jokes were great (upon seeing the "Sissy" license plate in Urban Cowboy, one of the comics cracked, "Oh, that's Rick Perry's car!"), and mixed with some good skits (including a very disturbing striptease by all three comics to play on the aforementioned Chippendales movie) and a sing-along during the Grease segment where absolutely none of the males would sing along with Danny Zuko.

My one bone of contention was the food. The fries were good, sure, as were the fried pickles (even though I prefer fried slices to fried wedges), but my initial draw to the Chicken Pesto Sandwich overruled the part of my brain that was saying I should never order a sandwich with olives in it. It was both salty and cardboardy. Had I gone with my previous choice, the Chicken Alfredo Pizza, however, I'm sure the evening would have been perfect.

So, after the Drafthouse, we went home, crashed, woke up the next morning, packed, and flew home. Some day, however, I shall return to Austin... and its glorious, glorious theatres.

This is one of many, many reasons why I love living in Austin.

Of course, there are also many reasons why I don't love living in Austin, most of which you're probably already aware.

Incidentally, if you want good fried pickle chips, as opposed to wedges, stop by The Hole In The Wall next time you're in town.
Sweet. I loves me the fried root vegetables (save for okra, which tastes kinda slimy). The plan for future Draft House visits is to have a drink and an appetizer/dessert there, and get dinner somewhere else before/after the show.
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