Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW Day 9

Saturday March 15:

2pm: Went to the Rachael Ray party for food (apparently she's a cook on some TV show) but it was too crowded. So, I walked around 6th street instead and bought a Bratwurst. Killed some time by going through Flatstock again and taking some pictures on 6th street. Saw Billy Bragg on the street corner outside the Thirsty Nickel, so I took his picture. We also signed up for the Utne Reader party and got a bag of their swag (tea, coffee, and....a jump drive!? Some useful stuff there).

Across the street at the Ritz, we went to another movie, at 4:30: "The Night James Brown Saved Boston". It chronicled the events of his Boston concert the night after the MLK murder and how he helped to keep order.

Then over to the Paramount Theater for the 6:30 movie, "Young@Heart". What a great movie to finish with! This followed a group of 75-92 year olds who are part of a singing group, singing modern rock songs. Picture 80-year-olds singing The Clash, The Ramones, Coldplay, Jimi Hendrix, etc. We stayed for the Q&A which included some of the singers. We also saw Steve Buscemi on our way out, though I'm not aware of any movies here that he was involved with.

Next, on to the last night of music. Went to see Del Castillo at Antone's; they're always fun to watch. Left slightly before they were done to get to the Convention Center and queue up for Carbon/Silicon, mostly to see Mick Jones play. (Live broadcast on Direct TV).

I then walked up and down 6th street again trying to take some decent pictures to capture the general frenzy. I'm not so good at night photos. I took a couple from the Maggie Mae rooftop that are OK.

To end the night, I walked back to Antone's and saw the end of Patrice Pike's set, and then stayed for Carolyn Wonderland's set. Now, I don't know why Carolyn Wonderland isn't more famous -- she can really sing and play blues guitar as well as anyone.

And with that, my SXSW closes. Time to catch up on sleep.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

SXSW Day 8

Friday March 14

2pm, Carbon/Silicon panel interview in convention center. Carbon/Silicon are Mick Jones (the Clash) and Tony James.

3:30pm, Movie: "They Killed Sister Dorothy" -- because it had won both the audience award and the panel awards for Best Documentary of the festival.

5:30, walked the trade show floor (vendors are different for the music trade show than for the film/interactive trade show, but most booths were closing up).

6pm, cappuccino at the Hyatt, chatted with a musician from Louisiana who gave us his upcoming CD. Then went to PF Chang's for dinner.

8pm The BoDeans free general admission show at Auditorium Shores. They had a convenient bleacher area set up to the side for badges, so we took advantage of that. They also had free Fuse smoothie drinks.

10pm X, with their complete original lineup (John, Exene, Billy, and DJ), at the Bat Bar

11pm Blue Rodeo and Friends. "Friends" included The Sadies, Rhett Miller from the Old 97's, some woman named "Oh Susanne" (?) and some other Canadian duo that I don't remember. The set was double-length probably because of the various guest performers. It seemed like most of the crowd (probably 250-300 people) was Canadian.

Seems like I'm hearing way more British accents this year than in previous years.

Friday, March 14, 2008

SXSW Day 7

Thursday March 13:

Slept in. A more lazy day: Met with Seattle friends for Lunch at Iron Cactus BBQ. Went to 'Flatstock' in the convention center to see all the assorted band concert poster artwork. Walked 6th street. Had a drink at Darwin's Pub where some awful solo guitar guy was playing. Didn't stay long. Showed friends the Warehouse district, the downtown Whole Foods Market, Waterloo Records (where someone was doing an in-store performance, I forget who), and then had some Amy's Ice Cream.
Drove to South Congress. Listened to a couple bands doing day-shows down there; also had a free beer.
Had dinner at Rio Grande. Then, for 'official' showcases:

Joe Ely and Joel Guzman at Antones. Always good live.

The English Beat (i.e. Dave Wakeling with a bunch of other replacement guys who weren't in the original band playing English Beat songs).

BoDeans at Bourbon Rocks (left after 3 songs since we might see their dayshow tomorrow and I was tired).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

SXSW Day 6

Wed March 12:

Workday, SXSW in evening only. Sentence fragments?

Dinner at Wahoos. Shrimp Enchiladas: Yum.

Van Morrison, 7pm, La Zona Rosa. One hour only. Zero hits played, but good sound.

Austin Music Hall. Stayed 30 min. Walter Hyatt tribute with Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Warren Hood, others. Pinetop Perkins was there but not playing.

Caffeine boost? Latte at Halcyon. Crossing street against a don't walk light? Policewoman warning. Official pocket guide? Convention center visit. Gap in our schedule? Walk up and down Sixth Street.

On to Stubbs an hour early for REM. First, 11pm band: Dead Confederates. Noisy; thumbs down.

Midnight: REM! Sound a little muddy for first two songs. Much from new to-be-released album. Only 3 songs total from first 7 albums. Sigh. Enjoyed it nonetheless. Done at 2am. Long walk to car. Home before 3am.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SXSW Day 5

Tuesday May 11:

A summary of yesterday's activity (Tues, Day 5). The crowd was perceptibly changing on Tuesday in the convention center, with an increase in registrants with wild hair, tattoos, and piercings mixed in among the film and technology geeks. And a lot more people wearing black and walking around with guitar cases.

I started at a 10am panel on 'going green' in the digital world. But I was trying to do some work email at the same time, so unfortunately I caught maybe only half the content.

At 11:30 I went to the Michael Eisner panel discussion with Mark Cuban as the moderator. Even Cuban made reference to the Zuckerberg keynote ((sic) "I'm not used to being a moderator, but I think I learned a think or two from the Zuckerberg interview about what not to do.") It seems like most panels are opening with a panelist joking about that keynote, including both today so far.

In the 1:00 slot, I went to the Billy Bob Thornton interview. He was engaging and it was well-done, although he kept his dark sunglasses on the whole time. (Meanwhile: Lunch? Granola bars.)

At 2:00 I started at a JavaScript library talk, but it was too full and the code on the screen was too small to read, so it seemed useless. I ducked out and went to the day's keynote with Jane McGonigal from the Institute for the Future. She was great; I'll have to look at her site/blog a bit sometime.

Next I went to the 3:30 panel on Web hosting scalability (i.e. issues with cacheing, tools like squid/memcached, etc), and different experiences for the companies involved on the panel. The panelists included the founder of Digg, the founder of StumbleUpon, a lead architect at Flickr, and a couple others.

At 5pm, in the final panel round, I sat in the back of a discussion on Internet Radio (panelists from Pandora, Rhapsody, etc). I slipped out at 5:30 to meet my wife for an evening SXSW movie, saving time to stop at the Film Awards party on the way. I merely went in, got a free bottle of Fuse (peach/mango), and left. No waiting in beer or food lines.

I walked to the Ritz for a 6:30 movie, "The Upsetter" which was a doc about Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Let's just say it could have been done better; I had a few problems with it. I thought of 4 issues that I would feed back to the filmmakers if I was inclined. But since the movie was at the Ritz, at least we could have dinner; I tried the artichoke heart pizza this time. It was fine but not as good as the chicken pesto pizza. (Or did the weaker movie make me psychologically enjoy my food less?) My wife said she might have left the movie if we hadn't had to wait for our check.

Now I'm getting excited about seeing REM, especially at a place like Stubbs BBQ. Wow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

SXSW Day 4

Monday, March 10:

First stop was an 11:30am panel about social networking and protecting one's web identity and personal brand. It was ok but I might have done better in another one.

I then went back to the trade show for a bit, and talked to someone at Microsoft Silverlight and someone at MapQuest. (I seem to have 5 t-shirts more than I did when the weekend began, among other things).

I went to the 2pm Frank Warren keynote speech. Frank Warren runs the PostSecret website and put together the related books. Midway thorough, he brought an attendee up on stage, who proposed to his girlfriend. (She said yes). He showed some slides that he couldn't put on his website or in his books, mostly because of copyrighted images. It was interesting and entertaining, but my first choice had been a panel on browser wars with IE, Firefox, and Opera representatives, but that room was overfilled.

After listening to Gina Trapani read some passages from her new LifeHacker book, I went to my next panel on I18N and Unicode in web pages. (I connnected into work briefly before and after this, but I'm basically going to call it a vacation day). The last panel I attended dealt with issues of managing data on so many diverse web accounts, social networks, etc.

I went to the reception tent with the free beer for badgeholders (but I decided not to have a beer anyway).

We ended the day with Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" It was so full, not even all badgeholders got in. (They should have held it at the Paramount instead of the Alamo South Lamar). I wound up in the very front row, looking up at the screen, though it was a great seat for the Q&A portion. I ordered a Pizza and a Fat Tire, and then 15 minutes into the movie the power went out, stopping the movie. After we waiting a while, Morgan Spurlock told the staff he was buying a beer for everybody in the theater. We left around 10pm, heading home.

My new plan: take another day off Tuesday, back to work on Wednesday, then I will take Thurs and Fri off as planned.

SXSW Day 3

We started in the convention center by attending a documentary film, "Some Assembly Required", about a national toy engineering competition for 6th-8th graders; it is organized by Dr. Sally Ride, who was in attendance at the screening. Also attending were many of the kids and teachers featured in the film. We stayed for the Q&A, then headed to PF Chang's for lunch.

Next up was the Mark Zuckerberg keynote speech. He's the founder of Facebook (and noted to be the world's youngest billionaire, at age 23). It was actually fairly dull, largely because of the interviewer, but got MUCH more interesting when the audience turned against the interviewer in the last 15 minutes. I won't go into it; just google it. It has generated buzz all over the conference and the internet. (Check CNET, for example).

After briefly listening to a book author talk about career advice for tech workers, I hit the trade show floor, asking a few of them about their miscellaneous products and services. (Reminder to self that I created an Utterz account at the Utterz booth; I will need to check on that later).

We then went to the weblog presentation by the "I Can Has Cheezburger?" founder. They described how the web log just started as a small personal amusement and traced how it rose to prominence over the course of just a year.

Next was a movie premiere at the Paramount, "The Promotion". It was a pretty light but enjoyable comedy, with John C Reilly. We didn't hang around for Q&A because we bolted to make it to the Ritz for the next film, arriving while it was already letting in.

The film at the Ritz was "Throw Down Your Heart", a premiere of a film about Bela Fleck traveling to Africa to play and record with musicians in Uganda, Tanzania, Gambia, and Mali. Very enjoyable. Also, since it was at the Ritz, we ordered and ate dinner during the movie. We stayed for the Q&A with Bela Fleck and the movie's director.

We again skipped all parties. I twice considered getting a free beer but both times the line was longer than I was interested in dealing with. We walked by the Bela Fleck party at Maggie Mae's too (w/ free BBQ), but the line to get in was crazy-long and we would have missed "The Promotion". I won't be surprised if we finish the week seeing movies, music, and panels, and not attend a single party. (Well, maybe music day-parties; we'll see).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

SXSW Day 1 & 2

Day 1:
After registering and picking up our big bags (sxsw swag, directories, party invites), and after having a BBQ dinner at Iron Works, we went to the Paramount Theatre to see the film "21". It was reasonably good. Lead actor Jim Sturgess was in attendance as was the actual person who he played in the movie.

Day 2:
We started at the Ritz Alamo Drafthouse and saw "Of All The Things", a documentary about Dennis Lambert doing a tour of the Philippines (U.S. songwriter who didn't hit it big here but somehow became hugely popular there). Wrote many 70's/80's hits for others, e.g. Rhinestone Cowboy, Baby Come Back, We Built This City on Rock and Roll (ugh). Movie was fun/enjoyable. We met and talked with a friendly young sound engineer named Corey.

We went on to the convention center for the opening remarks keynote on technology and pop culture, with MIT Prof and author Henry Jenkins.

Next up was the movie "Crawford", at the Paramount, a documentary about the impact of GW Bush's choosing that town to claim as his residence. Liked this one too. Then went over to The Hideout for a cappucino; I needed caffeine.

After this we stayed at the Paramount to catch "Then She Found Me" which Helen Hunt presented, though strangely, she didn't stay for a Q&A. Movie was pretty good, especially interesting to see Salman Rushdie cast as an actor, playing a medical doctor. After this ended, we just crossed the street for a slice of Cazzoli's pizza for a quick dinner.

Last was the world premere of "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay", with both the Harold and Kumar actors and Neil Patrick Harris in attendance (By the way, I'm still not sure why people used to say I looked like that guy; I don't really see it). We expected some crude sophomoric humour, but.....well, it just seemed to go overboard too many times. We walked out 50 minutes into it. So why did I take a bag of promotional swag on the way out anyway? What am I going to do with a Harold & Kumar Tshirt that I don't want? Oh well. We could have stuck it out, but after a long day and losing an hour tonight, it seemed not worth it.