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SXSW con Queso: Picks & Minimal Recommendations From A Local

March 11, 2016

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We’ve seen an extraordinarily large number of unnecessarily complicated guides to Austin and SXSW this year…so so many write ups on the must-dos, must-sees, must-drinks, ad nauseam…most from people who don’t live in Austin. Most from people trying to be as “cool and as real as it gets”  and give you a list of 200 things YOU MUST DO in the 27 waking hours you are in town.

On the other hand, here’s a really short list adapted from a post we did a couple of years ago. Not much has changed but some things have…including our picks for SXSW 2016. Enjoy!

A few friends have asked what to expect from SXSW this year, what to do, who to see. And I say you’ll for sure see these people.   You should also get far away from that and go to our pick for Best Maker Event: SX CREATE presented by Dremel. And Best Empowerment Event: The #SpeakBeautiful Effect with Dove and Twitter. 

In addition, an exhaustive list of other official free events is right here. 

Beyond that, I don’t really care. But while you’re here, I would suggest that you look into a few, more localized activities. Things like this:

1. Get Some of The Best Queso in Austin. Here are my suggestions. I could talk more about this and I’m happy to. But you can’t really go wrong with most places in town so you’re probably fine no matter what. You’ll be especially pleased if you get your cheese from somewhere where there are no lines and whose name you can’t really pronounce.


2. Go See My Cousin’s Band. I’m not even kidding. That’s him right in the middle there. They are called Chasca, they are local, and they are awesome + beyond entertaining. Trust me. You won’t be sure what you are watching, but you won’t be disappointed.

There are two Chasca shows this first WEEKEND! Friday they play with girling at Hard Luck Lounge from 9-10 pm. Saturday they play with Alien Knife Fight at The Highball Austin at 11:30 pm. No cover. Have fun.

Photo of (from left) Keith Schmidt, Susie Schmidt-Franks, Chad Franks and John Fullilove courtesy of Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

3. Go To My Favorite BBQ Spot In Town. Don’t wait in a six-hour line for meat.  Schmidt Family Barbecue  is the cousin child of the legendary Kreuz Market and Smitty’s BBQ in Lockhart. Here’s more. To sum up, the new joint is from the next generation of cousins from the ultimate BBQ family of Texas. It’s closer to town, in Bee Cave. And it’s worth the drive from downtown. Go. (Also, PS, I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but The Salt Lick is in no way the best BBQ in town. Not even close. And Franklin’s is worth the wait normally…but not the wait this week.)

4. Go Outside. This is especially important if you are from anywhere north of Waco. But wherever you come from, get away from downtown. Go to Barton Springs. Or Deep Eddy. Or the Kite Festival. Or Mount Bonnell. Or just really anywhere that’s not a line flowing into a parking lot.

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5. Go to Mozart’s for Coffee.  Go to Hula Hut for chips, salsa and margs on the deck. Go to Taco Deli for tacos and to Matt’s El Rancho for enchiladas and to Maudie’s for anything else. If you want fancy food, go to Counter 3. Five. VII. or Lenoir or Uchi (or, even better, Uchiko). If you don’t want fancy food, go to Ramen Fukuya. Catch a movie at Alamo Draft House. Don’t go to any of those ridiculous donut places. If you need donuts, go to KC Donuts. And go to Lick for ice cream. You won’t be disappointed. An none of those places will have SXSW lines.

Enjoy our town. It gets better the further away you move from the convention center. Trust us on this.

Soundtrack: That’s Right. By this smart guy with really great hair from Klein, Texas. 

SXSW con Queso // Best Maker Event: Dremel Brings Makers and Motorcycle Fun to SXSW

March 11, 2016

It’s March in Austin, Texas, which means two things: rain showers and SXSW. And while we like both of those things quite a bit, it’s SXSW that has us really excited this year because of SX CREATE presented by Dremel.

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What’s SX Create, you ask? Why, it’s the hardware hacking and maker arm of SXSW! This year it’ll be held at Palmer Events Center on March 11-13, 2016 and they promise “more space, more fun and even more hands-on excitement” with activities like 3D printing, drones and biohacking. I’m not so sure what biohacking is, but I’m intrigued!

The good news is that SX Create is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Sorry for the all caps, but that’s kind of exciting since so much of SXSW requires a badge. Here’s the info:

SX CREATE

March 11–13, 2016 | 11:00am–6:00pm

Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Road)

SX Create is FREE with Guest Pass

SX Create presenting sponsor Dremel is a company built on a tradition of exploration, and they’re all about handmade artistry. After all, they invented the high-speed rotary tool in 1934, and since then they’ve been helping Makers make magic  with their full line of versatile tool systems like Multi-MaxTM oscillating tools, Ultra-SawTM and Saw-MaxTM multi-saws and FortiflexTM flex shaft tool, and the Idea BuilderTM 3D printer.

To celebrate the Maker spirit, Dremel is bringing a unique mashup of new technology and new partners to SXSW. They want to not only inspire, but to challenge Makers, via incentives, to leave their mark. And to show that, they have some majorly cool things going on at their booth (Booth #401 — write that down). Cool things like:

An Indian Scout Motorcycle sweepstakes!

Even if you don’t know much about motorcycles, you’ve no doubt heard of Indian. They were founded in 1901, and they’re  classic, beautiful bikes that pride themselves on craftsmanship. And for that reason, they make the perfect partner for Dremel. An Indian® Chief® Vintage motorcycle will be at the Dremel booth, #401 at SX Create, and noted Makers Hank Robinson of Hanro Studios and Paul Niemeyer will put a customized spin on the bike’s leather and metal parts with live, detailed etching and engraving. Seriously, look at this thing. I totally want to grab a helmet and head out on the open road until my kids are in their 30’s. Va-room.

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After the SX Create bike is finished, it will then be unveiled at the Indian Motorcycle display at the 2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. (Have you ever been to Sturgis? I have. Once, by mistake, in the family station wagon. Long story. We don’t ever talk about it.) The bike will then tour select Dremel and Indian Motorcycle events, and be displayed at Dremel HQ for all to drool over.

But wait! There’s more! You can WIN a bike!

Dremel and Indian are co-sponsoring a sweepstakes that grants one lucky winner the chance to own a one-in-a-million ride. Because they’re all about individualistic style, Hank the Maker will personalize an Indian® Scout® Sixty motorcycle unique to the winner’s own interests. Like, if you are a huge fan of Texas, he’ll engrave a Longhorn and/or Willie Nelson on it and then everybody you know will be jealous of you for the rest of your life unless you give them rides on it.

The sweepstakes runs March 11 through September 30, 2016, and fans can enter online once per day at www.dremelmakeyourindianmotorcycle.com (Note: site does not go live until March 11, 2016. Visit the Dremel and Indian Motorcycle Facebook pages for the other prizes up for grabs, too!)

More fun at Drexel Booth #401:

Make your own customized leather luggage tags! All SX Create visitors will have the opportunity to make their own however they like, then take it home with them to use on their next trip. Mine would either say, “BACK OFF, THIS IS MY BAG” or “PROPERTY OF RYAN GOSLING.”

SX Create visitors can also meet Dremel Chief Maker and Austin native Celina Muire talking about her work on Saturday. Celina is a “pyrographer,” which means she makes amazing things via burning wood, on purpose, in addition to gorgeous pieces of art like this:

Via CA Muire Instagram

Via CA Muire Instagram

 I totally want that in my house now. That is going to happen, Celina. Get ready for my phone call.

Dremel will also debut its newest 3D printer, the Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder, a part of their complete 3D printing ecosystem for the classroom and Maker workshops, at SX Create. Per Dremel, this “second-generation printer increases design flexibility and ease of use for students and techies with USB- and Wi-Fi-enabled printing, a larger building platform, and the new Dremel 3D app for iOS and Android, which enables users to design 3D objects remotely. The 3D40 Idea Builder is also compatible with HP Sprout, an immersive 3D scanning system. The synergistic technologies create an intuitive design, scanning and printing process that encourages communal problem solving and activates imaginative thinking. Fans can experiment with both systems live at the Dremel booth.”

Whew. I just need to know if it can print out a 3D Ryan Gosling for me so I can tell him I have his luggage.

If you’ll be in Austin or at SXSW, be sure to stop by SX Create at the Palmer Events Center March 11-13 and visit where? That’s right, Dremel at Booth #401 to see all of the amazingly creative and innovative things they’re doing, and to enter to win that sweet Indian Motorcycle.

For more information about Dremel activities at SX Create, visit https://www.dremel.com/en-us/Pages/default.aspx and the Dremel Facebook page. To learn more about Indian Motorcycle and HP Sprout, visit www.IndianMotorcycle.com and www8.hp.com/us/en/sprout/home.html.

This post was sponsored by Dremel. All information provided by them, all weird, colorful commentary provided by me.

IRL: In Real Life (August 31-September 6, 2015)

August 31, 2015

Summer is coming to a close…only, around here, we are still in our hottest months, so it gets a little confusing. The best thing to do is to be realistic. Ignore the pumpkin-spiced lies and find yourself some air conditioning. Here’s what we recommend:

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The 2015 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Austin’s longest running comedy festival showcasing some of the best in improv, sketch, theatrical and stand-up comedy. Out of Bounds will host over 500 performers in 130 shows including Epic Rap Battles of History LIVE, Dasariski feat. Stephnie Weir [Rich Talarico (Key & Peele, Saturday Night Live, Tonight Show), Craig Cackowski (Community, Drunk History), Bob Dassie (iO, Carpet Bros.) Stephnie Weir (MAD-tv, The Comedians)], The Annoyance Theatre (Mick Napier, world-famous improv guru), Mike Lawrence (Conan, @Midnight, Last Comic Standing), April Richardson (Chelsea Lately, @Midnight), Matt Peters (Orange is the New Black, Weeds) and more. Etc. Good stuff. See the whole line up here. At The Hideout. Downtown Austin.

 

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Los Angeles Times The Taste  is LA’s annual celebration of Southern California’s vibrant, influential culinary scene, and it’s returning to Paramount Pictures Studios’ iconic backlot over Labor Day weekend. Each of the five events will showcase the chefs and restaurants at the heart of L.A.’s food and dining culture and include unlimited tastings from the city’s best eateries, specialty drinks, wine seminars and live demos. See the complete schedule here.   If you are anywhere near LA, you should do this. Tickets are on sale now at latimes.com/thetaste. Get more info on FacebookTwitter and Instagram @TheTasteLA (#TasteLA). Photo Credit: LA Times

 

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Or…

Check out PhotoSeptembre in San Antonio. Do Beer Yoga in Fort Worth. Check out the Fall Music Festival in Kerrville. The Utopia Fest in Utopia (prettiest drive ever to get there). And then there’s an Oatmeal Festival in Bertram. (Really.) And a World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-off in Brady. (Really Really.) You have a lot of options. Or, you could just find the closest body of water to your house and jump in it. It’s the last official weekend of summer, after all. Although, we know better.  PhotoCredit: Your Daily Dose of Texas

 

IRL: In Real Life (August 17-23, 2015)

August 17, 2015

About this time of year, it’s probably just your best idea to stay inside. Indoors. In the AC. But if you’ve finally exhausted all inside options and you just can’t play bingo for one more second, then we have a few ideas that are happening outside of your house. Here are our picks for this week.

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Thursday, August 20: Houston. The Houston Press 27th annual Music Awards Ceremony, with a free concert immediately following featuring Hayes Carll. The Houston Press Music Awards, presented by Bud Light, celebrate Texas talent and the thriving, dynamic music community of Houston. Built on the broad based, diverse cultural foundation that music represents, the Houston Press Music Awards invite community involvement in the voting process. The final ballot created contains a wide range of categories, including Latin, folk, rock, country, alternative and etc. This is where stars are born. Check them out. Photo credit: Houston Press

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Thursday, August 20 – Sunday, August 23: Fredericksburg. The Gillespie County Fair and Parade. It’s the oldest continuously running fair in Texas and (not surprisingly) features agricultural and home skills displays, horse racing, concerts, dances, a carnival and midway. Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Friday on Main Street. You’ll probably want to see this for yourself. More info and schedule here. 

Also, Fredericksburg Trade Days are happening this weekend too (355 Sunday Farms Lane Fredericksburg, Tx). Peruse tons of antiques, collectibles, tools, crafts, primitives, candles, unique clothing, jewelry, food and also other things. More importantly, relax in the Biergarten while listening to live music. Ah, Fredericksburg. Photo credit: Gillespie County Fair and Parade


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Saturday, August 22: New Braunfels. The Fall Creek Vineyard Grapestomp and Harvest Festival.  For 20+ years, the Fall Creek Vineyard Grapestomp and Harvest Festival has attracted individuals to squash fruit with their bare feet. It’s somewhat gross, somewhat awesome. The main attraction is the ‘stomp’ where guests can kick off their shoes and experience the thrill (!) of bare footed grape stomping, getting involved with their wine like never before. Adults can enjoy wine tasting hosted by FCV winemaker Sergio Cuadra and a celebrity chef luncheon in addition to live music on the vineyard terrace, bocce ball and tours of the vineyard. FCV winemaker, Sergio Cuadra, trained in top properties in Bordeaux, Australia, Chile, and California with world-renowned winemakers, will share his passion for wine and will offer a Reserve Wine and Barrel Tasting on Saturday at 3 pm by reservation for $30 per person. There will be tasting and discussion, cheeses paired with wines, all inclusive. Celebrity chef luncheons will be available by reservation only and will feature Chef Paul Hargrove of New York’s Café Bouloud and Gotham Bar & Grill on August 22 and Chef/Owner Mark Schmidt of Blackbird and Henry on August 29. Check it. Photo credit: FCV 

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Saturday, August 22: Austin. Bat Fest. 

What will you see at Bat Fest this year? Allegedly 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge…although they’ve been Keep Austin Weird weird lately. Maybe they’ll show up to your party, maybe they won’t. Freaking hipster bats. But they’ve RSVPed “sure, ok, we’ll be there,” so we shall see. There will also be three stages con live music, more than 75 arts & crafts vendors, Austin food and drinks, children’s activities, a bat costume contest, more bats and other bat activities. Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. Photo credit: The State of Awesome.

 

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Saturday, August 22: Dallas. The public celebration of NorthPark’s Golden Jubilee. 

I’m sorry to inform all other malls in the state and in the universe, but NorthPark Center is the ultimate, the best, the Queen Mother of all Malls, Amen. François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Paris-based Kering, a company that owns more than 20 luxury brands, including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, recently called NorthPark “a shopping museum.” That’s an giant French understatement. And this week, the shopping mecca of all shopping turns 50. 50 years old.

You can read a lovely piece on this place in the Dallas Morning News on the mall and why you should genuflect if you are in its general vicinity.  Or just show up  and straight up and pay your respects to the Queen. The public celebration of NorthPark’s 50th anniversary begins Saturday. “Balloon Girls,” a throwback to the 1960s, will reappear with helium balloons for the children. And you should also check out Art Meets Fashion 1965-2015, an exhibition from the University of North Texas Fashion Collection featuring 29 looks from the last 50 years. There will also be a back-to-school fashion show, a Kim Dawson model search and a birthday cake at 4 p.m. Performers will include the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. All events are free. Go. Photo credit: Dallas Morning News

And finally…

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Sunday, August 23: Austin. The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival.   

If you wanna beat the heat this summer, then you gotta eat the heat – so join The Austin Chronicle for the world’s largest hot sauce festival. That’s right. In the last 25 years, the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, has become the world’s largest, drawing as many as 15K spectators and more than 350 entries every year. This year, The Festival will take place on August 23 at Fiesta Gardens in Austin. FREE to the public (with a donation of three healthy, nonperishable food items or a suggested $5 cash donation to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas), the event promises hot sauce. I’m not sure what else you could need. Besides AC. Photo credit: Austin Chronicle

Whatever you do…Stay hydrated, my friends.