Wednesday, March 19th

Exhaustion and Mixed Emotions at SXSW

No matter how much I try to prepare in the weeks leading up to SXSW, it’s always a scramble. Part of it is the nature of the conference and surrounding events; there’s little notice as to what’s really going on. I earnestly RSVP to everything I can in the hopes that I’ll make it into the must-do events, all the while knowing that I’ll never keep up with my overly ambitious schedule. The invites come later and later, so being flexible, yet prepared, is crucial. The day I had planned to really wander around and check out the free events surrounding Interactive, it was cold, rainy, and miserable. Craft Taste and I went to a fun party hosted by Pinterest at La Barbecue. Food and drinks were free and we checked out the Pinnebago and listened to a female punk band. We missed Grumpy Cat, the Game of Thrones exhibit, and countless other things. We walked around, saw some stuff, and went home soaking wet. The day I brought my DSLR to take the really good pictures? A total wash.

Pinnebago

We made it into the first Kimmel taping and saw Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg. Although we were seated way up high in the balcony, it was a fun experience and I was glad we went. I especially enjoyed Jimmy’s house band Cleto and the Cletones. Even more than the musical guest White Denim.

Jimmy Kimmel in Austin

Later, I won tickets for the opening night of the iTunes Festival. Winning didn’t mean we got to skip the very long line, but once inside the Moody Theater we were afforded a spot close to the stage amongst a crowd equally excited to be there. But no one was as excited to be there as Imagine Dragons, whose energy and and enthusiasm were through the roof.

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay was grown up and polished, putting on a flawless performance under a dazzling light show. No bullshit on stage or in the crowd. It was ideal.

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

I took advantage of my official SXSW Guest Pass and checked out the marketplace one day. It was clearly the tail end for the vendors, but it’s one of my favorite conference expos and I lingered at the booths with live music and good swag. I’m always amazed at how grand some of the booths are. I especially love checking out the other countries’ offerings.

SXSW Marketplace

Perhaps the coolest event we went to was the Heartbreakers Ball. (It didn’t hurt that we were chauffeured in a stretch limo and given VIP badges.) It was our first time visiting Willie Nelson’s ranch at Luck Texas. The ranch is more of a set for an Old Western with a chapel, a jail, a saloon, and other buildings. I loved that much of the property is used to foster horses. We watched people line up for free tattoos and drinks made with Midnight Moonshine in between the rocking sets. Willie and friends took the stage at the end of the night and despite the late hour and the cold, Willie was fantastic. I don’t know if all that pot-smoking has served as a preservative, but his voice was strong and smooth, unaffected by his many years. It was quite a show.

Willie Nelson's Luck, Texas

Willie Nelson and Friends at SXSW Heartbreakers Banquet

The aftermath of the tragic drunk driving accident that killed three people left a dark cloud over Austin. The city reeled from the news and shed tears for the lives lost and the news gained international attention. There’s no denying that SX is forever changed. We will remember and reflect on this every year. Criticisms arose and people questioned whether the excess of free flowing booze is hurting the intention of the festival. It seemed that the louder criticisms were directed towards the overblown commercialism of the conference and surrounding events. It seems that the sponsors are running the show now and no one is happy about it. In the days following SX, Austin is usually enjoying a tired but happy afterglow. This year we are collectively wincing at all the bad press and trying to figure out how the hell this happened. I predict big changes for next year.

I’m proud to live in Austin. I love that for two weeks every year we become the center of the universe and celebrate artistry and intelligence. South by Southwest celebrates the future and creates history. I hope we are able to strike a better balance in the years to come, retaining the indie spirit on which the festival was built, while letting sponsors be a part of the action in a more authentic way.

What are your thoughts on SXSW 2014?

Wednesday, March 5th

The HotList #SXSW Edition

I love a good trend. Especially in Austin during SXSW, when techies show off their newest gear and music lovers prance around like hipster peacocks. The conference is a nod towards what’s new, what’s artistic, and what’s going to happen over the next year.

Podcasts. Everybody cool has got one. The Austin-American Statesman recently started one. The recurring fad of digital media has true loyalists. People who listen to podcasts are passionate and those that create them are confident. Because it’s not easy to listen to your own voice.

Mr. Betty and I joined podcasters When in Austin for their first recording session of 2014 to talk about SXSW. Take a listen here and enjoy our tips, our fumbles, and our South Jersey accents.

podcast

Photo by When in Austin

Style. From sunglasses to sneakers, Keep Austin Stylish guides you to the right gear to wear. Achieve the right balance to looking cool while sprinting around town from event to event. If you pull it off well enough, you might even end up in one of her famous street style posts.

Libations. The parties never stop and the drinks are flowing during SX. Free drinks range from high-end martinis to all the cheap, tasteless beer you can drink. Those traveling from out of town might want to try the new, limited-edition Absolut Texas. They sent me a bottle of the cucumber and serrano flavored vodka and I was surprised at how good it was. The Absolut website provides recipes and my friends and I really enjoyed mixing the vodka with pineapple juice, cilantro, and jalapeño slices.

Absolut Texas

White Teeth. A bright smile is always on trend, actually, so when Influenster sent me the new Colgate Optic White Pen, I was pleased. An easy way to get whiter teeth in just a few days. Have you tried it?

Burgers. Shake Shake will be feeding thousands of hungry SXSWers with a complimentary pop-up. Late night burgers sponsored by Late Night with Seth Meyers? Oh, yes. We want that. Check it out on 6th & Red River (March 8-10) or E. 6th and Brushy (March 11-14.)

Ranch. Willie Nelson’s ranch isn’t normally open to the public, so when there’s an opportunity to get inside the gates, people jump at the chance. For the third year in a row, the Heartbreaker Banquet will take over the ranch with lots of live music and a full day of fun and partying. It’s invite only and therefore exclusive, but there are ways to win tickets.

Thursday, February 27th

Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai

Guest blogger Aneelee is an Austin vegetarian, a level-headed creative, and a lover of the arts. Her widely popular meal plans and both traditional and modern recipes are favorites among foodies and press alike. She regularly inspires me to get my act together and make the most of my produce, rather than let them go limp in the crisper. A true example of green living, my friend Aneelee walks the walk! Fall in love with her blog like so many others have. But first, read her glimpse into a magical night with Cirque du Soleil.

We are routine-mongers. So much so that there aren’t really even any clocks in our house. Sure, there’s the one on the microwave and that pretty analog one without any numbers in the corner in the bathroom, but nobody ever looks. Time is hardwired into our beings. We are up with sun, eat when our tummies say so (7:30am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm) and then fall into our evening routine that slowly walks us and our 10-year-old to bed and books by 7:30pm. And then, MadBetty said Cirque du Soleil. Routines be damned!

Last night we ventured to a faraway land called Cedar Park, well past pajama o’clock to see Cirque Du Soleil’s opening night of Varekai. The music, the costumes and the sets, which drew inspiration from Hawaiian rituals and Armenian melodies were absolutely beautiful. And then there were the acrobatics! At this morning’s breakfast, my ten-year-old gave a full recap of all the things that we never imagined people could to do with their bodies.

There was the bird that tangled itself up in the net up high:

Flight of Icarus

And the men that were balancing people on their feet from special chairs:

Icarian Games

There was the woman on the trapeze that could hang from a single foot and her neck:

Aerial Hoops

There was the breakdancing guy on crutches:
Soloon Crutches
The singing clown that could not catch his light:
Ne Me Quitte Pas

 

And the dancing fireflies, the bird on wheels, the juggling, the flying and the E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!!

So, given the twinkle in my daughter’s eyes this morning I would highly recommend breaking your routine as well. Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai will be at the Cedar Park Center through Sunday, March 2nd. There are still tickets available for most of the shows. Not a bad seat in the entire house!

P.S. My favorite part of the show (acrobatics, aside) was the clowning. Proper theater clowning (without the red noses) at its best.

Monday, February 17th

How to Get Through SXSW

It’s never too early to start getting ready for South by Southwest. In Austin, it’s our next big season after the holidays. We mark time by it, fretting about what we need to accomplish before South By and what we don’t want to think about until after South By.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at SXSW

For those that haven’t attempted it yet, I want to reassure you that you can fully partake in the excitement of the conference without paying for a badge. Badges top out at about $1700 for the walk-up rate of Platinum badge, and are cheaper the earlier you buy. The cheapest it gets is for a Film badge at $500, but you have to buy it in September of the previous year. So…yeah. It’s expensive.

Fear not! There are tons of free events. Waaay too many to list here and far too many to predict in advance. The key to South By is to be available, be prepared, and roll with the punches. Be content to miss certain things and just enjoy the moment you’re in. For each amazing show you see, you are missing 50 more. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the hype of secret shows, which is big part of South By. But you can’t do everything, so make peace with it or you’ll drive yourself crazy. The worst thing you can do is run from place to place, trying to get in and spending more time standing in line than doing anything else. So, without further ado, here are my tips:

Be Available

1. First of all, you have to get yourself where you need to be. This is the time to acquaint yourself with public transportation, ride your bike, or hitch a ride with friends because parking SUCKS.

2. For Interactive (March 7-11) you want to be downtown. This is the week of the best freebies. All the tech companies are giving out fun swag, free drinks, and throwing parties. Bars and restaurants will turn into branded lounges. Go in, get a drink, pick up a free JamBox and learn about SoundCloud or Bing or Samsung or Foursquare.

Doppelgangez at SXSW

3. Have your C-list email address handy for when you need to sign up for random shit. Be prepared for everyone you walk by to offer you a free app. Or branded chotchkies. Take what you want, leave the crap.

4. If celebrity sightings are your thing, scope out the theaters for premieres and bring your best camera. Film takes place March 7-15.

5. Music (March 11-15) is when the city gets a little dirty. If partying is your bag, head over to 6th Street or Red River for the thickest crowds and best people watching.

Be Prepared

6. Make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes! You’ll also want a shoulder bag (to fill with swag during Interactive) and all the crap you need to carry.

7. Obvious essentials: cash, cell phone charger, sunblock or sweatshirt (depending on the weather,) mints and chapstick. If you’re in it for the long haul, maybe stash a KIND bar or two.

Eco Light Garden at SXSW

8. Keep your eye out for free shows. Waterloo Records always has a full line-up. There’s a wealth of bands and parties available all over East Austin (and everywhere, really.) The key is to be aware of the most current information. How? Twitter! Here’s who I recommend following:

9. Lots of events will require an RSVP. The decision on whether to RSVP is yours, but I recommend it. (Use that C-list email address!) Many places won’t have an actual guest list, but are just looking to collect your information for their databases. RSVPing does NOT guarantee you entry into parties. You will wait in line with everyone else.

10. There are massive free events like Fader Fort which DO require an RSVP to get a wristband. Spots for these events are limited and draw some of the bigger bands, so it’s best to confirm your spot as early as possible. Other huge stages sponsored by companies like Doritos and Red Bull will ask for RSVPs, and you should go ahead and get those in as soon as possible, too.

11. Confused about the RSVPs? My tactic is to just sign up for everything I hear about. You can also use an RSVP service to do the dirty work for you. ATXShhh charges $5 and RSVPster has various levels of RSVPing in a pass format starting at $30.

SXSW

12. Keep up with the gossip. Sometimes it’s true and you run into Jimmy Kimmel at a barbecue truck. Sometimes you get burned by wasting an entire night at the supremely boring Austin Music Awards waiting for Johnny Depp to show up…and he doesn’t.

Roll with the Punches

13. Always have a backup plan. If you don’t make it into a show, have another one lined up. Plan 2-3 activities that you could be doing at once and try to minimize running from place to place. DO take petty cabs and promotional rides everywhere. Little electric golf carts sponsored by Netflix? Yes. Piggyback ride for guy dressed as Darth Vader? YES. Cram as much fun as you can into this epic ten day span, because it’ll be over before you know it and your fun memories will fade into a blur of South By’s past.

14. Don’t shy away from the big events. While it’s virtually impossible to get into the secret shows like Prince or Justin Timberlake, it does happen. Pull every string, use whatever connections you have, shamelessly promise anything to anyone. All you can do is try.

Austin Music Awards

Again, you want to live in the moment and enjoy where you are. You will see lots of crazy shit. You will hear a mind-boggling amount of great music. Don’t worry about what you’re missing. Just have fun!

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 4th

Austin Happenings

Did you guys watch the Super Bowel? Ha ha…super bowel. The game was so lame, right? I do not care about football at all, but I like my cohorts to be happy. I looked around the room and saw everyone staring at their mobile devices. It was a flop of a party, but at least we ate well. And the commercials…snore. It kills me that companies with massive ad budgets aren’t making the most of their creative for this ultimate exposure.

Anyway, moving on…

Life lately has been a mixture of high highs and low lows. Professionally, things are a bit rocky right now. There are some exciting things on the horizon, but it’s too soon to discuss here. I’m lucky to be surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends. If I could just work with that same caliber of people, life would grand!

Lots of exciting things are happening in Austin right now and Chris and I are having fun. SXSW is fast approaching and it seems like there’s a new place opening every few days in anticipation. One of our favorite new places is Dolce Neve. The fresh, handmade gelato reminds me of the delicious flavors we sampled daily in Italy. It’s a welcome addition to our fabulous little strip of South First Street.

Dolce Neve gelato, Austin, Texas

Dolce Neve gelato, Austin, Texas

Dolce Neve gelato, Austin, Texas

A few weeks ago my good friend treated me to a birthday brunch at The Steeping Room. There are lots of intriguing options on the Sunday morning menu, but we both ordered the Morning Tea Service, a filling meal of eggs, potatoes, fruit and cookies, scones, teas, jams, and it was my first time trying clotted cream. Holy Mother of London, was that a treat!

The Steeping Room, Austin, Texas

The Steeping Room, Austin, Texas

The Steeping Room, Austin, Texas

The anticipated Chavez opened in the Radisson downtown, a big improvement from the TGI Friday’s it replaced. Given that the area is a big tourist spot for bat watching, it’s nice to finally have a chic restaurant that appropriately represents the city. People can watch the bats from the bridge and walk over to Chavez, or better yet, watch right from the spacious bar while sipping cherry margaritas. The press preview was a really fun event, a who’s who of media scenesters having a blast over the endless passed appetizers and drinks.

Chavez Restaurant Austin, Texas

Chavez Restaurant Austin, Texas

Chavez Restaurant Austin, Texas

Chavez Restaurant Austin, Texas

Chavez Restaurant Austin, Texas

One last recent highlight was the Architects of Air luminarium. The touring piece of art is a massive structure of tunnels, color, and sound. Its beautiful serenity draws a big crowd, so we stood in a long line before we were able to make our way inside. Had it not been 30° out, we would have lingered a long time inside.

Architects of Air

Architects of Air

Architects of Air

Architects of Air

Architects of Air

And lastly, I was honored by fellow blogger Scrumptious Chef by making a recent list of top blogs to read. He’s one of the hardest working and respected bloggers I know, so his kind words mean a lot to me.

Monday, December 30th

Resolutions for 2014

Here we are. At the end of 2013 already. It was quite a year, wasn’t it? Let’s do a quick review.

Bruno Mars

2013 was a year of music. We saw Pharrell and Justin Timberlake rose to the top again, as well as newcomers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus were alternately loved and hated, as our fickle tastes violently swayed. Bruno Mars had a hell of a year and I was thrilled to catch him on tour. I also caught Book of Mormon and it lived up to the hype!

In living legend status updates, Woody Allen’s still got it and I got to meet Doyle Bramhall II.

Doyle Bramhall II

In 2013 we said farewell to James Gandolfini, The Office, 30 Rock, and Breaking Bad. But we got Arrested Development back. And Orange is the New Black blew our collective mind.

Breaking Bad

Personally, I had a big year, too. I stopped freelancing and started a new job. Then I was recruited for a bigger job. (Thank you, LinkedIn!) I got a new car. I served as the Education Chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and organized a Photography Camp for the community. I met Fabio Viviani and contributed to his magazine. I was featured on a couple podcasts. I had a cup of coffee with a stranger and it turned into a wonderful friendship. I made lots of new friends actually. I took a break and went to Mexico. I threw myself into SXSW and fell more deeply in love with Austin.

Playa de Carmen

Austin went though some changes, too, by the way. Businesses closed. Businesses opened. The city got more crowded. The traffic got worse. The pizza got better. We got a Trader Joe’s! Pop-ups and supper clubs became the rage.

Bread & Circus Supper Club

Craft beer rose to a crescendo in Austin and Mr. Betty started his own blog to chronicle the beer scene and it has been wildly successful. My own blog is chugging along and continues to opens doors and satisfies my creative drive.

New Year

So what will the new year bring? Hopefully prosperity, good luck, and happiness. But also more opportunity for hard work and self betterment. I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish or at least start.

  • Get over my fear of Reddit. Maybe get a thicker skin in the larger sense.
  • Learn to code. I can’t put it off any longer.
  • Learn some design. It’s be nice to be able to scrap a little something together without hiring a graphic designer all the time.
  • Get ahead of my social media. Meaning I’ll make it more of a priority, rather than a “when I get to it” task.
  • Recycling this one from last year:  I resolve to live healthier. Eat more raw vegetables. Get more exercise. Get more sleep. Drink more water.

Happy New Year, everyone! Do you have any resolutions you’d like to share? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, October 16th

Our Mexican Getaway

Earlier this month I had a nice little vacation in Playa Del Carmen. We stayed at the Sandos Playacar resort, which fulfilled our two requirements: all-inclusive and a nice beach.

Sandos Playacar

Sandos Playacar

Sandos Playacar

Sandos Playacar

We spent lots of time in the beach, in the pools, at the gym, and the spa, and ZERO time on the internet. Instead we made friends with the tropical birds, iguanas, and burros. We named the resort cats (Carrot, Pumpkin, Swirly, Shy Baby, Maître D’) and they followed us everywhere. We shared our breakfast fruit with the personable coatis.

Tropical bird at Sandos Playacar

Iguana Sandos Playacar

Burro at Sandos Playacar

Cat at Sandos Playacar

Coati at Sandos Playacar

Downtown Playa is very touristy, so we didn’t leave the resort much. However, we did take a ferry to Cozumel and spend the day there. The ferry band entertained us the entire 45-minute ride and we saw a family sneak a cute little goat onto the boat. Goat Boat.

Ferry to Cozumel

Goat in a bag

My heart belongs to Cozumel. I love being on an island and the local people are the best. We took a cab to Money Bar, snorkeled and relaxed all day at the simple beach club. We experienced a rip current that was so strong, lesser swimmers would have perished. We drifted to a boat dock and trekked back to the club with our gear on land. Adventure! Danger!

Cozumel Cab Ride

Money Bar Cozumel

Sol Beer

DiCapac Camera and Bodyglove fins and snorkel

We ended the day at our favorite little restaurant and had pork chop and pastor tacos.

Las Utates Cozumel

Las Utates Cozumel tacos

Cozumel street art

Cozumel sunset

Back in Playa, we faced some tough weather. The once placid ocean turned into rough waves. While most opted for the safety of the pools, we took to the waves. Jersey Shore kids learn how to be knocked around in the surf. We get pummeled by waves as babies. (That’s why we’re so tough, yo.) It made us both homesick, getting repeatedly slapped in the face with salt water.

When a dark storm rolled in and everyone ran for cover, we stuck it out. (Fun fact: My parents did this shit to us all the time. What’s more embarrassing than having to seek refuge with your parents at a lifeguard station in the middle of a lightning storm long after the sane people left the beach? Nothing.) When you risk those black clouds, they’ll either blow over or you’ll get stuck in the rain. On this day it was the latter.

Dark rain clouds

Rain on the beach

So are you interested in going to the Mexican Riviera? Here are a few tips:

  • Many of the resorts and hotels reduce their rates in October, since it’s the off-season. It’s the perfect time to go.
  • Flying direct from Austin to Cancun is much cheaper than flying to Cozumel. Take the ferry to Cozumel for $13.
  • Cozumel is where you want to be for snorkeling and scuba diving. Stay away from the cruise ship port and you can have a true experience of the island. No one should eat at Señor Frog’s…ever. 
  • Don’t let a lack of language fluency deter you. It doesn’t take much Spanish to get by. The point is to make an effort and not expect everyone to speak English (even though they often do.) Mingle with the locals. Compliment their home. Be friendly.
  • A DiCAPac camera case is about $20 on Amazon and allows you to take underwater photos with your phone or mirrorless camera. I chose to bring an old camera, just in case. But there was no leakage.
  • Bring cash to tip, even if it’s an all-inclusive and tips aren’t required. These people work hard! 

Sandos Playacar

I hope it’s not too long until we meet again, Mexico. ¡Te amo!

Thursday, August 8th

On Blogging

Blogging

Today marks two years since Mad Betty started. This is also my 400th post, so I look at it as a double milestone. I’ve learned a lot in these two years and I’ll share a little with you.

Blogging Ain’t Easy

It might seem all cool and fun, but keeping up with a blog is a lot of work. There is so much to know. To learn. To figure out. Trends and technology change all the time and it’s work to keep up. It’s work to promote it. For the love of Pete, it’s work to write all the time. Which brings me to my next point—

Bloggers Need to Write

Content is the essence of a blog. Sure, there’s SEO and promotion and social media. There are plenty of ways to get people to your blog. But if there’s nothing good there…what’s the point? What are you putting out there? Does anyone really want to see another “Wordless Wednesday” post? (More like Worthless Wednesday.) I consider it an honor to have you on my site, reading my words. So I attempt to put something up that’s worth reading, and to regularly put up fresh content.

Do I feel like writing all the time? No. Hell no. I write for a living. I freelance write, too. On top of that, I’m constantly sending email or texting or some other form of writing. If anyone gets tired of writing, it’s me. Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging. But then I’m always glad that I do. It’s comparable to working out, I guess. Writing makes you smarter. I might not be putting the most intellectual thoughts out on the web, but I hope that I’m not making any of you actively stupider by reading Mad Betty. I hope you are entertained for a few minutes every few days. And I hope that occasionally I make you think.

People ask, do you ever run out of stuff to write about? The answer to that is no. At any given time, I have a list of 40-60 things I want to write about. If I don’t get to something quickly enough, it drops off my list. There’s simply not enough time to discuss the pop culture things I love (or hate) or all the great (or bad) things happening in Austin.

Focus on What’s Important

My somewhat prolific, short style of blogging isn’t the only way of doing it. I really enjoy reading long-form, deep posts that others do. Ones that may take weeks to write, and then when they are complete, they are masterpieces. I write with a short attention span and I imagine my readers have short attention spans. What’s important to me is regularity. Consistency. Freshness. I’m a tough taskmaster on myself and I beat myself up if I only post three times a week.

Over the past year I’ve abandoned any real push to gain new readership. I watched my numbers steadily grow each month until they reached a nice, comfortable plateau. At first I panicked. How can I get more people to Mad Betty? But then I realized that the time and focus I’d have to spend on traffic would take away from the time I need to be working on content. I simply cannot do it all. And so I let that go. I’m at peace with my readership and value each and every one of you.

Thanks for a great first two years. I look forward to growing, getting better, and putting more words on this little tiny corner of the web. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 22nd

Diving back in

After almost a year of working for myself, I went back to the normal 9 to 5.

Dolly Parton 9 to 5

I enjoyed freelancing for the flexibility and ability to work in my pajamas. But I’m so over the pajamas! And I’m really eager to put my paycheck, workflow, health insurance and office supplies in someone else’s hands. I like knowing what work is in the pipeline; I’ve never been good at pounding the pavement to line up my next freelance job. I don’t have a salesman aspect to my personality, preferring to passively let work come to me through a recruiter or other contacts. And that’s not the most successful approach.

For me, the cons of freelancing outweighed the pros. The flexibility was good. I could go to a movie in the middle of the day if I wanted. Or hang out with my friends. The problem is, most of my friends are, you know, working during the day. And I’ve spent far too many a late night in front of the computer trying to meet a deadline either because the client didn’t give enough lead time. Or I underestimated the scope of work. Or I’ve mismanaged my time.

Plus, you have to find your own health and dental insurance, which in today’s climate….sucks. A lot. And make your own invoices. Deal with your own complicated taxes. Not saying I wouldn’t go back to it one day, but I’m in no rush. I like structure and if that means I can’t sleep in during the week, then so be it. Because honestly, that’s the best part of working for yourself. The sleep.

So for now, you’ll find me living for the weekend. And often the weeknights. But the workday hours? They’re taken.

9 to 5 movie cast

Monday, March 18th

SXSW 2013

Sorry to have ignored you, blog. South by Southwest is an all-consuming time and energy suck. I will do my best to recap. Apologies for the crap cell photos. I only took my camera out one night and it was too annoying to consider doing again.

SXSW Gauge

SXSW Wristbands

How did the Betty’s fare? Pretty well, I’d say. We drank lots of free vodka and beer, ate free tacos, sushi, and all kinds of other great stuff. We visited the Paul Qui curated South Bites on several occasions.

South Bites

Paul Qui

An early highlight was heading home late one night and hearing the telltale wah wah guitar of Grupo Fantasma coming out of the Trophy Club on Sixth Street. Have you ever been to that bar? Me neither. But there’s a mechanical bull and a guy was riding on it standing up. And there’s a disco saddle hanging from the ceiling, so…I will definitely be back.

Mechanical Bull

Disco Saddle

Grupo Fantasma

We spent the wee hours of the night dancing like fools and talking to the band, where we got the hot tip that Johnny Depp would be the special guest for Wednesday night’s Austin Music Awards. So, naturally, we spent Wednesday night at Austin Music Hall waiting for Edward Scissorhands to show up. He never did, but Gary Clark, Jr., ended up being the surprise guest and gave a great performance. It was a long night of great music punctuated by a really boring awards ceremony.

Gary Clark, Jr.

We spent another night at The Belmont, where there was a great lineup. We were there for hot acts Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Action Bronson. It was a good crowd and the music was great. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Macklemore is exploding right now. He and his crew were clearly having the time of their lives and it’s nice to see hip hop come back around to a light-hearted, whimsical side. It’s been a while since rap has been fun.

Action Bronson

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

We chose to do another night of hip hop at Empire Control Room, which might have the grossest bathrooms in Austin. But the rhymes were right and I’m a sucker for some good scratching. With the exception of one, all the acts were from NYC. I guess I’m looking to fill the hole in my heart left by the Beastie Boys. Most notable was Soul Khan from Brown Bag Allstars, who had the smooth flow that you just don’t hear outside the east coast. I also enjoyed the antics of Doppelgangaz, who had a huge doll on stage with them at one point.

Soul Khan

Doppelgangaz

SXSW is not for the weak. The parking, the crowds, the secret parties, the RSVP-juggling, the constant checking of Twitter for can’t-miss events. The walking. The traffic. The smell of beer everywhere. The people! Note: the Interactive attendees are nerdy cool, the Music attendees are dressed cooler and better for people-watching.

Some Mad Betty SXSW fun facts

Total paid for parking (over ten days): $21. My parking spots may not all have been 100% legal. But I parked free most days and not too far from the action. No, I cannot share my secrets with you.

Places I charged my cell phone: Trophy Club, ACL Theater, Empire Control Room, The Belmont, The Sheraton, Tap Room. The takeaway here is that it’s time to get a new phone. Farewell Droid, welcome iPhone. I give in.

Freebies included: Shampoo and Conditioner, Obama tattoo, tee-shirts, giant Post-its, Kind Bars, a Whole Foods gift bag full of goodies, a color-reactive cup, snap bracelets and other chotchky crap. I tried to minimize the free stuff I took, as I usually don’t want it. But I could have filled my apartment.

Some of the bands I saw: 

  • Action Bronson
  • Alejandro Escovedo
  • Ben Kweller
  • Bill Carter and The Blame
  • Blondfire
  • Brownout
  • Budos Band
  • Charles Bradley
  • Charli XCX
  • Como Mamas
  • Doppelgangaz
  • Gary Clark, Jr.
  • Grupo Fantasma
  • Icona Pop
  • JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
  • The Lone Bellow
  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Menahan Street Band
  • Mister Loveless
  • Open Mike Eagle
  • Rockie Fresh
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
  • Soul Khan
  • Sugarman 3
  • Talib Kweli
  • The 4onthefloor
  • The Tontons
  • The Trishas

The Tontons

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Crowd

Charles Bradley

Eco Light Garden

Did you go to SXSW? What were your favorite parts?