Wednesday, November 27th

The 20/20 Experience

The 20/20 Experience

Justin Timberlake puts out albums so infrequently that each one is a huge event. The sales are big, the hype is BIG, and the expectations are HIGH. The double project makes for Justin’s third and fourth studio albums, and like his second album, they were produced by Timbaland. And that’s where my first criticism lies…with Timbaland. With his decreasing relevancy and trademark insertion of his own vocals, it’s interesting that Justin chose to work with him again, when he could have had virtually anyone he wanted. I would have preferred Pharrell or, personally.

The first part of The 20/20 Experience was released in March. For those of us in Austin the excitement was all rolled up in Justin’s surprise appearance at SXSW, the secret MySpace party, and the general hysteria of trying to get in. (Note: I opened a MySpace account specifically to be entered into the random lottery for the party and no, I did not get in.) The singles “Suit & Tie,” “Mirrors,” and “Tunnel Vision” are all catchy and classic Timberlake. The former features another Timbaland hallmark, an awkward intro that feels like an entirely different song. Timbaland often tacks these onto the end of his songs, as well.

The big band/jazzy theme is mostly just visual, rather than musical. Dapper suits and tuxes? Check. Sharp dance moves? Check. Black and white color palette? Check. Full sound of horns? Nay.

Justin Timberlake black and white photo

Beyond the singles, there are a couple standout tunes. “Pusher Love Girl,” which compares love to drugs is infectious fun, if too long at eight minutes. “Strawberry Bubblegum,” (my personal favorite) is a little tribute to Barry White with it’s candy-themed sensual lyrics, again lasting about eight minutes. “Don’t Hold the Wall” is a dark dance groove clocking in at over seven minutes. So yes, the songs are all long.

The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 is the weaker of the albums. Again the songs drag on, but this second grouping feels like so much filler with “Take Back the Night” as the only true highlight. “Drink You Away” is pleasant enough and “TKO” is a generic single with is neither interesting lyrically or musically.

My takeaway is this: If you remove the filler, you have one solid album of decent music here. The decision to release two albums in six months time feels more like hype-building than an expression of musicianship. It’s a shame that Justin seems more passionate in pursuing a career in acting, because his real talent lies in his singing. But he’s placed it on the back burner and reserves his enthusiasm for SNL and Jimmy Fallon appearances.

Omeletteville sketch with Justin Timberlake and Chris Parnell

Monday, October 28th

The Edible Space Oddity

My regular readers might remember the fabulous Nina Simone-themed dinner I had last spring. If you missed it, you can read about my first L’Oca D’Oro experience here.

David Bowie

I recently made a return visit for a David Bowie night. The music was great. A diverse mix of Bowie covers and plenty from the legend himself, including lots of live stuff. The Bowie footage that was projected on the wall was distorted and appropriately weird. It really help set the tone for the night.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

The night began like a casual cocktail party. We sipped Tang daiquiris and nibbled on bread and butters while we mingled. The first course was Space Oddity, a scallop crudo with key lime curd and banana. It was indeed an oddity, the mix of flavors and textures that shouldn’t work together, but did.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

The second course was a study in texture. Carrots, carrot powder, potatoes, sparkles, sauces and smoke, the Ziggy Stardust was interesting and delicate. Thinking back on it later, it would have been so easy to incorporate “dust” into a dessert, cashing in on the popular soil craze so many places are doing. But they don’t do anything easy at L’Oca D’Oro. There are no shortcuts. There is so much thought and effort and creativity in these dinners. Each night is a unique labor of love.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

The Station to Station course was all about refueling for the space journey. The fresh tagliatelle was topped with a lamb ragù, five minute egg, and a steaming cup of lamp jus on the side. I ate this dish so slowly, savoring every bite. It look me back to my favorite restaurant in Florence, where I delighted over tangled piles of tagliatelle and meaty sauces.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

The last savory dish was titled Scary Monsters. The octopus was a delicious, tender, scary monster. The last time I had an octopod cooked this well was the squid on my previous L’Oca D’Oro visit. Octopus, like squid, is one of those ingredients that is wonderful or horrible, depending on how it’s cooked. It’s ridiculous how often people get it wrong. But this version, grilled and served with beets and white anchovies was so very right. I think it was my favorite course.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

I’m not usually one for overly creative desserts. I find they can be unsatisfying (see the aforementioned soil) and ridiculous. I’d rather see the classics really well done. But this. THIS. Knocked my socks off. Served on a mirror, the pear sashimi and bitter chocolate were surrounded by sunchoke purée, taleggio cream, and a ton of other things that I can no longer remember. Sweet and sour pecans provided crunch. Each interesting bite was different. This dessert was just damn fun.

L'Oca D'Oro David Bowie

I suggest checking out the L’Oca D’Oro website, finding some music you like, and buying your tickets. This is one of the most special culinary experiences happening in Austin right now and you don’t want to miss it.

Thanks for another rockin’ evening, L’Oca D’Oro!

Thursday, October 10th

Hanging out with Doyle Bramhall II at Pettyfest

A few weeks ago I was offered a VIP pass to Pettyfest, a night of rocking tribute to Tom Petty hosted by Jameson. The day of the event they delivered a little gift to my office.


By the time we made it to The Mohawk that night, Mr. Betty and I were ready for a fun night. They led us up to the upstairs VIP area where the Jameson was flowing freely and spirits were high. They offered me an interview with one of the night’s artists and I requested Doyle Bramhall II, living legend and guitar BFFs with Eric Clapton.


I grew up hearing tons of Tom Petty on the radio. But I didn’t realize just how many hits I knew until I heard them, one after another. Thanks, WZXL. Tom Petty is awesome, in case you forgot. Some highlights from the night: Norah Jones joined Adriel Denea for a sweet take on Wildflowers. Doyle accompanied old buddy Charlie Sexton for Mary Jane’s Last Dance, pleasing the Austin stoner crowd to no end.



Don’t Come Around Here No More has a soft spot in my heart because I loved the video so much as a kid. (Early MTV was the best!) So it was pretty rad to see Lukas Nelson and Ruby Amanfu cover it so well. That Ruby can wail!


Jakob Dylan looked and sounded great and the crowd went wild when he and Norah Jones sang Stop Dragging My Heart Around. The night moved quickly, with the artists casually jumping back on stage to join their friends in various songs. When they weren’t onstage, they were hanging out in the crowd watching the other acts. It gave the night a feeling of intimacy and blurred the division between artist and audience. We were all there for the same purpose. To celebrate Tom Petty.


So how was my interview with Doyle Bramhall II? I have to admit, I was a bit starstruck. I saw him play with Clapton in Philadelphia on his 2001 tour and he’s a true rack and roll god. But Doyle put me at ease. He was friendly, soft-spoken and yes, that head of hair is incredible. He talked about working on his next solo album, his first in over 12 years. His world travels and life experiences are informing the writing process. Older, and at a completely different place in his life now, I’ll be curious to see what tone this new album takes and how his larger-than-life decade of world tours will influence his blues.

Doyle Bramhall II at Pettyfest in Austin, Texas

Doyle ran into Tom Petty about a month before Pettyfest and asked what he should play. Petty laughed and said, “Well, what do you want to play? Play what you want.” And he did, indeed.

Monday, August 26th

2013 VMAs

I skipped Breaking Bad in favor of the 2013 VMAs, the holiest of holidays here on Mad Betty. This year’s roster had more star power and musicians I care about than VMAs of recent years. (But Breaking Bad recaps will resume tomorrow!)

Video Music Awards 2013

The strongest act of the night was Lady Gaga’s show opener. Multiple costume changes and a proficient dance troupe made it feel like a Broadway performance. But had the production been smaller scale, it still would have outshone the others, as Gaga escaped the pitchiness that hurt most of the performances. Her look did not disappoint, either. Each costume was wacky and weird, which we’ve come to expect.

Lada Gaga VMAs

Here’s a little reminder of Gaga at previous VMAs:

Lady Gaga VMAs 2009

Lady Gaga VMAs 2009

Lady Gaga VMAs

Miley Cyrus also had some wacko looks, although the effect was less than pleasing. I’m sorry, I can’t stand her. I hate her tongue constantly hanging out of her mouth, I hate her twerking all over the place, and I hate her style. Robin Thicke was so painfully off-key, that I’d consider the collaboration the worst performance of the night. He rocked that Beetlejuice suit though.

Miley Cyrus 2013 VMAs

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus 2013 VMAs

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus 2013 VMAs

Kanye West did a sad autotuned number in silhouette. It’s been speculated that his permanent grill causes him great embarrassment, which is why he never smiles or speaks in public. I don’t know if that’s true, but we didn’t see much of the new dad last night.

Kanye West Grill

The most hyped performance of the evening came from Vanguard Award and Video of the Year award winner Justin Timberlake. His ten song medley stretched on for 15 minutes, most of which he danced through. The anticipated N’SYNC reunion was short and sweet, with JC Chasez clearly enjoying himself a bit too much.

N'SYNC VMA reunion

Other highlights included a touching performance by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis after they won awards for Best Hip Hop Video and Best Video featuring a Social Message. Bruno Mars took home Best Male Video and sang his new single Gorilla. I love that song and desperately hope it’s not overplayed; I didn’t really want it to become a single. Katy Perry closed the show with her new hit Roar. Her boxing themed performance was perfect for the powerful anthem and it took place at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn was the real star of the evening, with mentions about every three seconds.

Macklemore 2013 VMAs

It seems MTV has abandoned the use of a host, which has tightened up the format, cutting an hour off the show’s normal length. Lousy comedian Kevin Hart was on standby to fill gaps and I do wish they’d bring in a stronger comedian for that purpose. May I suggest bringing back Arsenio Hall?

Thursday, August 15th

Bruno Mars, Live in Austin

Bruno Mars

Last night Bruno Mars stopped off in Austin on his Moonshine Jungle Tour. It was his first time playing in our musical city and he sold out the Frank Erwin Center with no problem. Although I was unable to bring more than a tiny point and shoot camera, I was close enough to get some decent shots.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

Bruno and his band played all the hits and the fan favorites. With just two albums under his belt totaling twenty songs, Bruno’s star is still on the rise. He and the band are not yet tour-weary and had plenty of energy for their hip-thrusting choreography and general jumping around all over the stage. The pompadours and suits behind them, their current style is a modern take on 70s chic, which is best represented musically by Treasure on Unorthodox Jukebox.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a large-scale show of this sort that catered to the ladies so specifically. The handsome, well-dressed band clearly enjoyed gyrating for thousands of screaming girls. Music aside, the show had a bit of a Chippendales feel to it. It was fun, funny, and all around enjoyable. Simply the best live show I’ve seen in a long time.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

Rehearsed to a tee, it was nice to not play the stomping and clapping game for the encore. They reappeared moments after leaving the stage and closed with Locked Out of Heaven and Gorilla (my personal favorite) with glitter falling from the ceiling and booming pyrotechnics. It was a crescendo that left us wired for hours after. Much more exciting than my typical Wednesday nights.

Bruno Mars

Monday, June 10th

L’Oca D’Oro

Goodness, this post is overdue. But I’m trusting that most of you have not been to a L’Oca D’Oro dinner yet and will still consider this cutting-edge restaurant news. So what is L’Oca D’Oro? An exquisite marriage of food and music. The concept is so very Austin, that it’s surprising it took someone this long to execute it. But it’s here now and it makes sense.

On Sunday nights L’Oca D’Oro pops up at Franklin Barbecue and puts on “dinners to rock to.” A themed cocktail and subsequent courses are inspired by a different artist each week. Radiohead, Prince, Queen, The Police, and Fleetwood Mac are just a few of the featured acts they’ve done. On the night I went with my some friends, we were treated to Nina Simone. (It was Mother’s Day and Nina was one tough mother.)

We started with a cocktail invented just for the night. I believe it was called I Put a Spell on You, and it did indeed put a spell on us. A little bit of rye, absinthe, orange liquor, and a long list of other ingredients painstakingly measuring by spoonfuls into a shaker, it was sophisticated and refreshing. One of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.

Nina Simone Cocktail

After drinks on the porch we made our way inside. There’s something special about being inside a restaurant after hours, especially one as notoriously busy as Franklin. It almost felt like we broke in to throw a clandestine party and might be caught at any moment. The flowers and stem candles didn’t feel one bit out of place in the normally casual setting, and as the sun set, the darkness enveloped us and made the intimate dinner feel that much more secretive.

Table Centerpiece


The first course was called High Priestess of Soul. The nest of fried potatoes wrapped in zucchini, peach, basil and topped with an egg were reminiscent of the album cover’s headdress or “nest.”

High Priestess of Soul

High Priestess of Soul

There was a bit of a delay bringing out the next course, but we were kept busy with a hearty bread basket and a luxe selection of butters.

Bread and Butter

Nina’s 1970 album Black Gold inspired the next dish which was a visual treat. Charred cuttlefish laid gently on black ink risotto, with fresh porcini, kale, tomatoes and golden beets. More than a pretty face, this was the best dish of the night. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly and while ink can often weigh down a dish, in this case it did not. Every bite was a delight.

Black Gold

Nina Simone Sings the Blues provided the color reference for the next course. The smoked pork loin and fried green tomatoes were adorned with wheat berries and pickled blueberries. The tomatoes were a tad over salted…but not enough to give me the blues. What’s up with wheat berries? They are delicious. Why aren’t we putting them on everything?

Sings the Blues

The dessert course provided the music that I most related to, the loose jazzy style of Silk and Soul. In a bit of a stretch, on the menu it was related to Silk Road, a trade route for drugs, and taking it a step further, suggesting opium. I’m a big fan of poppy seeds and don’t mind them in a dessert, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Nina Simone was not an opium user.

The jasmine torte was probably harder than intended, but I appreciated the poppy seed pudding and smoked cream. It was not an overly sweet dessert and for that, I think Nina would have approved.

Silk and Soul

The dinner was really enjoyable. The leisurely pacing made for a later night than I had hoped, but that would not prevent me from attending another dinner and I highly recommend everyone try this. Buy tickets from the website ahead of time with the option of wine pairings or a la carte drinks upon arrival. Rock on!

Wednesday, May 8th

My Dream ACL Line-up

Like every year, the announcement of the ACL line-up is polarizing. People love it! People hate it! I’m going! I’m not going! Why the hell is Muse always a headliner?

Seriously though, why the hell is Muse always a headliner? I can’t be the only one bummed out by this. And Kings of Leon? Pffft. Over it.


Call me sentimental, but I long for the days when a music festival provided some variety. Throw in some hip-hop and Latin bands with the traditional rock bands. I mean, most people are like me in that they don’t stick to just one genre. I’m not saying this year’s line-up is one note, per se, but I do think it could be a little more diverse. And I really don’t think we should be recycling bands so quickly. Muse is not allowed back in the city until 2018, okay?

I’m going to give you and idea of my ideal line-up. Some food for thought for next year’s festival, mmmkay? Thanks, Muse fans ACL organizers.

First up, and this is just so obvious: Daft Punk.

Daft Punk

I have a couple picks for local bands. Black and White Years and Grupo Fantasma.

Black and White Years

Grupo Fantasma

We should invite a couple bands that have had some hardships. I can think of two bands I loved that had the lead singers OD. So I’m including Alice in Chains and Sublime in my festival.

Alice In Chains


Okay, now I’m going to blow your mind. Janet Jackson is playing at my ACL. That’s right, the elusive Miss Jackson If You’re Nasty is going to bring back the whole Rhythm Nation dance troupe and give a kick-ass performance. I know. I can hardly believe it myself.

Janet Jackson

But the real mind-blower, the act no one saw coming, is the Temple of the Dog reunion. It’s not a part of a tour. Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell and Co., get together in a once in a lifetime 90s nostalgia moment purely for ACL. Critics call it the greatest ACL moment of all time.

Temple of the Dog

When Mr. Bungle shows up, people just start passing out from the shock. I mean, they’re not even listed on the ticket, they just SHOWED UP to melt our faces off.

Mr. Bungle

Justin Timberlake and Brian Setzer collaborate on a rocking swing session. Rumor has it that they’ll be doing a bonus show at the Continental Club later that night, so people start lining up in the morning.

Justin Timberlake

Brian Setzer

Appearing on the hip-hop stage are De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, K-os, Brown Bag Allstars, and Macklemore. They play individually and in various formations, eventually all getting on the stage together and doing a Beastie Boys tribute.

John Legend is backed by The Roots and they play nothing but Elton John covers. The crowd goes insane during Rocket Man when an actual rocket shoots off the stage and into the starry sky.

John Legend and The Roots

And the Live Music Capital of the World rocked and rocked and rocked.

Wednesday, April 3rd

All the Dirty Gossip

Cory Monteith is headed back to Gleehab:

Glee's Cory Monteith is going to rehab

Also rehab-bound is Lindsay Lohan. Eventually. When she stops hanging out with Charlie Sheen, cavorting around Brazil, and stealing everything she can get her hands on. Sigh. This is a totally different version of the girl who starred in Mean Girls. Lindsay, sober up. Also, I WANT MY PINK SHIRT BACK!

Lindsay Lohan attends John John Store Opening in Sao Paulo

Game of Thrones started again. Who’s watching? I am so in love with this show.

Game of Thrones Season Three

Have you seen the new Robin Thicke video? I was going to blog about it weeks ago, because I found it so weird, yet fashionable. Then I forgot. But now that it’s been banned from YouTube (for being too sexy) I figured I’d better mention it. You can still watch it here, so take a gander and let me know what you think.


I thought it was a April Fool’s prank, but this very good news turned out to be real. Disney Pixar is putting out a sequel to Finding Nemo starring Ellen Degeneres’s upbeat fish character, Dory. We’ll have to wait until 2015, so till then we’ll just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Finding Dory

Reality fans can stay tuned to Bravo, as they have almost 20 new reality shows in the works. That’s in addition to the reality shows you already know and love. Or hate. You’ll see some familiar faces like Candy Burruss and Phaedra Parks in spin-offs, as well as plenty of new “talent.” I’m looking forward to seeing how that donkey booty helps rich people sort out their rich people problems. Yup, that’s real.


And that’s the dirt!

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


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


Charles Bradley

Eco Light Garden

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

Friday, March 8th

Chronicles of a Party Girl

It’s South by Southwest and I pity the poor souls who aren’t in Austin right now. The next week and a half or so will be devoted to consuming as much pop culture and tech as we can squeeze in. And the parties, MY GOD, the parties! My event schedule is too big to properly manage, so I will be whisked away in the herds from one place to the next, hoping that I don’t forget too many. Taking a note from the scenesters, I’ve RSVP’d to everything and am on every list.

While SXSW officially starts today, most of us have been living it up for a week already. You know the pre-parties are necessary training for the actual week. And like conditioned athletes, we train hard. I’m already having too much fun. New career goal: socialite who attends parties for a living. Will someone pay me to do that? Pretty please?

Paris Hilton

Every company worth their salt hosts fabulous parties so you just have to show up, find parking, and enjoy the free drinks and eats. The parking is actually kind of a nightmare and while I’m usually lucky in that area, I might try to figure out how to (takes deep breath) take the bus. Unless someone is volunteering to chauffer me around for about ten days. Pretty please?

How to you prepare for a week of this?

6th St

Photo via The Statesman


Photo via Extreme Air Shots

  • A fridge full of bottled water
  • 15 pounds of grapefruit
  • Starbucks double espresso shots
  • Ear plugs
  • Tons of eye makeup remover
  • Comfortable sneakers. Or heels, if you are stupid.
  • Phone, iPad, and laptop chargers
  • Book bag
  • Extra business cards
  • Mints and lip balm

Everyone might have a different Southby prep list, but that’s what mine looks like. In addition to all the parties I’ll be hitting the music circuit and some of the interactive stuff.

I’ll try to recap what I can after the haze clears. But I anticipate relaxing my blogging schedule for a week or so. See you on the other side, everyone!