Wednesday, June 21st

ATX Television Festival Season 6

It was my sixth year attending the Austin Television Festival—my favorite of Austin’s many festivals—which means I’ve attended every single year. Like the city itself, it evolves from year to year, notably feeling more crowded. It’s not guaranteed to get into every session one wants, which is something new for this spoiled brat, but that’s because founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson have preserved the intimacy and close-knit spirit of the event.

I’m sure it could have grown in size ten times over; Austin certainly has the venues and there is no shortage of passionate TV fans. But instead, panels and screenings still take place in places like the tiny Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. So while not everyone gets in, those who do feel like they are part of something truly special.

I was lucky enough to be in cozy sessions with many shows I loved over the years like Archer, Superstore, and Party of Five. Even those sessions that happen in “larger” venues like the Paramount still feel intimate. So if the price of getting these unique experiences is that I don’t get into every single thing I want to, so be it. This year I missed out on This is Us, which might have been the most sought-after session. But I’m feeling the Alaskan glow that you can only get from watching Rob Morrow and Janine Turner talk about Northern Exposure, one of my all-time favorite shows. When Chris and I made the cross-country drive to Austin I only packed a few things in my car, letting the rest arrive in a truck days later. Among my carful of necessities was our TV, DVD player, and Northern Exposure DVDs. We spent our first week here rewatching the series as we unpacked and set up our new life. Over the years, I’ve watched it many times and each time it brings something new to me.

Northern Exposure at ATX TV Festival

So I was over the moon to see my beloved show in the lineup. And it did not disappoint. Listening to the actors and writers talk about the unexpected success of a summer show that was never supposed to make it, it was clear that the magic they created was something that happened with just the right people at just the right time.

We watched the Aurora Borealis episode where Chris builds a sculpture and we are introduced to his half-brother, as well as Adam. Like every episode, it was funny, poignant, mystical, weird, and memorable. It was also the episode where we first met Adam, brilliantly played by Adam Arkin, who was sitting in the theater with us and easily coerced to join the panel. They revealed that they’d love to do some type of reunion special (maybe a whole season?!) and are hoping the show will be available for streaming eventually. Send me a petition. I’ll sign it!

Northern Exposure

Another highlight was the GIRLS panel, with HBO executives, director, casting, and Ebin Moss-Bachrach (Desi) and Jon Glaser (Laird) all of whom shared fond memories from filming one of my favorite shows. Honestly, if they did a GIRLS panel every single year I would go to every one till the end of time. I know it’s a polarizing show, but love or hate Lena Dunham, her storytelling talents are undeniable.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach










The third dream-come-true session was The Comeback. It looked like the brilliant mock reality show was only going to get one season, yet nearly a decade later they came back and wrapped up the story. I’m a huge dork and actually cried when it came back and again at the thoughtful way they ended it. Lisa Kudrow is a brilliant actress and was so lovely and down-to-earth in person. I’m not sure if she even had any makeup on. She reminisced with Michael Patrick King (who I hope returns for a Sex and the City panel one day), Laura Silverman and the ubiquitous Dan Bucatinsky. Sadly, Robert Michael Morris, who played her lovable and devoted hairdresser Mickey passed away just prior to the festival. It made the gathering even more poignant as they devoted much of the panel to sharing the news.

The Comeback

Another fantastic season in the books. I can’t wait till next year.

If you could pick some of the featured shows for the next festival, what would you choose?

Friday, May 16th

Fried and True

Fried and True Austin Texas

The acronym for Fried and True is FAT, something that’s not lost on owners Arielle and Jesse Henson. “We don’t count calories here. We NEVER use the word diet!” And why should they? Despite being one the healthiest cities in the country, Austin is lining up for battered, fried, carnival nostalgia. This is pure guilty pleasure.

Fried and True Austin Texas

The original concept was fritters and it didn’t really take off. Austin just doesn’t get fritters. You know what we get? Fried Oreo’s. Corndogs. Pickles. Funnel cake piled high with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. There’s no subtlety hidden within the context of each bite. The flagrant indulgence flies in the face of everything we know to be good for us.

Fried and True Austin Texas

In the age of small plates, micro bites, and farm-to-table organic everything, it’s refreshing to see a bit of old fashioned hedonism. Located in the funky trailer park on East 6th and Waller, hungry patrons line up before, after, and halfway through barhopping to enjoy their favorite fried treats. Arielle wanted to explore the notion that Texans really do love their fried food. She leans in with a stage whisper, “They do!”

This exploration has taken on a life of its own. On any given night you can find her battering and frying up the tasty eats of her fellow food trucks, on demand. Just for the hell of it. That means battered fried pizza, ice cream sandwiches, Cadbury Eggs, and pretty much anything that’ll fit in a fryer. This open-minded enthusiasm is contagious and I found myself shouting things like, “You should fry Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!”

Fried and True Austin Texas

Aside from the novelty of finding the weirdest things to fry, it’s the signature dishes at Fried and True that keep people coming back. They only use quality ingredients, which means the hot dogs are Nathan’s and the pickle spears are homemade. The batters are formulated to adhere to their subjects, ensuring every item is cooked evenly. Each dish is fried perfection, making it light and airy, not at all greasy. A remarkable standout is the candied bacon, which satisfies all the late night cravings: sweet, salty, smoky, and crunchy. The bacon has such a cult following that people call to make sure it’s available before driving from far distances. Yes, it IS that good.

Fried and True Austin Texas

They may be newcomers, joining the food court in February 2012 after a brief stint on Rainey, but they are a crucial piece of the eclectic weirdness that dominates East Sixth. The truck’s vintage décor and the wild items being served up all contribute to their popularity. This unique truck is cranking out whimsical dishes that please the taste buds and just maybe, make you feel like a kid again.

Fried and True Austin Texas

1104 E. 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 am- 2:00 pm, 7 pm-Midnight, (till 3 am Friday and Saturday)

This article originally appeared in Austin Food Magazine.

Friday, September 14th

Oh Hey, What’s Up?

Happy Friday, you guys. Today I’m guest blogging over at Oh Hey, What’s Up? Check out my list of current raves on cool local blogger, Corrin Renee’s site.

Tomorrow I get to attend BlogathonATX, where I will learn a bunch of cool new stuff and go eat cake and sushi with Austin’s bloggity who’s who for 12 hours.

Have a good weekend and look for some new and improved Mad Betty-ness next week.

Friday, July 6th

A Word on Blogging

Lately I’ve had more than a few people ask me about starting up blogs. I consider myself a newbie, still under the one-year mark, but I feel qualified enough to say…Yes! Do it! Start a blog.

In less than a year, my life has changed in so many ways:

1. I’ve learned some new skills. I had to educate myself on everything. From purchasing a domain and hosting, to learning a platform. I’m talking about hours and hours of my life and maybe some crying. I am biased towards WordPress because it’s the most sophisticated tool and you can pretty much do anything. But there are tools that are super easy to use like Blogger, Tumblr and TypePad. There are options for people all levels, so if a fear of tech is holding you back from blogging, don’t be afraid!

2. A chronic procrastinator, blogging has forced me to become more disciplined. I have to write every day. In less than a year I’ve accumulated more than 200 posts. Not all bloggers are so prolific. It’s not necessary to post every day. As long as updates are regular enough to maintain readership, posting frequency is up to you. Personally, I need to keep the momentum going, so I post a minimum of six days a week. There are bloggers out there that post six times a day.

3. I’ve met a lot of new people from blogging. Other Austin bloggers, writers of all types, foodies, and WordPress geniuses. Each time I attend a blogging event or networking function I meet interesting people. We stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter, read each other’s blogs. It’s nice to have people to bounce ideas off and I love the diversity in these groups. Plus, I’m pretty social and love to have new friends.

4. I have a long way to go, but I’m learning photography. I bought my first DSLR camera and can’t wait for this adventure to unfold. As my photos get better, so will my blog. Maybe my priorities will change and the words will take a backseat to the images. Scary prospect, but I’ll end up a more well-rounded person.

5. I look at my life differently now. In addition to bringing a camera everywhere, I really try to pay attention to detail in a way I never had before. If I go to a movie or concert, chances are I’ll blog about it. So I focus and try to engage on a new level. For instance, I had to take notes during Mad Men all season so I could write about it. Rather than just watch the show, I had to analyze it. Sometimes I had to watch it twice. Blogging about a movie is difficult because I can’t take notes in the theater. I need to just remember. It’s harder than it sounds. And if I want people to read it, I have to leave out any spoilers. Do you know how hard it is to recap a movie and not give anything away?

6. I’ve become more of a planner, setting goals and timelines for myself all the time. There are always new things to learn. I’ve barely scratched the surface of SEO, Google Analytics, marketing, and basic WordPress improvements. At some point I will have to learn some coding. I paid a designer for a custom theme and really had little input, other than the “feel” that I wanted. Eventually when I go for a redesign, I’ll be able to give better instruction. Not to mention that I should always be trying to improve my writing and engaging new readers. Maybe making a few bucks. My list is lengthy.

The reward of putting your thoughts in writing is pretty awesome. When people read it, it’s even more fulfilling. I love to hear people comment on what they read or suggest post ideas. And this month Mad Betty is Austin Woman Magazine’s choice for Best of the Blogs. Pretty cool, right?

So do you want to start a blog? Do you have access to a computer? Do you have something to share with the world? Because, really, that’s all it takes. Everything else is just icing.