Monthly Archives: April 2012

T-shirt Tuesday #2: ClayTone Productions

So for the second edition  of T-shirt Tuesday, I am giving a sartorial shout-out to  Claytone Productions, the awesome sound team that works with Blue Goggles Films.  Working with these guys has made me really appreciate how much good sound impacts a film.  They totally work some audio magic.  So check out their website and follow them on Twitter @ClayToneProd (seriously, some of the tweets that come out of all-night/all-day mixing marathons are quite funny).

NOTE:  So yes, the first 2 T-shirt Tuesdays have featured T-shirts given to me by my friends and publicize their businesses.  But I didn’t just feature them because they were free (though I do love a free tee) or because they were from my friends.  They were T-shirt Tuesday featured tees because I really like what they are doing – small artistically driven endeavors.  That said, most, if not all, T-shirt Tuesday featured tees will be ones that I bought because I found them in one way or another irresistible.  Until next time, Vive le T-shirt!

OMG Awesomeness! : De-Pixelated – Operation Raccoon City

Looks like a typical high school to me

A couple of weeks ago I, along with the rest of the Blue Goggles family, spent 24 hours during the span of a weekend, shooting what would become the first episode in the new show De-Pixelated on  As with all Blue Goggles productions, the shoot was tons of fun even when sleep was at a deficit.  Filming in a school overnight with about a dozen or so zombie extras?  Yes, please!  So glad the film is now out there for the world to see.

If you like the Resident Evil franchise or if you just like some good old zombie survival horror, then you should check this out. Even if you don’t, you should watch it to see what can be made with a rather small budget and a lot of hard work by people who are passionate about what they are doing.

Dispatches from Brewtopia: Off-Centered Film Fest 2012 Part 1- Schnitzengruben & Local Brews

This past weekend here in Austin was the 5th Annual Off-Centered Film Festival, a most perfect union of Dogfish Head Brewery and the Alamo Drafthouse. This is like the Reese’s cup of events.  Two great things that go great together.

While the festival itself celebrates short films referencing Dogfish Head beer made by folks from around the country, there are other events that have become part of the yearly festival. Thanks to the kind folks at Do512, I received two passes for the Fest’s opening night event – The Blazing Saddles Quote-Along Beer Party. OK so not only is Blazing Saddles one of my all time favorite comedies (tied only with The Jerk), but there was plentiful special brews from all of my favorite local breweries.

The pours were small (roughly 4oz) and were $3 each benefiting the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Before you scream, “Rip-off!” understand that not only were many of these beers rather potent and special, but this was an event to RAISE money for a very good cause.   If you know anything about craft breweries in general and the uphill battle they have been fighting in Texas with the Texas Alcoholics Beverage Commission (TABC), you would think it worth the price and then some.  I actually liked the small pours since it gave me the opportunity to sample a few.  Here they are in no particular order:

Jester King/Mikkeller Beer Geek Rodeo – Imperial Oatmeal Stout, roasted malt, chipotle peppers and Vietnamese Civet coffee.  Jester King is one of my favorite breweries for a number of reasons, not least of which are their repeated collaborations with the Danish Gypsy brewer Mikel.  Smoky, deliciousness, not much more I can say except that I loved it and can’t wait to have more.

(512) Brewing Company Pecan Porter with Toasted Coconut and Dried Cherry – Though not as delicious as the Whiskey Barrel aged Double Pecan Porter (sigh), it was an interesting brew.  Very nice cherry aroma with hints of the coconut which went nicely with the usual nuttiness of the Pecan Porter which is my favorite regular brew from (512).

South Austin Brewing Saison d’Austin – Saisons are my Belgian brew of choice these days, and this was a nice one.  While it is one of their standard brews, it was my first taste from this new Austin brewery.  Lovely fruitiness and a spicy aroma make this 8% ABV go down a little too easy.

Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling Strawberry Milk Stout – Before you think of strawberry Quik beer (yuck), let me tell you, this beer was amazing.  Complex and not cloyingly sweet as one might expect with a slight real strawberry aroma.  And to make it even better, they used locally grown Poteet strawberries, making it a true farm to pint beer.  Can’t wait to have this brew again.  So unique.

Thirsty Planet Brewing Jittery Monk Smoked Coffee Dubbel – While many of the readily available brews from Thirsty Planet are solid straightforward brews (Buckethead IPA is a fave), there are some adventurous beers to be had when you visit the brewery’s tasting room on Saturdays.  A Basil Melon Wit and an Acorn Squash IPA have been on tap when I have visited, as well as other brews that don’t make it outside the tasting room.  Jittery Monk is definitely different and in the best way.  It has a very strong coffee character, but because it is a dubbel instead of the usual porter or stout, it was even easier to drink.  Needless to say, I was glad to find out from the Thirsty Planet folks that it wasn’t just a special experimental brew will be available around town in May.

So after all of those lovely beers, an outdoor Quote-Along screening of Blazing Saddles (complete with cap guns and free beans) was the perfect finish to the night.  This film, along with Young Frankenstein, are in my opinion, two of Mel Brook’s masterpieces.  Witty, often slapsticky, but both films are ultimately about outsiders trying to fit in.

Stay tuned for Off-Centered Film Fest 2012 Part 2 – Great Food, Leone, and More Beer (Oh My!)

OMG Awesomeness!: Henri – A Cat Video by Way of Sartre

I’m sure some of you have heard about this already, but I thought it was worth posting for those who hadn’t because it’s a gem.  After so many years on the Internet, there are only so many videos of adorable kittens and cats jumping in and out of boxes one can take.

OK, admittedly I can take a whole lot of those, but this made me laugh so hard that I had to watch it a couple of times.  And that usually doesn’t happen.

It’s the cat video I wished I had made.  If Cannes had a category for cat films, this would win in it.  I don’t know whether to LOL or just question my own existence.  I just love it.  Check out the sequel below for more feline ennui.

T-shirt Tuesday – Inaugural Edition

I have an unabashed love of t-shirts.  Not only are they oh so comfy, but they are a nice way of letting folks know what you like.  Also, they tend to be relatively cheap.  While I have always been on the look out for fun tees, the abundance of daily/biweekly/monthly shirt sites has both emptied my wallet and filled my closet within the past year.   Because of this (and the fact that I am somewhat lazy and this gives me an easy blog entry) I have decided to feature one of my many (and ever growing collection) of T-shirts.  So I present to you, gentle readers, the inaugural edition of T-shirt Tuesday.

Since this is the first of hopefully many T-shirt Tuesdays, I wanted it to be special.  The featured tee, though quite new, is one near and dear to my heart as it is for Blue Goggles Films.  Blue Goggles Films is an Austin based production company focusing on video game inspired content. Pretty cool, huh?   Over the past couple of years I have been lucky enough to work with them on a number of short films, so having a way to advertise for these guys makes me so happy.  Check out their YouTube channel, subscribe, and all that good stuff because there are a number of fun shorts planned for the coming months.

Check out one of my personal favorites below.

If you dig the tee or you just want to give a sartorial shout-out to a kick-ass production company, pick up your very own Blue Goggles T-shirt !  That’s it for the first T-shirt Tuesday.  Until next time, live long and wear T-shirts.

Hate Expectations – My Turbulent Relationship with Movie Trailers

Once upon a time I enjoyed watching the trailers before a film.  They were tiny teasers of a film.  Not too much was given away, but it piqued your interest just enough to make you excited for the film’s release.  Watch a trailer from the early 80s to see what I mean.  Trailers have become spoilertastic, often giving away much of the plot before one even sets foot in the theater to see the film.

Needless to say, I was surprised and a bit saddened when I read about a recent UC San Diego study by the psychology department which concluded that people enjoyed stories with a twist ending more when they knew the outcomes. Do we not want to be surprised at what we watch or read? The largely negative audience feedback on The Cabin in the Woods aligns with this conclusion. Many people (not me) felt tricked or misled by the trailer and marketing of the film. I say, watch the trailer again and tell me you thought it was a straightforward slasher flick. If so, you must have been seeing what you wanted to see. I did have a large issue with a scene in the trailer that proves to be quite spoilery, but other than that I enjoyed the film. Perhaps more on that in another post at a later date.

Sometimes, trailers don’t spoil by giving away too much, but rather by giving away too little. I know, I said earlier that trailers should pique interest, but stay with me here. I like to call these trailers, “Whizz-Bang” trailers. Most of them are for action, scifi, or horror films. They usually consist of quick cuts and literal sensory overload of CGI. Think of the trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon – yeah that kind of trailer. The ones that have all kinds of cool CGI visuals without context, assuming that audiences will want to see it based on that alone. And maybe for some people that works. But for me, it usually means I quickly dismiss the film from my future viewing options (unless others really want to see it . . ahem Transformers: Dark of the Moon).

Considering this, I would like to offer John Carter as a film I nearly missed seeing based on the terrible trailer.  Knowing what I know now, maybe if the trailers had centered more around the adventure aspects of the story, it would have gotten through to more people. Instead, it seemed to alienate most potential viewers. It wasn’t kiddie enough to be a family film, and not adult enough for the rest of us to care (even with the Andrew Stanton pedigree).  Admittedly, my expectations were quite low.  The film  was deemed a flop within hours of its release and was widely panned by critics, but it was really the trailer that had almost sealed the deal. Oh and pretty much anything 3D is a turnoff for me. Higher ticket prices, often post converted prints, and a general sense of vertigo.  No thanks.  Gratefully my local theater almost always has 2D screenings.

So in spite of all of this, on the recommendation of friends, I went to see John Carter in 2D. I really could not believe how much I enjoyed it.  It hearkened back to the old fashioned adventures I enjoyed as a child and still enjoy to this day.  Sure it was pulpy, but that was part of the charm especially if you know anything about Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ work.  I remarked to my husband during the credits, “It’s sad that we likely won’t see another John Carter Barsoom film for awhile, yet we are guaranteed 2 more in the Hunger Games series.”  I don’t mean that as a total swipe at Hunger Games. I read the books and thought the story was OK and the movie was about the same. More than anything, I felt like I had almost been hoodwinked into avoiding this fun film by the horrible marketing and bad word of mouth.

I fear what the summer holds – The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, & Prometheus are coming out soon and although I won’t be covering my ears and closing my eyes (as a friend did for all the Inception trailers), I will hopefully see them relatively unspoilt.  (Hmm after seeing the Prometheus trailer again over the weekend, I’m not so sure.)  Will they live up to the hype of the trailers? Will they be spoiled by overzealous marketing campaigns?  I guess we’ll know in a few weeks.

OMG Awesomeness! : The Professor – Live Doctor Who Inspired Improv

If you live in Austin, TX  like I do, there are dozens of interesting things to do each weekend.  Of course, there is the well known music scene, but there is also a thriving improv scene here that deserves your attention.  Just within the past year I have seen improvised shows inspired by Miyazaki, Steampunk, and Doctor Who.  I never knew improv could be like this, especially since most of my experience with it was in high school drama class or “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”

The Professor: Improv Inspired by Doctor Who starts with the show’s director, Justin Davis, soliciting a couple of words from the audience in typical improv fashion.  Using those words as a starting point, the cast completely improvises the evening’s show.  It can and will go anywhere from here.  But surprisingly, out of it all comes something that is indeed inspired by (in theme and structure) a typical Doctor Who episode, including the occasional regeneration (!).  Simple staging and the small theater really allow the audience to focus on the actors and their antics on stage which should be the whole point of improv.

The night I attended, there was an amorous alien, Anubis, and his hellhounds trying their best to end the world as we know it.  Of course, thanks to the quick thinking of the Professor (Mike Ferstenfeld) and his companion, Clara (Emily Breedlove) this fate was averted.  This season of The Professor includes 3 different Professors, as well as a number of different companions.  Tonight’s episode is rumored to be a regeneration episode, so get thee to the theater to check it out.  Apparently the new Professor will be a she!  Not even the BBC has been brave enough to do that (yet).

Needless to say if you love Doctor Who, enjoy the creativity that improv allows and live near Austin, you should definitely check out The Professor during its run Fridays and Saturdays through April 21 at the Salvage Vanguard Theater.

If you don’t, the Daleks and Cybermen win.

And now my childhood desires are met (Well one of them . . .)

One of my earliest memories is my 4th birthday party. It was Wonder Woman themed, complete with a Wonder Woman-shaped cake. I’m pretty sure whoever made it used this pan except without the creepy plastic face. One drawback of this awesome cake was the fact that the black icing used for her hair tasted like evil. Gag.

Other than the horrible black icing, it was one of the most perfect childhood birthdays. I was a massive fan of the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter. So much so that I used to run around the house in my WW Underoos wearing a couple of my mother’s golden bangles as my bullet-deflecting cuffs. My “lasso of Truth” was a jump rope. Good Times.

Truth be told, I haven’t read much recent WW comics, but my love for her has never waned. So when I saw that Converse was offering Wonder Woman Chuck Taylors, I lost it. While I may no longer have my Underroos, these would do nicely for general crime-fighting. Full disclosure: I already own the Converse Catwoman Chuck Taylors but they were bought mainly because they were a fantastic purple (OK and also because they had Catwoman on them).

Sure they are pricey, but they will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get an Invisible Plane.

What is dispatches from catopia?

I know.  Another blog.  Really what the world needs now.

So why am I doing this?  Well, I have enjoyed reading various blogs over the past 10 or so years, but I feel like they no longer speak to me in the way they once did.  So I want to write something I would like to read.  I hope it will be an amalgam of a whole lot of stuff that I like and that I think others like me would appreciate.

For better or for worse, the Internet has something for everyone, so hopefully if you’ve found this blog – it will be for you.  If it’s not, that’s fine too.  Just keep on going, nothing to see here.

So what will I blog about?  I enjoy movies and beer, often at the same time.  So that’s something to start with.  Sometimes I’ll use this place to share a bit of awesome I’ve come across in my virtual walkabouts.  In any case, it will be a place to share beyond just the errant Facebook or Twitter update.

Now I hate to throw around the “G” word here as it has become so en vogue to do so these days.  So I won’t.  I love what I love and I won’t be ashamed to say so, but I know not all of it is Geek-cool, in the ironic hipster way.  When I wear a shirt with a cat/robot/zombie/Tardis on it, I wear it because I like it, not because I think it is ironic.  Irony be damned.

So why catopia?  Years ago when I was in grade school, I wrote a sweeping story called, “Beyond the Horizon.” It was about a girl who encounters a magical perfect place inhabited by cats.  It was a catopia (utopia +cats) called Catmandu (forgive me, I was nine.)

So now this is my perfect place in the big scary world of the Internet.  And we know the Internet is full of cats.