Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mi Encanta Los Perros de Buenos Aires

My trip to Buenos Aires last week was a whim affair, one I embarked on with plan, no research, and just one real goal: track down really good yarn, which I did. Something I hadn't planned on encountering, but was delighted to discover, is that the Argentines LOVE their dogs. Los perros were everywhere. In France, there were a lot of dogs, too. But those seemed more involved in one-on-one relationships with their humans, not especially interested (the dogs or the humans) in allowing me to impose myself and get in a little dog loving. That was a bummer, since it's my goal to pet every dog on the planet. I did much better toward this end in BA, where dogs freely wandered up to me, and where I discovered humans were totally down with me freely wandering up to them and taking pictures of their pooches. I was especially delighted to discover that dog walking is an honored profession, and that the walkers head out with a dozen or more dogs who, for reasons I do not understand (but utterly admire), all seem to get along just fine. Herewith, some of my portraits de perros de BA:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Free Wedding-- No Kidding-- At Zach Scott (I'm Officiating)

Hey Y'all,
Zach Scott is having a contest to give a free wedding to a couple who enters the best 2 minute YouTube video in a contest that's happening right now. The press release is below. I'm officiating the wedding and lots of super groovy local folks are kicking in with wedding planning, catering, dress, etc. The contest is happening right now, so if you want to get hitched, and you're on a budget, this could be a most fun solution. Please pass the info along to anyone you know who might be interested. Also, as you'll see-- winners can use this as a vow renewal if they are already married. Commitment ceremony is also cool. Contest deadline is March 28th-- coming right up!
Rev. Spike


AUSTIN, Texas (March 8, 2010) - In celebration of the Austin staging of ZACH Theatre’s production of Thornton Wilder’s beloved play OUR TOWN, ZACH Theatre will give away a full wedding to a lucky Central Texas couple – complete with the ceremony and reception. The wedding will take place on the set of OUR TOWN in ZACH’s Nowlin Studio, located at 1426 Toomey Rd., in the heart of Austin on scenic Lady Bird Lake.

Couples are invited to submit a short, two-minute video via YouTube explaining why they are the ideal couple in OUR TOWN to win the Austin-themed wedding. The contest is open to all Central Texas residents, whether they wish to experience their first wedding, renew their vows, or perform a commitment ceremony.

The wedding package will include, but is not limited to:

  • A fully decorated private event room
  • Personal wedding coordination by Amanda Dudley of Big Day Events
  • Wedding officiated by Austin icon Spike Gillespie
  • Rehearsal dinner for 15 at Cannoli Joe’s
  • Wedding portraits by Meaghan D Photography
  • Selected wedding rentals from Premiere Party Central
  • Wedding favors from Nuptial Necessities
  • Custom wedding cake by Tammie Barnhill
  • Custom groom’s cake by Cake,Please!
  • Floral Arrangements by Just'in Blooms and Roses
  • $500 gift certificate from Unbridaled toward the bride’s wedding dress
  • Hair and makeup from Rae Cosmetics
  • Photography by Ron Parks Photography and
  • $1,000 beverage and bar service credit from Fion
  • Reception catered by In Good Taste Catering & Design
  • DJ music for the reception by Encore Entertainment
  • Thank-you notes or programs courtesy of Dragonfly Designs
  • Champagne basket for honeymoon courtesy Twin Liquors

Contest Dates:

  • March 8 – 28: Wedding contest contestants are invited to upload their video (video camera, iPhone, etc.) submissions to their personal YouTube page and send their link to ZACH at Full contest information, instructions and rules are available at
  • March 29 – April 11: The public votes on ZACH’s web site for their favorite couple.
  • April 12: The winner will be announced.
  • April 15 – May 23: Dates that are available for the winning couple’s wedding date, which may take place on Sunday evening or any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday morning/afternoon during the run of OUR TOWN.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Survey Time: Spikenstein or Not Spikenstein? That is the Question.

So a couple of months ago Austin Monthly wanted to profile me for a piece they were doing about salaries. I said okay-- I think it can be good to talk money and that too many people are weird and secretive when it comes to having that conversation. We went back and forth for a long time. Then came the picture request. I asked them to please send me specs so that Warren could shoot me-- he is usually in charge of profile shots that I use for sundry occasions like book jacket author photo, etc. They dragged their feet. I sent in some photo-- I think it was me in Seattle standing in front of an enormous orange cone (public art imitating construction site).

Then we were in France when the photo editor informed me that shot wouldn't work with the layout.. Then when I got back they actually wanted me to drive up to North Bumfuck Austin to get my photo taken. I said they could send a photographer to me, I wasn't spending three hours or more driving to the North Pole for a picture-- I don't even like having my picture taken. In the end, unbeknownst to me, they contacted my publisher and were given a photo that Warren had taken for my last book, a photo I could've supplied them with myself.

I never got a copy of the mag, and sort of forgot about the whole thing. A few times I ran into someone who'd seen the piece and said so. The other night, a friend said she'd seen it and what was up with my hair in that photo? This got me curious, so I emailed the photo editor and asked to see a copy of what they'd run, noting that I heard they'd given me a haircut using PhotoShop. She sent me back the above shot of the page layout and insisted they hadn't changed my hair, just changed the background of the photo to white (the picture was shot outside, in front of a lovely green bush).

I guess you say potatoe and I say potahto and all that, but I have to disagree about the insistence that they did not rework my hair in that photo. I'm thinking I look like Frankenstein's second cousin the way my head is all rectangly. Reminds me of my uber-butch days when I'd go into a barber shop and ask for a "High and Tight"-- which is military speak for Frankensteiny buzzcut.

Anyway, it's not the end of the world. But the moral of the story is, if a mag is going to run your picture, given the technological "advances" available today, you better get it in writing that they aren't going to fuck with the photo and you might want to demand to see an advance copy. Oh, and they didn't even give Warren a photo credit, which is probably a good thing, but still...

George Gobel (for the block)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Attention Two-Stepper: Allison Orr Wants YOU!

A Press Release from my buddy Allison-- if you haven't seen her work, trust me, she is an amazing choreographer.

We need two-steppers, yes we do!

Would you like to participate in what might be the grandest of all two-steps on the steps of the capitol? Entitled T is for...Two Hundred Two-Steppers on the Steps of the Texas Capitol, this free 30-minute performance will celebrate the two-step's rich cultural history while showcasing local dancers who love and live for the two-step.

Serving as the kick-off event for the 2010 Fusebox Festival, T is for... will be directed by celebrated local choreographer Allison Orr in partnership with award-winning Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds, who will be leading a 15-piece Texas swing orchestra.

The show will run from 6:30-7pm and Stubb's is providing free BBQ!

Would you like to participate? Here are the options:

Show up the day of the show! Show up and dance in the grand finale. Just arrive by 6:30pm and be in the end. Dance your heart out for the grand all-step!

Show up earlier the day of the show! Show up by 4pm on the South Steps of the Capitol and dance in the opening and ending sections. RSVP to> so we can save you a spot. No partner required.

Want to play a bigger role? This is for experienced two-steppers. We will begin weekly rehearsals in mid-March. Email> if you are interested and tell us if you have a partner and what kind of dancing you like to do.

The performance will include two-step, western swing, conjunto, spaghetti western-style, and country disco music. We need all kinds of dancers. We hope YOU will be a part!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers: I Love Them, I Love Them, I LOVE THEM

I've been meaning to post a follow up to my first post about Vibram Five Fingers but a few things got in my way. The main one is that I'm so busy walking and walking and walking thanks to this wondrous footgear that I don't have much time for reviewing. But as I noted in that first post, the good folks at Vibram sent me a pair and I promised to write about my experience. I want to emphasize (<-- with italics and everything) that I did not commit to writing a glowing review. And even though I would've felt bad if I hated the shoes, I would've said something truthful but nice. Happily, since I am as in love with these gorilla feet as I am with the dogs (okay, not really but you get the idea) there will be no damning with faint praise. I am here to praise and recommend.

That's not to say I didn't have some troubles with the shoes. In fact I did. Well, just one of them-- the right one. Here's what happened: After the first week or so, the right shoe was really rubbing in the back. I mean serious friction. Like horny teenagers in a borrowed car. This caused me considerable pain. Suspecting that the problem might be more related to my foot than any flaw in the shoe, I wanted to test that theory. There's not a lot of "breaking in" to do with Vibrams. They are super flex from the get-go. But the way they stay on is courtesy of an elastic cord, and my little elastic-adjusting toggle was set as loose as it could be and still, the fit was super tight. Rub rub rub. Ouch ouch ouch. I tried stretching the shoe by pulling on it and then wedging-- I kid you not-- an itty-bitty twig between the elastic and the back of the shoe. This helped a little. In the end though, it came down to My Right Foot, which, while not an entire 1/2 size bigger than the left, is somewhat bigger, which I attribute to the surgical reconstruction back in 2005.

I stuck with the shoes, somedays hobbling along, until the day came-- PTL!!-- when at long last, that right shoe did loosen up just enough and fit like a glove. Not an OJ Simpson glove. A proper glove. The sort of glove we refer to when we say, "Fits like a glove."

How to describe how overjoyed I am that my Vibrams and I have come to this place? Yes, yes, they still look as goofy as ever. And as I predicted they might, they certainly prompt plenty of conversations with strangers. Lots of folks have heard of the shoes but not seen them, and they have vague ideas (often not exactly right) about how they "work." The truth is, they "work" by letting your feet do the work they were designed to. Your arch begins arching of its own accord again, not reliant on some artificial arch in a shoe. You land more on the ball of your foot than your heel. Come to think of it, *I* don't even know the full mechanics. I just know how they feel.


I recently increased my walking distance-- doubling from 30 minutes to an hour whenever I can. Back in the old days walking an hour was nothing. But I've been cautious since the surgery. Now I'm testing out longer walks again and so far, so good. It's like walking barefoot, which I love, except you have a nice little layer between foot and pebbles or burrs or whatever.

Another funny thing-- when I'm inside the house, I am 99% of the time either barefoot or wearing a pair of handknitted socks. There is no place for shoes in my indoor life. Except now-- the way the shoes separate my toes feels so good that the other morning I found myself putting the Vibrams on even though I wasn't going anywhere. I just wanted that each-toe-gets-a-hug-every-minute-of-everyday feel.

So there you go. My Vibram update. Go get yourself a pair. They have them at Whole Earth and REI. Make sure you get the right size. And-- one last thing: if you get the synthetic ones (which I have) you can TOSS THEM IN THE WASHER. I just tested this out, too, and they came out all sparkly clean and totally intact.

Thank you Vibram. Too bad I can't wear them on the Red Carpet. (But that's just because I don't get Red Carpet invites.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Author Talk: John Otis in Town This Week

John Otis will be in town THURSDAY at 12:30, speaking at UT School of Communications. And just who is John Otis? He's worked as a reporter in Latin American for twenty years and is the author of the newly published Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure. He's also tight with some of my very favorite friends in the whole world, so I have it on excellent authority that the book and the talk are/will be most excellent.

You can read read an excerpt of the book-- which details the fate of three US military contractors held hostage for five years by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC)-- in Time Magazine.

For more info on John, check out his website.

Please help spread the word about this talk.