So let me tell you about last week, when I made my first ever trip to Fantastic Fest in Austin. Though first I want to thank Kristen, Meredith and Evrim of the FF for making me feel so welcome, because I truly had an awesome time.
Now, I would be remiss in recounting my adventures without mentioning that it was as hot as flaming balls in Austin. It was the kind of heat that hits you like a wall as soon as you step outside, and I have to wonder if it was detrimental to my system to be constantly moving from meat freezer-like interiors to the sweltering outdoors as I was. Anyway, it was all the more incentive to take shelter within the Alamo Drafthouse’s air conditioned theaters.
Happily, the Fest was wise enough to use this happy, turban-wearing monkey riding a dog as one of their avatars, and so I was able to acquire it on both a poster and this bitchin’ tee shirt, which I’m wearing as I write this:
The Fest also set up a few elaborate tableaus in honor of certain of the featured films, including this one for The Autopsy of Jane Doe. For some reason, as I looked at it, I couldn’t help being reminded that the hedges back home needed a trim.
Happily, our failure to secure seats for some of the films we wanted us to see allowed us time to explore Austin a little. I was disheartened to learn from one of our cab drivers that the city was going through some of the same hipsters v. techies v. natives drama that we are here in San Francisco. Still, despite the preponderance of topknots, tech start-ups, and douchey bro bars, you could still find evidence that Austin is indeed part of Texas:
I also have to say that I ate quite well during my stay, despite my finicky dietary restrictions and the fact that every restaurant we dined in was called The Something Grill. Austin is truly a land of beer and meat, but if you, like me, refrain from consuming the hooved animals, you need not fear that they will start stuffing pork sausage down your throat the minute you off board the plane. There are hippies here, after all; even the Alamo Drafthouse had better non-beef option than its San Francisco offspring.
And on that topic, I couldn’t resist making some notes of comparison between our local Drafthouse and its granddaddy in Austin, with the caveat that the SF branch, being younger, has had the benefit of learning from its elder’s experience. Here are my rankings.
Location: SF (The New Mission Theater, where the SF Drafthouse resides, was formerly an honest-to-goodness grind house, located in the gritty Mission district. Austin’s Drafthouse is basically in a mall.)
Food: Austin (very tasty, with far more chicken options than the SF Drafthouse, as well as the best chicken burger I’ve ever had – San Francisco take note.)
Service: Tie (both are excellent)
Seating: San Francisco
Audience: Tie (both cater to the most well behaved movie patrons their respective cities have to offer. Congratulations to Tim League and company for achieving the seemingly impossible.)
1. I saw Elijah Wood, who was my lone star-sighting at the festival (unless you count Harry Knowles). I was alerted to his presence by someone (who will remain nameless) tweeting that “Frodo just spilled beer on my wife.”
2. To whoever’s idea it was to screen clips from Magic Lizard before The Dwarves Must Be Crazy: I will have my revenge.