Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Go-gos at Stubb’s

I had hemmed and hawed about going to this show. What decided it for me was so many of my friend decided to go. I’m very glad that I did. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of it coming out, they played the Beauty & the Beat album all the way through. Rock on. I never thought I’d ever hear them play “This Town”. So very happy. After that they played a bunch more songs from all over their career, the hits sure, but also more obscure stuff. I can’t recall what exactly those songs were, but it was cool. They were tight and Belinda and Jane’s vocals were strong and clear. Great show to see in the open air. It I hadn’t been sick, I would have been dancing up a storm. All I managed was some shimmy and shake during “Head Over Heels.”

What really amused me about this show was the audience. There were tons of people who clearly have been fans since the band was in their heyday. I saw at least five original tour t-shirts and lots of mouthing of lyrics. I noticed that local TV meteorologist Mark Murray was there as well. After seeing him at so many shows over the years, I’m convinced that he’s a big music geek and probably lived at clubs when he was younger. The next time I see him at a show I think I’m going to go talk to him.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sickity Suckity

Being sick sucks. Being sick when I have lots of schoolwork supersucks. It hyper-sucks. It vacuum-of-space sucks. Friday morning I had a dry cough. Saturday morning I woke up feeling achy, feverish, dazed, and coughing. Ditto Sunday. I called my clinical teacher and gave her the heads up. Even a slight fever precludes us going to the hospital. The patients are already ill in some way, best to not expose them to any more germs. Plus, with an already taxed immune system, we could very well get something from the patients.

Thankfully my clinical instructor is cool and recognized that I’ve been doing a great job this semester so I didn’t have to make it up by going another day.

The other symptoms were pretty much resolved by Wednesday morning when I had a test, but the chest congestion and cough held on for days costing me lots of sleep. Friday night, my friend Chad gave me generic Musinex and that worked where everything else had failed to break up the chest congestion. Thanks Chad!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I gave a pill today

I gave my first medication today.

Before we students are allowed to dispense meds, we have to pass a test on basic math, unit conversions, and medical abbreviations. The math is pretty easy. The most difficult concept is when the prescription for an injected medication is for 15 mg and the vial that you have is 5 mg/mL. So, you do the math and draw up 3 mL. Sometimes it’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s just multiplication and division.

Unit conversions are more difficult because it’s just brute memorization. 1 ounce is 30 mL. 1 teaspoon is 5 mL. 1 grain is 15 mg. What’s a grain? It’s a unit of measure from the apothecary system, it doesn’t actually mean a grain as in rice, it’s anachronistic, and we’re all a little miffed that we have to learn it because some older doctors are fond of it for whatever reason.

Medical abbreviations also require memorization. Many of them make sense, especially if you know Latin, like s/p is status post (status after a procedure or some such) and PO is per oralis (by mouth). Others are less clear, like PRN (as needed). I did okay on that part, except for when I defined ac as before breakfast when it really means before before meals. No duh stoopid.

The last requirement for us to give meds is to review the medications with our clinical instructors before giving them. Mostly without prompting, we’re supposed to be able to name the drug, its functional class, indications (why it’s prescribed for this particular patient), common and life-threatening side effects, significant drug interactions, and nursing implications (checking blood pressure or lab values before administering, teaching patients about precautions, etc.). It’s really not that difficult and I feel much more socially useful learning that stuff than being able to say, break down a film script or convincingly dub in sound effects.

Anyway, I gave my patient a pain pill today. Some of my fellow students who gave meds said they felt like real nurses for the first time today. I didn't feel that way, but it was still damn cool.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

SXSW: Wrap-up

So I’m waaaay behind on blogging and am trying to catch up. Just to preserve the timeline, I’m backdating entries.

After the high of Thursday, Friday was a big let-down over all. It started well with The Bats in-store at End of an Ear. They were fun and it was great seeing a band I never thought I would see live. Also, I got Robert Scott as part of my 6ths autograph collection. It was a little odd because it was like he’d expected me to be there for that purpose. When I gave him the liner notes, he immediately took it and commented that it was fun song to sing. It’s rather funny to think about this older, seemingly reserved, straight Kiwi singing about a crush on an anonymous leather-jacketed fellow.

After that, I ran over to Spider House to see The Hidden Cameras again. I do love that band. After a few songs, Joel asked, "Where's CC?" referring to the back of my head. I stuck my hand up and he called me up saying I was their Texas tambourine player. So frickin' cool that I got to be on stage with a band I love twice. Afterwards I was all smiles. And they were so nice. Yay.

That night I got a late start and didn't catch any 8 or 9 o'clock show. As it happens, I ran into Mybloody and Spitting Tacks on Red River and we talked for a while. After that I waited in line way too long to get into the Sub Pop showcase. It was only after I got in that I found out it was running about 45 minutes behind. I suffered through The National for several songs before deciding it just wasn’t worth sticking around to see Rogue Wave, so I went home.

Saturday was better. Saw Rogue Wave do an acoustic show at the Convention Center. Beautiful and stirring. It’s a testament to Zach Rogue’s songwriting that the songs held up well at lower volume and without guitar effects. I’m still kicking myself for not recording it on my camera. Normally, the mic gets blown out, but they were quiet enough so that it would have worked. Oh well.

The Flatstock poster show was great, as usual. I’m so glad that poster art had a resurgence starting around 2001, especially in Austin. I was disciplined and only bought one $5 poster.

Saturday I spent most of the night with Mybloody. He gives a nice recap here. Tullycraft were really amazing. Totally whipped the crowd up and I got T-shirt as a reward for dancing. After that I walked over to Stubb's to hear a little of The Pretenders, but mostly stood outside talking to my friend John about music and zombie movies before heading home.

Sunday is usually my chill day before going back to the real world. Now that I have to go to the hospital on Sunday to prep for patient care on Monday morning, not so much. The annual softball games were rained out and they moved the BBQ across town. I stopped by for the free BBQ, scarfed it down, went to the hospital, and then camped out at the library typing up my client database.

And so ended SXSW 2006. One more year to volunteer before I leave Austin.

Friday, March 17, 2006

SXSW: Smiths turned down $5 mil to reunite

A Billboard story quotes Morrissey (at his SXSW interview) on the former members of The Smiths being offered $5 million to reunite for Coachella. Full story here.

Also, at a warm-up gig in Tulsa, he played "Stop Me (If You Heard This One Before)". I'm not complaining per se, we got "How Soon is Now?", but dang. I love "Stop Me".

SXSW: pictures

Some pictures I've taken so far of SXSW 2006 music.

SXSW: No time for details

I'm in the thick of SXSW music. No time to write extensively about all the greatness I've experienced the last few days. Suffice to say that yesterday was one of the best days of music IN MY LIFE. No joke.

A quick enumeration:

1) Hidden Cameras at Emo's

A day show by a band that didn't make it across the Canadian border when they were supposed to play SXSW 2004. Just amazing. The best part was that I got to play tambourine with them on stage. Incredibly cool.

2) Richard Hawley at Emo's

Mr. Hawley played the same day show. Never heard of him before and he blew me away. I love getting blind-sided by music. Listen to him.

3) Echo & the Bunnymen at Town Lake

Free outdoor show. New stuff was decent. They delivered on the old stuff: Never Stop, Bring On the Dancing Horses, The Cutter, The Killing Moon, Rescue. Wheee!

4) Morrissey at Austin Music Hall

Played what seemed like his entire new album with a couple songs from his last one. Oh yeah, and some Smiths songs: Still Ill, Girlfriend in a Coma, How Soon is Now?, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me. HOLY FUCK! I heard How Soon is Now? actually coming out of Morrissey mouth. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a little bit. How could this night get any better?

5) Hidden Cameras at Molotov

After eating and getting a bit of caffeine in me, I was ready to dance up a storm at their regular showcase. When we (Jen K and mybloody) got to the venue, we were worried. It was a "classy" bar with a make-shift stage crammed under a staircase. And there wasn't anybody there. Thankfully a crowd gathered as the band struggled with guitar problems. Joel borrowed a guitar from the next band (all hail Pong!) and, being left-handed, played it upside-down. They turned in a blistering set of glorious sound. The audience was over the moon and the band was clearly having a fantastic time. Stumbled out sweaty, spent, and raving over what an incredible day we were having.

6) Figurines at Karma

Jen K was kind of enough to indulge me in seeing a bit of this band's set before me went home. I've become entranced by one of their songs lately and wanted to see them play it. It was a little weird to arrive at the club, sit in the back room as they played their first song, run out and dance furiously to "The Wonder" while mouthing the words, then just leave right after. Whatever. I was a tired puppy.

Great great great great day.

Monday, March 13, 2006

SXSW Film: Bondage

Just walked out of this film. At an event like this, when there's always something else to do, there's just no point in watching a poorly made movie. From the description, I was expecting a gritty, documentary-style feature about an Orange County kid who fucks up once and gets put through the ringer of the juvenile justive system. No such luck.

Bondage doesn't know what it wants to be. Consistent only its tonal inconsistency, it veers from juvenile delinquency played for comedy to the serious consequences of this behavior, from the zany antics of Andy Dick (?!) to the threat of prison rape. I wanted to like the actors, among them Illeana Douglas (To Die For, Six Feet Under), Michael K. Williams (The Wire), and Michael Angaran (Will and Grace), but it's like they were acting in different movies; almost always a failing of the director.

So I left.

SXSW Film: loudQUIETloud: A Film about the Pixies

I'm a big Pixies fan, have been since high school when they were still together. I never saw them live back then. Having heard how bad they sounded on the tour, I didn't want to see them open for U2. So it broke my heart when I heard that they had broken up. Not wanting to be disappointed again, I was wary of the reunion rumors until the shows were actually booked. I finally saw them at Austin City Limits Festival 2004 and it was pretty fuckin' amazing. In that post, I left out how I cried when they played "Velouria", though I'm not sure why as that song's not even in my top ten of Pixies songs. Music does funny things to you. I saw them two more time in Houston and Austin on their next go-round and it was better each time.

Anyway, I saw the world premiere of last night and it was fantastic. When directors Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin (Devil's Playground) heard the reunion rumors, they pitched the idea of filming it, along with many other suitors. They got the nod and so their cameras were present from the first rehearsal all the way through to the end of the first tour. Along the way they capture it all, the hesitant comradery, the disconcerting silences, the humor, the grief, and the blistering performances that made the band's reputation. loudQUIETloud is The Pixies, warts and all. It's an odd thing to see a band that barely communicates with each other offstage deliver so powerfully onstage. And they're not even mad at each other, they just don't seem to have a lot in common besides the music.

 loudQUIETloud directors Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin at SXSW

Equally as strange is that this band, who was never that popular when they releasing albums, have continued to attract new fans. Every show filmed has a mix of fans from 16 to 40-years-old. I'd ascribe at least part of this continued legacy to the many bands that The Pixies inspired. loudQUIETloud opens with the quote from Kurt Cobain about "Smells Like Teen Spirit" being his attempt to write a Pixies song. One young fan in particular is featured, returning during the credits for a great payoff.

For any Pixies fan, the film is a must. It's a great document, just try to keep from twitching in your seat when they rip into "Something Against You" or "Cactus" or "UMass". For everyone else, it's hard to say. I can't really put myself in the mindset of someone who doesn't know of them.

Joey & David of The Pixies at SXSW

Joey and David were at the screening and answered questions afterward. Nothing too thrilling. As expected, they were mum on any future recording plans.

Finally, shoutout to my high school classmate Miles who is a roadie for the band and appears twice briefly. Too fucking cool.

SXSW Film: Summercamp!

Co-directors Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price, and their producer

Documentary director is what you would call a friend of the festival. His films Okie Noodling and the Flaming Lips doc Fearless Freaks both showed at SXSW in years past. He returns this year with Summercamp!, co-directed by Sarah Price (American Movie).

It's a fairly simple idea, follow the kids at a nature-focused summer camp as they experience the fun and not-so-fun of being away from home. I won't give anything away, but the stories they focus on are uniformly good. One in particular knocked the audience for a loop. You can't write plot points like that, one of the reasons I prefer docs to narrative films at festivals. High praise to editor JoLyn Garnes who does a masterful job of putting together well-constructed chapters that are complete in themselves while also forwarding the main stories. From the Q&A after the screening, I got the impression that Beesley and Price shot separately. If so, they did a great job of communicating to stay on the same page. It never felt like two movies.

Though Summercamp! is not a sublime work of art or one-of-a-kind documetary, it is a enjoyable film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Catch it at SXSW if you can, at the first screening two of the camp counselors lead the audience in a camp song and answered questions about the experience from their perspective.

Summercamp! counselors and editor JoLyn Garnes

SXSW Film: Gretchen

I went to see this film for one big reason, it stars . I went to college with Courtney and we worked at the campus radio station KVRX together (there's that interconnectedness again). She's funny and talented and it's very cool that she's the lead in a feature film.

is an expansion of a short, Gretchen and the Night Danger, that won Best Short at 2004. Gretchen is a socially awkward teenager, "part Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse and part Deb of Napoleon Dynamite," with a lot of problems. Her father's not around, she doesn't have any friends, she wears pink, kitten-encrusted sweatshirts, and boys she's attracted to are not exactly the pick of the litter. Cringingly hilarious.

Davis shines as a character far-removed from her actual personality. Her posture, pursed lips, and wounded eyes shout "I'd rather be anywhere but in my own skin." The supporting cast is uniformly good as well. , a frequent collaborator with Davis, plays against type as bad boy Ricky. does another caring mom role not unlike her part in Freaks and Geeks. It's not flashy, but quality work is quality work.

The movie has some third-act problems. The plot loses focus and flounders a bit before finding its way again for the spot-on ending. Not a great movie, but a worthy entry in the geek canon.
cast & director of Gretchen

SXSW Film: Don't Come Knocking

I was so worn out from a week of school and working a volunteer shift on Friday that I didn't see any films on Friday night. After a long day working another volunteer shift on Saturday, I went to see my first film of the festival Saturday evening.

When choosing between the many options, I take into account several factors. Premise, past work of the director and/or writers, whether it already has distribution (and therefore can be seen at a later date), and whether it's a documentary or narrative film (docs are usually better, IMHO). This time I went because I wanted to hang out with some friends and was in the movie. It didn't hurt that it was directed by , the creator of a personal favorite of mine, .

Wim Wenders at SXSW

For , Wenders has collaborated again with writer/actor . The story concerns Howard Spence (Shepard), a washed-up star of Westerns who has boozed, snorted, and whored his way through life. As the film starts, Spence flees the set of his latest film. Pursued by an investigator (Tim Roth) sent to bring him back to the set, Spence hides out with his mother (Eva Marie Saint) who reminds him that he has a child from a dalliance with a woman (Jessica Lange) many years ago when he was shooting a film in Butte, MT. Spence then sets out to find this child. At the same time, a young woman (Sarah Polley) is also on her way to Butte to scatter the ashes of her mother.

While maintaining the beauty and measured pace that are hallmarks of his work, Wenders is adrift with this film, though I lay most of the blame for this on Shepard. It's tiresome to be expected to care much for a character who cut himself off from family and friends, lead a life of "rebellious" actor debauchery, and now wants to reconnect. I suppose we're to understand that he was a troubled man and now he just wants to make good. To which I say, "Too little, too late asshole." Especially the wounded, huffy way he goes about it. I had zero empathy for him. It doesn't help that Shepard, both as an actor and a writer, again trots out the tired cliche of the misunderstood Marlboro Man. At least with Brokeback Mountain, the world really didn't get Ennis Del Mar and he had a decent reason for being sullen, uncommunicative, and tightly-wound.

The film has its moments. The cinematography is gorgeous and Wenders knows how to shoot a scene. T-Bone Burnett yet again comes up with great musical accompaniment. Sarah Polley is reliably great, Jessica Lange makes the most of her flatly written role, and Tim Roth and Fairuza Balk bring a lot of humor to the proceedings. That in itself is noteworthy as Wenders is not known for having a great sense of humor in his films. In the Q&A afterwards, Shepard told the story of seeing a clown once who told the audience, "What's the opposite of comedy? Germany." To which Wenders, a German, added, "I never heard that before. There is some truth to it."

Wim Wenders and Sam Shepard at SXSW

Despite its bright spots, Don't Come Knocking ranks far below Wenders and Shepard's previous collaboration Paris, TX. Speaking of, I'm experiencing a lot of interconnectedness this year. Paris, TX features a child actor named Hunter Carson. I went to high school with Hunter, who has also shown a short film at SXSW.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

CC head logo spreading

Seven people have taken pictures of the back of my head. Six of them asked permission. I gave it, provided that when they post the pictures, they license them through Creative Commons. One guy loaded it up on Flickr already.

And I got an enthusiastic invitation to the EFF/Creative Commons party on Monday. Nifty.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Creative Commons on my cranium

Last year for SXSW, I did this to my hair, and then posted thoughts about it.

This year I did this:

Creative Commons logo on my head

Sticking with the iconography, I went with the Creative Commons logo (and for BoingBoing readers, it's bleached, not shaved). I'm not getting paid for it, I'm just a big fan of their work moving beyond the restrictive, anachronistic, and self-defeating standard way of handling copyright. When people ask me about this thing on the back of my head, I'll be handing them a slip of paper that says:

"Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works.

License your work under your terms. Their set of standard licenses will let you share music, photos, movies, and text with anyone while protecting your work by limits you put in place. Available internationally."

What with all the creative types in town for SXSW, I hope to spread the word far and wide.

*Special thanks to mybloody for bleaching my hair and taking pictures

The SXSW promotional onslaught has begun

Last night as I was going to the pre- registration crew rehearsal at the Convention Center I saw this:

Nine Black Alps taxi ad

This is on Thursday, a full six days before the music part of the conference begins. Damn, (whose song "Behind Your Eyes" I'm quite fond of) have a big promotional machine behind them. I even saw a banner ad for them on a music blog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

At long last, practicing with needles

Today in skills lab we practiced assembling syringes and drawing up subcutaneous, intramuscular, and intradermal medications for injection. The "meds" were fake, but the needles were real.

Syringes and fake meds

After spring break, we'll practice actually injecting meds into the mannequins, which are quite creepy.

Mr. Broken Eye

More photos here. I'll spare you the mannequin genitalia. At least for now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Nursing student convention hijinks

Several weeks ago I went to the Texas student nurse convention with a large contingent of fellow UT-Austin students. The house of delegates stuff where we heard reports from officers and worked through resolutions was predictably boring. After years of being involved in the Green Party where we use consensus decision-making, it was agonizing to sit through the formal stuffiness of Roberts Rules of Order (the common method in the US).

One of the resolutions was awful; badly written, uninformed, and rife with "blame the poor" attitude. As I was an alternate delegate at the time, I went to the mic and spoke against it. Apparently, when I got up to speak, the UT-Austin contingent in the back all went, "Oh shit, John is throwin' down." Apparently my reputation for not suffering fools gladly has gotten around.

Aside from the procedural stuff, it was dorky fun to "talk shop" with others. I cracked up when one girl said she couldn't eat spicy food because "it makes me really diaphoretic." In regular people parlance that means sweaty.

Most of us were 21 or over and there was a little social drinking. Tongues were loosened and thankfully someone was taking notes.

A collection of entertaining quotes:

Girl: "I don't know how anyone could be a lesbian. I love penis."

"Every patient I've ever had has had pendulous breasts."

"M_______, be sober."

"I couldn't pronounce his name, so I just called him Zoloft."

"Uh, I'm not gay though."

"We aren't doing business drunk."

"I'm not getting some pussy, so give me some drugs."

"I think it tastes good." (one guess what "it" is)

"Haven't you ever played the game 'Just the Tip'?"

Mocking a girl's comment, a guy says, "We'll just wait until our next Pap Smear."

"Madame President needs a beer."

"All I was doing was coming home from 6th St. and I put my ID in my pocket. After that I wanted to have sex so I guess it just got bent."

Girl: "I HATE anal sex."

Girl tells a guy in reference to rubbing up against her, "If you did that I would get a boner."

"I basically like any kind of liquid."

Guy: "When I'm at the gym all I see are old balls."

Vegetarian girl: "I haven't eaten meat in four years."
Me: "K____, cock is totally meat."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Term of the Day: Crepitation

Warning to the squeamish, stop reading now and skip down to the next entry, a light-hearted one about dementia. Snerk.

CREPITATION - grating sound emanating from the body

Could be creaking knee joints, could be bone fragments from a fracture grinding against each other. I had a test over fractures this week. The general understanding of fracture is just a crack in a bone where a break goes all the way through. Medically they're all fractures, with the extent indicated as complete or incomplete.

How about some fun illustrations of typical fractures?

Inadvisable, yet funny

I heard a good hospital story today. There was a patient with dementia at a hospital. It was after 11 PM and he wouldn’t go to sleep. After trying many other methods, a frustrated nurse got on the intercom to his room and said, “This is God, go to sleep.”

It worked, but it’s not what you would call a recommended intervention.