Thursday, March 29, 2007

SXSW Music 2007

Don't really have time to give an exhaustive review of bands and performers I saw/heard, so this is mainly a record for me.

The Pipettes - cute, but the backing band was bored and it showed
[The walk to and from this show netted for free: vitamin water, ice cream, a custom button, poster, and condoms]
Imperial Teen - fun, not as good as a couple years ago
Beirut - packed, loud audience almost overwhelmed band, good not great
The Early Years - interesting, I'd like to hear their recordings
The Mountain Goats - great, though I was tired and therefore not as involved in the show

Emmylou Harris - an interview with songs scattered through; funny, sweet, just an amazing person; I heard her perform "Love Hurts", "Green Pastures", and "Boulder to Birmingham"; missed her doing "Orphan Girl" dagnabbit
Martha Wainwright - I see a lot of her family in her
Bob Mould - raging on solo acoustic
Tosca String Quartet + Lambchop - gorgeous, I'm bummed I couldn't see the whole performance
The Octopus Project - good as (almost) always
Golden Arm Trio - just caught a few songs; I used to see them all the time and I really should make a point of seeing them again sometime soon

Comedy on the Music Circuit panel - hilarious, but could it not have been with Zach Galifianakis and David Cross on the panel? Henry Owings, John Wurster, and some other guy too. Best part was Cross talking about a terribly misguided attempt to open for GBV (I think) after which someone in the audience actually peed on him from behind, whereupon Zach quickly offered a insincere apology.

Kid Koala - His live, heavily manipulated "Moon River" was astounding
Daniel Johnston - Uh, somebody tell him not to do Nazi jokes
Thurston Moore Instrumental
Hoodoo Gurus - Dang, they were great
Tullycraft - I though I was too tired to dance and then they just got me on my feet, bravo Tullycraft

The Buzzcocks - still tear it up
Bill Calahan - beautiful
Tilly and the Wall - a lot of fun with an enthusiastic crowd
The Octopus Project/Black Moth Super Rainbow - lovely, trippy
Donnie Davies - Heh, Donnie just lipsynced to a guy hidden behind the PA speakers
Kid Koala - again great
Amon Tobin - Good, but not as fresh as he used to be
Junior Senior - Whooo, great way to end the week, lots of sweaty dancing

Saturday, March 24, 2007

School health clinical

As part of our half-semester of pediatric nursing, my fellow nursing students and I spent a couple weeks with a school nurse. Before going, I was unenthusiastic. I was sure that spending more time in the hospital would be a better use of our limited time. Turns out, school nursing was of higher value to me. My school nurse had been an ER nurse, which is common. If you think about it, it makes sense. School nurses need to have superior assessment skills and experience triaging patients. As someone who wants to work in an ER, it was great experience and lots of it.

I remember my elementary school nurse as being someone who put on band-aids and let you lie down in her office when you had a stomachache. While we did those things, it's a small part of the job. During my four days there I gave out prescription medications, fed a kid through his gastric tube, washed sand out of eyes, bandaged hands and feet, iced potential sprains, conducted vision and hearing tests, checked temps and throats a hundred times, and on and on. It was busy with a steep learning curve.

For many of these kids, the school nurse is their major source of healthcare. They don't have insurance of any kind and can't even afford to go to outpatient clinics. It's a lot of responsibility for the nurse. On a regular basis, she has to accompany families to appointments to ensure that they go and often to translate as well. Every year she works with the PTA to raise money for eye appointments so kids who need glasses can get them. I see now that school nursing requires quick-thinking, resourcefulness, and huge amount of dedication.

Again, I don't want to go into this kind of nursing, but it was valuable experience and something I will draw upon in the future.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pediatric clinical

for illustration only, not a kid I actually cared for
I didn’t write much about my experience in pediatrics. My time for blogging is scant it seems. It was great overall, though slight in patient interaction in the hospital. Because one or both parents are there all the time and they usually like to provide as much personal care as possible, we as students didn’t do much beyond taking vital signs, performing the nursing assessment, and administering medications. Often my cohort could be found in the hall, hungry for something to do.

One day though, I had an infant and mother who’d had a rough night. The primary nurse and I encouraged the mother to take a break, visit the cafeteria, whatever she needed to do while we took care of the baby. While she was gone, we gave the baby her medications, removed her Foley catheter, and saline-locked her IV (basically kept the IV access while discontinuing the continuous infusion). Then I got to hold the baby.

Whoo! Baby-holding. Growing up, my Mom took care of kids in our house so I had lots of experience taking care of them. I forgot how nice it is to hold a little baby, especially if they’re not screaming. It was short-lived as the mom came back soon after. It was nice while it lasted.

My favorite part of this rotation was the observation experiences I did in the pediatric ER and ICU, and not only because I didn't have to complete a lot of paperwork for them. I'd worked in the ER before as a registration clerk and so I knew the layout, but it was such a different experience being there as a nursing student. I found myself focused on patient assessment: what they look and sound like, the history, how the family was interacting. I felt quite nurse-y.

The pediatric ICU was a great too. My instructors couldn't fit me in during the regular schedule, so I volunteered to come in on a Saturday morning so I could have the experience. It was worth the loss of sleep and down time. I lucked out and ended up paired with a great nurse who's also a grad student at my school. She encouraged me to help out with patient care and challenged me with questions throughout the shift. Her two patients (ICU ratio is at least one nurse for every two patient) were toddlers with tracheostomies. They were cute kids, and it was sad that they had to be hospitalized. Worse, because they were trached, when they cried there was no sound. Trust me, a little kid with a tears, a scrunched up face, and no sound is heartbreaking.

Despite enjoying the experience, I'm still drawn toward critical care of adults. I like kids and do well with them, I just think my talents are better used elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SXSW 2007: "Famous" people

These are people with whom I interacted, not just saw:

Gilberto Gil - passing in a hallway I saw him, stopped and said I enjoyed his music

Peter Buck (REM) - brushed past me carrying his guitar, his jacket was velour

David Byrne - it seems like I help him every year

David Cross - patient with rabid fanboys which seem to cluster about him everywhere he goes*

Zach Galifianakis - sweet man, much less neurotic and volcanic than on stage

Jonathan Demme - I helped him check in and get his badge, very nice fellow

Dennis Miller - low-profile with cap pulled down low, checking in with his family, I'm really not a fan of him anymore due to his politics. Glad I no longer look like him.

Also, I gave Chris Gore (Film Threat) his SXSW badge. When I called out his name, someone down the hall shouted, "Chris Gore sucks!" and they were serious. Mr. Gore and I both laughed at the random hate.

This is sad, but I can't think of any "famous" women with whom I came in contact.

* Funny story. Several years ago I was working behind the registration desks when Carson Daly came through. After getting his badge, he continued to loiter in the area clearly wanting people to notice him. My fellow volunteers and I considered it haughty, then just pitiful when it became apparent that no one cared. Then David Cross came through and there was a visible and audible tumult. I didn't, but wanted to go up to Daly and say, "The only reason that no one is talking to you is that you are a giant tool."

Monday, March 19, 2007

My head at SXSW 2007

Originally uploaded by mybloodyself.
I almost forgot to post a picture for this year. Mybloody clippered the 14. It's how many years I've been volunteering. Not as cool as last year or the year before that, but I couldn't go too crazy what with having to go back to clinical sites this week.

The 14 is now gone and I've gone to a high and tight.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SXSW Film 2007, last two movies I saw


The festival synopsis reads, “ZOO tells the story of a seemingly average businessman whose secret sexual life led to his shocking death.” The shocking death is bleeding caused by his colon being perforated by a giant horse cock. That is, an actual horse cock, not just a big human one. Yeah.

I was unconvinced about the desirability of seeing this film, but was assured by a staffer that it was “disturbing, but beautiful”. That description is entirely accurate. Showing influence from Errol Morris, Zoo features recorded interviews from people involved in the case (fellow horse “lovers”, an investigator) played over gorgeously-filmed reenacted scenes. The effect is meditative and far from exploitative. There’s only a tiny glimpse of actual explicit sex and many in the audience didn’t remember seeing it (and not because they’d gouged out their eyes and had tramautic amnesia). It really is a wonderful film; packed screening, audience rapt. Highly recommended.


A documentary about a typeface. I wanted to write this entry in Helvetica, but I don't know how to change the typeface for just one post. The doc is effective in showing how Helvetica was introduced and came to such dominance. The audience was absolutely in on the idea of this film so there was much enjoyment as various typeface experts give sloppy love, or vitriolic distaste, to Helvetica. Interspersed with the talking heads are numerous examples of Helvetica on signs everywhere. The film drags a little toward the end but all in all it's successful. Afterwards and for the next several days, Helvetica stood out like neon for me. Really quite amazing how ubiquitous it is. Recommended.

SXSW 2007 photos

I really need to go to sleep, but here's my photo set from SXSW 2007.

Donnie Davies at SXSW

I'll do a full SXSW wrap-up later, but I had to write about Donnie Davies' show. If you are not familiar with this internet phenomenon, Donnie purports to be an ex-gay Christian singer - he's not really any of those things. Read his thoughts here and be sure to watch the video for "The Bible Says."

A SXSW staffer told me that he'd shown the video to people in the office and one of the music guys was eager to book Donnie Davies. They slyly chose to put him on the same night as The Buzzcocks and Turbonegro, bands with more than a little homo-osity about them.

The Spirit moves Donnie Davies

Donnie hit the stage to loud cheers and they immediately ripped into "Surrender" by Cheap Trip. On the "but don't give yourself away" line, Donnie would cover his crotch and shake his head. They actually pulled off the cover well and most of the audience was on board. Evening Service appeared to be the same band that's in "The Bible Says" video and the MTV interview, including bad wigs.

Donnie is totally not gay

The next song served as proof that Donnie is totally not gay anymore, no sir. He grinded with the sexy lady dancers while performing a Timberlakian number.

Donnie heals

At one point, Donnie asked the audience if there were any homosexuals among them who wanted to get saved. Having no desire to be saved, I nonetheless raised my hand as did several other people. Donnie pulled up a very obviously planted guy named Gary Bentler up on stage and had him demonstrate his limp wrist. In an attempt to "heal" him, Donnie lead us in the C.H.O.P.S. (Changing Homosexuals into Ordinary People) salute, while chanting "Heal Bentler." You can probably guess what the salute and chant devolved into.

Interestingly, in addition to not being an ex-gay (or probably gay at all) or Christian (at least of the scary variety), Donnie's not even a singer. He just lip-syncs while this guy sings off-stage:

The singing voice of Donnie Davies

Donnie and Evening Service closed with "The Bible Says" which was a rousing success with the audience, at least half of whom had never heard it before. All-in-all a wonderful palate cleanser before I headed off to more music elsewhere.

UPDATE: Due to financial constraints, I have to sell the Donnie Davies t-shirt I bought at the show. I listed it on eBay at the price I paid, $20.

Donnie Davies C.H.O.P.S. t-shirt

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sun. SXSW Film


My first narrative film so far. I generally avoid them at festivals because they're often disappointing and I could be seeing a good documentary instead. I went for this because of the talent involved. Written by Ken Marino (ex-The State, Veronica Mars), exec. produced by David Wain (ex-The State, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer), and starring Paul Rudd among others. It was competent. Kinda cliche indie ensemble film with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies. Great visuals though shooting digital but keeping the 70s film look.

King Corn

If you anywhere close to a typical American or Canadian, your body is rife with corn. Something like 90% of the carbon in your body was corn at one time. King Corn is full of scary/interesting facts like these. Two college grads move to Iowa to farm one acres worth of corn and fill us in on how ubiquitous corn is in our diet. I was dubious that they could keep it compelling over a feature-length documentary, but they pulled it off. I thought I was well-informed on how pervasive high fructose corn syrup is and its probable role in declining health. It's scarier than I knew. As one interviewee put it, it's a good thing that cows are slaughtered when they are, because they'd be dead in six months anyway from the massive corn diet. Apparently eating mostly corn gives them stomach ulcers an makes them acidotic, a supabad condition in people for sure. Im going to suggest that my nursing school buddies see this. Highly recommended.

The Devil Came on Horseback

A brutal, necessary experience. This doc is told through the eyes of Brian Steidle, an ex-Marine officer who gets a job with the African union monitoring the cease-fire between Northern and Southern Sudan. While there taking photos and collecting interviews, he becomes aware of the genocidal massacres happening in the Darfur region. Helpless to avert the killings, rapes, and destruction, Steidle leaves Sudan to return to the U.S. and get the word out. So far, despite the U.N. and the U.S. labeling it as genocide - a label that legally requires intervention - there have only been stern reprimands.

As I said, a brutal, necessary experience. The world needs to know that 13 years after Rwanda, it's happening again and history will judge us harshly if we do not act. Steidle was at the screening encouraging the audience to contact their legislators and come to the Capitol on Monday to register in favor of a bill to divest Texas investment in Sudanese-involved companies. I was moved to do just that. Happily, I saw strong support in the Senate and House for the bill so unless it gets pushed down the agenda it looks likely to pass.

Brian Steidle was at the Capitol as well and I made sure to thank him for his work. There's a sense of sadness and resolve about him that is inspiring and also heartbreaking. It's probably the former Catholic in me talking, but I wanted forgiveness from him for what I haven't done.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sat. SXSW Film

Cat Dancers

I had no intention of seeing this film because of the aforementioned poster. Then I met up with some film buddies and they convinced me. This would continue to be a theme of the day and I will hereafter bow to their film-picking wisdom.

This doc tells the story of the first exotic animal act in the U.S. Joy and Ron Holiday were internationally-acclaimed dancers who thought ahead to the natural decline of their physical prowess and so transitioned into a touring act that incorporated dance, magic, and exotic cats. When the act grew too large for them to comfortably manage, they added Chuck Lizza to become a trio in more ways than one. From there the movie takes an almost inevitable tragic turn, which of course I will not spoil.

The filmmakers did a smart thing in the opening minutes of Cat Dancers. Ron Holiday is a bit of a comical figure. So, the filmmakers jump in and get it out of the way. Here's this guy who wears wigs and eyeliner. He's more than a bit nelly. And then they move on with the story. I really enjoyed this film. It's mostly interview footage intercut with photos and old 8mm films in a rather traditional manner, and yet the subject and the way it's handled is compelling. I believe it was picked up by HBO so should be showing there soon. Recommended.

Election Day

Election day 2004 from the perspective of voters. Simple idea really, but coordinating crews in 16 different cities must have been quite an undertaking. No revelations or big lessons learned. Just the experience of people voting all over the country: long lines, officials somewhat ignorant of election rules, idealism, apathy, etc. Not a stunning movie, but interesting throughout and a good document for history.

Big Rig

Great film. As with Cat Dancers, I was wary and then goaded into it by friends. Because it's a doc about truckers right? What convinced me was that the director, Doug Pray, also did Scratch and Hype! Glad I succumbed because I loved Big Rig. Turns out truckers are fascinating people who know how to tell a story. Pray and two crewmembers essentially hitchhiked across the country catching rides with truckers while interviewing them. The stories are often personal, but also touch on the commonalities of life as a trucker; long hours, rising gas prices, separation from family. Highly recommended.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fun with fluids

You make the call!


How did he get urine on top of the urinal?

A) Very tall
B) On purpose, jerk
C) Barely subsided erection
D) That's not urine

1st day of SXSW, and a little blood

It's the first day of SXSW and so far I'm pleased. We're up and ready to go in Registration and I've already seen an amazing example of velveeta-ness. To whit:

Cat Dancers

Also, the Blood and Tissue Center called me this morning and requested that I come in for a blood donation, not just because they're low on my blood type, but specifically for me. Like the red blood cells, platelets, and plasma I make in my bone marrow. I didn't know whether to be flattered or surveiled (is that a feeling? One of being monitored?). They need fresh drawn blood tomorrow for someone who's having surgery and apparently I match them well as far as antibodies, etc. The impression I got was that I'll donate tomorrow morning while a courier waits to whisk it away. I hope the surgery goes well or else they might hunt me down at the convention center for more.