Thursday, December 17, 2015

Austin, Texas

Usually, I post a Halloween blog about my party. This year,  I wasn't in town to have a Halloween party because my script, Patchwork, was selected as a Second Rounder in the Comedy Screenplay Competition of the Austin Film Festival in Texas. The Austin Film Festival is a big festival in the screenwriting community.

I've never been to Austin, Texas before and was super excited to explore both the city and the festival. The only info I had about Austin was the film festival, football, and the famous phrase: Keep Austin Weird.

I stayed at the Driskill Hotel, famous for being haunted. Of course, I didn't know about this until I was already there. This is the second haunted hotel I've unintentionally stayed in.

The Entrance of the Driskill

I loved these bedside tables. They look like steamer trunks.

The infamous room: 525. Considered haunted. I was a few doors down...

The Painting of the little girl who died in the hotel. Her ghost is rumored to haunt the Driskilll.

Most of my time was spent at the conference (an amazing one for anyone wanting to be a screenwriter or filmmaker), but I did have time for a couple of excursions.

One of the excursions was the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. After visiting the Ronald Reagan Library in California, I am determined to see all the Presidential Libraries. 

Johnson was a teacher before he pursued politics. When Kennedy was assassinated, as Vice President, he took over the presidential role.

As President, he created the Great Society Legislation that upheld civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, and Medicaid. It also provided aide to education, the arts, urban/ rural development, public services, and his war on poverty.

The Silver Star. Johnson received this medal for gallantry in action during an aerial mission in the Pacific (1942).

Campaign Poster 1960

Johnson was known for his sense of humor. 

Lady Bird Johnson (the first lady) was given her nickname by Alice Tittle. She took care of Claudia Johnson when she was a baby. She said that Claudia was as "pretty as a lady bird", and the nickname stuck. As First Lady, Lady Bird did an exceptional job. For example, she led a group of foreign journalist on a five day "Visit USA" Tour in April 1968. As a thank you, they sent her these demitasse cups and saucers from their respective countries.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the Vietnam War occurred. The damage from the war and public disent made Johnson decide not to run for re-election. 

Also at the library was a special exhibit for the Beatles. The British band became a cult phenomenon. 

A Beatle's Fan's Room

1965 Book tie-in. It was highly unusual for a band to have a book tie-in, especially a hardcover one.

An interactive drum set. You can learn to play the drums from Ringo Starr. I'm not going to lie, I tried it out.

The next time I was able to go on an excursion was on Halloween Night. Have you ever been to Sixth Street in Austin, Texas on Halloween? Let's just say that it beats most Halloween parties I've seen.

Just a sample of the craziness this night.

Seriously, they go all out. They're like a giant outdoor Comic Con. I wish I had taken more pictures of the costumes.

The next morning, I went to Stubb's BBQ for their Gospel Brunch. They are known for their "make your own" bloody marys, brunch, and live gospel music. It was fun.

The band for the gospel music. 

That night I went to see the Congress Avenue Bridge Bats. The world's largest colony of bats live there. Every night at sunset, 1.5 million bats leave the bridge to hunt for insects. 

My attempt at capturing the bats.

Truthfully, it's impossible to capture in the photo the amazingness of this event. Like giant black clouds, the sky literally darkens from the swarms of bats. It is definitely worth seeing. 

Austin is a unique city. I wish I had more time to explore it. 

 Fun Foods I Enjoyed:

Amazing Filet Mignon at the Driskill Grill

The Rainbow Chard side that I ordered at the Driskill Grill

Queso is popular in Austin. I made sure to take advantage of it at the Roaring Fork.

Delicious Rainbow Trout with Toasted Almonds at the Roaring Fork

My Brunch at Stubbs BBQ. Warning, it has some heat.

Nopalitos. It's a cactus dish cooked with onions, peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes. I was determined to try cactus at Stubb's BBQ. It reminded me of green beans. 

The Midnight Cowboy is a bar in Austin. It was a former brothel and speakeasy. As a bar, it still keeps some of its former speakeasy heritage. There is no signage. You have to find it yourself and ring a bell in order to enter. The drink I chose was the Gun Club Punch which contains: white rum, dark rum, pineapple, lime curaçao, grenadine, and crushed ice. A little warning: their drinks are good, but they are also strong.

So Voodoo Doughnuts... I had never heard of them when researching Austin. However, every time I went past the place, there was a huge line. Luckily, on my last night around 10 pm, there was no line. So, curious, I decided to try it. Their doughnuts are amazing. I had a simple cream-filled doughnut, but you'll enjoy any of their selections. 

~A.E. Keener

Want to know more about my adventure? Click the links below:

~Driskill Hotel/ Grill:

~LBJ Presidential Library:

~Roaring Fork:

~Voodoo Doughnuts:

A new section I've added.

Books I Used for Research:

~100 Things to Do in Austin Before You Die by: Kristy Owen

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