Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2015

Super Watch: Superman IV - The Quest for Peace (Master Pancake Theater)

Oh, Superman IV.  You are not a good movie.

Maybe not the worst superhero movie ever put out, Superman IV was victim of severe budget cuts and shortfalls, overly ambitious filmmaking, muddled scripting and editing, and Jon Cryer just being a doofus.  I've written about the movie before.  At length.  So, go read that review.

For something like a decade, Austin has had it's own set of popular movie riffers in Master Pancake Theater.  It's sort of a cultish sort of thing to do in Austin, and they have their loyal legion, and while I like the idea, I've just never gotten off my butt to go see them.  After all, "riffed" movies are not something I've felt I've had a lack of access to in my lifetime after having grown up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and still enjoying RiffTrax even today.

But I couldn't pass up this week's screening as it was, as you'll have guessed, Superman IV, a movie I have deep affection for, and am all too aware of its limitations.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Austin Books and Comics and the Remarkable Labor Day Sale

I've been exceptionally lucky to be able to say that my Local Comic Book Shop is the astounding Austin Books and Comics.  I grew up in Austin, and Austin Books is a big part of how and why I fell in love with the medium as a kid.  For good or ill, I've now been shopping here off and on for 28 years, and I never think "well, I've done everything I can do here.  I guess I'll go collect some stamps."

I started buying my comics off the spinner-rack at the local grocery, at news stands and at convenience stores.  Then, at some point I looked at the ads in a comic book and realized there were specialty stores, and I assume some path of logic there led me to finding Austin Books.  I can't say I recall my first trip there, just that we stopped in as often as KareBear would load us in the van from North Austin and deposit us at the store.

Back then it was a big store, as comic shops went, but  nowhere near the footprint today.  That, and it was half fantasy/ sci-fi books and posters and whatnot, and half comic book shop.

I moved away in high school and had some decent shops in the Spring, Texas area (Bedrock City showed up when I was in college, but I don't recall the names of the other two shops that have since gone under).

In the late 90's and early 00's, the store was purchased and began the transformation to what it is today.  I won't bore you with the details, but around 2007 they began finding new events and ways to expand.  And, in 2015, Austin Books is now a complex that includes:

  • the gigantic original store which is a huge store with a variety of graphic novels and comics that rivals literally any store I've seen in three countries and two continents.  Toys.  Back-issues.  A huge Showcase Comics selection of Golden to Modern.  
  • Guzu Gallery - which is a pop-art objects store and local artist gallery focusing on pop art
  • Outlaw Moon Games and Toys - which has a wide variety of games - role playing and board as well as vintage toys
  • one of my favorites - The Sidekick Store - where they sell unbagged back issues and discount Bronze and Silver Age comics

And, the staff is incredible.  Owner Brad has really got the business sorted out, has insisted on a professionalism that remains friendly but never falls into that "Boy's Club" thing you can get at other stores.  Day-to-day, manager Brandon somehow keeps the whole place going.  And there are loads of employees who have tremendous knowledge of comics, toys, comic history, and they can help you find something on the shelves.

The Labor Day Sale is currently on, and I've done quite well.  This year I focused on all Superman titles, as that's my current collecting focus (I'm about wrapped on Wonder Woman Vol. 2 and the remaining Enemy Ace appearances I've got are a little spendy).

For details on the sale, go here.

But I had a good bit of fun looking, and wound up with new (to me) issues of Action Comics, Superman, Superman's Pal - Jimmy Olsen and made a spike in my modest Superman's Girlfriend - Lois Lane collection.

I got to the sale on opening night, and headed straight for The Sidekick Store.  I was looking at 2-for-1 Superman issues when I sensed a disturbance in the force.  Brandon got this picture or me just before I looked up.

(all photo credits on this post go to Austin Books and Comics.  I'm assuming they won't be pissed I'm saying something nice about their store)

that's me in the red plaid shirt at The Sidekick

Friday, May 29, 2015

Trailer for "Tower" doc looks pretty amazing


I grew up in Austin, TX, attended the University of Texas and recently received my "ten year pin" for my time working at the University (I haven't quite spent my whole career there).

If you aren't aware, after killing his mother and wife, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the tower at the center of the University of Texas campus - a building which is over 27 stories - and killed people on the stairwell and then began shooting from the observation deck.

Whitman killed 16 people (in 2001, a 17th died of complications for injuries sustained that day), and more than 30 additional people were wounded.

At the time, Austin was a sleepy college town in the middle of a long, hot summer, and summer session is never the busiest of times on campus.   The impact was devastating, and the shootings were still discussed and an impetus for campus policy when I was there in the 1990's.

Watching just the trailer, I was surprised that my reaction was genuinely visceral.  I've been up in the elevator, I've stood on the observation deck, I walk across the plaza routinely, and those are all places I live and work.  And I am well aware all of this happened here.  And could happen again tomorrow.  After all, we had an active shooter in my building just about five years ago.

The after effects of the tower shootings were larger than you'd believe.  The event helped lead to the establishment of campus PD's across the country as well as SWAT team development.

This film looks to cover the personal stories of the victims, and I'd rather that be told than another step-by-step recounting of Whitman's final days and hours.  Good people were caught in the massacre, and it's important to remember all of them as well.

Looking forward to the film.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vulcan Video gets some love on Jimmy Kimmel

The Austin, TX of my youth may be fading into the past almost as rapidly as my actual youth, but you can still find bits and pieces of  90's Austin here and there.

For the discerning movie snob of post-Slacker-Austin, we had two places to hit:  "I Love Video" and "Vulcan Video", which everyone I've ever spoken to has referred to simply as "Vulcan".  In an era where purchasing movies was expensive, Blockbuster killed most local competition and carried garbage, and the internet was for sending emails and slowly downloading pictures of Gillian Anderson (I assume), Vulcan Video was where I'd go looking for classic film, off-beat pictures and international flavor.  And yet, you might still find a copy of Ernest Scared Stupid.

They also carried bootleg tapes, and so it was I rented The Star Wars Holiday Special, complete with commercials, the unreleased 1990's Fantastic Four movie, the unaired JLA pilot and the 70's-tastic Legends of the Superheroes.

I don't hit Vulcan these days because it's far from my house and, honestly - cable and internet.  But I have a soft spot in my heart for the neighborhood video store trafficking in hard-to-get stuff.

If you want a taste of 1990's Austin that's still alive and kicking - Jimmy Kimmel has produced three commercials for the place.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We saw Birdemic 2 in Austin (and it was awesome!)

This evening Jamie and I drove up to the Alamo LakeCreek to catch the second installment in your favorite franchise and mine, Birdemic II: The Resurrection.

Two feet inside the door of the theater I spied my favorite director, and...

you people have no idea how excited I was here

James Nguyen does not pass up the chance to get his picture taken with a good looking dame:

Jamie and The Master of the Romantic Thriller

The movie stars...  well, an absolutely startling amount of the cast from the first Birdemic film.  Kudos to Nguyen for getting the band back together.

I've seen Birdemic: Shock and Terror somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 times, I own the BluRay, and I bought Damien Carter's single "Hangin' Out With My Family" on iTunes.  I'm a fan.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Conversely, My Favorite Things About SXSW

So what DO I like about SXSW?

Well, people come to town

A)  The Annual Visit and report from NathanC

Nathan was two years ahead of me in high school, and I think I only met him after high school.  He wound up at Trinity University with my brother, so in the summers, we'd all hang out (and they were in the band named for the seminal comic, Stray Toasters, back in the day).

Nathan was also good friends with Jamie in college (she went to Trinity), and so even after he graduated, we all got to hang out as he found work in San Antonio.  Today, Nathan is a big-wig at Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.  He carries multiple duties, and has recently transitioned from programming and station management at the classical station to marketing and web presence for TPR.  You'll see me link to him a lot as he's also the resident film guy at Texas Public Radio, and hosts the summer series with TPR.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SXSW is here again - and, no, I am not going, again

I've never paid for a SXSW badge.  The only SXSW badges I ever got were through work for (a) the relatively new SXSW Interactive around 2000 and (b) about three years ago I returned to Interactive.  I've never paid for film or for music.

I've never been to a SXSW screening of a movie, and the few times I saw music at SXSW, it was near accidental and incidental.  It's probably safe to say that I'm not particularly interested in the scene, and the idea of dealing with the crowds, the lines, and sheer volume of people at all of these events has been off-putting enough that whatever appeal there might be to seeing bands or movies is significantly reduced when I weigh the cost factor of dealing with the scene around SXSW.

For those of us in town, SXSW is an annual period where we sort of just avoid downtown between certain blocks and as locals who feel the presence of the tide, we know to brace ourselves for:

  • The bizarre take on Austin that journalists mistake for Austin but which is really just the bubble of SXSW (East Sixth is not "no-man's land".  It's a few hundred feet from regular Sixth.  By the way, no one really goes to Sixth anymore but tourists)
  • The number of people who, based on the drunken revelry to be had during SXSW, associate those good times with a need to move here - and they do
  • The handwaving that SXSW isn't, basically, spring break for three industries and that this is somehow work 
  • People who are the True Believers in SXSW seeming shocked and indignant (and often demanding answers) when you say you don't want to spend the money or time

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Your Questions Answered: A Nice Piece of Meat

We're answering questions here at The Signal Watch.

 Our own Fantomenos asked:

You're a Texan so:

What's the best cut of meat for casual grilling?

Again, these are advanced level questions with no simple answer.

What's throwing me here is the use of the word "casual".  "Casual" can mean "I'm coming home from work, do you want me to grab some chicken on my way?"  It can mean having over 20 people, but we're all in shorts.  It can mean dinner with a few friends, or it can mean the assembly line at a summer camp.

So, let's ponder this a bit.

I'd break it down to:

  • steaks and chicken
  • BBQ
  • hotdogs and hamburgers on the Weber on the back porch

While barbecue is sometimes served at weddings, political events, etc...  and you can definitely find upscale barbecue in town (I recommend Lamberts), the barbecue that's considered most desirable is usually slow cooked and smoked to perfection.  That, obviously, is not a "casual" task, even if it's one's hobby and you're doing it at home.  Seriously, it's an all day affair.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Conan's, Orange Julius, Sheep

The evening was looking pretty dull, I don't mind telling you. We had no plans. The hour grew late, and finally, somehow we settled on the faded glory of an Austin now receding into the distant past.

You can have your Paul Qui fancy-schmancy fusion bistros. Food is what reminds you of home, and I grew up in this town when we still had armadillo races as a form of local fun. And back then, we ate our pizza like we had nothing to live for. Conan's Pizza has only a few locations left after the expansion in the late 80's and contraction of the late 90's. They haven't redecorated since putting any of the Conan's in place, and they had a particular look back then that lingers to this day.

The Ms. Pac-Man machine is not there ironically

If you're wondering, why yes, they LOVE Conan the Barbarian.  You can't tell from the pic above, but most of the art is either Frazetta prints or Frazetta knock-offs.  Not too many other places would it seem like part of the tradition to eat under a Molly Hatchet album cover, but at Conan's, it's part of the ambiance.

The pizza you want to get there is called "The Savage".  Get it deep dish with a wheat crust or you're kind of just wasting everyone's time.  The Savage is literally every topping they've got.  You will absolutely feel sick after eating it.  But, let me stop you now and say, if you don't eat The Savage, neither I nor the staff nor other patrons of Conan's have any real reason to respect you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On behalf of all tall people, if you don't like standing behind us at concerts: tough luck

I saw this comic strip thing today, and it's actually very good.  It's about the annoying things people do at concerts (ie: why I quit paying money to go to shows in my late 30's).

I'd point to number 5, "The Sun Blocking Giant" and I thought I'd clear something up.

The world was built for smaller people.  Most of you are those smaller people, and I appreciate that most of you attend shows and expect to basically be within a certain height range.  I know you think that there's some great advantage to being a bit taller, but in a world that mostly relies on your ability to be a jerk in a board room or your ability to manage java code to get ahead, being bred for being the lynchpin in a goon squad of some barbarian hoard doesn't really pay off so much.

I was 6'3" by the ninth grade, and somehow put on two more inches by the end of my freshman year of college.  I didn't measure myself in between.  Tall people don't really know nor really care about how tall they are.

Since I was a kid, I also like(d) live music and attending shows.  I live in Austin.  It's sort of a thing here.

The average bar in Austin that would host a show (let's say, Liberty Lunch or La Zona Rosa) had three zones:

1.  The area right by the stage with the cow-eyed fans pressing up against the stage because that made them bigger fans and let them sing the lyrics right back at the singer's face.

2.  The mid-range where most everyone else stood with elbow room enough to hold a beer and still lift it to their face without putting out someone else's eye.

3.  The place in the back where, for reasons that baffled me, people would huddle and shout over the music, like it was a huge inconvenience that there were all these speakers blaring music when they'd come out to this music venue for a quiet night of conversation.  Also, they're usually trashed.

The cartoon bemoans:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Some end of week Media: Bernie, Where Danger Lives, Ghosts of Belfast, Downton Abbey

Watched two completely different movies tonight.  Bernie and Where Danger Lives.  These days I'm re-watching movies less and trying to see new things more.

Bernie was shot somewhat locally by Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater and got a lot of local praise when the movie was released, but I don't know how far and wide it was seen outside of Texas.  A true story of a mortician (Jack Black) and his nebulous relationship with an older woman (Shirley MacLaine) and how everything's relative in a small town in Texas, including murder.

I'd heard a lot of good things, and the locals both cut into the movie in "interview" segments and playing themselves were a very clever twist.  I just wasn't sure the movie actually worked all that well, especially as the murder - which is a matter of public record - doesn't come til the 2/3rds mark...

Probably worth a spin sometime.

Also watched Where Danger Lives with Robert Mitchum, and it's sort of a studio-friendly take on the Detour concept.  Frankly, that is one crazy movie and I'll need to watch it again.  It's so noir, it's almost dripping black off the screen, with Mitchum getting in way, way over his head, while drunk and concussed with a classic femme fatale who doesn't have Ann Savage's brutal, sexy cruelty, but has her own more recognizable looney-tunes-ness.  It's a great "and mistakes were made" kind of story.  Bonus points for brazen sexuality in a 1950 film, all through a lack of camera movement and a few key lines of dialog.

Started listening to the audiobook of The Ghosts of Belfast.  It's an interesting book thus far, and I wish I knew more about the history of the IRA, but even what little I do know is sort of keeping me up to speed.

Last night we tried our first episode of Downton Abbey.  I can't say I exactly see what the big deal is, but it was the pilot.  We'll try again later.  I do not get hot and bothered often by Upstairs/ Downstairs-type dramas, and it's so over the top, it does feel like camp.  Is this show supposed to be camp?  Someone help me out.

All right.  I'm tired.  I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Killer School Girls From Outer Space (2011)

So, life is funny how it surprised you sometimes.

Not that long ago I was sitting in my office at work making digital libraries happen when a guy from my building who I talk to now and again, mostly "howdy" and "hello" as we pass, asked me about some posters from Mondo I have hanging up in my office.

"You like sci-fi?"
"Yeah!  It's kind of my thing.  Not so much the modern stuff, but I kind of dig mid-century stuff and maybe up to the 80's the best."
And we parted ways.
A few days later Bill appeared in my doorway with a DVD in his hand.
"A while back, my son and I made this movie."
My stomach dropped.  I like a good Birdemic trainwreck, but I like it from a casual distance.  I do not like to have to nod and smile and say "that was super!" when it was not super at all.  Then I looked down at the cover.

" that Ron Jeremy?"
Bill nodded.  "Yeah, we hired him for a day.  All green screen.  He was really nice."
"This is...  like, everything awesome about movies."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

For some reason, Formula 1 Racing Came to Austin

About two and a half-years ago, Austinites woke up to find that some deal had been reached to bring Formula 1 racing to our city.  Mostly, the news was met with puzzled stares.  This is not a motorsports kind of town, and F1 is something that takes place in Monte Carlo, not in our berg.

If you do not know (I didn't), F1 is monstrously popular everywhere but the US, and despite astronomically high tickets prices, tends to draw hundreds of thousands of people to each city.  Rich people.  Who supposedly spend money.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TX Panhandle, TX Secession and the Freakout in Comic Culture over CosPlay Girls

For some reason, I am in the Texas Panhandle.

It's work related.  In theory, I should be home in 48 hours.

It is safe to say I am about done with the schedule I've been on for the past 6 weeks or so and the Thanksgiving Holiday cannot really come fast enough.  I could really use some time just laying very still while someone else makes cornbread stuffing and lets me silently appreciate the Rockettes during their number at the Macy's Parade.

if loving the Rockettes is wrong, I don't want to be right

TX Secession

I know it made headlines, but the petition sent to the White House and chatter about Texas seceding is all that it is.  Chatter.  The petition doesn't have enough signatures to fill half of DKR Memorial Stadium, and a whole lot of those aren't from Texas.  I expect that in the years to come "secession" will be the pouty rallying cry of Texans wishing they could take their ball and go home when things don't go the way of insignificant politians from scrubby, backwater towns in The Lone Star State (seriously, press, stop giving these people a megaphone).

Monday, November 12, 2012

I am returned, briefly. Also, Jason's front page story.

I just got back from visiting family in Tallahassee, Florida where a good chunk of my relatives dwell.  Nice weekend, great town.  It's a blur at this point.

Tuesday I depart for the northwesterly regions of Texas, and will return Thursday.  And I sort of refuse to travel again until after Christmas.

By the way, Jason was on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman!  As some of you know, my brother is a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.  As such, he does sometimes put away bad guys or deal with crooks, but the last few years he's been working in a Veterans' Court assisting former service men and women who are having issues, primarily associated with PTSD.

there's ol' Beard-Face himself on the left, making JUSTICE
You can read the story here, which doesn't really mention Jason or his role, but it's all about his office.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Some interesting stuff in Action Comics #14 on Wednesday!

Quick Superman related notes...

I wasn't off the plane yet and was checking email, and got a note from CanadianSimon about this week's release of Action Comics #14.  Apparently - it guest stars my favorite media-savvy scientist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson!  

NDG pops up in a lot of documentaries, is the host of Nova Science Now! and his podcast, StarTalk.  He also attended UT for a while, but did not feel it suited him and left.

Here he is rolling up his sleeves to go to work, side-by-side with Superman!

Man, someone really talented flatted that page
Oh, by the way, local artist and colorist, Jordan Gibson, did some work on that story!  He is the "flatter" on the art, which means he did some coloring work on this back-up feature.  Jordan is a huge Superman nut, and I'm totally thrilled he's getting an opportunity to see his work in Action Comics.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amanda Palmer at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas

Wednesday evening I hit Stubb's BBQ here in sunny Austin, Texas with Jason's finance, Amy, to see Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.

Much has been made of Palmer in recent months as she released yet another album not just independent of any label, but by asking her fanbase for about $100,000 via Kickstarter and came up with $1.2 million.  As Palmer mounted her tour, her usual routine of recruiting local talent to help out in what's always a pretty raucous stage show, was met with a sudden and vociferous bit of controversy.  Apparently a lot of musicians who were in no way involved got mad that Palmer was asking for volunteers, and, anyway...  it got ugly.

Keep in mind, Palmer is far from the only artist who has folks sit in, includes local marching bands, choirs, whatever...  But because these were horn and string musicians, somehow it became a big deal.  Anyhow, it all ends happily with Palmer shuffling her budget, not doing a music video or something, and coughing up cash so people would get the @#$% over it.

I tend to think of rock and roll as having far less whining associated than what folks were tossing Palmer's way, and as many people I personally know (this is Austin) who play for free all the time, I couldn't really wrap my head around it.  It's a rock and roll show, and, no, you're not going to convince me otherwise when it comes to Palmer somehow undermining the payment of musicians when she's inviting collaboration with locals.  You psycho.

By the way, while you're getting mad at Amanda Palmer, you can download the new album for whatever you can or feel like paying.  Here you go.

Fast forward to today, and Palmer's album, Theater is Evil, has debuted on the Billboard top 200 at position #10.  Not bad for a record by an artist that has no TV coverage, no label support and has never had it's featured artist on American Idol.

You'll have to forgive me re: the pictures.  I was using my iPhone.  I'm a lousy photographer to begin with, and the stage lighting and the limitations of the iPhone's digital zoom capability were wreaking a bit of havoc. For fun, though, let's pretend this was all intentional and I'm just a really un-self-aware but hilariously lousy artist.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A few things. I'm going to bed.

Into the long weekend.  Here we go.

1.  The mother-in-law, Judy, has returned home!  This is big news.  She'll be receiving rehabilitation at home for a while, and then, I guess, maybe at a clinic.  But watching her progress over the last 20 days or so has been absolutely stunning.  And, if I can step back a pace, it's also been completely fascinating.

Judy had damage in her speech center, and so in the days immediately following her surgery, she couldn't say much.  And then more words came, and she could sometimes communicate what she wanted, but not very often.  It's this slow build up.  You can tell all the words are on the hard drive, and her thoughts are complete, but she's having trouble accessing a lot of her vocabulary.  So while she isn't slurring not is there any loss of that fashion, she might not remember a word like "California".  Even after you say "California".

The really interesting bit is what is there.  A lot of phrases are there completely intact, and if you want her to sing a song she knows, she can do it from beginning to end.  I sat with her last week and a commercial came on which used "Blue Skies", and when it ended, she sang the whole song.  She does this with great regularity.  Apparently, songs and phrases are in an easy-to-reach part of the memory bank.

Anyway, Jamie went down today and worked with her and hung out.  I think I'm going down Sunday.  But it's great to have Judy home and I am sure my father-in-law, Dick, is pretty pleased to not be sitting on the couch or chair in the hospital.  Kudos to him for all the hard work.

2.  The RNC is on but I haven't watched a minute, just as I haven't watched a convention since high school, so no news there.  I'm not really following the election except via, and, people... it's not pretty coming from either side. Let's just say I think we had a good run with this "democracy" idea, but we may need to move onto the Philosopher-King model.

I would also pitch the notion that we just let a council of scientists who would judge you via videoconference rule us.  The one flaw in this plan would be if they ignored crucial, planet-saving scientific evidence.  Which would never happen.

3.  The annual sale is on at Austin Books and Comics, so if you're in town and want half-off on back issues or to go raid the back-issue store, they're open all weekend.  

I had dinner with PalKevin who does not read comics, but he wanted to go with me to ABC afterward, and it was fun walking around with him.  I found out he's read all the John Carter books (we agreed to disagree on the movie), but I had a harder time actually selling him on any comics.

As a man who already owns a lot of comics, I do have a strategy.  I basically knew of a bunch of back issues I wanted that I didn't want to pay full-price for, and I just waited until this week, and then I bought them.  I didn't really look for anything new, and yet, somehow, I was able to spend money.  I was a bit more impulsive at the Sidekick Store, but not too much.  I realize I am getting picky about the conditions of my Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane issues, and I'm not ready to start with reader copies unless its a book I've just not seen out before.

Came home with a lot of Joe Kubert drawn comics, including Tor, Our Army at War and others.  And I picked up the DC Christmas Special with the John Byrne drawn Enemy Ace story which I've had in reprints, but, you know.  Enemy Ace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anniversary of the Tower Shooting Part 2

Last night I posted on the Anniversary of the 1966 shootings that occurred at UT Austin.

Today I had no lunch plans, and so I got up from my desk and walked to the UT Tower, arriving just before 11:48 AM. The University of Texas doesn't do anything in particular to commemorate the day every year, and certainly not the time. When they do hold events, which does happen from time to time, I am uncertain if they hold them on the day and time of shootings.

So, walking up to the Tower, it was the usual mishmash you see in August. Tourists. Summer school students. Kids on campus for camp, a mixed bag of college aged people engaged in group activities you can't quite puzzle out.

The sky was clear today and the temperatures were in the high 90's.  Despite the lunch hour, not many folks walked the main plaza, an area most folks know is often hot and free of shade.  I'd venture that few were aware of the date.

I snapped a picture of the flagpole from our earlier post. It's not quite as far from a door as I thought, but it's still a good 30 yards, and that's if you cleared the hedge.

46th Anniversary of the UT Tower Shootings

On August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman killed both his mother and his wife while they slept.  He went and purchased firearms from local shops, then drove to UT Austin's central tower.

Then, as today, the tower was an administrative building and, at the time, was also the library for UT Austin. It still looms well above all other features not just on campus, but for much of the surrounding territory.   From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view in all directions, far out to the hills of West Austin, into downtown to the South if you look beyond the South Mall and the older buildings on campus that surround the grassy strip, usually strewn with students studying and socializing.  To the East lies the stadium and a great swath of campus, and to the North, the science buildings, and past that, the Hyde Park neighborhood.

I went up the first time in 2000 shortly after the Tower's observation deck re-opened for the first time since a rash of suicides in the 1970's.  No, Whitman's atrocity didn't convince the University that it needed to be closed.

On that morning, Whitman took a footlocker full of weapons with him to the top of the tower, and knocked an administrative assistant unconscious with his rifle (she would die later at Seton Hospital).  He would show a final and baffling act of mercy as he let a couple who had not seen the secretary's unconscious form bypass him, and then he barricaded the door.  Moments later he would kill and wound several tourists who came to the door seeking to go out to the Tower's observation deck.

Whitman took advantage of the unimpeded vantage provided by the 27 story tower and began firing down upon students and faculty walking between buildings.  For about 100 minutes Whitman held Austin hostage between Guadalupe and the East Mall, from the North Mall to far past the South Mall, where visibility goes down to 21st Street and further down University Avenue.