So lightning struck twice as Brian and I were invited back to Harry Knowles' OG Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin, Texas. We were ecstatic last year when we were chosen for BNAT 6 and the excitement did not diminish in the least for BNAT 7. Of 6,000 applicants vying for 13,000 seats we were again deemed BNAT-worthy.

When we returned home after the experience I read some of the initial reviews of BNAT 7 and couldn't believe some of the negativity spewed by people. I know that you can't please everybody but it seems that too many missed the concept. As Harry himself wrote: "BNAT isn't about the outside world for those 24 hours, it's about the inside world. It's about the people sitting around you and the films you all just watched. It is a time for new friends and possibly old ones. It's about 24 hours of moments to cherish and relish." Word.

Note: The smaller images are short videos. Just click on the image.




The first BNAT 7 poster on the AICN site and the first real hint that King Kong might be shown.




The official poster of BNAT 7.




So I headed off to Austin with an ankle I sprained this past Wednesday playing in a lunchtime basketball tournament at the high school. I'm sure it will feel okay as long as the weather is warm....




Brian picked me up around 7 a.m. and off to LAX we went.




Mental note: Plaza Mexico is now open and it includes a Chuck E. Cheese (although, shouldn't it be called Chuy y Queso?).




A rainy morning on the 105 freeway makes me feel good about leaving.




Brian throwing down his best Bela Lugosi. Creepy sonuvabitch.




The Apothecary comes prepared: Sudafed, caffeine tablets, cough drops and ibuprofen. (He can also advise any AARP members on the best new medicaid plan to choose.)




While boarding the plane the pilot was finishing off his pre-flight meal. It wasn't until after I took the picture that I realized this may not have been the best idea on my part, considering the current state of affairs.




A parting shot of the L.A. basin.




The Fabulous Forum (where the Magic/Kareem/Worthy--Lakers dominated basketball with five NBA championship titles in the 80's) and Hollywood Park race track.




Our big heads are blocking the "Welcome to Austin" sign but you get the idea.




You gotta hand it to the guy: in the middle of Longhorn country the dude represents.




While waiting for our plane to leave L.A. our pilot came on the p.a. with these words: "The current temperature in Austin is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, zero degrees celsius." That freezing. Literally. Three hours later as we waited for the airport flyer to take us into town it was 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's six degrees above freezing. Literally. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Cali anymore.




The bus driver turned out to be an SC fan. Imagine that. He didn't even charge us for the ride.




This meant we saved a dollar. Cha-ching!




The downtown Austin Radisson, our sleeping quarters for the night.




The view of Austin from Room 820.




The first thing I did when we got into our room was press the test button on the smoke alarm to scare the crap out of Brian. It worked but then I couldn't get the damn thing to turn off. In full panic mode I was finally successful. My method was... how should I put it... unique.




Idiot.




This may be the greatest picture I have ever taken. Not only did I get two of Brian's funny face with the assistance of the mirror, but I snapped the photo just as the door opened and some guy walked into the elevator. Imagine what he was thinking, stumbling across two guys taking pictures of themselves. Annie Leibowitz, eat your heart out.




The first mom joke of the day: Brian found the place my mom visits when in town.




Brian Day discovers his building.




Happy Hour at McCormick and Schmick's started at 4 p.m. so we enjoyed a half-pound cheeseburger and fries for $1.95. Score.




These ladies were sitting next to us enjoying their meal, generous amounts of alcohol and much loud and hearty laughter. Midway through our meal Brian got up to use the restroom and said, "If you have any balls you'll be sitting at their table when I get back." When he returned I was still at our table. 20 minutes and two beers later he had to go again. While he was gone I manned up and sauntered on over, opening with, "Hello ladies, I must say I love your hats." I was in like Flynn. Seriously folks, if I was 25 years older it would have been orgy city. When Brian rounded the bend and saw me surrounded at their table all he could do was smile.




As I just said, two beers.




We found some UT stickers for our friend and colleague Mike Tellez, a huge USC fan. The plan was to put them on his truck when we returned home, just a couple weeks before the Trojans and Longhorns were to meet in the national championship game. Let's see how it went....




When you mess with the longhorn...




We headed back to our hotel room for three reasons: 1) We needed to warm up from walking in the near-freezing weather; 2) We needed to get directions to a party being held for BNATers at Harry's sister's video store, Pedazo Chunk; and 3) Brian needed to deposit his Happy Hour cheeseburger that was responsible for gurgling sounds emanating from the abyss of his bowels. The fifteen minutes Brian was in the restroom gave me an idea. I told him though the door that I needed to get a pen from the downstairs lobby and that I'd be back in a few minutes. I opened and closed the door, making him believe he was now alone in the room. Then....


Brian needs to wipe a second time



From the glass elevator we could see the Hyatt where we stayed last year.




We headed back toward the Alamo Draft House in an attempt to catch the 10 bus that would take us to pre-BNAT party at Pedazo Chunk. From the bus stop I took a picture that, thanks to a strategically placed parking sign, truly shows the Beavis and Butthead in me. Dessert, anyone?




Thanks to fellow BNATer Shauna, we easily found Pedazo Chunk. Pedazo is Spanish for "chunk". Chunk Chunk? An esoteric film reference, maybe? I need to do some research on this.




Meet Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News. This is my first real picture of him. When we met Harry last year at the Alamo Draft House he was kind enough to pose with us (even though cameras were not allowed in the theater) but, unfortunately, it was the only picture that didn't come out. When Brian and I asked him if we could take a picture with him not only did he immediately know who we were, he also remembered my photo problem from a year ago. When we eventually left Harry wished us luck in photo-documenting our visit to Austin. Ain't he cool?




Pedazo Chunk is the kind of video store that Brian and I would open. The place makes me want to move to Austin just to hang out here and rent movies.




It has a wide array of eclectic films...




...a projector room with couches and chairs (plus signed movie posters such as The Empire Strikes Back)...




...and a back patio where people were enjoying food and beer.




Sweet birthday cake (pun intended).




After we bid adieu to Harry we headed out to take in the town. We waited for about 15 minutes for the bus to pick us up. That's 15 minutes in now-freezing temperatures. On the bright side I discovered where I could pick up an early-90's American car for $61.75 per week. Wow!




We went back to the hotel for a while to thaw out and watched some TV. We checked out the porn titles to see what we were missing. Meat the Fokkers. Meat.




While Brian was messing around he "accidentally" hit the wrong button that started one of the pornos before he stopped it by punching all the remote control buttons in a panic. He frantically called down to the front desk to explain his "mistake" and made sure nothing would be on the bill. Classic.




We headed out to explore Austin.




We hung out at the Ivory Cat and listened to this guy play the piano. We were the only people in the joint for a good 15 minutes before others straggled in. He was quite entertaining, playing requests with energy and humor.




Continuing down Sixth Street I discovered Brian's mom's watering hole.




Before I turned in that night I noticed I looked like a cross between Danny Elfman circa Oingo Boingo and Syndrome from The Incredibles.




We had breakfast at Las Manitas, apparently voted as the best Mexican restaurant in Austin. Muy bueno, amigos.




Heading to the BNAT line we encountered signs of a very good night (or very bad).




Any indications of the cause?




At 10 a.m. the standby line was already long.




With time to spare we decided to wander and came across a mini street festival.




There was music for all to enjoy...




...birthday cakes for Fido (Happy Woof Day!)...




...and an opportunity for Brian to regain the lead in the mom-joke competition.




Brian refused to run through this for the sake of a picture. Pussy.




I have no idea what this place was but it looked cool.




Art.




By the time we returned to the theater the standby line had grown. These were the hardcore geeks, willing to brave a chilly Austin morning without tickets to get into a 24-hour movie festival.




In the immortal words of a true American sage, George W. Bush, "Bring it on."




Movie geeks await entrance to BNAT 7



Swag, baby. Among the cool gifts were King Kong and The Producers shirts, Aeon Flux and MI:III hats, and the new Matrix: Path of Neo video game for PlayStation 2.




The dude on the right is Carsten Kurpanek, originally from Wurzbug, Bavaria but currently an exchange student at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. Heh, heh, Ball State. He was a capital fellow who sat to our right during BNAT.




This is the aforementioned Shauna who helped us find Pedazo Chunk. Austinites rule.




My review of the Butt-Numb-A-Thon 7 experience.



Harry was cool enough to let me snap some shots at the end of the show. Another shot of zee German, Carsten, next to Brian.




There's Harry on the far right with his pops a row behind.




After the carnage



Front row, center. The suh-weetest seats in the house.




There was a raffle of gifts after the show. Here is Emily Hagins receiving a Buffy the Vampire Slayer toy from Moriarty. Emily is a 13-year old working on a zombie movie titled Pathogen she wrote and directed when she was 12. 12? When I was 12 I was too scared to even watch a zombie movie.




Since this was a birthday bash for Harry, BNATers brought presents and/or cards (the "or" is for the impoverished English teachers in the audience who spent $600 for airfare, hotel, food and BNAT tickets for the greatest weekend of the year). We were all curious as to what resided within the plain brown wrapping inscribed with blood red paint (at least I think it was paint).




Holy Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Batman!




I don't like the look in his eyes.




On the way out of the theater we were handed a roll of posters that included Superman Returns, King Kong, V for Vendetta, and Hostel. The question at hand is why the swag truck was still parked in front 24 hours later....




Atari, baby! Besides the kick-ass swag we were also given an Atari Flashback 2 console with 40 games built in. It was Harry's birthday but we were the ones getting gifts. Harry's building up some serious karma points.




A final look before we headed for the airport. Thank you, Harry, for inviting us on another great adventure.




Remember how the bus ride from the airport was free? Well, I found a dollar bill on the ground outside the theater. That could only mean...




...that's right, the bus ride to the airport was now free. I love Austin.




What did the wife of the author of "The Gift of the Magi" say to her husband in the heat of the moment? O. Henry! Being an English teacher rules.




We were booked on a 6 p.m. flight. We were walking through the airport when Brian noticed a 2:30 p.m. flight to L.A. was boarding. We asked the ticket guy if there was room and he told us there were two seats left. Hooked up! Brian's boss Star Wars watch told us we made just in time. Of course, Brian ended sitting next to some smelly guy who, while typing on his laptop, kept nudging Brian off the armrest. While it sucked to be him at least he wasn't sitting in the rear of the plane directly adjacent to the toilet. Um, yeah, I enjoyed the combination of people standing next to me waiting for the restroon to be vacated and the wafting scent of their business while in there. Oh well, beggers can't be choosers.




Tired but swag-laden we finally arrived at LAX.




"Beautiful" (hand touching heart).