The theme of this year's BNAT was The Ten Commandments.
We completed a questionnaire and, as an added twist, applicants were also required to send in an original picture that connected to the De Mille/Heston classic. Brian and I figured Photoshop was not an option (although it turned out some people used it) so we had to get creative. This was Brian's time to shine. He summoned all his imaginative powers and, voila, this is what we sent in:
Meet Baby Moses...
...and the Burning Bush. Yep, we were in!
On December 11th the alarm went off at 3:20 in the a.m., I was in front of Brian's house at 3:47, and we headed for Texas!
As we dropped my car off at the LAX parking facility Brian couldn't resist some of Terri's chocolate chip cookies she had made especially for the trip.
On the airport shuttle we encountered a talker. Not only did this dude blabber on about being originally from New York (Long Island to be more precise), but in the midst of talking the ear off some Canadian lady he went into detail about the problems with rabid raccoons in Florida and where to find the best burger in Montreal. What I didn't notice about him until Brian mentioned it was...
...the dude had a half-eaten ear. Rabid raccoon, maybe?
Once at LAX we both agreed that "life is good".
This reminds me of the The 40-Year-Old Virgin .
A sweet parting shot of the L.A basin with the sunrise peeking through the clouds.
Our flight included a 20-minute stop-over in Phoenix.
Then a couple of hours later we were over Austin.
With Brian's Star Wars pillow case in hand all seemed to be going according to plan as we landed in Austin.
Then the first wrinkle of the trip: I left my Academic Decathlon hoodie on the plane. The Southwest rep first told me that the plane had already left, even though we had walked off the plane just ten minutes before. Then after checking (per my insistence) she realized there were two planes from Los Angeles, and that she had checked on the wrong one. She then told me that my plane was still at the gate and that she would have someone look for my hoodie. Sadly, they found nothing. She gave me the Southwest baggage claim phone number in Dallas (which is where the plane was heading next) and suggested I call them to see if they find anything. So I called a little while later and gave the Dallas rep my flight number. She said the plane had just landed. Talk about a quick flight. While I was on hold she had someone check the plane, but no avail. She even said they were on their hands and knees looking under seats on the plane. It seemed my hoodie was a goner, so I hung up. Then it occurred to me that the Austin rep had initially called the wrong plane, and I wondered if she had given me the wrong flight number to reference. I called back the Dallas rep and asked her to check if I had given her the correct flight number. After accessing my flight data she realized we were looking for the wrong plane; mine was still en route to Dallas. I called back an hour later to discover they had found it! She promised to box it right away, put back on the plane, and have it flown back to Austin where I could retrieve it on my way home.
We found the Airport Flyer...
...and headed to downtown Austin for six bits each.
Brian found himself the victim of the first mom joke of the trip.
The Radisson elevator.
The Radisson fish tank.
Brian on bass guitar.
We were scouting for breakfast spots for the following morning and had an old favorite from past Butt-numb-a-thons, Las Manitas, in mind.
But a look in the window put a damper on those plans.
We arrived a bit too late.
We continued our tour of Austin in the grips of gentrification: the original Alamo Drafthouse.
A close-up of Brian wiping away the tears.
Many a butt was numbed up these stairs.
We hit the Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch.
It included ravioli (me) and, of course, spaghetti and meatballs (Brian).
Welcome to Texas.
A little while later the chocolate chip cookies and pasta announced themselves so Brian headed to McCormick and Schmick's to use the restroom...
...while I went to Starbucks and purchased an Austin mug for Terri.
Austin has something for everyone, even Mike Tellez.
I risked my life to get a picture of the Capitol building from the middle of Congress Avenue.
While waiting in the cold outside of McCormick and Schmick's for Brian to emerge, I finally saw him through the windows waving me inside. It turns out he had been watching me while enjoying a beer.
Me on lead guitar.
It all belongs to Brian.
What's the problem?
Could it be the dead guy on our room key?
Brian left me a love note. But seeing as we are roommates that night he had better hope not.
I came out of the restroom to find something strange under my covers.
What the hell?
Since the shower cap was complimentary I decided to get my Jheri curls done.
As we headed back out we immediately saw action.
We visited the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz where Butt-numb-a-thon 9 was held last year.
An homage to the original Alamo Drafthouse.
Brian and I were going to buy this for Alex Rai except for two things: 1. Alex might be taken for an Arab mocking the fall of the Twin Towers, and 2. we weren't exactly sure why the Hulkster is bringing down the towers. I get the irony but not the humor. Sorry, A-Rai.
We stopped at Buffalo Billiards and played for an hour.
Brian showed off his ''magical, powerful break.''
Then he went Eddie Felson on my ass.
Perfect timing with the song.
How bad did I suck?
I lost not once...
But five times!
Dude didn't even look at the ball.
Someone got hustled.
After my shellacking we headed out to the BNAT rendezvous point.
No, we weren't supposed to meet at the state Capitol building, but the gates were open so we ventured in.
Just call me Tubbs. (See, that's Davey Crockett in the portrait).
I looked straight up and took a photo of the inside of the dome.
Not everything is great in Texas.
I love that the cops wear cowboy hats.
We took a tour of the building.
Brian figured they had ghosts.
Even the Christmas tree was decorated with cowboy hats.
We were allowed to go up to the fourth floor. I gave Brian my camera and asked him to take a picture of me after I ran back down to the bottom.
While I was huffing and puffing down four flights of stairs Brian found a design on the floor to his liking.
So I get to the bottom and wait for him to take the picture. And I wait... and wait...
Finally I hear him laughing.
It turns out he discovered an elevator... before I ran down four flights. Bastard.
After his elevator ride back up he finally took the picture.
Then I sat around for over 10 minutes while he took a dump in the restroom of the Texas State Capitol building. It was such an undertaking he then had to sit for a while before we could leave. As they say, everything's bigger in Texas.
We bid a fond farewell and continued on.
Just for the hell of it.
We finally made it to the oldest business in Texas, Scholz Garten.
We found Harry, wished him a happy birthday, gave him the separate batch of chocolate chip cookies Terri had made especially for him, and thanked him for another fun opportunity.
Then we got down to business: On his website this past summer Harry destroyed The Clone Wars movie, deeply hurting director Dave Filoni's feelings. So Brian's cousin Giancarlo (who not only is a close friend of Dave, but also works on The Clone Wars series) asked Brian to punch Harry in the balls for Dave. When Brian explained the reason for his request Harry not only agreed to it, but dude gave me what may be the greatest photo I have ever taken.
Then we settled in to a vacant booth in the corner and soaked up the night.
It was a cool crowd.
Harry held court.
Even his dad was chillaxin'.
Right above our booth we found a picture of the Texas House of Representatives. This was the same room we were in just a short while earlier. Brian points to the place where the Cowboy hat Christmas tree was.
BNATers kept arriving.
I needed to take a picture with Chris, the dude with the jivest 'stache in town.
Butt-numb-a-thon rules, and it was still the night before.
Brian will drink to that.
Another shot of Harry.
More of the crowd.
More of Harry.
Then we were joined by Holly Blain, one of the more intense BNAT ''fans''. Check it. She flew in from Atlanta without a ticket. Harry better watch for boiling rabbits in the kitchen. Holly, if you're reading this, just kidding. But only if you're reading it.
Brian enjoyed a Reuben sandwich.
We were soon joined by Filip Tegstedt, a guy who flew in from Sweden for Butt-numb-a-thon. When Brian took our picture Filip threw up bunny ears on me. My grandmamma always told me that those Swedes were sneaky little bastards.
When we left Scholz's it was quite cold outside.
As we headed back to downtown we came upon the Alamo Ritz again.
Brian talked me into a 10 p.m. showing of Milk with Sean Penn.
When we got out we had less than 12 hours to the beginning of Butt-numb-a-thon X.
Downtown Austin was jumping.
A few minutes later so was Brian.
While we were walking back to the hotel Brian swore he saw some kind of creature he could only describe as a ''cat without a tail'' run past him into the bushes.
We spent the next few minutes trying to flush out the quarry, to no avail. Later he would amend his theory to an armadillo.
Yes, an armadillo.
Check out the stepping stones on the way to the hotel.
The view from our window the next morning.
We packed up and began the 3-mile trek to the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.
I nearly climbed up to take a lick.
Next time, Austin, next time.
I joked to Brian that this is where his armadillo was hiding.
If you look closely you will find me in the palm of a giant Peter Pan, and a ferocious T-Rex lurking in the background.
Years later, when Max was arrested for bludgeoning his parents with a golf club, authorities would need to look no further than the photo album containing the pictorial account of his 8th birthday party.
Vindication, claims Brian.
A ten-speed from the 80s. Spray painted white. With no tires on the rims. Chained to a telephone pole.
Then we saw it just around the bend.
Valhalla? Nirvana? Elysium? Nope...
We rolled in around 10 a.m. so we had some time top kill. I checked some bitchin' threads.
With Las Manitas now closed, Brian decided to investigate whether Casa Garcias really had the ''Best Breakfast in Town''.
When Brian was told they were out of orange juice the claim seemed to be a bit presumptuous.
Then after a few swigs of his water he was really bumming.
That's when he noticed his water came from bucket with a spout in the corner. I wasn't laughing very long when I realized that the bucket above it was where they produced my iced tea. At least Brian's bucket was labeled.
I took a sneaky shot of this guy on the left after he ordered watermelon juice. WTF?
A few minutes later they brought Brian some freshly squeezed OJ, at least that's what it read on the bucket.
As we were leaving I spotted some dude that was the spitting image of Francis Ford Coppola. He said his name was Victor and that he had been mistaken for the director in the past. Part of me believed him, but part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, I had unwittingly blown the lid off some deep secret Harry was saving for Butt-numb-a-thon.
Compare this photo of Coppola and decide for yourself.
After breakfast we picked up our swag bags. I not only got a picture of an excited Brian, but also the line of poor fools that did not have tickets and were hoping to get in through standby.
Here's a close-up of Holly Blain. BTW, she made it in. Call it perseverance or sheer luck, it was a hell of a move.
Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges. Unless, of course, we wanted into Butt-numb-a-thon.
The BNAT line in the Alamo lobby.
Per instructions, this would be the final picture until Butt-numb-a-thon X was over.
I put together a montage of the different films/film pieces we saw. Since I agree with pretty much everything Nordling had to say about the line-up, I'll just link his review.
Brian and I got a picture with Jackie Earle Haley who was there introducing Watchmen, in which he plays Rorschach, a walking metaphor for psychological instability and moral objectivism. It was Kelly Leak who taught me that riding dirt bikes and hitting homeruns made you the coolest mofo on the block. Oh, and speaking of metaphors, even though sometimes you get thrown out at home plate during the championship game, life will be okay as long as you can tell the other team to shove the trophy up their asses.
The aftermath of 24 hours plus of movies.
Someone, somehow was able to borrow a set of the original prop Ten Commandments for BNAT. Harry was in Heaven (so to speak) when he got to hold them.
Here is a still from the film of Charlton Heston holding them.
Here is Cecil B. DeMille and some other guy with them. This is one those intangibles that makes Butt-numb-a-thon so freakin' awesome.
Somewhere in this pile is our present to Harry, the DVD of Laserblast. Check a nine-second trailer. I saw this movie in the theater when I was seven years old and I loved it.
The huge cup in the foreground is the $11.00 bottomless soda (or iced tea, in my case). Five of these bad boys are what sustained me.
I got a picture with Harry's dad, and happened to catch his sister in the background.
Brian is ready to take on the world (and the sunlight).
This is just a sampling of some of the birthday memorabilia Harry received from the presenting guests. It includes Bob the Blob from Monsters vs. Aliens with Harry's trademark beard, a Terminator skull with light-up eyes, a movie-worn Rorschach mask delivered by Jackie Earle Haley...
...and a Birthday card from Watchmen director Zack Snyder and wife.
What an experience.
Brian checked out the cool toys and wished Harry a Happy Birthday.
Then it was time to leave.
The official BNAT X poster.
I threw on my 3D glasses to show what I probably looked like earlier while watching My Bloody Valentine 3D.
Tim League, the founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, posed with his Schlitz.
Then, just for measure, Tim went gangsta.
Until we meet again.
Brian checked out his swag while we waited for our taxi.
Coming soon to those mere peons who did not make it into BNAT X.
Our cab driver was a musician from Bulgaria.
When we got back to the airport I had an early Christmas present waiting for me.
Let the record show that I didn't play any pranks on Brian in Texas.
Brian paid me back soon after when I made the mistake of leaving my seat for a moment.
Yes, my entire seat cushion was missing. Bonus points to Brian for pulling it off while wearing a Don Knotts shirt. Pure money.