Tapping Out
Austin Dispatches 
No. 64
May 1, 2004
My contract at Key may be ending prematurely. In an Apr. 30 phone call, my supervisor mentioned that his supervisor is bringing in cheaper contractors from another agency to hasten the KeyView project. It’s nothing against me, just business.

I could’ve been done with the documentation months ago, but the subject matter experts kept tweaking the system features for the debut release. Then Key’s financial problems emerged.  The company shuffled executives around, and I think Key even figured out either the villain or convenient scapegoat for costing the company at least $80 million. The reshuffle created a chain of command whose links are committed to releasing KeyView. Fittingly, the executives have been mired in meetings to accelerate the release.

Among other things, they’re reconsidering the overall documentation plan. They’ve got a good head start. Thanks to me, Key has eight documents in one degree or another of completion, about 400 pages total on templates I created from scratch. If Key ends my contract, it won’t be from dissatisfaction with my output.

On the other hand, because Key's trying to cut expenses, I haven't had to go to Midland for a while, meaning I save $800 a visit in expenses that Key may or may not continue to reimburse.1 And I don’t have to contend with the airport security goons.2

So I’ll continue to milk my current job, or else I’m available to work the next contract in Austin (or elsewhere).  Either way, I win.

Meanwhile, I lowered my debt-to-asset ratio by 4 percent after the last paycheck. I also felt flush enough to buy Miss KT lunch in exchange for her advice on buying a new computer system.

Cultural Canapés

I saw “Kill Bill, Vol. 2” on opening night, so I can finally weigh in on the whole opus.  Don’t bother to see it. It’s Tarantino at his laziest and most self-indulgent.3  You’d think a concoction from him of noir,4  anime,5  martial arts, Asian gangster and spaghetti western films, and kitschy pop culture would work. Not this time. Often, it's not even as entertaining as "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights."6

Yeah, I saw it at the discount theater, hoping to cop some dance moves, but you couldn’t get much from the way it’s edited. It’s fluff, and probably the most comsymp7 of the four movies I’ve seen set when Castro took over Cuba.8  I half expected to see Fredo dashing by the young lovers.9  But I’m still surprised it didn’t become a hit among teen-age girls, a la Titanic.10

Hollywood’s attention may be the peak of renewed popularity for Latin music and dance, which is another way of saying the waning phase is beginning, after a hot streak of five years or so.11  It’s happened before.12  Already, Miguel’s La Bodega, the top Latin club in Austin,13  announced it’s closing June 30.14  I suspect the local glut of such clubs, combined with the public’s fickle tastes,15  the recession,  as well as the local power elite killing downtown with the endless tearing up of roads and no place to park,16  has contributed to Miguel’s demise.

The next trend will probably be all things Arabic. As Marines kill and die in the streets of Fallujah,17  on the “home front”18  Americans will take an ancient culture and turn it into a goofy appetizer, as “Mystery Science Theater” once put it.19

I figured out the optimal way of dunking a cookie in milk: use a martini glass. The glass’ shape allows you to dunk the cookie, which is usually larger than the circumference of other glasses. A bowl works even better, but what do you do with the milk? Drinking from the bowl is considered vulgar. Only Mom still thinks dunking cookies is vulgar.

The Apr. 16 Austin Chronicle’s cover story is about the new city arts czar, the unfortunately named Vincent Kitch.20

“Sesame Street” actress Alison Bartlett is appearing on “The Sopranos.”21  This is less of a stretch than you might suspect. Like many things, it was adumbrated in Mad:22

Business Roundup

North of the neighborhood, the city plans to annex the Robinson Ranch, the standing name for 6,300 acres of various residential and commercial properties between FM 1325 and RM 620 from Parmer Lane all the way into Williamson County.23

My Top Periodical Sources 
1. Austin Chronicle 
2. Austin American-Statesman 
3. Liberty 
4. GQ 
5. Esquire 
6. Reason 
7. XLent 
8. Austin Business Journal  
9. Time 
10. Journal of Libertarian Studies 
11. Washington Post 
12. National Review 
13. American Spectator 
14. Libertarian Party News 
15. Phoenix New Times 
16. New York Times 
17. Wall Street Journal 
18. Forbes 
19. Telos 
20. Dallas Morning News
E-mail: deisler1@swbell.net
1 Kim, Jane J. “Put the Brakes on Rising Rental Car Rates.” AAS 28 Apr. 2004: D2.
2 AD No. 60n30 (Dec. 20, 2003).
3 AD No. 56n21 (Oct. 1, 2003).
4 Christopher, Nicholas, Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City. New York City: Free Press, 1997; Ebert, Roger. "Three Kinds of Noir." Chicago Sun-Times 11 Oct. 1995. Rpt. Roger Ebert's Video Companion, 1997 ed. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews & McMeel, 1996: 928-930; Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, rev. 3rd ed. Ed. Alain Silver, Elizabeth Ward, and James Ursini. Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 1992; Meyer, David N. A Girl and a Gun: The Complete Guide to Film Noir on Video. New York City: Avon Books, 1998; Rafferty, Terrence. "Pulp Friction." GQ Oct. 1997: 87.
5 alt.culture, 10-11.
6 Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Lawrence Bender Productions/A Band Apart/Havana Nights LLC/Lions Gate Films Inc./Miramax Films, 2004.
7 Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed. New York City: Random House, 1987: 421.
8 Cuba. Holmby Pictures/United Artists, 1979; Doherty, Brian. “The Last Pinko Show.” Liberty Mar. 1991: 68.
9 The Godfather, Part II. Paramount Pictures/The Coppola Company, 1974.
10 Rafferty. “Chronic Youth.” GQ May 1998: 109.
11 “Latin Music Pops.” Farley, Christopher John, David E. Thigpen, and Autumn de Leon. Time 24 May 1999: 74.
12 Lacayo, Richard. “A Surging New Spirit.” Time 11 Jul. 1988: 46.
13 Hardwig, Jay. "Rhythm is King." AC 25 Jun. 1999: 54+.
14 Alvarez, Miguel A. Jr. “Farewell to Miguel’s La Bodega.” E-mail, 25 Apr. 2004.
15 “Will Cigars Stay Hot? How to Track the Trend.” Newsweek  21 Jul. 1997: 59.
16 Wear, Ben. “Reasons for City’s Major Road Mess.” AAS 26 Apr. 2004: B1.
17 Peterson, Scott. “Marines See Gains in Fallujah.” CSM 29 Apr. 2004: 1.
18 Richman, Sheldon. “The War That Was Hell.” Liberty Jan. 1990: 67.
19 Beaulieu, Trace et al. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. New York City: Bantam Books, 1996: 57; “Show 319: War of the Colossal Beast.” Mystery Science Theater. Comedy Central, 30 Nov. 1991.
20 Faires, Robert. “It’s a Dirty Job…” AC 16 Apr. 2004: 38+.
21 Bauder, David. “From ‘Sesame Street’ to ‘The Sopranos’: An Actress’ Journey.” HC 25 Apr. 2004: 8.
22 Jacobs, Frank, and Jack Davis. “If Sesame Street Branched Out Into Specialized Avenues of Education.” Mad Dec.1978: 34-35.
23 “Austin’s Annexing of Robinson’s Ranch a Welcome Development.” AAS 26 Apr. 2004: A12.