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    Easygoing Peanut has been at the shelter for seven long months despite being calm, potty-trained and polite with other pups. He is a staff and volunteer favorite for his good nature, and is affectionate without being slobbery.

    Because the Austin Animal Center is over capacity, all animal adoption fees are waived this weekend at the main (7201 Levander Loop) facility and Town Lake Animal Center (1156 Cesar Chavez) overflow location. Peanut lives in kennel 54 at the Town Lake Animal Center. He is neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and ready to go home today.

    Peanut is part of the Hard Luck Hounds program, which helps the harder-to-place, longer-stay dogs find families via enhanced marketing and post-adoption concierge service from a team of dog-savvy voluteers. Last weekend, Peanut attended a Hard Luck Hounds happy hour at House Wine. He was gentle with children, and mannerly with the many people who pet him.

       

    Peanut regularly accompanies volunteers on walks and jogs around Town Lake where he displays good leash manners and impressive stamina.

    Adoption Fees Waived for Austin Animal Center Pets This Weekend

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    Bikes will create possible tangles and delays in the center city and parts of South Austin for drivers this weekend.

    The Tour de Fat on Saturday (10/20) will launch a bike parade (click for map) from the event site at Fiesta Gardens on Saturday at 10 a.m. It will wend through the Holly and Rainey neighborhoods to E. Cesar Chavez, crossing both the First St. and Congress Ave. bridges as well as Riverside Dr. between them. All should be clear by 11 a.m.

    The Livestrong Challenge will send bikers off on Sunday (10/21) at 8 a.m. from the Palmer Events Center down S. First St. to Atkins High School Rd. south of Slaughter (and into the Hill Country on the longer courses) and returning on the same route throughout the day. The map below of the shortest ride indicates where delays may occur, and police will direct traffic at critical junctures.

    Don't be a dope: Respect the riders and take alternate routes. Plus it's game day on Saturday for the Longhorns, so the campus area will be jammed and expect grindlock and delays on Interstate 35 before and after the game.


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    For the last five years, The House of Torment has been ranked as one of the top five haunted houses in the country. On popular nights, the lines to get in can last over an hour. This year, they invited the Austin Post to take a peek behind the scenes so you can get a glimpse of what it takes to make the madness happen.

    It takes over 150 staff members, two control boards, 10 monitors, a series of secret tunnels, an array of animatronics, a computer dedicated to sound effects, and specially designed scent cannons to create the full creepy effect. Even at 2 in the afternoon with all the house lights on, the shadows and scents were deeply creepy. At night, with a fully staffed control room and dozens of staffers there to scare you, well, there’s a reason this haunted house wins national awards.

    This is their last year at the Highland Mall. Next year, they’re moving to a bigger location with a heck of a lot of rebuilding in order to keep you on your toes.

    Doors open at 7 p.m. every day through November 3. If you want a really scary experience, you can come back November 9-10 for “Nightstalkers,” where they turn out the lights and let you take however long you need to find your way out. The staff proudly said they know they’re doing Nightstalkers right when they see grown men cry in fear. 

     

    Related Articles: 

    Behind the Scenes at Scare for a Cure

    It takes over 1500 volunteers working 15,000 hours to make Scare for a Cure happen. Founder Jarrett Crippen took the Austin Post on a behind the scenes tour so you can get a glimpse of what it takes to create 45 minutes of terror. 

     

    Ecopocalypse turns Dirty Sixth into Post-Apocalyptic Halloween Hellscape

    Civilization crumbled. The survivors fell back into suspicious tribalism and fight for the last scraps of food and access to the few untainted sources of water. You, with your soft hands and clean clothes, have been flung into the middle of the post-apocalyptic struggle.

    Murder, Maiming, and Genuinely Medieval Macabre

    Everything about Medieval Macabre is otherworldly. To get to the spooky halloween production (running Thurs. - Sat. this week and next), you drive down a dark, winding private road, lit only by torchlight.


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    Courtesy of budgetsaresexy.com
    Enough with the sexy cliches!

    The leaves are falling from the trees and it’s starting to be sweater weather, at least at night. That can mean only one thing – we’re nearly upon the time of year when girls and women across the country put on too much makeup and take off too much clothing under the guise of “Halloween.”

    We all know American women love to find an excuse once a year to throw off their inhibitions – and their underwear, in some occasions – and dress up for Halloween as a sexy nurse or a sexy police woman or a sexy school teacher or a sexy prostitute. In the past, I’ve lamented this trend, criticizing the sexy fill-in-the-blanks for going as a “sexy” anything, which seems cliché.

    I’ve learned my lesson though. You just can’t stop a girl from wanting to get some attention thanks to what passes as a costume and a pair of legs or boobs. This year instead of saying “don’t dress sexy,” I’m encouraging you sexy-costumed ladies to at least get creative! Forego the cliché Playboy bunny and go for something that allows you to show a little leg and get a laugh to boot. Need some help? Well, that’s why I’m here.

    Baberaham Lincoln: This is a real crowd-pleaser and shows that you’re a history buff because you knew what size bra our 16th president wore. I went as the great Baberaham Lincoln a few years ago and got quite a few laughs as well as some numbers from fellas with ass-ass-inated president fetishes. All you need are a pair of booty shorts (I put mine over stockings, but you can go bare-legged if you’re so inclined), a low-cut white dress shirt, a vest and tuxedo jacket (both of which you can get at a bargain at almost any second-hand store), a pair of heels and a top hat made out of black poster board. Oh, and a beard. This sexy costume requires you to wear a beard.

    Sexy Crazy Cat Lady: This is one I’ve always wanted to do and haven’t tried yet. Maybe this is the year I’ll finally be a crazy cat lady … different from my role in normal life because it’s a sexy crazy cat lady. For this one, get an old lady house coat (again, go to Goodwill for this) and cut it as short as you feel comfortable with. Pair it with an old pair of house shoes or slippers and make your hair big and wild. For the kicker, Velcro a bunch of cat and kitten stuffed animals to your house coat. You can purchase a roll of Velcro from any craft store and just use a couple of stiches to attach a piece to the stuffed (fake, for crying out loud) cat and a piece to the house coat. I recommend a minimum of eight cats. Throughout the night, the cats will be stuck to you AND you can remove them to throw at people.

    Killer Bee: A sexy killer bee is so much funnier than a plain old sexy bee, plus, you get to hear Wu-Tang song lyrics shouted at you all night. I tried this costume out a few years ago too, and it led to an hours-long make out session on the second floor of a party. Proof’s in the pudding, this costume works. Reuse those Baberaham Lincoln booty shorts and tights and add to it a striped yellow shirt (I drew stripes on a yellow t-shirt I got from a thrift store). Make wings by stretching black panty hose onto rounded-out wire coat hangers and then pin them to the back of the shirt. Finally, drip red food coloring or fake blood all over the shirt and fashion a large knife out of cardboard and tin foil. Get it? Killer bee. Alternatively, take off the wings and this one doubles as Sexy Murdering Charlie Brown.

    Freudian Slut, I Mean Slip: This is a really easy one I saw a girl at a party pull off a few years ago. She just wore a short one-piece slip and carried a cigar (check out the picture of Freud as a reference), and whenever someone asked her what she was, she would say “I'm a Freudian slut … I mean slip.” It was easy, creative and she looked hot. I would personally add a beard to this one too, but that’s just me. I like wearing fake beards.

    Hopefully you’re getting the idea by now. Simply do something that isn’t expected. I guarantee your creativity will get you more attention at any party or in any bar than a dozen girls dressed as Sexy Girl With No Personality.

     

    Related Articles: 

    What's the Next Halloween Costume Trend?

    By Anonymous / Oct 14, 2009

    Ah, Halloween. The one day of the year, or weekend if you live in places like Austin, when we're actually allowed to pretend to be something we're not. For a few of us that "something" may be a celebrity or a scantily dressed something or other.

    No Demonic Possessions or Ectoplasm at Austin’s Paranormal Conference

    It’s surprising to hear a paranormal investigator talk about how much she loves physicists. Jackie Milligan, Co-Founder of the Central Texas Paranormal Conference (which runs Oct.


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    Once a week, We Are Austin Tech presents a short video interview with the people who help put Austin on the national map. Their love for Austin and its culture shines through. This week, enjoy their interview with BuildASign’s Dan Graham.

    Want to learn more about Austin’s own Dan Graham? You can cyberstalk him on Twitter, or follow him on Facebook.

    “I feel like customers, employees and the community are really overlooked by a lot of businesses and those are three things that I think are extremely important and if you take care of those then the business tends to take care of itself.”

    Related Articles: 

    We Are Austin Tech: Richard Garriott

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Jul 30, 2012

    Once a week, We Are Austin Tech presents a short video interview with the people who help put Austin on the national map. Their love for Austin and its culture shines through.


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    Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Neal Adams will be in good company with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and three of the biggest badasses from The Walking Dead at Austin’s Wizard World Comic Con.

    Adams has a long and storied past in the comics world, working on Superman, Batman, the X-Men and many others. Before the convention, Adams told the Austin Post that comics are taking over the world.

    Austin Post: Comic-book movies have gone from being a joke in the 80s and 90s to being big budget summer blockbusters in the 21st century. Why do you think the movies finally caught on with mainstream audiences?

    Neal Adams: Because people are interested in making money. And after awhile, the stupid people leave the room and the smart people stay in the room. The smart people get it. Then the stupid people later on say oh, shit, I should've followed the comics. What, you mean it was there all the time?

    Comics have basically been ahead of film and TV by about 50 years. That space has shortened in the last few years, but by making comics, an artist and writer can do a full 120-million-dollar movie in a month. It takes a film company a couple years of pre-production. By the time they’re done, we’re off and we’ve done five or ten different comic books by then.  Now, you get people who are hiring comic book writers to write films, and people who are inspired by comics. I haven’t spoken to a director who isn’t a comic book fan. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Christopher Columbus, they’re all big comic book fans.

    The guys who make films are the people who would otherwise be doing comic books, and in fact some of them are. There’s a movement back and forth. Just look at the Avengers. I hate to put it this way, but we’re taking over the world. No offense, world, but those crazy guys who 40 years ago you said we would be dead in another year, we’re alive and we’re taking over the world.

    Austin Post: You’re part of the team that led to a grittier Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Batman. Tell me how that came about. Was it a hard sell to editors or were they behind the transition.

    Neal Adams: They had no idea. To be perfectly honest, I think we toned it down. Denny O’Neil and I were quite rowdy back on the day. Now, they’re not taking as many chances. Well, they’re taking chances in the fantasy area.

    We’re only doing this because fans expect us to do it. Living in the real world, we’d be stupid not to do it. When we were in the '50s and '60s we had the comics code, the self-inflicted regulatory agency. Congress in early '50s hadn’t spent their load on attacking communists, looked in the dictionary under C and saw comics, so they decided to attack us some more.

    So the response was comics were awful. Getting off that was a very difficult thing. Parents were telling kids they can’t read comics, that’s it. No. When I was a kid, parents would buy comics, then we came into this terrible time when comics were verbotten because congress told parents comics were bad for the kids.

    As we moved into the '70s, there was a question of whether or not we were going to live with the comics code and produce vanilla for the rest of our lives.

    Eventually we broke the back of the comics code and everyone realized it was ridiculous and maybe we should be able to deal with life realistically.That left us free to do stuff. All the stupid guys in comics said duh, what do we do now? When you’re given the freedom, you don’t know what to do at first.

    It’s been an evolution process to bring us to today where we have things like The Walking Dead and other comics with a conscience.

    One of the things that you’ll find with comic  book people is that they do have a sense of responsibility to multiple generations and they do want to have comics their own kids can read. This comes down to the concept that people in the comic industry aren't stupid. They’re intelligent enough to know their market and who they're writing it for, so they do.

    Austin Post: I grew up reading Marvel. When I heard DC was going to reboot the whole universe with 52, I was actually interested in starting fresh - until I saw the covers and early release art. Do you really think that the target demographic won’t read comics unless the women are depicted with impossible spines and costumes that would make a street walker blush?

    Neal Adams: It’s called fantasy fiction. I agree with you. I think ⅔ of the stuff in 52 is bullshit. On the other hand, the Blue Beetle is pretty good. He’s Puerto Rican, and kind of skinny and athletic. I don’t like Wonder Woman’s new costume. I think the older one is sexier. Women having bigger breasts?  Well, there’s plastic out there, that’s real. Men looking like Adonis, there are gyms out there, that’s real.

    I think we’re in a time where we have a tremendous amount of fat people who are too fat to live. We have to worry about that culturally, and a lot of people in comics are trying to get across people should look better than they do and they’re out there doing what the fashion magazines and other people out there are doing and trying to show that there is a better model. I don’t necessarily mean the big boobs, those aren’t realistic if you’re fighting, but it’s an aesthetic choice.

    There’s what the people want. They want to see the bigger boobs.

    Austin Post: You don’t think the extreme and anatomically impossible depictions of women turn female readers away from comics?

    Neal Adams: No. I don’t think it drives women away. The guys buy comics with guys who have big muscles. It’s almost an idealized thing, like the Greeks and Romans had with their gods, they gave people a physical ideal. People are admiring that stuff. They’re watching the Olympics, they’re looking at better bodies, and god bless them, I hope that makes them better.

    Realistically, some artists aren’t that good. It’s easier to draw rounded boobs than it is to draw real chicks. There are a lot of guys who are drawing cartoons, to be perfectly honest. I think we have a lot of boobs in comic books, we have a lot of physically beautiful people, but a lot of it is because people don’t draw that well and if they don’t draw that well, that’s what you get. It depends on the type of comics, too. I don’t see a lot of boobs in The Walking Dead. Those people know what they’re doing.

    But I don’t think it’s a terrible thing, drawing all these idealized bodies. I would say there are an awful lot of big old fat people in the United States who create a really bad image for kids, and kids need a really healthy image of bodies to aspire to. The people who are unhealthy and people who are in bad shape will buy these comics more than other people. I think there’s an "I wish I was like that" sort of quality for them.

    Austin Post: What can the comic book industry do to bring in new readers? After all, the love of the movies shows people are interested, but comic shop owners say the movies don’t translate into increased sales of the books.

    Neal Adams: That’s a big big problem in comic books. In my opinion, comics are cross-cultural literature that can feed any tastes. Comic books help to make the movies, but the movies interest people in comic books only mildly in that they become familiar, and so the comic book business increases only in small increments.

    Comic-book shops are fearful places. You may get scary people in there who tell you what to read, so people are afraid to go in, but the movies and the TV make it more familiar. People get familiar with it and become more comfortable, and eventually they’re more willing to go inside. These are small incremental changes, not big leaps and bounds. Slowly, even though the comic shops say it’s not happening, there is a little growth.

     

    Premiere of the Ben Casey strip, November 26, 1962. Art by Neal Adams.

    Austin Post: Do you think digital comics have potential to bring in those new readers who might be afraid to go in a comic shop?

    Neal Adams: Yes. I think it’s terrific. Digital comics are an open door for more people to become used to comic books. Assume and pretend that five years from now there will still be some bookstores here and there. These bookstores will still have comics in the history section, in the philosophy section, they’ll be spread throughout the store and not in a crummy little section by the anime for geeks and freaks. Comic books are a form that adapts and can be used in any part of the bookstore. And that means any part of the Internet bookstore, too. Think about this. It’s a whole lot easier to visit the Internet than it is to visit a comic book store. There’s nobody at the door wondering whether you actually read comics and whether he can convince you that you should read his favorite comics.

    If you have an e-reader, you can buy this stuff all over the world. You can buy it in Russia, you can buy it in China, and the more people become familiar, the more the comic book stores will have foot traffic. There’s something cosy and familiar about hard copies. If it takes the audience to increase by millions to sell a few hundred thousand print books, that’s great.

    Austin Post: Rumor has it you did a screen test for the first Superman movie. Is this just wishful fanboy thinking or is there something to that?

    Neal Adams: Oh, yeah, it’s true. I didn’t make it. I wasn’t tall enough. I wasn't a bad looking guy back when I was a human, and I thought it would've been a cool thing. They were talking to all sorts of people. They talked to Robert Redford. I thought it’d be cool to have a comic book guy do the part, so I did try out. The guy who got it deserved it, but I think I would’ve done a good job. It all fit together.


    You can meet Neal Adams at Wizard World Austin Comic Con October 26-28.


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    http://www.imaginginfo.com/web/online/Techniques/Capturing-Time-with-Smithsonian-Exhibitor-William-Christenberry/18$1948
    Green Warehouse, William Christenberry

    As something of a novice to the classical music stage and definitely to most 21st century repertoire, I was uncertain how I would respond to Kenneth Frazelle’s “Songs in the Rearview Mirror.” Layperson that I am, I felt the production of this work recently at UT's Jessen Auditorium was deeply beautiful and moving.

    Frazelle was inspired to write "Songs in the Rearview Mirror" by both the famous 1941 book "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" by James Agee and Walker Evans and also the artwork of William Christenberry, each depicting the rural lives and deteriorating landscape of Hale County, Alabama.  The audience was able to see some of these photographs in the elegantly crafted concert programs which gave us a better understanding of the meaning of each of the songs (but I did notice that the programs had a few typographical errors, which brought its level of professionalism and beauty down just a bit).

    Sung by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Findlen and accompanied by pianist Richard Masters, the concert was composed of 10 different part-art/part-folk songs organized around the composer’s car trip to Alabama to experience firsthand the places documented in the Christenberry photographs.  Inevitably, the trip evoked bittersweet memories of Frazelle’s own Southern childhood.  The first song, “Setting Out,” detailed his confused emotional state as he began his journey, and Findlen displayed a wide range of facial expressions to convey this confusion.  It seemed a little all over the place to me and didn't give me a firm understanding of what the concert would entail, but I suppose that was the point.

    Findlen exudes confidence and grace.  Her movements and expressions are private and sensual and I often felt as though we were peeking in on something we shouldn't be watching.   She was well prepared and on the rare occasion that she referred to her music, she used the stand almost like a prop in her storytelling.  Her Southern accent gave the libretto a genuine feel, but it seemed to strengthen and fade throughout the evening.  Perhaps it was intended that way so that we would notice it more.

    Masters, with his smooth control, is clearly gifted at the piano.  I adored the piano accompaniment in so many of the songs that I sometimes wished they were solo piano pieces.  Not that the lyrics or Findlen detracted from the evening at all--but the piano was just that beautiful.  That sweet and bittersweet.

    Many of the songs were sad and longing, but there were a few, such as "Kudzu" and "Road Signs," that really lightened up the evening.  In "Road Signs," Masters and Findlen were driver and passenger, respectively, on a country road.  Findlen would shout out, "Peaches!  330 yards ahead!" every few seconds and then barked at Masters when he missed the turn.  Findlen's playful chorus throughout the song was, "I believe in Jesus, do you?" and at the end, Masters abruptly stopped playing, pointed at the crowd, and interrupted Findlen to yell, "Do You??"  It was an unexpected bit of audience interaction and a lot of fun.

    "In the Night" told a heart-breaking story of sexual abuse and was so effective in making the audience feel uneasy.   Findlen described the room as whirling and spinning and the piano part followed suit, surging up and down the keys.

    The concert's mix of charmingly hokey moments and severe stares into raw pain left me with a childlike yearning and a cathartic joy.  I hope the piece will get more widespread attention when they take the concert to Carnegie Hall in New York next May because it displays such great talent from each person involved.  


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    With everyone gearing up for Halloween parties this weekend, it’s a pretty quiet week for tech events. If you have time during the day, check out Tech Ranch Austin’s Campfire. If you’re a lady who wants to meet other female coders, join the Girl Hacker Drink Up. For everyone else, there are some useful user groups and dojos to fill out the calendar.

    Architect SIG - October Meeting: Roapmapping Agile Architectures
    Oct 23, Noon
    Pervasive
    12365 Riata Trace Pkwy
    Please join us as we discuss various approaches to planning architecture in an Agile environment. Feel free to bring your success stories, anecdotes, and even issues you are experiencing to discuss with the group.

    2012 Texas Cyber Security Tour on Privileged Identity Management: Austin
    Oct 24, 11:15 a.m.
    Texas Land & Cattle
    1101 South Mo-Pac
    Join our informative, 90 minute luncheon to find out how unsecured privileged accounts can lead to potential security holes in servers, network appliances, web services, line-of-business applications and other critical IT assets; the unintended ways that access to sensitive data can spread within an organization over time; steps that real-world organizations have taken to quickly gain (and prove) continuous control over privileged identities – including identifying at-risk IT assets, strengthening privileged password security, and controlling and monitoring access to private data.

    Girl Hacker Drink Up
    Oct 24, 7:00 p.m.
    The Ginger Man
    301 Lavaca St
    We'll find some couches where we can hang out and talk about technology in a setting more casual than the conference rooms our many gracious hosts have donated in the past. If you're not sure what the group's about, if there are any other women programming in your language of choice, or if you just want to drop by to meet people without hauling your laptop along, this is your opportunity to do just that!

    Drupal Dojo
    Oct 18, 7:00 p.m.
    Mangia Pizza
    8012 Mesa Drive
    Theme: The Drupal Dojo is for anyone interested in hanging out with other Drupalistas in a "hive mind" environment. There is no set topic or presenter so bring your laptop, a pet project and an appetite.

    Tech Ranch Austin Campfire
    Oct 26, 3:30 p.m.
    Sherlock's Baker St. Pub & Grill
    9012 Research Blvd
    Campfire is all about connecting you to the larger tech startup community. We bring out lots of interesting, accomplished people from the ecosystem so you can get the introductions, insight, and help you need to move your business forward, while also helping others. Our structured teaming activity facilitates getting know your fellow attendees at a deeper level than a conventional networking event to enable knowledgeable recommendations that quickly get at what you actually need.

    Agile Austin Code Dojo
    Oct 26, 6:00 p.m.
    Genuine Joe's
    2001 W Anderson Ln
    Agile Austin’s mission is to promote agile software development concepts such as those set forth in the Agile Manifesto (agilemanifesto.org), to create a public forum for the exchange of practice information, and to create opportunities for the professional development of members.

     


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    South by Southwest just announced they’re bringing us Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal as a keynote speaker. Luckily, you don’t have to wait five months and spend hundreds of dollars in order see him. He’ll be signing his shiny new book  How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You at BookPeople on October 24th at 7:00 p.m.

    Before his signing, Inman talked to the Austin Post about his future career plans, Nikola Tesla and sea monkeys on Mars.


     

    Austin Post: First off, congrats on becoming the keynote speaker for South By Southwest in 2013. You’ve been on TEDTalks before. Were you surprised when they invited you to kick off South By Southwest?

    Matthew Inman: Yes. I was. I’ve been on a TEDx Salon. TEDTalks are the speech of a lifetime. TEDx is the watered down version of that. The Salon is an even crappier version where you’re crammed in a tiny room with a kid with a cellphone filming you.

    So yeah, I was genuinely surprised. It’s funny, I spoke at South by Southwest the year before last, and the next year I didn’t even attend because I didn’t think I had anything new to say. I make comics that are funny and are relatable, but beyond that, I didn’t feel like I had anything  new to say.

    When it comes to writing and speaking, I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have anything to say, don’t talk. Then I was sued and turned this lawsuit on it’s head, and now I have something to say about crowdfunding, philanthropy and turning villainy on its head. So I submitted my pitch to do a panel. Midstream in the voting, the Tesla thing came cup. I think that’s why they chose me. I was really happy. I’m a bit nervous, too, it’s not the kind of speech where you can just wing it.

    Austin Post: You’re a great 21st century indie success story. Twenty years ago, comics meant a newspaper’s profanity free funny pages. Now, you’ve made a career off wonderfully funny and offensive comics about pig orgasms, angler fish and murderous cats. Do you think this is what the guys at DARPA were dreaming of when they invented the Internet?

    Matthew Inman: No. Definitely not jokes about bears shitting everywhere.

    I don’t think this is what comics artists had in mind either when comics were born. I think it’s a good thing the way funnies have changed. In my opinion, the former three-panel format where you wrote that for all eternity, that’s not the funnies anymore, that’s just the sad trombones. Visually, we can write whatever we want now. Mine are usually 700 pixels wide and 10,000 to 20,000 pixels long. That’s a lot more more freedom creatively. I can write about whatever I want in any way that I want. I’m not limited by how offensive it is or how it fits into the paper.

    Lastly , if I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist, these older syndicates aren’t going to give up their spots. Peanuts have been syndicated for half a century. With the Internet right now, comedy is democratically chosen and democratically rewarded, it’s like the playing field has been leveled for cartoonists. If you’re funny, you’re popular. It’s a great place to be if you have something funny to say.


    Austin Post: I personally love how you dealt with Funny Junk’s attempt to steal your work for their profit. I think it was a valuable lesson about not giving in to Internet trolls and bullies. Did you ever expect it to get that crazy?

    Matthew Inman: No. I was really nervous about that. I thought it would be embarrassing for me. When I posted the donation page I couldn’t stop hitting refresh. No one was donating. I thought I’d raise $8 and feel like an ass. The post I wrote was really long, and  it takes about 20 minutes to get through, and then that’s when it started to go nuts. Once people read it, it started raising money right away.  It was a shock and a surprise, but it was nice.

    I get a lot of traffic from Facebook and Reddit, but I was getting things from Mashable and news sources, and it was awesome, but I found myself wishing it was for my comics. I mean, that’s not reproducible. Last year I got sued, so next year, what do I need? To get murdered or something?


    Austin Post: Why do you think they believed they had a right to steal your work?

    Matthew Inman: That’s not just them. That’s kind of the Internet now. It’s a tough place to be for someone like me. I’m a small operation, so when someone steals my entire content, it does hurt me. There’re those memes, like the ‘You don’t just walk into Mordor,’ and that’s obviously someone else’s intellectual property, but no one cares. I think people see that and they assume everyone's the same in that regard, so they can take my comic and post it everywhere and it won’t hurt me, but it does affect my business, especially when someone posts my entire website.

    I’m not going to go on the Internet and start policing everyone's images. This guy, I was willing to leave well enough alone, but when I got that letter, my response was you just put your testicles in a hornet’s nest and that’s when the war began.

    Austin Post: You asked for $20,000 - the amount demanded by Funny Junk’s crazy lawyers - and raised over $200,000. Were you surprised to see that much love from your readers?

    Matthew Inman: Yeah, absolutely. My readers are very generous with comments and clicks and Facebook likes and other intangible Internet actions, but to see them become generous with their money was very very cool. When you say ‘can you donate?’ that’s when people say ‘Oh, no I have to buy a sandwich later,’ so to see all this money roll in was remarkable.

    Austin Post: As your following has grown, you’ve recently started using your powers for good. First, raising over $200,000 in the Bear Love Good, Cancer Bad campaign. Now, you’ve raised over $1.3 million to build a Tesla museum. Can we have a Mars colony next?

    Matthew Inman: I think the hard part would be to convince someone to go to Mars and die horribly there. We should put sea monkeys there next, because no one gives a shit about sea monkeys. We should put them on the Curiosity rover, though, so we would have a living creature there.

    Because of the previous campaign I thought we could probably raise six figures, but it was so cool to see it get that high. I think over 200 countries donated. It struck a nerve around the globe.

    Someone tweeted they fucking hate Oatmeal comics but they love Tesla so they’re donated. That was really cool for me to see.


    Austin Post: Tesla is sort of like bacon. Most people in real life are familiar with both of them, but they’re practically enshrined as examples of beatific perfection on the Internet. Why do you think Tesla is so insanely popular online?

    Matthew Inman: I think a lot of it has to do with his character, not just his achievements. The man was brilliant and worked very hard to change the world, but he was also very naive about money and marketing. There’s also a clear villain with Thomas Edison. So from a story perspective, you have a real hero, a real villain, and someone who lost. How often with the Internet do you have a story of a real inventor who fought and lost? It’s a rare opportunity for people to honor that legacy.

    Austin Post: I agree, but Tesla’s been dead for nearly 70 years. He hasn’t come back as a zombie time traveller. Why do you think he’s suddenly so popular now?

    Matthew Inman: I think it was just an intersection of Internet things about him. There was his appearing in The Prestige played by David Bowie. After that, I saw the Tesla Badass of the Week and my jaw was on the floor. This guy was crazy awesome and I had no idea he did all these things, and I guess it culminated in him becoming this icon.

    Furthermore, in some ways I see his life paralleling a little bit of Steve Wozniak’s, who was this genius who worked at Apple in the '80s and was responsible for a lot of the major feats that put Apple on the map. He believed everything should be free and open source - he wasn’t naive, but he was a believer. Woz isn’t poor now, but he isn’t Steve Jobs.


    Austin Post: Speaking of technology and the 80’s, is it true you actually draw everything with a mouse?

    Matthew Inman: Yes. Inertia? I’ve been drawing that way for years now, and to try and change is tough. I have Adobe Illustrator and a very sensitive tablet and all the tools I need to draw like a normal person, but I keep drawing with Adobe Fireworks and a mouse because I’m comfortable with it. Plus, my comics have been great, why should I change? I feel like I’m getting stagnant, though, so every year I tell myself I’m going to practice more with different software and try to change what I do.

    Adobe Fireworks, I’ve been using it for 15 years now. It’s an extension of my body. I have every single keyboard shortcut memorized. It’s very sad, and it unfortunately makes me feel like my work is very stagnant. Visually, it’s not really going anywhere. It’s all ovals. I’m tired of it, I want to change. There’s no real reward there for my business, it’s more of a personal thing.

    I tell that to comic artists, too. They tell me they’ve taken all these classes and learned how to precisely draw an anatomically correct human form, and I say congrats, but in comedy that doesn’t matter. Visual realism isn’t as important as the punchline. In comedy, the less specific you are the better. Breaking the visual style down into simpler forms, like in South Park, make it easier for people to relate to.

    I really like comics, but I’m also sensing I have a five-year run left in comics.

    Austin Post: What are you interested in doing next?

    Matthew Inman: Animation. I’ve been interested in it for awhile, but it seems like over the last 8 weeks, every studio in LA is interested. Maybe it’s the Tesla thing that put me on the map, but I’m interested in doing that.

    Austin Post: Would you like to do your own voice work, like Matt Stone and Trey Parker with South Park?

    Matthew Inman: No. I would prefer to keep my voice completely out of it, but it’s tough. It’s such a fine line. With a comic, when you read it, it’s in the voice you want to hear, and it’s the funniest voice possible. But when you see it animated, you have this jarring other voice that doesn’t sound right.

    Austin Post: You’ll be at BookPeople on October 24th, and you have some good advice for people who come to book signings.

    Matthew Inman: I really like BookPeople. In fact, I love that store. It was one of my favorite signings of the last tour.

    With book signings, I hate standing and posing for photos. It clogs up the line, and it’s rude to everyone else in line. You can take a forty minute line and turn it into 3 hours. I’d rather draw a doodle with the signature.

    Think about it. If you got to meet Matt Groening from The Simpsons, what would you prefer - for him to take out a piece of paper and draw you a picture or would you rather have a blurry Facebook photo?

    Matthew Inman will be signing copies of his new book, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You at BookPeople on October 24th at 7:00 p.m. 

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    GloFish

    CEOs and Tech Pros Confide Their Favorite Austin-Born Technologies

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 10, 2012

    Austin’s tech scene is known for being friendly, outgoing and collaborative. We gave eight technology professionals ranging from CEOs to Community Educators the opportunity to brag about their favorite technology to come out of Austin. 

    Dan Graham

    Eye in the Sky

    Austin Mavens Dish on What Makes Our Tech Scene Work

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 4, 2012

    Technology is a notoriously cutthroat industry. The nonstop battles for venture capital and industry attention are known to split marriages, end friendships and start bitter rivalries. 

    Except here. 


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    http://flic.kr/p/6agGgK

    On the streets of the cities of the Netherlands, there is a constant rush of cars, bikes, trains and people, darting in and out of each other in a scene that seems to beckon catastrophe. Instead, this complex system shuttles all along quite nicely. One of the key ways it does this is by having specific lanes for each type of traveler, including traffic lights solely for cyclists, which enable everyone to move through their streets safely and swiftly.

    As Austin continues to look for new ways to manage the steady increase in bicyclists, and to encourage more ridership, it is reaching out to experts from all over as part of the Green Lane Project, which is working with six cities, including Austin, to develop "green lanes" that are designated specifically for bike traffic.

    KXAN.com reports that for some at the city council the idea to fly in Dutch transportation experts all started with a bike trip:

    Austin City Council Member Chris Riley led a group of city officials, including City Manager Marc Ott, on a 10-day biking tour of the Netherlands.

    While there the group had the chance to study the lifestyle difference where biking is a way of life.

    A truly integrated and fully implemented system would be a welcome relief for cyclists but also for motorists and pedestrians because it would clearly set the paths and rules for all to follow to make every form of transportation safe and accessible.


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    In celebration of the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s 25th anniversary, the entire cast is coming to Austin’s Comic Con. Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher, talked to The Austin Post about dashing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim there are no second acts in American life, how he started playing loveable douchebags, and, of course, Star Trek.

    Austin Post: In the geek community, you have a reputation as a super nice, really sweet guy - the kind of person we all wish we could take home to our nerdy moms. But so often on TV, you get cast as Asshole Wil Wheaton, kind of like Neil Patrick Harris’s fake Harold and Kumar identity, only with less branding of prostitutes. Why do you think fans love seeing this Mirror Universe version of yourself?

    Wil Wheaton: I think it has a lot less to do with me than it does with the wonderful writing that I get to attempt to bring to life when I play these characters.

    Austin Post: It’s hard to believe your blog is 11 years old. It’s almost ready to go through puberty.

    Wil Wheaton: It’s so weird. It’s starting to talk back. It’s more interested in being with its friends than being with me. I don’t understand the music it wants to listen to. I just want to be cool to it again.

    Austin Post: You, George Takei and LeVar Burton have managed to become beloved cult figures on the Internet, mostly by showing us your personal lives in a way that comes across as honest and sincere. How would you say social media has changed the life and career trajectory of an actor?

    Wil Wheaton: I think the fundamental way it changed in the last decade, but more in the last 3-5 years, is now it’s expected. If you don’t have that social media presence then its like there’s a gap between you and what the audience wants.

    I’m an old man on the Internet. I’ve been online since it was Fidonet and I think maybe because I’ve been on it so long I’m protective of it also. It irritates me as a person when I see someone try to co-opt something I love and care about to puff up someone who is kind of the flavor of the month. I think they do that at the expense of the people who work real hard and make it cool in the first place. Since I’m aware of that and that matters to me, I want to do it in a way that would make me happy.

    Austin Post: A lot of times, creative people are put in these very specific boxes to make you easier to market. You’re an actor or you’re a writer - but you’re both. Do you think the popularity of your blog and books helps drive your ability to get work as an actor or does Hollywood just scratch its head and wonder why all these people show up to see you at conventions?

    Wil Wheaton: Since 2001, I’ve been working really hard to disprove F. Scott Fitzgerald’s statement that there are no second acts in American life. A few years ago I was writing that I’d accepted my career as an actor was over and I was going to be a writer and that was okay. Then Felicia Day asked me to do The Guild and then came Eureka and Leverage and The Big Bang Theory and all this happened at once. It fundamentally changed my theory of where I thought my life was going.

    I thought I was leaving the acting galaxy for the writing galaxy then someone said no and turned on the retro rockets. People are so baffled by why so many people follow me on Twitter. I don’t know. I spent an hour today live blogging eating a burrito. I don’t know why people like that and I try not to think about it too much. I try to do the things that are amusing to me and make me happy. If I’m amusing other people as well, that’s great.

    Austin Post: You and Chris Hardwick have both had a fascinating second career - dare I say, grownup career? - as Professional Nerds. Back when you were doing computer programming in Kansas, did you ever imagine a whole nerdy community would love you just for being your own nerdy self?

    Wil Wheaton: Nope. Never did. I don’t know how much of it is cause and how much is effect, but I know that when I started my blog one of my ulterior motives was to speak for myself. For a really long time I didn't have the ability to talk publicly about how I felt about things. I was always reacting to what other people said. If I wanted to talk to an audience, I had to go through an entertainment reporter. I started the blog because I just wanted to say look, here I am, here’s what I do.

    I wasn’t trying to help the career or anything like that. I think people who watched me on Star Trek and in the nerd world thought hey look, we have these things in common, that’s kind of cool. I think I was talking about the things that I love. I’m a nerd. I like nerd stuff, and I think that was coming up at exactly the same time as the nerd movement was getting going online and in popular culture.

    Austin Post: I’m a second generation geek, and honestly, sometimes I’m perplexed by how popular geek culture is right now. It sure wasn’t that way when I was growing up.

    Wil Wheaton: I was trying to analyze a little why all the sudden the major entertainment conglomerates give a shit about nerds. My conclusion is that we’ve become an audience. There’s enough of us that we’re a marketable demographic. We were always there, but I don’t think that they knew. It’s made it possible for people who always wanted to do things that were nerd-oriented to do them. That’s why we have Freaks and Geeks, Community, The IT Crowd, Big Bang Theory, and why shows like The Guild can exist.

    Austin Post: Speaking of Chris Hardwick, you’ve got Second Watch for Falling Skies. He has Talking Dead after The Walking Dead. Did the two of you make some kind of minor sacrifices to the dark lords of television? Maybe a hamster or a ferret?

    Wil Wheaton: When I was asked to do Second Watch, I said this seems an awful lot like Talking Dead, and they said yeah, that’s what we’re going for. We love it. I called Hardwick and said I need you to know about this because I don’t want you to think I’m stealing your goods. He said are you kidding, every time I do anything I feel like I’m stealing your bit. We’re good friends, we were roommates in college, and we’ve been close friends for close to 20 years. I’ve been there for his career, he’s been there for all of my ups and downs. It feels really fucking good that we are both successful in our own way with the things we get to do these days.

    I really love his podcast and I think he’s a really good interviewer and all around awesome person to listen to. I listen to Nerdist all the time and I absolutely love it. It makes me grin stupidly. It makes me feel cooler than I am. I’m really lucky to have him in my life.

    Austin Post: In addition to TV appearances on The Big Bang Theory, Eureka, Leverage, and others, you’ve also got quite the cult following for your internet video. How did Felicia Day pitch you the role of Fawkes? My impression is that the first couple of years The Guild’s only funding was her charismatic ability to convince people to make a webvideo series with her.

    Wil Wheaton: Felicia was creating something that people loved. She was serving a need in the community that wasn’t being served. She made something that resonated with people and something that was really good as a result of that. I think the reason she was doing so well was in some part the result of her wonderful charisma but also her passion and her unwavering commitment to make something awesome.

    Felicia and I went out for breakfast at the most pretentious coffee place in the universe and we laughed about that. She asked if I’d like to be in The Guild. I said yes, but would you make me a douchebag? She said yes, but asked why. I’m constantly auditioning for these sweet, adorable guy parts and I never get those roles. I think my function as an actor in the Yungian sense is to play the guy I love to hate. She said okay, I’ll make him a douchebag and we worked a little bit on figuring out who he was and why he was and figuring out his tempo. I love all those guys. it was so much fun to do. They’re just wonderful.

    I know the reason I’ve been cast as these loveable douchebags since is that they’ve seen in on The Guild.

    Austin Post: Now you’re also hosting Table Top on the Geek and Sundry Channel. Did Felicia Day just send you a text asking if she could film you and your buddies playing board games?

    Wil Wheaton: No. She pitched a couple of things and it was stuff like go out and do a geek thing or do a guide. And then she said what about reviewing games? I said, what if instead of reviewing games, we play the game and show people that the games are awesome and we show them by example? By the time I was done with that, we were pitching it to each other we built up the whole concept for Table Top in like 15 minutes. It was great.

    Austin Post: You’ve done a lot of video game voice work - Fallout New Vegas, Grand Theft Auto, DC Universe Online. As an actor, what kind of challenges and advantages do you get working on video games?

    Wil Wheaton: The advantage is that I can play characters that don’t look like me. They’re big and buff and handsome and all the things that I’m not. The challenge is that I get to do that stuff but only using my voice. I don’t get to use physicality in any way at all, and I had to learn a very specific and particular set of skills to do successful voice acting, not just in video games but in animation as well. I have some friends that have a lot of experience and success in the voice acting world and they’ve helped me.

    It’s been really great. I loved it. I play these games too, so I understand what the characters are suppose to sound like. I knew what to do when I had to read things five different ways depending on how the players react to the character, so the directors saved time with me. Five or six years ago, there weren’t as many people who play games like I do. I just had a little bit of a head start.

    Austin Post: You’ve been doing cons since dinosaurs roamed the earth and phones were tethered to walls. How are cons different today than they were in the 80’s and pre-Internet portions of the 90’s?

    Wil Wheaton: There aren’t as many small regional conventions run by fans. They’ve really been put out of business by corporations. That has its upside and its downside. The upside is that companies with deep pockets can afford to bring people to conventions they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise and I think the downside of that is everything else.

    Austin Post: You turned out a heck of a lot better than your average child actor. Do you think taking a few years off after Star Trek: The Next Generation helped clear your head and get you ready for your future career as a Professional Nerd?

    Wil Wheaton: Yes. Being able to get away from the entertainment industry was important. When I left Hollywood, I wasn't happy with myself. I didn’t like the person I was becoming, I didn’t enjoy my job, and I needed time to figure out what was important to me. I needed to do things that are different, that aren’t related to being an actor.

    After awhile, I started to really miss being an actor, and that was when I realized I needed to not be out of the acting industry. I needed to be more connected to what it means to be an actor and less connected to what it means to be a star.

    I went to drama school for 5 years and did an intense, long complicated acting thing and then another few years of sketch comedy writing as an improv performer to learn what it meant to be a performer instead of what it meant to be an adult who was once a kid star. All of that made realize that the work was more important than anything else. It confirmed what I believed and put it very cleanly to me.

    When I was a kid, I identified the people around me very quickly who were more interested in attention than acting. They made me uncomfortable. I never liked having my picture taken. I think because I avoided that, I avoided the people who were into that - and those are the people who kind of ended up being fuckups. I attribute my normalcy or life success to being someone who was a nerd who didn’t want to go to nightclubs and would rather go to a friend’s house and play board games and watch Holy Grail.

    It’s really important to acknowldge that I’m very lucky. Every single day I’m afraid I’m going to wake up from what is an incredible, incredible dream. It’s important to me to honor it and be grateful for it and take nothing for granted. And not overthink it and just keep doing what I’m doing for as long as the universe will let me.

    Austin Post: In the bad old days, it was nearly impossible for someone branded as a genre actor to get other work once their show went off the air. Is it my imagination, or is that really improving? I mean, David Tennant is doing period costume drama instead of science fiction.

    Wil Wheaton: I think part of that has to do with the quality of the writing and the quality of the people who are making shows now. There have always been really great genre creators, producers, directors and writers. There’ve also been a lot of hacks. It says something that a person like Patrick Stewart would do Star Trek. I think it’s because a person like him would do it in 1987 you see David Tennant in Doctor Who. I think that there’s not really an effort anymore to segregate actors into genre actors and so called serious actors. It’s the same thing with writers. We can also really thank Ron Moore for what he did with Battlestar Galactica and making shows that were genre shows but they were also great and powerful.

    I think it’s safe to say in the last decade we’ve had a renaissance of genre television programming. I’m really proud to be part of Star Trek, which helped cleared the minds for that to happen.

    Austin Post: It’s been 25 years since Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired, and it’s still beloved enough that getting the entire cast together for a regional ComicCon is a pretty darn big deal. Of all the science fiction shows out there, and all the amazing upheavals in the way TV is written and marketed, why do you think The Next Generation still resonates with so many people?

    Wil Wheaton: I think for people my age it was the first show that they watched. You’ll never forget your first Doctor and you’ll never forget your first Star Trek. The release of the Blu-Rays has been great too because it’s been such a fantastic way to re-experience Star Trek all over again.




    You can see Wil Wheaton live at Wizard World Austin Comic Con October 26-28.

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    Superman, Batman, X-Men Artist Neal Adams on Comics Taking Over the World

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 22, 2012

    Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Neal Adams will be in good company with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and three of the biggest badasses from The Walking Dead at Austin’s Wizard World Com

    Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal on Philanthropy, Villainy and Sea Monkeys

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 23, 2012

    South by Southwest just announced they’re bringing us Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal as a keynote speaker. Luckily, you don’t have to wait five months and spend hundreds of dollars in order see him.


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    Scare for a Cure isn’t just a 45-minute-long, fully interactive haunted house experience. It’s also a great charity event where the founder is dedicated to making sure the money raised stays local and helps Texans. In the last couple of years, Scare has raised over $75,000 for the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas. Since they outgrew the castle on Richard Garriott’s grounds, this year the haunted house moved to a bigger location at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town, where they can pull off the kind of special effects that aren’t allowed in Travis County.

    It takes over 1,500 volunteers donating over 15,000 hours to pull off an event like Scare for a Cure. Founder Jarrett Crippen gave the Austin Post a behind the scenes video tour then sat down and explained some of the history behind the haunt.



    Longtime Austin residents may remember Richard Garriott’s infamous haunted houses at his Britannia Manor estate. “The key to Richard’s dream was that people were trapped in a video game,” said Crippen. “You have a mission, have an objective, have a story. You don’t just walk through a maze where people shout ‘boo!’”

    When Garriott retired from the fun after a decade of hosting haunted houses, he gave his supplies and blessing to the Wild Basin Preserve, which hosted Haunted Trails at Wild Basin, continuing Garriott’s tradition of an involved, story driven haunted house.

    Meanwhile, Crippen had spent years hosting haunted houses in his backyard for the sheer fun of building something he could share with his neighbors. “In 2005, it got a little too big and too crazy for my own house.” By too big and too crazy, he means he shut down his entire subdivision and the local police had to send officers out to direct traffic.

    Haunted Trails at Wild Basin ended the same year Crippen’s wife let him know he needed to find someplace bigger than their backyard to build his haunted houses.

    “When Haunted Trails ended in 2005, I like to say they were a large group of incredibly talented people with no leader and I was a leader with absolutely no talent,” joked Crippen. “We joined up and created Scare for a Cure.”



    Between Richard Garriott’s haunted houses and Haunted Trails at Wild Basin, Crippen suddenly found himself working with people who had 20 years of experience creating plot-driven haunted houses. When they teamed up to create Scare for a Cure, Crippen said they created what he believes is the nation’s only extreme interactive haunted adventure. “There’s dialog, there’re objectives, there’s a mission. Find the codes, flip the switch, identify the bad guy. It’s a 35 act play where you’re the main character.”

    The newly minted Scare for a Cure started at the Elk’s Lodge and almost immediately outgrew it.

    “We needed a new space, so I spoke to Richard Garriott, who is an incredibly generous, philanthropic guy. He asked what did I need. I said I wanted his castle. It was a 30,000 square foot medieval castle near his home, and it wasn’t finished, which made it even spookier. He said whatever I have is yours. He donated the use of the property to us and we had three amazing years there.”

    Scare for a Cure kept growing until it was too big for Garriott’s castle. Crippen then met George Richardson, owner of J. Lorraine Ghost Town right outside Austin in Manor, TX. “He said he was building this ghost town plus had another eight or nine acres empty, so why don’t we come out here and play?” said Crippen. “When we met, I thought this guy thinks like we do. He’s just building stuff to entertain people, and that’s what we do. I think it’s a match made in heaven.”



    The new Scare for a Cure weaves in and out of the existing Ghost Town buildings and incorporates a whole new level of special effects. “We’ve got exploding toilets, gore cannons, blood everywhere - do NOT wear anything nice out here. Bring a towel to put on your car seat when you leave, because you’re going to come out a lot messier than when you came in,” said Crippen. They also sell Tyvex painting suits for people who are afraid of getting too gory.

    Once finished with the haunted house, guests can retire to the Ghost Town bar and watch a live feed of the next round of victims going through.

    Instead of a steady stream of guests, Scare for a Cure sends in groups of six spaced out five minutes apart. That limits the overall number of people who can attend to about 3,000. Crippen said he’d like to open for more days, but he’s limited by the number of hours volunteers can put in.

    “We need builders, actors, makeup artists, special effects people, basically if you can hold a ladder, we need you,” said Crippen. Dell, Office Max and Apple have donated time to Scare for a Cure as team-building exercises. “We always welcome that. If you want to do an internship for college credit, talk to us. If you just want to meet amazing people and jumpstart a new social life, we’re here. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s for a great cause.”

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    Behind the Scenes at Scare for a Cure

    It takes over 1500 volunteers working 15,000 hours to make Scare for a Cure happen. Founder Jarrett Crippen took the Austin Post on a behind the scenes tour so you can get a glimpse of what it takes to create 45 minutes of terror. 

     

    Behind the Scenes at the House of Torment

    For the last five years, The House of Torment has been ranked as one of the top five haunted houses in the country. On popular nights, the lines to get in can last over an hour.

    Ecopocalypse turns Dirty Sixth into Post-Apocalyptic Halloween Hellscape

    Civilization crumbled. The survivors fell back into suspicious tribalism and fight for the last scraps of food and access to the few untainted sources of water. You, with your soft hands and clean clothes, have been flung into the middle of the post-apocalyptic struggle.

    Murder, Maiming, and Genuinely Medieval Macabre

    Everything about Medieval Macabre is otherworldly. To get to the spooky halloween production (running Thurs. - Sat. this week and next), you drive down a dark, winding private road, lit only by torchlight.


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    Edwin Wise has a gory reputation as the undisputed master of fake blood realistic enough to disturb a crime scene investigator. Whenever a local haunted house, indie movie studio or special event needs buckets of dark, viscous blood, he’s the first person they call.

    Years of rigorous scientific experimentation have resulted in a disarmingly simple-looking blend of methylcellulose, water and a mix of red, blue and green food coloring, plus a dash of preservative to keep it fresh. He was kind enough to invite us into his kitchen where he made five gallons of blood that looks real, won’t attract insects and is mostly harmless if swallowed.


    “Most people who make blood start with Karo syrup,” said Wise. “It’s thick and has the right viscosity. But when I first started making blood, it was for the Wild Basin Haunted Trails. It was outdoors on a nature preserve, so we couldn’t use a sugar base. It would be like leaving an open Coke can outside. You’d get wasps by day and racoons by night.”

    In addition to the wild perils of a sugary base, Wise said corn syrup was simply too expensive. As an engineer, he couldn't resist the temptation of taking the blood apart and finding a way to recreate it that would be both better and cheaper.  

    “Your basic cheap stage blood is $60-100 a gallon. The Spirit Store sells it for $30 a gallon, which was a real bargain. I kept looking and found a trauma simulation kit for first responders with blood for about $25 a gallon. I knew I could make it cheaper.”

    After a lot of research and experimentation, he can now make make five gallons of disturbingly convincing nontoxic blood that won’t stain clothing for about $20 in supplies.



    As he’s become better known, the need for his blood has scaled up. At the now defunct Wild Basin Haunted Trails, they used liters of blood. When he joined Scare for a Cure as a special effects and blood expert, liters turned into gallons. For this November’s Bloody Balloon Battle, he’s making over 600 gallons of fake blood. “It’s the most I’ve ever made,” said Wise. “My garage is going to look like the set of Dexter.”

    In addition to making the vast quantities of blood needed for Austin’s haunted houses, Wise has contributed blood, props, and his makeup expertise to theater groups such as The Baron’s Men and indie film studios like Blue Goggles.

    Years of making fake blood have given him an extra layer of entertainment when watching movies and television. “I’m always critiquing blood in movies I watch. It’s fun. There’s a huge variety. Supernatural changed their philosophy of blood from one season to the next. They started with a really thick, crusty black blood and now they’re using a more natural red. When I watch old movies, sometimes the blood is terrible. They’ll take red paint and flick it on people. Now, we expect a certain look in blood. It’s not more realistic, but it’s what we think blood ought to look like. That’s what makes my blood convincing. I’ve experimented a lot, and now it’s realer than real. It’s what we expect blood ought to look like.” 

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    Scare for a Cure isn’t just a 45-minute-long, fully interactive haunted house experience. It’s also a great charity event where the founder is dedicated to making sure the money raised stays local and helps Texans.

    Behind the Scenes at the House of Torment

    For the last five years, The House of Torment has been ranked as one of the top five haunted houses in the country. On popular nights, the lines to get in can last over an hour.

    Murder, Maiming, and Genuinely Medieval Macabre

    Everything about Medieval Macabre is otherworldly. To get to the spooky halloween production (running Thurs. - Sat. this week and next), you drive down a dark, winding private road, lit only by torchlight.

    Ecopocalypse turns Dirty Sixth into Post-Apocalyptic Halloween Hellscape

    Civilization crumbled. The survivors fell back into suspicious tribalism and fight for the last scraps of food and access to the few untainted sources of water. You, with your soft hands and clean clothes, have been flung into the middle of the post-apocalyptic struggle.

    Zombie Hunters Save Austin so You Can Sleep at Night

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Jul 20, 2012

    Tomorrow, post-Apocalyptic Austin could be overrun by the shambling corpses of your coworkers, many of whom are still bent over their desks at Dell, while former drug cartels raid the few pockets of survivors in search of food, water, weapons and women.


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    Andy Brown with PBS Newsman Jim Lehrer

    Early voting is now underway and will run through November 2nd. Check here for early voting hours and locations.

    As the chair of the Travis County Democratic party, Andy Brown is on a mission to turn Texas blue, which may or may not happen in his lifetime. But first he needs every Democrat to vote.  I met the native Austinite and successful attorney for lunch on Monday, the first day of early voting, where he assured me that he had just voted. I glanced at his lapel. No “I Voted!” sticker. He said it must have fallen off. A likely story…

    Austin Post: Why bother voting for President Obama?

    Andy Brown: It’s important to show that Texas, despite being a red state currently, is on its way to becoming a blue state.

    Austin Post: When do you think that will happen?

    Andy Brown: I think with the right candidate as soon as 2014, if we have a great candidate for governor.

    Austin Post: Who’s going to be that candidate?

    Andy Brown: There are several folks out there I think would be great. There are a few state senators that I really like—Kirk Watson would be great, Wendy Davis [of Fort Worth] would be great.

    I think the Castros—[San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and State Rep. Joaquín Castro].  But who knows what these people are thinking.

    Austin Post: Do you think Gov. Perry’s going to run in 2014?

    Andy Brown: Yes.

    Austin Post: Why should anyone vote for Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate Paul Sadler? I mean, we all know he’s going to lose.

    Andy Brown: Paul Sadler has a real chance, if people would just wake up and listen to what [Republican Senate nominee] Ted Cruz is saying. He’s basically trying to get rid of our government. He’s a libertarian and a tea partier. There are plenty of ways to attack Cruz on his record.

    Austin Post: Couldn’t the Democrats have come up with a better candidate to take on Cruz?

    Andy Brown: Sadler’s record is impeccable.

    Austin Post: What are the more competitive legislative races going on? It wouldn’t be [State Reps.] Dawnna Dukes or Elliott Naishtat.

    Andy Brown: The closest competitive race is State Rep. Donna Howard because she only won by four votes last time. So she’s treating it like a competitive race even though her district became that much more Democratic.

    The real local races we’re focusing on is Karen Huber for county commissioner, who’s being challenged by the guy who she beat last time, and then the four seats [three open, one incumbent] on the Third Court of Appeals. Right now there are two Democrats on it. If we win all four we would take that court back which was for a long time a Democratic court and thought of as the best one in Texas.

    Austin Post: I know next to nothing about all the propositions on the ballot. Are people really familiar with the propositions or do they just go in and sort of guess?

    Andy Brown: I’ve seen a lot of excitement out there about them. The biggest one is Prop. 1, which would bring additional funding to Central Health. We endorsed it and are encouraging people to vote for it.

    Austin Post: I was having dinner with some friends—both Democrats—the other night and they said they weren’t going to vote for Prop.1 because it was supposedly going to raise their property taxes by like $400. How much would the average property owner end up paying in taxes?

    Andy Brown: The average cost of a residence in Travis County is $214,000 so on that home it would be a $9 per month increase. But what you get for it is a vast increase in the amount that Central Health has to spend on healthcare, improving and expanding the services they provide in clinics. Central Health right now covers about 21,000 people based on their income level. If Prop. 1 passes that will double to about 49,000.

    There are a lot of parts to Prop. 1. The one that we’re focusing on is the services. UT is providing funds to build the medical school and Seton is providing funds to build a new hospital.

    Planned Parenthood endorsed it which kind of highlights the fact that it increases healthcare services for women in Travis County, such as cancer screenings and family planning.

    Austin Post: What about the bond proposals?

    Andy Brown: The Democratic party endorsed all the city bonds. Numbers 10 and 11 would give additional rights to city employees and EMS employees. Number 15 would provide affordable housing assistance—State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez is a big supporter of that. And all these would be paid for by the bonds, not by increasing tax rates.

    Austin Post: What percentage of residents in Travis County vote?

    Andy Brown: Voter registration is about 60 percent of eligible voters but voting is much higher in a presidential year. [Editor's note: between 53 and 78 percent of Travis County residents voted in the last five presidential elections, with 66 percent voting in 2008].

    Austin Post: What are you doing to get more Hispanics to vote?

    Andy Brown: In 2010 we picked 21 precincts in East Austin that had low turnout in heavily Democratic districts and launched a field campaign to go vote, including block walking and canvassing. This resulted in a 54 percent increase in straight ticket voting. And that was 2010, a horrible year for Democrats but because of that personal attention there was pretty good turnout. We’re doing that countywide this time. I think the thing that works best is going door to door, asking them to vote, telling them where they can vote.

    Austin Post: What about the tight Congressional race between State Rep. Pete Gallego [of Alpine] and incumbent Francisco “Quico” Canseco?

    Andy Brown: President Clinton’s coming to help Gallego raise money on Thursday in San Antonio. It’s a close race against a Hispanic Republican incumbent. Gallego is a great state representative, he’s got a real chance and frankly there aren’t a lot of those left because of redistricting.

    Austin Post: Voter ID is not going to be enforced this cycle, yes?

    Andy Brown: Right, it was found unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

    Austin Post: Aren’t you afraid of mass voter fraud?

    Andy Brown: I would be if [Attorney General Greg] Abbott had been able to point to any significant problems with fraud and in-person voting. They were trying to purge non-dead voters. In Travis County 2,000 voters were sent letters saying they were dead and couldn’t vote unless they contacted them.


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    Courtesy of fugly.com
    DIY cat is lazy.

    Austin is overrun with thrift stores, which I love. Almost every piece of furniture I own came from a thrift store, as did a large chunk of my closet. Whether you’re sifting through goods at the Salvation Army on South Congress or browsing vintage dresses at Blue Velvet on North Loop, it’s a fun way to spend a day and a great rush when you find a good deal.

    For unique Halloween costume ideas, the thrift store is your best friend. Not only will you find something that nobody else has, but you’ll also be DIY-ing it, which is way cooler than any store-bought costume, no matter how sexy it is (which reminds me, ladies….?). Here are some of my favorites:

    Disco Queen: I recently bought a mauve-colored disco dress from a thrift store, thinking I’d wear it to my friend’s wedding, in which I’m the maid of honor. That’s not happening, but I did get a great costume idea out of it. Simply wear a '70s disco dress or an over-the-top one-piece pantsuit and some chunky heels, feather your hair and then smear flour all over your nose. Funny and easy, you’re a disco queen. If you want to go all out, I would suggest getting a small disco ball and attaching it to some flexible wire that you can either hold or attach from your back, coming over your head. Ambience!

    Charlie Brown: This is an idea specifically for the bald man. Pair your brown dress shoes with brown shorts and a yellow shirt. You can just draw the zigzag pattern on the shirt with a Sharpie. If you don’t have any of these items, to the thrift store! For the kicker, get some black pipe cleaners and a roll of medical tape. Tape the pipe cleaners onto your head in the shape of Charlie Brown’s hair. So you should have a weird little swirl right at the top of your forehead and a little bit sticking out in the back. Bonus: Use the same pipe cleaners and medical tape, but add yellow face paint, blue pants and a white shirt, and you have Homer Simpson.

    The Golden Girls: This is a great one for a group … especially a group of three gals and one dude because the dude can play Dorothy (Bea Arthur). My three roommates and I did this one a few years ago for a Halloween party we threw at our house, and it went over huge and also provided for multiple “freeze frame” opportunities (it’s that thing where everyone is laughing or eating cheesecake, and then they just freeze, as if the show just ended and the credits are rolling). We actually recorded the theme song onto a hand-held tape recorder and would play it during the freeze frame moments. Check out photos for references, but basically, you just need 1980s “cool old lady” clothes – leopard-print pant suits, pastel-colored pants, large and strangely patterned sweaters, etc. – and wigs. I wouldn’t recommend getting the wigs from a thrift store, but hey, that’s just me, too proud for head lice. Go to Party City for that one.

    Pumpkin: This is a good one for a kid – a kid you’re too lazy to put much effort into. Get a huge orange sweatshirt and draw (again, that Sharpie comes in handy) a pumpkin face on it and get a pair of green tights. I guess if your kid is already pumpkin-shaped, you’re done. Otherwise, you’re going to stuff the sweatshirt full of crumpled newspaper to make the pumpkin round. There are two options here, depending on just how lazy you are and also your sewing ability. One, you can sew a ring of elastic around the bottom of the sweatshirt, tight enough to go around the kid’s legs, or two, you can put the sweatshirt on the kid, stuff the newspaper, and then sew (or staple or safety pin) the fabric together between the kid’s legs. Done! Now your child is ready to go collect free candy for you!

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    Prepare for the Halloween Nut Allergy Scare

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    Do you have kids allergic to nuts and scared of going trick or treating? Read on.........

    Think Outside the Cliches for Sexy Halloween Costumes

    The leaves are falling from the trees and it’s starting to be sweater weather, at least at night. That can mean only one thing – we’re nearly upon the time of year when girls and women across the country put on too much makeup and take off too much clothing under the guise of “Halloween.”


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    Michael Rooker, who plays Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead, joins fellow cast members Norman Reedus and Jon Bernthal at Wizard World Austin Comic Con.

    Before the show, Rooker told the Austin Post why The Walking Dead is really a feel-good show, why he loves acting in video games, and why audiences are so in love with Merle Dixon.

    Austin Post: Merle Dixon is about as politically incorrect as possible. Why do you think he became such a cult favorite character?

    Michael Rooker: Because we as a society are so politically correct. There’s a little backlash when that kind of stuff occurs. People live vicariously through these characters that show up on tv and film and stuff. They enjoy it, and it’s fun. And of course, it’s only pretend, it’s make believe, so people are willing to accept that kind of stuff more than in real life.

    Austin Post: Merle is an original character created for the show. What do you think he adds that the comics were missing?

    Michael Rooker: He adds Merle! It’s a wonderful character. Peole are loving it. There’s a magic to Merle. There’s a charisma, a fun, this something extra that as an actor, you bring but you never know if people are going to dig it or not. You do your work the best you can. When it happens it happens. Merle is one of those roles that turned me on and it’s doing the same thing for the audience as well.

    Austin Post: How did it feel to have the #MoMerle Twitter campaign take off and become so popular AMC decided to bring the character back?

    Michael Rooker: #MoMerle was amazing. We ended up having #MoMerle Mondays, #MoMerle weekends, it was awesome. They’re still out there. People want #MoMerle! What can I say? It’s crazy, it’s lovely, it’s great. The fans are way way way overboard supportive and I love ‘em for it. It’s awesome.

    Austin Post: The Walking Dead isn’t the only show that deals with the end of civilization. Revolution just started, Jericho had a cult following. Why do you think an apocalypse, with or without zombies, is such a popular theme?

    Michael Rooker: I think at the end of the day we can turn off the TV and say ‘Whoo, I’m glad that shit ain’t happening.’ That’s basically it. It’s part of our genetic makeup where we have this fear and these thoughts of bad things happening, and when they don’t, it’s really marvelous. You actually feel better after watching the show, I think.

    Really, I think The Walking Dead is that type of show. It’s a feel-good show. It really is. And this is my kind of feel good show and I enjoy doing it. It’s beautiful. At the end of it, you’re like, wow, I’m glad I’m not her. I’m glad I’m not pregnant in the zombie apocalypse. I’m glad I don’t have to cut my own hand off. I’m glad I’m not any of them. I’m glad I’m me.

    Austin Post: In real life, what would you do to prepare for a zombie apocalypse?

    Michael Rooker: I would put on my Merle outfit and just go at it. What the hell else could I do? Merle is the perfect answer to the zombie apocalypse. He’s definitely the guy to have on your side, that’s all I can say.

    Austin Post: You’ve been in a popular TV series based on comics and you’re a guest at Comic Con. Do you read any comics yourself?

    Michael Rooker: I used to when I was younger. A lot of my friends still do, and they’re big fans of comics. I truly enjoyed the Walking Dead series. Honestly, I would consider myself moderate. I don’t have a whole lot of time, but the great thing about comics is you don’t have to have a lot of time. They’re short, they’re sweet, and they have a lot of pictures.

    Austin Post: On TV, a southern accent is often code for uneducated yokel at best and racist hick at worst, but in real life, I’ve read that growing up, you found Chicago a lot more segregated and racist than Alabama.

    Michael Rooker: Oh hell yeah. It was really bad. Gosh, you had to know which block to go down. If you went down the wrong block and turned into the wrong neighborhood, you’re dead. Alabama, where I lived was a little town, a country kind of place, so it wasn’t that bad at all. When you pack humanity into a very small package, shit happens. Look what happens in our prisons and in big cities. When there’s so many people packed into one area you either learn really quick to get along or you’re constantly at each other’s throats.

    Austin Post: Speaking of stereotypes, this is Texas, where we have ladies nights at the shooting ranges. I understand you’re actually part owner of a shooting range. Did you get into shooting to keep in practice for the roles you’re cast in or do you just really enjoy shooting?

    Michael Rooker: I really enjoy shooting. You can say it’s to keep in practice for life. I’m a big fan. I love holding and shooting a really well put together firearm and I like hitting things. I have a kind of a weird thing about me where when I aim at something I hit it, whether it’s throwing a rock, throwing an axe, throwing a knife, shooting a gun, whatever. Anything that has a target to it, I tend to radiate towards it and enjoy hitting it. That made shooting totally natural for me.

    Austin Post: In addition to The Walking Dead, you’re also working on a new video game that’s about to launch.

    Michael Rooker: Call of Duty Black Ops 2. I play US Navy Seal Mike Harper, and he’s a tough ass mofo. They use my likeness and turn me into a little bit younger Michael Rooker, and make me even more macho than I am in real life. It’s an awesome role. I’ve been having fun doing it. I spent ten months doing motion capture and voice work for the game, and it’s going to be amazing.

    Austin Post: How did you get involved with video game acting?

    Michael Rooker: I got involved because I was asked to. I’ve done several little jobs that dealt with voiceovers on games, but the big one that I did was in Black Ops 1. It had a major map pack called Call of the Dead. We gathered up quintessential bad ass and kick ass actors like myself, and put them together in a George Romero movie inside the game. The zombies in George Romero’s movies inside the game become real. They capture George and take him off, and we actors are left on set going ‘Hey, this isn’t in the script!’ The zombies come chasing after us and try to eat us, and we have to fight our way out, so you just fight and fight and kill zombies and it doesn’t stop.

    They enjoyed me so much they asked me to come back and do Black Ops 2, and I’ve been working on it for the past 10 months.

    Austin Post: Did that overlap with your Walking Dead filming?

    Michael Rooker: Oh, yeah. Needless to say I’m  a whipped puppy. I can’t wait to do nothing at all. That’s truly my forte.

    Austin Post: It sounds crazy. How did you manage both projects at once?

    Michael Rooker: It took about a year and a half to make the game. We just worked our butts off. When I was cast in season 3 and I came down here to Atlanta full time, every weekend I’d go back and do voiceover and motion capture for the game. I’ve been working seven days a week for the last several months with the game over the weekend and Walking Dead during the week.

    You think I play a good badass? Just watch me play a couch potato, baby. I’m good.

    Austin Post: What do you like about working with video games as opposed to television or movies? Is there something special you can bring to the medium that isn’t an option on the big screen?

    Michael Rooker: Playing video games is sort of like refreshing your acting chops. Everything is pretend. This jar can be a hand grenade. This stick with some tape on it can be your gun. This big drum is a tank or a motorcycle or anything. Everything is pretend in your virtual world and things have markers on them and there’s tape around the acting space and so if you literally go outside that tape you’re outside of reality. In the game, that means half of your body will disappear.

    It’s all virtual and you’re in this world with a motion capture suit on and markers all over your body and face and everything is pretend, so as an actor, it brings you back to Acting 101. Take a sip of that hot tea, but there's no hot tea there and there’s no cup there, so you have to use your sense memory to bring back the feeling and the way you hold the hot cup of tea and how you sip it. That’s what the gaming acting business is like. It really brings you back to those days of yesteryear when you were first beginning and taking classes as an actor. It’s really cool. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.

    Austin Post: Do you plan on doing any more video game acting?

    Michael Rooker: I love the gaming industry. I really have embraced it, and they’ve embraced me. In fact, I’m doing another game for Activision. We’re doing our own game for The Walking Dead  called The Beginning that deals with Merle and Daryl Dixon before they meet up with the Atlanta group. We haven't started doing any voiceover on it, so it’s a ways off, but we’re both really into it.

    You can see Michael Rooker live at Wizard World Austin Comic Con October 26-28. 

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    Superman, Batman, X-Men Artist Neal Adams on Comics Taking Over the World

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 22, 2012

    Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Neal Adams will be in good company with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and three of the biggest badasses from The Walking Dead at Austin’s Wizard World Com

    Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal on Philanthropy, Villainy and Sea Monkeys

    By Chris-Rachael O... / Oct 23, 2012

    South by Southwest just announced they’re bringing us Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal as a keynote speaker. Luckily, you don’t have to wait five months and spend hundreds of dollars in order see him.

    Ecopocalypse turns Dirty Sixth into Post-Apocalyptic Halloween Hellscape

    Civilization crumbled. The survivors fell back into suspicious tribalism and fight for the last scraps of food and access to the few untainted sources of water. You, with your soft hands and clean clothes, have been flung into the middle of the post-apocalyptic struggle.


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    The strip mall at 5335 Burnet in North Austin features a junk thrift store, a nail salon - and a bookstore that saves about 12 tons of books and paper from the Austin landfill each month. Recycled Reads is the Austin Public Library’s innovative way to dispose of books, and some say, the best hidden literary secret in Austin.

    “I'm reading "Journey to the Center of the Earth," bought at Recycled Reads for the $1 paperback price. Given that I have no time or money to actually travel (not to mention the physical impossibility of descending into the center of the Earth), it's a good, budget way to experience some adventure,” said Bethany Johnson, a developer for Gato Gordo Web Development. “I go to Recycled Reads because of the entertainment-to-cost ratio."

    Before Recycled Reads opened, the Austin Public Library would have a massive sale once a year to clean house, getting rid of overstock. People would fill a box for a set price, and whatever was left over would wind up garbage. Four years ago, the Library opened Recycled Reads as a way to give those items new homes and cut down on waste.

    Each week, Recycled Reads receives about 6 pallets of books from the library and another 6 pallets from community donations (see photo). The store’s three employees and 20 volunteers sort through the books, categorize them and then shelve them. The store, which is open to the public, sells hardback books for $2 each, paperbacks for $1 and children’s books for $.50 and has a clearance section with even less expensive options.

    Since opening, Recycled Reads has saved more than 300 tons of books, VHS tapes, vinyl records and more from the landfill. Not only is this model a green one and helpful to those Austinites on a budget, Recycled Reads also provides a service to local teachers. Before becoming the manager of Recycled Reads when it opened, Mindy Reed, a 16-year Austin Public Library employee, was a librarian at the Millwood Branch.

    “Teachers would come in at the end of the year and end up stuck with tons of library fines after borrowing books for classrooms that would wind up missing or damaged,” she said. “They can come into Recycled Reads and get a lot of books for less money. Someone can come in with a 5-dollar bill and leave quite satisfied.”

    There’s also a collectibles section, where some rare books can be found. Currently, Reed has a first-edition copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slaughterhouse Five" in top condition for $175. A few weeks ago, the store sold a first edition of H.G. Wells’ "The Invisible Man" for $500.

    In addition to rare finds, employees and volunteers at Recycled Reads also come across items forgotten in book pages from years ago, like receipts, letters and pictures. Items found in the books are on display in the store.

    “I love sorting through the books and finding things people haven’t seen,” said Betsy Evans, a master's degree student at the University of North Texas who works at Recycled Reads as an intern for her masters in library and information science degree. “I’ll take pictures of unique books or ones with funny titles.”

    With so much volume coming in, not all of those items sell though, and Reed figured out quickly that they’d need to find alternative uses for the books and materials due to what she calls The Da Vinci Code Syndrome.

    “At any given time, we’ll get in so many copies of 'The Da Vinci Code' that we could fill a whole room – more than we could ever sell – along with old health and investment books, just things that aren’t useful anymore,” she said.

    Reed began a relationship with a company that would recycle the books into construction materials, with profits going to build schools in third-world countries. When that company went under a few years ago, Recycled Reads began working with Goodwill Industries and Image Microsystems to recycle unsold items, which are turned into things like stop signs and traffic cones.

    “We are about 98 percent landfill-free, and we’re very proud of that,” Reed said, adding that no other library in the country has a program like Recycled Reads to deal with their overstock. “We like to tell this story not only to let the public know that we’re here but also to show this model to other cities.”

    Recycled Reads features a public meeting space, work tables and a children’s area, where the store hosted a program last month that allowed youngsters to practice their reading skills by reading to service dogs.

    The store is also hosting craft classes in November and December, where participants learn to turn old book pages into everything from flowers to jewelry beads to table centerpieces, as part of their push for a “green and economic holiday,” Reed said.

    “We are very proud of what we have here,” said Reed, standing in the middle of the dozen rows of neatly shelved and displayed books. “It surprises people … from outside, they think it’s something small, and then they come in and say ‘Wow, I had no idea!’”

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    New Central Library Designed as 'Living Room for All of Austin'

    By Stephanie Myers / Sep 27, 2012

    When Austin’s central library, the John Henry Faulk Library, was built in 1979, it was mainly a place to house books. Over the years, the library added computers and installed Wi-Fi and last year added a whole new collection of downloadable books for e-readers.

    Slideshow: New Central Austin Library Design

    By Stephanie Myers / Sep 28, 2012

    These are renderings of the design for the new Austin Central Library, a six-story, 170,000-square-foot building that will be built adjacent to the Seaholm redevelopment. The library will be situated just down the street from City Hall, at the end of the Shoal Creek Trail, facing Town Lake.  Architects and library officials are calling it a “Library for the Future.”

    Austin Public Library Prizes Tech Despite Limited Budget

    By Stephanie Myers / Sep 12, 2012

    Today you’re as likely to see someone reading a book on their iPad or Kindle as you are to see them sitting down holding an actual book. As it changes everything else, technology is also changing reading habits, but that’s not a bad thing according to Austin library officials.


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    This week, we've brought you interviews with Michael Rooker, Wil Wheaton and Neal Adams. We're done whetting your appetite. It's time for the main event. 

    This weekend, Wizard World’s Comic Con franchise is bringing a massive slew of celebrities to Austin. Ignore the name. Comic Cons haven’t really been about comics since the 1990’s. Instead, these are multi-media events with a big emphasis on geektastic television and movie stars. You can see the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation reunited for the 25th anniversary of the show, the actors that play Daryl and Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead (and for that matter 3 of the Boondock Saints), and frequent Whedon actress Eliza Dushku.

    “We’ve been really working very hard at bringing our fans a better experience, and that means bringing them better guests, better vendors, better artists and better writers,” said John Macaulso, CEO of Comic Con. “Taking care of the fans, it’s the mantra at the company.To do that, we bring them talent that will really rock their world. The [Star Trek] Next Gen cast is one way of doing that.”



    In addition to the science fiction guests, there are some fascinating random television celebrities such as The Situation from The Jersey Shore, WWE wrestler CM Punk, Sofia Milos of CSI Miami and Tanya Memme of Sell This House Extreme.

    The non-geek guests show just how mainstream nerdy pursuits have become in the last decade. There aren’t a lot of ways for non-genre actors to meet their fans, while at the same time genre conventions have grown massively in popularity. The former stigma of being a geek has almost entirely evaporated, so now mainstream actors have started to see geek conventions as a great way to meet and mingle with fans.

    “We’ve doubled then tripled the attendance at Austin’s Comic Con,” said Macaulso. “I think that geekdom is growing in leaps and bounds. Look at The Avengers. Look at the popularity of TV  and the movies. Look at the popularity of these events that we do. It’s not in the closet anymore. This is where the money is. When you look at The Walking Dead, look at the quality of what’s being put on television, the geek shows are really movie quality work.”

    In addition to the television and movie stars, there will be over 150 comic artists and creators in the Artist’s Alley section of the downtown convention center. In addition, around 20 fan groups will be on hand for fans looking to broaden their social lives and there’ll be a wide assortment of geeky vendors great for collectors or people who need to do some holiday shopping for the nerds in their lives.

    Tickets are $65 for the entire weekend or $35-$40 for one day. That doesn’t include the price of autographs or photo ops with the guests. If you plan to get actor autographs, actor photos or to attend the big panels with Star Trek: The Next Generation guests or the cast of The Walking Dead, bring along something to read. Lines at all Comic Cons can be epic. You’re also well advised to wear comfortable shoes, since you’ll do a lot of walking, and bring a decent camera so you won’t end up posting blurry cellphone shots of the people you see in costume.

    “There’s so much to do,” said Macaulso. “We want you to be star-struck. When you come back next year, we want it to be even bigger and better.”

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    Austin’s geek scene is outdoing itself for the Halloween season. In fact, there’s so darn much going on I had to split the events between an all-Halloween listing and your usual action packed geek-o-rama. On the purely geek side, you’ve got Comic Con downtown, the less crowded at more family friendly Fable Fest up north, and a boatload of clubs to delight every kind of geek.

    Austin Comic Con
    Oct 26-28
    See the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation reunited for the 25th anniversary of the show. While you’re at it, you can see members of The Walking Dead, a wide assortment of geek actors, an impressive collection of comic creators, and meet some local fan groups while you’re at it. Join in on the geeky fun at the downtown Convention Center.

    “Ed Wood” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space” with Austin Geeks and Gamers
    Oct 26, 7:00 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    Join us for the perfect Halloween double feature. We’ll provide popcorn, you bring drinks and snacks to share, and we’ll all cackle at the movies.

    Fable Fest 2012
    Oct 27, Noon
    Milburn Park
    1901 Sun Chase Boulevard, Cedar Park
    Fable Fest is an opportunity to experience the wonder of storybooks, fairy tales, and contemporary fiction stories at their finest. It’s a chance to get lost in the imagination. This family friendly event includes storytelling, jousting, archery, music and more.

    Austin Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club Meeting
    Oct 27, 1:00 p.m.
    Monkey Nest Coffee Shop
    5353 Burnet Rd
    This month, The Austin Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club is discussing The Gilded Chain by  Dave Duncan.

    Central Texas Boardgames Meetup
    Oct 27, 2:30 p.m.
    Jason's Deli
    117 Louis Henna Blvd, Round Rock
    Enjoy games like Say Anything, assorted word games, and much more in this laid back setting.

    Nocturnis-Amtgard Park Day
    Oct 27, 2:30 p.m.
    Brushy Creek Park
    3300 Brushy Creek Rd.
    Cedar Park, TX
    If the SCA has too much authenticity and LARP’s don’t let you get violent enough, check out this boffer sword fighting group. If you’re not familiar, boffer swords are usually made from PVC coated with foam and duct tape with a nice cloth cover.  People get together to beat on one another, drink, and go camping. If you’re an outdoorsy geek looking for some good exercise, check them out.

    Epic Tales: Improvised Interactive Fantasy Adventures
    Oct 27, 8:00 p.m.
    The Institution Theater
    3708 Woodbury Dr.
    Ever wanted to be a Hero? "Epic Tales" brings medieval fantasy role-playing to thundering, dangerous, glorious life right before your eyes! We don our corsets, doublets, and cloaks; draw our swords; and weave a fantasy world in which our audience may adventure. Under the watchful eye of the Game Master, YOU could be the hero! But be careful, one roll of the die can mean the difference between life and death.

    Geeks Who Drink Meetup
    Oct 27, 9:00 p.m.
    Opal Divine’s Marina
    12709 Mopac
    Trivia lovers can join a team for the chance to show off their smarts and win free drinks.

    Trader’s Crossing October Meeting
    Oct 28, 2:00 p.m.
    Lake Creek Park
    800 Deerfoot Drive, Round Rock
    If you’re interested in finding a costumed LARP group, check out Trader’s Crossing. They heartily welcome new players and are always up to festive shenanigans.

    Artist Matt Frank Talks About Monsters with Koumori Comics
    Oct 29, 7:00 p.m.
    Genuine Joe's Coffee House
    2001 W. Anderson Ln
    Just in time for Halloween! Professional artist Matt Frank is a rising star in the cartooning world. Matt's most notable work has to be his work, The Godzilla Neo Project, a series of pictures and information that completely reworks the Toho Universe and the Godzilla Films into one easy to follow Continuum. He has illustrated pieces in G-Fan Magazine and has done covers and more for the Godzilla and Transformers series, and tonight, he will be gracing us with his presence to talk about drawing MONSTERS!

    Girl Geeks of Austin Board Games and Brews
    Oct 29, 7:00 p.m.
    Black Star Co-Op
    7020 Easy Wind Dr
    Enjoy some microbrewery beers along with Euro style boardgames in the company of your fellow geek girls.

    Girl Geeks of Austin Nerdy Knitting and Fiber Arts
    Oct 30, 8:00 p.m.
    Genuine Joe’s Coffee House
    2001 W. Anderson Lane
    Enjoy a laid back night of knitting, crochet, embroidery, or whatever fibercraft you love in the company of your fellow nerd girls.

    Pathfinder Society Meetup
    Oct 29, 7:00 p.m.
    Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy
    6111 Burnet Rd
    Looking for some new faces around the gaming table?  Delve into ancient dungeons, uncover lost knowledge, and advance the secret goals of your faction--whether it be the freedom-fighting Andorans, the good-hearted Silver Crusade, the shady dealings of the Sczarni, or the strict laws of Cheliax--and gain experience and loot for your character no matter where you game!

    South Austin Game Night and Boards and Brews Meetup
    Oct 30, 6:00 p.m.
    Rockin Tomato
    3003 S. Lamar
    This weekly gathering of gamers regularly hosts over 40 people playing a dozen different games. New people are always welcome.


    HAUNTED HOUSES

    Ecopocalypse
    Coppertank Event Center
    504 Trinity St
    Daily, October 19-31
    $20
    Imagine yourself in a post-apocalyptic future Austin fleeing from warlords, fighting off Whedon-esque Reavers, and stumbling the ruins of a destroyed world. This fully interactive scary experience is unlike any other haunted house you’ve experienced.

    House of Torment
    Highland Mall
    523 E. Highland Mall Blvd
    Daily, Oct 11 - Nov 3
    $20-35
    This national award winning haunted house is full of movie quality special effects, scent cannons, animatronics, and a staff of 150 people ready to scare the living daylights out of you. Come find out why the rest of the country is so impressed.

    Medieval Macabre
    The Curtain Theater
    7400 Coldwater Canyon Dr
    Weekends, Oct 5 - Halloween
    $15
    Blood! Gore! Historical accuracy? You won’t find another show like this in Austin. Come see the darker side of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the glorious 1/10 scale Globe Theater. Stadium cushions are recommended for all seats, as is a raincoat if you want to sit in the splash zone right next to the stage.

    Scare for a Cure
    J. Lorraine Ghost Town
    14219 Littig Rd, Manor TX
    Weekends, Oct 12 - Halloween
    $25
    Most haunted houses get you in and out in 15 minutes. This one will take you closer to 45. They’ve moved out to the J. Lorraine Ghost Town, an impressive site in its own right. When you finish the haunted house, you can relax in the bar with some live music while watching a big screen showing your friends staggering around in fear. Best of all, you’ll help raise money for a great, local cause.



    Want to see your event listed? Post the date, a current link, and a good reason why your event belongs in This Week in Geek on the Facebook group, This Week in Geek.
     

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    http://flic.kr/p/8QCL54

    Halloween may fall on a Wednesday this year, but that’s not stopping grownups from throwing nonstop parties the week before the kids go begging for candy. The Austin Post has rounded up over 20 Halloween themed events crammed into six short days.

    We’ve got plenty of parties thrown by small, local clubs looking for some costumed shenanigans as well as big blow-outs where you can take a date and dance all night. In between, you can also check out our award-winning local Haunted Houses. There’s something here for every budget and inclination, so take advantage of the chance to get out of the house and meet some new people this weekend.

    HAUNTED HOUSES

    Ecopocalypse
    Coppertank Event Center
    504 Trinity St
    Daily, October 19-31
    $20
    Imagine yourself in a post-apocalyptic future Austin fleeing from warlords, fighting off Whedon-esque Reavers, and stumbling the ruins of a destroyed world. This fully interactive scary experience is unlike any other haunted house you’ve experienced.

    House of Torment
    Highland Mall
    523 E. Highland Mall Blvd.
    Daily, Oct 11 - Nov 3
    $20-35
    This national award-winning haunted house is full of movie-quality special effects, scent cannons, animatronics and a staff of 150 people ready to scare the living daylights out of you. Come find out why the rest of the country is so impressed.

    Medieval Macabre
    The Curtain Theater
    7400 Coldwater Canyon Dr
    Weekends, Oct 5 - Halloween
    $15
    Blood! Gore! Historical accuracy? You won’t find another show like this in Austin. Come see the darker side of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the glorious 1/10 scale Globe Theater. Stadium cushions are recommended for all seats, as is a raincoat if you want to sit in the splash zone right next to the stage.

    Scare for a Cure
    J. Lorraine Ghost Town
    14219 Littig Rd, Manor TX
    Weekends, Oct 12 - Halloween
    $25
    Most haunted houses get you in and out in 15 minutes. This one will take you closer to 45. They’ve moved out to the J. Lorraine Ghost Town, an impressive site in its own right. When you finish the haunted house, you can relax in the bar with some live music while watching a big screen showing your friends staggering around in fear. Best of all, you’ll help raise money for a great, local cause.



    HALLOWEEN THEMED SPECIAL EVENTS

    Play Werewolves of the Dark Arts with r/Austin
    Oct 24, 7:00 p.m.
    Whose Turn Is It? Games
    2708 S Lamar Blvd #100b
    October and Halloween call for a game of Werewolf... This meetup is for those feeling the same and wanting to play the psychological game of reading and deceiving others - Werewolf!

    Halloween Costume Happy Hour
    Oct 26, 6:30 p.m.
    Fado Austin
    214 W. 4th St
    Join Happy Singles awesome costume party! Come fully dressed in costume or partially! It's up to you! We'll have a Costume Contest with Fado offering a $25 Gift Certificate! Additional prizes awarded! We'll start at 6:30 but I can imagine more folks will come after they get home and get their costumes on. As always, we will have a game going on and we'll play a round of meet and greet! Come to us for your drink ticket, name tag and game! Remember, to tip your server and that we take donations every month for the website and materials!

    Scream Party Benefiting The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation
    Oct 26, 6:30 p.m.
    Austin City living
    1145 W. 5th St, Suite 101
    Austinites....Get ready to PARTY... This is the BEST pre Halloween Party in Austin, Texas
    We have lots of fun, food , drinks and more planned for this year...and always fun surprises!!! $10 suggested donation entrance benefiting The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation. Costumes are encouraged but not mandatory... as a matter of fact, if you decide to wear a costume, we will be having a contest with great prizes...so come out.. dress up... lots of food and drink and prizes!!!

    Friday Halloween Potluck and Dance Party
    Oct 26, 7:00 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    Party two nights with a different band each night. This is back in the Meetup host’s home this year. BYOB and bring Potluck fare at 7:00 or just come for the dance at 9:30 when the bands will start; we party til 1:30am. Believe it or not, many folks have come to both nights of my party in the past. Great people and great energy. Wear a costume and spread the word to your friends.

    Purple Bee Halloween Hoe-Down
    Oct 26, 7:00 p.m.
    Purple Bee Studios
    8210 State Park Road
    Bands! Camping! Costumes! Two stages of nonstop music, plus one heck of a party. Tickets are $35 for people in costume, $40 for people without.

    Avant Halloween SPOOKtacular! Experimental films from the dark side
    Oct 26, 7:30 p.m.
    29th Street Ballroom at Spider House
    2906 Fruth St
    Avant garde cinema has never been so creepy, or so fun! Experimental Response Cinema presents an evening of spooky celluloid and demented digital video from beyond the grave by cine-sorcerers Kerry Laitala, David Sherman, Janie Geiser, Peter Tscherkassky, Ben Russell, Stephanie Barber and others. PLUS! Halloween home movies, horror trailers, and spine-tingling surprises.

    Murder, Mayhem and Misadventure Halloween Cemetery Tour
    Oct 27, 10:45 a.m.
    Join to learn the location
    The 7th annual Murder, Mayhem & Misadventure Halloween Walking Tour in haunting Oakwood Cemetery highlight the lives and deaths of Austin's early citizens. These chilling tales of 19th and 20th century murders and other untimely deaths shed new light on Austin's history and put you in a ghoulish mood! Tours run approximately every 30 minutes and last about 1 hour each. Free and open to the public, but donations benefit cemetery preservation projects, such as the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel Restoration Project. The  graves of John Henry Faulk, Andrew Jackson Hamilton, and Ima Hogg are respectfully a few that are buried there.

    Austin Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club’s Halloween Costume Party
    Oct 27, 6:00 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    Join us for a fantasy themed costume party at Chad's house! Prizes to the best costumes in several categories (nerdiest, best, etc).  Beer and munchies will be available.
    It will be an indoor/outdoor party, and you don't have to dress up; but seriously, are you going to go to a themed Halloween party with a bunch of con-going nerds and not dress up?

    Celtic Halloween (Samhain)
    Oct 27, 7:00 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    The night of Samhain or Oíche Samhna in Gaelic was the night that the portals between the worlds of the living and the dead were aligned. The evil spirits or goblins were free to roam the earth and steal the souls of the living if they chose to. Festivities will begin with a brief presentation on Samhain at 7:00 p.m. Traditional halloween games for kids and adults will commence at 7:30. Join us for a night of historical fact, fiction and fun.

    Jared’s Halloween Party at the Wolfe Mansion
    Oct 27, 7:00 p.m.
    The Wolfe Mansion
    1600 E Cesar Chavez St
    We're combining Creepishly cool Halloween +THE CRAZINESS and CHAOS of the Circus + Fabulous Studio 54 Masquerade to bring you The LARGEST Party in Austin HANDS DOWN Dirty Clown!!!  CIRCUS 54 Halloween Party Extravaganza AUSTIN Style!!! Guest D.J.'s & Lighting SINsation Extravaganza! Complimentary libations will include: Witches Ditches Brew,  Gummy Worm Slurm and Bear Snare. Drink ALL if you DARE! Don't be a square! (21 and over only!  Must show Valid ID at the Entry.) Tickets are $20.

    Trick or Treat Halloween Party With New to Austin
    Oct 27, 8:30 p.m.
    Dog & Duck Pub
    406 West 17th St
    Hey we are going to have a Halloween Party at the Dog & Duck. There will be some board games and card games, and you’re welcome to bring your own you’re dying to play. Also bring some of your favorite candy to share. Meet other Austin newbies, have some candy and beers, and kick back.

    Austin Social Affair's Haunted Halloween Ball - Benefiting Providence Homes
    Oct 27, 9:00 p.m.
    Rattle Inn
    610 Nueces St
    Photo booth! Performances by Southern Sirens! DJ Holland! Complimentary Treats!Costume Contest! This event benefits Providence Homes, an organization  that strives  to break the cycle of domestic violence for women and their children through long term transformational care that seeks to restore faith, hope and health. Their current build project is in need of additional funding to complete the project.  Let's help them make this house happen while also building awareness of the need here in Austin, Texas. Tickets are $20.

    Open Bar Halloween Party with Awesome Austin
    Oct 27, 10:00 p.m.
    Lucky Lounge
    209-A West 5th
    Ladies and Gentlemen, It's time again for The Halloween Bash. What better way to celebrate Halloween than to do it up again at Austin's' famous LUCKY LOUNGE. We've rented out the entire place so come enjoy the festivities! This year, as always, it is all inclusive. Open bar all night including top shelf, premium, and well liquor along with beer, wine, & champagne. The DJ will be spinning the hottest tracks all night and will be taking requests as well. We'll have an assorted snack buffet running throughout the night in case you get hungry. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are only available online and cost $50. This is absolutely 21 and over only.

    Halloween Biker Bash and Bike Show
    Oct 28, Noon
    La Casa Bella
    4600 E. Howard Ln., Pflugerville
    We will be featuring live performances by Austin's very own "Dirty Wormz" & special guest appearance by "DJ Redd" of Swisha House, Fresh & Kleen, and more to be announced. The beautiful ladies of Austin Latina Modeling Agency will also be on hand for your viewing pleasure! The FEATURED EVENT will be the Bike Show, that contestants will enter some of the baddest rides on 2-wheels in an attempt win trophies in their perspective categories. Judging will be in the Sport Bikes, Cruisers, and Bobbers categories. Get your ride entered now! Earlier in the day, there will be activities for the kids, including balloon walks, face-painting, trick or treating (Bring lots of goodies), storytelling, games, and contests. Later in the evening, the adult activities will include Bikini Contest, Biker Games, Full-service Bar, Costume Contest (Prizes for scariest, most creative, and SEXIEST!).

    Bastrop Halloween Fest
    Oct 31, 5:00 p.m.
    Bastrop TX Main Street
    1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop
    Enjoy a parade, a puppet theater, belly dancers, pirates, merry men, and fairies. Costumes are heartily encouraged.

    Halloween Pub Crawl
    Oct 31, 5:00 p.m.
    Coyote Ugly Saloon
    501 E 6th St
    This pub crawl in Austin will have thousands of dressed up party goers combing the streets in search of the next best bar. They enlisted the help of some of the top watering holes that Austin has to offer, and getting your ticket soon gives you access to each one of them. Get ready to meet new friends, enjoy awesome drink specials, and visit the best bars in town while you're at it. Dress up in your best Halloween costume and prepare for this special Austin Halloween pub crawl, it's definitely one event that you definitely will not want to miss! Tickets cost $25.

    Austin Monster’s Ball
    Oct 31, 8:00 p.m.
    American Legion
    2201 W. Ceasar Chavez
    Help raise money for breast cancer research while partying like a monster. Tickets range from $35-100.

     

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    Ecopocalypse turns Dirty Sixth into Post-Apocalyptic Halloween Hellscape

    Civilization crumbled. The survivors fell back into suspicious tribalism and fight for the last scraps of food and access to the few untainted sources of water. You, with your soft hands and clean clothes, have been flung into the middle of the post-apocalyptic struggle.

    Murder, Maiming, and Genuinely Medieval Macabre

    Everything about Medieval Macabre is otherworldly. To get to the spooky halloween production (running Thurs. - Sat. this week and next), you drive down a dark, winding private road, lit only by torchlight.

    Behind the Scenes at Scare for a Cure

    It takes over 1500 volunteers working 15,000 hours to make Scare for a Cure happen. Founder Jarrett Crippen took the Austin Post on a behind the scenes tour so you can get a glimpse of what it takes to create 45 minutes of terror. 

     

    Behind the Scenes at the House of Torment

    For the last five years, The House of Torment has been ranked as one of the top five haunted houses in the country. On popular nights, the lines to get in can last over an hour.


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