John Kelso

Yesterday, my phone lit up with messages – John Kelso, an Austin icon, had passed away.  If you in any way claim to be a true Austinite, separating yourself from the throngs who appear adding condos along Town Lake and driving up real estate prices, then you love a few things: Barton Springs, Zilker hillside musicals, Chuy’s  jalapeño ranch, ACL, and of course John Kelso.

I could recount some of my favorite articles, but y’all have Google and a curious mind, so I’ll let you enjoy the thrill of discovery.  That said, the time he shamed the city into re-thinking their stance on a goat’s living situation near “So-Co” (don’t get me started; I was here before South Congress started putting on airs) made me proud. Hey, sometimes gentrifiers need friendly reminders. (Chin up, guys you’ll eventually drive the goat family out thanks to increased property taxes. Every cloud, right?)

I was going to link to a blog piece where I’d written about my encounters with Kelso, but I did a search and discovered I kind of love talking about him. You see, he’s the kind of guy that one story would never do.  I can tell you that my adoration started when he joined my high school for a week posing as an 11th grade student named Clarence Frick (my year), then proceeded to write a series of articles about his experience. That led me to eventually inviting him to our 20 year reunion at Opal Divine’s where he accepted, showed up, and kept our school elite entertained.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to have my writing style compared to his. It even once inspired me to contact him, and see if he might have some advice for the likes of me. He encouraged me to give him a call, which took me a few weeks to muster up the courage to do. I mean, I write like me, not like him, and it seemed a bit uppity on my part to say “hello sir, people say I’m like you, how do I get better – how do I become you? What brands do you buy? Would you call your hair shade salt and pepper? How much salt to pepper would you say?” (I would have left off descriptions of said friends – their questionable tastes, their TBIs, etc.) When I finally did call, I got his voice mail, and didn’t hear anything back. I can’t attest to what my message said, but I suspect it was a bit rambly, and full of fan girl blithering.  The kind of stuff that sets off warning bells, and causes one to invest in a personal bodyguard or five.) He’s always had a lot going on, as one of Austin’s patron saints, so I suspect he was busy (contacting the APD).  Still, I held onto hope he’d one day share some pearls of writing wisdom.  Sorry guys, without those pearls this is what you get. Hey, you decided to follow this blog. That’s on you.

All of that to say, we will miss him and his humor – the way he influenced all of us to laugh a bit, and to inspire us. I hope he’s somewhere now having a beer with Molly Ivins, and Ann Richards, and that Leslie pops by to offer a lick of his “knob” (a story for another day, and not what you think so get your mind out of the gutter).

RIP John Kelso, and my favorite classmate, Clarence Frick.

Foster Needed – Austin, Texas

My good friend Julie has an amazing opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to practice medicine in New Zealand for a year. The downside, aside from not being able to see her at all during that time and only getting to live vicariously through her adventures, is that she can’t take her beloved dog Sami.


Sami is a senior girl. She has a goofy smile, long legs, big ears and an even bigger heart. From the time we’ve spent with her, we can tell she loves soft pats, ear scratching (right there, yes right there), naps, showing off her toy for the kitty, chasing wild rabbits and eating. She’s easy going, mellow and super friendly.

She looks great in a hat!

If you chose to foster her for a year, you’ll receive:

  • A year’s supply of all her medicines (she’s a senior, so she has a few and this includes her heartworm meds)
  • Vet bills paid (of course within reason – no open heart surgery, knee replacements, cybernetic implants, diamond doggy grills, etc.)
  • A gigantic crate with her bed, blankets and her toy.
  • A whole lot of love!
  • Wet doggy kisses!


Sami is house trained, crate trained, and dinner trained (she’ll always come for dinner!).

She’s 60 lbs. and her vet believes she may be part Catahoula, Australian Shepherd and she is definitely all heart.  She needs to be able to come in from the extreme Texas heat and of course the cold.

Beth, why can’t you keep her? Great question! We’d love to, she’s a great house guest. Unfortunately our dog attacks her. Please note: all fighting is initiated by our dog. Sami is not responsible for any of the aggression; she’s easy-going and seems to want to make friends, but ours isn’t having it. Sami and our dog have to spend most of their time separated and food cannot be out when they’re both out (or a trash bag that you’re trying to seal up and take out). She needs a better place where she doesn’t have to be stressed out by our aggressive beagle. (Who knew beagles could be aggressive?)


All legs, ears and heart waiting for you!

Can you help? Do you know of anyone who can? Have any questions? Please leave a comment here or send me an email at bigbluemess at gmail dot com.

Hot Spots: Behind the Scenes

Next week, after the run of our show has come to an end,  I plan to upload my short film onto something like YouTube, Vimeo, or Funny or Die. I haven’t decided which, but people with bigger thoughts than mine are being asked for their opinions and suggestions.  All those sites play videos, right? BUT before that even happens, I thought I’d give you some background on the short I created since it’s a little Austin inside-jokey. You see, there’s a rumor going around that some of you may not be from Austin.  It’s ok, your cities are good, too.  I bet they even have their own inside jokes.  They’re probably even funny, too.

Every year around March Austin hosts a film, music and media festival called South by Southwest (or SXSW)   It’s a festival that draws people from all over the world and showcases great talent.  Movies are premiered.  Favorite bands perform. Panels on a variety of topics are held.  From the mainstream to the off-beat, you can see it all (with a wristband and a great deal of luck).

This past year a clever ad agency had an idea to employ some of Austin’s homeless and turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots.  How it worked: Let’s say you were a hipster in need of internet access and Starbucks was packed, all you had to do was consult your trusty hotspot map, locate a homeless guy, pay them a recommended $2/15 minutes and log in.  It was a way to create needed hotspots during the festival, directly benefit the homeless involved and, as the ad agency argued, help make those individuals visible.

Needless to say, Austin earned a certain amount of attention over this creative use of the homeless.  We were even mentioned in The Daily Show.  (I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear Texas is getting any kind of national, or even worse, international (or Daily Show) attention I tend to cringe.  It’s usually for a good reason. One that  makes me want to point east and say, “Hey guys, look over there.  I think Alabama is doing something crazy!  Did you hear that guy in Missouri?  Insane, right? RIGHT?”)

When all of this was happening, I was starting one of my sketch classes and in need of material.  This topic looked perfect. Plus, I reckoned everyone else had taken their shot at it.  It was only fair that I got my turn.

That’s how Hot Spots came to be.

If you’re new to this controversy, I encourage you to read a bit more about it and watch the testimonials from the homeless involved.  You’ll then be armed and ready for my short. You see, I don’t want you blinking confusedly at your monitor and wandering aimlessly throughout your house. That would make me sad… especially if you bumped into things.

The Atlantic
Wi-Fi Hotspots Made of Homeless People: Not As Horrible as They Seem

The New York Times
Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer