Foodie Review: Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX)

They call it a culinary religious experience in the heart of Texas. Since around 6am peopled lined up in the morning at Franklin BBQ to be amongst locals, tourists, and fascinated fans of BBQ.

They come for the best BBQ in Texas, or some say.

I got there around 8:30 and the line was already at the 2 hour mark at least according to a bearded man who boasted a belly providing testament he had quality checked many briscuits over the years.


There isn’t that much to do waiting in a long line. People talked for the most part. People brought their own coolers but for the most part everyone was chilled out. You can watch dozens of YouTube videos of this place, but the thing I found amazing was that people would wait so long for food in America. I asked people why and all they could say is “it’s good.”


The place serves around 2k lbs of briscuit daily and once it runs out, it’s gone until the next day. I think the limited supply factor and promise from the founder of the company that he would never expand or franchise gives the place a certain mystic. This is the same concept behind Black Friday sales. 


We arrived and sat down and I realized another factor. There is only one line where people order their cuts one by one. This makes it incredibly slow compared to anything. Chipotle could probably process a line 10x as fast, however there wouldn’t be the certain marathon feel of crossing the finish line. I mean, people spend on the upwards of 5 hours for their food, so some one on one time with the man cutting your meat is the least they do.


We sat down maybe 15 mins early as a person in our group did a big order instead of 5 seperate orders. It kind of comes out to family style but since we all order by the pound, it results in the same, in 1/5th of the time. The downside was the bearded belly manager eyed us 6 times and then actually asked where in line our food orderers were. It was kind of annoying, considering it was 105 degree Texas heat and the fact they purposefully have few tables to sit at.


It was the moment of truth. We got a bunch of briscuit and some ribs and some sausage. It came with bread and onions and pickles and we ordered potatoe salad.

What did we think? We all agreed the briscuit was awesome. The sauces they had on the table were great as well. The ribs were terrific too. When they smoke the meat, they truly seem to rely on salt and pepper. They made the baby back ribs at Chiles seem like chewy dog food that was nuked and lathered with sauce. 

As for the sausage, we were split. Some said it was ok, while me and my wife said it was pretty greasy, so much so that it was the only thing we didn’t finish. 

The briscuit and ribs were an A. The sausage was like a B- at most.

The line sucked. I would only do it once with that long of a wait. 

Now the black eye…The bathroom at Franklin BBQ is absolutely disgusting. It’s also right across the hall from the kitchen. Maybe they want to keep it in the same spot to keep the magic going, but at least tear down and remodel parts of it.

Foodie Review: Torchy’s (Austin, TX)


On South Congress Street in Austin, Texas you can partake in a variety of culinary delights. My meetup group decided to choose Torchy’s, a burrito/taco fast casual joint with the architecture of a Whataburger. 


At the door you can purchase a variety of swag. I particularly liked this version, but only if the signature sauce met the hype of image of hell in my mind. I mean, come on, the entire brand evoked hotness of food … supposedly. 


I ordered a grande burrito and a fountain drink. I almost ordered a glass bottle Coke just to fit in the local crowd. Austin is kind of like the Portland of the Midwest. Overall my bill was something like $10.


This is it, the grande burrito itself. I asked for the hottest sauce which they put on the side. The burrito reminded me a little of Freebirds, but the hot sauce was better. It was hot, but didn’t quite live up the hype of hell inside a tortilla. It was kind of like a branding over promise and under deliver, but it was tasty.

The folks I was with got the tacos and they said they enjoyed it. I looked around the table at the rest of the group and everything was chowd down so it had to be to everyone’s liking.

Foodie Rating: 8/10 Tortillas

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 4)

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It’s Saturday. I grabbed a cup of coffee and checked up on my blog comments, twitter feed, and status of my submission. Do you see what has changed? I know, it’s pretty hard to see, but on the top right, it shows I got 1 view. Woohoo!

Now for the bad news. There was no review or rating. Maybe this was a misclick, or maybe they read about the fire breathing dragon incinerating a legion of leprechauns on top of a floating castle over the planet of Darg’ostalah’meshon. Damn. I knew that would turn off a few people. (But don’t worry, the story is in fact dystopian, and stars a 16 year old girl in a love triangle with mysterious dudes but can’t seem to know which one to pick because both are hot and only have eyes for her because only she has the power to save everything)

Then panic set in. Did I submit the right script? Did I send in nothing but 60 blank pages? After sweating for 60 seconds, I double checked, and yes, the pages were filled with something.

Sorry the update isn’t more exciting than that.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT BLACK LIST UPDATE

 

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 3)

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This is what the screen looks like after you submit and pay the $25. Pretty simple. I had to check a bunch of boxes and what genres it falls into and curious questions on setting, characters, plot trope, etc. Pretty interesting way to search for scripts. As you can see from the top, nothing too much happens when you submit. It shows I had one script submitted and active. There are currently zero reviews and zero downloads. (uh oh…)

The picture I find funny. I guess based on what you click, it puts little pictures to kind of visualize the type of story it is. If you notice to the top right of the screen, it says “pilot” on the script. There is another choice for screenplay when you submit. Pilots are typically 60 pages at length while movie screenplays are 120-140 pages at length (though if its longer, you might need to have some industry pull or name recognition).

On the left is where you see the “opportunities” that you can submit to. A few of them look interesting to me. I might write a screenplay and submit to one just to see what happens. Some will get you into a writing conference while another is a paid gig from WB, if submitted. I did the ATX, which was for free and a chance to attend the festival which I live near. I find all of this pretty neat. It’s much better than stories of valet’s accidentally leaving behind their manuscript in the cars of producers or sliding it beneath bathroom stalls. I’m not sure if I ever heard of a story where one of them was actually produced.

One additional rule is if you get chosen, a biography and additional background information is required within a week. I’m guessing this is to make sure you are not writing from San Quentin or something.

I’ll keep you updated as this hope this thing moves forward.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 2)

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So I did it. With a day left I finished my first TV pilot. It was called “No Returns Allowed” and is about a thief. After the blacklist contest time period, if enough people comment or request it, I’ll just post it on the blog for free. The contest is for the ATX festival in Austin, TX which I live near, so I figured it could be a good opportunity (maybe they want local voices). I heard about the contest relatively late (around 3 weeks prior to submission). I asked myself “Hey, remember back in college when you wrote that screenplay that never went anywhere?” I shook my head assuredly and said “Now that you’ve written a few novels and know about plot structure and design, couldn’t you try this again?” I nodded my head again. Okay, I was game.

I came up with the new plot in 30 minutes. Unlike a movie, a TV pilot has to introduce all the characters and the setup to the show and give the hook. I figured out a way to do it, in order for it to be clear what every following episode would be about. I then wrote an arc to what the first 3 seasons would be, with a cliffhanger at the end of each. This gave me a sense of the nuggets I had to put in the pilot.

It took me 4-5 days of actual writing to get it done. I had one person copy edit it for me, but I’m sure there are errors. I didn’t use Final Draft to format it, only the established guidelines of screenplay writing. I also read the pilots of Lost, Breaking Bad and the screenplay to Birdman to see the tricks in those stories. I sensed a trick early on. It seems actors get direction on the manner in which they play their character, and then later on in scripts less direction is given so the actors can run with it. I tried to do the same besides adding pause beats here and there. If you want to read a crazy pilot, try LOST. Dang, J.J.Abrams really gave a sense of the chaos in the pilot. Pretty amazing.

I went on the blacklist website http://www.blcklst.com and simply registered and paid my $25 to upload my teleplay. Then there was an easy to find option to opt it into the contest, which technically ends the 15th of April, however the contest stipulated it needed to be in at least a week. I can only assume there is an inherent advantage to submitting early. I would have paid $50 for a reader to critique it, but due to timing, I figured it would be dead money. I just have a hope and a prayer at this point.

If it did get consideration for the top “5-10” then that would be a good story in itself based on the long odds and having zero contacts in the TV business (The signup for the blacklist has a bunch of blocks for guilds and production history and other TV associations which made me go “um … uh oh Matt.”)

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 1)

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For you writers out there, one of the old ways to get discovered is though writing contests. Usually you want to focus on the ones with more history or more backing from industry insiders. For those of you that know how to write teleplays, there is an open call for the ATX Television Festival for full hour or half hour scripts. 5-10 scripts will be selected and winners will be announced in Austin, TX on June 9-12.

Although there is no monetary prize, it is a good way to get noticed. Bad Robot, Carlton Cuse Productions, FX, Sony, and USA Network are partnering with this contest.

The rules are a bit vague for timelines, but according to comments on various sites, the script has to be uploaded and a $25 fee needs to be paid by at least 4/8/16 if my math is correct. That would give it enough time to be on the site a full week. I am guessing that if you win, you might get transportation to the festival and some swag and a chance to talk with some insiders (maybe you have to hitchhike, I don’t really know). If you do well with that, you might have a chance at a writing gig, which would be awesome.

What? You ask how I can post this three days from the due date … well, I only found out about it last week, so don’t blame me. Twitter is clogged with people shanking each other with adds, which makes it hard for good people to get the word out. I’m sure if you don’t finish in time there will be an opportunity next year or in other contests. I read there was also a pitch competition using youtube which could have been cool to those less scribing-inclined, so to speak.

As for me, I am rushing to finish my teleplay. If any of you have formatting questions, please leave a comment and I’ll let you know what I did.

Keep writing.

I’ll keep you posted of what happens on my journey.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST