The Soup Peddler's 18th Annual SXSW Band Name Revue!

Folks, this job just gets harder every hear. At this point, my eyes are literally swimming (don't you love when people over-liberally use the word "literally"? Like, "I literally died of embarrassment." Really. Who is speaking to me? A ghost? (more on ghosts later))* (*note the nested parentheticals... I strongly believe they should be included in the APA style guide. It's time.) with pixels and show listings and silly band names. The scale is phenomenal. This festival long ago jumped the proverbial shark, before even the phrase "jumped the shark" jumped the shark. With unforeseen advances in the algorithms behind online random band name generators, we've seen an exponential increase in all categories, but most strikingly in the Just Plain Silliness subtype. But our job is to continue doing our Austin thing, whatever the cost. It is our job to continue to be charming and kind and cute and brilliant and lowbrow. All that in mind, without further ado, here is The Soup Peddler's 18th Annual SXSW Band Name Revue (SPASXSWBNR)... As always, 2013 is a great year for death and death's favorite color. Our friends The Death Set, Mostly Dead, Dead Leaf Echo, Dead Angle, The Dead Girls, Dead Gaze, The Dead Ships, The (perhaps redundantly) Dead Skeletons, Left For Dead, Die!Die!Die!, The Deadly Buzz, Dead Strangers, Deadly Buzz, Dead Love Club, Unstoppable Death Machines, Murder By Death, (previous SPASXSWBNR winners) Bass Drum Of Death, Awesome Death, Ringo Deathstarr, Eagles Of Death Metal, and up-and-comers Deathrow Tull are just a few of the musical collectives who seek to lift our spirits with their lovingly-crafted patterns of air compressions and rarefactions. They, along with the Black And White Years, Black Angels, Black Atlantic, Black Bone Child, Black Drawing Chalks, Black Earth, Black Lillies, Black Lips, Black Moon, Black Pistol Fire, Black Taxi, Black Tusk, Black Violin, Black Chords, and Blackstone Rangers, are doing their part this year to vibrate our tympanic membranes in a memorable, lasting, and hopefully eventually profit-making way.

What goes best with death and darkness? Why, the spirit world, of course! What would SXSW be without Your Friendly Ghost, (best band name candidate) Ghostbunny, Hungry Ghosts, Roadkill Ghost Choir, River Ghost, TV Ghost, Ghost Dance, Golden Ghosts, Ghost of Venice, Ghost Beach, Ghost Police, Caches The Ghost, Ghostward, Austin's favorite phantom band The White Ghost Shivers, Ghosts of Texas, and the charmingly-named and quite loquacious Ghostface Killah.

And speaking of charming... We turn to the part of our list that results from the sad convergence of family dysfunction, unchecked teenage angst, possible illicit drug use, and what can in no other terms be described as sociopathy: The Your-Parents-Must-Be-So-Proud category of the SPASXSWBNR. This list is not for everyone, so you may wish to avert your eyes/skip to the next paragraph. The most charming band names I could find: Diarrhea Planet, DJ John Vomitnoise, bind.torture.kill, Nuklear Blast Suntan [sic], Whore Of Bethlehem, The Crackpipes, Youthful Masturbation Techniques, Sex Bruises, Headcrusher, and Traumahelikopter. "Hey everyone, thanks so much for coming tonight, we're Traumahelikopter and we want to remind you to tip your bartenders and don't drink and drive... or we'll see you again later on!"

Moving on... Perhaps an indication of slowing cultural crosstalk between forms, this was not a big year for culinary band names. I could only find The Poi Pounders, The Avocados, Posole, and Rend. And that last one is pushing it...

In a solid turnout for the wildlife category, we have leading the herd the lovely band from Spitzbergen, Goatwhore! Not to be confused with The Goatbangers. We have Sunbears! Bipolar Bears, Gold Bears, Reignwolf, Speedwolf, Littlewolf, Peanut Butter Wolf, The Gospel And The Wolf, Ghost Wolves, Tiny Horse, Whitehorse, Mail The Horse, the oddly funny APD Horse Budget, Horse Opera, Band Of Horses (I've heard of these guys!), Dangerous Ponies, and the category winner, Poof Pony!

Let's just move on to the finale of the show here... these bands have stunned audiences worldwide by turning ordinary electricity into hair-raising sound right before their ears, and now they are here to compete for the prestigious SPASXSWBNR title! The envelope, please... Our finalists are Bipolaroid, Blah Blah Blah, The Creepy Creeps, Seizures! (simply for the insertion of the exclamation mark... it makes seizures so much more fun), Earl Sweatshirt, The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer, Amnesia Babies, Venomous Maximus, Why?, Poopoo Platter, Cosmic Suckerpunch, Urban Achievers Brass Band, Red Goes Faster, Quitters, Classy Nude, Blacklung And The Smokestacks, Mom Jeans, ACXDC, Shivery Shakes, and The Useful Idiots.

Down to the last few! The few, the proud, the final finalists! The Lone Bellow. Skewered By Elephants. Dewey Decibel System. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.

And the winner, picked for conciseness, cultural relevance, cuteness, cleverness, possibly even eclipsing 2006 winner Crapulence on all these metrics... I bring you... the 2013 SPASXSWBNR Winner...


Gentlemen and/or perhaps ladies, you should be proud of yourselves! Shave off that beard, would it kill you to put on a decent shirt, drop that ironic eyebrow and come on down for a free soup on the house!

10th Anniversary Party

A good time was had by all at... no, no, too cliched. But really! Honestly, I think a good time was actually had by all at our 10th anniversary party. Cliches are often cliches for a reason... because they're true. A good time was had by all. That's why they always say, "A good time was had by all."

The day started out quite drearily... if nothing else, it would be a good soup day but not much of a party day. PeopIe would come by to pay their respects, huddle in small sipping groups and wander off. But no, the gloom of the previous few days lifted and I made some lovely vegetable and lentil soup in the setting South Lamar sun.

We hired some bluegrass outfit, cleverly named The Bluegrass Outfit, to accompany the goings-on. With a little musical accompaniment adding to the festive atmosphere, the din of the street noise all but receded into the background. I believe if I had enough money, I would have these pluckers on staff to accompany me wherever I went.

Just an average South Austin affair... the superhero costume was a rental, a placeholder for the custom Soup Peddler costume that was very sadly consigned to the ashbin of history by an overzealous spring cleaning effort of the Zach Scott Theatre's costume department. At one point during the evening, I distinctly recall seeing the silhouette of a cow dancing on top of a van at Amy's Ice Cream. It was a good night for tomfoolery on South Lamar.

The highlight of the affair was the traditional "cabbage toss". Can you feel the excitement? Kids and adults alike took turns tossing cabbages into the original Soup Peddler soup pot. Then the kids tore apart the cabbages and had a food fight. Good, clean, old-fashioned, biodegradable fun. We plan on bringing out a goat to clean up the yard.

It was incredibly gratifying to celebrate the soup with many old friends and some new ones. It's a very exciting time for this company, released from the shackles of our old website, exciting prospects at hand of the next generation of our delivery service, and a great partnership at our flagship store.

Thank you everyone for such wonderful support, for giving us such a prideful moment.

The Soup Peddler Goes Mobile!

Soupies, We are very excited to announce our latest business venture. A lot of Austinites seem to feel that the whole mobile food truck thing has "jumped the shark" lately (no offense to Fonzie, a great soup lover in his time). The Soup Peddler, at one time, was a cutting-edge food business in Austin and feels that it should step up and re-assert its leadership amongst this parvenu crowd of Johnny-come-lately foodies.

Therefore, we bring you... the mobile food helicopter.

As you can see, early adopters are "eating it up" and the pure kitsch factor of getting your nourishment from a helicopter makes it super-fun for kids!

OK, onto the menu... these are just a few of the airborne treats we will be serving...

Soup On A Stick! What says fun more than oddball foods served on sticks? Our line of frozen soups available in stick format include standards such as chicken noodle and vegetable beef, but also such crazy innovations as bacon-stuffed matzoh balls and deep-fried tortilla soup! (Serves 4) $10

Crispy On The Inside And Juicy On The Outside This isn't so much a development in food science as it is a revelation. Food marketers have misled the public for generations into believing that "crunch" followed by "ooey gooey" (think jalapeno poppers and the like) was the most sensible way to feed people snacks. We have discovered a fascinating method for covering a crunchy core with a slippery, gloppy coating... ten times the finger-licking for your overstretched food dollar... this will revolutionize game day snacking and keep all that greasy fried crispy residue inside your belly and not on your fingers! (Serves 2) 11.9**

**studies show that removing the dollar sign and adding a single decimal representing tens of cents subtly dissociates the menu item from the dollar amount

There is one fish that, due to whatever collusion of interests and prejudices, has not made its way onto the menus of those white table cloth establishments that line our fancy streets: the carp. Little-known fact: bottom feeders taste the best. All of the food that those other fish drop while they're clumsily tearing it apart with their sharp teeth... where do you think it goes? It falls to the ocean floor, where the lazy couch potato of the sea****, the carp, munches along with glee and aplomb... (Serves 2) $4

****the carp may actually be a freshwater fish

In honor of Lebowski's latest Oscar-quality film remake, we offer this excellent preparation of real, 100% bonafide, made in the good old USA, (hang on a sec while I hit up, actual, authentic, indubitable, legitimate, sho'nuff, yeah you right, unfeigned, veracious, true grits... $10

Order early and often! Thank you as always for your continued soupport, and I feel I would be most remiss if I did not wish you and yours a joyous, happy April First.

Your friend, The Soup Peddler

2010 SXSW Band Name Revue!


It's time for The Soup Peddler's annual SXSW Band Name Analysis And Award Ceremony. Our previous winners Crapulence, Phil And The Osophers, and We Were Promised Jetpacks served as advisory board members to help me cull through the thousands of entries.

Simple analysis reveals the biggest trend in this year's band naming: the exclamation mark. It has been used to some good effect. For example, The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt seems somehow incomplete, flat, without the addition of the mark: The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! It makes all the difference. You Say Party, We Say Die becomes You Say Party! We Say Die! and suddenly there is a suggestion of jubilance in the murderous intention. Attack Attack seems like something a robot gone bad might say, whereas Attack Attack! seems more like a fun way to announce an imminent bludgeoning.

We've seen this trend before also. In times of economic strain, bands turn to familiar, heartwarming, cuddly things to inject with irony. Rabbits are a common motif. This year, we have Bad Rabbit, Frightened Rabbit, Dirty Little Rabbits, and Roxy Cottontail. There was a smattering of other fauna, such as Butterfly Explosion, Nervous Turkey, and Kittens Ablaze. I feel like the latter could have gone the extra mile and added the exclamation mark. Check this out: Kittens Ablaze! It jumps off the page.

We discovered an interesting correlation between the Chinese calendar and SXSW band names... indeed it is the Year Of The Tiger. We have Papier Tigre, Spring Tigers, 60 Tigres, Tigersapien, and Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! (you'll excuse the latter, they're Italian. Europeans employ such cutely awkward use of American curse words). Other great cat-inspired bands are Jaguar Love and Japanther (not to be confused with Japandroids).

In a hopeful note, only a few bands joined my Bad Grammar/I Weep For The Future Because The English Language Is Dying List this year: She And Him is probably the most glaring example, but The Bewitched Hands On Top Of Our Heads is arguably more embarrassing because it doesn't seem like it was done on purpose. I assume She And Him is purposeful and ironic in some way.

I felt that this year there was a marked decline in band names that were selected purposefully to embarrass the parents of the band members. Certainly, we still have our Middle Finger Salutes, etc., but we definitely have a much more subdued crop. Gone are the Die! Die! Die!s of years past. However, I am concerned still for the marketing approach of some bands. Particularly The Gates Of Slumber. Sounds like a real pick-me-up! I think I'll go to that show! Or BFS & The Crappy All-Stars Karaoke? Or The Spit Brothers? Or We Are Country Mice? I don't see these as big marquee names. Perhaps a little self-sabotaging. Maybe ironically self-sabotaging?

Several bands seem to have used the Free Online Random Band Name Generator to no good effect: Mammoth Grinder, Spleen United, Codeine Velvet Club, Yourself And The Air, and Peanut Butter Wolf were just a few.

Well, let's move on to the final round of judging. In no particular order, these are the band names that floated my boat: Hammer No More Fingers, John Dear Mowing Club, Hyperpotamus, Bass Drum Of Death, Banjo Or Freakout, Flosstradamus, Plastician. I'll have to say that my runner-up for this year's prize is a self-styled "Thrash/Classical/Glam" band whose music sounds as though it was beamed digitally to Earth from Alpha Centauri and then decoded incorrectly: Computer Jesus Refrigerator! Come on down to claim your prize!

And this year's winner, a combination of sheer timelessness, genre-crossing brilliance, and great Scrabble point value all rolled into one: Foxy Shazam! You are the 2010 Soup Peddler SXSW Band Name Analysis And Award Ceremony Award Winner! Huzzah!

Next Week's Menu: Hotcakes, Zesty Southwestern Tuscan Crispy Bacon Melt


We have a lovely menu for you next week! First a few business notes to attend to... One of the things we've been struggling with for the past few years is how to manage the growth that we've been experiencing without sacrificing the quality of our service. To that end, we have decided to adopt the decimal calendar, first instituted by the Coptic Christians in Egypt and also the Ethiopian Church in the 4th Century. With a ten-day week, we are able spread our weekly delivery schedule out more efficiently over our ever-expanding service area.

As you can see, the first seven days of the week are conveniently named Sunday through Saturday, then it moves onto Octoday, Nonaday, and Deciday. We have provided an iPhone app available on iTunes that will translate your existing calendar functions to the new decimal calendar. Sorry for any inconvenience and please let us know what we can do to assist you in this transition.

OK, onto the menu... please lettuce know what we can prepare for you!

After much head-scratching here at Product Development Central, we had one of those "Aha!" sort of moments. I posed the following question to my staff: "What can we sell that will sell like hotcakes?" And then with a wry smile... "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Soup Peddler's fluffy, warm hotcakes are prepared in the traditional disc-like shape that you've come to know and love, each one just a little different, just like mom used to make! (Serves 4) $10

There is no shame in our game. How better to capitalize upon our culture's food fascination than to design a dish around the most compelling menu adjectives known to 21st Century (Wo)man? After hours of whiteboarding and also a little tinker-time in the kitchen we offer our latest and greatest. Enjoy! (Serves 2) 11.9**

**studies show that removing the dollar sign and adding a single decimal representing tens of cents subtly dissociates the menu item from the dollar amount

The culinary arts are rife with traditions of frugality. In fact, some of today's most valued foods were at one time throw-away items... ribs, trotters, clams, crabs... the list goes on. Ever-rising food costs compel us to think creatively in menu design, thus this clever riff on our famed Penne Alla Vodka. Ah, sweet memories of those Everclear nights! (Serves 2) $4

Have you ever wondered what they do with the rest of the nauga after they remove the hide? We asked our meat distributor and found our answer... nauga nuggets are among the most economically-priced proteins available to man, and what's not delicious battered and fried I ask you? Served with our Original Genuine Ersatz Sauce and Spurious Slaw. $10

Do you ever tire of the unalterable drone of "crisp on the outside, tender on the inside"? It's almost as if the measure of a food is entirely reliant upon its external crispness and internal tenderness. I feel like many important textures have been lost or endangered as a result. We bring you a dish based upon one of the lost greats: squishiness! $12

Innovative, out-of-the-box thinking is hard to accomplish in an industry where thousands of creative minds are pounding the virtual cognitive pavement for the next great idea. The Austin Cakeball movement is well afoot, but we are proud to unveil what we think is the next level: Cake Trapezoids! Where spherical forms of food say "I'm old. I'm traditional. I'm rolled by someone's questionably sanitized hands," angular forms such as trapezoids say, "I'm fresh. I'm edgy. I'm precision-cut. I am the next level and I am here to stay." $9

Order early and often! Thank you as always for your continued soupport, and I feel I would be most remiss if I did not wish you and yours a joyous, happy April First.

Your friend,
The Soup Peddler



AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Anger erupted in the state capital today as citizens claimed that fraudulent marketing practices created a media frenzy around a new product release, codenamed "Vessel" by accused soup monopolist The Soup Peddler.

"It's just a big bowl of soup. It's the exact same thing as their previous soup, but bigger," said a visibly disappointed Soupie Carol Hatfield. "It doesn't even come to you warmed up."

The "Vessel" product unveiling on Wednesday afternoon at Jovita's was a who's who of insider media and foodies jostling for position to be the first to catch a glimpse of the new product. Expectations were stoked by nebulous guerrilla marketing stunts like soup spoons dangling from overpasses and clattering by the thousands down the capital steps.

To the raucous cheers of the expectant standing-room-only crowd, Ansel exulted, "Welcome to the next generation of soup. I bring you... Big Soup!" A stunned silence and quizzical expressions spread throughout the room. "Is this thing on?" asked Ansel.

"I feel like I've been played for a fool, I mean I used to trust The Soup Peddler to be a customer-oriented innovator but now I'm not so sure," said Blair Fox, a longtime customer.

Local marketing expert Laney Catledge said, "There's always a bit of smoke and mirrors involved with crafting and conveying a brand image, but I think The Soup Peddler went way too far this time. There was a sense that they were insulting the intelligence of the public."

As of press time, the owner of The Soup Peddler, David Ansel, is reportedly in retreat at his private island hideaway in Town Lake after the debacle and could not be reached for comment.

Delicious New Menu!


Just a little reminder to please place your orders for next week. Thanks!

Leftovers Leftovers (Feeds 2-4)... $5
You know how hard it is to put those leftovers to good use at home... imagine the Herculean task of cleaning out the Soup Peddler's fridge each week? Instead of having to divert a river, we've come up with a great new menu item, a bit of a Dealer's Choice casserole featuring leftovers from the previous week. And in hard times such as these, it's a real value! Feed the whole family for less... Freezes well....

Creme de Poisson dOr Creme de Poisson d'Or (Feeds 2-4)... $8
Another of our culinary department's brilliant cost-cutting measures. We work with local pet stores to recycle their unwanted fish in order to save on protein, and of course we pass the savings along to you. This recipe derived from the classic French tradition of cream soups is sure to please but not break the bank in the process... Freezes well....

Inside Out Sandwiches Inside-Out Sandwiches (Feeds 2-4)... $11
They said it couldn't be done, but we have improved upon the age-old construction of the sandwich with just a little out-of-the-box thinking. The low-carb movement has driven us to these extremes of creativity, since the inside-out sandwich requires literally 50% less bread. There are drawbacks, true, but progress has its opportunity costs! Nothing forward-thinking ever happens easily... Freezes well....

Edith Pilaf Edith Pilaf (Feeds 2-4)... $11
Another in our series of musically-inspired dishes, who can forget such beloved dishes as Elton Jam, Aretha Frankfurters, Captain Beef Liver, and Jelly Rolls Morton. So crank up the old Victrola and pour yourself a tall glass of red wine to accompany this excellent dish... Freezes well....

Hot Dogs Hot Dogs (Feeds 2-4)... $11
A new take on the American classic, furrier, squirmier and crunchier than you remember but every bit as delicious. For all you locavores out there, you'll be pleased to know that this item is locally grown! Freezes well....

Trout a la Kilgore Trout a la Kilgore (Feeds 2-4)... $11
Inspired by the inimitable fictional science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, the semi-autobiographical character from Breakfast of Champions, served on a bed of braised harmoniums and slathered with a rich Tralfamadorian cream sauce... Freezes well....

Genuine Hickory Smoke Genuine Hickory Smoke (Feeds 2-4)... $11
No kitchen pantry is complete without the indispensible umami flavor of smoke... instead of using that mysterious tincture of liquid smoke, we recommend our hand-captured quart-sized bags of fresh South Austin hickory smoke... Freezes well....

Faux Faux (Feeds 2-4)... $11
Our original vegetarian version of Pho, the national soup of Vietnam! We considered calling it Faux Pho but decided that reduction, not augmentation was in order, that indeed, to quote Mies van der Rohe, "less is more." Freezes well....

Special Brownies Special Brownies (Feeds 2-4)... $111
Another in our series of homegrown favorites, the secret ingredient for our special brownies makes for a kinder, gentler dessert experience. Strangely addictive, the more you eat these, the better they taste and the greater your craving... Freezes well....

Thank you, as always, for the opportunity to bring some specialness to your lives and allow us, the folks at The Soup Peddler, to be fulfilled by the task. If you love this business, please forward this message to a friend!


David J. Ansel
Principal Soupmaker
The Soup Peddler, Inc.

SXSW Band Name Revue

I admit this is off-topic for a food blog, but the Soupies have come to depend on me each year to help them navigate the maze of SXSW band names. Previous band name winners I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, Crapulence, and Phil & The Osophers went on to greatness (I think) after being bestowed the honor of Soup Peddler's Best SXSW Band Name.

Although the paucity of "wolf"-based band names this year has been lamented by many in the blogosphere, I felt that there was still a strong showing, including Turbowolf, Pack Of Wolves, Wolves In The Throne Room, AIDS Wolf (can anyone explain?), and Yoni Wolf, which either sounds like a Jewish name or a predator of the the Sanskrit "divine passage".

Definitely a good showing for the animal kingdom this year, though, with a decent equine and feline concentrations: An Horse, Stereo Pony, and Toy Horses, with Legendary Tiger Man, The Republic Tigers, Miniature Tigers, and Lions In The Street. From there we have Deer Tick, Fight Like Apes, Grizzly Bear, Greyhounds, Street Dogs, Guinea Worms, Hello Seahorse, The Lemurs, Hot Panda, Crocodile, Midnight Peacocks, The Iguanas, Ocelot, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, Or The Whale, and Rabid Rabbits.

Our friend the Grim Reaper seems to be taking the year off, more or less. The death theme seems to be taking a breather while awaiting a new generation of morbid listeners. Disease and injury are still a hot topic, however, with Yellow Fever, Girl In A Coma, The Cute Lepers, Coma In Algiers, and the perennial favorite Cancer Bats (can anyone explain?).

I was pleased to see Attack! Attack!, Bam Bam, and Bang! Bang! all in the lineup this year and while we're appreciating emphatic names, I love the use of exactly four exclamation marks for Gravy Train!!!! No more, no less. Did anyone notice that both the Bar Kays and Bo Keys are playing this year?

But enough clowning around, let's get onto the list of candidates for best band name. Our, uh, eleven, no make that twelve runners-up this year are...

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
Natalie Portman's Shaved Head
Deleted Waveform Gatherings
French Horn Rebellion
Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt
Good Times Crisis Band
The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Gringo Star
Scissors For Lefty, and
Underwater Tea Party

And our winner (I don't know exactly why but this is my list and I'm in charge here and it gave me the biggest smile) is...

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Huzzah!! To all of the likely woefully underfed members of We Were Promised Jetpacks, come on down to The Soup Peddler and we'll give you some free grub.

Troubled Times

Austin, TEXAS (Reuters) November 2, 2008 - Local Austin prepared foods delivery company, The Soup Peddler, Inc., is seeking to become a bank holding company, a move that would allow it to gain access to a piece of the government's $700 billion financial rescue plan, according to people familiar with the talks. Attorneys for the beleaguered company say that "The Soup Peddler is too small to fail... without the vital services of this company, residents of the City of Austin would have no viable alternatives for procurement of borscht, bigos, bouktouf, or burgoo." A high-ranking City of Austin official added that insolvency of the threatened company "could lead to shortages of cioppino, cocido, and cock-a-leekie" as well and reiterated COA support of the bailout request. A spokesperson for the developers of the contentious Domain Mall project, Simon Malls, rebutted the notion of a bailout for The Soup Peddler, saying that "such use of public funds to 'spread the wealth' to rescue small businesses is an unfair advantage and smacks of an anti-competitive, anti-capitalistic, anti-American, anti-patriotic, quasi-socialist policy direction." He maintained furthermore that he's "concerned over news reports that The Soup Peddler would use bailout money to purchase other struggling soup firms and strengthen its steely grip on the lucrative Austin soup market."

"This is an outrage," local house-challenged cross-dressing mayoral candidate Leslie Cochran said. "Taxpayer dollars should be helping taxpayers, not going to pad the bottom lines of greedy small businesses and the reputedly silken, gilded linings of the Soup Peddler's pockets." He stressed that the facile goals of more "oversight and transparency" would do little to assuage the concerns of "Joe Forty-Ouncers across the country."

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, The Soup Peddler, Inc. President David Ansel repeatedly pulled out his empty blue jean pockets to indicate that his company was in dire economic straits, reporting that he and his staffed had lately been forced to scavenge the neighborhood's private gardens and chicken coops to make up for cash shortfalls. "In times like these, I can't tell you how much I support Mayor Wynn's waiver on urban livestock codes for South Austin neighborhoods."

The Future Of Soup Delivery

This drawing scooted across my desk sometime over the past few hours on a torn-out magazine page. My font detection skills lead me to believe it is from The New Yorker, and our forensics department indicates that it is of recent vintage. It's funny because this is actually one of our fantasies... how do we corner the market on soup, this is what we often ponder. Our Chef Mike has postulated that a series of pipelines direct from our kitchen to Soupies' kitchens would be the way to do it... a $10,000 setup fee of course. The pipes wouldn't be full of soup, don't be ridiculous... they'd be like those vacuum tubes at the bank drive-thru or a la Terry Gilliam's 1985 classic Brazil. However the soup tanker truck could be an improvement on the idea. Certainly there would be a few technical details to iron out... excuse me, out which to iron.

2008 SXSW Band Name Analysis

It's that time of year again! It's time for The Inundation. Do yourself a favor and take a drive out to the airport and idle through the arrival deck and watch them file in. So much people-watching in one place--the baggage claim at Bergstrom Airport is THE choke point for the legions of SXSW-goers, streaming in like so many lemmings towards their irresistible fate. Well-studied experts in outwardly-expressed ennui, be they industry types who hold all the cards or aspiring rockers just waiting for a seat at the table or turistas here to watch the game. What will be this year's preferred style of sunglasses? Who amongst them will don an ironic t-shirt? Will you understand the depth of that irony? How many times will each walk up and down South Congress Avenue? How many will purchase rolled-up straw punk rock cowboy hats? What percentage of locals will pray for a deluge of biblical proportions to wash their sunny fantasies of Austin away... perchance to dissuade them from relocating here?

It is also time for the much anticipated... Soup Peddler South By Southwest Band Name Revue! Huzzah. Here goes.

As usual, our old friend the Grim Reaper heads up the list in popularity... our number one band name category this year is Death. A mere sampling yields such entries as: Airborne Toxic Event, Annihilation Time, Antietam (sic), Blood on the Wall, Blunt Force Trauma, Care Bears on Fire, Casket Salesmen, another year of Die! Die! Die!, Eat Skull, Let's Go To War, Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5, Necropolis, My Dad is Dead, The Toxic Avenger, The Fatal Flying Guilloteens (sic), Drop Dead, Gorgeous, and Karaoke Apocalypse. Another great showing for Death this year! Let's hear it for Death!

Backpedaling just a bit in terms of direness, we have the Merely Deeply Gloomy category of band names... this year headed up by such entries as The Cynics, Darker My Love, and Bible of the Devil. For those keeping score, Darker My Love is competing for the forlornly pessimistic fan base of Austin band I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, who recently discovered that they are no longer so morbidly downhearted as they were when they named the band.

I often enjoy, however, the less cliched, perhaps more positive direction of band names. The intellectual bent... we have a fair to middling representation (no, I'm not referring to this year's punny band Fair to Midland) of literary names: Descartes a Kant, Hecuba, Captain Ahab, Hearts of Darknesses, and the more contemporary Nymphets. I'm also quite pleased with the entries in this year's Cute Category: Best Friends Forever, Best Fwends, Blitzen Trapper, Oh No! Oh My!, Peekaboo Theory, Faux Fox, and Hello Seahorse! and we have had a surprising showing in two of the Cute Subcategories: Frightened Rabbit, Gram Rabbit, and Roxy Cottontail, and then Droids Attack, Free the Robots, and Ghenghis Tron.

A solid showing in this year's Food Category: Bowling for Soup, DJ Scotch Egg, Dark Meat, Scrambled Eggs, Ketchup Mania, and Pig Out. Classism made its way into the band names this year, with Middle Class Rut, The High Class Elite, and the return of The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club.

But now it's time for last year's champion, Crapulence, to turn over the virtual award to this year's winner... in Third Place we have Muck And The Mires! Congratulations Muck! In Second Place... we have the inimitable Scissors For Lefty! Up with lefties, thank you Lefty. And this year's 2008 Winner of the Soup Peddler Best SXSW Band Name Contest... let's give it up for... Phil And The Osophers! Woohoo!

Happy Holloween

While we're focusing on the upcoming holiday, I'd like to reflect back on Halloween for just a moment and thank the Hennenhoefer family for setting a new standard for Soupie dedication. I must bestow unto them the title of Soupies of the Century. Please make sure to zoom in on that photo to see the whole family dressed as soup peddler and soup ingredients for Halloween. They have completely made my entire career... I can retire from soup peddling now because I don't think there's a higher honor out there.

Chef Battle With Jeff Blank

Venison battle against the legendary Jeff Blank of Hudson's on the Bend at the 2007 Hill Country Wine and Food Festival... April Fools' Day and Passover Eve collided for this event

Rabid, tipsy Soup Peddler devotees crowded the main stage tent, pounding the tables with approval...

Ansel and Blank furiously tried to out-cook each other with the theme ingredient, venison... Chef Blank served tea-smoked, espresso-rubbed venison backstrap with beurre blanc... Ansel reached into his bag of tricks for the world's first venison barbacoa stuffed matzoh ball soup...

It was a humbling learning experience for the young, inexperienced Ansel...

But the crowd went wild for the reenactment of the little-known 11th plague visited upon the Pharoah, the dreaded walking matzoh balls.

The real winner was the crowd, who got to witness a fun and strange pairing for Mr. Blank, who is the Lou Gehrig, nay, the Cal Ripken of the Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, having performed every year in the festival's history.

Wine, food fair ends on sweet, sunny note
More than 5,000 soak up sun and grub as food festival winds down

By Kitty Crider


Monday, April 02, 2007

GEORGETOWN — South Austin Soup Peddler David Ansel and Hudson's on the Bend restaurant chef/owner Jeff Blank had a hokey, smoky smackdown Sunday afternoon, packing a culinary tent to standing-room only as the two popular cut-up chefs attempted to outcook each other with venison at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Fair in San Gabriel Park.

Ansel — wearing a khaki sports vest filled with eggs, spices, a pepper grinder, and a variety of spoons and tools, including a hammer — whipped up venison-stuffed matzo ball soup. Blank, in his starched white chef's coat, responded with a smoked venison tenderloin, rubbed with chocolate, ancho chili and coffee. He labeled it a "mochachino wrapped around protein" and smoked it in a stove-top box with wood chips and tea.

"It may smell like Willie's picnic," Blank noted.

The banter and cooking battle were friendly, though — and, at times, dramatic. While Blank flamed a sauce, Ansel went for South Austin drama with a lit sparkler stuck in a soup pot handle. The audience of 100 wine and food lovers cheered its approval.

2007 SXSW Band Name Prize Winner

It is getting harder and harder, as each day passes, to come up with an original name for your product, your restaurant, or your company... in these days of information overload, no combination of English words is safe from being trademarked or turned into a domain name. Many companies are forced to create meaningful, focus group tested new words... Accenture, Levitra, Viagra... restaurants are forced to scour the language for frugal non sequitur, taking on names like Gab, Two, and Ovum. And rock bands are the saddest subject... they are the most desperate to catch notice and stand out of the crowd.

This is one of my favorite times of year in Austin, when South by Southwest Music Festival brings us an international showcase of the best and worst band names in the world. I often wonder how rock bands, often incredibly dysfunctional families, settle on a name. Imagine if your family had to come up with a marketable name for itself... The Smiths is already taken, so what do you do? Well, you workshop it a bit... a brainstorming session where you write mission words on whiteboards. Maybe try to get some alliteration in there. Tired & The Tasmanian Devils. Bankroll & The DNA Receptacles. Early Birds & The Whippersnappers. See, at least you have something to draw from... bands have all the dysfunction and none of the glue, none of the history. They have to conjure their names from the ether.

Last year's Soup Peddler SXSW Band Name winner is still quite close to my heart, and difficult to beat... Crapulence. It says so much. Its literal denotation is "the state of being hung over". We can easily deduce the provenance of the name. But there is more... it is a concatenation of the words "Crap" and "Excellence", a wily reference to the notion that in the ironical world of rock and/or roll, failure is indeed the new success. This is a band name that you can easily visualize in Spinal Tap font, headlining a Monsters of Rock stadium tour. And yet, it is laced with humility. It is perfect.

This year's two thousand entrants into the Soup Peddler Band Name Contest gave me great joy. Most of the names caused me to picture the parents of the band members speaking with their co-workers. "So what is little Jimmy up to?" "Well, his band is doing well, they're going down to Austin to make it big." "What's his band's name?" "The Heathens." "Oh, that's... very nice. I remember him in the church choir, he was always such a charming young man."

So on to this year's contestants... it took me a good while to wade through the death theme... we have Dead Bodies, Dead Child, Deadly Syndrome, Dead Man, Dead Meadow, The Deaths, Death Ships, last year's Die! Die! Die!, Die Mannequin, and the slightly kinder, gentler The Comas. There's the R-rated section consisting of Holy S*#t, Holy F#&k, F#&ked Up, and two of the heavyweight contenders for this year's prize, Steaming Wolf P&*is and Psychedelic Horses^&t. We had a strong showing in the entertaining Intimidator Category, with entries from This Will Destroy You, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House, and How I Became The Bomb. A curious and disturbing pattern of obviously computer macro generated band names like Architecture in Helsinki, Art in Manila, Tennis and the Mennonites, and Muck and the Mires. The award for Best Comeback Band Name goes to Chairs of Perception, formerly The Urinals. Good call on that one.

The most positive development this year was the proliferation of cute, lighthearted band names. I was delighted by such entries as Mr. Pookie & Mr. Lucci, Mew, Best Fwends, Frightened Rabbit, Hot Puppies, Roxy Cottontail, Oh No! Oh My!, Two Cow Garage, and Mistress Stephanie And Her Melodic Cats. The Miscellany Category found some charmers like Tacks The Boy Disaster, the utterly odd Vashti Bunyan, The Faintest Ideas, Fake Problems, My!Gay!Husband!, Simian Mobile Disco, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, and the Victorian English Gentlemen's Club.

Let me wrap this up... the Grand Prize this year goes to an Austin band that has been in the competition for several years. Their name is so utterly packed with hopelessness that it makes you want to cry and rend your clothing. You want to save the band from their own black despondency, to cuddle them into a sense of optimism. This is their year... they've met with quite some critical acclaim of late and now this great kudo... the Soup Peddler's Grand Prize Band Name goes to...

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

For The Birds

It has been a tough week for birds in Austin. Monday morning, we all awoke to news of a mysterious bird kill which closed downtown for most of the morning. Our team of crack reporters captured the shocking image of the hazmat team in action at right. You can only imagine the stench. Most of the affected birds were, fortunately, only grackles, which are universally recognized as a force of evil. Their nefarious squawks are harbingers of doom, and their aggressive behavior places them well outside the societal norms established by most of the bird population. They are the baboons of the bird world: not without physical beauty, but with the personality of a Very Naughty Child. Fortunately, their presence in Bouldin Creek is counterbalanced by the avian heroes of the neighborhood, the peacocks of Green Pastures restaurant. On my daily bike ride to work, I often see the peacocks helping to stop traffic on South Fifth and Live Oak so that little old ladies and school children may cross in safety. They are a force of good, and can easily kick grackle ass in a fight. They are, however, sorely outnumbered. I could not get a photo of the elusive white peacock, the King of all Bouldin wildlife, a benevolent monarch to be sure. Perhaps he was ushered off into hiding during this week of uncertain times.

I did, however, capture the Great Rooster of Bouldin Creek, pictured top left. A fixture of our neighborhood, a directional aid, even ("When you get to the chicken, turn left").

But even a giant papier mache chicken is not safe from scorn in these uncertain times. A suspected newcomer neighbor to Bouldin Creek tattled on the chicken's owner for conducting business activity on the premises, igniting a brief firefight in our neighborhood's culture war. Even clucky neighbors like those pictured bottom right are no longer safe from the fanatical anti-livestock faction that has recently invaded the neighborhood. Strange days indeed.

A fine kettle of fish

Last Sunday, I had the distinct pleasure of demonstrating one of my favorite soups in the world, the classic "soupe de poisson", which sounds fancy in a French accent but really just translates to "soup of fish." This took place at East Austin's well-loved Boggy Creek Farm, whose proprietress Carol Ann Sayle writes some really wonderful stories in her weekly emails. Anyways, those hardcore Soupies that attended the event, underneath threatening skies, got to see and taste one of the world's great soups, which is rarely found this side of the pond. They would have been able to taste more, had we not spilled the five gallon bucket of the prepared soup en route to the event... which drained neatly from our truck bed, leaving a quarter mile long stripe of soupe de poisson on E. 7th St.

You can see a few more pictures here and may download the handouts and recipe in their entirety here. You will eventually be quizzed on this material.

I would like to reiterate again, once more that we'd love to see your contribution to the 2006 Soupie Cookbook soon, as the deadline looms... please help us make this a reality. We've got the book store, the artist, the printer, the beneficiaries, and now all we need is you to send in your family recipes (specifications may be found here) by mail, by leaving them in your cooler for us to pick up, or bringing them by the shop. Please help us with this fun project, please.

The lovely, the talented Southpaw Jones, poet laureate of the Soupies, brings us another episode of "Music By Which To Eat Soup," this week addressing the challenging theme of pumpkin soup. Listen here. To get a handle on the inner workings of this freakishly talented songwriter's brain, please visit

Improv With Coldtowne Theatre

Chris Trew, the ringleader behind the Coldtowne Theater, invited The Soup Peddler to act as a "stool pigeon," which is an inside improv-er term for someone who tells stories upon which the troupe will base their flights of imagination. The invitation required roughly 3.4 seconds of careful deliberation before Ansel responded, "Hell yeah, I'm there."

The Coldtowne Theater is a teeny little space behind I(heart)Video on Airport Blvd and is home to an energetic group of goofballs who take their improv very seriously. The group practices a litany of ritualistic customs before each show, including top-secret warm-up games and an involved system of back-patting, to symbolize that each member "has got the other's back."

One of the most basic principles of this sort of long-form improv is that one should never do anything that does not propel the narrative... that is, you should always give your partners something to work with and never leave them to carry more than their fair share of the load. Also, you must have complete trust in your troupemates and should never negate the intended direction established by one of them. It is the ultimate in teamwork, and quite inspirational.

The photo above was taken during a segment of the program when Ansel demonstrated his powers of levitation.

The first monologue was a description of Ansel's arrival in Austin in 1998...

I first visited Austin in July of 1998 and was trying to find a place to live. It was a real authentic introduction to the city, to be sure. It was 108 degrees and I was apartment hunting. I had always lived in group houses so I wanted to find a place where I could be part of a home instead of living alone. It also narrowed down the search a bit... the first place I visited was north of the old airport and was your basic dump... empty liquor bottles lined the windowsills and the top of the refrigerator, a badge of honor so to speak. I thought not. The next place was out in Rollingwood, up by the swimming pool and it was this big Brady Bunch sort of house. I started noticing the first twinges of Austin weirdness there... it was the home of a recently divorced family, but instead of one of the parents moving out and shuttling the kids back and forth, both parents moved out and the kids stayed... the parents would take turns living there. I thought that was kind of weird but cool. The father prided himself on being a Mr. Mom kind of character and told me about his brilliant improvement on the classic PB&J sandwich. You know how your sandwich always gets shmushed in your lunch bag and the jelly gets the bread all soggy? Well, he demonstrated his technique for putting peanut butter on both slices of bread and the jelly in the middle, so that the peanut butter would act as a moisture barrier. The last place I visited that day had to wait, because the owner wanted me to "come visit the apartment at sunset." Again, weird. But I went with it. The apartment was in one of the more modest buildings on the Bremond block, where all the old mansions are downtown. Before even showing me the apartment, we climbed the fire escape all the way to the roof to catch the sunset, all violet and pink in that classic Austin way. We got to know each other... he was this film director type and had to spend half the year in New York. He wanted me to sort of be the caretaker of his apartment and also be his stand-in with his group of friends, to kind of keep his seat warm while he was away. We walked over to the Whole Foods to introduce me around and I thought it was crazy how everyone seemed to know everyone else. Then we walked along Shoal Creek and he told me about this bicycle guy that always would ring his bike bell on the trail instead of saying excuse me or whatever, and how he couldn't stand that guy, that he was sort of a buzz kill with his bike bell. One time he finally flagged him down and asked him about the bike bell and they had this big heart to heart about it and he finally understood that the guy was ringing it in a friendly way but he had just misconstrued it or something. And now he has a bike bell too and he uses it all the time, in a friendly way. Yeah, so that was my first day in Austin...