Joy Gallagher

Looking Backward

Austin has changed so much since I moved here in 1998.

It used to bug me when I first got here how old-school Austinites always referred to the “good old days” (aka anytime before I arrived?) when there was more green space, less traffic, less outsider infiltration, less strip mall sprawl outside the hip nucleus of town and no dressing up to go out. I used to be a regular on the live music scene, and longtime Austin people loved to tell me how special it was that you could be rocking out next to a homeless dude or a tech tycoon and never know the difference here.

The Great Outdoors

 My son, Luke, blindsided me into taking him and his friend, Steven, to see the movie, 21 Jump Street. It has Jonah Hill in it, and I remembered that the preview was funny, so I agreed. Several hours before we planned to go, I went online to get tickets, and while I was at it, I noticed the movie was rated “R.” Luke has seen a couple “R” movies with me, nothing too horrific (just bad enough to make me seem cool for letting him see it). I decided to look a little deeper into the rating just to make sure. It listed violence, female nudity including breasts and buttocks, obscene language, drug use and alcohol abuse. I could think of nothing worse than being trapped in a movie theater with two 12 year-old boys watching boobs and booze, with a cloud of shame hanging heavy over my head. Luke was not amused when I told him about the impending change of plans. Steven wasn’t too happy either, when he arrived and learned that there would be no movie.


I am not sure what the allure is these days with all the television shows where people get “cut.” I have flashbacks to sorority rush, but that’s just me. Whether it’s cooking, singing, tattoo inking, cupcake making or overly made-up young girls dancing, apparently America is tuning in to watch people get compared, criticized and cut.

My kids happen to love a cooking show called Chopped. On this show, chefs compete by getting a basket of random ingredients and a time limit of thirty minutes to impress a panel of judges with their culinary prowess. My children watch intently as these chefs sweat, fret and create their masterpieces…or their flops.

The judges sample each meal and discuss as my children have their own debate, and finally the contestants are called back. Under the silver domed cover is one dish — yep, you guessed it — on the chopping block. You’re done, pal. Go home and make some mac and cheese.

Creatively Speaking

I'm a mother, or so I’ve been told a few times during the course of my advertising career. But this past winter holiday, my old pejorative got some new spice — ginger. As in Mother Ginger, the bigger-than-life character in Ballet Austin’s 49th annual production of The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It first premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Saturday, December 18, 1892.

I debuted as Mother Ginger in Austin on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 — complete with a Carmen Mirandastyle headdress, RuPaul-class make-up, a two-story skirt and Morgana-sized boobs. Did I mention that a dozen or so Bon Bons parted my petticoats and boogied to the beat of Tchaikovsky’s romantic rhapsodies?

Spring It On

I must be a regular screw-up, because I dearly love any chance I can get to reset and celebrate a fresh start — birthdays, New Years and any change of season, but most especially spring. I am not a winter girl (although I do love red wine, fireplaces and boots). I don’t like gray skies, being cold, leaving a warm bed and bundling up to go run, pale legs, cold and flu season (germs, don’t get me started) or chapped winter lips. When the first signs of spring emerge, I am more than ready to leave my wintery self behind.

But before I can officially put the spring in my step, here are a few things that I simply must do:

Creatively Speaking

I’M IN DETOX. No, no, no. Not rehab. Detox. Every New Year’s Day, I voluntarily avoid imbibing alcohol until February 1. Call it my New Year’s Resolution. I simply call it, Hell.

This year, I’ve actually tricked one of my BFFs into joining me. He agrees that we’re all probably a bit “over-served” during the holidays, thanks to the free-flowing eggnog, champagne, wine and booze. Over the past few years, I’ve also noticed a bit of “weight gain” that goes along with the tipsy season. In my case, it’s not from eating fruitcake, even though I hail from The Fruitcake Capital of the World. But that’s another story.

More Than Words

I gave a speech not too long ago at a luncheon, and the subject matter was “Mothers and Daughters.” I have plenty to say on the subject; since I am both a daughter and a mother, this may qualify me as an untrained expert. I was actually looking forward to giving the talk, which is rare for me. I put together what I thought was a decent outline, dried my hair with a round brush (ugh, what a pain), and put on a pair of heels. I thought I had it together. Not so fast.

Creatively Speaking

“THE TRASHIEST BOOK you’ll ever read” is how I began my presentation to the Texas Library Association gathering in San Antonio in the spring of 2007.

I had been invited to introduce my new book, Don’t Mess with Texas: The Story Behind the Legend, to some of Texas’ most influential and, dare I say, well-read librarians. My presentation included a selection of video clips from the 26 “Don’t Messages” GSD&M had created in the first 12 years of the most successful antilitter campaign in history. It was, or so I thought, my proverbial 15 Minutes of Fame, with apologies to Andy Warhol.

What Love Brings

Now that my children are starting to think something besides “ew” about the opposite sex, our conversations have gotten quite interesting. “Mom, who was your first boyfriend?” “Did you love anyone before Dad?” “Tell us about your first kiss.” Oh, Lord, if I’m going to go there I feel like I need to settle in with an old Outfield album and a glass of peppermint schnapps…

Creatively Speaking

Bard or Beard? There’s much ado about the movie, Anonymous, the political thriller that conspiratorially suggests that it was Edward de Vere, not William Shakespeare, who penned the famous Bard’s plays and sonnets. Some have long theorized that Ben Jonson (1572-1637) — Renaissance dramatist, playwright, poet and competitor to Shakespeare — may have been the true bard behind Shakespeare’s beard.

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