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South by Southwest (website ho!) is an annual film/music festival, where some crazy shit happens. Often written up by its abbreviation, SXSW (lots of nodes there, as it turns out), this rite of spring goes to town in Austin, Texas. Which is in the South, and though not really the "far West" can be called Southwest with a straight face. The name references a highly regarded 1959 Cary Grant movie, North by Northwest. The South by Southwest tradition kicked off in 1987, and has in turn served as a place for "indy" films to premiere -- those that are perhaps not quite ripe for the Cannes Film Festival or the Sundance Film Festival.

With the festival running for about a week and a half, and offering dozens of stages and screening rooms, the opportunity exists to place hundreds of bands and films on display, and an attendee with a clear idea of when and where things are can take in at least dozens of these. Naturally, there are also parties. And after-parties. And after-after-parties. And if you make it to all the parties, you'll sleep through a lot of the bands and films, but just tell yourself that they only show the shitty ones early in the day anyway, and you'll be steeled to hit all the stuff really worth going to.

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