Weekly Adventure: Texas Book Festival 2014

Sorry I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but this grad school thing has sort of taken over my time (and more importantly my energy) lately. I would say it was midterms, but I pretty much have a paper, project, or presentation due each week until the end of the term so it doesn’t really matter at this point what week I’m on. But I gave myself a big chunk of time off this weekend to go and enjoy the Texas Book Festival, which is a two-day event where authors and book nerds take over the Capitol building, grounds, and the stretch on Congress (the main drag downtown for non-Austenites) for readings, conversations, and of course the timeless past time of spending too much on books that it will take me forever to get around to reading. I went to a ton of panels and saw great speakers, but I’m not going to bore you all with a play-by-play instead here’s my quick top 5 list of best moments from the weekend (in chronological rather than thrill level order):

1. My first event of the weekend was a panel on the scandals and drinking stories of Old Hollywood, featuring Edward Hemingway, Mark Bailey, and Anne Helen Petersen and included some great quotes and stories (I bought Petersen’s book and I cannot wait to start reading it), but this one, from Ava Gardner had to be my favorite:

“A party isn’t a party without a drunken bitch lying in a pool of tears.”

Having a Hell of a time with third husband Frank Sinatra

2. There were lots of really wonderful discussions of poetry, but I loved the format of the panel featuring Texas Poet Laureate Dean Young and his old friend (and Head of the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center) Rob Casper. Rather than have an esoteric discussion about the meaning of Poetry. Or a despairing talk about the state of the art in our society (both things I’ve sat through before) they each chose 3 poems each and just talked about them. It was a wonderful way to capture how personal and communal poetry manages to be at once. (And it gave me some poems to add to the list for next April.)

3. Speaking of poetry I followed up Young and Casper’s conversation with a joint reading from Tess Taylor and Jericho Brown, who have both written books about race and grappling with it in America past and present, and I clearly cannot be coherent about how inspiring their session was. I babbled at Ms. Taylor about my archival program and how much I connected with her idea of addressing the silences in archives (the space left by the voices of people who weren’t recorded, weren’t deemed worthy of documentation.) And she very kindly signed my book with this lovely inscription:

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4. On Day 2 Amy, Miró’s mom and my now coworker at ACC, and I went to a really inspiring panel from the Library as Incubator Project, which was started by a couple of awesome young librarians to find a way to make libraries more useful and welcoming for artists and creators. As a person who is passionate about information access and art it was right up my alley. They have a great website (link above) that I’ve been dying to dive into since I heard them speak yesterday (but again – grad school…)

5. Then the last panel of the day featured Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane from Boyhood and was in the Texas House Chambers and though it was pretty hard to hear them it was still amazing. I know I haven’t blogged about the movie yet (I’m banking on nominations giving me an excuse in a few months) but it was really special to me, and to hear them talk about how personal the process was for them was really cool. Also I wanted to buy the book of photos and essays that they were technically promoting at the festival, but I did not have $50 to spend on one volume. (Hint for anyone that feels they may want to buy me a Christmas present this year.)

 Overall it was a wonderful time, even if it did put me behind on everything I should have been working on. (Mini rant you should feel free to skip: Aren’t we all over Q&A session at events like this by now? I get so nervous that someone’s going to be crazy – and someone always is – or make it all about them – which always happens…I understand that author’s want to engage with their readers but isn’t that what the signing tent is for, so the rest of the audience isn’t part of that engagement? Yes I know, I’ve written about this before, but the problem is only getting worse. Or maybe I’m very prematurely turning into Andy Rooney…)

Weekly Adventure: Charli XCX at Emos

photo (24) It is hard to take good pictures of Charli XCX onstage, and not just because I have an old iPhone (there’s not even an S on the end of the model name), but because she never stops moving. She comes out in your face with a song that’s chorus is highlighted with a raised middle finger and the energy really only goes up from there. I was joking all day leading up to the show that I was going to pretend I was a teenager for the night, but there was actually a really fun mix of people at the show, because though she’s famous for this song from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack, she’s actually kind of badass and her whole vibe is just unapologetic and cool.

Plus her band are all women and they had a really fun Josie and the Pussycats  (the really underrated Rachel Leigh Cook satire version) vibe going on

photo (25) And maybe her songs aren’t breaking any new ground musically but the world always needs catchy pop songs, and she writes her own. (In case you still can’t figure out where you know here from she’s the girl who does the choruses on “I Love It” and “Fancy” – both of which she did last night including the Iggy Azalea rap from “Fancy” which I liked better than Iggy’s version frankly.)

Anyway here are a couple of my favorites of hers I hope you get up and dance, because that’s what last night really was, a really fun dance party:

(Bonus point: London Queen has a JFK reference in the chorus, so you know I’m obligated to love it – which is fine because it’s really fun.)

Six Degrees of Cinema: Bob & Carol &Ted & Alice

 See that 60s font? Well, that’s a pretty good representation of Paul Mazursky’s 1969 film about the meaning of love and marriage and fidelity. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which is way too long for a title, but also works so well because this really it all of their story, follows two couples in the fallout from the weekend “institute” that two of them attend, which seems to consist of sleep deprivation, extended eye contact, and “I feel” statements.

Basically Bob (Robert Culp) & Carol (Natalie Wood – who has the best hair in Hollywood history) decide that ‘everything is beautiful’ including infidelity as long as every one is honest about it. And for the two of them that totally works, despite a few momentary hissy fits (on Bob’s side mostly). While I love how matter-of-factly this is handled, when the two of them (again mostly Bob) tries to impose this value system onto the more uptight Ted (Elliot Gould) & Alice (Dyan Cannon) things go a little haywire. I’m sure it was groundbreaking to discuss a form of polyamory this frankly in a film in 1969, but the way that Alice is depicted as square and dumb for not understanding her friends’ choices while we’re supposed to look at her choice (to want a monogamous relationship with her husband) as slightly backward. I may be reading too much into this, but Cannon was so wonderful and I completely understood where her character was coming from.

Overall I found Ted & Alice more appealing than Bob & Carol, not because of their moral choices (by the end thankfully they all end up on a pretty even keel when it comes to that) but because they felt more timeless. Bob & Carol with their love beads and their encounter sessions just felt very much of their time. A time which because of my cultural context has always seemed a bit hokey (if also lovely) in a way. I wish that our problems could be solved by staring deeply into the eyes of people we meet on the street, but I’m just not sure that I buy it.

 

So the movie is a time capsule of sorts, which is fine of course, but other than Ms. Woods’s hair I do have to say that Dyan Cannon was the stand out here for me. So I’m going to use her as the next link in my chain and catch up with Heaven Can Wait(which I don’t think I’ve seen, but I have seen the classic movie it’s based on so that’ll be fun.)

In this chain: 

What IfRuby Sparks – Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Bonus Adventure: Temples at The Parrish

The Austin City Limits festival is this weekend and next, and while there are a lot of great bands are playing I didn’t quite get my act together enough to go. But thankfully my new friend Caroline had an extra ticket to the Temples late night show at The Parish on Saturday and she asked me to tag along.

First in the strangest coincidence the opening act was The Districts, who you may remember, I saw open for Bear’s Den at Schuba’s last March and then again on my last night in Chicago at the Glen Hansard Lolla after show. I’m inadvertently stalking them, but at least they’re fun.

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I’ll admit that before Caroline invited me along I had never heard of Temples, but I listened to their album all day yesterday and by the time they took the stage I knew I was in for something really cool:

photo (18) Doesn’t it kind of look like this is a vintage picture of a band from the 60s or 70s? Well their show felt a little like going back in time too, but in the best way.

photo (19) Their music is psychedelic and strange and loud – all in a way that hit in just the right way (and it didn’t hurt that we were 3 rows back).

Here’s one of my favorites (more to come on playlists soon):

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Classics from the Queue: Y Tu Mamá También

 It’s been awhile since I did one of these, and I know I have some new readers following the move, so I’ll do a quick recap of the idea. Basically, I have a bad habit of telling people who I have seen movies that I have not in fact seen. In many cases this is because I feel like I know enough about the film to keep a conversation going, and I’d rather do that than have the semi-scolding moment where someone goes “What? But you love movies how haven’t you seen ____?” Anyway a couple of years ago I filled up my DVD Netflix Queue with movies that I had one point claimed to have seen and I’m attempting to retroactively correct my lies.

So last night I stayed in and watched Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá Tambiénwhich I have been claiming to have seen since high school. In reality all I knew about it was that Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal and that it had a lot of sex scenes. Both of those things are true and Luna and Bernal are wonderful as teenage friends Tenoch and Julio who are alternately annoying and heartbreaking (the ways teen boys are). The plot follows them as they on a lark invite Tenoch’s cousin Luisa (Maribel Verdú) on a trip to see a beach they’ve never been to and then scramble to follow through when she accepts them. The trip is then a journey of discovery and sexual awakening and it could have been very cliché if it weren’t so strange.

I don’t mean to sound flippant, there are some wonderful moments in this movie, but I kept feeling very weird watching it. I was 12 when it came out and by the time I was in high school I remember girls talking about how hot Luna and Bernal were in it and so I was sort of expecting to feel the same way, but mostly what I felt was that this was a movie about children and the adult woman who decides to sex with them. I know that’s not fair, the boys are supposed to be 18 at least (they’ve just graduated from high school) and she’s not in any way coercing them, but I could not get over it.

I mean look at Diego’s little baby face:

 I know it’s just an issue of perspective (I know what Diego Luna looks like now so the contrast is off-putting), but still. I kept wondering what Luisa’s motivation was the whole time. Thankfully there is some explanation given at the end, but it didn’t make up for the unsettling feeling I had the whole time.

Also Cuarón makes an interesting formal choice and uses almost novelistic voice over narration to place the story into the context of Mexican politics and I’m not sure if it’s just due to my own ignorance, but those interjections mostly felt jarring to me. But maybe that was the intention…

Overall I feel like I would have enjoyed this movie more if I had seen it back when I was claiming to, but that’s going to happen sometimes I think, especially with stories that are about growing up.

Weekly Adventure: Nice Work If You Can Get It at the Long Center

 I went to a play last night! There isn’t as much opportunity to go to the theater in ATX as in Chicago (though I’m not sure there’s anywhere other than maybe New York and London where there’s as much theater as Chicago) so I’ve been missing the thrill of going to a live show. Thankfully Miró and her mom Amy are looking out for me, and brought me to the touring company of Nice Work If You Can Get It, last night at the Long Center, which is a beautiful venue:

 And the show was really fun! It’s essentially a Gershwin compilation and an homage to classic Broadway musicals, where the plots don’t quite make sense but the dancing is absolutely amazing and the singing is great. I had wanted to see this show when it was on Broadway a few years ago,  because I have yet to see Kelli O’Hara sing live, but of course I didn’t make it. But last night’s leading lady Mariah MacFarlane was fantastic. Her second act solo on “But Not For Me” gave me chills.

(Of course that’s Ms. O’Hara’s version above, but it’s so great.)

The other standout in the cast for me was Reed Campbell as the bootlegger-turned-butler, he was hilarious and charming and everything the roll required. The sets and costumes were also great, but of course the real star here was the music. Favorites from last night were “Sweet and Lowdown”

And my all time sentimental favorite, “Tomato/Tomahto” (also known by its real name “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”

nice-work_event32-640x420 The show runs through October 2nd at the Long Center 701 W Riverside Dr.

 

Music for My Walk to Work

I’ve been settling in to grad school life, and have manged to wrangle not one but two jobs for myself, and that means I have a lot more walking in my week, which is lovely, because it means I won’t gain quite so many pounds from the crazy amount of quesadillas I’ve been eating and I get time to listen to my podcasts/new music. Here are some new favorites:

Take Me to Church – Hozier (Warning: this video is beautiful but contains some disturbing content)

My favorite new band, and he’s Irish! (Because of course he is…)

Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon 

Thanks Maggie for the heads up that they have new music! Their show in Austin is already sold out  😦 but if you live somewhere else they’re on tour, and super fun live.

Sound of Change – Dirty Heads

This one comes recommended by Lys, who has recently returned to her SoCal routes, just like this band. The beat is also just a great one to walk to.

All About That Bass (Classroom Instruments Version) – Meghan Trainor feat. Jimmy Fallon & The Roots

Yeah, I know I’ve read all the Jezebel critiques of this song, but it’s catchy as Hell, and I love these versions that The Tonight Show does, they’re just so fun.

Dance With Me Tonight – Olly Murs

I kind of can’t believe I’ve never shared an Olly Murs song on this blog before. I was obsessed with him on the UK X-Factor, while I was studying abroad in Ireland, which you can read about on my old Tumblr. And I continue to be completely charmed by him.

If You Wanna Stay – The Griswolds 

Miró, Jules and I saw these guys open for Miniature Tigers my first week in Austin, and they were so. much. fun. Miró put together a fun post on them (completely with Spotify playlist) over at her work blog, which you should all check out.

Some Girls – Racey

Sometimes I go down internet rabbit holes nudged on by old episodes of British panel shows on YouTube, and then I get obscure 80s pop songs in my head they won’t go away. What, that doesn’t happen to you?

Stolen Dance – Milky Chance

Victoria and I rock out to this one in her car, but it’s also got a great beat for walking.

Lucky Now – Ryan Adams

Another one that came on Victoria’s car radio, though of course we didn’t exactly rock out to this one so much as sing along thoughtfully, but it’s still one of my all time favorites.

Rave on! – Buddy Holly

“Lucky Now” was way to somber a song to end a playlist that includes 3 songs with the word “Dance” in the title, so here’s my go to pep up music, because the view on some these walks includes this view:

which doesn’t suck.