Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Lionsgate Entertainment

Today marks the start of the largest genre film festival in the United States – Fantastic Fest.

The festival is known for being a little out there, but Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League says that’s what makes it special.

“In the last five years or so it seems like it’s been the rise of the nerd,” League tells KUT News. In light of the comic book-based blockbusters filling theaters, League says the nerd demographic represents “a pretty significant arm of the spending economy and a lot of the movies coming out from Hollywood are geared towards us."

Many films set to premiere at this year’s festival many are highly anticipated by nerds and non-nerds alike. For example, writer/director Rian Johnson’s time-traveling  Looper is sure to get genre crowds excited. Also making a debut at the festival is a remake of the 1984 ‘the Soviets are invading’ flick Red Dawn

flickr.com/serfs-up

If you’re feeling holiday withdrawal during the weeks between Labor Day and Halloween, there’s good news: today you can celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the quirky holiday. International Talk Like a Pirate Day was created in 2002 after columnist Dave Barry wrote a piece in the Miami Herald about the piratical exploits of Oregonians John Baur and Mark Summers (otherwise known by their pirate aliases, Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy). Baur and Summers began Talk Like a Pirate Day among their circle of friends while playing racquetball in 1995 and appealed to Barry to publicize the event seven years later. 

Today, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated with events all over the world, from Texas to Japan.

Little Brown and Company

The Yellow Birds is a critically acclaimed novel from a young author, Kevin Powers. Listen to him read from his book's opening passage above.

An Iraq war veteran, upon returning to the states, Powers earned a graduate degree from UT’s Michener Center for Writers. A spare but poetic story, The Yellow Birds follows 21-year old Private Bartle as his vow to protect an even younger private amid fierce conditions in 2004 Iraq is tested. But the novel isn’t simply a war story; skipping forward and backward in time, Powers captures the confusion and pain of war on a more intimate, emotional level.

flickr.com/bjornlifoto

Tim League is a pretty big deal in the movie business. He’s founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – which in turn led to distribution arm Drafthouse Films. He also founded Rolling Roadshow and Fantastic Fest. But Tim League could soon be best known for his role as a judge in an internet cat video contest.

That’s right, internet cat videos. If you're one of the few humans left on earth unfamiliar with the concept, you can head over to a little website called YouTube and type in “cat.” You’ll get funny cats, funny cats in water, how to wrap a cat for Christmas and about 1.8 million others. Internet cat videos are big.

Just last month, Minneapolis hosted the first ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival. The idea was attributed to the Walker Art Museum’s “cat-lady-in-residence” but went on to draw an estimated 10,000 attendees. Internet cat videos are truly big time.

Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation / Harry Ransom Center

Artist, author, city planner, design star and futurist Norman Bel Geddes may not be a household name. But his retro-futuristic designs – most iconically captured in the “Futurama” exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair – inspire an entire generation of artists, designers and filmmakers to this day.

I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” is a sprawling exhibit opening at the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus today, charting Bel Geddes’ evolution for an Art Deco-inspired theater set designer to perhaps the most important futurist of his time.

“He is a man of all trades,” says Helen Baer, Associate Curator of Performing Arts at the Harry Ransom Center. “He can do theater design, industrial design; he also gets into city planning and urban planning later on in his life. And he is also a successful author. So he does a little bit of everything, and he’s for the most part self-taught."

flickr.com/goincase

Now you can know which artists are playing when at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, set to take place November 2-4 at Auditorium Shores. The daily schedule has been released.

Headliners on Friday include Run DMC, Dillon Francis, and Twin Sister. The Saturday shows will culminate in performances by Refused, Girl Talk, Diamond Rugs, and A$AP Rocky. And Sunday’s top billed artists are Turbonegro, Etienne de Crecy, Black Moth Super Rainbow and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Tickets are on sale now. A three-day regular pass is $175. For the first time ever, Fun Fun Fun Fest is letting people buy passes in two-installments of $87.50. You can get the VIP treatment for $325. And students can obtain a three-day pass for $140. 

Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Tamara Hoover describes her East Austin establishment, Cheer Up Charlie's, as more than just a bar. 

"It's actually a community project," Hoover says. "People from the community coming in, bringing their acts, bringing their music, bringing their charities, and it's everybody's home." 

But recently, the bar has received complaints from another nearby community, the Guadalupe Association for Improved an Neighborhood. 

Country music legend Willie Nelson is out of a Denver hospital and feeling better. Denver NBC affiliate KUSA broke the news yesterday that Nelson was admitted to hospital, because he was "suffering from breathing problems due to the high altitude and emphysema,” according to an announcement made to the crowd gathered for a fundraiser performance at Castle Pines Village, a gated residential community about 25 miles outside of Denver.

But this morning, Nelson’s publicist says the 79-year-old is feeling fine and will be at the House of Blues tomorrow night in Dallas.

Photo by KUT News

The Creative Director for South by Southwest Music has died. Brent Grulke died this morning from surgical complications.

Grulke had worked at SXSW since its launch in 1987. He became the music festival's creative director in 1994.

In a 2005 interview with KUT's Jennifer Stayton, Grulke explained the best way to enjoy SXSW and not feel intimidated by the festivals mammoth lineup of bands.

"I always tell people that if there are a couple things that they really want to see - just find a couple of things that you really want to see," he said. 

Larry McMurtry is perhaps best known for novels like The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove; but the author also has a career as a bookseller.

His store, Booked Up, spills across four buildings in his small hometown of Archer City, Texas, and houses nearly half a million rare and used books. But starting this Friday, McMurtry is holding an auction to whittle down that number — by a lot.

flickr.com/kevharb

The release of the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival’s schedule grid wasn’t the only big Austin City Limits news today: Music festival producers are in talks with Austin officials to extend the popular three-day event by an extra weekend starting next year.

C3 Presents, the company that produces ACL Fest and other big events nationwide, would also donate some of the increased revenue it would gain each year, in addition to the amounts they already give, to help improve Austin parks.

“We’ve been discussing working with Auditorium Shores for almost two years,” Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley tells KUT News. “It’s dusty, it’s truly muddy, there’s no grass there. For me, it’s just an opportunity to take a park area that’s just heavily used and make it a lot better and a lot more vibrant for the community and visitors.”

Vania Stoyanova

Deborah Harkness isn’t as well known as J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. But with the publication of “Shadow of Night,” the second tome in her supernatural “All Souls” trilogy, that may be about to change.

“Shadow of Night” picks up right where her last book, “A Discovery of Witches,” left off, with heroine Diana Bishop and her vampire lover, Matthew Roydon, pulling off a daring escape. But she soon learns her escape – which sends her through time to 16th century England – poses additional threats.

Set in a supernatural world where demons, vampires and witches intermingle and overlap with the  historical figures Harkness studies as a professor, the “All Souls” trilogy has already been acquired by Hollywood. KUT News recently spoke with Harkness on her work, its reception, and what’s next.

The Austin Film Society is using a $75,000 grant to come up with a plan for incorporating another building into the Austin Studios campus at the former Mueller Airport.

The National Endowment for the Arts grant will go towards redeveloping the old National Guard building at Mueller into a space for the community and filmmakers to come together.

AFS Deputy Director Sarah Ann Mockbee says Austin has a vibrant film scene but, right now, it’s not that accessible to everyone.

Run–D.M.C. Reunion Headlines Fun Fun Fun Fest

Jul 10, 2012

In its second year at Auditorium Shores, underground music festival Fun Fun Fun Fest continues to grow. This morning, festival organizers Transmission Entertainment announced seminal New York hip hop group Run–D.M.C. will play the festival this fall. Fun Fun Fun Fest gets underway November 2.

Serendipiddy http://www.flickr.com/photos/40274854@N08/6568751975/

UT Regents meet Wednesday, and among the items they’ll consider is KUT’s request to purchase KXBT 98.9 FM Radio from Border Media Business Trust.  KUT management told us they have no comment at this time.

flickr.com/loudtiger

Two Austin public art projects were named among the nation's 50 best in Americans for the Arts2012 Public Art Year in Review.

James Edward Talbot’s “Your Essential Magnificence” on South Congress, and Chris Levack’s “Trilobite Shade” and “Iron Wave” for the Austin BMX and Skate Park at House Park were selected from hundreds of entries across the country.

Americans for the Arts announced its selected projects at their annual convention in San Antonio earlier this month.

flickr.com/annaustin

Comedian Dave Chappelle – who after massive success with his “Chappelle’s Show” TV series shunned the spotlight – is performing in Austin tonight.

Chappelle will be performing at the Paramount Theater at 8 p.m. tonight, in an appearance just announced this morning. After turning his back on his provocative comedy series in 2005, Chappelle has instead focused on standup comedy, often playing “secret” shows like this one just announced.

flickr.com/hayesandjenn

After an absence last year, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is returning to Auditorium Shores to ring in the Fourth of July.

The symphony announced today that it would host its 36th annual Independence Day concert along the shores of Lady Bird Lake – complete with fireworks – after the event was called off last year.

“We were in the middle of just a terrible drought, and pretty much within the last two and a half weeks or so [before July 4, 2011], the fire marshal decided that fireworks would not be in the best interest of any event at that particular time,” Anthony Corroa, executive director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, tells KUT News. The decision set off a reaction leading to the event’s cancelation, but Corroa anticipates an all-clear this year. “In the off chance that fireworks get canceled,” he adds, “the concert will go on regardless.”

If you see the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom, you'll hear background music from composers Benjamin Britten and Alexandre Desplat, as well as several songs from Hank Williams.

Photo by Paul Woodruff for KUT News

Red Hot Chili Peppers lead the line-up of artists and bands performing at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. The official list was released this morning.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Jack White, and Florence + The Machine are the other headliners.

The festival is October 12-14 this year.

The Complete Line-Up:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  • The Black Keys
  • Jack White
  • Florence + The Machine

Photo by KUT Austin; lotto image courtesy aclfestival.com; graphic by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The 2012 lineup for the Austin City Limits Music Festival will be announced tomorrow. But, thanks to festival promoters and some silver-fingered Austinites, we’ve gotten a few previews of the lineup.

Over the weekend, festival fans started buying lotto-style scratch tickets for a chance to win passes and more. The tickets also revealed the names of attending bands. Each of the following bands were featured on the tickets, confirming their appearances at ACL this October (barring any cancelations, of course):

  • Quiet Company, Punch Brothers, Steve Earle, Bon Iver, Alabama Shakes, Freelance Whales, Kimbra, Barrington Levy, Jack White, Black Keys, Andrew Bird, Esperanza Spalding, A-Trak, Zola Jesus (via diffuser.fm)

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues

On Saturday, the Austin Poetry Society is kicking off its Poetry with Wheels contest. Open to anyone 18 or older, the winner’s poem will be posted on the placards lining the inside of Capital Metro buses.

"The Poetry with Wheels contest is not just for professional poets," the society writes on its website. "All members of the Austin community are encouraged to enter."

Although there’s no restriction poem topics or the amount of poems you can submit, the Poetry Society has four guidelines for submissions:

Photo courtesy Amy Gizienski, flickr.com/agizienski

Here’s a way to make your Friday workday more enjoyable: the Blanton Museum of Art has unveiled a new online database of the museum’s vast collection, containing records for over 17,000 works in the museum's collection. Almost all of the museum’s pieces have images on the database, and many feature historical information about the piece and the artist.  

It’s a dramatic upgrade from the previous Blanton database featured on the site, which only included images for some 150 pieces of art. 

New aspects of the database include an easy to use search feature, which allows users to search for works by keyword, artist name or nationality, period, or specific exhibition. It also features a portfolio of past exhibitions held by the museum, and more. 

Image courtesy Ace Books

Author Charlaine Harris may not be a household name, but her creation Sookie Stackhouse is. The spunky, problem-prone heroine of Harris’ supernatural fiction series – the inspiration for HBO’s hit series “True Blood” – is at it again in “Deadlocked,” the latest in the Stackhouse series.

Harris will be at BookPeople this Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. She recently spoke with KUT News about “Deadlocked,” achieving success after a tumultuous start, and her post-Stackhouse plans.

KUT News: “Deadlocked” is the twelfth in the Sookie Stackhouse series, correct?

Charlaine Harris: Yes, the twelfth, the penultimate book. I just felt like I had said everything about Sookie that I had it in me to say, and I really don’t like to extend the series when the heat isn’t in me.

Photo courtesy of Zirzamin's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/zirzaminnyc

In case you were wondering what Momo’s owner Paul Oveisi had been up to since the venue closed in late December, he’s been busy creating an Austin-themed venue in Manhattan.

Zirzamin, which is Farsi for “underground,” is located in a cellar bar in Greenwich Village and has a small menu that includes breakfast tacos (2 for $6), “Austin-style” chile con queso ($5), brisket tacos (2 for $6) and Lone Star beer.

“Ultimately, there will be music every night of the week. We'll certainly bring in some Austin acts but it's gonna be an eclectic mix of world music, funky ensembles, and surprise guests,” Oveisi told the New York City/Austin music blog IndieSounds. “It won't be predictable but it will be good.”

Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, whose classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are became a perennial and award-winning favorite for generations of children, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET: The news that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died has now been confirmed by the group's public relations firm.

Our original post:

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Outside Tyler’s clothing store on The Drag, anyone could try their hand at painting on a “Big Ass Canvas.”

Big Ass Canvas offered its first community canvas painting today, outside the Guadalupe Street store. The project encourages passersby to pick up a paintbrush and help fill a large canvas (8.5 by 6 feet). It was launched a week and a half ago by Zach Horvath and Travis Chafin.

Aside from the action on The Drag, canvases will also be available at spots on South Congress and the pedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake, as well as at a final celebratory event. Then, the four canvases will be auctioned off to raise money for Explore Austin, a mentoring program with an emphasis on the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Festival

Andrew Zimmern, the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods (where he's made a name for himself eating exotic things like fermented beetle anus), heaped some praise on the local food scene at the Austin Food Festival this weekend. But while Zimmern is fond of many Austin chefs, farmers and restaurants, he saves the highest praise for Austinites themselves.

KUT: So tell us why you're here at this food festival in Austin.

Andrew Zimmern: "I think Austin has a very special food community in terms of diners. It's the diners and the Austinites that have created the atmosphere for all this amazing food here to flourish.

Every single person I've spoken to here at this festival, I think, gets it all wrong about Austin. Everybody puts the food and chefs first, and I think it's not chicken or egg, it's very matter-of-fact: the audience here in Austin is unique. They are willing to be experimented at, and they do not hold grudges against chefs that make mistakes or have failures, as long as that chef is willing to get back on their bicycle and start pedaling again.

Robert Caro writes obsessively about power. Fittingly, it's Lyndon Johnson — catapulted suddenly into the presidency "in the crack of a gunshot" — who consumes him.

The Passage of Power, the fourth volume of Caro's massive biography of Lyndon Johnson, is released this week. Caro has dedicated decades to meticulously researching Johnson's life, and the previous books in the series have been almost universally hailed as a significant achievement in American letters.

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