Thursday, March 09, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #96

Lots of news catching up still to do!

State ornithologist, and one of my old professors, Keith Arnold, had a stout heart attack last week. A report today has him responding, and even standing for a short while. Best wishes from here Doc. Folks who know him and who would like to send a card can contact me for an address.

Yesterday at the Fredericksburg One-Act Festival the ITM Thespians finally put a solid show on the stage. It's no fault of theirs. A number of things have gotten in the way of their coming together. However, there has been some magic the last three days. It was near perfect technically (on strange boards) yesterday, and the actors were showing signs of peaking. Tonight they open at their home Warrior Theatre, and i'm predicting a truly sharp production. If you're in town, come see some fine actors, notably four senior girls, put on a powerful show -- Playing for Time by Arthur Miller. There are also shows scheduled for March 16-19.

One of the coolest guys on the planet, Mark Standing Eagle Baez, has been putting up some original songs and covers at ACIDplanet.

My Hip-Hop favorites, Vehicular, continue to climb the musical ladder with a SXSW showing coming up. They have a show tonight too -- Red Fez is the place -- on 5th Street near Colorado Street, Austin. Vehicular starts at 9:30 pm. and goes until 11 pm. And check out their site at and be sure to follow the links to the individual members’ sites, where there’s more songs. They’ve got a couple of new songs posted - including live tracks from our Dallas show at the Curtain Club and another show at the Red Eyed Fly in their hometown of Austin, Texas. Watch for them this month - SXSW at Zero Degrees and 40 Acres Fest on UT Campus.

Clare Mestepey has a cool story about "smart pills" over at Clarified Chaos. A line in it reminded me of flying to Mexico City as a kid. We used SAESA Airlines out of Matamoros, and the old prop planes would rattle and shake, and the aisles had folks standing and crates of chickens. That's one of several reasons i drive wherever i'm headed these days.

I mentioned the other day that i'll be interviewed for a podcast next week some time -- subject this blog. Besides my bro, Dave of Time's New Romans and Radio Free Babylon is involved too. He's got a cool site too -- here.

I just got word that Sons of the Rodeo will be screening at SXSW Film Fest. I had thought it might be a good shot for the festival, but i didn’t see it listed in the Austin Chronicle when i reviewed the listings. So i either missed it, or it’s a late addition. In any case, with the usual disclaimers, i think it’s a very fine little film, and worth your time if you are hanging about the metro theaters this week.

Here is a listing of the other films produced by Austin Film Society folks that are screening at SXSW (Thanks to Dan at Austin Film Casting for the list).

[Free admission for SXSW Platinum, Gold, and Film Badge holders and SXSW Film Pass Holders (admission is not guaranteed). Individual tickets are $8 and go on sale 15 minutes prior to screenings at the theatre box office, if space is available. SXSW Film Passes are $65 and are available at Waterloo Video, 600 N. Lamar Blvd. For the official SXSW website, please visit ]

SUMMERCAMP! ----Directed by Bradley Beesley & Sarah Price
Documentary Feature, TFPF Recipient 2004, Docs-in-Progress Alum
Summercamp! invites the viewer into the day-to-day drama at Swift Nature Camp. Within this subculture the filmmakers submerge themselves by capturing raw emotions through camp rituals, homesickness, and counselor mutiny. Sarah Price's films include feature documentaries The Yes Men, Caesar's Park, and American Movie. Her work includes credits on a music video for music artist Har Mar Superstar, artist David Robbins' TV variety show, The Ice Cream Social, Chris Smith's American Job, Michael Moore's The Big One, and segments for IFC's Split Screen. Austin-based filmmaker Bradley Beesley, whose award winning feature films include Hill Stomp Hollar, Okie Noodling, and The Fearless Freaks, was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's "Top 25 Independent Filmmakers" of the year. This year, Bradley also co-directed Roller Girls an episodic documentary broadcasting on A&E. Sun Mar 12, 3:45 PM - Alamo Downtown, Mon Mar 13, 1:15 PM – Paramount, Thurs Mar 16, 11 AM - Paramount

ROOM 314 ----Directed by Kyle Bogart
Narrative Short
With a last minute cancellation, Elliot Renfield counts himself as quite fortunate that he has found accommodations in the last vacant room in the hotel. That is, until a man comes calling, dead set on delivering to Elliot the same fate that was intended for the guest in Room 314. Kyle Bogart, an undergraduate film student at the University of Texas in Austin, produced the short film ROOM 314 as his first nonacademic filmmaking venture. SXSW 2006 will represent the premiere exhibition of his work. Fri Mar 10, 6:45 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 11 AM - Dobie

THE OTHER SIDE ----Directed by Bill Brown
Documentary Feature
A 2000-mile journey along the US/Mexico border in an era of homeland insecurity. Brown considers the border as a landscape, at once physical, cultural, and historical. "The Rio Grande," Brown says, "does not separate two countries, so much as it runs through a third one. A country that's not quite Mexico, and that's not quite the U.S." Bill is from the Paris of the Plains, Lubbock. He has been making short essay films for the last 10 years. He currently lives in Detroit because there are abandoned skyscrapers there that you can sneak into. Sun Mar 12, 3:45 PM – Dobie, Sat Mar 18, 4:30 PM - Dobie

JUMPING OFF BRIDGES ----Directed by Kat Candler
TFPF Recipient 2005
Set in a tranquil suburban neighborhood in Texas, jumping off bridges follows Zak Nelson and his four best friends. Carefree and adventurous, together, the three escape their everyday lives, until a tragic event divides their friendships and brings childhood secrets to light. Kat Candler's scripts, short film, Roberta Wells and feature film, cicadas, have won numerous awards and various festivals. Sat Mar 11, 2:30 PM - Alamo S. Lamar 2, Thurs Mar 16, 1:30 PM - Paramount

GRETCHEN ----Directed by Steve Collins
Narrative Feature, TFPF Recipient 2002
Gretchen is the story of an awkward girl's struggle to overcome an obsession with Boone High School's most powerful dirt-bag, Ricky Maraschino. Her affliction is so severe, she's banished to an emotional treatment center, where she begins to question why everything that she wants in the whole wide world, is a boy. Gretchen is an extreme tale of ordinary things: Prom, boys, and going 2nd base, told with the unique gravity of a 17-year-old heart. Steve Collins grew up in the suburbs of Schenectady, NY, mostly watching movies. He studied film at Wesleyan University, taught filmmaking at a therapeutic boarding school, and received an MFA in film production from UT-Austin, where he presently teaches film production. Sun Mar 12, 1:30 PM – Paramount, Wed Mar 15, 12 NOON - Alamo S. Lamar 2

LETTERS FROM THE OTHER SIDE ----Directed by Heather Courtney
Documentary Feature, TFPF Recipient 2002 & 2004, AFS Sponsored Project
Letters From the Other Side interweaves video letters carried across the US/Mexico border by the film's director with the personal stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. Director Heather Courtney speaks directly with her subjects through her unobtrusive camera, providing an intimate and intuitive look at the lives of the people who are most affected by today's immigration and trade policies. Heather Courtney is a filmmaker, cinematographer and photographer based in Austin, Texas. Her previous film, Los Trabajadores (The Workers), won the Audience Award at SXSW in 2001, and was broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2003. Fri Mar 10, 9:45 PM - Austin Convention Ctr, Wed Mar 15, 4:30 PM - Austin Convention Ctr

14. LETTER ----Directed by Kelcey Edwards
Narrative Short
Letter is a psychological portrait of a filmmaker who receives a letter from the US government informing her that her husband has been killed at war. Kelcey Edwards has been living and working as an Austin filmmaker since 2003. Letter is her third short film and the first film she has submitted to SXSW Film Festival. Fri Mar 10, 6:45 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 11 AM - Dobie

LOS LONELY BOYS: Cottonfields and Crossroads ----Directed by Hector Galan
Documentary Feature, Docs-in-Progress Alum
Three Mexican American brothers from West Texas rock their way out of poverty and marginalization determined to fulfill their father's dream. Los Lonely Boys' journey takes them from a tough childhood of playing cantinas and honky tonks to the top of the music industry. Featuring early live performances at small music venues in Austin Texas, intimate interviews, historical background and observations from Los Lonely Boys, friends, and family. Hector Galan is a nationally recognized and critically acclaimed independent documentary filmmaker whose credits range from the award-winning music documentaries on Conjunto and Tejano music to lauded films on the dynamics of race relations in the military. Galan's unforgettable work appears regularly on PBS programming. Fri Mar 17, 4 PM - Austin Convention Ctr

SLAM PLANET: War of the Words ----Directed by Mike Henry & Kyle Fuller
Documentary Feature
Slam Planet: War of the Words is a feature length documentary film about spoken word artists in the Poetry Slam movement. It's a story of two teams of poets, one hailing from Austin, TX, one representing Manhattan's lower East side, and their struggle to survive, both on and off stage. For over a decade, Mike Henry has brought Poetry Slam to life in the Live Music Capitol of the World. Slam is about telling stories, and that was valuable to Mike as first time director. Kyle Fuller is CEO of Slam Channel, Inc., the premier provider of digital content for Poetry Slam. He's a longtime citizen of Austin's filmmaking underground and Slam Planet is his first feature film. Sun Mar 12, 10:30 PM - Alamo S. Lamar 2, Thurs Mar 16, 12 NOON - Alamo S. Lamar 2, Sat Mar 18, 1:30 PM - Alamo S. Lamar 1

PILOTDRIFT, BUUBLECRAFT ----Directed by Geoff Marslett
Music Video
Workdays are okay. School is so-so. Life isn't bad, but it isn't that good either. What does it take to pull people out of their humdrum day-to-day worlds? In this case an extra-terrestrial water sphere widens the horizons for a businessman, an office worker, and a fourth grade public school student. Geoff Marslett is a native Texan who studied mathematics, philosophy, physics, and painting at in Santa Fe, NM. He teaches Digital Animation at the University of Texas where he received his MFA in 2000. Fri Mar 10, 9:30 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 1:15 PM - Dobie

NATALIE AT FIVE O'CLOCK ----Directed by Sherry Mills
Narrative Short
After school on a Friday afternoon fourteen-year-old Natalie does a half-ass job of the things she has to do so that she can get to what she really wants to do: dress up like a "hottie" and DANCE. Mom comes home and isn't too happy ... or IS she?! Sherry Mills is the Executive Director of Reel Women, a non-profit organization in Austin. After many years on the creative and administrative ends of the entertainment business, she decided that 2005 was the year to become more technical and took production and editing classes. This film is the result. Fri Mar 10, 6:45 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 11 AM - Dobie

STATE VS. REED ----Directed by Ryan Polomski & Frank Bustoz
Documentary Feature, TFPF Recipient 2004
Did Rodney Reed kill Stacey Stites? This documentary explores the case that landed a 28 year-old Bastrop man on Texas' Death Row. A graduate of the University of Texas RTF program; Frank Bustoz has spent the last 5 years concentrating on groundbreaking stories that initiate cultural and social awareness. When not producing or editing film, Frank enjoys working on cars and hunting. Ryan Polomski received his MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2004 and works locally as a producer and editor. Sun Mar 12, 6 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 9:30 PM - Alamo Downtown

BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES ----Directed by Andrew Shapter
Documentary Feature, Docs-in-Progress Alum
Two music fans investigate American music: it's rich past, troubled present, and bright future. Includes interviews and performances by Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Les Paul, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, and others. Industry perspective provided by representatives of CNN, USAToday, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and more. Andrew Shapter has been a fashion photographer for 15 years, working assignments from LA to Barcelona. Sun Mar 12, 4:30 PM – Paramount, Wed Mar 15, 1:30 PM – Paramount, Fri Mar 17, 1:30 PM - Alamo S. Lamar 1

JUNIOR! THE WENDY'S GUY ----Directed by Stephen Stephanian
Documentary Short
Junior, the Wendy's Guy, is a short documentary about a man who has attained cult status on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin through his speedy and unorthodox handling of the register at the Wendy's in the Texas Union. The documentary explores his unusual celebrity and chronicles his seventh anniversary at Wendy's and his attempt to shatter the current sales record within a half hour. Stephen Stephanian is currently living life as a National Academy of Arts and Sciences Trustees Scholarship student at the University of Texas studying Radio-Television-Film. Fri Mar 10, 6:45 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 11 AM - Dobie

THE CASSIDY KIDS ----Directed by Jacob Vaughan
Narratives-in-Progress Alum
Murder, memory and Saturday morning television collide in The Cassidy Kids. Five suburban kids solve a murder in 1980 and a popular children's TV show is based on their real-life adventures. Twenty five years later,the estranged friends reunite for the DVD release of the series but one of them arrives with a dark secret. Jacob Vaughan began his film career at the age of 10 with a film called Jake, P.I., shot on his dad's JVC camcorder. In 2003 he produced, shot, and edited the Independent Spirit Award nominated film, Dear Pillow. The Cassidy Kids was produced by Burnt Orange Productions, utilizing a crew of mostly University of Texas students and alumni. Sun Mar 12, 7 PM – Paramount, Wed Mar 15, 4:45 PM - Alamo Downtown

REDEMPTITUDE ----Directed by David Zellner
Narrative Short
A preacher ventures deep into the Australian Outback to save the soul of a man who's abandoned his faith following a debilitating car wreck. Not all goes as planned... Filmmaker siblings David and Nathan Zellner have written, produced and directed several short films, animations, and music videos, including two features- Plastic Utopia (1998) and Frontier(2002). Fri Mar 10, 6:45 PM – Dobie, Fri Mar 17, 11 AM - Dobie

Gemini Ink poets will read at San Antonio’s peaceCenter this Sunday, March 12, 6 p.m. after a special film screening. San Antonio’s peaceCenter, located at 1443 S. St. Mary’s, is screening Voices in Wartime, an award-winning documentary film that features the voices of poets from around the world sharing their views and experiences of war that extend beyond national borders and into the depth of the human soul. The screening is part of their 2nd Sunday at 6 Cinema Series. The screening is free and open to the public. Poets Marian Aitches, Cyra Dumitru and Palmer Hall will give a brief reading after the program. Aitches is a longtime student at Gemini Ink and Cyra Dumitru is a faculty member. For more info, call 224-HOPE or visit

Paul from Brainshrub has posted his first call for submissions for Carnival of the Liberals #8: The Haiku Edition. For each of the ten selected entries, Paul will be writing an original haiku. See Paul’ss post for more details. CotL #8 will be on Wednesday, March 15 and the deadline is Monday, March 13 at 11:59PM EST.

I suspect if you pay attention to the popular culture items online you've seen this story about the autistic kid playing basketball. If not it'll warm your heart, and we all need a little bit more of that.

Twice in two days i’ve seen a writer for a major news outlet use the non-word self-depreciating as though someone is losing value on the spot.

And finally, just after the new Houston MLS franchise announced their new name -- Houston 1836 -- they apparently were bombarded by complaints offended by it. I don't know what the controversy was about, but i do know that the team announced today a name change -- to Houston Dynamo -- with an extensive rationale for naming it so, and a strong public apology for offending Houstonites.

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