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Martin Scorsese needs to keep his mitts off the blues. You need to mark your calendars. I don't need a drink.

Before we lay odds on a bout between Dagoberto Gilb and Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith (the latter of whom, reportedly, was speculated by the former at the Austin Public Library Foundation's Texas Tales fundraiser recently to run around naked singing the praises of Mexicans -- or something), a grudge match that would yet again stem from yet another insular professional (read: journalistic) Texas squabble, this one going back to Smith's not running an essay for which Gilb would eventually find refuge in Harper's (which didn't, incidentally, have Owen Wilson or Matthew McConaughey or Dr. Phil on the cover that week), we should attend to some more important business. This, of course, is assuming that we even bother laying odds on this potential tangle, since Gilb is a rather strapping former construction worker, and Smith is, well, Smith has slicked-back hair, Brooks Brothers suits, glasses, kind of a squeaky voice, and a really nice briefcase (I've seen it), although, then again, he did ruggedly sit atop the hood of a rustic pickup on the July 20, 2001, cover of The Austin Chronicle. And if we're working off of a cerebral scorecard here ... hmm ... must give this more thought, perhaps when I'm extremely bored... Extremely exciting: The 12th annual Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest -- sponsored by BookPeople and KGSR, as well as a player to be named later -- wheels are turning, so fast that we have a deadline, which will be Nov. 17. We won't get into it much here, other than to say that you should go ahead and get writing (if not revising), but check austinchronicle.com/shortstory for the updated 2003 rules and regs, some of which have changed. Seriously, go read it before you submit. And look for ads in next week's paper for even more details... The Texas Book Festival, Nov. 6-9 at the state Capitol, will, it turns out, be getting bigger and going beyond. While the bulk of the fest will still take place within the limestone walls, the outdoor book fair will extend down Congress to Ninth or 10th, while a handful of the "bigger headliners" -- Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, and Herman Wouk(!?), for instance -- will play to crowds in the Paramount Theatre. Albom and Barry are part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the rock & roll side project of a handful of particularly delusional writers. Actually, I hear that they're pretty good, and you must have heard by now that they'll be playing the TBF, most notably during the Authors Party at the Austin Music Hall. The party, which only broke even last year, is a fundraiser for the fest (which itself benefits Texas libraries) and for America Scores, a literacy/soccer program that recently established its first Lone Star location in Dallas-Fort Worth. In any case, the Remainders' Austin lineup won't include new (and terrible) Entertainment Weekly columnist Stephen King, but it will include the aforementioned Albom and Barry, not to mention Roy Blount Jr., Ridley Pearson, a hopefully leather-clad Amy Tan, and Scott Turow (not to mention a guest appearance by a fella named Roger McGuinn). Do with this information what you will, and much more on the TBF soon enough... In a move announced Sept. 10 and enacted on Oct. 2, the Austin Public Library for the foreseeable future will close 10 branches on Thursdays and 10 on Fridays -- its least busy days -- allowing the severely short-handed system to share staff. According to the APL, the closings are "grouped geographically and the hours of operation coordinated so no area within the city will be without library service on any given day." These changes -- a result of the 2003-2004 budget -- will not affect the Faulk Central Library in any way, shape, or form. See www.cityofaustin.org/library for the specs.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Dagoberto Gilb, Evan Smith, Texas Monthly, Texas Tales, Texas Book Festival, Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest, Ric Williams, Sarah Hepola, George Plimpton, Mark Mitchell, J.M. Coetzee, Neil Gaiman, Sandman, Eakin Press, Raising La Belle, Mike Wallace, Bill Moyers, BookPeople, KGSR, Dave Barry

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