Daily Arts
Kookoo Stew
Monofonus Press' latest double release is the perfect end-of-summer punch. Clear Violet, by local author Karen Davidson, is the all-too-Austin tale of a vegetarian restaurant and all the amulet-clutching, chakra-aligning, aura-reading yahoos it attracts. Davidson reads excerpts Saturday at Cafe Mundi, 7pm. The night before at the Compound, you can catch the other half. Local quartet Pillow Queens releases Kookoolegit, a collection of equally absurd tales set to big, fuzzy, stompy hooks. Shapes Have Fangs and Human Milk jump in as well. Check out the excellent video for "Real Cool Head" below for a little taste.

4:03PM Tue. Aug. 26, 2008, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

A Tale of Terror From the Top of the World
When I was in college I had a good friend who was a very skilled rock climber. He made it look so simple -- so simple and effortless that when he asked me if I'd like to learn how to climb I didn't hesitate to sign on. So we went to a popular climbing spot not far from Washington, D.C., for my maiden -- and as it happened, only -- voyage up a big-ass rock. I'd been hiking and trail running for quite some time and thought (silly me) that this whole rock climbing would be a piece of cake. I was way wrong. I enjoyed the climb – scrambling to the top of the rock was no problem. But fixed to the rope at the "summit," I froze. I had to let go, my friend said, and repel down. Sounds simple, but I was completely petrified. I had to release whatever control I thought I had up to that point. My palms were sweaty. I knew I was in good, capable hands, but I couldn't shake my fear. I finally made it down, but it was the last time I took to the rocks. The fear that gripped me some 15 years ago seized me again while reading High Crimes, a true story of terror atop the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest. In his new book (published in February by Hyperion; $24.95), Pulitzer-winning journalist Michael Kodas writes about the ill-fated expedition in 2004 of Connecticut climbers (Kodas was among them) that paralleled the deadly journey of another American climber, Nils Antezana, a Bolivian-born doctor. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Kodas is also a friend of mine.)

9:09AM Tue. Aug. 26, 2008, Jordan Smith Read More | Comment »

Naughty, Yet Nice
The exact date at which I became a pearls-only kind of gal is arguable, but Jennifer Perkins’ naughty guide to jewelry The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry, North Light Books, 144 pp., $16.99 – makes one thing perfectly clear: I’m not nearly as fun as I used to be. Not to worry, though; Perkins’ kitschy craft book is an excellent antidote to boring accessory habits. The introduction openly admits that if “tackaliscious” isn’t your style, this may not be the book for you. Which has some truth to it, as I would hate to see some of its designs on anyone older than the age of 8. More important, though, is her claim that even if your style isn’t quite as loud as hers, you can use the projects in her book for inspiration and the techniques as groundwork for your own cutesy inventions. A founding member of the Austin Craft Mafia, Perkins includes a few heavy-duty projects in Naughty Secretary Club that are clearly for the seasoned crafter, but the book covers projects for skill levels from “first day on the job” to “you deserve a raise” to “running the show.” In addition to office-themed skill levels, the book includes memos with info ranging from office statistics (42% of people surveyed have had an office romance) to office-supply-based beauty tips (use a Sharpie and Wite-Out to make “domino nails”).

2:30PM Fri. Aug. 22, 2008, Sarah Jean Billeiter Read More | Comment »

"Naughty" Jennifer Perkins Booksigning
Jennifer Perkins, host of Craft Lab and Stylelicious on the DIY network has a new book out. The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl's Guide to Handmade Jewelry (Northlight Books) came out in July, but she's having her very own coming out party for the splashy new book Aug. 30 at Craft-o-Rama.

Craftsters will recognize Jennifer as a member of the Austin Craft Mafia, a group of local craft mavens who sew, hot glue, knit, and crochet fun and funky arts and crafts for the modern guy and gal. If you're a crafter and you don't know Craft-o-Rama, well, what have you been waiting for? The bright and airy shop is designed for the inner seamstress in you, but have just enough yarn and embroidery threads to keep fiber fanatics happy too. Whether it's a book release party or an occasional swap meet, Hayley Pannone (and mommy in waiting) does a swell job of making the event festive and full of casual, crafty fun.

12:49PM Fri. Aug. 22, 2008, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

After ArmadilloCon
ArmadilloCon is just like any other literary convention: It just happens to be about science fiction, fantasy and interstitial literature. The three-day convention (see our advance coverage here) wrapped up Sunday, and the emphasis was often on the practical side of writing and getting published. It's events like this that firmly debunk the trite and tedious stereotype that science-fiction enthusiasts are a virginal male hive-mind entity that has never done anything outside of their parents' cellar. Take the all-female fantasy-romance panel or the fact that over half the writers on the Forever Wars panel about military science fiction were actually former service personel (including Dave Duggins, guest of honor Joe Haldeman and local author Elizabeth Moon) as proof of that. The H.P. Lovecraft discussion on Saturday night kind of degenerated into a moderator's worst nightmare, where the audience knew more than the panelees (although, to be fair, there were several published Lovecraft essayists in the crowd.) But a recurrent theme was the interplay between genre literature and other media, most especially film. The quick synopsis? Big money, big money, no whammy.

2:39PM Tue. Aug. 19, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Tales of ArmadilloCons Past
With Austin's homegrown science fiction literature gathering ArmadilloCon hitting the big 30 this weekend (read our coverage here), it's going to be a time for swapping stories. Co-Chair Kirk Baty had one to share about one of the con's more famous alumni. "I was flying in from New England," said Baty, "And I hadn't seen (panelist) John Quarterman in while, and we met on the Friday evening." Baty being a computer chip designer and Quarterman being the founder of the Texas ISP Association, they got to talking tech shop. After a while, they noticed they had been joined by a silent acquaintance. "William Gibson is standing right there next to the two of us. We figured he'd interrupt if he wanted anything."

3:02PM Fri. Aug. 15, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

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Shannon Leigh Tribute This Saturday
The Austin slam poetry community will gather to pay tribute to the recently passed, much-loved slam artist Shannon Leigh this Saturday at Ruta Maya. "They Call Me Warrior: A Tribute to Shannon Leigh" will serve as a benefit for Shannon’s family and as a sendoff for the team representing Austin at the National Poetry Slam, in which Shannon competed last year and placed third in the nation. The tribute takes place on Saturday, August 2, at 8pm at Ruta Maya World Headquarters (3601 S. Congress). The organizers have requested a $10 minimum donation; all proceeds will go to Shannon's family. For more information, visit austinslam.com.

10:04PM Thu. Jul. 31, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

‘Twilight’ Sucking the Blood Out of the eBook Business?
You’ve probably heard about a little thing called Twilight, Stephanie Meyer’s insanely popular YA series about vampire teenagers in Oregon. Book release parties have been planned all over the country – and in Austin – to celebrate the Aug. 2 release of trilogy capper Breaking Dawn, but eBook enthusiasts will have to learn a lesson in delayed gratification, as the electronic book release has abruptly been delayed by a full 24 hours after the hardback. According to a press release by local eBook merchant BooksonBoard, Breaking Dawn publisher Hachette Book Group apparently only announced the delay in an email sent out July 29, after business hours, citing concerns that eBook customers in certain time zones would receive the book prior to hardback customers in line at their local bookshop. BooksonBoard’s director of operations, Kurt Johnson, expressed his frustration via an email he sent me this evening: “We are infuriated, on behalf of our customers, and even our competitors’ customers, [and] the entire ebook community, who pre-ordered this title in good faith based on the information we provided, which was made available to us originally saying that it would be available at the same time as the hardcover release.”

9:48PM Thu. Jul. 31, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Macondo Libre in San Antonio
Macondo, the annual writer’s workshop launched by San Antonio writer Sandra Cisneros starts this week. The workshop is only open to member writers (aka Macondistas), but the week is always capped off by a public event featuring prominent writers brought in to lead the week’s workshops. This year’s event takes on a Mexican wrestling theme, featuring literary heavyweights in Macondo Libre, a world class word wrestling event.

9:31PM Tue. Jul. 29, 2008, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

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