Here by Richard McGuire
This graphic novel teeter-totters between years, decades, centuries, and beyond on each page, exploring the vastly layered temporal existence of a space, of a here. The overlaps are mind-blowing, the story of how two old folks fell in love played alongside firefighters putting out a literal fire in that same living room a few years later, the one visually clipped to the other. We see evolution anew in McGuire's beautiful images--evolution of the species, evolution of the family, evolution of the self, and in all that, evolution of the space inhabited.
Bully's live show
Fourteen year-old T-GOB still bangs his head inside me. My musical landscape isn't spattered with growling vocals and fuzzy guitars like it once was, but every once in a while, a band comes along and shreds its way right into my heart. Last year, it was Bully, and lucky me, they were strumming through Austin early in the new year. Applause to a band that can play all their songs in under an hour with the energy that makes you exhausted and not feel cut short.
Fields Magazine Issue 5
Goodness, it's nice to get an acceptance, but the thing to itch for, I do declare, is to be surrounded by awesome folks. I got both my wishes with this new issue. Sean Redmond and crew do a fabulous job with this publication, and it's an honor to be in this issue alongside heroes and pals like Ji Yoon Lee, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Jayson P. Smith, Adam Soto, and more. If you got the bucks, they've got the good words.
Mi Casa Es Su Teatro
Wow. I love hosting events so much, and this year's Mi Casa Es Su Teatro (a part of Frontera Fest / a day of performances in Austin homes) is immediately one of the best hosting experiences I've ever had. Thank you to all of the wonderful performers who shared their work with us--so happy to see some of my favorite artists do their thing and so stoked to discover some new favorites. Also, major shout-out to our generous hosts and to all of the kind folks who showed up to support and enjoy these spectacular performances. And of course, the biggest woohoo to my dear Diana Lynn Small for asking me to co-host and co-organize with her. Please support Hyde Park Theatre, Frontera Fest, and Scriptworks and their future activities!
East Manor Park Disc Golf
Not a new thing, even to me, but played this beast of a course twice in the second month, and I'm thinking it's settled--this is my favorite course I've played in Texas. The variety is top-notch--big 500 foot holes, short technical shots, plenty of O.B. The key is STAY IN THE FAIRWAY. A great doubles course. Just watch out for the sea of cacti; my butt found one and carried its remnants for days.
Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill
It is about dang time I stuck my nose into this play. A great lesson here in tackling political issues--through experimental procedures (characters played by the gender they're seen as by the other characters instead of their assigned gender, a time jump from Act I to Act II of 100+ actual years that only equate to 25 for the characters, etc.) and absurdity. Though my theater heart is still growing, Churchill sits atop it pumping it up.
Jamila Woods, Danez Smith, and Nikkita Oliver on Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Whatever one thinks of Macklemore and/or this particular song, okay, but the true necessary fire was that fella stepping away and these three amazing contemporary black poets delivering front and center. I'm still speechless from it, and I'm so dang happy it occurs / will occur forever. This camo hat goes off to these young brave shining stars.
It finally happened--I convinced Diana to get a puppy. Growing up with six siblings, Diana never got to have a pet, her momma declaring she had enough to clean up after as was. But when some pals' beloved former stray plopped out eight lil' bugs, we just had to get one. Blame it on Austin dog culture. Blame it on our friends throwing a "puppy party," all eight pecking around the patio adorably. Blame it on the five stints of dog-sitting we've done the last couple months. Whatever, we have a puppy, this dear Ginny Bug, and she's a mighty sweet beaut.
"Hologram Theory" by Muriel Leung
NOÖ has been shredding loud in this new year, dropping a good 16th issue and two of their snappy Weekly specials (with two amazing guest editors--Daniela Olszewska! Natalie Lyalin!). I could blabber about the serious goodness of most everything in these crisp digital pages, but I keep circling back to this poem by Muriel Leung. My own writing has been revolving around my holographic head and the struggle to write a freaking love poem, and this poem skates an giant checkmark are over those two things better than I could ever muster. A true inspiration. Just look at this ending, wow: "They say we are a vat of tingly particles / moving aimlessly in the caution of our own / waste though sometimes we rest / our fingers on the ghost of a lung / that huffs that other body’s good hard air."
Kurt Schwitters' collages
Dean Young brought me to this fella's work, originally through one of his Dada poems. But scooting around the interwebs for more info and artistic dollops, I bloomed inside his strange take on the collage. As a numb-fingered artist, I am sooooo into artistic means that any ol' person can construct (the main woohoo I do for Dada and the like), so collages have always appealed to me. And even more yeah to see that every human means blossomed by someone so freaking good at it. These Merz Pictures pound out the intent of making something beautiful and ground down to the truth of anything is beautiful.
"Hymn" by Jacob van Hodden
Can't find this dynamite of a poem on the internet, so instead of a bit of blabber, I'm just gonna peck out the whole thing:
Oh dream, digestion of my soul!
Miserable scheme by which I protect myself against the frost
Destroyer of everything that threatens me;
Ladle, and advertising kiosque
Oh my firearm!
You immerse the days in crimson darkness
Every night acquires violet horizons
My Grandma Pauline appears as an astral body.
And even a member of the board of health
A worthy but somewhat over-educated
Amuses me once more.
He emerges from his ivy-covered resting place
--Wasn't it just a sky-blue fireplace screen?
(Hey, you there!)
And cackles: "Even -- -- --"
Free after Friedrich von Schiller.
Oh dream, digestion of my soul
Oh my firearm!
This journey deep to the center of poetry is less than a decade old, but even in freshness, I feel like a real dummy for just now getting into Audre Lorde's good work. Reading through the collected poems and several of her essays lately, I'm latching hard onto the powerful spirit that shimmers both personal and political in Lorde's work. And the poetic toolbox contains some mighty good tools--breathtaking linebreaks and soaring metaphor / allusion. So far, my favorites are the poems "Power" and "Sequelae," along with that classic essay "Poetry is Not a Luxury." What are some other necessary Lorde works?
Califone's live show
I didn't even know this Tim Rutili fella's tunes, but my buddy Josh Denslow has a trustworthy set of ears, so when he hung an extra ticket to a special Califone house show in front of my goofy nose, I had to snatch it up. And wow, I'm so glad I did. The sturdy jangle (complete with slide!) and the foot-stomping jingle really does it for me, singer-songwriterly. And what a perfect location, the spread out living room and a bunch of strangers. Living rooms are the new arenas, thank god.
Fixing Timon of Athens
I admit it: I am a theater noooooob. But I do declare the Rude Mechs are top notch, bringing forth some of the most daring, absurd, and playful work (of any genre or medium) I've got to witness. And here they go again, with Kirk Lynn "fixing" an lowly-produced, poorly-received Shakespeare play. This was much better than my first Shakespeare experience; picture this, my middle school buses a whole bunch of us to Indianapolis for a Matrix-inspired rendition of Romeo & Juliet. Both of them had my mouth ajar, but this one sealed it with its fresh wit, drunken spirit, and the always glittering Jay Byrd.
Steph Curry's February
This season I've pretty much only watched my Pacers (my Hoosier-hearted team) and the Warriors (Diana's West Coast roots showing). And what a year to get glued to the Warriors, huh? I loved watched Steph shred the NCAA powerhouses with his unlimited range and sneaky ball-handling. But this rise to top dog in the NBA is incredible. Just look at those February numbers. Here are another mind-blowing stats--he already broke the single season three-point record, with nearly twenty games left to go.
Shaking the Pumpkin (ed. Jerome Rothenberg)
I shredded through the first Rothenberg-assembled anthology I found--Technicians of the Sacred. And quickly, I went out sniffing for this beauty, an collection of Native American poetry. It contains my favorite poem of 2015, "The Invisible Men" by Nakasuk. Founded first in ritual, survival, and spirituality, these poems burn the pages their printed on with their tenacity and honesty. Mark this as the most recent entry on the long list of books that have challenged and altered both my conscious and unconscious life and work.