Houston author Rick Mitchell on Modern Jazz: "There's Too Much Good Music Out There!"

Categories: Books, Jazz

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Photo by Pin Lim
Cassandra Wilson during the Da Camera's 2012/13 season at the Cullen Theater.

No matter how great you think your music room is, Rick Mitchell's is better. Way better.

The longtime local journo--who spent a decade as the jazz and pop writer for The Houston Chronicle and even longer as the Artistic Director for the Houston International Festival--settles into a comfy, well-used easy chair in the center of an area the size of a small apartment at his home.

The visages of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, and - oddly - the boys from Hanson in their teen dream prime stare down at his stereo setup (featuring two 1972 huge Infinity speakers) and a full drum kit. Bookshelves groan with music tomes. And around him are shelves lined with thousands--maybe tens of thousands--of CDs, cassettes, and vinyl records, so many that they spill onto the floor, albeit in neat piles.

A good chunk of that music is jazz titles. Appropriate, since Mitchell is here to talk about his latest book, Jazz in the New Millennium: Live and Well (160 pp., Dharma Moon Press, $24.95/$9.99 e-book).

In it, he collects close to 60 profiles culled from his program notes and interviews of jazz musicians who have all performed at Da Camera of Houston's jazz series since 2000.

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10 of the Best Things About SDCC 2014

Categories: Pop Culture

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Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
San Diego Comic-Con may actually be the greatest show on Earth.
There is so much happening at San Diego Comic-Con that all any individual gets to see or do is a very small percentage of what's going on. There are, of course, the big Hollywood announcements that come from Hall H, but there's a whole world beyond the big panels that makes SDCC the amazing, compelling event that it is.

Here are 10 things that we saw that were completely awesome.


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Finding the Black and White Truth on Tomlinson Hill

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If your car radio is usually tuned to NPR, you may have already heard from journalist and author Chris Tomlinson--his recent appearance on Fresh Air with Terry Gross likely caused a driveway moment or two. Tomlinson will be discussing and signing his new book, Tomlinson Hill, at Brazos Bookstore on Wednesday, July 30, and he says that sharing the story of his own Texas family's slaveholding roots is an exercise in personal and historical honesty.

"Almost every day I read or hear a Texan bragging about being a fourth or fifth-generation Texan, but I don't hear them talk about what that means," said Tomlinson, who recently joined the staff of the Houston Chronicle. "If you can trace your family history back that far, you are going to have a family history much like mine. I get angry when I hear people talk about being a fifth-generation Texan, but they don't want to talk about slavery or Jim Crow; they want to choose the history they talk about, and when they do that, they deny African Americans their history and their experience, and that's problematic."

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Pop Rocks: Bruce Campbell Might Be the Coolest Dude Ever, the Twitter Proof

Categories: Pop Rocks

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I did not come to know actor Bruce Campbell until I started watching the show Burn Notice, the popular USA Network Miami Vice-meets-The A-Team spy show that ended its seven-year run in 2013. Cambell played Sam Axe, a former FBI agent and Navy Seal who loves beer, the ladies and kicking ass.

It wasn't until a friend introduced me to his zombie-killing role as Ash in the cult classic The Evil Dead films that I realized he also is a living horror film legend. He is in high demand at horror and sci-fi conventions and has now revealed that he will write and star in a television version of the classic horror film series where he solidified his cult hero status. Director Sam Rami, who has cast Campbell in numerous roles including The Evil Dead is also on board.

But if you think that's cool (or even if you don't), consider his Twitter feed where he routinely and hilariously responds to questions from all comers, as well as retweets posts from fans, particularly the ones who claim to have named children after him or his characters, those who have tattoos of his face and war vets, a particular interest.

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Book Check: The Other Side, Lacy M. Johnson

Categories: Books

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Title: The Other Side

Tell Me About the Author: Lacy M. Johnson is the Director of Academic Initiatives at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston; she earned a Ph.D. from the university's acclaimed creative writing program in 2008. She's the author of the memoir Trespasses, and her creative and academic work has appeared in Tin House, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, Sentence, and Gulf Coast. She is also the co-artistic director of [the invisible city], a multimedia project that made its debut at this year's CounterCurrent Festival. [the invisible city] allows people to connect through narratives specific to location, community, and culture.


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Podcast: Karina Longworth on Old Hollywood

Categories: Film and TV

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Karina Longworth
On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice interview film critic and author Karina Longworth, who's just launched a fascinating new podcast on the history of Hollywood called You Must Remember This.

The Leftovers: Things Get Metal

Categories: Film and TV

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Let it never be said that HBO doesn't know how to ramp up a show in the opening.

This weeks' episode begins with a member of the Guilty Remnant guilt getting duct taped to a tree and stoned to death in a gruesome and explicit manner. It's a horrific seen, even for someone that just watched Eric Northman ripping faces off the Yakuza just an hour earlier. It's especially painful as the GR cultist gives up her vow of silence at the end to plead for her life just as a rock shatters her skull.

In any good post-apocalyptic story you've got your new demographic. Bioshock has splicers. The Last of Us has the fungus zombies and the new authoritarian military. It's not really important what you pick as long as you pick something to define the new world paradigm.

The Leftovers has picked the GR, and they are wonderful for reviewing the world where so little had to change to drive it insane. Again, only two percent of population was taken on the great departure. That's all that was needed to make us lose our grip.

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No One's Dog at Diverse Works: A Heartbreaking Collection

Categories: Photography

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marypasicatanphotography Via Diverse Works Flickr page
Corridor Rescue, June 2014
As a Houstonian, it's difficult to ignore the plethora of homeless dogs roaming about the city. The actual number of strays, however, is staggering. Over a million homeless animals call the Houston streets home. In fact, in a 2010 Health of Houston Survey, it was stated that strays are considered the No. 1 neighborhood problem in the city. It is with this in mind, that Diverse Works, Barrio Dogs and Box 13 have collaborated on a new exhibition, No One's Dog.

The show, which opened this past Saturday at the Diverse Works gallery, is a "community based" project that aims to shine a light on the city's stray issue. The three organizations put out an open call for community members to upload high-resolution photos of homeless or hurt dogs. Additionally, Barrio Dogs staff passed out 30 disposable cameras to residents of the East End, including children. The results were more than 100 photos of the desperate situation. Diverse Works chose the photos that they felt best encapsulated the issue, printed them and these images are currently on display through August 9.

A word of warning: The exhibition is not for the faint of heart. Animal lover or not, there is no way that this collection won't grab your heartstrings and tug them the hell out of your chest. I found myself tearing up multiple times. Many of the photos are haunting, some even difficult to look at. Emaciated dogs, broken down, hiding in shadows, alone in fields are some of the moments captured by the various participants of the project. Despite the subject matter being tough, the photos themselves are stunning; an odd surprise given they were taken by amateurs - and some are even very young amateurs.

This story continues on the next page.


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A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James: High Style Ballgowns and Furniture at The Menil Collection

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Paul Hester
A striking sofa (rear) and a concert gown (right) designed by Charles James for the de Menils

A chance to get a glimpse of how the other half lives, or perhaps the top 1 percent, is available in the exhibit A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James, as The Menil Collection presents the exhibition of some of the gowns, and furniture, designed by James (1906-1978), known as "America's First Couturier".

The British-born designer created gowns for Dominique de Menil, and furniture for her home with John de Menil - this was the only residential commission for James, whose talents has been discovered by the de Menils in the 1940's, and who promoted him through gifts to museums of his work.

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3 Texas Writers Horror Fans Should Be Reading

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Art by Fergal Fitzpatrick
Through Dark Angles by Don Webb
Most Texans are well aware of our solid history in horror and alternative films, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the more recent works of Robert Rodriguez. Slightly less known is the important role our state has played in the development of many horror writers.

Texas has long attracted notable writers of the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres, going back to at least the late '20s when a young man named Robert Ervin Howard, living in Cross Plains, began writing adventure stories for the seminal pulp magazine Weird Tales.

Howard would go on to create the ultimate barbarian hero, Conan, pioneering the "Sword and Sorcery" genre of fantasy with that character and others. He also was friends with H.P. Lovecraft and penned several still-frightening horror stories, before his death in 1936 at the age of 30.


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