Diane Guerrero, Ethan Hawke, Carl Hiassen and Marcus Samuelsson headline the Texas Book Festival gala

Actress Diane Guerrero, actor Ethan Hawke, crime writer Carl Hiassen, and chef Marcus Samuelsson will join master of ceremonies Jon Scieszka Nov. 4 at the Texas Book Festival First Edition Literary Gala.

Diane Guerrero is an actress on the hit shows “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin.” Guerrero is a featured Festival author with her book “In The Country We Love: My Family Divided.”

51O7J4PFXYL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Actor and Austin native Ethan Hawke, whom you can soon see in “The Magnificent Seven,” is here with his graphic novel “Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars,”written by Hawke and illustrated by Greg Ruth.

In his crime novels, Carl Hiaasen has written about the misdeeds of many a Florida Man. He is the author of 13 best-sellers, including “Bad Monkey,” “Star Island,” “Nature Girl” and “Lucky You.” Hiassen is a featured Festival author with his novel Razor Girl.

51RPmghsxHLAward-winning chef and cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson was the youngest chef to ever receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times. He won Top Chef Masters Season 2 and is here with his cookbook “The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem,” out in October.

Jon Scieszka is the author of the New York Times bestselling “Frank Einstein” series; his books have sold more than 11 million copies. “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” is a terrific book and he is a very funny guy. 

Proceeds from the First Edition Literary Gala fund the TBF’s providing grants to Texas libraries. Tickets can be purchased here.

Look for “Stranger Things 2” in 2017

Netflix announced today the breakout series “Stranger Things” has been renewed for a second session of nine episodes. Called “Stranger Things 2,” the title itself nod to the 80s-ness  in which the show splashed (and sometimes wallowed).

"We got renewed? Yessss."
“We got renewed? Yessss.”

Round two will debut in 2017 with writers/ creators Matt and Ross Duffer returning. (But probably not Barb.)  Word has it the show will take place in 1984. Check out the trailer below.

Gotta love those chapter titles.

The Statesman spoke to the Austin band Survive about how they ended up writing the show’s haunting, Carpenter-esque theme. And check out our piece on the logo generator that everyone seems to be using.


This week in popular culture: “Narcos,” “The Omega Men” and the greatest funk ever made

omega_men_THE-END_570ecb0cd8b8a8.29432386 “Omega Men: The Complete Series” by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda (DC Comics). A riff on late ’80s comics, complete with the pace, feel and nine-panel grid of “Watchmen,” this terrific series was immediately overshadowed by King’s Marvel book, “The Vision,” which might actually be the best comic being published right this second. Nevertheless, this is compelling space opera. (Aug. 30)

“Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero” (Chicago Review Press). Former American-Statesman pop critic Ed Ward takes on the wild and often depressing story of one of the greatest American rock guitarists, the man who helped Dylan usher in Zimmy’s electric period. (Sept. 2)

“Narcos” (Netflix). Round two of the acclaimed Netflix drama chronicling the story of 1980s drug kingpins such as Pablo Escobar and the efforts to stop them. (Sept. 2)

 R-2914214-1307036558.jpegThe Meters, “A Message from the Meters: The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977” (Real Gone Music). Forty songs by one of the best (or perhaps absolutely the best) funk band in human history — every A and B-side of every single that the Meters produced for three labels. Some of the greatest American music ever made in any genre. (Sept. 2)

King Crimson “Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind” (DGM). A three-CD-and-one-Blu-ray collection featuring songs they performed on their 2015 tours, which, according to many witnesses, was one of the finest of their long careers. (Sept. 2)

This week in popular culture: Frank Ocean, “Halt and Catch Fire,” De La Soul and “The Nice Guys”

Frank-Ocean-Blond-compressedFrank Ocean, “Endless” and “Blonde” (Apple Music). On Aug. 18, a weird little miracle occurred. Frank Ocean, he of the ground-breaking R&B 2011 mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” and the 2012 album “Channel Orange” finally emerged from wherever well-decorated suite of rooms on Mars he has been for the past four-years-and-change and delivered unto us two new collections: A “visual album” called “Endless” that involved Ocean building a staircase and an audio-only set (read: regular old album) called “Blonde” (or “Blond”). (There’s also the massive one-off magazine called “Boys Don’t Cry” which chronicles Ocean’s visual interests.)

Ocean’s return is pretty much the only thing — or at least the top thing, the premier thing — every critic (and possibly a mess of fans) of contemporary pop will be thinking about, contending with, meditating on and arguing about for the next little while.  (Out now.)

 “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC). The critically acclaimed 1980s tech drama is back. The two-hour season 3 première moves the setting from Texas to Silicon Valley, which is kind of too bad. I really enjoyed the show’s fictional-Compaq aspect. (Aug. 23; subsequent episodes will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)

“The Nice Guys” DVD/Blu-ray. Starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, this Shane Black picture ended up being one of the summer’s more egregious critical darlings. It received extremely positive reviews and pretty well bombed at the box office. Perhaps it will gain new life on DVD/streaming/etc. (Aug. 23)

Banks & Steelz, “Anything But Words” (Warner). Wu Tang Clan’s RZA and Interpol’s Paul Banks team up. Guests include Florence Welch, Kool Keith, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and more. Hey, maybe it’ll be good. (Aug. 26)

De La Soul, “And the Anonymous Nobody” (AOI). This iconic crew held a Kickstarter to fund their new album and raised $110,000 within hours. With Usher, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg and more. (Aug. 26)


This week in popular culture: Amy Schumer, Sharon Jones and ‘Ben-Hur’

110“The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer (Gallery). Heavily anticipated first book from this increasingly incredibly popular comedian. Yes, the title feels a little dated, but still: Funny! (Aug. 16)

“Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day” by Joel Selvin (Dey Street) Journalist Joel Selvin versus the most notorious concert of all time. (Aug. 16)

Blood Orange, “Freetown Sound” (Domino). Early notices have been excellent for this new album from British songwriter Dev Hynes. (Aug. 19)

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, “Miss Sharon Jones! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” (Daptone). The soundtrack to the excellent documentary on the great Ms. Jones by Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple. You are probably underrating her right this second. (Aug. 19)

Dolly Parton, “Pure & Simple” (Dolly/RCA Nashville). Speaking of women people actually underrate a bit, Parton’s 43rd (no, really) album has what she has called a stripped-down “garage band” feel. She writes rock-solid country songs the way you and I breathe. (Aug. 19)

kubo“Kubo and the Two Strings.” A 3-D, stop-motion animated movie set in ancient Japan, where a boy named Kubo becomes involved in a vendetta from the spirit world. Expect gods and monsters and possibly samurai. (Aug. 19)

“Ben-Hur.” Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov (“Night Watch,” “Day Watch”) takes a swing at some famous 1880 fanfiction based on the greatest story ever told. There was a movie made of the book in 1959; I’m sure nobody remembers it. (Note to certain readers from whom I have already heard: That is a joke.) (Aug. 19)




Guess who shows up in the new “Rogue One” trailer?

Oh, yes. That guy.

Darth Vader makes a split-second cameo at the tail end of the two-minute “Rogue One” clip, which premiered during Thursday night’s Olympic Games.

The trailer, the second in what is sure to be a series prior to the film’s December opening date, gives us all sorts of new glimpses into the Star Wars flick. (We discussed the first one here.)

Directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) and written by Chris Weitz with story credits going to John Knoll and Gary Whitta (and a probable assist by Tony Gilroy), “Rogue One” is reportedly the story of how the Rebels got the plans for the Death Star.

A few notes on what is new in this thing. Nerd level of the following? Red/Severe:

— We hear a bit more from Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker, who will one day again play a role where he doesn’t look like he was run over by a bus), and we see a Star Destroyer hovering (well, it’s more of a loom, really) over some sort of temple-looking structure. Have we ever seen a Star Destroyer in atmosphere? I can’t think of a time, which is another example of giving viewers something they have not seen before in the Star Wars universe (at least not in the movies), which seems to be both a goal of this film and the opposite of “The Force Awakens,” which very consciously repeated beats from the Original Trilogy.

— A brief shot of the U-Wing ship. I am pulling for these movies to go on so long that they use every letter of the alphabet.

— We hear more from Captain Cassian Andor  (Diego Luna). Gee, he’s dreamy.

— And then there’s our first look at Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), shooting at Imperial troops, and another scene of Chirrut Imwe (the almighty Donnie Yen), the latter yakking about the Force and dispatching Imperial troops — not with a lightsaber but with a staff. Is he a Jedi or are there Force-users who are not Jedi but a different strain of warrior-priest/monk?

– And then there’s K-2SO, a droid played by Alan Tudyk (via motion-capture). He (It?) has Rebel markings but an Imperial demeanor — he notes that he will not kill Jyn (Felicity Jones) as the Captain has approved of her. The movies have always shown us friendly, if somewhat neurotic, Rebel droids (C-3PO) or mindless soldiers. (I have been reminded that IG-88 and 4-LOM were droids; my nerd card has also been suspended.)

This is the first time we’ve seen a droid that would kill you soon as look at you. If you want more of this sort of thing, I cannot recommend the Marvel series “Darth Vader” highly enough. The Imperial protocol droid called Triple-Zero is essentially Evil Threepio. Sample quote: “I’m 0-0-0 or Triple-Zero, if you prefer. I’m a protocol droid, specialized in etiquette, customs, translation and torture, ma’am.”

— There’s another shot of the Imperial executive known as Director Orson Krennic. He’s played by Ben Mendelsohn but is a dead ringer for Hugh Laurie. Can Laurie maybe play an Imperial dude in another movie? Grand Moff Hugh Laurie or something. Just think about it, Disney.

— The final shot of the Rebel crew serves as a sharp reminder than this is by far the most diverse cast a Star Wars movie has ever produced.

— And finally, there’s the back of Vader’s helmet and that familiar wheeze. He’s looking at a “New Hope”-era display, presumable of the Death Star, presumably of it clearing a planet and maybe blowing it up. We’ll see.

What did you think?

Star Wars marathon sure to be a force at the Long Center

Star-Wars-Long-Center-NEW-640x420The Star Wars – The Original Trilogy marathon Aug. 13 at Dell Hall, presented by Alamo Drafthouse and the Long Center, is pretty cool: the 1997 special edition versions of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” back to back. It will take about nine hours. Many people will be dressed up. A $15 box lunch is also available (that you can eat in the theater).

Real talk: It would be amazing if these movies were the “original unaltered trilogy,” as they have come to be known. (You know, the movies that will set you back $170 on DVD, if you can find them at all.) People would storm the gates of the Long Center. A holiday would be declared.

But, no, it’s the Greedo Shot First versions.

Which, at this point, probably only rankles those of us who remember, say, the Reagan administration firsthand. In fairness, it has been nearly 20 years since even the modified versions were shown in theaters. And there is at least a whole new generation of fans who were not yet born when Han shot first, so this event will probably dazzle them, if also put their rear ends to sleep.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about Star Wars on bahalf of the Statesman. There’s this story from 2002 — around the time all of us were figuring out just how grim the prequels were continuing to be — about the evolution of Star Wars fan culture and the extent to which fans kept Star Wars alive. Do I think fans can get a bit possessive about such things? Absolutely. But I can also understand why.

Here is my review of “The Force Awakens,” which I have seen a few times since. My thoughts on it are pretty much the same — it is exactly the movie the majority of Star Wars fans wanted to see.

Rogue_One,_A_Star_Wars_Story_posterTo be completely honest, the hunk of Star Wars media that made me pump my fist unabashedly was the trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

From the jackets (Star Wars jackets are just the best sci-fi jackets) to Felicity Jones heading up a genuinely diverse cast to the awesomeness of the emergency klaxon, the trailer for this thing is note-perfect.

(And yes, this will be updated after  the new “Rogue One” trailer drops Thurday during the Olympics.)