Written by Jane Wu
Little known tip: The humor and satire book events at the Texas Book Festival (this weekend, Oct. 16-17 at the Capitol) are as entertaining and hilarious as what youâ€™d expect at a comedy club minus the hefty cover charge, rude hecklers, and the two-drink minimum. And you donâ€™t even have to like books to enjoy the show.
In recent years attending the fest, Iâ€™ve been regaled with such performances from the editors of The Onion (presenting clips and quips from â€œOur Dumb World: Atlas of the Planet Earthâ€) and Amy Sedaris promoting her book (â€œI Like You: Hospitality Under the Influenceâ€) in the Cooking Tent.
I look forward to Saturdayâ€™s roster with such LOL luminaries as P.J. Oâ€™Rourke, The Onionâ€™s Jean Tisdale, and National Lampoon's Rick Meyerowitz. Thereâ€™s even a panel titled "Funny Business: Good Reads for Guys.â€
Preceding that, perhaps with equal parts style and satire, is â€œTrue Prep: Itâ€™s a Whole New Old World,â€ from the author of the '80s classic, â€œThe Official Preppy Handbook,â€ Lisa Birnbach, with noted book designer Chip Kidd.
If you go to the festival this weekend, bring your sense of humor, and maybe even a book bag. Even if youâ€™re not a book lover, you may still be overcome with laughter after hearing wild and crazy antics from the National Lampoon session.
P.S. Look for the Texas Highways booth at the festival's exhibitor tents. Some of our staff will be handing out free copies of the November issue, which includes a special subscription offer at our lowest rate. Also, Editor Charles Lohrmann will be moderating various panels, but alas, not National Lampoonâ€™s.
I spent a rainy Saturday evening in Dallas with my sister, Joan and my daughter, Lucy strolling the Bishop Arts District. Despite the soggy weather, we were able to explore many of the shops covered in the February TH feature on Bishop Arts, and then some. With its mix of modern and vintage retail wares, casual cafés and upscale restaurants, and friendly, relaxed ambiance, the Bishop Arts District felt more like Austin to us than Dallas.
Every March, when the SXSW Music Conference comes to Austin, capping off a week of the SXSW Interactive and Film Conferences, the city embraces, and braces for the hordes of attendees and massive traffic snarls in and around downtown. At Texas Highways, with our offices just a stone's throw from the epicenter of downtown, where the conference takes place, and South Congress Avenue, where many free music events occur, we feel the effects of the SXSW tsunami, from press releases touting SXSW-related events to courier delays from our prepress vendor due to the gridlock. Music from the day parties can even be heard in our parking lot. The aural lure combined with sunny, mild spring-like weather can tempt even the most dedicated worker to distraction.
This year's April Wildflower Issue, 22 pages of the best of Texas' spring color, marks my 15th year designing this spectacular feature. One of my biggest challenges each year is in presenting flower photos that are fresh yet timeless, and composing striking image combinations. This could not be possible without the hundreds of photo submissions we receive from photographers throughout the state. Much, if not most of the credit goes to Photo Editor Griff Smith for reviewing all of the submissions and paring them down to just over a hundred. Of these, only 22 were selected for this year's feature. The criteria for selection includes such things as whether a particular flower is mentioned on one of the four wildflower drives, the region where the flower was shot, and of course, visual impact, color, and composition.
The trailer-café craze that has consumed Austin tends to be a mostly daytime affair, with many if not most in my neighborhood rolling up their windows by sunset. I was delighted to discover that Odd Duck Farm to Trailer at 1219 S. Lamar begins serving at 5 p.m., perfect for "cook's night out" (the "cook" in this case being me).
If you're planning to tour Quirky Houston, I suggest you start your day with breakfast. On a recent visit, my daughter tipped me off to Baby Barnaby's, next door to its big brother Barnaby's Cafe (which serves lunch and dinner) in the Montrose area, the birthplace of Houston-quirky. This colorful cafe is cozy, casual, and cheap. The menu features a few whimsically named items like Green Eggs (eggs scrambled with spinach, artichoke hearts, and jack cheese) as well as breakfast basics, like bacon-and-eggs and pancakes. City-diner staples such as the Lox Platter, and Corned Beef Hash and Eggs are offered, along with Tex-Mex favorites like breakfast tacos, migas and huevos rancheros. My daughter had the Lox Platter and I had the basic Breakfast Plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and grits. Both the standard fare and the lox/bagel/cream cheese were prepared "just-right," as were the portions, not too filling and perfect for packing in a day to tour Houston's quirky sights. Houston brims with quirky breakfast places. Tell us about your favorite Quirky Houston breakfast spot.
Last Saturday, I went to Houston's Bayou City Art Festival Downtown with my sister, Jean. I recently discovered that this festival had a former life as the Westheimer Art Festival, which I attended over 30 years ago.
I took advantage of Austin's Free Museum Day to catch up on a few exhibits I've been meaning to see.
In the photo: From Texas Highways, Dec. 1981: As she often does for Christmas visitors, Wanda Timmermann stands on the stairs to read reminiscences of Christmas 1849 while her sisters listen. Standing, from left, are Hulda, Willie Mae, and Melitta behind Tekla and Stella. Meta sits in front.