Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The movie extra passes on

My piece about Odell Grant over at The Austin Chronicle begins like this:

Photo by Joe M. O'Connell

Nobody had a face like Odell Grant. The lines curlicued and dug deep like an etching of the totality of time. Then he’d break into a grin and his light eyes would ignite with mischief and reckless youth.

Odell only semi-jokingly called me his agent. I’d written a 2006 Austin Chronicle story about his life’s improbable last act as a film and television extra capable of stealing a scene, and he was convinced with my guidance he could become a story. Two years ago we met for lunch for the last time and he regaled me with tales from the set. “I was embalmed and buried in the low-budget film Elvis and Annabelle,” Odell says of the film in which he is featured as a dead coach. “I had my funeral. Nobody I know of has met their pallbearers.”

That was just a test run. Odell died for real Tuesday at age 79 surrounded by family and Jeanne, his wife of more than 50 years. The couple used to travel the state selling crafts at Sami shows, their daughter Lisa continuing the family tradition before she turned real estate agent.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why your cell phone photos aren't art

 My mini-rant over at The Austin Chronicle:

"Caroline was at the hospital waiting for word on her daughter. At 77, Caroline's face was distinctive and beautiful. I approached from across the room, took a knee, and asked if I could take her portrait. I was testing out a medium format film camera I'd bought on eBay for cheap, I explained. From her purse, Caroline pulled out a photo of her with her husband in 1955 and held it in her lap. Snap. Then I took a digital pic. Snap again. Email to Caroline's family. Post on Facebook.
Here's the deal you already know: That film camera is a relic. It takes beautiful photographs, but I haven't had a home darkroom since the Nineties, so the film will go into the mail (once I get around to it) to a processing house which will snail mail it back to me. The pink of Caroline's cheeks will likely be more vibrant, the soul reflected in her eyes more soulful, but time will have marched forward."
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fear drove Hitckcock, author says

My conversation with Michael Wood about his new Alfred Hitchcock bio for  Kirkus Reviews:

The famed director Alfred Hitchcock’s secret to success? He was afraid.
That’s Michael Wood’s take in Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much, a thoughtful peek into the director’s work and psyche released as part of the Icons series, which has in previous volumes delved into everyone from Jesus to Stalin to Edgar Allan Poe. Hitchcock is most famed as the master of suspense, and the book submits that it points back to his youth when Hitchcock was consumed by the fear of being stopped by a policeman.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

North Texas Book Festival coming to Denton

Winning the North Texas Book Festival Award was a big moment as I was getting the word out on my novel-in-stories Evacuation Plan. It's tough work writing,
and perhaps even tougher to promote your work in a world that is increasingly segmented. Check out this list of writers. They're all working it. If you're in North Texas, go say hello to them and buy a book! Here are the details:

North Texas Book Festival, which celebrates all genres of writing, is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts in Denton. More than 50 authors from Texas and Oklahoma will sign and sell their books. The festival is open to the public, and there’s no admission charge. In addition, several authors will speak to readers in small sessions. The center is at 400 E. Hickory St.

SXSW 2015 in photos and words

I've been remiss is posting here lately, so here are some random images from South by Southwest that give a bit of the feel of the combo music, film and interactive fest. The images are all  ©Joe O'Connell.

I once again covered the film fest for The Austin Chronicle. I interviewed Alan Berg, the head of Austin's very cool Arts & Labor film cooperative about his new doc The Jones Family Will Make a Way. I also got an inside look into the moment the punk rock scene exploded in Austin. I reviewed the films Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine, The Goob and Sailing a Sinking Sea.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waco in 12 photos

Moments from a day in Waco, Texas.

The first thing I saw when driving in. Waco, like many cities, is tearing itself down, reinventing. ©Joe O'Connell

Downtown triangles. ©Joe O'Connell

Church Under the Bridge. ©Joe O'Connell

Animatronic and very lifelike. ©Joe O'Connell

Dr Pepper horse. ©Joe O'Connell

The past alive today. ©Joe O'Connell

Waco remains the only city where I've seen Klansmen in their full outfits. Not sure what that has to do with this photo... ©Joe O'Connell

25 years ago people came from all over to dance here. ©Joe O'Connell
Five sisters and their mother at Ninfa's restaurant.
©Joe O'Connell

The Praetorian houses both lofts and an art collective. ©Joe O'Connell

Sorry, Schmaltz's fans, the very similar (black olives?) Schlotzsky's opened in South Austin four years before this place, which is pretty good. I like the garlic butter they add to the sourdough. ©Joe O'Connell

The last image burned in my mind as we left town. ©Joe O'Connell

10 weird Austin moments

10 weird things seen in Austin on a Sunday while Christmas shopping:

#1: Darth Vader.
 ©Joe O'Connell

#2: Smoke bomb (by the time I could get the camera out they had mostly run away).
 ©Joe O'Connell

#3 This chicken.  
©Joe O'Connell

#4: Jesus.
©Joe O'Connell
#5: "Thai, how are you?" (The sign at the church across the street features another Daniel Johnston-ish image and says "Stressed out? Come pray with us.")
©Joe O'Connell

#6: Bill's pale blue eyes.
©Joe O'Connell

#7: Grinch, makeup artist.
©Joe O'Connell

#8: Guitarist Darin Layne at Mother's. I recognized the St. Edward's University music teacher eating at the bar, he gifted me with his latest CD and then sat down across the room to perform.
©Joe O'Connell

#9: A sloth being fed grapes.
©Joe O'Connell

#10 A dork, a nerd and a geek.
©Joe O'Connell