Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spencer's new book examines 'Secret Sex Lives'

Suzy Spencer gets her photo snapped for our Austin Chronicle interview.
Check out my interview with Suzy Spencer (it's all about sex) in today's Austin Chronicle about her new book Secret Sex Lives. (Did I mention the sex?) Here's the beginning (which is somewhat about sex):

Meeting Suzy Spencer at the IHOP to discuss her book Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality seems both appropriate and wrong. Scanning the mostly middle-aged and older crowd, I can't help but wonder if these are the very people in the book – the sometimes sad, sometimes funny folks prowling Craigslist for extramarital sex partners, swinging, swapping, and playing out new and oh-so-naughty roles.

"The first advice I got was to meet my sex sources at the IHOP," Spencer says. "It's because of all of the security cameras. I was told to sit where the camera would be pointed at them." She points up, and I see the camera staring down at me. "They're just regular everyday people," she says of her sources. "The majority of them you wouldn't think were doing this if you met them on the street. For instance, the guy I call Coyote in the book is a regular good old boy who just happens to cheat on his wife."

You can read the rest (which is full of talk about SEX!) here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Virgin Mary image appears in college's 'weeping wall'

An image of the Virgin Mary has appeared in the residue from a wall outside Austin Community College's Rio Grande campus that appears to weep water.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Perry's new film commish marks a shift in focus

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that Heather Page is the new Texas film commissioner. She's got an interesting mix of background: she's worked for the Texas Film Commission (which is housed in Perry's offices), she's an actual working camerawoman and she's an at-large member of the industry lobbying group the Texas Motion Picture Alliance.

Her predecessor Evan Fitzmaurice, as well as his brief temporary replacement David Morales, is an attorney from Perry's staff. His legal background was seen by many as a desire to focus on cleaning up the process of distributing film incentive payments aimed at attracting film, television and videogame projects to the state. It was also a means of keeping the commission quietly chugging along--emphasis on quietly.

To mention the obvious, Page is also a woman, which is a plus considering allegations of sexual harassment involving former film commish Bob Hudgins just prior to his stepping down in 2010.  Hudgins, who had worked actively in the film industry, was instrumental in getting the Texas Legislature to approve a film incentives program. He was dynamo who pulled the state's many different regions together.

So the latest announcement can be seen as an effort to move back to the original role of the Texas film commissioner: attracting projects to the state.

Just one question: will Page  talk to the media? Hudgins saw that as part of his job. Fitzmaurice began referring all calls to the Perry's press office where they mostly died a slow death of despair.

Here's the press release from Perry's office:

Gov. Rick Perry has named Heather Page of Austin director of the Texas Film Commission. The commission supports Texas' growing and diverse media industries, and helps increase Texas' competitive position worldwide as a production destination. Page is an accomplished motion picture camerawoman, having worked on major feature films and television shows such as Revenge, Friday Night Lights, Armageddon and The Green Mile. She is a former workforce training administrator for the Texas Film Commission, where she helped implement the Workforce Training Program created in 2007 by the Texas Legislature. She is a board member of the Society of Camera Operators, chair of the International Cinematographers Guild Scholarship Fund and co-founder and director of Beyond the Lights Celebrity Golf Classic.

Page received a bachelor's degree in cinema from Denison University, a master's degree in cinema studies from New York University, and a certificate in graduate cinematography studies from the American Film Institute.

Photos begin to surface from Terrence Malick's Austin film shoot

The first action photos are starting to surface from the Austin shoot of Terrence Malick's film formerly known as Lawless. Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara join Malick in this shot taken this week. See more photos here at

For my earlier report on the film, which is set in the Austin music scene, go here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Murder, politics and Texas State football

John & Oriter Castleberry in happier(?) times.
The story goes that John Kendrick Castleberry, a respected doctor in Nacogdoches, had a thing for his nurse Dora. They first poisoned her husband, Luther, then put a dab of the same potion in a cup of tea that John’s wife, Oriter, was drinking.

After a suitable waiting period, the doctor and nurse got married and had a child. Then the doc turned up dead, and Dora left with all their cash and the youngest child.

The good doctor’s older children grew up angry and mean. If you got in their way on the streets of Nacogdoches, you paid the price. One of those Castleberry boys was my grandfather, who became first a cop then a convicted swindler. I don’t remember him, but I’m told the last time he was in our house he had a gun in his hand. I think of this story every time Texas State plays Stephen F. Austin in football. I start to wonder how much of the East Texas voodoo the Lumberjacks football team brings with them to San Marcos.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

David Gorden Green's 'Joe' with Nicolas Cage gets ready

A casting call held this past weekend in Austin, Texas, for the film Joe gives a clear sign David Gordon Green is prepping to shoot his film Joe around these parts shortly, which also means Nicolas Cage sightings will soon become common.

Cage has been cast as Joe, an ex-con who “becomes the unlikeliest of role models to 15-year-old Gary Jones, the oldest child of a homeless family ruled by a drunk, worthless father.”

The film is set in Mississippi and based on Larry Brown's book Joe. Financing is from Worldwide Entertainment, which says in a press release that filming will start in mid-November in the Lone Star State.

Green moved to Austin recently, where he's closer to his mentor Terrence Malick. The move and the new film probably mark a shift back to more artful entertainment for Green, whose career took a Pineapple Express detour. Once upon a time Green moved in with then St. Stephen's Episcopal School English teacher Joe Conway as the two refined Conway's Undertow script.

Malick is a St. Stephen's alum and major supportor who put Conway and Green together for the project. And, interestingly, this latest development likely means Green and Malick will be in production on Austin-based films at the same time.

Now if only Richard Kelly would follow through on his apparently stalled  plans to shoot Corpus Christi in Austin (and, of course, Corpus Christi), Austin could truly become an independent film mecca.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another casting call for unnamed Terrence Malick film

Act quickly, Austinites. This just in about an unidentified film that is of course Terrence Malick's project formerly known as Lawless set against the Austin music scene:


Sarah Dowling Casting and Vicky Boone Casting are conducting a search for people from the Austin music industry of all ages and styles – especially hipster types, rockers, punks, americana artists and those with a distinctive visual style - who are interested in speaking and non-speaking roles in an upcoming major Hollywood movie to be filmed in Texas.

We are looking for:
and friends of musicians!

If you fit the above list, please just show up Sunday. No appointment is necessary:

The open casting call will be held on Sunday, September 16 in Austin, TX at: Austin Studios 1901 East 51st Street. Austin TX from 2PM - 7PM.

Musicians SHOULD BRING THEIR INSTRUMENTS and may be asked to play.

Interested parties may email us at or call our Information Line at 512-505-2063. No appointment is necessary. Acting experience is also not necessary. Compensation will be on the scale of professional actors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Swim Test

This ran in today's Williamson County Sun. Their online edition is very limited, so I present it here.

The swim test


I’ve never been sadder to close the door on summer.
            As the father of a 5-year-old boy, summer is a time of play, growth, adventure and lots and lots of trips to the swimming pool. Nicholas and I sank to the bottom of the public pool in Taylor and pretended to be watching Spongebob Squarepants episodes. I tossed him in the air and watched as he sank out of sight then sprang out of the water with a grin.
            When summer started, Nicholas hadn’t even gotten up the nerve to jump in the water from the pool’s edge. He’s worn glasses since the age of 2, and his vision has led to some timidity about physical challenges, so he stayed shyly on the pool’s edge. Instead he watched other kids do cannonballs until one day he wandered down the pool a ways and quickly leaped in. Then he did it over and over again.
Soon swim lessons began. My wife Tiffany and I watched Nicholas cling to his swim teacher Jaci’s neck in the deep water of the adult lap pool. It was a continuation of last year when he did the same thing. But Jaci made it into a game, and soon he was playing and learning.
            During the lesson, Nicholas eyed an inflatable obstacle course that filled two pool lanes. That afternoon we returned and tried to pay the $2 for him to try it out. “Has he passed the swim test?” we were asked. The test, he learned, involved swimming all the way down an adult pool lap lane without touching anything but water.
            “I’ll do that before summer is over,” Nicholas said.
            We nodded, but expected little.
            Jaci worked with Nicholas and one other boy for two weeks. They pretended to be hunting sharks and floated with her across the pool. He began to actually swim, but always his hands reached out for Jaci after a short distance.
            We returned as often as possible to the kid’s pool in the late afternoons. The water was shallow enough for Nicholas to stand. He began to realize he could swim, but he liked to hang onto a giant green noodle as his hands made ice cream scoops and his feet turned into frog legs.
            One day we met a fish-like boy in the pool. He was going to try to swim across the adult pool and pass the swim test. We went along and watched as he alternatively clung to the side and swam toward his mother. He made it at least halfway by himself.
            It took a trip to Nicholas’ 6-year-old cousin Fen’s house in Dallas to make Nicholas a true swimmer. Fen’s parents had sprung for a backyard pool, which was mostly too deep for Nicholas to stand. He, Fen and Fen’s little brother Bennett enjoyed stripping out of their bathing suits and dive-bombing naked into the water. Later in the day, Nicholas swam across the pool to me. I saw the “click” in his eyes. He could swim now.
            Summer days were running dry. We made one of those last trips to the Taylor city pool, but rain was threatening. We arrived with a sack of burgers and found the pool closed temporarily for the weather. If no thunder sounded, it would open in 30 minutes. We ate in the car and waited. Finally, 45 minutes later the pool welcomed us.
            The water in the kid pool was cool and refreshing—many public pools these days are equipped with mushroom-shaped chillers—and worth the wait. Suddenly Nicholas told us, “I’m ready.” Ready for what? “To swim across the pool.”
            My wife and I looked at each other and shrugged. We followed him to the big pool. He and Tiffany went down the lane, Nicholas stopping frequently to grab the side of the pool.
“Again,” he said.
This time he swam most of the way by himself, part underwater and part above. About halfway, he grabbed his mother for a moment. The teenage lifeguard was watching and said Nicholas would have to do it all by himself to pass.
“Want to make it official?” he asked.
“Yes,” my son said.
I followed in front of Nicholas in the water, expecting his hand to reach out for the pool’s edge or my grasp at any moment. It never did. The progress was slow, but the lifeguard and two awed parents watched as his slowly but surely reached the other side.
I thought parents were supposed to teach lessons to their children. I never expected my son to teach one to me about perseverance and believing in the possibilities inside us all. Soon his arms sported two wrist bands. The orange one was for passing the swim test. The red one was his ticket to the obstacle course.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Linklater quietly films 'Midnight' in Greece

Richard Linklater has gone back for another take on an old story. The Austin auteur's triquel Before Midnight continues the story begun with 1995's Before Sunrise and 2004's Before Sunset. The latest film were quietly shot in Greece and just wrapped, according to press release received by Variety. Apparently filming began in mid-August.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are back in front of the camera and once again get writing credit along with Linklater. The trio earned an Oscar nomination for Before Sunset. But for my money, Before Sunrise is a better film solely for Kim Krizan's script contributions that better fleshed out Delpy's character.

My big question is: does Linklater know that according to "his" Facebook page he lives in Los Angeles and goes by "Rich?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Malick film starts shooting in Austin

This rather vague posting says shooting began yesterday in Austin on the untitled Terrence Malick film formerly known as Lawless:

Untitled Independent Feature

Project Type: Independent Feature
Production Company: Buckeye Pictures, LLC
Shooting Location: Austin
Start Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Shooting Schedule: 40 Days

Accepting résumés for assistants and interns in multiple departments.

Crew positions will be Paid & Unpaid.

Submit resumes to:

Read a whole lot more about the film here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Terrence Malick's next film ready for Austin-Taylor shoot

Chris, a piano tuner showed up to audition in Taylor.
 It’s (probably) no longer called Lawless, but Terrence Malick’s next film has officially opened production offices in Austin, Texas, my source confirms. Earlier word had the film, which is set in the Austin music scene, to lens this fall, which looks to be on track. Two casting calls were held this weekend—one in Austin and one in nearby Taylor.
It’s not likely a coincidence that Taylor recently attained the Film-Friendly City status from the Texas Film Commission. Smithville got the same title around the time filming of Malick’s The Tree of Life took place there.
The casting calls were more intensive than the normal extras call most major films have with actual footage taken of applicants. In Austin one  applicant was asked to tell a story about love for the camera, while yours truly applied in Taylor and just plain jabbered on. The casting calls didn’t include the name of the film, but a closer look revealed that Buckeye Pictures--Malick’s joint—is behind the pic.
A piece of the film—possibly just pre-production—shot last fall with Christian Bale during the Austin City Limits music festival, then later with Ryan Gosling during Fun Fun Fun Fest.
The film’s logline is said to be: “Two intersecting love triangles. It is a story of sexual obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.”
Casting calls listed on Facebook give a hint of the extent music will play in the film. That includes a Peter Tosh look-alike, musicians, scenesters, comedians, indie bands, country club types, Latina women ages 50 and up, rappers who can freestyle, local storytellers and people from other countries.
The in-recent-years-prolific Malick has been shooting Knight of Cups this summer in Los Angeles, also with Bale and Natalie Portman, who is also said to be in the Austin project with Bale as well. Malick has been adding large casts to his recent films, with many a star ending up on the cutting room floor. Some folks conjecture that the two films are actually one and the same film. With the secrecy behind a Malick project, nothing is certain except that it will be interesting, and now that it will be shot in Central Texas.

Malick's Oklahoma-set and -shot film To the Wonder was to premiere today at the Venice Film Festival.