Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One semester down

Well, as of today, I am six hours toward a master's degree in publishing. We finished our two classes with a lunch at Fossatti's Deli, and I admit I enjoy being back in school and learning about book design and getting my fonts study back. (In my day job, I use nothing but Times New Roman, so it is nice to lay out a book using Sabon and learn about Sumner Stone, who invented the Stone font.)

Once I get 18 hours, I will be eligible to teach courses as an adjunct and I think I am looking forward to that as well. Christine is finishing her second semester as a full-time English Comp instructor.

I am also exhausted as we came off of hosting guests at our home each night during the Centro Victoria Pachanga. Then I was up late finishing papers for the afore-mentioned classes. There have also been some changes at work that have created additional work. I should sleep well tonight. It's been a good semester.

Here's a link to the program page:

Friday, April 15, 2011

The 'dean' of South Texas letters

Still the coolest part of my job is getting to interview all the visiting authors who come as part of the American Book Review Reading Series. This week, I talked with Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, the "dean" of Mexican-American letters in Texas. Along with Don Graham, he teaches the Life & Literature of the Southwest classes at the University of Texas, which were begun by the legendary J. Frank Dobie. Hinojosa writes in English and Spanish, has penned over 20 books, and travels extensively being a Texas ambassador for the writing arts.

He and I are continuing our conversation before his visit here next week since I told him I was from the same town as George Sessions Perry, whose "Hold Autumn In Your Hand" he uses in his class. Looking forward to getting to visit personally with this man, the gentleman scholar.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cesar Martinez visits Victoria

Cesar Martinez in full lecture mode.
What a cool opportunity freshman English students at UHV had today to hear a lecture by Chicano artist Cesar Martinez of San Antonio.

I got to interview Cesar last week preceding his visit, and he has had a neat history, followed by a career that most artists would envy.
Though he is known mostly for his "pachuco" series and the "bato" paintings, he showed us some of his newer work using textures and different mediums and it is all stunning. It has the absolute flavor of South Texas, from using rattlesnake skins to painting dust devils to his subjects who make the area what it is.

He also has a great way of archiving potential subject material by going through obituary listings in the newspaper and clipping out faces that are filled with character. His "Bato con lime green shirt," pictured here, is a San Antonio man who he knew through ad agency work. The rest are mesclas of people from his family, or some he went to high school with, and others who he thought just looked interesting.

I don't think the 18-year-olds, whether Mexican-American or not, "got it" - that they were seeing a true legend in the art field. But maybe one day, they'll be able to say, "I saw Cesar Martinez in my freshman class."

Que raro. Que cool.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Author interview - Beverly Lowry

Creative non-fiction maestra,
Beverly Lowry
I grew to like Beverly Lowry a lot in the short time I talked with her. She came to town and read from her upcoming book which dives into the still unsolved yogurt shop murders in Austin. I have not read her fiction, but her "creative non-fiction," which is really just very strong journalism, is riveting. I read some of her book on pick axe killer Karla Faye Tucker, who was put to death for her crimes, and could not put the book down. Her book about the Austin murders promises to be equally gripping.

Lowry is compadres with English profs Thomas Williams, Dagoberto Gilb and Kim Herzinger. She bragged on a small-school program who commits to bring that type of talent here to teach. Lowry was also at the University of Houston during its creative writing heyday. We purchased her biography on Harriett Tubman, which won plenty of awards and critical praise. I like her because she practices good, digging journalism. This Austin resident is a Texas treasure.

Author interview - Kate Bernheimer

Kate Bernheimer, knower of all things fairy tale.
Like many people, I did a double-take when I saw one of our American Book Review speakers was an expert on fairy tales. But Kate Bernheimer is exactly that, and she put on a thoroughly enjoyable talk that showcased her extensive knowledge of the subject. The auditorium was packed, and the students stayed interested the entire time.

She was a good interview and is so enthusiastic about her subject. I mentioned that my boys were about the age where they would become interested in the Brothers Grimm or something like that, and she e-mailed me a list of five, stopping herself only because she had things to do. If you need any info on fairy tales, she is THE authority.

Author interview - Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths at ABR reading. (Photo by yours truly.)
It's rare to interview someone with so many talents, but poet, painter and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffiths was a delight. She was a pleasant interview and talked about her family life, her childhood and her days of "schooling" when she first moved to New York and made the city her classroom. A beautiful, talented person.

Monday, February 14, 2011

'Wanna paint this fence?'

Excellent article on how we are all being suckered into creating value for others -- and jumping at the chance to do so.

Love the comparison to Tom Sawyer: "Just imagine if Tom had also schooled them in the networking opportunities of the user-generated endeavor: 'You’re not just painting a fence. You’re building an audience around your personal brand.'"

At Media Companies, a Nation of Serfs (NYT)