Cap City Comedy Club presents Jason Banks
Jason Banks is a stand-up comedian whose unique and refreshing style of comedy has helped him emerge as one of the top rising talents on the comedy scene. He has been featured on Tru TV’s Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Kevin Hart’s LOL Network. In addition, Jason is a member of Comedians on South High, a podcast recorded out of Columbus, Ohio with fellow comedians Bobbie Dodds, Kenny Mock, and Jared Blinsky.
58th Annual Austin Trail of Lights
The 58th Annual Austin Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B, will return to its traditional, in-person format. The longest-running holiday tradition of its kind in Austin welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests from Central Texas and around the world each year for its jubilant displays of lights.
The trail now features more than 2 million lights illuminating the park, 90 lighted holiday trees, and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels.
Visitors seeking a first-look at the most beloved, and longest running holiday tradition of its kind in Texas’ capital city, can attend the 9th Annual Night Lights Preview Party on December 2 presented by Broadway Bank, or participate in the 11th annual Austin Trail of Lights Fun Run on December 3, presented by Chuy’s.
Penfold Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol Classic Radiocast
Penfold Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol Classic Radiocast, the cherished masterpiece brought to life with live foley sound effects and an all-woman company of actors voicing Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the Spirits, and dozens of others. Together, they will tell the stirring story of an ice-hearted miser who is given a last shot at redemption one miraculous night.
The performances from December 8-17 will be at Old Settler’s Association of Williamson County in Round Rock, and the performances on December 22 and 23 will be at Driskill Hotel in Austin.
ZACH Theatre presents Holiday Heroes
Back by popular demand, the original Holiday Heroes returns with some new songs and surprises. In this hilarious fun holiday sing-along, everyone gets into the holiday spirit with Ernie and Rufus. At the joyous, toe-tapping good time, audiences can celebrate the season with singing, laughter, and holiday cheer for all.
Ventana Ballet presents The Watchmaker's Song
The Watchmaker’s Song is an interactive re-imagination of the story of the The Nutcracker. Guests are offered cocktails and hors d'oeuvres as they are subsequently immersed in this holiday tale.
This version of the story engages the audience in traditional components of the Nutcracker ballet while also incorporating elements of the original story written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Guests will enjoy a party and performances on the lawn first, and then they are invited inside the house to enjoy the magical components of the story, watching several live installations of cultural music and dance. The event culminates with a finale in the grand room before the audience exits the house, returning to the real world.
CultureMap Emails are Awesome
Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.
1. 2 Hollywood celebrities dined at one of Austin’s best restaurants this week. While most Austinites cozied up at home this week, these famous spouses ate at an award-winning restaurant before a screening of their new film.
2. Austin's flagship Kendra Scott store transforms into mini-Museum of Ice Cream for Valentine's Day. Here's one sweet collaboration you won't want to miss — and it launches this weekend!
3. Texas scores top ranking among best states for dating, says new report. This Valentine’s Day is for the unattached, and it turns out Texas is a pretty great place to be single.
4. This Tesla rental service got me from Austin to Houston, despite my best efforts. A Tesla is a smooth ride, and the UFODrive self-service process ensures a smooth trip — if you pay attention.
5. Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend. Festive (fictional) funerals, demon barbers, live podcasts, and more reasons to venture out as the weather warms up this weekend.
There have been many famous partnerships in the world, from musical ones like Hall & Oates to business ones like Bill Gates and Paul Allen. But one of the more underrated partnerships is that between authors and editors, a relationship that can be mysterious for those not well versed in the process.
The new documentary Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, takes deep dive into the ineffable bond between Caro, author of The Power Broker and four (and counting) biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gottlieb, his longtime editor at publishing company Knopf. Caro is notorious for taking his time with his books, releasing only one about every 10 years since 1974.
The film, directed by filmmaker (and daughter of Robert) Lizzie Gottlieb, features a variety of “talking head” interviews from people as diverse as Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker editor David Remnick, and President Bill Clinton, but cedes the majority of its time to hearing from the two men themselves. Both have lived extraordinary lives, but – despite their strong connection – in very different ways.
It would be fair to call Caro “obsessive,” as his career has focused on hefty non-fiction tomes devoted to just two men. The Power Broker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, 1,300+ page book about urban planner Robert Moses, goes into great detail about how Moses shaped the landscape of New York City, and not always for the better. He has also published four volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, all detailing Johnson’s life before he was president. The yet-to-be-published fifth volume is highly anticipated, to say the least.
In addition to the books of Caro, Gottlieb has edited books by Joseph Heller (famously providing the title number for Catch-22), John Cheever, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Bill Clinton, and many others. Astonishingly, he has also had time to write eight of his own books, serve as editor of The New Yorker, program both the New York City Ballet and Miami City Ballet, and more.
Lizzie Gottlieb gives each man plenty of space to tell their own story, with perhaps a slight bias toward her father. Caro is 87 and Gottlieb is 91, yet neither shows any significant mental decline. In fact, their ability to recall the many important moments of their lives and continue to ruminate at a high level is intimidating, and a testament to their intellectualism.
Among the many amazing stories that made the cut of the film are how Gottlieb had to get Caro to cut 350,000 words – or around 700 pages – from The Power Broker just for it to be small enough to be bound, and another about how Caro, in his extensive research about LBJ, discovered just how Johnson literally stole a primary election in his first run for the Senate.
The mark of any good documentary is its ability to engage viewers who may not be intimately familiar with its central subjects. While it’s the professional lives of Caro and Gottlieb that are most notable, the film includes just enough information about their personal lives to make them into full human beings, unlocking what for many have been mysterious figures.
Turn Every Page may be most interesting to those who have read and loved Caro’s books over the past five decades, but there’s enough there to open the film wide for the uninitiated. The lives of Caro and Gottlieb are large, and the documentary provides a great glimpse into how they became that way.
Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb is now playing in Austin at AFS Cinema.
Is this a game to you?
We would say there’s been a murder at the arcade, but it hasn’t happened yet. Pinballz, an arcade, bar, restaurant, and overall gathering place for Austin nerds, is planning a crime for one guest to commit at its Lake Creek location on February 9, and many others will be implicated. Guests will gather in character for a sit-down Southern meal, learn about the crime, tease out the clues, and eventually apprehend one of their own in “Trailer Park Tragedy,” a murder mystery dinner game.
Dinner is a form of theater in itself, bringing together a cast of southern classics: barbecue brisket and ribs, charro beans, corn bread, potato salad, house salad, and Texas toast. This trailer park is vegetarian friendly, with black bean burgers available to swap out. A recent Halloween event featured “feetloaf” and spider sliders.
“Last Valentine's Day we did a really fun murder at a wedding,” says food and beverage manager Mitch Alloway. “And we kind of wanted to go a different direction with Valentine's Day [this year] … We thought this would be more fun and spunky and goofy. We decided to go trailer park status with a ‘PBR-sponsored event,’ basically. It's going to be barbecue; it’s going to be some fun cocktails … and it'll be a fun time.”
A downloadable game book of the same name and similar details appears in game company Night of Mystery’s catalog, but Pinballz is taking the game to the next level, allowing up to 60 guests and ensuring that everyone has a unique character; not so easy at a friend’s house, but no big deal for the Pinballz staff member who will be hosting the game.
Although it’s a little different than the role-playing games patrons may be used to during the bar’s weekly Dungeons and Dragons sessions — since there is a prescribed series of events and a place to land at the end of the game — this event also gives visitors a chance to get into character and even costume.
“We get a good 80 percent diehard fan base that come in and they deck out, they dress up; They really get into their characters,” says Alloway. “And then there's usually that 15-20 percent that … it's their first time coming in or they're just not sure how to really feel the vibe.”
Characters from the original game sheet include a smooth-talking motorcycle buff, a few harried mothers (including a hairstylist and a grifter), and a security guard who never made it through the police academy but still wants to brag about his position of power. The game includes a disclaimer that offending players is high on its list of priorities.
Regardless of crime solving or method acting prowess, this kind of event exists to get people out of their shells and social circles. With a goal to work on, it’s a rare opportunity in a growing city to connect with others on a night out with none of the herculean sense of initiative it otherwise takes. Alloway guesses that 12-16 people come to every murder mystery, having met as strangers and progressed into friendships through enjoying the event together.
Pinballz, in addition to flooding the senses in the way only an arcade can, is a believer in this kind of night out and puts special effort into planning more throughout the year. There are murder mysteries about once a quarter, and starting at this event, each location will be staggering its mysteries. After the Lake Creek trailer park mystery, Pinballz Kingdom in Buda is hosting a Mardi Gras-themed mystery (February 23), and the original in North Austin is planning an '80s prom theme for April.
“We don't like to drench our calendars with these, because it does take time to plan, coordinate, organize — and we want to make sure that it's not something [that happens] every single week and then it takes away the creative aspect that our team members get involved [in],” says Alloway.
Aside from regularly scheduled murders and D&D adventures (spiced up with dice rolls to find out what $8 drink a patron will receive), the bars are also embarking on more comedy nights, and have started a popular live wrestling series. The chain also organizes whiskey tastings and tournaments for widely-played video games like Street Fighter and Super Smash Brothers.
“We are a very eclectic group of nerds,” says Alloway. “I'm a nerd for food and beverage, and events. We have some nerds that are for drama. We have some people that are nerds for Pokemon. We're basically a massive mob of nerds that have decided how we want to create this venue of like-minded people … where we can kind of take our passions and bring it into one weird unique setting.”
Pinballz will host “Trailer Park Tragedy” at its Lake Creek location (13729 Research Boulevard) on February 9 at 7 pm. Tickets ($35) for the 18-and-up event are available at pinballz.com.