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The Checklist

What to hear, read, and watch this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.

By March 2014Comments

MUSIC

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell Live (Rounder, March 11)
The Grammy won this year by the odd-couple native Texans billed by name on this CD/DVD combo—one best known for his movies, the other for a brief flirtation with pop stardom—might have seemed unlikely. But only to those who haven’t heard how well his banjo melodies complement her gingham-dress country vocals. 

SPORTS 

American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament (March 12–15)
The Final Four will be held in Arlington, but Highland Park could have an early rooting interest if Southern Methodist University makes it to March Madness for the first time since 1993. Under Larry Brown, SMU has been an unexpected contender in the AAC; the team’s fate will likely be decided this month on the FedEx Forum court, in Memphis, Tennessee.

OPERA

A Coffin in Egypt (Houston Grand Opera, March 14–21)
How do you turn Horton Foote’s play, a monologue of small-town bitterness and regret that has attracted actresses of the caliber of Sandy Dennis and Glynis Johns, into a chamber opera? You bring in a composer of the caliber of Ricky Ian Gordon and a mezzo-soprano of the caliber of Frederica von Stade. And you hold its world premiere in the state where it’s set.

BOOKS

Not for Nothing, Stephen Graham Jones (Dzanc, March 18)
Thrillers featuring disgraced ex-cops turned gumshoes are hardly thin on the ground. What makes this one stand out isn’t the unusual second-person narration but the sharp prose (“In the stillness of the storage unit, her lipstick bending up into a smile is still wet enough to make a sound. Meaning she just put it on. For you”) and the vivid evocation of Jones’s native West Texas.

TELEVISION

All of Me (PBS, March 24)
The members of the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance laugh about their bodies and dismiss those who judge them. But at other moments in this documentary, they cry as well (watching at home, you might too). And one by one, they decide to subject themselves to weight-loss surgery and the unknown changes it will bring to their bodies and their lives.

BOOKS

All I Have in This World, Michael Parker (Algonquin Books, March 25)
This part-time Austinite’s sixth novel, a tale of love, regret, and a sky-blue 1984 Buick Electra, ranges far and wide, from Ohio to Indiana to Missouri to San Antonio. But its attention and its conflicted characters return again and again to the canyons of West Texas, where the ties of family and youthful tragedy are as thick as the land is bare.

 
 
 
 

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