In recent weeks, we’ve missed Matthew McConaughey like the desert misses a rain of confusing aphorisms. But it seems there’s been a good explanation for his relative silence: The actor was saving all the good stuff for his first book, Greenlights, a memoir cum philosophical treatise cum 2 a.m. conversation in hardcover form, arriving October 21 via Random House. Offering just a hit of what to expect from his self-described “love letter to life,” McConaughey to his social media this video, in which he shows off the pensive, sepia portrait on its cover, then unfurls a monologue filled with the kind of bongo-beating rhymes and bong-loaded metaphors you’ll find when you finally crack open his head.
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) July 29, 2020
“This is my sights and seens, my nices and means, my successes and failures, stories, peoples, places, poems, prayers, prescribes, and a whole lot of bumper stickers,” McConaughey explains of Greenlights, a litany of McConaughey-isms he says is drawn from a near-lifetime of diligently writing down his every musing in a journal, plus another two years of stringing them together into coherent (or close) book form. The title Greenlights, he says, refers to our collective need to “hop on the highway and catch as many as we can” along that strange, stoplight-strewn highway we call life. “That’s when we start getting what we want and we need at the same time, and I call that the ‘honey-hole,’” McConaughey adds, as though you would call it anything else.
This idea that “every red light eventually turns green” is bound to be a particularly resonant one at the moment—and indeed, it’s one that McConaughey famously introduced way back in his first pandemic-inspired motivational speech. Were I a cynical sort, I might even accuse McConaughey of making this whole recent turn toward guru-dom as some kind of early marketing stunt for this very book. But you know, I’ve been listening to Matthew McConaughey for so long now that all the cynicism has been slowly drained from my body, like soaking in a particularly dank sauna. This is just how Matthew McConaughey actually thinks, talks, and—presumably—writes. We’ll find out!
Joe Rogan Moving to Texas for “More Freedom”
Relocating from Los Angeles to Austin certainly seems to have liberated something inside of Matthew McConaughey, so you can understand its appeal to Joe Rogan. The comedian, podcast host, and (somehow) political bellwether announced last week that he’s planning on moving his operations to Texas to seek “a little more freedom.” Although he’s yet to confirm an actual date or city, some speculate that he may end up in Austin.
In addition to Rogan’s explicitly stated frustrations with L.A.’s traffic, overcrowding, and growing homelessness problem—issues that he wouldn’t exactly be escaping in Austin—there’s also the not-inconsequential fact that moving to Texas would save him around $13 million in state income taxes. But of course, to the more conservative and libertarian base that has long embraced Rogan for his willingness to interview controversial figures like Alex Jones, Ben Shapiro, and Gavin McInnes, they see this move—as Texas Public Policy Foundation vice president and professional California ex-pat Chuck DeVore told Fox News—as a proud rejection of the “stultifying conformity that demands that everybody speak and think the same” in the entertainment industry. Never mind that Rogan has pretty much been doing and saying whatever he wants in Hollywood for years now, including getting high with Elon Musk and letting Alex Jones ramble about “interdimensional child molesters” for hours at a time—a conformity-defying format that recently earned Rogan a rumored $100 million Spotify deal. Anyway, now Rogan can really go wild, I suppose. At least he won’t have to buy Musk or Jones a plane ticket.
Post Malone Weighs in on Masks and UFOs, Readies Global Beer Pong League
If Rogan had only waited a bit, he also might have been able to cheap out on hosting Post Malone, during one of the Grapevine rapper’s occasional homeward swings. But given that Malone is living and snacking on worms in Utah at the moment—and the world needs to lose itself in Malone’s deeply held beliefs on ghosts and UFOs more than ever—there was simply no delaying their summit, not with so much conformity to de-stultify. The pair’s four-hour, mushrooms-and-Bud Light–fueled conversation (during which Malone somehow managed to never stop smoking) found them not only weighing in on the supernatural, but speculating on the size of God’s penis and how the government controls the weather, before they finally offered their equally considered opinions on masks. Malone, for one, believes everyone should be wearing one—but conversely, that no one should be mandating them. “It’s like me in school having to tuck in my shirt or else you get detention,” Malone said. “It’s weird to be forced to wear something.”
In addition to cracking this whole, pesky pandemic thing wide open, this week saw Malone innovating even more answers to our problems by taking the first steps toward establishing a global beer pong league. The drinking game based around tossing ping-pong balls into cups has long suffered from a lack of regulations and official merchandising, you’ll surely agree, but TMZ reports that Malone has taken steps toward solving that by filing to trademark the name “World Pong League,” which he aims to put on “plastic cups, game tables, cup racks, balls, and every piece of casual sportswear—including boxer shorts.” Given Malone’s somewhat laissez-faire attitudes toward wearing masks, he might want to make sure those game tables are extra long.
Black Pumas Launch a Beer for Racial Justice
Meanwhile, the Grammy-nominated Austin band Black Pumas is making its own bid for beer-based philanthropy, although this one actually benefits people besides Post Malone. The group has collaborated with the Austin-based 4th Tap Brewing Co-op to create Stay Gold, a hoppy pale ale named after a song from the band’s 2019 self-titled debut; proceeds will go to Austin Justice Coalition, African American Youth Harvest Foundation, and Austin NAACP. With a can designed by Austin artist Rory Blank, Stay Gold is described as “heavy on the citrus—with a hint of earthy pine and bubblegum—and light on the bitterness,” at a time when we could all definitely use less of that. Look for it in Texas stores beginning August 7.
Kacey Musgraves Introduces the “Lonely Weekend” Self-Care Kit
Granted, in these anxious times, there’s no shame in looking after yourself, which is why Texas country singer Kacey Musgraves is now selling the Lonely Weekend Self-Care Kit, made for brightening your quarantined nights. The $99.99 bundle includes a five-hundred-piece puzzle whose blurry rainbow design should keep your mind occupied for a while; a T-shirt printed with the reassuring slogan “It’ll Be Alright,” plus a tie-dying kit that will help you make it uniquely your own; a pair of cozy “Lonely Weekend” crew socks ideal for our current shoeless existence; and finally, a Shooting Star Bath Bomb that promises to turn your tub into a “full-on rainbow party” with relaxing scents of bergamot and sea salt. As of press time, all T-shirt sizes were still available—but given how quickly her Slow Burn candles sold out last time, it’s clear that Musgraves fans are absolutely cutthroat when it comes to relaxing.
Miranda Lambert Scores First Number-One Single in Eight Years
She doesn’t have a bath bomb, a beer, or even a beer pong league, but we suppose country singer Miranda Lambert still deserves to celebrate landing a new number-one single. “Bluebird” climbed to the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart this week, the first of Lambert’s solo efforts to do so since 2012’s “Over You.” As the Longview native told Billboard, the song’s “message of hope in this song is exactly what we need to hear, me included” during our current pandemic, with lyrics preaching resilience in the face of adversity and turning lemons into garnish for some unspecified, but probably stiff drink of its own. The video offers its own escapist fantasy for this moment, showing people who are actually sitting in a room together, watching a concert.
Dallas’s William Jackson Harper Earns His First Emmy Nomination for The Good Place
Congratulations are also due to Dallas native William Jackson Harper, who this week earned a well-deserved Emmy nod for his performance as the lovably neurotic Chidi on NBC’s The Good Place. The actor was a relative unknown before he landed his role as the afterlife comedy’s palpitating ethical heart, and he’d even considered quitting the business altogether before being cast. It was a fateful decision that vastly improved the television landscape and this year’s Emmys, where Harper joins a refreshingly eclectic slate of nominees that includes University of Texas alum Mark Duplass, nominated for his role on The Morning Show, and multiple nods for two Netflix docuseries with Texas ties, Cheer and Tiger King. (The latter Netflix show was not based on Leif Reigstad’s original feature story for Texas Monthly, but a new film adaptation starring Nicolas Cage is.) Like so many other things, the Emmys will take place virtually this year, with Harper, Duplass, and all the other nominees expected to be filmed at home—yet still looking “fabulous,” according to a letter from producers. So even if they don’t win, they’ll still be part of a strange, unique moment in Emmys history. (Dear Lord, please let it be history.)
Shania Twain Developing TV Series Based on Heart of Texas Novels
Already angling for her own Emmy nomination—or, let’s be real, a cozy slot between Hallmark movies—Canadian singer Shania Twain is once again getting back to her pretend-country roots by producing a TV adaptation of Debbie Macomber’s Heart of Texas books. Twain says she was drawn to the Harlequin romance novels that are set in the fictional, perpetually aroused town of Promise, Texas, because it has “some parallels in the story to my own story.” Twain refers specifically to the fact that it concerns a woman who’s forced to take on running the family cattle ranch when her parents die, a personal loss that Twain relates to—and not, presumably, being wooed by a handsome drifter named “Laredo Smith.” Twain, who also plans to write some original songs for the show, added that she’s also “drawn to horses,” which are indeed found on ranches sometimes. The authentically horse-filled Western is currently being shopped to networks, with Twain saying she’s already getting a feel for our world by recently spending some time in Alberta. I realize that sounds like a joke, but you’re welcome to click the link and see for yourself.
Austin Film Festival Goes Virtual
The Austin Film Festival—one of the last remaining big Austin events that had yet to be officially altered by COVID-19—has finally joined the ranks of SXSW, Willie’s Picnic, the ATX Television Festival, the Emmys, your life, et al., in moving fully online. For the first time in its 27-year history, the fest will take place almost entirely virtually during its scheduled week of October 22–29, with all screenings, panels, mentor sessions, and filmmaker Q&As being streamed exclusively to badge-holders. Executive director Barbara Morgan tells the Austin-American Statesman that she’s optimistic the festival can still find some way to hold at least a few limited-seating in-person events in the city—and she even thinks moving entirely online could open it up to some distant special guests who might not otherwise be able to attend. Still, she also admits that the energy of the live experience will be sorely missed, and she’s just hoping the festival can sell enough of its $175 badges to stay afloat until next year. They’re sitting at a massive red light, in other words. Sounds like there’s a book she should read.