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The Checklist

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

By April 2015Comments

Books

Unplayable Lies, Dan Jenkins (Doubleday, March 17)
Contrary to what the subtitle says, this is probably not “The Only Golf Book You’ll Ever Need.” There are, of course, all the other golf books Jenkins has written. Still, here are forty pieces, half of them new, half of them revised and republished from Golf Digest, showcasing the master’s deep golf expertise and (if you can bear the occasional tedious bout of PC-bashing) sharp wit. 

Sports

Major League Baseball Opening Day (April 6)
Optimistic—very optimistic—Astros fans who believe GM Jeff Luhnow’s sunny predictions for 2015 can go to Minute Maid Park and see the team play a good Cleveland squad that’s looking to get over the hump. Rangers fans will be stuck watching the first game of what may be a very long season on TV, as the once mighty team, now with a rookie manager and a suspect rotation, kicks things off in Oakland.

Music

The Ruffian’s Misfortune, Ray Wylie Hubbard (Bordello Records, April 7)
The Wimberley folkie turned contemplative bluesman furthers his apocalyptic vision with songs about the righteous and damned—there’s a particularly good one about an Okie car thief—but he’s more concerned with foot-stomping than Bible-thumping. Gritty call-and-response guitar licks keep the high-minded tunes from getting too high-minded.

Books

Franklin Barbecue, Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay (Ten Speed Press, April 7)
This self-declared “meat-smoking manifesto” was co-written by a onetime Texas Monthly cover subject (Franklin) and a onetime Texas Monthly staffer (Mackay) and photographed by longtime Texas Monthly contributor Wyatt McSpadden. So feel free to take our judgment with a grain of salt. But, gosh, this is a really gorgeous book.

Television

Children of Giant (PBS, April 17) 
Hector Galán’s documentary about the making of Texas’s most iconic film comes up short on revelation, insight, and anecdote and gets sentimental when it needs to be hardheaded. But anyone fascinated by George Stevens’s Giant will find the behind-the-scenes footage and at least a few of the present-day interviews diverting enough to justify spending time with this earnest bit of movie history. 

Television

The Great Invisible (PBS, April 20)
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it still feels as if we’re in the middle of the story; millions of gallons of oil remain on the bottom of the Gulf, many victims remain uncompensated, and legislators have pretty much thrown up their hands. Filmmaker (and part-time Austinite) Margaret Brown powerfully gets across the human cost of this unfinished business in her award-winning documentary.

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