Houston Rockets fans will likely have to put a divot in their paychecks to score tickets on Craigslist or through scalpers for games three and four of the Western Conference Finals, which are sold out. But consider the opportunity to don one of those red “Clutch City” T-shirts and be a part of not just a playoff basketball game but also a community-wide effort to will a team to victory. When the Rockets punched out the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, coming back from a three-games-to-one deficit, they paralleled the 1994–95 Rockets, who similarly charged back after being down three games to one against the Phoenix Suns in the semifinals—and went on to win it all. This year’s team is now seen as one of destiny, and the idea of history repeating itself has Houston fans giddy. These games are worth the money because they offer a chance to see two of the NBA’s best players: the baby-faced league MVP, Stephen Curry, and the “fear the beard” runner-up, James Harden. They’re leading a freewheeling, high-scoring style of play uncommon in the NBA playoffs, when team defense is actually implemented. The Rockets will return home down two games to none, setting the stage for some clutch play.
Toyota Center, May 23 & 25, 8 p.m., nba.com/rockets
No Place Like Home
The old-schoolers who say that it’s too late to “Keep Austin Weird”—that growth has stripped the city of its quirky charm—might consider the second annual Weird Homes Tour. A $25 ticket buys a self-guided tour of nine habitats, located throughout the city, that proudly defy the high-rise trend. Meet Bill Rosenthal and glean some insight into how he made his “earthbag home,” a 750-square-foot, low-cost, eco-friendly, hive-like fortress fashioned out of burlap bags and dirt. Next, preview the abode of Aralyn Hughes, considered the “Queen of the Weird in Austin”—bright colors popping, paintings staring back from every wall, trinkets like museum artifacts galore—before perhaps renting her place on Airbnb for an Austin “staycation.” Finally, visit the campus of Huston-Tillotson University to see for your own eyes the 33-square-foot garbage dumpster that professor Jeff Wilson recently lived in for a year as part of his ballyhooed Dumpster Project. At $12 more, a VIP ticket grants you access to a tenth home, Casa Neverlandia, a Bouldin Creek mansion with secret passages and talk tubes. While there, enjoy music, food, and drink, as well as conversation about the weirdest places—and people—you encountered earlier in the day.
Various locations, May 23, 10 a.m., weirdhomestour.com
The Kerrville Folk Festival is one of the only music festivals where you can learn how to play the kind of tunes that you purchased tickets to hear professionals play. There are workshops on harmonica, ukulele, and roots/blues guitar, in addition to a Songwriter’s School, spread out over eighteen consecutive days of performances, camping, and canoe trips on the Guadalupe River. People can take what they learn in these sessions to the Ballad Tree, where they can try out their material on fellow audience members. The festival, founded in 1972 and devoted to the craftsmanship of lyrics, is as much about the people in front of the stage as it is the people on the stage. But among the latter are Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, playing in support of their album The Traveling Kind; the actor Ronny Cox, doing a tribute to the unheralded Texas musician Mickey Newbury; and David Crosby, performing 45 years after the Kent State riots, which prompted his band, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, to write the famous protest anthem “Ohio.”
Quiet Valley Ranch, May 22 to June 7, kerrville-music.com
Superman for Prez
Writer Norman Mailer compared John F. Kennedy to Marlon Brando in his 1960 Esquire magazine article, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” recently republished in book form by Taschen, with more than three hundred presidential campaign trail photos. Mailer wrote that “like Brando, Kennedy’s most characteristic quality is the remote and private air of a man who has traversed some lonely terrain of experience, of loss and gain, of nearness to death, which leaves him isolated from the mass of others.” Was this an insult or a backhanded compliment? Attempt to find out at “Superman Comes to the Supermarket: An Examination of Norman Mailer’s 1960 Essay on John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign,” hosted by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The discussion will examine the enduring appeal of the story, with Lawrence Schiller, who collaborated with Mailer on his Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Executioner’s Song; J. Michael Lennon, Mailer’s archivist and biographer; and Nina Wiener, the Taschen editor. Not only did Mailer boost Kennedy’s cult of personality but he also helped pioneer New Journalism, a literary style of writing and reporting popularized by the likes of Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, May 28, 7 p.m., jfk.org
Texans don’t take kindly to their state being likened to California, but consider the epicurean delights that the states share almost exclusively, such as wine and, more recently, olives. The Texas Olive Oil Council estimates an increase in olive trees planted in the state from 80,000 in 2008 to 2 million by the end of this year, placing the Lone Star State second, behind only the Golden State, in U.S. production. This has led to bounties like the third annual Texas Olive Festival, featuring seven hours of chef demonstrations, food vendors, and wine from sixteen Texas producers.
Texas Hill Country Olive Co.,
May 30, 12 p.m., texasolivefest.com
EDITORS’ NOTE: Because of safety concerns following the inclement weather, flooding, and road closures this past weekend, the Texas Olive Festival has been rescheduled for September 10-13.
Czech It Out
The Czechs are on to something: consume as many kolaches, sausages, and beers as you wish, because you can just dance them off later to live polka music. See how it’s done at the forty-ninth annual National Polka Festival, a three-day assembly of tens of thousands of kroje-wearing revelers dedicated to preserving the Czech heritage that has for generations blossomed in the area, with fourteen polka bands and one humongous parade.
Various locations, May 22-24, nationalpolkafestival.com