Take a Walk
In a scene in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the 2012 debut novel by the Dallas author Ben Fountain, the title character, a nineteen-year-old American soldier being feted at a Dallas Cowboys game for his service in Iraq, consummates his flirtation with a cheerleader. Fountain, the Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University, said he would likely narrate that steamy yet awkward passage on Tuesday during a reading at the Wittliff Collections. The book, a commentary on heroism, war, politics, sports, celebrity, and big business, occupied many year-end lists and earned a National Book Award nomination. Ang Lee, the Oscar-winning director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, is reportedly directing a movie adaptation. After the reading, Fountain, who drew inspiration from a real Cowboys halftime show with soldiers in 2004, will talk about the role of serious writing in a media-saturated culture. “How can we possibly hope to understand sex, cheerleaders, and other mysteries of life without the thoughtful guidance that literature gives us?” he said.
The Wittliff Collections, Oct. 14, 3:30 p.m., thewittliff9collections.txstate.edu
Adults who want to get a fright this Halloween season without all of the shenanigans of a haunted house could attend a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Blue Starlite Drive-In, featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s June list of best outdoor movie theaters. The enveloping darkness is bound to play on the senses as Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding, masked madman who, along with his cannibalistic family, torments a group of Texas teenagers. Tobe Hooper, the Austin director, made the film forty years ago, and it owes its cult classic status to its believability, which is substantiated by a grainy home-movie quality along with the allusion of it being based on a true story. There is also that chilling opening voiceover: “They could not have expected to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day.” The only thing not scary about this undertaking is that it is a double feature, paired with Army of Darkness, Sam Raimi’s comedic sequel to the Evil Dead films.
Blue Starlite Drive-In, Oct. 15-16, 8 p.m., bluestarlitedrivein9.com
Rodney Crowell, the Houston singer-songwriter, is a framer of the Americana genre, and he will be sharing his musical gifts for free on Thursday at Discovery Green. Collaborations have become crucial to Crowell’s success. In 2012 he released the album Kin in partnership with Mary Karr, the best-selling author. In 2013 he put out Old Yellow Moon, the Grammy-winning album with Emmylou Harris. Earlier this year he introduced the album Tarpaper Sky, a reunion with Steuart Smith, the guitarist and producer who helped define his sound in the late eighties. Crowell will be without these folks for the Sounds Like Houston concert, perhaps setting the stage for a return to his 2001 album, The Houston Kid, with songs born of his upbringing in the city, chronicled in his gritty 2011 memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks.
Discovery Green, Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m., rodneycrowell.com
Sweet to Eat
A looming question for many home cooks is what type of potato side dish they should prepare for Thanksgiving. Boiled, baked, mashed, scalloped, au gratin—a number of options exist. Those who are tired of the same old thing might consider an altogether different starchy vegetable, the yam, which is actually a soft sweet potato. They can get a primer at the East Texas Yamboree, started in 1935, when yams were a cash crop in Gilmer. Though not grown there now, the town still claims this four-day festival, said to draw 100,000 visitors. Some argue it is because of the carnival; others maintain it is the Queen’s Parade. But everyone can agree on the array of savory treats, highlighted by the Yam Pie Contest, which discourages spices and outlaws extra ingredients like nuts, allowing the vegetable to truly shine.
Various locations, Oct. 15-18, yamboree.com
Chance of Rain
In her exhibit “Changing Weather,” Judy Youngblood, a North Texas artist whose work has appeared in the Smithsonian, offers more than a dozen paintings and other pieces depicting meteorological turbulence, including a 25-foot rainstorm installation covering two gallery walls that just might inspire a mock rain dance from patrons desperate to end the drought.
William Campbell Contemporary Art, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 11 at 11 a.m., williamcampbellcontemporary9art.com
See how the West was won by Donald Judd, the minimalist artist, at Chinati Weekend, when people can tour for free Judd’s Chinati Foundation contemporary art museum, with supplemental viewings of Judd’s studios, residence, and land-grabbing installations.
Various locations, Oct. 10-12, chinati.org