Chad Radford: Most of your performances on this tour that sweep through the South are at larger theaters this time around. Have you fully graduated from the club circuit?
Bill Burr: No, When I go to write a new hour, I go to clubs, and then once I've got the material together I take it to theaters. So every other year I do clubs, and every other year I do theaters. You can never stop doing clubs because that's like going to the gym. That's what gets you in shape, and I'm dong the theaters now, which means I've got my hour down.
You have an hour down, but your performances tend to feel pretty spontaneous. Does improv figure into your set?
It absolutely plays a role, and I'm very conscious of ... When I did the "Night Of Too Many Stars" I burned the Steve Jobs bit. It's a topical bit. I'm not doing another special until 2014, so what, am I going to do the "Hey, Steve Jobs died!" bit in 2014? No. So what I did was I waited for the right opportunity to put it out there. And then it's just out there - the fact that it's on "Night Of Too Many Stars" makes it kind of like a cool B-side. That's an old record album reference. I don't know if kids are going to understand that now, but back in the day bands would put out a 45 and then there would be just one song that you could only get on the back side of whatever the bigger single was. ... The point is, I try as much as I can to make sure that the people that come and find me on YouTube are not going to just see me telling the same joke wearing 15 different outfits.
Art Against Hierarchy, a one-night-only group show, opens tonight at the Arts Exchange from 7-11 p.m. Organizers made a call for submissions in any medium on the theme of "community." The night of installation, interaction, and live music will raise funds for a new Altanta Social Center, which organizers hope to open this summer, likely in Edgewood. Admission is free, and works will be for sale by auction, with minimum bids ranging from $5 to $1,200. Organizers Devin Alford, Hira Mahmood, and John Raubach sat down with Creative Loafing to talk art and politics.
As the annual ritual of year-end critic's movie awards kicks into full gear, and New Year's Eve approaches, a time when resolutions like "finally write that screenplay" are made, what better time to catch-up with Atlanta-based screenwriter Michael Lucker, whose latest initiative Screenwriter School launches on January 9.
Mr. Lucker brings a wealth of personal experience to the classroom, from his job as assistant to Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment to working in creative affairs at Hollywood Pictures, where he helped develop Crimson Tide, Terminal Velocity, Taking Care of Business, and Straight Talk. Michael's writing credits include A Vampire in Brooklyn, Home On the Range, and the Academy Award-winning animated feature Spirit. He also wrote the animated sequels to Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, The Emperor's New Groove and 101 Dalmatians.
Full disclosure: When I was Executive Dir. of the Atlanta Film Festival, I hired Michael to teach screenwriting workshops and he participated in the screenwriter's retreat we launched, and I've collaborated with Michael's company Lucky Dog Films to develop an unscripted project.
1. If screenwriting is all about telling stories, tell us the story of Screenwriter School.
Once upon a time a lonely and unshaven screenwriter who spent much of his day pent up at home typing by himself decided he wanted to meet people. So he started teaching.
Then two crazy things happened:
1. People thought he was good at it.
2. He found it incredibly rewarding.
So he did it more and more, for various groups and colleges and wanton writers on the side of the road. Until one day it hit him. Perhaps all these writers would like one fun place to come together, learn the craft of writing movies, and not be lonely too. Voilà: Screenwriter School was born.
What set us apart is this: the fact that I've been around the writer's block, ridden the development rollercoaster and been dragged behind the production bus, will enable others to avoid the wrong turns I've taken. They might even benefit from some of the right ones. What I share is not just based on theory. It's based on years of writing for produced projects at movie studios and television networks.
A number of literary events have been making themselves at home there as of late. Scott Daughtridge's LostintheLetters series launched in September and has hosted a number of literary heavyweights since including George Singleton and Jared Yates Sexton. This Wednesday evening the Ballroom will open its doors to the rowdy and riveted cult following of Write Club Atlanta, at which local writers spar over opposing topics for charity.
A main spur for bringing artistic and authored action into the ballroom can be traced to the space's new events director, Chelsea Raflo. Already a force to be reckoned with in Atlanta's art scene when she took the position this past June, Raflo's bringing a new, more literary vision to the Ballroom.
You've been heavily involved in Atlanta's arts community for a while now through your own art exhibitions at places like MINT gallery and MOCA GA. How did your involvement with the arts community influence your vision for the Highland Ballroom and Lounge?
I've learned that I work best when I can integrate my personal interests into what I'm doing; attempting to compartmentalize inevitably just makes me feel like a fake, and that ends up showing in the work that I do. And the Ballroom is kind of a dream for me. The space itself is so unique and has a cool, underground feel to it that sparks so many ideas for me all the time. In the past, I've taken on curatorial projects and planned events, but the prospect of establishing a new venue or an arts space of some kind has always been far too daunting for me to make any progress on, although its been a long-held goal. So this job is kind of more perfect than I could have planned for myself. We aren't trying to take Atlanta by storm, or take huge risky leaps, because we don't have to. The Highland Inn is kind of a fixture in the community, and I feel incredibly grateful that we have the luxury of being able to steadily make changes and try out new ideas without the added pressures that come with starting a brand new business.
Consistently one of WWE's most popular performers, Ghana's Kofi Kingston has grown accustomed to defending championships in high-pressure situations. And even though the main event at this Sunday's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view at Philips Arena features CM Punk (Kingston's one-time tag team partner) defending the WWE Championship against the wrestling machine known as Ryback inside the the gigantic steel cage, Kingston's Intercontinental Championship defense against former WWE Champion the Miz has quickly become one of the event's marquee match-ups. Considering that the happy-go-lucky Kingston spent his formative WWE stages at the now-defunct McDonough-based developmental promotion known as Deep South Wrestling, Hell in a Cell is also an odd sort of homecoming for the high-flying superstar. As he prepares for a match that could help push him into the main event picture, Kingston discusses his Deep South training, his history with the Miz and the unpredictable nature of WWE that led to this renewed rivalry.
What interested you about the project of adapting Marie Brenner's book for the stage?
It's a good book. I was called by Lynne Meadow who's artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, and she asked would I be interested in adapting this book. The book had just come out, and I'd read a review of it in the paper right around the time she called. I knew Marie's work—I didn't know her—but I knew her stuff, and she's good. So I read the book. It's about a dysfunctional relationship between a brother and a sister. The set-up was one brother and one sister and no other siblings. That happens to be my own set-up with my sister and me. While we're not dysfunctional, it seemed interesting to me because I'd never seen a piece of theater about the relationship between a brother and a sister. If they're same-sex siblings, there are easier ways to communicate, but when there are just two of you and you're of different sexes, you're programmed from childhood to go different ways, but you bear the same memories, the same scars, the same everything. It seemed interesting to me to write about that, so I said sure.
When I spoke with you almost a year ago, as TNA made its way to Macon, you were clearly unhappy with the way things were going for you under the Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff regime at that time. But you've since found yourself back in the spotlight as TNA moves in a much different direction. How do you feel about your place in the company and the new direction things have been going overall?
I think the new direction's good, man. We've done a lot of good stuff and the ratings are good, so there's not much to complain about.
You're returning to Georgia this Friday and Saturday before going into the No Surrender pay-per-view on Sunday, including a show in your hometown of Gainesville. What are some of your favorite things about coming back to wrestle in your home state?
It's always nice to hear the Georgia people get behind the hometown guys, and always nice to hear those fans going crazy for you. And when I'm directly in my hometown of Gainesville, we're just upping it a little bit more. And the fact that I get to go home and sleep in my own bed is fabulous.
Artist Ben Venom has returned to his home turf to exhibit a new collection of work at Get This! Gallery. His unique artistic practice combines the traditional aesthetics of quilting with the robust graphics of heavy metal and punk bands.
Venom cuts the graphics out of t-shirts from bands like the Misfits, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Poison, and others, then weaves them into intricate patterns onto quilts. These patterns often form the shapes of mystic creatures like griffins or the double-headed eagle. Upon a deeper examination, though, Venom's work contains amazing symmetry, with various graphics being placed thoughtfully throughout the form itself. He also gives nods to the brash music he grew up listening to by incorporating quotes and lyrics that only the most hardcore listeners could pick up on.
Originally from Marietta, San Francisco-based artist Venom earned his BFA in Painting and Drawing at Georgia State University. His show, I Make No Mistakes will be his first solo show at Get This! While ironing out (literally) all of his art before the show, Venom took some time to talk to CL about his new work and artistic practices.
Where did you get the idea for combining quilt-making and hardcore music?
In 2006 de Young Museum in San Francisco had an exhibition of the Gee's Bend Quilts and I saw that and was really blown away by that show. And then after that they had a collection of Amish quilts show too. I'd already been doing a lot of sewing while I was in grad school in San Francisco Art Institute, but I was making large flags and banners. I would screen print onto fabric, cutting that up, and then sewing it into large flags and banners, so I was already using a machine. Then fast forward two years to 2008, after I graduated, I had a show coming up in Berlin, Germany. I was trying to decide what I wanted to do because I wanted to do something big. And I've been a heavy metal and punk rock fan for a long time, I grew up in the Atlanta punk rock scene of the ’90s. I had a lot of shirts lying around, primarily heavy metal shirts, and some of them were just so threadbare I couldn't wear them anymore. So I thought back to those shows at the de Young Museum, and I thought what's the next logical step up from a flag or a banner, and a quilt is what came to mind.
Of course, quilts have a long history of using recycled materials, so then the first quilt that I made was in 2008 and it was shown at the Neurotitan gallery in Berlin. It was cool because the piece was roughly 6 feet wide by 8 and a half feet tall — that's a pretty big piece, and I was able to just fold it up, stick it in a box, and put it in the overhead compartment on my flight and flew it over there with me. It ended up being the largest piece in the show because everyone else had to ship their work.
Journalist, scientific researcher, and famed skeptic Benjamin Radford has written numerous articles and six books on topics ranging from urban legends to various paranormal phenomena, all the while ruthlessly championing critical thought. On the heels of releasing two books last year (Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore and The Martians Have Landed!: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes with Robert E. Bartholomew), Radford will make a handful of appearances at Dragon*Con this year bringing a much needed voice of reason and sanity when it comes to discussing urban legends and all things supernatural. Before making his way to Atlanta Radford took a few minutes to talk a little bit about what he does.
It's important to note that although we share same last name (and the same chin), to the best of my knowledge I am in no way related to Benjamin Radford.
Chad Radford: Will your “Monster Talk LIVE!” discussion touch on your experiences writing your book, Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore? Also who is Blake Smith who’s speaking on the panel with you?
Ben Radford: Yes, I'll talk a little bit about my chupacabra investigation, but it will mostly be about the events that led up to my appearance on “Good Morning America,” being interviewed about the Loch Ness Monster. Blake is my co-host on our MonsterTalk podcast, and a computer programmer living in Kennesaw. He shares my interest in ghosts and cryptozoology stories.
Your discussion titled “The Sex and the Spirits: Ghost Porn” sounds like it's gonna to be a memorable one as well. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind that one?
Sure... [he says with a laugh]: Well, I've been doing these investigations into ghosts, haunted houses, and ghost photographs for almost 15 years now, and over the years I've seen it all: "orbs" (white spots caused by camera flashes) as ghosts, faked ghost photos, all that sort of thing. But one day a few years ago I was sent an anonymous photo asking about a ghost-like spectre in what I will delicately describe as an "intimate photo" between a guy and his girlfriend. They didn't necessarily think it was a ghost, but they'd seen many ghost photos that looked identical, and they wondered about it. So I began researching and collecting examples of ghost porn — strange and unusual ghostly images in sex photos. So if anyone ever finds porn on my computer I can honestly say it's for important research.
What do you have planned for your event in Atlanta?
In Atlanta, I'll be visiting a monthly reading and performance series at Charis. They call it the open "no mic." I'm excited to be invited to offer my work in call and response with what others are working on.
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