I Wasn’t a Formula One Fan, But I Own Part of It, So…

Formula One weekend begins today. To commemorate the event, I’m rerunning a post that first appeared at the first Formula One event, in November 2012.  It received oodles of hits as well as some comments that suggested I am not a nice person and that I should get a life. I suspect commenters did not read the post carefully, or maybe at all. 

So I’m giving y’all a second shot at it. I’ve added links to some websites not in the original post. Before you comment,  please read to the end. It helps to know what a post says before you comment. If possible, enjoy. If impossible, complain away. Just remember this is a family friendly blog.

Hint: Parts are written with tongue-in-cheek. Which parts I’ll let the reader decide.

**********

Fans from all over the world gathered in Central Texas for the grand opening of The Circuit of the Americas near Austin this weekend.

I wasn’t one of the gathered, but after reading and listening to friends, and complaining about the Circuit of the Americas for the past couple of years, I’ve put together enough information to comment in a semi-reliable fashion.

According to its website, CoTA is a “world-class motorsports and entertainment venue,” “designed to be the only purpose-built facility in the U.S. to host the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ through 2021 and V8 SUPERCARS from 2013-2018.” It covers 375 acres and lies fifteen miles from downtown Austin.

Politicians have been just tickled pink–or maybe green–because the track will bring money into the city and the state and will create jobs. Can’t complain about that. Money and jobs are good.

And such a Big Deal, covering months of negotiations and construction, helps drive away

  • the water shortage,
  • underfunded schools,
  • rising property taxes,
  • feral hogs, and
  • how much will remain of San Antonio after Texas secedes from the Union and all those military installations have packed up their guns and airplanes and headed for Iowa,

from the headlines to page 3 of the classifieds, right below Doonsbury.

Grading work on turn 1 at Circuit of the Ameri...
Grading work on turn 1 at Circuit of the Americas that will host the United States Grand Prix beginning in 2012. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Larry D. Moore licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0  or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

I haven’t shared the politicians’ or anyone else’s enthusiasm. I’ve railed against CoTA ever since it hit the six o’clock news:

  • paving pasture- and farmland,
  • wasting fossil fuel,
  • spending state tax money to fund what should be a private venture,
  • plopping the facility down in an area with inadequate infrastructure and expecting taxpayers to fund repair and upkeep,
  • causing land values and property taxes to skyrocket, and
  • other objections too numerous to mention.

However, on Saturday, while the elite, who the night before drunk gold-infused champagne at Austin’s finest hotels (I didn’t make that up) were descending from helicopters onto a former pasture near Elroy, our friend Millie shared with the Fifteen Minutes of Fame writing practice group some facts that tempered my pessimism. She said the CoTA will eventually

  • be open 365 days a year,
  • host concerts, charity runs, sports events, and the like,
  • create hundreds of both full-time and part-time jobs,
  • attract a million people a year,
  • pour oodles into the economy, and
  • promote research that will influence medicine, transportation, and other areas we can’t yet predict.

After listening to her reassurances, FMoF members gave Millie a round of applause and left in better spirits.

But even before Millie’s talk, my objections had become moot. Because the day before, I learned that the Teacher Retirement System of Texas has invested $200 million in Formula One, for “about a 3% stake in the global racing series.”

Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein said, “Now the teachers win when F1 makes money and when new dollars come into our state as a result of the Grand Prix.”

English: Teacher Retirement System of Texas - ...
English: Teacher Retirement System of Texas – Austin Sistema de Jubilación de los Maestros en Texas – Austin (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By WhisperToMe (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Consequently, I have become Formula 1’s biggest fan. I will say kind words about it, I will look for it in the sports pages, I may even subscribe to Sports Illustrated. Whatever I can do to promote Formula One racing, I will do.

I’ve already X-ed out the piece I wrote last week about a dystopian future when we run out of fossil fuel and  CoTA descends to hosting chariot races.

But there’s another however:  TRS stated, “To be clear, F1 is a completely separate company that is unrelated to Circuit of the Americas, which will host an F1 Grand Prix race near Austin in November 2012. None of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, CVC Capital Partners, or Formula One Group has any ownership interest or business relationship with the Circuit of the Americas.”

So while I cheer for Formula One, I’ll continue to wail about the paved-over paradise on which my pocketbook depends.

And I’ll be watching to see how much of the money Texas rakes in goes toward shoring up TRS and the public schools of Texas.

*****

P. S. One of my objections was that state and city tax money had funded CoTA. The CoTA website (not found 10.20.2017, but quoted here in 2012) and the Heritage Office Suites (January 27, no year found) include this note:*

“NOTE: To date, State money has not been paid to the developers of Circuit of The Americas and no local community, including the City of Austin, is providing incentive funding to the developers. As is the case with the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and other large-scale events in Texas, the Formula 1 event is eligible for expense reimbursements from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund. This reimbursement is performance-based and may be applied for after the first event in November 2012. Any state reimbursement is based on the amount of incremental tax revenue generated, Friday, January 31, 2014

If organizations that bring major events to town are reimbursed, I hope the Texas Library Association is reimbursed for its annual conference. That’s major.

*****

Other sources provide information, most gathered after 2012. In (approximately) reverse order:

Events Trust Fund Guidelines for ETF/MERP/MSRTF, September 1, 2017

My Statesman / Austin American-Statesman, Comptroller candidate takes aim at Circuit of the Americas subsidy, October 2, 2014

From My Statesman / Austin American Statesman, Circuit of the Americas receives $29 million in state funds for Formula One, January 31, 2014


“Major Events Trust Fund money paid to Circuit of the Americas
“Event; requested; amount paid
“Formula One 2013; $32,357,824; $29,028,664
“Formula One 2012; $30,597,061; $29,329,984

“The state comptroller’s office this week paid Circuit of the Americas about $29 million from the Major Events Trust Fund for November’s Formula One race.

“That’s down slightly from what Susan Combs’ office paid out for the 2012 inaugural race and slightly less than what organizers had requested.

“The payment, made on Monday, is based in large part on an estimate of the expected tax revenue brought in by out-of-state fans for the race.

From Autoweek Suspends Track Construction; Race Under ThreatNovember 14, 2011

“The planned 2012 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, on Tuesday afternoon suffered another potentially catastrophic blow when organizers announced that they have stopped construction on the new racetrack.

“The announcement came just hours after the revelation by Texas state comptroller Susan Combs that no money from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund will be paid before the race takes place, apparently meaning that there is no state money available to pay Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone’s $25 million sanctioning fee, at least not prior to the race as planned originally. And, if history is any sort of measuring stick, anyone who follows F1 knows Ecclestone and his traveling circus do not show up until he has been paid in full.”

Briefing on Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, June 7, 2011

COTA, Circuit of the Americas Fact Sheet, undated

*****

 

Edgar Allan Poe and Me: A Questionable Partnership or, The Maven

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) by Félix Valloton ...
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) by Félix Valloton (1865-1925) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) {{PD-US}}

Why? Because–A friend, calling to confirm David and I would meet her and her husband the next day at the Harry Ransom for the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit, reported her house was being leveled for the second time in three years. “There are thirteen men under my house.”

I hooked up Edgar Allan Poe with “thirteen men under my house” and wrote the following. It may be the best thing I’ve ever written, and Halloween approaches, so I’m posting it again. If you’ve read it before, feel free to move on.

Note: Maven means expert. I looked it up to make sure.

 

THE MAVEN

To G. and M. in celebration
of their tenth trimester
of home improvement,
with  affection
Forgive me for making
mirth of melancholy.

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of someone gently tapping, tapping at my chamber floor.

“‘Tis some armadillo,” said I, “tapping at my chamber floor,

Only this, and nothing more.”

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dry September,

And my house was sinking southward, lower than my bowling score,

Pier and beam and blocks of concrete, quiet as Deuteron’my’s cat feet,

Drooping like an unstarched bedsheet toward the planet’s molten core.

“That poor armadillo,” thought I, “choosing my house to explore.

He’ll squash like an accordion door.”

 

English: A Nine-banded Armadillo in the Green ...
English: A Nine-banded Armadillo in the Green Swamp, central Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By http://www.birdphotos.com (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
“Tuck,” I cried, “and Abby, come here! If my sanity you hold dear,

Go and get that armadillo, on him all your rancor pour.

While he’s bumping and a-thumping, give his rear a royal whumping,

Send him hence with head a-lumping, for this noise do I abhor.

Dasypus novemcinctus is not a beast I can ignore

Clumping ‘neath my chamber floor.”

 

While they stood there prancing, fretting, I imparted one last petting,

Loosed their leashes and cried “Havoc!” letting slip the dogs of war.

As they flew out, charged with venom, I pulled close my robe of denim.

“They will find him at a minimum,” I said, “and surely more,

Give him such a mighty whacking he’ll renounce forevermore

Lumbering ‘neath my chamber floor.”

“Madewood Plantation” by Debra Kristl is licensed under CC BY-SA-2.0

But to my surprise and wonder, dogs came flying back like thunder.

“That’s no armadillo milling underneath your chamber floor.

Just a man with rule and level, seems engaged in mindless revel,

Crawling round. The wretched devil is someone we’ve seen before,

Measuring once and measuring twice and measuring thrice. We said, ‘Señor,

Get thee out or thee’s done for.'”

 

“Zounds!” I shouted, turning scarlet. “What is this, some vill’nous varlet

Who has come to torment me with mem’ries of my tilting floor?”

Fixing myself at my station by my floundering foundation,

Held I up the quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

“Out, you cad!” I said, “or else prepare to sleep beneath my floor,

Nameless there forever more.”

 

Ere my words had ceased resounding, with their echo still surrounding,

Crawled he out, saluted, and spoke words that chilled my very core.

“I been down there with my level, and those piers got quite a bevel.

It’s a case of major evolution: totter, tilt galore.

Gotta fix it right away, ma’am, ‘less you want your chamber floor

At a slant forevermore.”

 

At his words there came a pounding and a dozen men came bounding

From his pickup, and they dropped and disappeared beneath my floor.

And they carried beam and hammer and observed no rules of grammar,

And the air was filled with clamor and a clanging I deplore.

“Take thy beam and take thy level and thy failing Apgar score

And begone forevermore.”

 

But they would not heed my prayer, and their braying filled the air,

And it filled me with despair, this brouhaha that I deplore.

“Fiend!” I said. “If you had breeding, you would listen to my pleading,

For I feel my mind seceding from its sane and sober core,

And my house shall fall like Usher.” Said the leader of the corps,

“Lady, you got no rapport.”

 

“How long,” shrieked I then in horror, “like an ominous elm borer,

Like a squirrely acorn storer will you lurk beneath my floor?

Prophesy!” I cried, undaunted by the chutzpah that he flaunted,

And the expertise he vaunted. “Tell me, tell me, how much more?”

But he strutted and he swaggered like a man who knows the score.

Quoth the maven, “Evermore.”

“Old hand tools at estate sale” by Lynn Kelley Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

 

He went off to join his legion in my house’s nether region

While my dogs looked on in sorrow at that dubious guarantor.

Then withdrawing from this vassal with his temperament so facile

I went back into my castle and I locked my chamber door.

“On the morrow, they’ll not leave me, but will lodge beneath my floor

Winter, spring, forevermore.”

 

So the hammering and the clamoring and the yapping, yawping yammering

And the shrieking, squawking stammering still are sounding ‘neath my floor.

And I sit here sullen, slumping in my chair and dream the thumping

And the armadillo’s bumping is a sound I could adore.

For those soles of boots from out the crawlspace ‘neath my chamber floor

Shall be lifted—Nevermore!

 

Eccentric Director’s Films Like a “Living Comic Strip”

Fantastic Fest: Epilogue

David is taking this in stride, but I am simply agog.

As a result of his participation in Fantastic Fest, David has been profiled the September 30th iDigital Times.

fantastic fest day 2 007

According to writer Andrew Whalen, “perhaps the strangest shorts in this very strange collection [Shorts With Legs] were those of David Davis.”

The article includes two of the shorts–“Alike and Different” and “Reverse Effects”–as well as a link to his Vimeo page.

Warning: The links to Vimeo in the article worked the first time I tried them

but failed a few minutes later. So I’ve added a direct link here.

Rummage around on his Vimeo page and see “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was screened in 2012 at Cosmic-Con and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, and at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont. Ernest the Cat makes an unscripted but serendipitous appearance.

Note: It’s best to use one of the links to access David’s films on Vimeo. I looked for them by googling his name and found several David Davis pages there–and some of the films surprised me. Nothing terrible (I guess; I didn’t exactly watch any of them), but I want to make clear that those surprise collections are not part of the genuine David Davis’ repertoire. The eccentric David Davis.

Another note: David’s short films are short–only two or three minutes. Don’t blink.

 

The Best of Fantastic Fest: My Husband, His Films, and a Flying Vegetable Steamer

Last week a friend asked what David and I have done for fun lately.

A long silence followed.

Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt
Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt

After a courtship comprising concerts, coffee houses, radio spots, tacos Tapatio on Christmas morning in Ciudad Acuna, and a road trip that David’s brother termed a kamikaze vacation to Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Georgia between Christmas and New Year’s (if there’s territory to be covered, we cover it), we settled into a quiet married life complete with a washer, a dryer, a microwave, and two four-pawed children. We’re happy, but our definition of fun tends toward the stodgy.

Today, however, we leave our cool sequester’d vale and plunge into the madding crowd at the Alamo Draft House for Fantastic Fest.

Three of David’s short films will be screened today in Shorts with Leg, starting about 2:00 o’clock. They first aired last Friday, so we’re a repeat audience.

According to Fantastic Fest’s website, Shorts with Leg are “the strangest and most compelling eccentric short films we’ve seen all year, from polished excursions into existential surrealism to enthusiastic reveries of outsider art madness.” It also refers to “the most mind-meltingly bizarre short film submission this programmer has ever seen!” We’re not certain, but the way it’s phrased, that seems to apply to one of David’s films. I’d not thought of it, but mind-meltingly bizarre is accurate.

The three films, which will reappear on his Vimeo page after the festival ends, are

Click on Alike and Different and read that “David Davis becomes your new favorite outsider artist in this lo-fi satirical look at a first contact scenario.” You’ll also see a photo of a flying saucer that closely resembles my vegetable steamer.

Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015
Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015

Other Shorts with Leg were made by professionals–one said he’d just finished editing Warren Beatty’s latest film–which makes David’s “outsider status” pretty darned special. Even better–in my estimation at least–was audience reaction to his films: They laughed. And laughed. And laughed. What higher praise is there? His films were bright spots in an otherwise strange, dark two hours.

After the screening, directors appeared on stage and answered questions. To wit:

Question: What inspired your film?

David: I wanted to make something simple and cheap.

He accomplished his goal. Actors, singer, arranger, pianist, costume enhancer, and flying saucer donated their time.

In short, he done good. I knew I was marrying a writer and a kamikaze, but I had no idea I’d end up as consort of a film producer/director/editor and all the rest.

Having described David’s success, I’ll move on to mine.

Me, at certain times of the year
Me, at certain times of the year

For photo IDs, the Fest wanted shaky faces, meaning we were supposed to shake our faces back and forth and snap a picture at the worst point–when flesh had practically parted from bone and was wobbling all over the place.

I refused. Instead, I sent in an old drawing I’d made to represent how I felt during allergy season. If they refused to issue me a badge, I was going to sit outside on a bench and read.

But I got my badge. The picture is on sideways, but it’s there. I realized last Friday morning that if I didn’t brush my hair, I’d look just like it.

This post should have gone online last night, but I ran out of steam. No matter. I am not used to working in advance of need.

Time to leave. I have to stop this and throw on my tee-shirt. If we happen to meet in the lobby, please look at my photo ID. No one else has.

Badge
Badge

Oh–Publicity mentions that Elijah Wood will be the DJ at the closing party. The Elijah Wood? I don’t know. David said he’s not interested in going to the parties because it would just be young people behaving boisterously. I concur. We’re going to El Mercado and then to see Mark Pryor at BookPeople instead.

See? I told you our fun tends toward the stodgy. And, thank goodness, toward the literary, which is not stodgy at all.

******************

Mark Pryor's HOLLOW MAN
Mark Pryor’s HOLLOW MAN

PS  Author Mark Pryor will be at BookPeople tonight at 7:00 p.m. His new book, HOLLOW MAN is–I can’t think of an adjective besides amazing, and that’s used so often it’s become meaningless–but just take my word for it that this book is what a mystery/suspense/thriller should be. Plotting reminds me of Ruth Rendell’s books, and she is the best. So–BookPeople tonight for Mark Pryor and HOLLOW MAN.

 

Paradise in Texas: 2014 Texas Book Festival

Elmer Kelton at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, ...
Elmer Kelton at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) by Larry D. Moore is licensed under  CC-BY-SA-3.0

One of the High Points of my life: Sitting in the first row of the Chamber of the Texas House of Representatives, with author Elmer Kelton at the speaker’s table right in front of me, and Liz Carpenter right behind me, and listening to Mr. Kelton talk about his writing career and respond to a question from the audience about why he couldn’t write good female characters.

Mr. Kelton said he’d heard that criticism, and he guessed it had merit, although he thought he’d done a pretty good job with Eve in The Good Old Boys, because she was really the moral compass of the book. He was sorry he hadn’t done better writing women, but at the age of seventy-plus, he didn’t know what he could do about it.*

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

English: at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, Aust...
English: “Sarah Bird at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) is licensed by Larry D. Moore under  CC BY 3.0

But the folks at the Texas Book Festival Organization keep trying.

The 2014 Texas Book Festival takes place this weekend, October 24 and 25, at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

More than 275 authors will appear at the Capitol and at other venues around town to speak about, read, discuss, and sign their books. For an alphabetical list of authors, or to search by genre or keyword, click here.

Nationally renowned authors coming to this year’s Festival include Martin Amis, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Norman Lear, Lidia Bastianich, Ziggy Marley, James Ellroy, Katherine Applegate, Nicholas D. Kristof, John Dean, Valerie Plame Wilson, and Héctor Tobar.

 Headlining authors also include Charles Blow, Emily St. John Mandel, Michael Ruhlman, Douglas Brinkley, Richard Linklater, Francisco Goldman, Meg Wolitzer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Sarah Bird.

 The physically fit can bike with authors on Sunday morning from 8:00 to 9:00, when H. W. Brands, Stephen Harrigan, Lawrence Wright, and Rob Spillman will lead a tour of downtown Austin.

H. W. Brands at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, ...
“H. W. Brands at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) is licensed by Larry D. Moore, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

 

This event is not an author reading; it is an hour-long mini-tour that allow [sic] a group of readers to engage with authors in real-life conversations on a more personal level.

 (Here, I must digress: The summer I was fourteen, my friend and I biked from Fentress to Staples and back, wearing bathing suits [why bathing suits I can’t remember, unless we thought all-encompassing sunburn would add to the fun] and chattering all the way. The idea, X years later, that I could engage in a real-life conversation with anyone while riding a bike anywhere–well, it is to laugh.)

Joyce Carol Oates by Shawn, CC BY-NC 2.0
Joyce Carol Oates” by Shawn is licensed under  CC BY-NC 2.0

There will also be a Literary Mayhem (a literary pub crawl), food everywhere you look, music, activities for children and families, and a raft of other book-centered activities all over the Capitol grounds, and, if it’s anything like last year’s festival, stretching down Congress Avenue.

And there will be exhibitors from the American Society of Civil Engineers to Zonk Books and plenty in between. Translation: BOOKS FOR SALE!

And, saving the best for last–

Saturday afternoon, mystery novelists Deborah Crombie, Timothy Hallinan, and Minerva Koenig will discuss the craft of mystery writing before an audience in the Capitol Extension.

More on that tomorrow. . .

###

 *Mr. Kelton did, indeed, do a beautiful job with Eve. She was perfect. If you’ve not read The Good Old Boys, do yourself a favor and read it. Then see the movie. Not the other way around.