Heroman Cometh

Thanks to everyone who has liked “The Adventures of Heroman” Facebook page. I’ve gotten some great responses to the first teaser trailer, and don’t worry, we have more fun stuff coming in the next few months, but I promise not to spam the heck out of you. And if you haven’t seen it, and even if you already have, here’s the trailer:

“The Adventures of Heroman” is a throwback to the old school superhero radio shows from the 30s and 40s, but we’re tweaking the concept quite a bit. I’m not going to give anything away, but needless to say, things in Heroman’s world aren’t as easy as he’d like them to be.

Todd and I have been working diligently on the scripts, and we should begin recording in earnest next week. The writing process has been a ton of fun, and I know the recording process is going to be a blast, too. Hopefully it will be as fun to listen to as it’s been to create.

In the meantime, please check out the previous series we created to get an idea of our work. We’ve taken to calling it the “When We Tried to Trilogy” Trilogy, primarily because we couldn’t think of a better name. The first episode is called “When Thomas Tired to be a Graverobber,” the second is called “When Ronald Tried to be a Private Investigator,” and the third and final episode is called “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” All three episodes are related, so listen to them in order.

You can listen to them on the Hyperliterature page I’ve linked, via iTunes, or through any other podcast app you’d like to use. Just search for “Hyperliterature Presents.”

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Beneath the Stains of Time…

Me and Mom 83 or 84My wife and I were jogging along the Embarcadero in San Francisco when we received the news that my mom was dying. We’d booked a ferry to see Alcatraz, and a malfunctioning bus had put us way behind schedule, so we were legging it.

I was out of breath and the blood pumping in my ears made it hard to hear, but I immediately knew that something was wrong because mom was using her “don’t panic Mark” tone of voice that she reserved for bad news.

I remember her saying, “I’m going to be okay.”

I remember her saying, “I feel fine.”

I remember her saying, “renal cell carcinoma.”

I remember her saying, “immediate nephrectomy.”

Then I remember my knees buckling and nearly falling down on the sidewalk amidst the swarms of tourists. I remember people staring at me as I cried hysterically. I remember Leigh taking the phone from me.

And that’s about all I remember.

They removed the cancerous kidney, which, according to the surgeon, was nearly the size of a basketball. Unfortunately, the surgeon was unable to get clear margins, and the pathology report and subsequent scans showed the cancer had already metastasized and was present in the lungs.

There are very clear advantages in having been with Leigh throughout medical school, residency, fellowship, and into her medical practice. Free healthcare & medical advice. Trigger point injections when my muscles hurt. Fantastic company Christmas parties.

But the downside in being well-informed about medicine is that I immediately knew there would be no cure. No amount of chemo or radiation would be able to cure my mom’s cancer. I knew that even hoping for a cure was energy best spend elsewhere. From the moment I took my mother’s call on San Francisco’s bustling Embarcadero on the way to Alcatraz, I knew we were simply playing a waiting game with Death.

For nearly two years the chemo held the metastases at bay. But during the summer of 2014, we got the news I’d been dreading since the first day mom started treatment: The metastases were no longer responding to the meds, and they’d begun to aggressively grow and multiply.

Mom has only been gone a little over a week now, but it seems like years since we last spoke. I miss her hands. They were so soft. I miss her smile. It could light up a room. I miss her laugh. It was so infectious.

I just miss her. I miss her so much.

A good friend of mine lost his mother several years ago, and during this whole process, I’ve leaned on him pretty heavily for support and advice.

A month or so ago, as mom’s health started to really nose-dive, my friend told me that the pain of losing your mom never really goes away. The pain, he explained, will change everything about you. It will change who you are and how you see the world.

And, goddammit Todd, you were right.IMG_0008

Sometimes I feel guilty if I laugh too much. Maybe I’m not supposed to be having fun yet. Is it too soon for me to laugh?

Sometimes I’m so anxious I run on the treadmill for miles and miles.

Sometimes I feel so sad I don’t have the energy to get out of bed.

Sometimes I’m so angry I could punch holes in the walls.

Sometimes I wake up crying.

Sometimes I can’t sleep.

I know these dramatic emotional episodes will probably pass with time, but I have a feeling the emptiness I feel will always be there, just waiting for me when my mind gets quiet and the world falls away.

But the thing that’s amazed me most about this whole ordeal is the stunning generosity and comfort folks have offered to me and my family. Sympathy cards. Emails. Facebook messages. Hugs. Tears. Flowers and food. So many people have done such wonderful things for me.

It’s been overwhelming, the things folks have done, but the generosity of others has really been the only thing that’s kept me from falling into a deep depression and retreating into a self-imposed isolation. Intellectually I know that path only ends in despair, but emotionally, retreating feels the most compelling. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by people who won’t let me do that, and I can’t imagine what I would do without such a wonderful and lovely support group. I’ll thank them all individually and privately, but I couldn’t have made it through this without all of them.

On March 26th, we laid my mother to rest in Gholson Cemetery. I gave the eulogy at the funeral (click here to read it), and I think it was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to read in front of an audience. But I simply could not let someone else speak at her funeral. For one thing, she wasn’t religious and neither am I, so a lot of talk about God, Heaven, and the afterlife would have dishonored and been an affront to her epistemological and theological views. Even more importantly, I wanted the funeral to highlight the beauty of her life, and there was no way someone who didn’t know her could have accomplished that.

I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe in destiny, and I sure as hell don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

I think things happen, and we use reason to explain them. Mom’s death is easy to explain. Cancer. She drew the genetic short straw, and it killed her. But as I said in my eulogy, she left an indelible mark on the world. Her visitation and funeral was absolutely packed. All of those people are a testament to the woman she was.

I’ll miss you mom.

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When Wade Tried to Save the World

And finally, Hyperliterature Presents “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” This podcast is the third and final part of the “When We Tried to Trilogy Trilogy.” The first part of the trilogy is “When Thomas Tried to be a Graverobber,” and the second is “When Ronald Tried to be a Private Investigator.” Please make sure you listen to the first two episodes before you listen to this one.

The other two parts have all been leading up to this episode, and things get apocalyptically bonkers pretty quick.

The “When We Tried to Trilogy Trilogy” is a collaboration between me, my wife Leigh, my good friend Todd Wright, and musician Richard Hall. Todd and I are writing the stories and providing narration, Leigh voices the female character, and Ricky is scoring and adding the FX to our narration.

I apologize for the delay in getting this one out, but let me tell you, it’s been worth the wait. Out of all the creative projects of which I’ve been a part, this is the most proud I’ve ever been about something I helped to create. I couldn’t have designed a better writing partner than Todd. I love the story, and it’s been a load of fun to write, and I owe all of that enjoyment to Todd. Thanks, man. It was a blast.

I also want to publicly thank Leigh for recording the female character. Leigh’s character didn’t have a lot to do in part II, but she was pivotal in part III, and my girl knocked it outta the park. Thanks, babe.

And finally, I need to thank Ricky. In the interest of full disclosure, Ricky and I have yet to meet face-to-face, but he’s become such an integral part of this podcast that I feel as if we’ve become fast friends. His music and sound FX have rocketed our little story into a completely different universe. The music is so good that even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was still moved emotionally. So thanks, Ricky. We couldn’t have done it without you.

So sit down, crank up the volume, and prepare yourself for “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” It’s gonna be one helluva ride. And if you enjoy this podcast, and honestly, even if you didn’t, do me a favor and share it on Facebook and Twitter. We all worked super hard on this project, and I want to get as many people to hear it as we can.

If you have an iOS device, you can download the podcast from iTunes here. Please subscribe to the podcast to automatically receive updates of new episodes.

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When Ronald Tried To Be A Private Investigator

And now, Hyperliterature Presents “When Ronald Tried To Be A Private Investigator.” This is the second part of a three part series, so if you haven’t listened to “When Thomas Tried To Be A Graverobber,” you should really do that now.

This series is a collaboration between me, my wife Leigh, my good friend Todd Wright, and musician Richard Hall. Todd and I are writing the stories and providing narration, and Ricky is scoring and adding the FX to them.

I’m really proud of this series. The story Todd and I wrote is really fun, and I recorded this one (Todd did the last one). And just like last time, Richard’s score and sound effects really take this whole thing to another level. I got chill bumps the first time I heard the final mixdown, and I knew what was coming because I helped write the damn thing.

Like last time, this one ends on a cliffhanger just as everything is going sideways. We’ll wrap up this story in part three.

I hope you enjoy this one, and if you do, please share it all over the web. I wanna see this thing trending on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have an iOS device, you can download the podcast from iTunes here. Please subscribe to receive updates of new episodes.

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When Thomas Tried To Be A Graverobber

For this episode of Hyperliterature Presents, I collaborated with my good friend Todd Wright and musician Richard Hall, and we recorded a short story called “When Thomas Tried to be a Graverobber.”

I’m really proud of this podcast. The story Todd and I wrote is really fun, Todd does a magnificent job performing it, and Richard’s score and sound effects really knock the whole thing outta the park. This is the first part of a trilogy, so don’t get aggravated when it ends on a cliffhanger. We’ll pick it up in a month with part 2.

I hope you enjoy this one, and if you do, please share it all over the web. I wanna see this thing trending on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have an iOS device, you can download the podcast from iTunes here. Please subscribe to receive updates of new episodes.

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Three Bad Brothers

Two years ago today we lost Adam “MCA” Yauch to cancer. His death hit me pretty hard. If I had to create a soundtrack of my youth, the Beastie Boys would feature quite prominently. I wrote a blog post after he passed, and since this is the two year anniversary of his death, I decided to record that post as a podcast. It’s only about 8 minutes long, and it’s filled with vertigo, water balloons, and a nymphomaniac with a penchant for fist fights.

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed recording it and cutting it.


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Ty Wolosin & David Barrow

In this episode of Hyperliterature Presents, I sit down with Ty Wolosin and David Barrow for an excellent conversation about local farming, farmer’s markets, and sustainable foods. You can listen to it below, or click here to download it at the iTunes store. We also discuss David’s new film Farm-City, State, which will be premiering in Austin in a few weeks. Ty and David are great guys, and we had a lot of fun recording this episode.

Couple of things: In the podcast, I mention an article at the Freakonomics blog by Steven Sexton, and during the intro, I reference another article by Tom Philpott. Click those hyperlinks to read the articles.

If you’d like to catch up with Ty you can find him every Sunday at the HOPE farmers market at east 5th & Comal from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. Everything he sells is quality, but do yourself a favor and try some of the goat. If you’ve never cooked it before, ask Ty for tips. He’ll be glad to help you out. You can also visit the Windy Hill Farm website where Ty has an excellent list of all the places you can find his wonderful products.

Also, if you’re in the Austin area, be sure to visit the website for David’s film Farm-City, State. He doesn’t have a date yet for the premiere of the film, but when he does, I’ll update this post.

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Washing the Stress Away at Ojo Caliente

Two days punishing our bodies on the exhilarating slopes at Taos ski village. Another day traversing the Rio Grande Gorge from Pilar to the Gorge Bridge on mountain bikes. Nearly 40 miles for a round-trip of muscle-straining cycling.  And finally, a day of white-water rafting the Rio Grande from Razorblades to The Box to to The Racecourse.

We’d taken our minds and bodies past the point of no return, and finding a way to refresh our souls and process our experiences had become priority number one.

Beautiful Flowers

Beautiful Flowers

Before we’d booked our trip to New Mexico, Matt Gontram, the owner of New Mexico River Adventures, recommended we stay at Ojo Caliente after our week of skiing, biking, and rafting. He tried to emphasize how important it would be to relax after such a trip, and he stressed that the arid grandeur of Ojo would be just what we needed after such a physically demanding vacation. My wife and I had never stayed at a spa like Ojo, but we took his advice and hesitantly booked our stay, not knowing what to expect.

When we finally arrived at Ojo, exhausted from our adventures, we were eager to rejuvenate our minds and bodies. We wandered into the lobby, dusty and dirty, two weary souls in need of solace. The wonderful folks at the front desk greeted us warmly, and they pointed us toward our room.

Muddy Mark

Muddy Mark

As anyone who has ever had the distinct pleasure of staying at Ojo can probably attest, simply walking onto the gorgeous property sets the mind at ease. The landscaping. The beautiful New Mexico flora. The remote location. The whole ambience of Ojo Caliente simply encourages peaceful contemplation, and as we walked through the property, marveling at the various hot springs fed pools and the luxury that awaited us, any lingering doubts about our stay vanished.

Muddy Leigh

Muddy Leigh

We dropped our things off in our spacious and homey room and, like most people, immediately headed off to the mud bath.

How to describe the sensation of bathing in mud? Imagine slathering yourself with a velvety, satiny, substance that feels like liquid chocolate, and you might get close to the feeling of scooping handfuls of red mud onto your body at the mud pool at Ojo Caliente. The viscous liquid envelopes your body like a lover, holding you close and keeping you warm. Lie back on a reclining chair and let the warm, New Mexico sun bake and harden the mud onto your body, pulling your skin taught in the process. The mud will tighten on your skin, causing a child-like playfulness in even the dourest personality. You can’t help but smile at the feeling created by the mud hardening on your face, and each time you smile, the mud cracks a bit more, which in turn, makes you smile even more.

Private, Please

Private, Please

When we’d booked our stay, we’d also included a massage, and my wife pointed out that we were in danger of missing our appointment. So we reluctantly rinsed off and left the luxuriousness of the mud bath and headed to the masseuses. For nearly an hour, two talented masseuses massaged and manipulated our tired muscles with their slippery, strong fingers, loosening knots and relaxing our tired bodies.

We ended our night in one of the private baths. As my wife and I sank into the warm, spring-fed waters, our private and enclosed bathing area illuminated by the dancing flames of a log fire in our mini kiva, we held each other and watched the moon rise from behind the cliff-face. All the tension in our muscles had vanished as if by magic, and our spirits had also calmed from the excitement of the past week of adventures.

Private Bath

Private Bath

We’ve been back to Ojo Caliente many times since then, but that first trip was revelatory and truly magical. The warm waters of the springs, the luxurious mud bath, the deft fingers of the masseuses, and the intimacy of the private bath provided my wife and I with the opportunity to calm our souls and reconnect with one another intimately and spiritually.


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A Midsummer’s Night Picnic

While the date may vary slightly from year to year, the summer solstice, also known as midsummer, officially marks the first day of the summer season. The summer solstice occurs when the orbit and axial tilt of the planet positions our hemisphere closer to the sun than at any other point during our yearly trek around the big ‘ole fusion-furnace we sometimes call Sol. As a result of this cosmic positioning, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and ancient cultures have long recognized this neat little piece of astronomical trivia. Traditionally, the solstice has been a time to celebrate the coming of the crops, light bonfires, and, until the Church ruined it, engage in merry-making.

One of the reasons ancient cultures, specifically the Gaelic ones, stayed up late, partied, and lit bonfires on Midsummer’s Eve was because they thought it was a time when Faerie folk wandered the countryside freely, and they hoped the big fires and revelry would scare them off. Those of us literary types will recall that this is exactly what happens in Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”



It was in this rich tradition of celebrating nature and the verdant bounty she provides that, instead of the normal, sit-down affair that characterize most of The Homegrown Revival dinners, The HGR Team decided to hold its final event of the spring season as a picnic in Butler Park on Midsummer’s Eve.

When we arrived at the park, The HGR Team had already set up a serving table on top of a small, grassy hill, and several of the Revivalists had laid their picnic blankets on the ground. The HGR Team greeted us warmly, and then they set about mixing up our aperitifs, which they called “Spicy Greyhounds.” For the uninitiated, a “Greyhound” consists of vodka and grapefruit juice. A “Spicy Greyhound,” as The HGR Team jovially explained, contains a muddled slice of jalapeno, which definitely kicked the whole thing up a notch. The final product contained Texas grapefruit, Dripping Springs vodka, and slices of muddled jalapenos from Springdale Farm.

Muddle it up, Tink

Muddle it up, Tink

Since a line of thirsty Revivialists had begun to form, Tink Pinkard decided to join in and help make the drinks. Noticing that the singular muddler was currently in use, Tink decided to improvise, just as any outdoorsman worth his salt would do. So he grabbed an unopened beer bottle, flipped it upside down, and proceeded to use the cap to muddle away like a madman.

You can't repeat the past? Of course you can!

You can’t repeat the past? Of course you can!

We took our drinks and sat on our blankets, and before too long, The HGR Team brought us our dinner in a beautiful picnic basket. The picnic baskets had come from Shuford Alexander, a vintage luggage restorer in East Austin. I have to say, those cases were magnificent. One of our friends said our basket made him feel like Gatsby, and I had to agree. Just having it on our blanket brimming with food upped my gentleman quotient by an order of magnitude. Just look at that thing. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Since this dinner didn’t have service, we got to choose the order in which we ate our dishes. We started with the potato salad that the chefs had made with potatoes from Springdale Farm and Urban Roots. Four egg halves rested on top of the salad, and we greedily spooned it onto our plates. Next we moved to the squash salad that had also been sourced from Urban Roots. The tangy crispiness of the squash dish did a nice job of complimenting the smooth taste of the potato salad. We also had a mason jar filled with a cool and crisp shredded cucumber salad that I simply couldn’t get enough of.

No Joking! These are serious business!

No Joking! These are serious business!

After exploring the veggies, we moved to the proteins. We each had an entire sausage to ourselves, and we were told they had been made with wild Texas boar and cold smoked by The HGR Team specially for the picnic. Sometimes I find the smokiness of smoked meats overwhelming, but it was perfectly balanced, and when combined with the homemade mustard sauce, the sausages almost made me think the meal couldn’t get any better.

Plate of Deliciousness

Plate of Deliciousness

Then we opened the bag of fried chicken, and that thought quickly flew from my mind. The chicken, which was sourced locally, was absolutely delicious. It was full of flavor and perfectly juicy, and the breading was unlike any I’ve ever had. It was crispy with just a hint of sweetness.

For dessert we had mini angel food cakes topped with blackberry jam made from Springdale berries. By this point in the evening it was fairly dark out, and I couldn’t resist swiping a second cake.

Aos Sí

Aos Sí


We reclined on our blankets, bellies full and hungers satiated, and basked in the cool night and the soft glow of the lights of downtown Austin. And since APD would have likely frowned on us lighting a huge bonfire in Butler Park, The HGR Team passed out glow sticks. We laughed and waved them manically in the air to usher in the solstice, to say good-bye to the spring, and to scare away any Faire Folk who may have been lurking in the bushes nearby.


EDIT: Just a quick update. The HGR Team kindly posted the recipes for several of the dishes. But there’s one caveat if you wanna successfully make these dishes: You have to eat them with friends.



Categories: Austin Life, Homegrown Revival | Comments

I, Biscuit

I, Biscuit

I, Biscuit

In this podcast, Hyperliterature Presents “I, Biscuit,” which is the audio version of a short story I wrote several months ago. You can download it from iTunes here.

This short story was inspired by a couple of things. First, it’s obviously a play on Isaac Asimov’s classic I, Robot, and the story does make use of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. But don’t worry. You certainly don’t have to know anything about sci/fi to enjoy the story.

The other inspiration for this story comes from my habit of verbifying nouns. Specifically, converting “biscuit” into a verb. As in, this morning I biscuited. Or, I can’t get the phone right now. I’m biscuiting.

One of my co-workers called me out on this silly little habit in my Facebook album “You biscuit.” It was an imperative title, you see. I was commanding the audience to make biscuits.

Seemed reasonable at the time.

In any case, this is the story. I tried to read it with some panache. I hope you enjoy it.

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