7 Best Steampunk Halloween Costumes For Pets

Categories: Fashion

It's a terrible feeling, waking up and realizing that there's little over two months left until Halloween and you don't have the perfect steampunk costume for your pet. You panic, utterly unmanned by the thought of ridicule when you show up with an un-brass goggled cockapoo at the annual steampunk Halloween ball. Well, in all likelihood this isn't an huge concern for you, but just in case it is I am here to help you out.

Consider this fine dog ensemble from Ida and Sam of Ironic Embroidery. It's a stylish handmade cape and hat that can be custom fitted for dogs up to 50 pounds. Those are real gears, by the way, so you may not want buy this get up if you have a dog that eats every little thing.

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Bottom Feeder Television. Why We Make Celebrities Out of Reality TV Stars

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by badjonni

On some level most of us seem to understand that reality television is both not real and mostly awful.

While the popularity of shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo sort of baffles me, in other ways it makes perfect sense. Many folks seem to have an insatiable appetite for the manufactured and random drama being fed to them, and they get to live vicariously through the real life cartoon characters that populate most reality television. In some cases, almost anyone gets the happy thrill of being "better than" the individuals they see in these shows. That's an appealing idea to a lot of people.

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Secrets of the Heart: Dario Robleto at The Menil Collection

Categories: Visual Arts

Dario Robleto's Things Placed in the Sea, Become the Sea (2013-14).

The Setup:

The human heart is a strange thing. It beats, pushing blood through the arteries, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the trillions of cells that make up our physical being. Without the beating heart, life simply does not exist. Yet, can the prime mover of our physical existence give insight into our interior lives, the emotional terrain that constitutes our dreams, desires, and faith? This is the question Dario Robleto attempts to answer in "The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed", an exhibition now open at The Menil Collection.

The Execution:
The culmination of Robleto's research of the human heartbeat is seen in his two new sculptures, as well as select items from The Menil's holdings. Visitors young and old will marvel at his table of curiosities, Things Placed in the Sea, Become the Sea (2013-14). Thematically, the sculpture speaks to the historical confluence of the United States' race to conquer space, and the medical community's creation of the artificial human heart. Both endeavors reached a zenith of activity and success in the 1960s.

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The 10 Best Houston Inventions

Ever since mankind figured out that prehistoric beasts die easier when you poke them with a pointy stick rather than beating them in the head with a far less pointy stick, humanity has lauded and celebrated invention. We like things, and one way or another we've crawled from the caves into magics like the Internet, dialysis, and the inflatable grill. If only our ancestors could see us now I'd bet they'd...

Well, probably poke us with the pointy stick out of a combination of magosophobia and "No one likes a show off, smartass". Progress is hard, OK?

Houston has contributed nicely to the world's collections of do-hickies, and today we celebrate ten things you love that were made possible by H-Town inventors.

Screwpull Corkscrew
Fun fact, the cork was invented before the corkscrew. It wasn't until an English gunsmith in the 18th century used a device used to get shot out of muzzle-loaders than anyone came up with a way to easily get the wine out of a sealed bottle.

Somewhat easier, I mean, and the process still needed improving. Enter Houston's Herbert Allen in the 20th century, who liked inventing things for jet engines and the petroleum industry but loved wine. He had one of the finest cellars in Houston, and when his wife complained that she had a hard time with corkscrews Allen went to work inventing a lever-based mechanism that would do the job for her with a fraction of the effort.

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Reality Bites: Wahlburgers

Sushi in a burger joint? Fackin' suspect.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Was this really necessary?

I probably ask that question every week. Arguably none of the garbage I subject myself to on a weekly basis for your quote-unquote amusement *needs* to exist, in the purest, Maslow hierarchy sense of the word. And in fairness, once I realized A&E's Wahlburgers wasn't about famous siblings Mark and Donnie Wahlberg attempting to open a restaurant, but rather their brother Paul -- who is actually a chef -- I more or less accepted the premise.

Even though it significantly diminishes the potential for Marky Mark-related kitchen mishaps.

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How Video Games Are Fighting Mental Illness

Categories: Gaming

Alice: The Madness Returns
Typically, video games fight mental illness with knives and steampunk, but there may be a better way.
There are lots of people that will tell you that video games rot the mind and encourage violent and deranged behavior. Most of these will focus on titles like the Grand Theft Auto, or on the objectification of women in mainstream games that reinforces rape culture, or simply remark that actively participating in what is often brightly colored serial murder can't be mentally healthy and might be addictive.

The jury is still out on the subject, but the bright side is that video games are starting to make in-roads as a tool for helping combat mental illness. Sometimes in very interesting and innovative ways.

The first is through awareness. The recent suicide of Robin Williams and the sometimes callous and cruel remarks from observers should be all the proof we need that depression is still poorly understood by much of the general population. To say nothing of diseases like obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.

Doris C. Rusch of DePaul University thinks video games can change that. After all, it's an art form that is unique because it forces the player to participate rather than simply watch or experience the production. She's put together several games that replicate the symptoms of severe mental illness in order to try and share those experiences with the general population through the metaphor of a game.

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Student Actors at Memorial High and Carver Magnet Unite For Memphis, the Musical

Categories: Education, Stage

Photo by Jennifer H. Greer
The combined Memorial High and Carver Magnet School cast of Memphis
He's a white DJ who has fallen in love with a black singer in an underground club. Making it even more interesting, they're in Memphis in the 1950s, where the outlook is not favorable for their relationship or her musical career.

It's Memphis, the Musical, an exuberant look at race relations in R&B clubs and radio stations amid a whole lot of catchy rock and roll and rhythm and blues songs with dancers hitting the boards hard.

Many high schools would have a problem staging it with its large cast calling for both African American and white actors.

But student actors from Memorial High in Spring ISD and G.W. Carver Magnet in Aldine ISD and their advisers figured out a way around that. They combined forces so that in the weekend just after Labor Day, audiences can see them come together to perform the 2010 Tony award winner for best musical.

They worked all summer building sets and running lines to get to this point.

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UPDATED The 2014 Houston Theater Awards: A Year Filled With Sound, Fury and Laughter

Categories: Stage

Oh, the places we've been! The people we've met!

We've gone to Hell with Satan in Doctor Faustus (Classical Theatre Company); suffered with the Frank family in their Amsterdam garret in The Diary of Anne Frank (A.D. Players); time-traveled backward and forward with ex-wives and new wives in Communicating Doors (Alley Theatre); romped through the deconstruction of fairy tales in Into the Woods (Main Street Theater); had our hearts trampled and seared in an African brothel in Ruined (Obsidian Art Space); wept in sympathy with a puppet horse more alive than the human actors in War Horse (Gexa Energy Broadway); prowled the waterfront with Anna Christie (Theatre Southwest); brawled and got drunk with Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I (Houston Shakespeare Festival); stormed the Parisian barricades with Jean Valjean in Les Miserables (Houston Family Arts Center); learned that size does matter in Cock (Theater LaB Houston); reeled under too much eggnog in A Very Tamarie Christmas (Catastrophic Theatre); fooled the Irish yokels and suffered the consequences in Faith Healer (Stark Naked Theatre Company); laughed as two proper English wives succumb to a former French lover in Fallen Angels (Main Street Theater); disbelieved a petulant prophetess in Cassandra (Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company); and more and more and more. Plus we had the privilege of attending multiple regional premieres and ten world premieres! What an incredible year of theater, full of sound and fury and laughter, too. So many riches.

For our third annual Houston Theater Awards sponsored by the Houston Press, we give you the best of the best. We debated long and loud; the choices difficult because there was so much good stuff to ponder. Theater smacks us awake by showing us the world in all its diversity, a crazy quilt of emotion and enlightenment. The 2013-14 Houston theater season was extremely alive and kicking. We sincerely thank all the following nominees for enriching our lives with their sublime work. Please, sir, kick me again. D.L. Groover

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100 Creatives 2014: Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), Culture Gurus

Categories: 100 Creatives

Photo by Trish Badger
Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina, aka SHER
We weren't at all surprised when Shawna Forney asked if she could share this interview with fellow organizer and friend Erma Tijerina. It's in Forney's nature to invite people, to turn everything into a group project, to make everything a party. Tijerina is the same. The community organizers/event planners/media consultants behind CulturePilot, a branding/design company and CreativeMornings Houston, a series of monthly breakfast meetings with imaginative, inventive speakers, Forney and Tijerina are both natural hosts, natural leaders. They're smart, focused, gregarious women with infectious enthusiasm and it's extremely difficult to ever say no to either of them.

A couple of generations ago, they would have made a hell of a pair of Tupperware ladies. These days, they're more aptly described as culture gurus.

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Doctor Who: 12 Time Lord Reasons Peter Capaldi Is Going to Be Great

Categories: Doctor Who

This Saturday Doctor Who returns for Series 8 (or Season 34, if you like) and with it we get a new Doctor. I think it's safe to say that the revived series has never had anything like the excitement that is surrounding the debut of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. When Christopher Eccleston debuted, no one knew what the new show would bring, then he left so abruptly no one could really prepare for David Tennant. Then, when Tennant announced he was leaving, the huge sea of fans he'd brought into the TARDIS screamed bloody murder.

Matt Smith alone is the modern Doctor about whom people seemed to understand and accept that it was time for him to move on. Not that he was hated or disliked by anyone other than the last of the rabid Tennant fans and the odd classic series holdout that disliked him for his romance and youth. It's just, well, he said it best himself: "Times change, and so must I."

Ever since we all spent Christmas in tears over the loss of Smith, every Whovian has been eager to get as many glimpses as we could of Capaldi's Doctor, and with just days until the premiere, it's clear that he already embodies the best of all that has come before. He's got...

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