Dudley Saunders Shows What the Dead Leave Behind

Categories: Performance Art

Photos by Dean Carpentier
Musician and multi-talented artist Dudley Saunders saw two of his exes lose their lives close together in the early '90s during the AIDS crisis. As with when anyone dies there comes the question of stuff. Not the big stuff like houses and heirlooms and antiques. Just the regular every day things that people use and then have no more use for being dead.

Saunders got interested in that stuff, and it's the subject of his In These Boxes project. Years after his former lovers were gone, he realized that he no longer knew anybody that remembered when he was with them. The few objects he had as mementos were the only witnesses to the past beside himself.

"I had a number of objects, but two stay top of my mind," said Saunders in an email interview. "One was a simple cheap chain, the kind people hang around their necks to display a cross or St. Christopher's medal. That was from my first lover, an emotionally scarred Vietnam veteran. He was a tough guy, very distant, but his eyes showed rare emotion when he hung that chain around my neck. I felt like a lone witness; I don't know if anyone else knew what was inside him.

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Book Check: Funny Once, by Antonya Nelson

Categories: Books

Title: Funny Once

Tell Me About the Author: Antonya Nelson, who holds the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Houston, is one of the nation's undisputed masters of the short story. Prior to Funny Once, she's published ten books of fiction, six of which are story collections. Just how powerful are her stories? When Nelson's 2006 collection Some Fun was released, her publisher decided to use the book cover to enumerate her lengthy list of accolades. She's won the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been named one of Granta's 50 Best Writers Under 40, and one of The New Yorker's 20 Writers for the 21st Century. Since then her 2009 collection Nothing Right and her 2010 novel Bound were named Notable Books in their respective years by The New York Times.

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5 Life Lessons I Learned Playing Candy Crush Saga

Photo by m01229
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
It seems like half the people I know play Candy Crush Saga. I base this on the insane number of Facebook invites I've gotten, and the look of manic glee in their eyes when the addictive candy-based puzzle game comes up in conversation. It's a fun little puzzle game for sure, but it has also unexpectedly taught me several life lessons.

5. Addiction takes many forms.

One of those forms manifests in the relentless candy matching game play of Candy Crush. Forget the schmaltzy music that accompanies this game, the soundtrack should be a continuously loop of "Sister Morphine" or "Waiting on the Man," because the dead look in your eyes a few weeks after Candy Crush gets its hooks in you is one more often associated with serious drug addiction. It starts off innocently enough. You download the game for free, and its cute but fun gameplay goes along well for maybe ten or 15 levels before you hit the first difficult one. Maybe you have to replay it a time or two, and then you move on, happy to have bested the challenge.

Soon, though, those challenging levels often turn into what I think of as "Total Bastard" levels where a person might get stuck for days at a time. That's when you suddenly realize that you're addicted to this sinister candy game, because like a drug pusher the offers to buy more lives and more time (with real money, of course) or to buy game bonuses that will help you finish the Bastard levels and move further along the game. I get it, game companies need to make money, but this type of luring a person along reminds me of the Junior High warnings of drug dealers that would give a kid a few pills for free, the first time.

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[Video] The Human Side of the Houston World Series of Dogs Shows

Categories: Video

We're not anti-cat here at the Houston Press, we just really love dogs. As you can imagine, being the dog fans we are, one of the things we look forward to every year is the Houston World Series of Dog shows (formerly the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows).

It's a chance to check out breeds we don't normally get to see in person, watching the dogs navigate obstacles with grace and skill, and discover all the tricks that we wish our own dogs could learn.

We're not sure why our dogs would need to know how to count, but it would still be neat if they could.

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Doctor Who: 5 Reasons the Tenth Doctor Wasn't All That Great

Categories: Doctor Who

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Tenth Doctor. I love all the Doctors. What I'm addressing today is the fact that on any given list of favorite Doctors Ten is nearly always tops. His only real competition for the number one spot in popular opinion is Tom Baker, who managed to be everyone's favorite Doctor for more than three decades. Not a bad piece of work for our Ten.

But that acclaim has always baffled me, especially as I go back and rewatch the series in anticipation for August 23. Ten is good, but is he really great? I don't think so because...

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Rest of the Best: 10 Best Novels Set in Houston

Houston continues to get wider and wider recognition in the world, but I still feel like it sometimes lacks an identity in the national consciousness. I mean, if someone tells you that a book takes place in New York City or Chicago, you can probably name a dozen books or movies or television shows that take place in those cities. By proxy, you have stories in your head that fit into those settings.

That's something Houston lacks, but we're getting better about it. Today we're going to look at ten of the best books that are set in H-Town

10. The Deal, by Becky Cochrane and Timothy Lambert
It's a gay romance novel, which might turn some people off, but the dialogue in The Deal is just unbeatable. Set in Montrose, it's about a group of friends fed up with their love lives who vow to find true love before next New Year's Eve. Yes, that is a corny as hell premise, and yes, it's a pretty predictable story, but the characters come to life in hilarious barbs and quips that will leave you howling. It's a great voice.

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Reality Bites: Dating Naked

Not to worry, someone already made the blow job joke.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

"Naked television" indeed.

When it comes down to it, dating shows aren't any better or worse than shows about flipping houses (Flip This House), staged cooking competitions (Celebrity Cook-Off, or the embryonic version of Ow My Balls! (Wipeout). Select a handful of attention-starved dimwits, preferably with visible abs and/or D-cups, and set them loose in an "unscripted" environment while letting cameras record the ensuing shenanigans.

You're probably familiar with the metaphor of the boiling frog: put a frog in a pan of boiling water and it'll jump out, but put the frog in cold water and gradually heat it to a boil, and the frog will die without complaint. VH1's new reality show is called Dating Naked, and if you feel like it's getting hot in here, it's probably not because of the blurred-out genitalia.

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5 Upcoming Games That Make Me Want to Buy a Wii U

Categories: Gaming

Despite being a diehard Nintendo fan throughout most of my life, this is the first time I can remember where I didn't have a Nintendo console in the house. When I first got a chance to preview the Wii U prior to its debut I found it gimmicky and unwieldy. Much of what it promised seemed like rather needless improvements to the Wii, and the game selection really wasn't enough to make me consider dropping the cash on it when the PS4 seemed like the surer bet.

After some time to get going, though, the Wii U is starting to look more and more appealing. There's at least five games on the horizon that are making me reconsider dropping the cash on Nintendo's box.

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HFAC Does Right By a Glorious Les Miserables

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of HFAC
Some of the revolutionaries in Les Miserables.
The setup:

After Les Miserables became a huge commercial success in the West End of London, a Broadway production opened in March of 1987 and ran until May 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. It was at the time the second-longest Broadway show in history, nominated for 12 Tony Awards and winning eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The rights for local theaters to produce it were just made available in 2013, though a shorter school version was available earlier, and The Houston Family Arts Center is now presenting it.

The execution:

Make no mistake, this is a major production,with a huge cast - 40 plus - and is also a production that sizzles with professional polish and extraordinary talent. The music of course is enthralling, and the voices here do it justice. The book is compelling, and all its raw emotional power is captured by a brilliant cast. The staging is electric, the costumes intriguing, the lighting exceptional, and the energy that cascades from the stage dynamic - here are actors who deliver such eloquence as to make the authors grateful.

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Yes, the Female Thor is a Gimmick. So?

Categories: Comics

The world of comic fans is all a-ricking right now. Soon, Marvel will have a female Thor and a black Captain America. Sam Wilson as Cap isn't that much of a stretch, having been Cap's buddy for most of the hero's post WWII adventures, but the idea of a female-wielder of Mjolnir seems to be most upsetting to some.

Even though no less an authority than Politifact shows it's happened before.

Still, the common comment I see most often is derisive sneers and the sentence, "It's just a cheap gimmick." My response to that is, "Of course it's a cheap gimmick. It's a superhero comic book. All they are is cheap gimmicks."

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