Doctor Who: "Last Christmas" Hits Every Mark Perfectly

Categories: Doctor Who

My apologies for the lateness of this review as I spent most of Christmas evening in the emergency room with my daughter, who is fully recovered now.

The Doctor and Santa Claus...You have to be a little worried, right? Much like the Christmas Harry Potter crossover Russell T. Davies tried to put together during Tennant's time it might just be a bridge too far. Even for Steven Moffat, a writer who works his absolute best in the context of a fairy tale, it's a daunting task.

Surprisingly, the subject is handled just as perfectly as it can be.

"Last Christmas" excels well in horror. Capaldi's run has been somewhat strangely dominated by zombie-like enemies. We had the titular mummy in "Mummy on the Orient Express" and the Boneless from "Flatline" already, and you could conceivable add the corpse Cybermen and the Clockwise Men to the list if you were so inclined. The Sleepers certainly fit that mold, being reminiscent of either the infected from The Last of Us or probably more accurately the Headcrab Zombies from Half-Life.

For all that they've been largely done before they do still bring out an element of real horror. Add in the nightmarish nature of the multilayered dreamscapes that the monsters use to sedate and trap their victims and you've got a pretty creepy little winter's tale.

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5 Reasons Some Outsiders Hate on Texas

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photo by Almond Butterscotch

Texas gets picked on a lot by people who don't live here. Often the butt of unkind jokes, the Lone Star State was picked as the most hated in the United States in a 2013 Business Insider poll, so it's clear that at least a few people don't have a kind view of this state or its people.

Yes, I realize that many of us don't care what these negative creeps think. That's a very Texan attitude, a sort of "kiss my ass" defensiveness that is understandable considering the crappy attitude some people have about Texas. So what are some of the reasons many outsiders seem to dislike us?

5. Our Politicians Often Stink, and Do So Nationally.

Most politicians tend to do stupid or even evil-sounding things from time to time, and some seem to make a career out of being powerful scumbags. That seems to be a constant almost everywhere in the nation. But there's something different about politics here, and about the politicians that seem to rise high enough to get attention outside the state. I can't count how many times I've had to discuss the inexplicable Bush dynasty, and explain that no, not everyone in Texas voted for them, or Rick Perry, or Sheila Jackson Lee, or Ted Cruz. It's hard to blame people for thinking we're crazy down here, considering some of the jokers that we've put in power over the years, but it's not rational to blame the whole state for electing these clowns. It took a nation to elect Bush (Senior and Junior), after all.

4. Texas Tends to "Go Big" And That Bothers Some People.

This state is full of a diverse population of people, and a lot of the time things get done in a big way here. Whether we're talking enormous megachurches, the nation's widest highways, or just the way many people tend to speak and act boldly - well, some people from outside the state can't handle that. They think that it indicates an arrogance, but the reality is that a lot of Texans just like decisive action and big achievements. And why not? I won't contend that those projects always work out well, but sometimes they do, I think that Texans just tend to have a "can do" attitude, and aren't afraid to take chances.

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Pop Culture and Beyond: The Most Popular Art Attack Posts of 2014

Photo by Son Lam
It should come as no surprise that a RenFest post made the list.
"What is art?" is one of those questions that can be answered an infinite number of ways, which probably means that the best anything is "anything can be art." That's one of the joys about this blog: it gives us here are the Press room to stretch our wings and write about all manner of subjects.

And so we do. From the stage to the screen (big and small), from street art to fine art, from parenting to marijuana and from nudity to Doctor Who, we touch on a little bit of everything in the pop culture spectrum.

As 2014 winds down, we thought now was a good time to flashback to the year that was and the posts that you enjoyed the most. Thanks for reading and for commenting and for taking a chance on some of our weirder entries.

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[VIDEO] The Changing Face of Houston - A City That Never Stops Transforming

Over the last several months, as I researched and wrote the "Changing Face of Houston" series of articles featuring Houston neighborhoods, several things became evident - Houston is a dynamic place that has experienced many transformations over its history, and the many communities contained within the city continue to evolve, reflecting the character of the people living here.

Houston is not the type of place where a person can just get used to things indefinitely staying the same, nor is it a city where it's wise to assume that a neighborhood experiencing a period of decline is down for the count. Learning the history's of some of Houston's communities gave me a deeper appreciation for the crazy patchwork of communities that makes up the city's landscape. It also showed me just how quickly and fundamentally many areas of this city is changing.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: 2014 DocFest and More

Categories: Top 5

Photo by Gary Spector
Bettina May
Kick off your weekend with the women from the Ruby Revue Burlesque Show. Pinup queen and burlesque dancer Bettina May, who's often compared to Rita Hayworth, appears as the special guest artist at one of Friday's two shows. It's easy to see why May gets compared to Hayworth - the Titian-haired beauty has a 36-28-38 figure, movie-star good looks and a vintage Hollywood glamour style. But Rita Hayworth never shimmied like Bettina May.

Among her most popular routines are a classic gown peel (her ode to Hayworth), a chair dance (a nod to Marlene Dietrich) and a showgirl showstopper (echoes of Josephine Baker). Originally from Canada, May earned her green card for her skill as a striptease artist. (She was deemed an "alien with extraordinary ability," a category usually reserved for scientists, world-class athletes and such.) Now based in New York City, May is the author of the recently released Everyday Bombshell, a how-to guide for women who want to add a bit of vintage pinup beauty to their lives.

Also appearing as a special guest is Grace Gotham. Billed as a bawdy chanteuse, the Dallas native has been known to take a spin on a pole if there's one handy. Gotham's a gourmet of sorts; she writes Tassel to Table Cuisine, a popular food blog.

The women of the Ruby Revue will take their turn in the spotlight. "We'll be performing our award-winning group act, Taste The Rainbow," troupe member Ginger Valentine tells us. "We won Best Troupe from [the] Burlesque Hall of Fame for that routine, and crowds always go nuts." Shelbelle Shamrock (also known as The Get Lucky Girl) is performing She's Dangerous, a routine that showcases her hip-hop and break-dancing skills. And Renee Holiday draws on her opera training for La Petite Morte, a satire of a classic aria.

See Bettina May, Grace Gotham and the Ruby Revue Burlesque Show at 6:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday at the House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, visit $32 to $40.

This story continues on the next page.

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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Into The Woods

Title:Into The Woods

Why'd It Take So Long To Make This Into A Movie? Disney realized they'd only released one other princess-related movie this year (Maleficent).

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Tex Avery wolves out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Fairy tale characters unite for some such.

Tagline: "Be careful what you wish for."

Better Tagline: "Based on that musical everybody did in high school."

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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Imitation Game

Title:The Imitation Game

Could You Pass The Turing Test? I do have steel screws in my ankle, so I'm practically RoboCop.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half Leons from Blade Runner out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Genius mathematician breaks enemy code, gets shit on by government for his troubles.

Tagline: "Behind every code is an enigma."

Better Tagline: "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto."

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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:

Title: Unbroken

We're Getting A Lot Of These Inspirational True Stories This Time Of Year. Well, it *is* Oscar season.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One-and-a-half wartime Daffy Ducks out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Olympian gets captured by Japanese during World War II, enjoys it even less than you'd expect.

Tagline: "Survival. Resilience. Redemption."

Better Tagline: "Just read the book."

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10 Things You Should Be Buying at the Dollar Store

Categories: Parenting

Photo by Jef Rouner
They also sell miniature long distance weaponry, which is good because in the House With One F we don't tolerate melee classes
Dollar stores don't get as much respect as they deserve. Yes, they are full to the brim with probably unlicensed toys and extremely cheap products with no craftsmanship. That said, I go to the dollar store near my house at least twice a week and it's taught me something important: There are some products we are being absolutely gouged on and we don't even know it. What's worth getting at the dollar store?

There's a great article over on Wired that breaks down the math on this, but here's the basic gist: The more a battery costs, the more energy and use you will get out of it. However, in terms of energy per cost, all batteries essentially produce the same. Now, if you're picking up big D-cells for a flashlight that you might need to always work, you should definitely spend the cash. If what you're looking for is something to power a child's toy until he or she grows bored with it, dollar store all the way.

No matter what a commercial tells you, deodorant has not changed significantly in a century. It's aluminum in a paste that plugs up your pores. That's it, and that's probably all it will ever be. The active ingredient in deodorants is almost always exactly the same, and one from the dollar store is just as good as any other unless your particular skin proves sensitive.

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The 10 Best Christmas Specials You Can Still Watch Right Now Online

Categories: Animation

The Christmas spirit and Rankin & Bass specials go hand-in-hand.

If it's not the holiday music blaring above every cash register in the city that gets you into the Christmas spirit, then maybe it's the cavalcade of television programming that puts your holiday mood at volume 10.

When we heard that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a Google trending topic earlier this month, it was obvious the appetite for 50-year-old holiday programming doesn't fade.

So, we decided to dig around the bowels of the internet to find some other Christmas classics your holiday shouldn't be without.

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