Holiday Day Camps for Kids in Houston

Categories: Special Events

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Courtesy of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Cool Critters Winter Camp at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center becomes a giant, outdoor classroom for the Cool Critters Winter Camp. Kids seven to 12 years old have half-day and full day camp options. Activities include nature hikes and tours, animal encounters, plant identification, classroom instruction, arts, crafts and games.

Cool Critters Winter Camp runs 9 a.m. to noon and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 29, 30, and 31. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit houstonarboretum.org. $115 to $205.

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Top 5 Best Guesses for the Mortal Kombat X Guest Character

Categories: Gaming

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Mortal Kombat X
When the last Mortal Kombat came out fans got some real treats in the form of guest characters. The first was the Elm Street Slasher himself, Freddy Krueger. The Dream Master fit in nicely with the world of Mortal Kombat, and more than held his own. The second was God of War's Kratos, also a worthy kombatant.

Ed Boon has already revealed that guest characters will return in the newest game, and because of that speculation is completely rampant. I delved into some of the possibilities, and these five are the ones I think are probably the most likely.

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100 Creatives 2014: Sylvia Narvaez Blanco, An Artistic Hired Gun

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by Sylvia Narvaez Blanco
What She Does: Sylvia Narvaez Blanco has been painting for the last four years. Drawing and doodling were always a part of her life, but it was painting that really drove her to where she is now, mostly doing commissioned orders for a variety of clients.

Her first public work was painting the side of a DMX ramp for an event with Red Bull Urban Rhythm. She's also painted a mural at the Houston Food Park on St. Emmanuel Street - her first large-scale work -- and a second one on Navigation Street for Frenetic Theater. Aerosol Warfare Gallery, Shape of Things Art Gallery and East End Studio Gallery have all hosted her paintings in group exhibitions.

Her work is very unique. It's oddly flat, like classical Japanese art, but uses strange twilight colors to give it an otherworldly edge. The minimal details allow large shaded areas to broadcast like an amp at eleven, especially on the bigger pieces. It's whimsical, but darkly so.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Christmas ... with Monkeys!

Categories: Top 5

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Photo by Dalton DeHart
Joe Kirkendall
On Friday, standout musical theater stars Joe Kirkendall, Jennifer Gilbert, Joel Sandel, John Gremillion and Tamara Siler tackle The Great American Christmas Songbook in the Bayou City Concert Musicals holiday program Christmas on Broadway. Sharon Williams, president of Bayou City Concert Musicals, tells us that while the show is called Christmas on Broadway, that's just one genre on the program. "We're taking a rather broad definition of 'Broadway,'" she says. "We're including music from Broadway shows, film scores and the standards." And, yes, a few Christmas carols. "We're doing 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Peace on Earth,' so there will be a little bit of traditional music, but most of the program is made up of pop and show tunes."

Under the direction of BCCM Musical Director Michael Mertz, the group sings "A Winter Wonderland," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and "The Christmas Song." "We're jazzing 'em up a little. Jennifer Gilbert is going to sing "Hard Candy Christmas" from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. We're keeping it fun." Fun, Williams is quick to point out, doesn't mean unsophisticated. Group numbers include "Believe," "Countdown to Christmas" from the Broadway show A Christmas Story, and "Jing-a-ling-a-ling," which is an Andrews Sisters song. "Those group numbers can get really complicated. [The singers] have to make it seem so easy, but there's a lot of difficulty in [the arrangements]. There's lots going on."

8 p.m. Ovations, 2536 Times Boulevard. For information, visit bayoucityconcertmusicals.org. $25 to $35.

This story continues on the next page.

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Updated: Opera in the Heights and Conductor Enrique Carreon-Robledo Part Ways

Categories: Breaking News

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Courtesy of Opera in the Heights
Enrique Carreon-Robledo, the now former Artistic Director of Opera in the Heights
Update: We've spoken with both Enrique Carreón-Robledo and David Douglas, chair of the Opera in the Heights Board of Directors. Jump to the end of the story to see what they have to say.

We've just confirmed that Opera in the Heights and Artistic Director/Conductor Enrique Carreón-Robledo have parted ways. An official announcement has not been made as of yet, but one is expected soon. OH! Manager of Operations Mariam Khalili confirmed Carreón-Robledo's departure and said simply:

"The organization and Enrique decided to part ways, going in different directions."

Khalili declined to make any further statement.

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American Horror Story: Freak Show: Ladies and Gentlemen, Naomi Grossman

Categories: Film and TV

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I had seriously contemplated asking my editor is maybe covering American Horror Story this season was worth continuing. Since the end of the Edward Mordrake story arc the show has stumbled through its second act neither being particularly scary or especially riveting drama-wise. For the first half of "Orphans" I found about as much pleasure playing with my phone as I did on the screen.

Sure, Esmeralda showing off the massacre of freaks that her partner Stanley has been masterminding was good for some shock value, including a rather obvious twist ending that was powerful for all that it was predictable. Still, it was at least a little horrifying.

And then there was Pepper.

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Marion Cotillard Wins -- Twice -- in Our 2014 Film Critics' Poll

Categories: Film and TV

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Sundance Selects
Marion Cotillard, was voted best actress in this year's film critic's poll.
What kind of circle is time again? A year after blowing the doors off our annual critics’ poll, golden boy Matthew McConaughey won just a single vote for his turn in the loudest movie of the year, Christopher Nolan’s tears-in-space effort Interstellar, which has tied with the unprescient Transcendence as 2014’s worst film. (Transcendence dreamed that Johnny Depp’s character would take over every screen in the world — that didn’t happen.) But his margin of victory lives on, this year in the form of Marion Cotillard, who wins best actress twice: first for the Dardenne brothers’ vote-gathering drama Two Days, One Night, then besting second-place Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin) with her turn in James Gray’s glorious melodrama The Immigrant, available now on Netflix streaming because Harvey Weinstein doesn’t believe Oscar voters will bite.

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The Colbert Report's Greatness Arrived With Its Very First Episode

Categories: Film and TV

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Colbert in the opening of the very first Colbert Report.
The funniest and most incisive show on television is ending this week -- so let's look back at how it began. On October 17, 2005, a power-suited Stephen Colbert furrowed his eyebrows and showed off highlights of his new set. Red letters above him shouted, "The Colbert Report." The title of his show was silhouetted in back of those letters, so it appeared twice. The host's last name was also proclaimed by a plasma-screen on the front of his desk, and it flashed four times on a ticker that ran below it, and was even spelled out on either side of that desk -- "which," he pointed out, "is itself shaped like a giant C." There were nine "Colbert"s in all, not counting the initial he sat in.

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Fashion Houston Makes a Wise Decision For Its Future With New Partnership

Categories: Fashion

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Photo by Fashion Houston and courtesy of Vivian Wise
Fashion Houston is officially past its infancy and, like all toddlers, may be searching for its footing as it moves into the next stage of its growth. The team's recent announcement of a new partnership with Houston fashion heavy hitter Vivian Wise, may be their first step toward improvement. Wise is known to have an eye for style and heart for community, so she may be just what Fashion Houston needs.

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The Ten Best TV Shows of 2014

Categories: Film and TV

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"My Dream Breakup" on Inside Amy Schumer.
TV continued to unmoor from its origins and transform into something else this year. No longer tethered to a specific appliance, a particular kind of storytelling, or even commercial concerns, "television" now feels like an increasingly obsolete word.

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