Houston Rodeo Horticulture Competition Shows Off Beauty and Wildlife

Courtesy of HLSR
For many, the word "horticulture" evokes memories of biology class and the geeky side of the plant world: scientific classifications, pH balances and the like. However, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's Horticulture program is much more interesting than it might sound on the surface. It's a collection of programs with plenty of practical life applications. Just about everyone can benefit from understanding what makes for a good photo or how to set an attractive table for a party.

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Finding Love...Outside Texas?

Categories: Contests, Travel

...in all the wrong places.
It's a nine hour drive
From me to you
South on 1-95
And I'll do it 'til the day that I die If I need to
Just to see you
- Fountains of Wayne

For years I was fascinated by life on the East Coast. Having lived my entire life in Texas, the idea that Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were all close enough to drive to without an overnight stay was so foreign to a kid who grew up in a state where the distance from home to El Paso was farther than the distance from El Paso to Los Angeles. Then I drove all over the East Coast on numerous occasions and realized that, while physically close, getting around by car routinely took longer than the driving distance would indicate.

So, when a press release for a contest called America's Chance for Romance landed in my inbox with the line "If singles are sick of dating in their own state, this will give them the chance to be paired with someone from a completely different state based on similarities from their questionnaire and video submission," I had to chuckle.

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The Sexual Chemistry of Short Stories: A Conversation with Emma Donoghue and Signed Book Giveaway

Categories: Books, Contests

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Photo by Nina Subin
Emma Donoghue
Author Emma Donoghue says writing short stories is sort of like falling in love. "It's almost like sexual chemistry. You can't fake it. You can get together with the material and hope that something comes of it, but it cannot be forced," she tells us.

Donoghue, who is coming to Houston as part of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on November 12, goes on, "I realize that even though I may have done weeks of research on a story, sometimes it's just time to put it away. What's crucial to me is to make each story riveting on its own, and not just offer people slabs of information."

It seems the critics and public both agree that the short stories in Donoghue's latest collection, Astray, are riveting. Astray has been doing something that short-story collections rarely do: getting lots of critical praise and selling lots of copies. Its success has surprised even Donoghue. "I never imagined that a book of short stories would be getting me big fat reviews in USA Today and People," she tells us. "Short-story writers usually have a bit of an inferiority complex because our books don't sell as well, but this one has just been so warmly received."

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UPDATE: The Sound of Thunder: A Conversation with Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder and a DVD/CD Giveaway

Categories: Contests, Music

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UPDATE: The winners for our DVD / CD giveaway are: Janine W., Jennifer E., Pamela S., Pattyann M., Ruth B., and Kathie S. They have been notified by e-mail.

Celtic Thunder singer Ryan Kelly knows that if he ever forgets his lyrics, he just has to look out into the audience and thousands of Thunderheads (what fans of the Irish mega-group are called) are there to help him along. "We know that if we go onstage and make a mistake, everyone in the audience is going to know it," he tells us laughing, "because they know all the words, they're always singing along. It keeps us on our game; we can't fake a line or mumble an ending."

Fans helped to fashion the group's set lists for this tour. "We've been touring since 2008," Kelly tells us in a pronounced Irish accent. "We've made eight or nine albums, so we have a lot of material out there. As sort of a treat to our fans, we asked them what songs they wanted to hear us do. We took their requests and made sort of a greatest-hits-tour set list."

Kelly quickly adds, "I do want to make it clear, often when you hear about a group doing a greatest hits tour, that's an indication that things are coming to an end, and that couldn't be further from the truth for us. We just spent several months putting together our next show."

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Alamo Drafthouse Soliciting Your PSAs About Movie Etiquette

Categories: Contests


There are few things more annoying than going to a movie and having to sit in front of some loudmouth going on and on during the film. Horror flick, comedy, you name it, there's nothing cool about talking while a movie is going on. I once had the unfortunate circumstance of sitting next to a couple who talked (very loudly) and laughed throughout the entire movie Precious. She's getting beat and raped by her mom, c'mon!

The good people at Alamo Drafthouse also apparently hate moviegoers who flap their gums. They hate you types so much that they have launched a contest called "Don't Talk Or Text During Movies," asking regular folk to submit a video to help promote proper movie etiquette.

Got a camera? A phone? Shoot your own PSA to encourage the end of this awful behavior. The PSAs will be hosted on Badass Digest and there will be winners in each Alamo market (so that means Houston). Winners from each market will receive a $200 Alamo gift card and one big winner will take home a $1,000 Visa card.

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Houston's Best Non-Halloween Halloween Party: MFAH Mixed Media Designed by IKEA -- We've Got Free VIP Tickets UPDATED

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UPDATE: Organizers for the October installment of MFAH Mixed Media Designed by IKEA originally planned to ban costumes. After hearing from their audience, organizers decided that costumes will be allowed. In order to keep the art safe, the galleries will be closed off.

Lots of invites to Halloween parties have been crossing our desk, but the one for MFAH Mixed Media Designed by IKEA is the only one that stipulated "no costumes, please!" But then again, this event series has always done its best to surprise attendees. MFAH Mixed Media Designed by IKEA transforms the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, already a sensory haven, into a high-energy multisensory party with live music, DJs, cocktails, dancing and, this month, Halloween fun.

There's live music by Night Drive. DJ Rewards (DFA Records, NYC), a.k.a. Aaron Pfenning (formerly of Chairlift), headlines the event with featured guest DJ Fredster and resident DJ, Houston's own Ceeplus Bad Knives also spinning.

And -- here's the really good part -- we've got free VIP tickets! We'll be giving away two VIP ticket packages with four VIP tickets (no waiting at the door), two free drinks for each guest and four wigs from RockStar Wigs each. Each package is worth more than $200, but you can get yours for free. Check out the Houston Press promotions page for more details.

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Did Elrod Rodriguez Trade Sex for Facebook Votes to get in Neopopstreetfunk? One Outraged Local Thinks So.

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Elrod: Sad to say that she is not the leader of an underground prostitution bribery ring run by sacrilegious gangsters.
The victory of Leanne "Elrod" Rodriguez in last month's Neopopstreetfunk Viewer's Choice competition at M Squared Gallery was not universally applauded. (Her win means her work will be included in the show, which begins November 16.)

In fact, one anonymous soul was outraged enough to write Art Attack a letter about the San Francisco "Mexakitsch" artist's triumph, one the scandalized unknown scribe claimed was tainted by every sin from blasphemy most foul to trading sex for votes.

Yes, all this, because of a viewers' choice tally compiled through likes and shares on Facebook.

"Some alarming issues were brought to our attention," the Hater sniffed, and quickly cut to the chase, citing what he or she or it believed were Elrod's vile misdeeds.

The Hater directed us to one Facebook post wherein Elrod exclaimed that "DRASTIC TIMES CALL FOR DRASTIC VOTE BRIBING," and another where she offered up three of her works -- two paintings from her "Chubby Chola" collection and a luchadora-styled skateboard -- as enticements for those who shared her post.

"You get an entry for every share you made, so kudos to the hustlers that reposted that nastiness all week ;) I'll throw all the names in a bowl and smoke it - er, I mean, pull the winners tonight at 9."

The Hater was not through being mortified. Far from it.

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Etta James, Live at Montreux 1993 and "Something's Got a Hold of Me"

We've got our winner for the Etta James Live at Montreux 1993 DVD giveaway -- congratulations to Madi T.

For everyone else who didn't win a copy of the DVD, we thought we'd give you a taste with a clip of James performing a raucous version of "Something's Got a Hold of Me."

Watch Art Attack for more DVD/Blu-rays news and giveaways.

DVDs & Blu-rays: Penumbra and an Etta James Live at Montreux, 1993 Giveaway

Penumbra stars Cristina Brondo and Berta Muñiz; Adrián García Bogliano and Ramiro García Bogliano co-direct.

Filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano didn't set out to make a cut-and-paste horror film when he started Penumbra. It wasn't enough to take the successful elements of American, Japanese and Italian horror film traditions, mix them up and hope for the best. García and his brother, co-director Ramiro García Bogliano, wanted to make an Argentinian horror film, specific to their culture and traditions. More than that, they wanted to take the political crisis in the country and put it on screen in an unexpected way, as a scare flick. So in Penumbra there's a pretty young woman as the lead/victim, but the García brothers made her an extremely unlikable Spaniard visiting Buenos Aires who looks down on the Argentinian people. Condescending toward everyone she meets, she insults people by throwing out one-liners about the ineffective and inept Argentinian government, or the country's notoriously weak economy. (We don't remember hearing about the American recession in many of our horror flicks.)

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Calling all Visual Artists in Harris County Texas: It's Artadia Time

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The Artadia Awards only happen biannually and have grown into an important national arts organization that gives visual artists not only cash rewards for their artistic endeavors, but the opportunity to work side by side with renowned curators. This year's winners will exhibit at Texas Contemporary Art Fair.

The Artadia Award application deadlines have been announced as September 24 at 11:59 p.m. (CST).

Artadia has a residency program in New York and will send the awardees from Houston to New York for a three-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn. This is an incredible opportunity for the chosen artists to have their work seen in one of the hottest arts cities in the world. The National Endowment for the Arts sponsors this program.

There's also an Exhibitions Exchange program that allows awardees to hold exhibitions in another state currently receiving Artadia awards. Participating cities include San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and Houston.

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