100 Creatives 2014: Andy McWilliams, Sound Designer and Composer

Categories: 100 Creatives

All photos courtesy of Andy McWilliams
Quick, name a sound designer that's won an Emmy Award. Can't? Actually, neither can we right off the top of our head. Unless there big bombs or huge explosions, an audience usually doesn't pay much attention to a show's sound design. Ambient sound and incidental music are crucial to a show, but usually go unnoticed -- sound designers don't take a bow at the end of the show. Here's one that should. Andy McWilliams, a composer, musician, producer, sound engineer, instrument craftsman and theatrical sound designer works with local companies such as Mildred's Umbrella where he just finished working on Red Death.

What he does: "I do many different things. Being a musician and engineer/producer, I play many different instruments, write and record, produce and mix different projects. As a sound designer in theater, I use my musician side to put together the right elements for the play I'm working on at that time."

Why he likes it: "I like all of the elements involved with making any artistic production come together. Making records and working in theater share a lot of similarities... [for both] you're working with people that you like and trust, and they like and trust you to add your ideas to what something. I love working with the people, and seeing the final product is always very rewarding. Sometimes the process takes so much out of you that you have to step back a bit before you can see what you've made, but it's always wonderful."

This story continues on the next page.

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Five Don't-Miss Fashion Events in Houston in November

Image courtesy of fashionhouston.net
The weather is cooling down just in time for fashion season in Houston to heat up! Clear your calendars (and your credit card balance) because in addition to this onslaught of fashion--Christmas is coming. You know it, I know it, and the retailers in the Galleria know it. (Seriously, the decorations are going up already).

The first stop on our November fashion tour requires fast action--you only have until Sunday, November 2, to pick up (and use!) your Houston Holiday Shopping Card. Purchase the card for $75 and start shopping: you enjoy 20 percent off of purchases at hundreds of area stores, and a donation will be made to the American Cancer Society for each purchase. The card is only valid through November 2, so get to it!

Now, let's go get us some fashion.

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Julian Sands: A Celebration of Harold Pinter

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of the University of Houston
Julian Sands in his Harold Pinter tribute
The setup:

Harold Pinter is best known as an English playwright (The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, No Man's Land, Betrayal et al.), but he was also an actor, screenwriter, theater director, and poet. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

He had formed a friendship with the actor Julian Sands, and when illness made Pinter unable to perform a reading of his poetry, Pinter had asked Sands to fill in. Pinter was famed for the pauses in his plays, and these were equally relevant in his poetry, so he trained Sands assiduously. Pinter died in December, 2008, and Sands debuted this production at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011, and has been performing it in a variety of cities since then. It is directed by John Malkovich, perhaps an unexpected choice for a poetry reading, as Malkovich first came to fame as an actor portraying violent characters.

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Michael and Elizabeth O'Brien Update Their The Face of Texas Photography Book

Categories: Photography

All photos by Michael O'Brien from The Face of Texas. Used by permission of the University of Texas Press. Copyright © 2014 by Michael and Elizabeth O'Brien.
Stephanie Kuehne, Miss Texas USA, 1990
He's an award-winning photographer who's worked with National Geographic, Texas Monthly and Life. She's a former reporter for Life who still gathers life stories. Husband and wife team Michael and Elizabeth O'Brien put their talents together to capture a bit of Texas history with the book The Face of Texas, a series of portraits and profiles of dozens of Texan characters. "Michael shot the photographs over 20 years while on assignment for various magazines," Elizabeth O'Brien says. "I had to go back and get the profiles either with interviews or doing as much research as I could."

The book includes several beauty queens such as Stephanie Kuehne, 1990's Miss Texas USA and the great-granddaughter of a woman who hunted mountain lions for a living. Kuehne's shown in full pageant mode. Wearing a winner's crown and bright pink swimsuit, a bouquet of yellow roses in her arms, she's standing in front of an Alamo movie set. Kuehne went on to have a successful career as an actress and model and now lives in Houston where she's involved in philanthropy work.

This story continues on the next page.

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Skeptical but Open-Minded, Texan Ken Gerhard Hunts for Bigfoot and Other Monsters

Categories: Cover Story

Photo by Josh Huskin
In a world where the hunt for unknown animals such as Bigfoot has become reality TV fodder, Ken Gerhard quietly goes in search of the truth behind monster sightings.

All over America and even beyond, when people see monsters or unexplainable animals, they give Gerhard a call or shoot him an email. The Houston-born author and rising name in the field of cryptozoology (the study of unknown or unexpected animals) was previously a star of the goth and dark electronica music scene that once included nationally known bands in our city. He toured and released extensively with the likes of Flowers and Machines and Bamboo Crisis, but two decades in the music industry eventually burned him out.

Now he hunts Bigfoot, thunderbirds, the chupacabra and other cryptids. He says it's a lot less stressful and much more rewarding. He hasn't left stagecraft behind entirely, though. When tracking Bigfoot, he dresses in black leathers and matching cowboy hat.

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Nick Verreos - Designer, Scholar, Gentleman - on Finding Your Style Muse and Looking Nice at Airports

Categories: Style/Fashion

Photo by Nikolaki2
Nick Verreos
Last Saturday, fashion designer, Project Runway alum, and red carpet commentator Nick Verreos was at Macy's at the Houston Galleria presenting Fashion Rocks--inspirational fall looks based on the kind of strong, confident women that inform Verreos's own design aesthetic.

"I like that people are using celebrity muses. People can argue that it's good or bad, but my thing is strong women, and rock stars like J. Lo, Katy Perry, they are strong women," said Verreos before the show. "Strong women have always been a theme of mine; I design for strong women who don't mind using fashion as an armor of strength--just because my woman is fashionable, doesn't mean she is frou-frou."

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Pop Rocks: NBC's Friday Night Monster Mash Could Be Sleeper Hit of the Fall TV Season

Categories: Pop Rocks

David Giuntoli is Nick Burkhart on NBC's sleeper fantasy hit Grimm.
The latest ratings have been released and it is good news for NBC's Friday night lineup featuring a pair of creature features that could be consistent winners for the network. Despite going up against the World Series, ratings for Grimm grew 15 percent over the season finale and the series premier of DC Comics Constantine drew a respectable audience while holding onto nearly all Grimm viewers.

For NBC, this is a big deal. The network, once the most powerful in primetime, has struggled mightily over the past half decade while ABC and CBS have thrived and smaller networks have been eating into the numbers for all the big networks. But the pair of supernaturally themed shows on Friday could bring about at least a mild resurgence for NBC.

For those unfamiliar, Grimm is a modern-day twist on the Grimm fairy tales. It emerged on the scene three seasons ago amid a spate of new fairy-tale-themed series like ABC's Once Upon a Time. Of course, the Brothers Grimm fairy tales could get pretty dark and the television series certainly plumbs those depths while keeping it light and entertaining enough not to drag it down.

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Fashion Houston Is a Go, Let Houston's Fashion Season Begin

Photo by Keith Luter, Jr.
The rest of the fashion world is recuperating from September a.k.a. Fashion Month, but Houston is just getting revved up. Just this past week, the team at Fashion Houston hosted its official launch party at JW Marriott Houston Downtown. Local Houston designers, professionals, media, and fans gathered to celebrate the start of Houston's fashion season and the fifth birthday of Houston's most popular show.

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6 Horror Films Featuring Early Pre-Fame Roles of Hollywood Stars

Categories: Film and TV

Jamie Lee Curtis went on to stardom, but she never denied her early involvement in horror films.
Halloween is almost upon us, and a lot of folks like to watch old horror films to get in the mood. Of course, some of us are into horror movies all year round and they represent a major source of entertainment for us. I belong to that second category, and have an enormous collection of old scary movies in my collection. One of the funny things about watching those older films is the "Aha!" moments, where you realize that a star who went on to much greater fame appeared in some gem of a fright film in the early stages of his or her career.

It makes sense. Horror is traditionally one of the easier genres for beginning filmmakers to make a successful attempt at, and actors and actresses who are just starting out are often offered a role in one. The thing is, horror movie fans are some of the most dedicated groups of film viewers, and there's a built-in viewership for horror movies that other types of films don't have. It's still funny and sometimes a little sad how quickly some stars turn their backs on the scary movies in their past once their level of fame increases. But it's fun to stumble across one of them starring in a grisly slasher film or monster movie, especially when they've gone on to become big stars. So what A-list actors and actresses were in horror movies way back in their careers?

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Ghosts and Giraffes at Houston's Zoo Boo 2014

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photos by Lynda Rouner
The Houston Zoo's annual Zoo Boo is always a popular and packed affair. Part of it is because we usually hope that it will be one of the first weekends where you can visit the zoo when it isn't quite so bloody hot, and partly as an excuse for kids to get more than a single wear out of the Halloween costumes.

This year the crowds were enormous. So much so that I actually parked at the Houston Museum of Natural Science parking garage and legged it to the zoo from there. By the by, if you're looking for a good day to visit the museum, Zoo Boo is it. There's no one there even by the late afternoon.

As there is every year, there was plenty of trick or treating for kids at the various candy corners. In general the zoo gives out good stuff, too. Not like, full-sized Snickers bars or anything but not dollar store fare either. Considering the sheer number of kids that come through it's a good haul, even if there did seem to be fewer candy corners this year than there was last year.

There was a pretty nice games section for kids that was set up. Throwing bean bags into a witch's cauldron or trying to knock down zombies with them. There were even kid-sized high striker games. All of these were free to play, by the way, and all of them handed out little prizes regardless of whether you won. Considering how every big family event you seem to go to is packed with little booths draining you of a couple of dollars at a time it was a nice touch.

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