August Kickstarter Round-Up: Gun Art and Video Games

Categories: The Intertubes

Once a month we'll be bringing you a look at some of the best local Kickstarter campaigns in order to let you know what's getting ready to be unleashed through the help of small investors.

Engauge!: Ever since I started up my new Free Game Day column showing off some of the simple flash games available to play on PC for no charge I've rediscovered a new love for the minimalist and the old school. Engauge! from Toastie Republic certainly fits the mold, calling to mind things like Vectorman and Shiny titles like Earthworm Jim and the severely underappreciated Wild 9.

It's pretty basic stuff, but fun-looking for all that. $10 gets you a basic digital download of the game itself, which is a fair price by any measure. If you're the kind with money to burn the $125 package includes a box set full of swag including the physical copy of the game.

Goal: $50,000 by September 1

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Doctor Who: Does the New Doctor Stick the Landing?

Categories: Doctor Who

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A major spoiler is revealed, so click away if you want to avoid that.

Let's get this out in the open at the beginning; Peter Capaldi is already an amazing Doctor. He is literally the best possible candidate to embody the classic and rebooted series and take it into its second 50 years of life. It is impossible not to see what made Tom Baker's first several seasons so memorable in Capaldi's mannerisms, but there is also that iron edge of Eccleston's that captured a new audience. In Capaldi's Doctor there is little fault.

Little, but not none.


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The Leftovers: The Weight of Guilt

Categories: Film and TV

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There's just one episode left to go in The Leftovers, and they didn't soften the blow this week.

We last left a terrible murder suicide plot that Sheriff Garvey was involved in with the Guilty Remnant, but let's set all that aside. If you were looking for some kind of resolution to that it wasn't happening this week.

Instead, we go back to the days leading up to the Great departure, and with it we come to a dangerous crossroads for this show. Will it cater to the Rapture crowd, or will it be something more. I don't know, but we'll find out soon.

Sheriff Garvey's dad, the former chief of police, went cuckoo for Cocoa Puff's sometime between the start of the show and the Departure. They've danced around whether or not he hears crazy people voices or real voices. Here we see him before all that, and the contrast is terrifying. Once again, we're seen how little it takes to push a man over the edge.

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Coalescence: Interlocking Metal Frames Ghostly in Their Strangeness by Jessica Kreutter

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of the artist
Jessica Kreutter's sculpture at post-studio projects
The first impression is of an irregular and very complicated . . . what? There are no ready-made words to describe the strange, very strange architecture of Jessica Kreutter's sculpture at post-studio projects in her exhibit "Coalescence."

It is composed of interlocking metal frames, covered with whitish clay that has been pressed onto the metal, so the overall effect is sepulchral, ghostly, a graveyard at midnight. The metal pieces - all of them white, white, white - may be a child's crib, or a bedstead, as long, thin square poles hold them together, bridges and perhaps also weapons, lances.


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FrenetiCore's Quench Is a Soggy Success (We Mean That in a Good Way)

Categories: Dance

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Photo by Lynn Lane
From Quench
Note: Our usual dance writer Adam Castanada was unable to review FrenetiCore's Quench because he was on stage during the performance (he's a member of the FrenetiCore Dance group). Night + Day Editor Olivia Flores Alvarez stepped in.

We're having a little bit of trouble reading our notes for Quench, FrenetiCore Dance's latest evening-length program. Our handwriting is okay (even for writing in the dark), it's not that. It's that the pages in our notebook are are a little smeared. Quench lived up to its promise and got everything - and everyone - in the theater wet. We were about three rows up, so we didn't get quite as drenched as the people in the first row, but before the night was done FrenetiCore managed to splish, splash and, in some cases, soak everyone in the room.

The Set-up: Rebecca French, artistic director and choreographer for FrenetiCore Dance, promised her audience two things: One, Quench would be fun. Two, everyone would get wet. She delivered on both counts. A collection of mostly non-narrative vignettes, Quench explored, in a light and playful way, water. How we have fun in it, how we fight in it and at the end our the performance we saw, how to raise money with it. Ashley Horn provided lovely underwater film segments and SPIKE the Percussionist supplied live, on-stage drumming. Dancers became nymphs, water sprites, mermaids, happy children and at one point, thirsty dancers.

As an encore, the dancers performed their own version of the ice bucket challenge. (For $10, audience members could douse the dancer/s of their choice with icy cold water.)

This story continues on the next page.


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The Changing Face of Houston - The Montrose Then and Now

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Photo by Michelle Guillory
A recent remodel briefly exposed a long hidden reminder of the '70s era Montrose.
Houston always seems to be in a state of reinvention. It keeps this city an exciting place to live, but that state of flux can be difficult to get used to, as the character of some neighborhoods go through rapid transformations, being redeveloped as gentrification occurs and demographics change.

In recent years, this trend is no more obvious than in the city's Inner Loop neighborhoods. I grew up in Oak Forest, the Heights, and the Montrose, and those neighborhoods are dramatically different today than they were even 20 years ago. Of course, 20 years is a long time, and almost anyone would expect neighborhoods to change over the decades, but the process seems accelerated inside the Loop.

The Montrose in particular has gone through some major changes, and is continuing to transform into a neighborhood very unlike the one I knew as a teenager in the late '80s. Rather than make a judgment as to whether or not those changes are "good" or "bad," I'm more interested in looking at what's happening and why.

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Suzanne Bradbeer's The God Game: A Litmus Test for Politicians

Categories: Stage

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Tom is a young rising political star, a moderate Republican senator. He's approached by Matt, an old family friend who works for a pretty right wing presidential candidate. The offer is made: would he like to join the ticket as the vice presidential nominee?

"There's just one catch," says playwright Suzanne Bradbeer. "We'd like you to sound more Christian. Can you just bump that up for us a little bit? They don't know that our character is actually an agnostic."

The God Game, the first offering of Stark Naked Theatre Company's 2014-15 season was inspired, in part, by the John McCain/Sarah Palin ticket (with some reversal of the characters' roles), says Bradbeer, who says she grew up in a liberal churchgoing household in Virginia.


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Saying "I Don't Watch Television" Does Not Make You Cool Anymore

Categories: Pop Culture

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Doctor Who
Admittedly, that headline is a bit of a lie because saying that you don't watch television has literally never been cool. Ever. So if you claim to not watch television, please be advised that not only is no one impressed, but we're reaching the point where we actively wonder why you are shutting yourself out from the world.

First of all...what is television? That's a legitimate question in this day and age. What constitutes watching TV?

For instance, my favorite television show of all time is Doctor Who, and you can bet all rondels in TARDIS console room I will be tuning in at exactly 8 p.m. on Saturday to watch Peter Capaldi debut. That's not how I started watching the show, though. I started watching it streaming on my Wii through Netflix, gulping down five years of serial science fiction in roughly a few weeks. Was that watching television? How exactly is it different from all the documentaries and movies I otherwise watch through Netflix streaming?

Here's another question that Doctor Who helps illustrate. When the show is off the air, I often pick up books that continue the adventures. Am I still watching television, or have I graduated to reading? How do the radio plays fit in? In that last case, I'm hipsterishly enjoying an art form that predates television, yet it exists because of a television show.

That's the problem when you say you don't watch television in the age of Amazon Prime and Hulu; it is an almost completely meaningless statement because of the cloud-like nature of modern entertainment.

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Marilyn Forever Blonde: The Marilyn Monroe Story in Her Own Words and Music

Categories: Stage

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The setup:

The death of actress Marilyn Monroe in 1962, at the age of 36, sent shock waves throughout the world. Monroe had struggled for recognition as a serious actress in her life, as opposed to being perceived as a "dumb blond," the kind of role in which she was frequently cast. Perhaps ironically, Monroe's fame as an actress has continued to grow since her death, labeled a "probable suicide" by an incomplete coroner's report.

Monroe attended the famed Actors' Studio in Manhattan, where its director, Lee Strasburg, said that she and Marlon Brando were the two best actors he had ever seen. Joshua Logan, who directed her in Bus Stop, said "I found Marilyn to be one of the great talents of all time." A great actor makes the acting invisible, and Monroe had that talent.

Sunny Thompson portrays Monroe in Marilyn Forever Blonde, and has the courage of a lioness in tackling the impersonation of a luminous star, about whom everyone is likely to already have a firm opinion.


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Rest in Peace: Johnathan Estes

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www.facebook.com
The Houston arts community is mourning the loss of one of its own this week. Johnathan Estes, executive director of the Southern Artist Foundation, died early Tuesday morning. Estes was well known for operating Montrose Proper Art Gallery on Westheimer and Kingspoint Community Art Lab, affectionately called "The Mullet," an art warehouse located behind Almeda Mall.

According to HoustonPolice.org, HPD patrol officers were called on Monday night in response to a shooting at 10900 Kingspoint in Southeast Houston. The victim, later identified as Estes, suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.


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