Houston's Vampire Court Gathers For a Pagan Sumbel

Categories: Random Ephemera

As we explained in this week's cover story, Houston's population of real vampires, those individuals who believe they must feed on the psychic energy created by other living beings to maintain their own sense of physical and emotional well being, are a diverse group.

While modern vampires tend to share some similar beliefs about the nature of that psychic energy exchange, they often follow other spiritual traditions outside of those directly associated with vampirism. Many of Houston's vampires also self identify as pagans, rejecting conventional religions in favor of various forms of polytheism that often include magical practices as part of their observance.

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Irregardless of What AP Says, "Over" Doesn't Equal "More" (and Please Stop Unpacking!)

Categories: Random Ephemera

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We admit we can be word snobs from time to time. (In our defense, word snobs, English teachers and copy editors are the only thing between civilized society and roaming mobs of ill-spoken Neanderthals.) We read dictionaries the way other people read novels. We have a T-shirt printed with the words "Causative Verbs are My Favorite." And we shudder whenever someone says they want to "conversate" with us.

In March, 2014, the good folks behind the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (commonly known as the AP Stylebook) announced they were giving up the good fight and, in response to its overwhelming usage, accepting the word "over" to mean "more." We were shocked and disappointed.

Over refers to position, as in "That tree limb hangs over our driveway." More refers to quantity, as in "We need more sugar." The two, no matter how many people use them as such, are not equal. (You can't say, "More my dead body," or "I need to earn over money." It doesn't work.)

The reason behind the change, the fact that a large number of people simply won't use "over" and "more" correctly, smacked of spineless surrender. Just because people frequently drive over the speed limit, we don't raise the speed limit, do we?

So, regardless of what the AP Stylebook says, over does not equal more. It never has and it never will. Has the acceptance of "over" as a synonym for "more" pushed us closer to A Clockwork Orange-esque society? No. But it hasn't pushed us any farther away either.

This story continues on the next page.

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Where Are AstroWorld's Roller Coasters Now?

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Photo by Chris Hagerman via Wikipedia
Last week I ran across a seller on eBay hawking some of the larger and more memorable aspects of the long-lost but not forgotten AstroWorld. In the course of researching that article I found that many of the coasters we loved so much are still in active service across the globe. So if you want to go on the ultimate AstroWorld nostalgia tour here's a guide.

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Max Landis Perfectly Explains Why Professional Wrestling Is Amazing

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Screengrab via Youtube.com.

Why do we fall in love with the things that we do? Why do we not fall in love with the things that other people have fallen in love with?

I ask myself this every time I go see a musical or watch a softball game or hear the blues. These art forms that people I know and love have fallen for that leave me, at best, ambivalent. What am I not hearing or seeing or experiencing?

I love professional wrestling. I have pretty much from the time I could have real human thoughts. From being a little kid in to the larger than life characters to the "smart mark" adult at times more interested in the backstage politics of a carny business than the onscreen product, I have devoted a lot of time over the course of my life to what goes on in a 20 x 20 squared circle.

And at last a video exists that explains why I love this particular art form so.

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Big Pieces of AstroWorld for Sale on eBay

Categories: Random Ephemera

Do you still feel a little ache in your soul when you drive by the empty field across from NRG Park and the Astrodome? Maybe down in the pit of your stomach where you used to get the butterflies on Greased Lightning? Well, if you do and you have some dough to drop, one eBay seller is offering a ton of AstroWorld's leftover iconic items. Thetexasantiquehunter has netted some pretty sweet swag that will make any Houstonian feel nostalgic.

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6 Surprising Things That Are Legal to Own in Texas. What a State!

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Photo by Craig Howell
When you need to go on a naighborhood rampage, its hard to beat a tank.

Texas has a reputation as a state which places a high value on personal liberty, and it may come as no surprise that it is legal to own some interesting things in the Lone Star State. How interesting? Well, interesting enough to make a person wonder how viable it would be to become a super-villain of some kind, or at least to create one's own zoo. Let's take a look at just a few of the things that are legal for a person to own here:

6. A Military Surplus Tank

As far as I can tell, there's no law against shelling out the cash to buy a tank, and there are quite a few websites that specialize in the sale of old armored vehicles to civilians, including tanks. A person who wants to ride around his or her property in a several thousand pound tank can buy them for upwards of $20,000 or so, and let the good times roll! It appears that most of the guns would have to be deactivated in order to keep ownership legal, but an individual who owns a tank can probably just crush anything in his path anyway.

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Photo by Keith Roper
Because responsible pet ownership includes having a tiger around.

5. A Tiger

This one makes me sad, but it's not that hard to own a tiger in Texas, and let's face it, it should be. There are some estimates that there are more tigers in private hands here than there are running wild in India. As far as I can find, it is legal for a person to own a tiger and other large dangerous wild animals as long as the owner can prove that the animal will be safely caged and taken care of, and he is granted a license to own the animal. Unfortunately, Texas has a bad reputation for enforcement of those meager rules, and it known to be a hotbed for shady tiger sales.

While wild animals aren't legal to own inside Houston itself, and other municipalities have varying ordinances controlling ownership, Texas has few state laws controlling that stuff. So, while it's completely irresponsible for almost anyone to own a tiger, it's possible to buy one for under a grand. Just keep in mind that it will soon grow to be a 500 pound apex predator that eats around 30 pounds of raw meat daily. There's really no valid reason an individual should own one. Go to a shelter and get a striped house cat instead, they'll make a far better pet, and be happier than some poor tiger would be in captivity. They're also a lot less likely to escape and eat the neighbors.

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Hal Holbrook Channels His Inner Mark Twain in Galveston Performance

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Photo courtesy of Hal Holbrook
Hal Holbrook in his one-man show, "Mark Twain Tonight!"

A person can find symmetry in the life of a man born shortly after the 1835 appearance of Halley's Comet, and who predicted that he would "go out with it," too. Such was the case for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who died the day after its 1910 return, and who was better known by his pen name, Mark Twain.

Noted for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was witty, sarcastic, and befriended by presidents and royalty; his obituary in The New York Times labeled him the "greatest humorist and satirist" of his period.

In the early 1950s a young 22-year-old actor named Hal Holbrook developed a show with his first wife Ruby; he would play famous historical people and she would interview him. From this early start was born the one-man play, Mark Twain Tonight!, which was given a national boost in 1956 by television host Ed Sullivan and has been performed more than 2,300 times.

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet Is Moving to the Unexpected

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Sharon Bradford

People don't usually associate ballet with the music of Prince and Stevie Wonder, but Complexions Contemporary Ballet isn't interested in replication. "We are not afraid to entertain," says Co-Artistic Director/Co-Founder Desmond Richardson.

Hailing from New York City, Complexions Contemporary Ballet was founded in 1994 by Richardson and Dwight Rhoden--two directors who both value multiculturalism as well as breaking artistic barriers. Their focus is to be continuously evolving, a group that changes with the culture and time. Their success in doing this has brought them such honors as the New York Times' Critics Choice Award.

Rhoden, the company's resident choreographer, has worked with The Joffery Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and The Dance Theater of Harlem.

"Dwight often begins his creative process with the music, which informs what he has to say...the current social climate also affects the work at times," says Richardson, former principal dancer with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, and Ballet Frankfurt. "I assist in the studio by workshopping movement before we teach it to the dancers," says Richardson, who also choreographs on occasion.


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Stanton Welch's Romeo and Juliet Brings Authentic Italian Design to Houston

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Courtesy of Roberta Guidi di Bagno
Sketch of Juliet
For the past year and a half, world-renowned Italian costume and scenic designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno has worked to design the sets and costumes for the first new production for Houston Ballet in 28 years -- Artistic Director Stanton Welch's Romeo and Juliet.

Guidi di Bagno and Welch met in 1998 while working on his commission of ├śnsket for the Royal Danish Ballet. When it came time to look for a designer, that's who Welch reached out to in his search for authenticity in the classic tale of young lovers doomed by a family feud, a story set in Renaissance-era Verona, Italy,

"After speaking with Stanton, I looked at paintings from the Old Italian Masters of the 1400s," Guidi di Bagno says. "I took inspiration from those real representations of the time period and then I washed a surface away in my mind and added my own interpretation."

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Why I Think Inner Loop/Outer Loop Debates Are Silly

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Photo by Mario
Who knew a road could be so devisive?

It's strange. I've lived in and around Houston my whole life, all over the place, and I've noticed a weird "friction" develop between some people in regards to life either in or outside of the 610 Loop. I guess it's part of human nature for some people to look at those with different lifestyles than themselves as being outsiders, or to make judgments about the choices they've made. But that's pretty lame.

In the case of these Inner Loop versus Outer Loop debates, the weird distrust of people living in other neighborhoods just seems dumb to me. Here are a few of the reasons why these attitudes seem so silly when I really think about it.

First of all, one of the things that makes Houston really special is its sheer size and diversity. It's a huge city, and has a vibrant energy running throughout, and it's got many interesting neighborhoods scattered all over town. I have friends all over the the United States as well as in other countries, and I'm amazed at the bad reputation Houston has. So are a lot of them once they actually visit, and discover the city is vastly more interesting than they thought it was based on its national image. It just seems sad to encounter people who live inside the loop who think that nothing outside of it is worthwhile, or outer loopers who view folks living inside 610 as pretentious creeps.

Houston belongs to all of us. There's nothing that prevents someone living on the northwest side of town from enjoying destinations inside the loop, nor are inner-loopers prevented from exploring all of the cool things the rest of the city has to offer. Frankly, anyone who lives in Houston but doesn't get out of his own neighborhood to look around other parts of town from time to time is really missing out on a lot this city has to offer. For example, the Asian shopping centers on the southwest side of Houston are amazing, and they are but one example of many unique areas scattered all over the city. That's true of restaurants, too. Houston is emerging as one of the nation's most exciting food scenes, and great places to eat are spread out far and wide. Sticking to just one area of town is pretty limiting.

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