Making a Case for Kwanzaa

Categories: Special Events

Soul Christmas on Flickr
Here are the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

There's been a kind of death watch for Kwanzaa, mostly coming from right-wing media circles and just plain ignorant people over the past few years. And those right-wing pundits be damned about the growing inclusivity of the holiday. Yes, white people are more than welcome to celebrate. At least that was the message given at a Kwanzaa celebration in the Third Ward last week.

Estimates from the National Retail Federation say that close to 5 million people in the U.S. celebrate Kwanzaa. That's about 1.6 percent compared with the close to 95 percent who celebrate Christmas, or the 6 percent who celebrate Hanukkah.

So, is Kwanzaa a growing holiday that we need to recognize?

Put the word into the Twitter search field and you'll see plenty of support for the holiday. If you take social media's word for it, Kwanzaa celebrations are probably growing.

More »

[Video] Touring the Lights of Houston With the Rusty Riders

Categories: Special Events

One of the benefits of the Houston Christmas season that often goes overlooked is the fact that going outside is still pretty pleasant without having to put on inordinate layers of clothing. True, we may all dream of a white Christmas, but Houston doesn't exactly deal with cold weather or rainy driving well and an actual white Christmas just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Plus, milder weather means that we can still ride our bikes in December without worrying about serious injury from the elements; this is good because things are dangerous enough as it is with the other vehicles on the road. Try riding your bike to work in, for example, Green Bay; sure you might not get run over, but you're way more likely to lose a digit to frostbite.

If you're the type that enjoys biking and Christmas lights, this can be a magical time of year. Why waste gas and argue over whether or not to listen to Christmas mix you keep forgetting to update when you can hit the streets on your bike, see some cool lights and get a bit of exercise.

And if you're riding with the Rusty Riders, that may also include making some new friends.

More »

Holiday Day Camps for Kids in Houston

Categories: Special Events

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 $115 to $205.

More »

Santa on the Cheap: Where to Find Holiday Entertainment in Houston You Can Afford

Categories: Special Events


It's beginning to cost a lot like Christmas

Add up gifts for your family and friends, wrapping paper, bows, a turkey dinner, cupcakes for your kids' classmates, stocking stuffers for co-workers, a Christmas tree, Christmas tree ornaments and tinsel, lights for the house, throw in an inflatable Santa for the front yard, and suddenly the reason for the season seems to be a not-so-covert plan to part you from all of your money.

And that's not counting the tickets to holiday shows and movies that are everywhere. We can't help you with the gifts or inflatable Santa, but we can help you find some low cost entertainment.

More »

Be Better Dressed Than the Turkey This Thanksgiving: Ten Outfits for Dinner

Photos courtesy of Frances Brundage
If cartoon children are better dressed for Thanksgiving than you are, go shopping.
Unless you are glamping in Big Bend for Thanksgiving, you will probably need something fancy to wear to dinner next Thursday. Dudes have it kind of easy--a flick of the button and the pants are loose, and ready to accommodate another heaping helping of turkey and stuffing.

For the ladies, lookin' glam and dressing for a daylong feast can be more of a challenge--and some of us are just not sweatpants-at-Thanksgiving kind of gals. You can dress for dinner--and go in for a second plate--with one of these ten adorable Thanksgiving looks.

More »

Houston Cinema Arts Festival Brings in Julie Taymor and James Ivory

Categories: Special Events

Photo courtesy of Julie Taymor
A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream
The sixth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will start this year's festivities with a screening of Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream complete with The Lion King (Broadway version) creator herself.

Another highpoint will be director James Ivory (known for A Room With a View, Howard's End and The Remains of the Day) here to present this most recent film City of Your Final Destination (2009) as well as Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990) and The Remains of the Day (1993).He'll also be receiving the Levantine Awards from Levantine Films, previously awarded to Isabella Rossellini, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford and Richard Linklater.

Academy Award contenders Wild and The Imitation Game will be shown during the November 12-16 festival that is being done once again to celebrate artists in the visual, performing and literary arts.

More »

2015 Houston Firefighters Calendar Premieres October 10

Firefighters out on the street, covering blazes, are almost always kitted out in boots, helmet, heavy gloves and figure-concealing coats.

Once a year, all that comes off, though, to benefit the the non profit Houston Fire Fighters Burned Children Fund. Twelve models grace the pages in the hopes that by unveiling all that eye candy underneath the protective gear, they can raise money for the fund and the children it serves.

This Friday, the 25th Anniversary Silver Edition of the Houston Fire Fighters Calendar will be unveiled complete with appearances and signings by some of its models at an 8 p.m. event at Whiskey River Houston at 7637 FM 1960.

More »

A Banned Books Week Celebration at Brazos Bookstore, and Thanks, Highland Park High!

Read deeply, read dangerously -- celebrate Banned Books Week!
What banned book are you reading this week? Salinger's Catcher in the Rye is always a favorite, along with Things Fall Apart, The Grapes of Wrath and Brave New World. You know, the classics. NBD. If you're fresh out of banned titles, a high school in Dallas helped us all out this week by offering up seven more options by pulling the following books from any classroom: Siddhartha, Song of Solomon, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, The Glass Castle, An Abundance of Katherines, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and The Art of Racing in the Rain. Thanks, Highland Park High!

For those of us with Very Dangerous Taste in Books, the celebration is going on all week long over at Brazos Bookstore, where they will cap off the week with their annual "Read Dangerously" party on Saturday, September 27 -- and you're invited.

More »

Dallas Author Merritt Tierce's Love Me Back a Tour de Fierce for Female Protagonists

The word "unflinching" appears frequently in reviews of author Merrit Tierce's debut novel, Love Me Back; so do words like "searing," "raw," and "unrelenting." The book follows its protagonist Marie through one bad decision after another, leaving the reader to wonder why? Of course, the book isn't just about "why" but about "who"--who is Marie, and why are we more curious about the answer to that question than she is?

Tierce created Marie in her own image, drawing on her own tumultuous years working in the restaurant industry. If you've ever worked in foodservice, the (mostly) afterhours sex- and drug-fests in which Marie seeks refuge may not be as shocking as they are familiar.

More »

Houston Film Critics Society Hosts David Fincher Double Feature at the Alamo Drafthouse

Brad Pitt (and his abs) star in "Fight Club."
This Saturday, September 27, the Houston Film Critics Society is hosting a David Fincher double-feature at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park:

Join us for two back-to-back films from one of our great modern directors. We're showing FIGHT CLUB, an adaptation of the once-thought unadaptable novel from Chuck Palahniuk - a film that pummeled its way into audience's psyches, changing everything we thought we knew about reliable narrators, male bonding and social satire. It's inventive, heart-racing, breathless filmmaking that became an instant cultural mainstay. The first rule of FIGHT CLUB is that everybody talks about FIGHT CLUB.

And we're pairing it with a special SURPRISE SCREENING of another Fincher title to be announced later. But c'mon: it's Fincher. You guys can trust us.

More »