When Brilliant Met Divine: A Healthy Conversation with Bette Midler

Photo by Jonathan Pushnik
Bette Midler
She sings. She dances. She acts. She jokes. She cleans up decrepit, crumbling urban properties. She wins awards for all those things. And she also, simply, talks.

In a bit of a departure from her standard high-production fare, on April 29, Bette Midler, the aptly monikered Divine Miss M, addresses the equal-parts anticipatory/participatory audience of the Brilliant Lecture Series.

"I'm happy to be doing this event. I've been doing them for a couple of years now, I kind of enjoy them," Bette Midler remarked on her upcoming Q-and-A appearance with the series which this year has also welcomed luminaries Betty Buckley, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. "I've been to Minneapolis, I went to Niagara Falls, I mean, I've been around.

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Five Things That We Miss About the Rodeo Once It's Over

Photo by Brian Austin
He. Is. SO. CUTE.
I never realized just how big a deal the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is until I moved to this fair city. Back home in Victoria we have a livestock show, but being that I've never been the most agriculturally inclined person all that livestock shows ever meant to me was that the carnival was in town.

To my surprise, I've become rather fond of this yearly tradition. While many of my friends are ambivalent or downright hostile toward it, I genuinely look forward to it now. Sure, traffic gets a little worse in certain parts of town, the parking lot can be an absolute nightmare, and I'll never be able to pull off the cowboy look, but these are all things that I'm willing to deal with in the name of a good time.

As we prepare to say goodbye to the rodeo until the next year, here are five things that I love about it that I wish I could have year round.

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Laura Benanti Will Be the Featured Performer at the TUTS Gala

Laura Benanti coming to Houston for the TUTS gala
Tony Award winning (and frequent TV) actress Laura Benanti will be the headliner at this spring's Theatre Under the Stars "Broadway Empire" Gala at the Hobby Center.

And while Benanti may be most recognizable to a lot of people for her recurring role on Nurse Jackie, last December's live version (with Carrie Underwood) of The Sound of Music and episodes of Law and Order:SVU, she's bringing her own special brand of music and comedy to Houston in late April in a version of the show (In constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention) she's used to crisscross the country.

Benanti, who won a Tony Award in 2008 for her work in Gypsy opposite Patti Lupone, weaves her favorite Broadway music with personal anecdotes about her life and career.

Here she is at the Lincoln Center a couple years ago. Get to the singing part;it's worth it.

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Diane Keaton Is Unique, Unique, Unique, Unique, Unique, Unique

Photo courtesy of Ruven Afandor/Corbis Outline
Diane Keaton
It's a little surreal. Talking to Diane Keaton, as will the audience at her upcoming appearance for Brilliant Lecture Series on February 6, is a lot like walking onto the set of Annie Hall. It's almost as though one can see her leaning against the door at that New York athletic club, wearing her loose necktie and floppy hat, awkwardly fumbling with that tennis racket as she offers Woody Allen a lift in her garbage-filled Volkswagen Beetle.

But that is probably a lot safer than walking onto the set of Keaton's other signature screen role, in the equally sacred Godfather trilogy, which cable television still delights in presenting in perpetual, endless-loop marathons. In it, Keaton, of course, played Kay, Michael Corleone's wife, for a reported $35,000 in The Godfather's first installment. At the time, it was an offer she...well, you know the rest.

"I haven't seen that thing in, like, 25 years," Annie--oops--Diane la-di-da's. "How's it holding up?"

Oh, it's fair to say it's holding up reasonably well.

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Fashion, Art Merge Beautifully at Artopia

Photo by Cherise Luter
A gown presented by Danny Nguyen at Artopia

Last night, I was kicking myself for never attending Artopia in the past. I will never make that mistake again. It's not often that all the creative worlds of Houston converge, which is a pity, but when they do, a real party results.

Presented by the Houston Press, Artopia is the ultimate intersection of culture, fashion, art, food and music. Winter Street Studio plays host to all sorts of live performances interspersed with food and drinks. Then to top it all off, a fashion show, visual art everywhere and live music. Like I said, I was kicking myself for missing all the fun over the years.

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2014 Golden Globes Fashion, With Bonus Fuzzy Screenshot Footage!

Photos by Christina Uticone
E! Network in HD was unavailable for most of the red carpet fashion coverage. So, that was awesome.
I'll leave the commentary on the content of the awards ceremony to someone else--although how about that Michael J. Fox/Parkinson's "fun fact" E! Network put up, huh?--and deal strictly with the fashion that came down the red carpet at last night's Golden Globes awards. Since the Globes kick off award season, they can be seen as a barometer for other awards (SAGs, Oscars), as well as for gowns; actresses will choose Oscar gowns based on the reception of their Golden Globes dress.

There was the occasional hot mess (Paula Patton's head-to-to, horizontal ruffle was distracting) but overall last night's dresses were pretty spectacular. The two biggest trends were sleek and streamlined gowns in solitary, bright hues, or liquid metallics, both of which have an "Old Hollywood" feel.

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Like Texans Need More Reasons to Love Home-Girl Betty Buckley

Photo courtesy of bettybuckley.com.
Betty Buckley, "The Voice of Broadway"

It's hardly disputable that Betty Buckley is indeed "The Voice of Broadway," according to New York Magazine, as well as to most hearing human beings. Beyond that descriptive nickname, she is just as indisputably the voice of a more southerly locale.

Under the auspices of the Brilliant Lectures, West Texas-born Buckley brings those lauded pipes and her solo show, "The Other Woman: The Vixens of Broadway" to Wortham Theatre on Friday, January 10, for a one-shot performance.

"It's a series of songs that are sung by the second leads in a Broadway shows," Buckley describes "Vixens". "Like, 'When You're Good to Mama' that's sung by Big Mama Morton in Chicago; 'I Cain't Say No,' sung by Ado Annie in Oklahoma. 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy', which was Mary Martin's first showstopper; 'Another Hundred People' from Company; and 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall' from Evita."

She'll also sing "Memory', from Cats, which won her a Tony award in 1982. Of course. Calm down.

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December Amy Tan at Brazos, Plus Sarah Jio at MBTB, Ree Drummond at Blue Willow, and More

Photo by Tom Murphy VII Wikipedia
If your books look like this, you need new ones.
My People (nerds) don't need a reason to visit a bookstore, but if you are not one of My People, and you need enticing, here are my top reasons for why you should get thee to an indie bookstore and pry open your wallet:

  1. It's almost Christmas, and you need to buy presents, and books make great presents.
  2. All of the bookstores on my list (Brazos Bookstore, Blue Willow, and Murder By The Book) have beautiful holiday decorations to get you in the spirit.
  3. Well, books.

That's three reasons why you should play hooky from work or school and spend a day luxuriating in bookstores--and we haven't even talked about the book signing events, yet.

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Pop Shop Houston Is Your Cure for the Black Friday Blues

Courtesy of Pop Shop Houston
This isn't your typical Black Friday shopping experience.
Black Friday. Just writing the words makes me shudder. Getting up too early, waiting on long lines with angry people trying to push their way into better savings, contending with the overwhelming feeling that life is just one big shopping cart full of slashed prices and then coming home to realize that all you did was buy a bunch of junk you really didn't need. If all of this sounds awful to you, then maybe you want to skip this year's corporate American shopping day and head over to Houston's annual Pop Shop Holiday on November 29 and 30 at the Spring Street Studios.

Pop Shop is a twice-annual craft, art and musical festival that brings local crafters, artists and sellers together for a weekend of shopping, music and activities. Now in its second year, the holiday Pop Shop is the DIY community's answer to the typical Black Friday scenario. This year's event will have almost twice the amount of vendors and designers as last year's and will feature an assortment of handmade and vintage clothing, jewelry, house wares and much more.

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How to Hide Your Turkey Gut and Other Dress Strategies for Success This Thanksgiving

Photo by istolethetv
Even turkeys need help keeping it all tucked in for Thanksgiving dinner.
In light of our recent questions about how, exactly, to dress on Thanksgiving Day, this seemed like the perfect time to offer our readers a definitive guide to dressing for the holidays. So how, exactly, does one "dress for success" for Thanksgiving dinner? That depends on the kind of Thanksgiving diner you are.

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