[Video] The Human Side of the Houston World Series of Dogs Shows

Categories: Video

We're not anti-cat here at the Houston Press, we just really love dogs. As you can imagine, being the dog fans we are, one of the things we look forward to every year is the Houston World Series of Dog shows (formerly the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows).

It's a chance to check out breeds we don't normally get to see in person, watching the dogs navigate obstacles with grace and skill, and discover all the tricks that we wish our own dogs could learn.

We're not sure why our dogs would need to know how to count, but it would still be neat if they could.

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Pop Rocks: Something Named Connor Franta (and His Association with O2L) Is Trending

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Connor Franta explains to his legion of YouTube fans he's "just a normal person."
"YouTube Celebrity." I read those words earlier today when checking out the trending topics on Twitter and trying to figure out why some kid named Connor Franta was dominating hashtags. I admit that I'm not up on every element of celeb gossip. In fact, it might be fair to say that my knowledge of it extends only as far as the trash magazines I buy my wife for trips to the beach and the weekend I spent as a stringer for US Weekly.

Still, when rumors about Beyonce and Jay-Z crop up or photos of Zac Ephron and Michelle Rodriguez getting hot and heavy appear in my Facebook trending stories feed, I'm aware of who these people are and may even know some of the back story. And when those things cross paths with sports or Internet nerdery, it triggers a part of my brain reserved for obscure statistics and trivia from sci-fi films. In short, I'm not completely clueless.

But, when #WeLoveYouConnor and other variations on this hashtag appeared on Twitter, I was stumped. First, to Google. No Wikipedia entry? That was surprising. I'm pretty sure one of my cats has a Wiki entry, so who is this guy who is so popular he can drive massive traffic on Twitter but not have some reference on the Encyclopedia Britannica of the web?


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The Houston Press Needs a Multimedia Intern

Categories: Our Staff, Video

Did you watch the video? It's pretty incredible. Our good friend Ted Irving put that together for us for our feature story, "Houston's Hidden Homeless," and we're beyond happy with how it turned out.

Here at the Press, we love storytelling in all of its forms, from the well written feature to the beautiful shot slideshow to the captivating video, and we're lucky to work with talented writers, photographers and videographers to bring those stories to you.

In an effort to put out even more amazing videos, we're looking for a multimedia intern to work with us this Summer.

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Henry Kaiser, a Werner Herzog Film Producer and Experimental Guitarist, Screens and Plays Along to Crazy Beautiful Shots of Under-the-Ice Antarctica

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Henry Kaiser's underwater footage of the Antarctic has appeared in more films and TV shows than any other underwater cameraman.
Even though he's played with the improvised music legends, appeared on more than 250 records, and lived in California all of his life, Henry Kaiser, whose under-the-Antarctic-ice shots can be seen in several Werner Herzog's films, says that he's 80 percent Antarctica research diver and 20 percent American experimental guitarist.

"In a strange way, I consider myself from Antarctica rather than from California, which is silly because nobody is from there," says Kaiser by phone from his place in Santa Cruz, where he's lived for the past two years after spending most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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British Horror Cult Classic Club: Dog Soldiers

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As serious Anglophiles - that's people who are heavily into British culture, not some kind of white power thing - Jef With One F and John Seaborn Gray are taking a look at some lesser-known British films this month. As the month happens to be October, they will all be horror films. We'll examine and discuss them for your education and general betterment. Cheerio.

Howdy folks! Jef With One F here taking the lead on this, our last entry into the world of British cult horror, posing the questions which John Seaborn Gray will answer. We've got a great one this time around from way back in 2002 and available for viewing completely free on the Tube of You! Dog Soldiers, starring Kevin McKidd as Private Cooper and the one and only Sean Pertwee as Sergeant Wells, follows a group of soldiers as they run a training exercise in the Scottish highlands. All is going according to plan until they run across the survivors of a special forces unit that has been completely eliminated except for one lone surviving Captain. Things get metal (like Ozzy metal) when it turns out this glen is home to a centuries-old clan of werewolves that laugh at bullets and like the taste of human flesh.

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British Horror Cult Classic Club: Rawhead Rex

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As serious Anglophiles - that's people who are heavily into British culture, not some kind of white power thing - Jef With One F and I are taking a look at some lesser-known British films this month. As the month happens to be October, they will all be horror films. We'll examine and discuss them for your education and general betterment. Cheerio.

This week, we're taking a look at the first film out of many to be made from Clive Barker's material, and also the first one to be disowned by him. The original story of Rawhead Rex comes from Barker's short story collection Books of Blood, and is based on a beastie from British mythology named Rawhead and Bloody Bones who would wait in dark cupboards and attack insubordinate children. The 1986 film's creature isn't so much a gremlin, though, as he is a musclebound gladiator-type who could probably punch the Predator through a brick wall. The entire film is on YouTube for now.

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British Horror Cult Classic Club: Ghostwatch

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As serious Anglophiles - that's people who are heavily into British culture, not some kind of white power thing - Jef With One F and I will be taking a look at some lesser-known British films this month. As the month happens to be October, they will all be horror films. We'll examine and discuss them for your education and general betterment. Cheerio.

The thing you must understand about Ghostwatch is that it was essentially the Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds of its day. To put this in perspective for American audiences who aren't likely to know any of these English newscasters: imagine, if you will, a very special live edition of 60 Minutes. Everything proceeds normally at first, but then Steve Kroft is knocked unconscious by furniture thrown by no one, Lesley Stahl gets sucked into a dark corner to her apparent demise, and Morley Safer stares off into the distance and chants while the studio disintegrates around him.

Yeah.

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British Horror Cult Classic Club: Madhouse

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As serious Anglophiles - that's people who are heavily into British culture, not some kind of white power thing - Jef With One F and I will be taking a look at some lesser-known British films this month. As the month happens to be October, they will all be horror films. We'll examine and discuss them for your education and general betterment. Cheerio.

We begin with Madhouse, a 1974 vehicle for Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. You can also tell they were trying to make Robert Quarry a thing, but it didn't go over so well. Price plays an actor who retired from portraying his most famous role, Dr. Death, after someone murdered his fiancèe in a manner identical to one of Dr. Death's kills. Now, he's been called back by an old friend, a screenwriter/actor (Cushing) who wants him to take up the Dr. Death mantle once more. Problem is, people start dying again. Hokey in parts, but smarter and more creative than expected, and with genuinely exceptional cinematography and even a few female characters who aren't simple bimbos strolling nonchalantly into sharp things. Available for streaming on Netflix.

JSG: Vincent Price's character's name is Paul Toombes. What else could they have named him? Arthur Mausoleum? Theodore Crypt?

JEF: I'm kind of impressed they avoided the obvious Graves surname myself. Toombes has the subtlety of a Batman villain, no doubt, but you've got to hand it to them for choosing the road less traveled while at the same time expecting us to take the name Dr. Death seriously.

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Classic Film Tropes Cleverly on Repeat in "Playback"

Categories: Video

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Photo courtesy of the artist
A still from "Duet (Faithless)" by Britt Ragsdale
When you first walk into Fresh Arts and survey the TV screens scattered around the darkened gallery, a quick glance might give you the impression that the screens are stuck on frames of couples embracing or kissing. But upon closer inspection, it becomes steadily apparent that these are not frames, but actors holding these poses, in all their awkward glory.

This ingenious concept is part of Britt Ragsdale's "Duets" series. The Houston artist currently has her video work up at Fresh Arts in "Playback," a show curated by Paul Middendorf of galleryHOMELAND. In four screens, Ragsdale pulls inspiration from familiar scenes out of classic films such as An Affair to Remember and Giant -- couples gazing longingly into each others' eyes, about to kiss, in a dramatic embrace. The videos are even in black and white, some softened to give it that dated, classic look.

Ragsdale uses real couples to copy these poses -- fleeting moments that the artist has stretched out into six, seven, eight, even 12 minutes. What's meant to be a romantic gesture soon becomes less-than-intimate, even pained, due to what Ragsdale describes as "intense scrutiny."

This scrutiny reveals more about human relationships than any film trope can. During the extended shots, one couple rocks slightly back and forth, another starts to pull slightly away. A man jokingly puckers his lips, while another swallows hard, his Adam's apple prominent. At the end of one video, a woman cracks her knuckles, as if relieved that the task at hand is over. Hand-holding is sweet and all, but everyone has their limits.

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See How Sandcastles Get Built In These Vines From The AIA Sandcastle Competition

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Photo & Vines by Francisco Montes.
There's something fascinating about sandcastle art, and I've narrowed down why to two reasons. The first is that it's something that, unlike most art, most of us have a frame of reference for. While we may never have painted in watercolors or drawn anything more than a doodle, most of us have been to the beach and played in the sand.

The second is that we're aware that sandcastle art is temporary. Most works of art are built to last for years, perhaps even forever if things go well. When we look at a really cool piece done in sand we know that it's only temporary, and there's beauty in the ephemeral.

Or it could just be that sandcastles are simply awesome.

LAst Saturday engineers, designers, architects and more hit the beach for the 27th Annual AIA (American Institute of Architects) Houston Sandcastle Competition. Check out these Vine videos to see how they put their creations together.

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