Let's Talk About Pakistan (and America, too)

Categories: Whatever

Kamran Khalid
I am Kamran Khalid, a Pakistani journalist visiting the United States under the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership Program in Journalism, a cultural exchange program run by the International Center for Journalists and the U.S. State Department. While I'm here I hope to learn more about American culture and to share with people my experiences in Pakistan.

I will be working at the Houston Press for three weeks, covering a variety of stories. I also plan to write an article at the end of my time here that shares my experience visiting America. In the meantime, I would be happy to meet people from all walks of life in and around Houston.

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Jonestown Cremains Discovered in Funeral Home

Categories: Whatever

Now these nine can finally be laid to rest.
The ashes of nine people who perished in the 1978 Jonestown massacre that claimed the lives of more than 900 men, women, and children have been discovered in a Delaware funeral home.

The bodies from the mass-killing had been flown to a Delaware Air Force for identification and burial preparation, but authorities are unclear why these remains were never claimed.

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Harris County Boy Hospitalized From Latest Internet Trend, the Fire Challenge

Youtube screenshot
Taken from a video titled "Fire Challenge Gone Wrong"...as if it can ever go right.
You've probably seen it at some point on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Vine feeds: people, particularly teenagers, participating in video "challenges" that usually involve doing something pretty stupid. Say, for instance, swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon in under 60 seconds, or dumping an entire bucket of ice on your head (respectively and creatively called the "Cinnamon" and "Ice" challenges).

The latest, and probably most stupid, challenge trend of them all, the #FireChallenge, has hospitalized a Harris County teenager for harmful burns. According to Lieutenant Dean Hensley of the Harris County Fire Marshal's office, the boy doused himself in isopropyl alcohol, a highly flammable substance, and proceeded to set himself on fire.

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Dollar Tree Buying Family TreeDollar for 8.5 Billion Dollars

Categories: Whatever

More than a dollar.
For years, I've wondered how dollar stores could survive this deep discount tactic never realizing how many there were. On Monday, it became clear just how profitable these stores can be when Dollar Tree agreed to buy Family Dollar for the cost of 8.5 million items in its stores...not including tax.

Apparently the move was more about swallowing the competition than expanding business. Though there is no word on layoffs or store closures, it is expected Dollar Tree was making the purchase to cut into losses suffered at the hands of its rival which also includes Walmart and Dollar General -- yes, there is yet ANOTHER dollar store chain.

A check of the store locator function on the company websites found there are more than 60 Dollar Trees, more than 120 Family Dollars and nearly 30 Dollar General stores in the greater Houston area.

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In Search of the Robert Durst Candy at CVS

Categories: Crime, Whatever

Photo by Aaron Reiss
CVS's new shelving is Robert Durst-proof.
Robert Durst did it again. That was the news Monday night and Tuesday morning after it was revealed that the millionaire who was acquitted of a Galveston murder had allegedly peed on candy at a Kirby CVS.

Groundbreaking stuff, we know.

Harris County District Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff McShan told Hair Balls the office charged Durst with criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor. The real question we had, though, was one that neither McShan nor ABC13 reporter Jessica Willey, who broke the story, could answer: What happened to the candy Durst supposedly peed on?

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Why I Liked Being Jewish at an All-Boys Catholic School

Categories: Religion, Whatever

Photo courtesy of Aaron Reiss

The locker my freshman year at St. Thomas High School was on the second floor of the main building, 50 feet from a chapel where Mass was celebrated before every school day. The walls along the hallways were filled, floor-to-ceiling, with lockers. Freshmen got the lower ones. I had to get on my knees to get my books out of my creaky, cream-gray locker.

Next to me was a kid named Jack Reidy. He was one of those guys who went through puberty in sixth grade and dominated the middle school athletics scene.

Everyday, I'd squat down to access my locker and have to shift my weight as Jack's huge ass blocked part of my locker. I didn't say anything about it to him for the first couple months of school because he was massive, and if sitcoms were anything like real high school, he would have kicked my ass.

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8 Unsung Beauties of the 2014 Houston World Series of Dog Shows

Maha Ahmed
The annual Houston World Series of Dog Shows happened this past weekend from Wednesday through Sunday.

Hair Balls decided to get in on the action and give some pups a chance to take a break from the high-stress competitions. We asked their owners to tell us about their lives outside of grooming and showing.

These 8 "aww"-inducing creatures are more than just show dogs. They are the unsung beauties of Texas.

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Dwight Howard Tweets #FreePalestine, Then Takes It Back When He Gets Shelled


Rockets center Dwight Howard upset a lot of his fans this weekend with his tweeting #FreePalestine, and then deleting it a few minutes later.

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"New and Improved" Millennial Cover Letter Not Really New or Improved

Categories: Whatever

Says it all.
Getting a job is tough. There is the endless searching of job websites for the right gig, preparing résumés and then the god-awful interview process. Hopefully, the end result is a well-paying job where you can be somewhat satisfied with the hours spent there every week. Everyone agrees that when you're trying to land a job, first impressions go a long way. That means the people who are tasked with sorting through résumés and cover letters need to be impressed enough to pass your information along to people in charge. There is an entire industry filled with people and resources for doing nothing but writing cover letters and organizing résumés, it's such a big deal.

But what if you're a young millennial just looking to score a position and make your way in this world? You don't want to write some plain Jane cover letter that doesn't express just how awesome you are. You want your cover letter to be like a perfect selfie that de-emphasizes the baby fat under your chin, makes your eyes look like those of an anime character and shows enough smile to be friendly but not so much that the person thinks you are from anywhere other than Brooklyn or Portland. How to accomplish such a feat? Fortunately for you, hipster, you have someone named Kat Stromquist to come to your rescue.

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Elbert Shawn Rice: The Strange, Twisted Saga of a Failed Bird Scammer

Categories: Whatever

Facebook screenshot.
Houston, we have a d-bag. (Shawn Rice, above; Michael Acosta, seated).
On June 23, Sharon Wells-Markland, who runs an exotic bird sanctuary in Montgomery County, found an uplifting e-mail in her inbox: A man contacted her about a lost macaw that Wells and three other women had rescued earlier that month.

The man was referred to Wells-Markland after spotting a picture of the bird on the Houston SPCA's found animals site. He identified himself as Shawn Rice, and he said the bird -- "Lucy" -- belonged to his mother, who was in Kentucky tending to her recently deceased mother's estate. He claimed his parents' home in Spring had been broken into, and that's how the bird got out. He said he wanted to pick up the bird, which is only worth about $500, according to one of the bird experts who got caught up in these events.

Wells-Markland had no way of knowing at the time that the man was a fugitive from Kentucky who would ultimately threaten to sue her and call the cops on her. Once Hair Balls got involved, Rice threatened to call the cops on us. He claimed to belong to a prominent, influential Houston family. He claimed to have a mutual friend who knew an executive with our parent company. The dude, it turned out, was straight-up weird. A bunch of people recently had to endure his incessant bullshit, and we would like you to do the same.

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