2009-12-28/31 Weekly LOVIEE

The year 2009 is finally about to come to a close, as hard as that may be to believe. It’s a bit thin for things to do this week and we have a holiday (and in fact, the latter is the cause of the former to some extent), so I’ve taken a bit of an unusual step with regard to the posting schedule. Sorry if this confuses anyone or throws a monkey wrench into things.

The original plan was to go ahead and post a weekly LOVIEE covering the entire week, but after taking a step back and realizing a holiday splits the week in half, I decided instead to split it up. So, this particular weekly LOVIEE will only cover through Wednesday for evening events, and Thursday for daytime/afternoon events; the New Year’s Eve special LOVIEE, already posted, covers Thursday evening and beyond (New Year’s Eve). Then, an additional weekly LOVIEE to be posted on or before Thursday (12-31) at noon will cover Friday through at least the following Sunday (2010-01-01/03), maybe longer depending on what comes up. The monthly LOVIEE should be up on Friday before noon (2010-01-01) and after that, we should be back to a relatively normal posting schedule.

The net effect is one additional post and to start the year off with what I hope is a higher quality weekly LOVIEE. I feel the trade-off is a good one. Once again, I wish everyone a happy and safe transition from 2009 to 2010. Catch you on the flip side.

All week

The Ice at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. $10 including tax and skate rental, see Web site for detailed hours and group discount information. More details in the monthly LOVIEE. 09/10-IADG

Tuesday 12-29 through Thursday 12-31

Light Switch at Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 10:30am-6pm. Last chance to see this exhibit. Featuring works of installation, light sculpture, video, and painting by the following artists: Adela Andea, Kevin Curry, Garland Fielder, Oleg Ikona, Leszek Lewandowski, Katja Loher, Neva Mikulicz, and Maxim Wakultschik. 09-W53-1

Monday 12-28

Robert Earl Keen and Sons of Bill, House of Blues, 1204 Caroline, 7pm, $27.50-97.50. Robert Earl Keen is a country/folk artist based in Kerrville, Texas; Sons of Bill are a country rock act from Charlottesville, Virginia (about 75 miles northwest of Richmond). This is a great show to start getting in the mood for the rodeo in a couple of months. (It’s never too early to start getting in the rodeo mood. Really.) 09-W53-2

Tuesday 12-29

Max Stalling at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, doors 7:30pm, $12. Country music singer-songwriter based in Dallas, Texas; this show is part of an after-Christmas party. 09-W53-3

Jazz on Ice, Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, 7-9pm. Houston jazz veteran JAWAD performs on the Anheuser-Busch stage. Free to view, skating is the usual $10 per person. 09-W53-4

Wednesday 12-30

The Gourds at The Continental Club, 3700 Main, 10pm, $15. Based out of Austin, Texas, this band packs an easy-going, feel-good, let-it-all-hang-out groove with elements of country, folk, zydeco, and pop. 09-W53-5

The Light Rock Express at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge, 3714 Main, no cover. 09-W53-6

 

Recap: Gingerbread Build-Off (09-W51-8)

At first glance, the inclusion of a gingerbread house building competition seemed to deviate from the norm of the events I feature in the weekly and monthly LOVIEEs. It is an artistic event of sorts (architecture is a discipline of art). I honestly didn’t know what I was about to see when I left the house this morning. Again, this is an event I’m wishing I had known about in time for the monthly LOVIEE.

And now that I’m back, my reaction in a nutshell: Holy cow. That’s pretty much the impression I’m left with after getting back from this exciting midday. I have never had the chance to watch an event similar to this, and I am very glad I was able to see what has been promoted as the first annual event of many to come. Let’s just say I’m already eagerly anticipating next year’s event and may even participate. The length of this post should be a clue as to how much I enjoyed it. In other words, this is going to be a long recap.

I arrived around 10:15am or so, and four of the eventual six teams had already begun construction, with the Caroline Collective team occupying their spot but not having started yet and initial supplies laid out for the remaining sixth team which would arrive later.

I took a great many pictures in the earliest hour of the competition. This would prove to be a questionable move when my camera would show the “low battery” indicator well before judging time. I did, however, get pictures of the completed houses as they stood at judging time (and I use that term a bit loosely in at least one case).

I’ll explain how this competition went down, documented with pictures. Each team paid a $25 entry fee through an Eventbrite event listing. There was an announced limit of three people per team (I would assume mainly due to the limited space at Caroline Collective’s coworking area). Each team received the following supplies:

  • six sheets of gingerbread
  • one tub of frosting
  • one cardboard sheet covered in aluminum foil
  • access to a community candy decoration stockpile

This shows the three items, the gingerbread sheets are on top of the foil platform and the white jar next to them is the tub of frosting:

dscn5025 (by skquinn)

This is the candy stockpile (four pictures; one wider angle, three closer up):

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Teams were allowed to bring their own supplies with the restriction that all additional materials be edible. And yes, some teams definitely used other edible materials, most notably: rosemary herbs used by the Caroline Collective team, and sugar glass used by Santa’s Florida Summer Home and one other team whose name escapes me at the moment.

Our hosts at Caroline Collective kept a Christmas carols CD playing during the entire time, which I thought was a nice touch, although by the third hour it did get a bit repetitive. The computer used to play the CD did start stuttering quite badly around noon, prompting a few “remix” jokes; if not entirely welcomed comic relief, certainly nobody objected vocally enough that I noticed. A backup plan was quickly activated and we subsequently enjoyed a stutter-free, remix-jokes-free playing of Christmas carols for the remainder of the event.

dscn5109 (by skquinn)

Time marched on and the gingerbread houses began to take shape. A few more spectators arrived. It was then announced there was one hour before judging, which kicked the excitement up a little bit. At this point I was being very careful with the number of pictures I took, having long since triggered the low battery warning on my camera. (Truth be told, I was probably being more conservative than I needed to be, the low battery warning did not come up on power-up, I would take a set of pictures, then the low battery warning would come on again. However, I did not want to be stuck with no battery power at the time of judging.)

So, another forty or so minutes went by. Finally some of the houses were starting to look done. Some, in fact, were done before too much more time went by. The next announcement was twenty minutes until judging. Shortly before judging, the House of Cards team (yes, a gingerbread house made to look like a house of cards) ran into problems when part of their structure, well, folded. They were able to recover most of it prior to judging. I was not aware of other teams running into similar difficulties, at least until…

dscn5139 (by skquinn)

Judging time came at last and the first entry, Casa Dulce, was moved to the judging table. By the time the judges saw it, it was not quite the same, as you can see by the above. One account I overheard stated that it fell before even being moved; the relocation of a few feet, of course, did not help and it was subsequently decided that the judges would review the other entries in place due to concerns that the cardboard was not strong enough to support some of the elaborate edible construction (and nobody was in the mood to see yet another collapsed pile of decorated gingerbread and other edibles). It was later determined plywood would need to be procured for the move of the winning entries to the Architecture Center Houston.

The judges turned in their scores, and after considerable deliberation the winners were announced. But before I get to that, I want to show each of the six finished houses as best I can and offer my own unofficial scores for each, based on the same criteria the official judges used. (It is not a show of preference or disdain that some entries have more photographs shown here than others. Some of my pictures did not turn out that well, unfortunately.)

Santa’s Florida Summer Home

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dscn5135 (by skquinn)dscn5142 (by skquinn)

This is a very ornate design. The pictures barely do it justice; it really does look better seeing it in person.

       Structural Soundness:  5
         Decorative Quality:  5
Innovative Use of Materials:  4
             Overall Design:  5
                      Total: 19

Alienz

dscn5147 (by skquinn)

At first I was not overly wowed by the concept of a pyramid-shaped gingerbread house. This turns out being a well-executed concept, maybe not quite as elaborate as some of the others, but great for what it is.

       Structural Soundness:  5
         Decorative Quality:  4
Innovative Use of Materials:  4
             Overall Design:  5
                      Total: 18

Caroline Collective

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It pains me to say it, but the flashy use of decorative candies by the other entries really makes this one look a bit bland by comparison. It could have been spruced up a bit. Sure, it would then be a hundred times less bland than the exteriors real-life Caroline Collective buildings then, but that would be a good thing.

(These pictures do not show a candy-cane “CC” present on what I assume is supposed to be the front of the building; this design element is visible on some of the other pictures.)

       Structural Soundness:  5
         Decorative Quality:  2
Innovative Use of Materials:  5
             Overall Design:  3
                      Total: 15

Nuclear Winter

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I’m not even sure how this qualifies as a gingerbread house. It’s a great concept, though without knowing the title of it, it’s a bit hard to tell what exactly the builders were going for here.

       Structural Soundness:  4
         Decorative Quality:  5
Innovative Use of Materials:  3
             Overall Design:  4
                      Total: 16

House of Cards

dscn5145 (by skquinn)

While the premise sounds novel and intriguing, to me, it was a bit of a letdown once it was actually built and put on display. It was fun watching the building process and being struck with awe at the sheer quantity of heart and diamond suit symbols being put onto these icing-covered cards.

       Structural Soundness:  2
         Decorative Quality:  4
Innovative Use of Materials:  5
             Overall Design:  3
                      Total: 14

Casa Dulce

dscn5159 (by skquinn)

Shown here after it was reassembled post-judging (let’s face it, a shot of gingerbread rubble here would be rather anticlimactic).

       Structural Soundness:  1
         Decorative Quality:  5
Innovative Use of Materials:  3
             Overall Design:  3
                      Total: 12

Finally, the official winners were announced. For this, I actually have video. I apologize for the horrible audio quality, the camera is primarily a still picture camera so the video quality is not that great. (I rarely use the video capability of this camera for that reason.)

If you don’t feel like watching that whole spiel: third place (tie): House of Cards, Alienz; second place: Santa’s Florida Home; first place: Nuclear Winter.

That’s a wrap. Here’s hoping next year’s Gingerbread Build-Off is bigger and better.

 

2009-12-21/27 Weekly LOVIEE

And here we are, Yule/Christmas week. It’s going to be particularly light this week due to the holidays. Nevertheless, I found a few things worth posting.

In case you missed it, the New Year’s Eve LOVIEE was posted last week. There’s still plenty of time to make a decision for your New Year’s Eve plans if you haven’t already, but note that some of the more popular parties will almost certainly fill up in advance.

All week

The Ice at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. $10 including tax and skate rental, see Web site for detailed hours and group discount information. More details in the monthly LOVIEE. 09/10-IADG

Tuesday 12-22

Rocks Off Rock Band Christmas Throwdown, Khon’s, 2808 Milam, 6pm. Come rock out on Rock Band with the Houston Press Rocks Off crew. Featuring the new LEGO Rock Band game. No, that is not a typo. 09-W52-1

WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg Presentation, Pop Labs, 7850 Parkwood Circle #B3, 6:30-9pm. Presented by Refresh Houston. 09-W52-2

Wednesday 12-23

Bad Boyfriend at Pub Fiction, 2303 Smith, 9pm. Melodic rock-and-roll, sort of like Matchbox Twenty meets Nickelback with a little bit of early 1990s pop thrown in. Hopefully that intrigues more of you than it scares away… 09-W52-3

Kenneth Scott Band at The Tasting Room, 1101 Uptown Park #18, 8pm. It’s really hard to describe Kenneth’s music to those who have not heard it. My best attempt to do so: a very eclectic mix of soul, blues, pop, and rock styles, modern yet timeless, upbeat yet not overbearingly high-strung. If you’ve never heard Kenneth perform, you’re in for a treat, trust me. 09-W52-4

Friday 12-25

Christmas show at Rudyard’s, 2010 Waugh, 9pm, no cover. Two acts: The Energy, and Roky Moon and Bolt. 09-W52-5

Saturday 12-26

Hayes Carll at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel St., doors 8pm, show 9pm, $16. This generation’s country legend in the making. Come see him now, and you’ll have something you can tell your children and grandchildren about. 09-W52-6

Sunday 12-27

Kenneth Scott Band at The Tasting Room, 1101 Uptown Park #18, 8pm. See above listing for Wednesday. 09-W52-7

 

On the end of the year and the sudden lack of recaps

Some of you may have noticed I haven’t written many recaps lately. For a while, I almost felt like I was writing a recap for everything. And maybe nobody misses them, but I feel like maybe I should explain a few things.

Even if I have nothing to recap, I’d rather write the occasional “verbiage piece” than have the entire blog be just the LOVIEE features. While I do take pride in the LOVIEE features, that can’t be everything. I want to keep the site interesting, and I know with the onslaught of the holidays the number of events has gone down a bit. There are certain well-publicized events I’ve left off; I toyed with the idea of adding, say, The Nutcracker (performed by the Houston Ballet) but ultimately decided against it. I leave some of the more well-publicized events off the list because I figure my readers–you guys out there–have probably heard about them from other sources.

A lot of the reason I’ve posted no recaps in almost three weeks is that there aren’t that many events I’ve been to lately. I will note here I attended Information Superhighway (09-M12-4). I had fun, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t even feel like taking that many pictures that night (this after I had taken special time to put a blank 2 gigabyte SD card in my camera, giving me enough room for about 350-400 pictures, just the night before) and that’s not an event that really lends itself very well to a recap. The same goes for the Kirtsy Takes A Bow book launch party (09-W47-3) and Spacetaker’s Winter Holiday Art Market (09-W47-9), both of which I went to, even if I was only at the latter briefly.

A side note here, since I know some of you are probably wondering: if I put “join me” (or similar wording) in a description for the LOVIEE, usually that’s where I’ll be that night. Sometimes I do not know in advance what I’ll be doing and there are weekends where I’m either out of town or attending e.g. a house party, as was the case for Halloween. Most of you don’t know me, so I’ll say that I simply would not do this type of a blog if I did not “eat my own dog food.” (That is, in this case, refer back to my own LOVIEE post to see what’s going on later in the week/month.)

The other reason is my unfortunate lack of a working vehicle and the difficulty of relying on public transportation in the middle of the winter in Houston. It rains, it sleets, it hails, it even snows. It gets damned cold out there even when it’s dry. I’ve missed at least one event (not one I promoted here) due in part to the fact I simply got tired of waiting on the bus.

I really don’t want to turn this into a carbon copy of the other blogs I do. The whole point behind this blog was to be something different; a local events blog was something I had always wanted to do, but had never been sufficiently motivated to try until this summer. I’m sure some people refuse to believe that; it’s the truth, and I can only offer you the full faith and credit of my good name that I am telling the truth. Honestly, that’s not a whole lot.

As we get closer to the spring, I should be back to posting just as many recaps as there were in the fall. Right now, fewer people are dropping by and that’s due in large part to the holidays; I understand that. I’m going to do the best I can, but bear with me for the next few weeks.

I was, for a time, looking for guest contributors. I got no response when I put out the call the first time a few weeks ago. I’m still looking; the need is not urgent, but I do plan to launch other features and expand this blog beyond just my own personal effort. If you are interested, please let me know.

If you know about an interesting event, or for that matter a venue, band, dance company, etc. that I may not know of, or even if you just want to say hi, feel free to drop me a line. In the case of the latter categories it helps to link me directly to a Web site and event calendar. If you have a press/media release in a non-text format those can be sent to quinnsbigcity@fastmail.net.