2009-12-14/20 Weekly LOVIEE

This week it’s time to start things off with a quick note: There may be some events I will not be able to meaningfully promote in the LOVIEE feature due to various constraints. So it will become more important than ever to follow the Twitter account and/or Facebook page to stay in the know. I will also post notices of last-minute changes to the weekly, monthly, and special LOVIEEs to Facebook and/or Twitter (usually both).

You also may have noticed I’m posting earlier (Sunday afternoon/evening instead of Monday around noon). Until recently I have had very few events to list on Monday or Tuesday; this has changed. I like to make it as easy as possible for my readers to plan things out at least a day in advance if not more. Sometimes it is just a case of getting “done” earlier than expected; often I will schedule the posting further in advance and let WordPress take care of the rest but other times I’ll go ahead and post right then and there just to make sure it’s up in time, as glitches have happened.

Anyway, enough verbiage, on with the list:

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

Monday 12-14

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders LIVE. Various theaters in the Houston area; see Web site for details and ticket information (price will vary by theatre). Doctors Without Borders gave a documentary crew uncensored access to its field operations and the result is this first-of-its-kind documentary featuring four doctors in war-torn Congo and post-conflict Liberia, the extreme conditions therein, and the challenge of providing medical care under those extreme conditions. This event will be hosted by Elizabeth Vargas of ABC’s 20/20 from New York City and will feature a live panel discussion with frontline doctors and journalists. 09-W51-1

Wednesday 12-16

H-Town for the Holidays, Boheme, 307 Fairview, 7:30pm, free admission. A performance event benefiting the Osito Foundation, a non-profit that collects teddy bears for children impacted by HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. Scheduled to appear: Kady Malloy (from American Idol 7); Mike and Linda Lambert (of Spare Parts); Bret Gyrich (of Low Man’s Joe); and Micha Walker (of Veracity). Also scheduled to appear: Buddy the Bear, the new Osito mascot. 09-W51-2

Thursday 12-17 through Saturday 12-19

Martin Burniston’s 19th Annual Christmas Singalong, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, dinner starts at 7pm, singalong starts at 8pm. $38, price includes dinner plus donations to the End Hunger Network and Emma Jacobs Breast Cancer Foundation. There will also be an afternoon kids’ singalong on the 19th for $10 which does not include dinner. 09-W51-3

Thursday 12-17

Hawthorne Heights at Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 6:30pm, $13 advance/$15 day of show. This quartet from Dayton, Ohio, has a very addictive and hypnotizing sound and is well worth checking out. Also featuring special guests Just Surrender, The Story Changes, Monty Are I, Nightbeast, and The Last Place You Look. 09-W51-4

Friday 12-18

“Naughty or Nice” — Aerosol Warfare Holiday Party and Art Show, 2110 Jefferson #113, 7pm-midnight. Featuring music from Iron Chic, Bradley McClintock, and others. 09-W51-5

The Boxmasters at Fitzgerald’s, 2706 White Oak, 7pm, $35. This looks to be a great show from a great country/rock band (and yes, I know it is odd to hear any phrase starting with “great country” applied to a California act); The Boxmasters are on tour and this will be their fourth stop in Texas. Also featuring The Rounders, who I could not find any information about, but I must say a name like that piques my interest. 09-W51-6

A Concert to Free Your Mind at Dean’s Credit Clothing, 316 Main, doors 8pm, show 9pm, $8. Featuring: Tax the Wolf, a spacey and experimental band; Keaton Branch and The Figure Eight; Solanae; and The Dellciples, Beatles-inspired 1960s pop (but not a Beatles tribute band). 09-W51-9

Friday 12-18 and Saturday 12-19

The Producers at Playhouse 1960, 6814 Gant Road, 8pm, $15 (discounts for seniors, students, and active military/veterans). Leo and Max have what certainly seems like a great idea: put on a play destined for failure (a musical called Springtime for Hitler in which the Germans win WWII), watch it fold, then take the money and run. Unfortunately (for everyone, including Leo and Max), the musical becomes a smash hit. 09-W51-7

Saturday 12-19

First Annual Gingerbread Build-off, Caroline Collective, 4820 Caroline St., 10am-2pm, $25 per team to enter (limit of 3 per team), free admission to watch. Hosted by Caroline Collective and C2 Creative in association with the Architecture Center Houston (ArCH). Winners will be on exhibition December 21-23, 9am-5pm, at the ArCH, 315 Capitol. 09-W51-8


2009-12-31 Special Edition LOVIEE (New Year’s Eve)

I’m posting this a bit early on purpose. Many of these parties are running advance ticket specials and I want to make sure anyone watching only the blog and not the Twitter or Facebook has a chance to snag the discounts. I posted as much information as I could find about each one, and will try to keep this updated as I find out more. I normally don’t post these half-done, but in this case time is of the essence.

Unlike what I did for Halloween, I am including all festivities scheduled to take place during the final evening of 2009 and first morning of 2010, regardless of whether it is specifically promoted, labeled, or themed a New Year’s Eve party. The rationale behind the difference is that Halloween parties usually have an element of strongly recommending if not requiring costumes, and New Year’s Eve parties normally do not (despite what some people may think after watching Trading Places one too many times).

Unless otherwise noted, parties end at 2am, and should be assumed to be 21 and over only. It is not unheard of for prices to increase as New Year’s Eve approaches; I may not be able to keep up with all of them and probably will not really try. So, in case of a conflict, the venue’s current price overrides anything I may have posted here. Many events will sell out prior to New Year’s Eve. New events may be added at the end of the list; if nothing you see now strikes your fancy, please check back and/or keep an eye on the Facebook page and Twitter account.

I wish all of you a happy and safe transition from 2009 to 2010. See you on the flip side.

Thursday 12-31

Allen Oldies Band and Beetle, Continental Club, 3700 Main, 8pm, no cover. Ring in the new year with two of Houston’s most talented oldies tribute bands at a first-rate music venue. There’s a reason I put this one first on the list: I want to make sure nobody overlooks it. 09-S-NYE-1

New Year’s Eve 2010 Black & White Bash at Mezzanine Lounge, 8pm. $35 advance tickets, $50 at the door. 21+. 09-S-NYE-2

New York New York Empire City Celebration at Pravada, 2815 S. Shepherd Dr., 9pm, $45 general admission, $60 elite VIP packages available–see Web site for details. Featuring a champagne toast at midnight $5,000 balloon drop, open bar until 12:30am. 21+. 09-S-NYE-3

The BLT VI New Year’s Eve Party at Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, 801/813 St. Emanuel, 8pm, $79+. BLT stands for black tie, lingerie, and toga, and dress within the theme is encouraged but not required. Live music from Adrenaline and The Spicolis, multiple DJs, midnight toast. These are two great venues, and any time they join forces for an event like this, it’s bound to be a great party. 21+. 09-S-NYE-4

New Year’s Eve Celebration with Scott Gertner and band, Scott Gertner’s Sky Bar and Grille, 3400 Montrose, penthouse level, 8pm, $50 with table reservation or $30 without. Midnight champagne toast, midnight breakfast buffet, rose for the ladies, three fireworks displays visible from the location, and of course, Scott Gertner and the band. Men 23+/women 21+. 09-S-NYE-5

A Blaggards New Year’s Eve, Ashford Arms Pub, 14605 Perthshire, $10. The legends of “Stout Irish Rock” (of which I am a huge fan) are spending New Year’s Eve in town. Cover charge includes food and midnight champagne toast. 21+. 09-S-NYE-6

Free Press New Year’s Eve Party, Mango’s, 403 Westheimer, 8pm, $10. Featuring Sideshow Tramps, B L A C K I E, Grandfather Child, Robert Ellis & The Boys, The Manichean, Female Demand, and Hollywood Floss. All ages. 09-S-NYE-7

Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th St., 9pm, no cover charge mentioned. Featuring the Fondue Monks and Black Roze. 09-S-NYE-8

Totally 80’s New Year’s Bash with Thunderpants, House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St., $30, 10pm. 21+. 09-S-NYE-9

Sherlock’s Pub, 10001 Westheimer, start time not listed, $7. Featuring Rat Ranch, a band that’s pretty hard to describe, but I’ll try anyway: I hear influence from Smash Mouth, Pink Floyd, The Police, Devo, and The Romantics, updated for the late 00s/early 10s. If that sounds impossible it’s not, really, listen for yourself. 09-S-NYE-10

A Neapolitan New Year presented by Ars Lyrica, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (Zilkha Hall), 800 Bagby, 8:30pm, tickets start at $31.25 ($21.25 for students, must show ID at door). Ring in the New Year with the American premiere of J. A. Hasse’s Neapolitan masterpiece Marc Antonio e Cleopatra. Rising stars Ava Pine and Jamie Barton will join the ensemble for a performance to remember. The post-performance gala features champagne, hors d’oeuvres and the annual silent auction. 09-S-NYE-11

Fay and Sammie with The Mid City Players, Sammy’s at 2016 Main, time not listed. 09-S-NYE-12

The Hightailers at Last Concert Cafe, 1403 Nance St., time not listed. 09-S-NYE-13

Market Tasting: Bubbles for Festivus, Block 7 Wine Company, 720 Shepherd, 4-8pm, $20. After the tasting join Shawn Pander as he performs a set to ring in the New Year. 09-S-NYE-14

DJ Marc at Brian O’Neill’s, 5555 Morningside, 8pm, $5. Cover includes champagne toast at midnight. Table reservations available for $20. 09-S-NYE-15

…possibly more to come. Watch this space.


2009-12-07/13 Weekly LOVIEE

The holiday shopping season is well underway, snow is coming down (yes, even in Houston, it snows), and some radio stations are working holiday music into the usual playlists. These are all signs that we’re rapidly closing in on the end of 2009. As soon as I finish some other projects of mine, the ongoing LOVIEE will get a facelift or three. Speaking of which, if nothing here tickles your fancy, there are several events there as well.

I am not always able to update the LOVIEEs for weather-related cancellations in a timely manner. Particularly if the event is an outdoor event, you may wish to independently check and see if an event is still happening if the weather looks questionable. Also keep in mind if I’m out and about, I cannot update the Facebook status from my mobile phone (yet) and the Facebook-Twitter synchronization is one way only (Twitter updates don’t get posted back to the page).

Note that this is still, at present, a hobbyist effort, a labor of love for the city of Houston and the great times waiting to be had inside its limits.

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 12-08 through Saturday 12-12

Light Switch at Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose. Tue-Fri 10:30am-6pm, Sat 10:30am-5pm. Exhibition continues on through December 31. 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. This actually opened last week, still plenty of time to catch it though. 09-W50-1

Tuesday 12-08

Dominic Walsh Dance Theater Photography Exhibiton Reception, Block 7 Wine Company, 720 Shepherd. An exhibition of photographs of DWDT taken by Gabriella Nissen. Presented in partnership with Spacetaker. 09-W50-2 Art show reception, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd., 7-10pm. Featuring Alizo Higurra and Angela De Soto. 09-W50-3

Wednesday 12-09 through Saturday 12-12

Life is Happy and Sad, DiverseWorks Theater, 1117 East Freeway. Pay-what-you-want (suggested $20), tickets available online or by phone at 713-522-2723. More details in the Monthly LOVIEE. 09-M12-1

Wednesday 12-09

Jack Ingram, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 7:00pm, $30. Country music legend originally from The Woodlands, performing his annual holiday show in the Houston area. 09-W50-4

Friday 12-11

Danny O’Flaherty’s Celtic Christmas, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 7:30pm, $60. Ticket includes dinner and show. Danny is the last of a generation raised in a pure Gaelic culture and his performing career is a testament to his dedication to preserving and passing on his Celtic heritage. 09-W50-5 Graffiti Party and Music Night, Walter’s on Washington, 4215 Washington. Doors 8pm, show 9pm, $8. Music from Wild Moccasins, Buxton, and Giant Princess. Free hot dogs from Ray’s Franks and giveaways from Movies! The Store. Wear a white shirt you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. 09-M12-6

Saturday 12-12

Snow Day, Discovery Green Park, 1500 McKinney St., 10am-2pm, free admission. If your kids didn’t get their snow fix this past Friday, the snow is on again. 09-W50-6 The Best of the New York Children’s Film Fest, Spacetaker (Winter Street Studios), 2101 Winter Street, 4pm, free admission. Co-presented by Spacetaker and Aurora Picture Show, this is an hour-long program recommended for children ages 3 and up showcasing some of the very best children’s films. If you wish to make it a longer afternoon with the kid(s), there is a kid’s art workshop starting at 2pm. 09-M12-5

Sunday 12-13

I Can Do Technology, Caroline Collective, 4820 Caroline, 3-7pm. Free admission, but note that the event is a fundraiser for the Kenya Hospital Project. Featuring several do-it-yourself technology projects, Makerbot demonstrations, robot show-and-tell, 3-D paper model building. There will also be 3-D printer objects for sale and a raffle. Presented by Engineers Without Borders, Central Houston Chapter and TX/RX Technology Collective. 09-W50-7


History, the future, and some background

Okay, I’ve got a whole bunch of items to cover here. I don’t like doing too many verbiage posts here outside of recaps, but some of this is about changes too important to ignore.

As you may have noticed, some rather big, historic firsts have came to be here on Quinn’s Big City in the past couple of weeks. A recent (2009-11-16/22) weekly LOVIEE included the first multi-week event to be featured here, Stenciling Power (09-SPMAK). Then, the December monthly LOVIEE feature has included our first ever event to cover every day of a monthly LOVIEE: this year’s version of The Ice at Discovery Green (09/10-IADG).

Anyway, with this bit of Quinn’s Big City history comes some changes. Up until now, monthly LOVIEE events were always reposted in some form as part of the weekly LOVIEE. With the addition of week- to month-long events on the monthly LOVIEE, it’s becoming much more difficult to do that and thus some of the those events may not always be posted to the weekly LOVIEE as well. I have in the past reposted monthly LOVIEE events to the weekly LOVIEE so one may just follow the weeklies. I will still carry over the one-day up to week-long events; it is the events lasting longer than a full week that may not carry over. The events that do carry over will often have most of the verbiage snipped out with a link back to the monthly LOVIEE in its place.

I hope this doesn’t inconvenience too many readers. There are a fair number of these type of events that run for weeks that aren’t really appropriate for the ongoing LOVIEE. Speaking of which, I am in the process of restructuring the ongoing LOVIEE into several based by type of event. Due to a technical issue (namely, WordPress does not let you assign tags or categories to pages–yet), it’s not as simple as I’d like it to be.

Eventually, I may be abandoning the WordPress-based blog format in favor of something database-driven, probably Drupal, maybe Joomla. This will allow many new features and ease administration as well as open up the possibility of a paid membership section of the site. This (particularly the paid membership section) is still in the early planning stages and is far from definite.

Okay, another subject I need to touch upon, a bit of background about the site, particularly its design, and how it came to be. If you don’t want the gory details you can skip ahead near the end.

The theme currently on the site now, including all the graphic design elements that go with it, are my own work. I haven’t made a big deal about this, except in person with a few speific people. Unlike the bloggers with more money than sense, I did not hire a graphic designer, nor did I grab a canned theme and use it as-is or with only a nominal customization. Not to say that bloggers can’t be good graphic designers as well: here’s one example of a well-designed personal blog and I’ll also point out another great design he did for a friend. (Note: I link to these as examples of design only, and do not endorse the content therein.)

Now, of course, whether I should have hired a designer is a matter of personal taste; I have yet to get a comment saying “nice blog, but your theme stinks like ripe gym socks/Limburger cheese/(insert favorite stinky object here).” I’m getting enough repeat visitors that I don’t think the design is the issue.

The name of the theme is Hasenpfeffer; I may explain the derivation of the name in a future post, especially if enough aggressively curious people ask. And no, I’m not making it available for distribution, at least while it remains the active theme on this site.

The fact I made the design myself was originally and continues to be a key part of what makes this site unique, at least the way I see it. I easily could have had this site up and running within a day were it just a matter of grabbing the domain and throwing up a WordPress install with the default theme or a canned theme. I didn’t have most of the design pieces conceptualized, much less committed to any tangible form, until I actually got the site live. The first “live” version was my first attempt at a logo with “A local events listing blog for Houston” and my soft and wide launch target dates of 2009-08-31 and 2009-10-05 respectively.

When I finally realized it was time to really get moving on the site, I drew the logo and threw it up with a “coming soon” page. Then, I made sure it really was coming soon, not just the running “coming soon” joke that stays up for months on end. (I’ve seen enough sites do that that I find it an annoyance I hope never to repeat myself.) And, as difficult as it is to say in a public entry, I had serious doubts of making my wide launch target of 2009-10-05; I was tempted to push it back one, two, or maybe even three weeks. Two things worked in my favor: I got the site ready for soft launch over a week earlier than I expected, and I feel like I really started hitting my stride right as wide launch approached. I didn’t get the level of fanfare I really wanted to, as work on this site was a larger endeavor than even I was willing to admit to myself. But, I learned from that. Sometimes the so-called “school of hard knocks” teaches the best lessons of all.

It was tempting to do a “wide relaunch” but I decided to pass. I’ve learned that trying to get a huge influx all at once is like eating candy bars for energy; it works short-term but then there’s the crash after the sugar rush wears off.

I am in this for the long haul; it’s technically a hobby, but I do take this almost as seriously as a part-time job. I wish now I had the foresight to have started this much sooner, as I have said in at least one recap.

If you like my endeavor, there are numerous ways to help further its success:

  • Become a fan of the Facebook page, then suggest the page to your friends in Houston and/or share the link.
  • Follow the Twitter account, retweet the particularly good posts, and/or feature @quinnsbigcity in #followfriday. This works particularly well if most of your Twitter followers also live near, live in, or regularly visit Houston.
  • Tell your friends that live in, live near, or regularly visit Houston.
  • Tell the people that run the events when they ask “where did you hear about us?”
  • If you’re on Yelp, add this site as your “second favorite Web site” on your profile. (Other sites may have a similar profile field which you can use to your advantage in the same way.)

If I’ve fallen short somewhere, tell me. I can’t fix mistakes I don’t know I’ve made.

If you’ve been a loyal reader, thanks for the support. If you’re coming by for the first time, thanks for checking it out.

Either way, it is you, the readers out there, who make this endeavor worthwhile. The best is yet to come, and as we close out 2009, I look forward to a great 2010.