Best Of :: People & Places
While most of Houston's arts groups take a breather in the humidity of summer, the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre turns up the heat. The Alley's ExxonMobil Summer Chills series always brings edge-of-your-seat thrillers to life. What better way to spend a hot summer evening than in the air-conditioned theater watching a mystery unfold? Artistic director Gregory Boyd has a deft touch at picking summer-fun plays. This year's roller-coaster ride was a lights-out funfest of Wait Until Dark and Black Comedy. Great fare, stellar acting and air conditioning. All we need now is popcorn.
There was a certain inevitability to it. All observers, whether they wore burnt orange or crimson, knew that once the Texas defense stuffed LenDale White on fourth and two at the Texas 45-yard line with two minutes left on the clock, the ball game was over and the Longhorns would seize their first national championship in 35 years. Vince Young, the Madison High School star, would find a way to erase the Trojans' five-point lead. After all, he had done something just like that the previous year in the Rose Bowl against Michigan, and in the two gigantic comebacks against Oklahoma State in 2004 and 2005, and in the Shoe at Night, where he ruined the weekends of 105,000 drunken Ohio State fans with a laser-guided pass to Limas Sweed in the front corner of the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Why would this game be any different? And even though this was the grandest stage in college football, he would go about it looking as calm and collected as a guy mowing his lawn. Sure, he needed all four downs, but on fourth and five from the Trojans' nine-yard line, he did it: He coasted past the outstretched arms of the Trojans' Frostee Rucker and into Texas immortality.
"Wrestling in the present to fight for the future!" is the slogan greeting visitors to Dyk-A-Tron's page. The so-called cybernetic lesbian from the future -- shown in full costume and holding her title belt/trophy -- is known around Houston for her Doomsday parody wrestling matches, and the page is a tribute to the doppelganger. Dyk-A-Tron's "friends" list consists of her sworn enemies -- robots Slut Bot, Karate Bot and PartyBot 5000, to name a few -- and her blogs describe her mission to stop the metallic perps from infiltrating the future. "Those evil-natured robots, they're programmed to destroy us. Dyk-A-Tron must be strong to fight them, so Dyk-A-Tron is taking lots of vitamins," reads a blog titled "Tribulations of the future as of yet unsettled." Whom would she like to meet? "Svelte lipstick lesbians made shiny with a top coat of hot oil" and "the she-bot from Metropolis." But keep this in mind, ladies: She's here for "serious relationships," so log on only if you're a one-dykebot kind of gal.
Other places have the same ingredients: buffet, birthday cake and Skee-Ball. But at this '50s-themed place, birthday kids are made to feel truly special. A hostess keeps the pace of food, games and celebration going strong, often in a private room. Party packages and add-ons such as cakes, goodie bags and well-filled piatas are surprisingly affordable. The buffet rivals any adult cafeteria, offering more than a dozen kinds of pizza, plus pasta, soup, salads and desserts. The "Fairgrounds" may be an assault on the senses, but it has dozens of video and skill games (most only 30 cents to play), putt-putt, bumper cars, a go-kart track, a bowling alley and even an area for the little kids.
One part egomaniac, one part friendly next-door neighbor, Joel Osteen preaches a positive-vibes-only brand of nondenominational Christianity that's helped his membership grow exponentially in the past few years. Although we don't appreciate the unholy amount of traffic Lakewood's services bring to Highway 59 every weekend, we do appreciate the lack of fire, brimstone and sexual scandal that tends to accompany most other people looking to save your soul. Besides, it's only fitting that the largest church in the United States would reside in the most Texas-sized, morality-be-damned city in the state.
Co-designed by architectural legend Philip Johnson, the 901-foot-tall Williams Tower has the kind of power and grace that impresses people who aren't normally impressed by buildings. Completed in 1983 and originally known as the Transco Tower, the edifice was built as two separate structures, one atop the other. The building has separate elevator banks and lobbies for the two parts, but even if you've never stepped inside the tower, you can appreciate its majesty. It's the fourth-tallest building in Texas and the 20th in the country, but as a Houston landmark, we're giving it No. 1. (When you drive by, be sure to check out the gorgeous water wall.)