Free for All: MonoVisioN, Christopher Farnsworth's Red, White and Blood, Anything That Floats & the Houston Pod Chili Cookoff

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Indulge in some architectural porn at the "Scott Frances: MonoVisioN" exhibit on Friday. When we say porn, what we mean is photographs of beautiful homes set in world-class locations with stunning views, or commercial buildings, such as museums or performance halls, that are as much works of art as what they contain.

Frances says he was standing in a museum one day when a group of tough guys and thugs came walking through. "It must have been some prison release program," he laughs. A few minutes later, a group of pre-schoolers came in. "I thought, 'Man, I wish I had been able to shoot them together.'" Of course, with today's technology, he can. Now Frances often uses multiple exposures and PhotoShop to create groupings of people that never happened in real life, as with the image above.

The exhibit is part of the Decorative Center Houston's ongoing Design Loves Art series. The images seen in his exhibit "MonoVisioN" come from Scott's recently released art book of the same title.

See "MonoVisioN" 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Decorative Center Houston, 5120 Woodway. For information, visit www.decorativecenter.com or call 713-627-8777.

Also on Friday, you can join catch novelist Christopher Farnsworth reading from his latest supernatural release, Red, White and Blood. The book is part of his The President's Vampire series (which, we're going to say is probably not be based on real-life, but you never know). The story starts off with Nathaniel Cade (a.k.a. the President's Vampire) discovering a message written in blood. It's never good to find anything written in blood. It's especially not good to find the words "It's Good to Be Back" written in blood, especially for you, by a monstrous creature known only as the Boogeyman. But if you're the President's Vampire, it's all in a day's work.

Farnsworth appears on Friday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss and sign Red, White and Blood at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, visit www.murderbooks.com or call 713-524-8597.

Get ready to giggle on Saturday at the second annual Anything That Floats competition, presented by the Rice Design Alliance. Not that science or design are anything to laugh at. Still, the contraptions that competitors put in the water for 100 feet float down Buffalo Bayou can be extremely amusing. Ditto the poor contestants who, cross your fingers, sometimes end up in the water.

Some one dozen teams have accepted the challenge of creating a workable craft in just three hours from materials provided by the RDA. The craft's design centers on the theory of buoyancy, (warning: science stuff ahead), the principle that something will float if the downward pressure caused by its weight is less than the upward pressure caused by the density of what it's on.

You might remember a scene from the movie Titanic where Rose is lying on a door while the love of her life, Jack is in the freezing water next to her. It was buoyancy that kept the door afloat. (BTW, according to our calculations, given the door's size and the combined weight of Rose and Jack, both of them could have been safe on the door. But that would have made for a very different ending, so never mind.)

The participants are allowed to bring their own tools, but nothing else. The float must carry two people and travel 100 feet of Buffalo Bayou with at least half of the float above water to win. (This is really much harder than it sounds.)

Teams start hammering at 7:30 a.m., but spectators should arrive around 1 p.m. to see the finished floats and the 1:30 p.m. test in the bayou. Sesquicentennial Park, 400 Texas. For information, visit www.ricedesignalliance.org.

On Sunday, head over to Traders Village for the 41st Annual Houston Pod Chili Cook-off. Held by the Chili Appreciation Society International (we kid you not), the contest features cooks - or chiliheads, as they call themselves - from across the country. Among them will past and current Terlingua International Chili Champions. CASI Chili, Jackpot Beans, Showmanship and Salsa and Ron Charlton Memorial Junior Chili will be cooking, and we're gonna guess, boasting, all day Saturday and Sunday.

Smell the chili from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Traders Village, 7979 North Eldridge. For information, visit www.tradersvillage.com or call 281-890-5500. Jef with One F contributed to this post.

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