What's in a name? The Trailer Park Playboys, we reckon, are the sort of fellas who understand the lyricism of Jerry Springer and the poetry of the WWF. They're the kind that growed up on Momma's broken heart and Daddy's whiskey breath. These boys, we suspect, now find it in their hearts to minister to all those attention-starved trailer maidens dying for love. The Trailer Park Playboys are unfazed by the sour winds of the refinery or the one-armed neighbor's homicidal mutts. They stare down tornadoes. They know there's salvation in monster trucks. In real life, the Trailer Park Playboys are a smokin' alternative-country band with roots in the Texas singer-songwriter tradition and flourishes of blues harp and rock. Mike Manning, the bassist and singer, describes their act as "three chords and a cloud of dust." Cheatin' women are a recurring theme in their songs, he says.
With all due respect to the Houston Museum of Natural Science's IMAX Theatre, which has been giving us exemplary wide-screen nature documentaries for 12 years now, this theater takes the prize because it shows the cool IMAX flicks -- the ones in 3-D, y'all! Seeing how koala bears survive in their natural habitat is fine and all that, but for years we've been hearing about what an ass-blasting experience it is to see an IMAX movie in 3-D. And the only way Houstonians could catch a show is if they drove all the way out there to Moody Gardens in Galveston. Luckily, the folks at the new Edwards are providing a closer venue. So far, its only 3-D offering is Cirque du Soleil's human-civilization yarn Journey of Man, which has its moments of jaw-dropping wonder. All right, so it might not be the coolest 3-D movie in the world (the little-seen martial-arts film Dynasty takes that honor), but it's worth it just to check out the glasses (helmets is more like it), which nearly cover your whole damn head and have speakers inside for movies with an "internal monologue" soundtrack. If you can manage to wear the glasses without tipping over, you'll have a sweet time.
With all due respect to the Houston Museum of Natural Science's IMAX Theatre, which has been giving us exemplary wide-screen nature documentaries for 12 years now, this theater takes the prize because it shows the cool IMAX flicks -- the ones in 3-D, y'all! Seeing how koala bears survive in their natural habitat is fine and all that, but for years we've been hearing about what an ass-blasting experience it is to see an IMAX movie in 3-D. And the only way Houstonians could catch a show is if they drove all the way out there to Moody Gardens in Galveston. Luckily, the folks at the new Edwards are providing a closer venue. So far, its only 3-D offering is Cirque du Soleil's human-civilization yarn Journey of Man, which has its moments of jaw-dropping wonder. All right, so it might not be the coolest 3-D movie in the world (the little-seen martial-arts film Dynasty takes that honor), but it's worth it just to check out the glasses (helmets is more like it), which nearly cover your whole damn head and have speakers inside for movies with an "internal monologue" soundtrack. If you can manage to wear the glasses without tipping over, you'll have a sweet time.
Talk show host Matthew Momoh serves up faultless venues for clashes among Houston's liberals, moderates and conservatives. From issues of UN peacekeeping to ethnic injustice to police brutality, his show is a magnet for the wise, the weird and the wacky. Sixteen years ago the West African native employed by the city's public works division walked into KPFT to assist a beleaguered DJ, and the program director snatched him up. Since then, his international topics have conscientiously graced the airwaves from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Tuesday. His facilitative style of delivery is even-tempered as he glides through up to 40 callers an hour, imposing a simplistic two-minute rule on the opinionated. Sometimes discussions get so heated that he has to watch the door for loose cannons when he leaves his weekly post. Keep your ears open for discussions on pesky politicians caught in the rattrap during the election months. Momoh is sure to snare a few in his weekly loquacious entanglements.
Talk show host Matthew Momoh serves up faultless venues for clashes among Houston's liberals, moderates and conservatives. From issues of UN peacekeeping to ethnic injustice to police brutality, his show is a magnet for the wise, the weird and the wacky. Sixteen years ago the West African native employed by the city's public works division walked into KPFT to assist a beleaguered DJ, and the program director snatched him up. Since then, his international topics have conscientiously graced the airwaves from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Tuesday. His facilitative style of delivery is even-tempered as he glides through up to 40 callers an hour, imposing a simplistic two-minute rule on the opinionated. Sometimes discussions get so heated that he has to watch the door for loose cannons when he leaves his weekly post. Keep your ears open for discussions on pesky politicians caught in the rattrap during the election months. Momoh is sure to snare a few in his weekly loquacious entanglements.
Alley Theatre
The Alley's artistic director, Gregory Boyd, is eclectic and gutsy and sometimes simply wicked. But most of all, the man is smart. Since he was appointed head honcho at Houston's richest theater in late 1988, he has brought home a Tony and taken to Broadway a whole slew of shows that premiered at the Alley. Things were a bit quieter for the 1999-2000 season. But Boyd wasn't sitting up in his office resting on any laurels. He found a handful of terrific directors, actors and technicians, and created a stay-at-home season that was simply spectacular. He kicked things off with a mighty reworking of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, filling the stage with iron girders and shadowy darkness that stretched up into the rafters. He went on to put together a minimalist production of Margaret Edson's Wit, a show that sent its audiences home weeping copious tears in the Houston night. He even had the audacity to rewrite Shakespeare with a production of The Comedy of Errors that Boyd himself directed. Whether he's winning national awards, flying off to New York or sticking out the heat here at home, Boyd is always pushing his audiences to see the wild possibilities in life that only the theater can unveil.
The Alley's artistic director, Gregory Boyd, is eclectic and gutsy and sometimes simply wicked. But most of all, the man is smart. Since he was appointed head honcho at Houston's richest theater in late 1988, he has brought home a Tony and taken to Broadway a whole slew of shows that premiered at the Alley. Things were a bit quieter for the 1999-2000 season. But Boyd wasn't sitting up in his office resting on any laurels. He found a handful of terrific directors, actors and technicians, and created a stay-at-home season that was simply spectacular. He kicked things off with a mighty reworking of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, filling the stage with iron girders and shadowy darkness that stretched up into the rafters. He went on to put together a minimalist production of Margaret Edson's Wit, a show that sent its audiences home weeping copious tears in the Houston night. He even had the audacity to rewrite Shakespeare with a production of The Comedy of Errors that Boyd himself directed. Whether he's winning national awards, flying off to New York or sticking out the heat here at home, Boyd is always pushing his audiences to see the wild possibilities in life that only the theater can unveil.
Jason Nodler's Infernal Bridegroom Productions is still the most innovative and exciting theater company in town. A lot of its success goes to the inspired designers Nodler has been able to coerce into coming on board. Such is the case with his deliciously dark production of David Mamet's Edmond. It was designer Devlin Browning who made the Atomic Cafe's stage turn hellish under his dollops of voodoo yellow light. As framed by Browning's strange eye, Edmond's pathetic kicked-dog-white-man-as-victim story glimmered like some horrifying yet mesmerizing jewel, winking from a swamp of darkness. Browning filled the stage with pools of goopy light that were as much about Edmond's dead heart as they were about the seemingly endless capacity of darkness and half-light to hide the truth. All other theaters in town could take a lesson from Browning about the power of light and the muscle of darkness.
Jason Nodler's Infernal Bridegroom Productions is still the most innovative and exciting theater company in town. A lot of its success goes to the inspired designers Nodler has been able to coerce into coming on board. Such is the case with his deliciously dark production of David Mamet's Edmond. It was designer Devlin Browning who made the Atomic Cafe's stage turn hellish under his dollops of voodoo yellow light. As framed by Browning's strange eye, Edmond's pathetic kicked-dog-white-man-as-victim story glimmered like some horrifying yet mesmerizing jewel, winking from a swamp of darkness. Browning filled the stage with pools of goopy light that were as much about Edmond's dead heart as they were about the seemingly endless capacity of darkness and half-light to hide the truth. All other theaters in town could take a lesson from Browning about the power of light and the muscle of darkness.
Trey McIntyre is a modern dancemaker whose ideas are as evocative as the movements that express them. His White Noise dealt with a fear of death; Speak pitted soft ballet against violent rap; and Aliss in Wonderland cast the storybook characters in modern celebrity culture. McIntyre's latest creation, Bound, choreographed this year for Houston Ballet, explored the very different meanings of its title -- from boundless space to boundaries, from bounding across the stage to being bound up. In one memorable pas de trois, a corseted ballerina struggled to break free from a speedy series of soaring lifts that passed her back and forth between two men. When she succeeded, though, her freedom was disappointing. Independent at last, she bourréed limply away but longingly looked back. McIntyre's choreographic conclusion was somewhat subversive: In order to bound through space, she must be bound by the other dancers. We just hope Houston Ballet's choreographic associate feels bound to come home again soon.

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