No shooting. No explosions. But there are ideas here, furtively embedded in this first-person driver game designed by Houston-born artist Mel Chin and a passel of MIT programmers. You press the gas pedal and drive through the desert, where a "tree of life" dispenses golden balls to the tents of a nomadic tribe. In search of the balls, you drive to those tents, and through those tents, completing tasks, figuring out puzzles, overwhelmed by the detail of the tribes' rugs, mesmerized by the speed, hardly noticing how the new culture is colliding with the old. And when you've collected all the balls, well, nobody seems to know what happens then, because nobody seems to have collected all of them, even though -- and this is the best part -- the game, like admission to the museum, is free.

No shooting. No explosions. But there are ideas here, furtively embedded in this first-person driver game designed by Houston-born artist Mel Chin and a passel of MIT programmers. You press the gas pedal and drive through the desert, where a "tree of life" dispenses golden balls to the tents of a nomadic tribe. In search of the balls, you drive to those tents, and through those tents, completing tasks, figuring out puzzles, overwhelmed by the detail of the tribes' rugs, mesmerized by the speed, hardly noticing how the new culture is colliding with the old. And when you've collected all the balls, well, nobody seems to know what happens then, because nobody seems to have collected all of them, even though -- and this is the best part -- the game, like admission to the museum, is free.

Native Houstonian Kay Poe was expected to win the U.S. Taekwondo Union's Olympic trials in May. But in her last match before the flyweight division championship fight, Poe took a blow to the knee that rendered her barely able to walk. It appeared her Olympic dreams would be dashed; she could not beat an opponent on only one leg. But what happened next is the stuff of which movies are made. Poe's opponent was also her best friend and training partner, Esther Kim. Kim was a surprise contender for the championship, and she thought Poe would have won their match if not for her injury. But instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to make the final spot on the Olympic team, Kim forfeited the championship to her friend. "I wasn't throwing my dreams away," Kim told People magazine. "I was handing them to Kay." With any luck, they'll both be on the Wheaties box.
Native Houstonian Kay Poe was expected to win the U.S. Taekwondo Union's Olympic trials in May. But in her last match before the flyweight division championship fight, Poe took a blow to the knee that rendered her barely able to walk. It appeared her Olympic dreams would be dashed; she could not beat an opponent on only one leg. But what happened next is the stuff of which movies are made. Poe's opponent was also her best friend and training partner, Esther Kim. Kim was a surprise contender for the championship, and she thought Poe would have won their match if not for her injury. But instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to make the final spot on the Olympic team, Kim forfeited the championship to her friend. "I wasn't throwing my dreams away," Kim told People magazine. "I was handing them to Kay." With any luck, they'll both be on the Wheaties box.
With seven state champions in the past eight years, the greater Houston area has established itself as the softball hotbed in Texas. This year's winner, Brazoswood, had to fight off a number of outstanding teams in its own region before tackling the best of the rest, and that makes the magnitude of its feat all the more remarkable: a 34-0 record. Star pitcher Nicole Neuerburg won 33 of those games without allowing a single earned run, a perfect season matched only by Dobie legend and U.S. Olympian Christa Williams in 1995. But unlike that dominant Dobie squad, Brazoswood clawed its way to one nail-biting, extra-inning victory after another: a 14-inning regional quarterfinal win over Kingwood, an 11-inning seesaw battle over Katy two days later, a 12-inning squeaker over defending champ Katy Taylor to clinch the region, and a 15-inning 1-0 marathon over Bryan in the state final. With the seniors contributing clutch hits and a different hero backing Neuerburg in the field almost every game, Brazoswood put together the kind of miracle season that usually happens only in sports fiction.
With seven state champions in the past eight years, the greater Houston area has established itself as the softball hotbed in Texas. This year's winner, Brazoswood, had to fight off a number of outstanding teams in its own region before tackling the best of the rest, and that makes the magnitude of its feat all the more remarkable: a 34-0 record. Star pitcher Nicole Neuerburg won 33 of those games without allowing a single earned run, a perfect season matched only by Dobie legend and U.S. Olympian Christa Williams in 1995. But unlike that dominant Dobie squad, Brazoswood clawed its way to one nail-biting, extra-inning victory after another: a 14-inning regional quarterfinal win over Kingwood, an 11-inning seesaw battle over Katy two days later, a 12-inning squeaker over defending champ Katy Taylor to clinch the region, and a 15-inning 1-0 marathon over Bryan in the state final. With the seniors contributing clutch hits and a different hero backing Neuerburg in the field almost every game, Brazoswood put together the kind of miracle season that usually happens only in sports fiction.
There's a lot to like about Enron Field. (There's also a lot to dislike, but now's not the time to mention $5.25 beers. Or cold hot dogs. Or the cramped and hot upper deck. And now certainly is not the time to bring up the team's performance this year.) Enron is far more fan-friendly than the Dome; parking hasn't been the hassle some thought it would be; and it's just plain great to have baseball downtown. The best thing about the new stadium, though, is the potential for freebie souvenirs, in the form of foul balls and home runs. The stands at Enron are much closer to the foul lines than in the Dome, so lots of foul balls that would have been pop-up outs last year are going into the seats. And there are sections on the field level where fouls come screaming in with such regularity that you might want to wear a batting helmet. And of course, Enron's outfield dimensions are decidedly, if not infamously, cozy. Homers come with sometimes numbing regularity. At batting practice even the pitchers are popping dingers. If Enron Field needs a slogan, it might be "Bring your glove."
There's a lot to like about Enron Field. (There's also a lot to dislike, but now's not the time to mention $5.25 beers. Or cold hot dogs. Or the cramped and hot upper deck. And now certainly is not the time to bring up the team's performance this year.) Enron is far more fan-friendly than the Dome; parking hasn't been the hassle some thought it would be; and it's just plain great to have baseball downtown. The best thing about the new stadium, though, is the potential for freebie souvenirs, in the form of foul balls and home runs. The stands at Enron are much closer to the foul lines than in the Dome, so lots of foul balls that would have been pop-up outs last year are going into the seats. And there are sections on the field level where fouls come screaming in with such regularity that you might want to wear a batting helmet. And of course, Enron's outfield dimensions are decidedly, if not infamously, cozy. Homers come with sometimes numbing regularity. At batting practice even the pitchers are popping dingers. If Enron Field needs a slogan, it might be "Bring your glove."
Bob McNair, the man who returned professional football to Houston, has dubbed his new team the Texans. Forgive us if we don't immediately share the jingoistic joy of the moniker. Last time we looked, much of the city had little to do with Texas (aside from obvious geography): Haven't seen too many folks in the Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Pakistani communities (to name but four) opening Texas barbecue joints or installing mechanical bulls in their dim sum or pho restaurants. Given the city's lust for bland Midtown condos, publicly financed stadia, downtown water parks and planned communities, we suggest that the Developers would be a far more accurate and fair nickname. Development, after all, knows no racial or ethnic boundaries. These promoters of "progress" have blithely affected almost everyone: African-Americans, Asians, Mexicans, Anglos -- hell, even the homeless. Considering sports teams are usually beloved by all socioeconomic levels of a community, the Houston Developers, if they happen to win the Super Bowl, could do more for the spirits of the displaced and disadvantaged than 10,000 new downtown lofts.
Bob McNair, the man who returned professional football to Houston, has dubbed his new team the Texans. Forgive us if we don't immediately share the jingoistic joy of the moniker. Last time we looked, much of the city had little to do with Texas (aside from obvious geography): Haven't seen too many folks in the Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Pakistani communities (to name but four) opening Texas barbecue joints or installing mechanical bulls in their dim sum or pho restaurants. Given the city's lust for bland Midtown condos, publicly financed stadia, downtown water parks and planned communities, we suggest that the Developers would be a far more accurate and fair nickname. Development, after all, knows no racial or ethnic boundaries. These promoters of "progress" have blithely affected almost everyone: African-Americans, Asians, Mexicans, Anglos -- hell, even the homeless. Considering sports teams are usually beloved by all socioeconomic levels of a community, the Houston Developers, if they happen to win the Super Bowl, could do more for the spirits of the displaced and disadvantaged than 10,000 new downtown lofts.

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