Continental Club
We Houstonians might smirk a bit when we see those "we're hipper than you are" Austinites struggling to take a breath over the tidal wave of growing traffic and Silicon Valley rejects. But we can't get too smug. Not when they've exported a version of one their city's finest clubs to Midtown. The Continental Club, which opened in the summer of 2000, offers great local and national acts inside a former 1920s general store (the building still has its original fixtures and metal ceilings). Junior Brown, the Hollisters and Joe Ely make regular appearances, and the club has featured local blues greats like I.J. Gosey and Little Joe Washington at happy hour. Expect reasonable beer prices, friendly bartenders and fantastic sound. A big back room offers a pool table and separate bar, and the bathrooms are actually clean. To top it off, the night of the Great Flood, Junior Brown kept playing, and the bartenders kept serving -- while the patrons kept dancing in ankle-deep water. Whether it's Houston or Austin, who cares? That's pretty hip.
We Houstonians might smirk a bit when we see those "we're hipper than you are" Austinites struggling to take a breath over the tidal wave of growing traffic and Silicon Valley rejects. But we can't get too smug. Not when they've exported a version of one their city's finest clubs to Midtown. The Continental Club, which opened in the summer of 2000, offers great local and national acts inside a former 1920s general store (the building still has its original fixtures and metal ceilings). Junior Brown, the Hollisters and Joe Ely make regular appearances, and the club has featured local blues greats like I.J. Gosey and Little Joe Washington at happy hour. Expect reasonable beer prices, friendly bartenders and fantastic sound. A big back room offers a pool table and separate bar, and the bathrooms are actually clean. To top it off, the night of the Great Flood, Junior Brown kept playing, and the bartenders kept serving -- while the patrons kept dancing in ankle-deep water. Whether it's Houston or Austin, who cares? That's pretty hip.
Houston's upstart TaylorWilson Publishing may have been a flash in the pan, staying in business less than a year and producing only one book before bellying up to the auction block, but at least that one book was a beauty: a small keepsake edition limited to a run of 3,000 copies. The content is slim, comprising letters exchanged between Graves, his editors at Knopf, his illustrator, and then-dean of Texas letters, J. Frank Dobie. Of course Graves is now the acting dean of Texas letters, and the black-and-white photos of the author flyfishing his way down the Brazos in his Old Town canoe, plus exhaustive Graves bibliographies, and the elegant and thorough letters themselves, give a welcome glimpse into the work ethic of this most poorly emulated Texas writer. It may be that not many people ever get the glimpse -- given the small print run and the title's present state of publishing limbo -- but that rarity makes the book just that much more precious.
Houston's upstart TaylorWilson Publishing may have been a flash in the pan, staying in business less than a year and producing only one book before bellying up to the auction block, but at least that one book was a beauty: a small keepsake edition limited to a run of 3,000 copies. The content is slim, comprising letters exchanged between Graves, his editors at Knopf, his illustrator, and then-dean of Texas letters, J. Frank Dobie. Of course Graves is now the acting dean of Texas letters, and the black-and-white photos of the author flyfishing his way down the Brazos in his Old Town canoe, plus exhaustive Graves bibliographies, and the elegant and thorough letters themselves, give a welcome glimpse into the work ethic of this most poorly emulated Texas writer. It may be that not many people ever get the glimpse -- given the small print run and the title's present state of publishing limbo -- but that rarity makes the book just that much more precious.
Thelma Zirklebach looks like a sweet little lady who would pinch your cheek and ask you about your older brother. She's a speech pathologist who works a lot with children, is a member of Mensa and is all around a nice lady to talk to. You'd never know she writes smut novels. She's written Harlequin Temptations, Harlequin super-romances with titles like The Reluctant Hunk, and she just sold her 11th novel to Silhouette Intimate Moments. Her pen name comes from her children's first names. "They've always said they were going to change their names," she says. "But so far they haven't." Most of her novels take place in Houston or elsewhere in Texas. A decade ago, she wrote Harlequin's first Jewish heroine in Season of Light, a story about a woman on a business trip to her hometown who reunites with her family and the man she once loved. She also resolves a bunch of issues about the baby she gave up for adoption. "It's a Hanukkah story," Thelma says. "I just love happy endings. Things don't always turn out perfectly in real life. So it's nice to be involved in fantasy, where everything does turn out and everyone does live happily ever after."
Thelma Zirklebach looks like a sweet little lady who would pinch your cheek and ask you about your older brother. She's a speech pathologist who works a lot with children, is a member of Mensa and is all around a nice lady to talk to. You'd never know she writes smut novels. She's written Harlequin Temptations, Harlequin super-romances with titles like The Reluctant Hunk, and she just sold her 11th novel to Silhouette Intimate Moments. Her pen name comes from her children's first names. "They've always said they were going to change their names," she says. "But so far they haven't." Most of her novels take place in Houston or elsewhere in Texas. A decade ago, she wrote Harlequin's first Jewish heroine in Season of Light, a story about a woman on a business trip to her hometown who reunites with her family and the man she once loved. She also resolves a bunch of issues about the baby she gave up for adoption. "It's a Hanukkah story," Thelma says. "I just love happy endings. Things don't always turn out perfectly in real life. So it's nice to be involved in fantasy, where everything does turn out and everyone does live happily ever after."
The Friends of Conroe have hit on something: good music in a good setting. For the past two years, the group has booked a combination of musicians who don't usually play together -- for example, Terry Allen and Guy Clark -- and put them into the beautifully restored old theater just off the main square in downtown Conroe. The result has been some magical moments in an intimate setting. The series finale this year featured Willis Allen Ramsey, Tom Russell and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Look for the next season's lineup to be announced soon. The music begins again in January. Sure, it's an hour's drive, but it's worth it.

The Friends of Conroe have hit on something: good music in a good setting. For the past two years, the group has booked a combination of musicians who don't usually play together -- for example, Terry Allen and Guy Clark -- and put them into the beautifully restored old theater just off the main square in downtown Conroe. The result has been some magical moments in an intimate setting. The series finale this year featured Willis Allen Ramsey, Tom Russell and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Look for the next season's lineup to be announced soon. The music begins again in January. Sure, it's an hour's drive, but it's worth it.

In the heat of August, they came to the Westin Galleria -- well over a thousand people enduring the heat in order to get a shot at being on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Once inside, they were given a 35-question multiple-choice test and 12 minutes to finish it. Maybe a quarter of the people in the room passed; little did those savvy Houstonians know the existentialist abyss they were soon to face. Hustled off to another room, they were given a personal questionnaire: hobbies, job, etc. -- the usual. And then, staring up at them like a .44 Magnum between the eyes, the killer question of all. The question that could invoke only helplessness and inadequacy. The question that laid bare just how empty your life was. All this from one seemingly innocent query: "What would Regis find fascinating about you?" Sure, some confident, if deluded, folks easily whipped out an answer. The rest were left to stare blankly at the page, frozen by the sudden realization that their lives -- such as they were -- had not been lived up to Philbinesque standards.

In the heat of August, they came to the Westin Galleria -- well over a thousand people enduring the heat in order to get a shot at being on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Once inside, they were given a 35-question multiple-choice test and 12 minutes to finish it. Maybe a quarter of the people in the room passed; little did those savvy Houstonians know the existentialist abyss they were soon to face. Hustled off to another room, they were given a personal questionnaire: hobbies, job, etc. -- the usual. And then, staring up at them like a .44 Magnum between the eyes, the killer question of all. The question that could invoke only helplessness and inadequacy. The question that laid bare just how empty your life was. All this from one seemingly innocent query: "What would Regis find fascinating about you?" Sure, some confident, if deluded, folks easily whipped out an answer. The rest were left to stare blankly at the page, frozen by the sudden realization that their lives -- such as they were -- had not been lived up to Philbinesque standards.

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