Try though we may, we don't always get geek humor. But Peter Hughes has a way of clueing technophobes into the joke. No ordinary straight man, Hughes is a Web developer for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank during the day. At night -- or at least Wednesday nights -- he is the John Stewart of the high-tech world. Like the host of Comedy Central's mock news magazine, The Daily Show, Hughes delivers the headlines with an ever-present awareness that many technology developments are the absurd product of public relations flacks and are richly deserving of ridicule. On the other hand, if you've ever wondered what the United States vs. Microsoft is really all about, Hughes's running commentary on the PC giant's predatory business practices is a fine place to start. Hughes admits Microsoft is a "good fat target" and that all he really has to do to get a laugh is "add a little megalomania." Hughes's biting asides will probably become only more toothsome now that the Bush administration has opted not to break up Microsoft. Hughes, for one, is suspicious of the decision. "The whole reason for the breakup was that it was less onerous and would have less impact on their operations," he says. "It's kind of an odd flip for a Republican administration -- unless it's a setup for backing off the company altogether."
Give the rest of the world Emeril (please!), we'll keep Houston's very own Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola. We can forgive this Italian restaurant family empire for taping the show in New York, because there is no question when you watch them that these guys call the Bayou City home. And there is no question that they equate food with fun. They laugh and kid around in the kitchen, with Damian breaking into song several times per episode. And you can't help but sing along and laugh right along with these guys. In fact, if you're really watching the show for recipes and cooking tips (and we would be if we weren't watching our waistline), we suggest you videotape it and pick up the details on the second go-round. Otherwise, you might get so caught up in the repartee and reverie that you miss a key ingredient, but for Johnny and Damian, the most important ingredient is merriment.

Give the rest of the world Emeril (please!), we'll keep Houston's very own Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola. We can forgive this Italian restaurant family empire for taping the show in New York, because there is no question when you watch them that these guys call the Bayou City home. And there is no question that they equate food with fun. They laugh and kid around in the kitchen, with Damian breaking into song several times per episode. And you can't help but sing along and laugh right along with these guys. In fact, if you're really watching the show for recipes and cooking tips (and we would be if we weren't watching our waistline), we suggest you videotape it and pick up the details on the second go-round. Otherwise, you might get so caught up in the repartee and reverie that you miss a key ingredient, but for Johnny and Damian, the most important ingredient is merriment.

They grew up together in Florida, sharing ballet teachers, friends, schools and neighborhoods. They even joined Houston Ballet within a few years of each other -- Scannell first, because she was older. And they have always looked out for each other. But on stage, the similarities end. Bears is soft and lyrical, emotive and effortless -- the perfect wispy sylph for the classics, or heroine for Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Scannell is sharp and dramatic, with a fiercely athletic attack -- perfect for a feisty Juliet, or for contemporary works by Christopher Bruce. With their equally impressive but unique styles, these two dancers have given Houston Ballet tremendous depth and versatility for more than a decade. Unfortunately, they have both decided to retire, and will be missed.
They grew up together in Florida, sharing ballet teachers, friends, schools and neighborhoods. They even joined Houston Ballet within a few years of each other -- Scannell first, because she was older. And they have always looked out for each other. But on stage, the similarities end. Bears is soft and lyrical, emotive and effortless -- the perfect wispy sylph for the classics, or heroine for Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Scannell is sharp and dramatic, with a fiercely athletic attack -- perfect for a feisty Juliet, or for contemporary works by Christopher Bruce. With their equally impressive but unique styles, these two dancers have given Houston Ballet tremendous depth and versatility for more than a decade. Unfortunately, they have both decided to retire, and will be missed.
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."

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