When the dispiriting present is too much with you, set your Packard's radio dial to Star 790, KBME. That's AM, of course. KBME ("BME" stands for best music ever) exists in a time warp before FM ruled the airwaves, in the American past somewhere between the Great War and the Beatles. Here Eydie Gorme still blames it on the bossa nova, Russ Morgan dances with a dolly with a hole in her stocking, and Ella Fitzgerald cries over you. Between songs, the folksy DJs discuss the personal lives of celebrities who passed on years ago, then pitch financial-planning services and organ lessons to the Greatest Generation. "That old black magic has me in its spell," sings Frank Sinatra, and you think he's lucky: Old magic is often the most powerful kind.
When the dispiriting present is too much with you, set your Packard's radio dial to Star 790, KBME. That's AM, of course. KBME ("BME" stands for best music ever) exists in a time warp before FM ruled the airwaves, in the American past somewhere between the Great War and the Beatles. Here Eydie Gorme still blames it on the bossa nova, Russ Morgan dances with a dolly with a hole in her stocking, and Ella Fitzgerald cries over you. Between songs, the folksy DJs discuss the personal lives of celebrities who passed on years ago, then pitch financial-planning services and organ lessons to the Greatest Generation. "That old black magic has me in its spell," sings Frank Sinatra, and you think he's lucky: Old magic is often the most powerful kind.
In the Alley Theatre's production of August Wilson's Jitney this past winter, Wayne DeHart played the drunk Fielding with the scene-stealing grace of a truly great character actor. Before succumbing to the ravages of drink, Fielding was a fine tailor to such rich and famous jazzmen as Count Basie. But once he reaches Wilson's story, he's reduced to driving a taxi and not doing very well at that. DeHart's heartbreaking performance captured the depth of one ordinary man's fall from relative grace, making us think about the common sadness that has undone so many people's lives.
In the Alley Theatre's production of August Wilson's Jitney this past winter, Wayne DeHart played the drunk Fielding with the scene-stealing grace of a truly great character actor. Before succumbing to the ravages of drink, Fielding was a fine tailor to such rich and famous jazzmen as Count Basie. But once he reaches Wilson's story, he's reduced to driving a taxi and not doing very well at that. DeHart's heartbreaking performance captured the depth of one ordinary man's fall from relative grace, making us think about the common sadness that has undone so many people's lives.
Houston's Writers in the Schools project is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and it deserves all the plaudits that come with lasting that long. It started with four writers getting "residencies" in Houston public schools, where they did all they could to encourage kids to enjoy reading and writing. It's become an organization with a $1.2 million budget and 55 writers sharing 200 residencies reaching more than 12,500 kids, in schools, in hospital wards and in juvenile-probation programs. A highlight comes each spring, when elementary and middle-school kids gather at Rice University to read their poems or short stories and share what no doubt will become a lifelong passion for the written word.
Houston's Writers in the Schools project is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and it deserves all the plaudits that come with lasting that long. It started with four writers getting "residencies" in Houston public schools, where they did all they could to encourage kids to enjoy reading and writing. It's become an organization with a $1.2 million budget and 55 writers sharing 200 residencies reaching more than 12,500 kids, in schools, in hospital wards and in juvenile-probation programs. A highlight comes each spring, when elementary and middle-school kids gather at Rice University to read their poems or short stories and share what no doubt will become a lifelong passion for the written word.
If all you want is a few minutes in front of a working microphone, this odd little venue has nearly cornered the market on the open-mike night. Their weekly 8:30 p.m. Wednesday slot has hosted everyone from Native American poet Soldier Blue to the "Gay Poet Laureate" Howard Mikehael, and was the platform that sent the Houston Poetry Slam Team off to the national competition in Minneapolis. The reading is followed by its bawdier counterpart, the O.P.P. poetry open mike at 11, where you'll hear everything from feminist porn to guys lamenting their wish to be lesbians. And that's just the poetry. Monday nights, while DJs spin jazzy varieties of house for a chess tournament on the first floor (the coolest concept night outside San Francisco), the Trade leads a jazz open-mike upstairs. Aspiring blues musicians flock to the 9 p.m. Tuesday jam sessions, and musicians of all stripes have the chance to play a few bars at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. The talent varies, but the location is steady and reliable.

If all you want is a few minutes in front of a working microphone, this odd little venue has nearly cornered the market on the open-mike night. Their weekly 8:30 p.m. Wednesday slot has hosted everyone from Native American poet Soldier Blue to the "Gay Poet Laureate" Howard Mikehael, and was the platform that sent the Houston Poetry Slam Team off to the national competition in Minneapolis. The reading is followed by its bawdier counterpart, the O.P.P. poetry open mike at 11, where you'll hear everything from feminist porn to guys lamenting their wish to be lesbians. And that's just the poetry. Monday nights, while DJs spin jazzy varieties of house for a chess tournament on the first floor (the coolest concept night outside San Francisco), the Trade leads a jazz open-mike upstairs. Aspiring blues musicians flock to the 9 p.m. Tuesday jam sessions, and musicians of all stripes have the chance to play a few bars at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. The talent varies, but the location is steady and reliable.

When beautiful badass Karen Finely came to town, theatergoers lined up at the door for a ticket to Theater LaB to see the woman that British tabloids have called "the high priestess of pornography." It was clear that some of the lone men who stood in the moonlight waiting to see the show were not your average theater fans. Once they got hold of their programs, they clutched them tight, in sweaty palms, eagerly looking around with grins on their twitching faces. Of course, it makes perfect sense that Finely would attract the odd weirdo here and there. She became famous by getting naked and making Jesse Helms mad for being so darned "obscene." But while the Theater LaB production of Shut Up and Love Me featured a very naked Finely slathering herself with pitchers of golden honey, the show hardly seemed obscene. Mostly, it was funny. The feminist, who rails against the way women are objectified, riffed on everything from incest to bad art. In the end, though, there she was, in all her naked glory, honey dripping down her belly and sliding down her lovely thighs. Every freak in the place went home happy.
When beautiful badass Karen Finely came to town, theatergoers lined up at the door for a ticket to Theater LaB to see the woman that British tabloids have called "the high priestess of pornography." It was clear that some of the lone men who stood in the moonlight waiting to see the show were not your average theater fans. Once they got hold of their programs, they clutched them tight, in sweaty palms, eagerly looking around with grins on their twitching faces. Of course, it makes perfect sense that Finely would attract the odd weirdo here and there. She became famous by getting naked and making Jesse Helms mad for being so darned "obscene." But while the Theater LaB production of Shut Up and Love Me featured a very naked Finely slathering herself with pitchers of golden honey, the show hardly seemed obscene. Mostly, it was funny. The feminist, who rails against the way women are objectified, riffed on everything from incest to bad art. In the end, though, there she was, in all her naked glory, honey dripping down her belly and sliding down her lovely thighs. Every freak in the place went home happy.

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