Minister Aubrey Vaughan's literary diatribe against "sodomites," a response to his being quoted in The Insider advocating shipping gays to an island and leaving them there, appeared in the March 8 issue of the Houston Press. Vaughan took exception to the suggestion that he had been watching too many episodes of Survivor. "I have not watched one episode of Survivor," wrote the minister. "If it is true that the winner" -- corporate trainer Richard Hatch -- "was a sodomite, then I can offhandedly say the whole episode was set up by wealthy sodomites to manipulate the minds of the people into accepting and tolerating sodomites." Vaughan wants to make it clear to everyone he's not a bigot. "Sodomites are not a race," he explained. "A black man will not go to hell because he is black. But a sodomite will go to hell because he is a sodomite." Aubrey didn't explain where self-righteous ministers go when they die.
Okay, it's not really a room, per se, but the huge trophy case next to the front entrance of this old school holds bizarre and fascinating pieces of Houston memorabilia. Track-and-field trophies from the '20s sit alongside photographs of generations of local junior-highers with funny haircuts who brought home the brass for good ol' LMS. There are women's trophies from way back when, for archery, cheerleading, etc. What's most interesting is how the representations of winning athletes change over time, from clearly male and clearly female to genderless, then back again. It's an odd window into our ever-changing perception of athletes, both male and female.
Down but not out: Mecom Fountain, at the gateway to Hermann Park, is undergoing repairs but should be back up and spouting in time for the Super Bowl. This 40-year-old, three-bowled fountain has appeared in wedding pictures, travel spots and even the early-1980s flick My Best Friend Is a Vampire. Bob Hope noted the fountain and the tree-lined boulevards that lead up to it when he said the view from the penthouse at the Warwick Hotel was the most beautiful in the world. Thanks, Bob. RIP.

What with so many different local businesses from which to choose, we avoided the temptation to go with any guy holding up a wad of cash; a man wearing a bean bag chair; two dapper fellows who knock knuckles over clothing prices; a self-described "crazy" man with a double-billed baseball cap selling cars; a chef flailing his arms out of sync with classical music; any tough, smart lawyers; and the hand surgeon whose daughter is growing right before our eyes. No, we decided to go for an advertisement campaign featuring local chefs promoting the fresh produce at Fiesta Mart. The ads were practical in that they passed along cooking tips, with chefs from restaurants we know right here in the Bayou City. The commercials looked professional. The lighting and audio were good, unlike so many local commercials, and it didn't overuse character-generated text or fancy but unmotivated special wipe effects or loud, repetitious slogans. In other words, these commercials actually respected the viewer.

As the song goes, "Ain't nothin' like the real thing." If you're doing a dino-party, you really can't beat the ambience of celebrating amid actual dinosaurs. Consider the price regularly paid to set up moonwalks and hire magicians and hungover clowns. Then consider cleaning it all up off a suburban lawn. Think about it too long and you're likely to have an anxiety attack. Calm down. Take deep breaths. Rent out the Houston Museum of Natural Science paleontology hall instead. Comparatively, it's a reasonable expense. For $1,500, the birthday boy or girl and friends can enjoy cake and punch in the presence of ceratopsian (a.k.a. triceratops), a giant pterosaur and the infamous T. Rex. Guests are free to explore the exhibits on the first floor, but special parties do not include the perk of flaunting the "do not touch" rules. Want more structure? Space Mission parties in the Challenger Learning Center start at $200. Up to 20 children (with a couple of helpers per child) can enjoy a mission during museum hours.

The Nutcracker ballet matinee performance just before Christmas is kid central. Any fidgeting, screaming, crying or other nontraditional theater behavior by your offspring will disturb only the other, already harried, parents. Afterward, take them backstage to meet the dancers. All are welcome. A six-year-old we know got her ballet shoes signed, took them home, built an impromptu shrine to them and didn't stop talking about the encounter until after Valentine's Day.

This Museum District median was immortalized in the film Rushmore (Bill Murray and Olivia Williams stared at each other under its arch of live oaks), but the pretty street would make anyone feel like they're on the set of a movie. The sunlight slicing through the branches warms the quaint cobblestone path, and the live oaks seem to go on forever. Even better, this upper-crust neighborhood is a great place to pretend you're loaded. Just grab your dog or put on your running shoes and travel up the median nodding hello to all your wealthy neighbors. You'll be tempted to ask Jeeves to pull the car around front.

Sure, the Clutterless Recovery Group has its merits, and a good many more of us should be visiting Anger Management, but when it comes to mutual support, the Genesis Ballet is tops in our book. Interestingly enough, the dance company didn't start out that way. According to the troupe's founder, Marie Plauché-Gustin, it was chance that all their members happened to be suffering from either cancer, abuse, addiction or cult brainwashing. This nondenominational liturgical interpretation of creation simply allowed them to cope with their particular problems through the art of dance. Vive la différence.
Just another example of how overrated pop music songcraft is. Since a catchy five- or ten-second hook is usually described as genius, the little bit of pop profundity known as the Mossy Nissan commercial jingle also deserves as glowing a description. Over a snappy beat, a male voice sings the name of the dealership over and over. "Mos-sey Neeee-sahhhhn / Mos-sey Neeee-sahhhn / Whoooooooo!" Okay, so the lyrics aren't as deep as, say, "Oh, baby, baby," but they do roll easily off the tongue. The jingle is the brainchild of L.A.-based A&M Advertising.
Whether you're going north or south, get your kicks for free anytime you like with hot merging action. Spin out into the frenetic traffic after taking a hairpin curve on this wily on-ramp. Feel your senses come alive with the zooms, whirs and honks of passersby. Recent landscaping on the north side raises the stakes by obscuring the uphill view of other drivers. Think of it as a putt-putt course -- for motorists. Or maybe as a living version of Frogger, and you're the frog, but this time you have your own set of wheels. Take a deep breath, keep both eyes open, check your blind spot and space cushion, and remember: Driving is a privilege. Get yer Fahrvergnügen on, baby. Vin Diesel's got nothing on you.

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