Archive for the ‘Around Houston’ Category

Spa Facial Review: Marbella Salon


I have a bit of an indulgence problem with spas and thought it would be fun to post reviews for you guys about my experiences around town. So normally I adore facials but detest the frou-frou attitude that tends to fester with the employees, but I went to Marbella a few months back for some highlights and had such a warm experience that I decided to give them my business next time I was in the mood for a facial.

The owners, Rosie and Eduardo, are amazingly friendly and will chat you up as if old friends. My esthetician was Karen Randon and I picked the “Marbellous Facial” to experiment with. The room we were in had a cozy, soothing feel to it and I immediately felt drowsy! Karen did a really fabulous job. Not only did she NOT pressure me to buy products, but also offered some great at-home remedies for improving my skin. She also gets bonus points for being the salon’s massage therapist because at the end of the facial, she gave me the most amazing shoulder/neck/face massage ever. My face is still glowing after days and luckily I haven’t had any of those pesky break-outs that sometimes occur after extractions.

Best personal touch: the yummy salve she applied on my lips at the end of the facial. Worst: when someone popped a Lean Cuisine lunch into the microwave down the hall somewhere and the smell wafted through to our room and diminished the ambiance a little bit.
Rating: 4.5/5.0

A bit of shameless self-promotion


“P@wn3d” by Chuck Ivy

I’ve currently got some of my photography hanging at on Westheimer two blocks west of Montrose as part of their “New Media Showcase.” My stuff is more or less straight photography mostly shot around Houston using a combination of digital and traditional techniques, but there’s also some digital art by Tim Chambers, and drawings and paintings by Jennifer Chen and Leesa Leva.

I think this show will only be up until the end of March, so check them out while you have a chance. (and most of the pieces are for sale as well, hint, hint.)

Booker Prize winner comes to Houston

Kiran Desai, winner of the 2006 Booker Prize, will be in Houston on March 26th, 2007 at the Wortham Center for a reading of her book, Inheritance of Loss. She will be joined by her mother, Anita Desai, who herself has been short-listed for the Booker Prize three times (can we say it’s in the genes?)

Picture originally uploaded by Joujoubee

The event is brought to Houston by the Inprint Brown Reading Series. These are the same cool cats that brought us Zadie Smith (!!) last year-I’m still bummed I missed out on that. So mark your calendars and get reading!

Connections – a handshake with Sir Sidney Poitier


Sidney Portier was in town on Tuesday as part of the Brilliant Lecture Series and transplanted Singaporegrrrl Kerry and filmmaker husband Raymond Gayle got to play sneaky and snag a handshake and a memory. Her account:

Sir Poitier spoke about life, living, his beginnings, what it is to be useful. He spoke with such ease and contentment about his life. He told stories about the people that he encountered in his life that changed the course of his life and how he was never always aware of the impact that these people had at the time they were impacting him the most. He was beautiful to watch and listen to. This man is 80 years old (and 6 days he added) and he is truly an inspiration…. (read the rest of her cool story here)

What’s your favorite Houston connection story? What amazing people have you met from Houston or in Houston?

Does your pet have pizazz?

If so, you should put that pizazz in a picture and send it over to Channel 13. They are running a contest to find the wildest animals of Houston and are offering membership to the Houston Zoo and Petco gift cards as prizes.

One lucky winner will get a family membership to the Houston Zoo and a $100 gift card from PETCO. Two runners-up will receive tickets to the Houston Zoo and a $20 gift card from PETCO.

*Photos must be received by March 31, 2007 and are the property of the Houston Zoo and ABC 13.

Web Dev Happenings: Amazon Web Services and ColdFusion Scorpio

There’s two big events coming up for Houston area Web Developers! We all love guest speakers right?

This Wednesday, February 28, Mike Culver from Amazon Web Services will be discussing the benefits of their new Mechanical Turk web service. In an bold step, Refresh Houston is teaming up with Houston Ruby on Rails group to bring you Mr. Culver’s presentation. Come out and learn the whats, whys, benefits and more of the AWS Mechanical Turk. The meeting will be from 6:00 to 7:00pm at DataCert Corporate Offices, 3040 South Post Oak Road , 18th Floor

And a little further down the road: The man himself, Ben Forta, is will show us some awesome ColdFusion Scorpio love. May 1st, Ben will be at the Houston CFUG to present the new features and development updates on where the ColdFusion platform is headed. There’s a Meet and Greet, food, door prizes and ColdFusion-y goodness. Stay tuned to the HouCFUG as the details are ironed out.

Escape the bluish glow of your monitor and learn about cool technolgy. And while you’re at it, join in on some of the webdev groups around Houston: Refresh Houston, The Web Design Meetup, The CSS Meetup, and NetSquared… just to name a few.

Weingarten strikes again with the closing of another Houston institution

I know it’s silly to take things that a corporation does personally, but man do I feel like the Weingarten bastards totally have it in for me.

First they try to close down the awesome Alabama Theater (see the Save River Oaks Shopping Center and Alabama Theater petition here).

Now I just found out that they refused to renew the lease of 18-year-old Tien Ren, one of the best restaurants (vegan and otherwise) around. Healthy, clean, friendly staff and absolutely ecstatically wonderful food. I am devastated. It’s geeky I know, but it was the ultimate comfort food and now (as of January 7th) it is suddenly gone. Sad.

So tell them how you really feel. And then maybe add some new veggie-friendly restaurants on our Houston Vegetarian Restaurant Platial map.

It was a bright & sunny afternoon…

Okay… so what the hell happened to the winter weather? Crap! I was looking forward to getting at least another week’s worth of wear out of my sweaters. I must admit Houston, one thing I miss about living above the Mason-Dixon line was the glory of winter. As it turns out, we only get to experience Winter-Lite. Hey… I’m not complaining here, I’m just pointing out the obvious (which is what I do best).

So I was out driving around last Sunday with my girlfriend (and my camera) when we stumbled across…

The Church of Highly Concerned Anti-Abortionists.

Oh boy… check out all those crosses. I wish I could have framed a better shot so you could see the scale of just how many crosses there are. Each cross represents 1,000 abortions and are lined up by year… starting with 1973.

After snapping a few shots of the church crosses thing, I continued down a back road and was enjoying the scenic country drive. Houston may have a crappy excuse for winter, but I love the idea of quickly escaping the big city to find tranquility in the countryside. Besides tranquility, you may also find…

Joe Dirt's Home
An “office” for the local dirt yard.

While I understand the concept of a dirt yard, it still sounds goofy. Imagine you are in the market for some dirt and you find yourself in front of Ye Olde Dirt Yard:

Customer: Good morning, I would like to buy some dirt.
Dirt Yard Manager: Sorry, we’re sold out.
Customer: Sold out? Can’t you go out back and dig up some more?
Dirt Yard Jefe: Nope.
Customer: Why not?!
Dirt Yard Boss-man: We have to wait until next week.
Customer: Next week… Why?!
Dirt Yard Kingpin: Gotta give the dirt some time to grow back before we dig it up again.
(rim shot)

Not too many miles away, I found an icon of serenity:

Look deep into the photo.

Can you hear the birds chirping? Can you feel the wind softly blowing around you? Can you hear the cows in the distance, lowing? Can you hear the shotgun of the farmer who is yelling at you to get off his property?

And even further down the road…

Forgotten & Unforgiving
This was a depressing yet interesting site.

It sits a few hundred yards away from the BP plant in Texas City. Yes, the same BP site that experienced the tragic explosion a few years ago.

As it was still early on Sunday morning, we drove into Houston proper and decided to see if we could pop in for a quick recording at the Story Corps camper. Thanks to Katya fo da heads up on this project!

Unfortunately for me, their schedule was full for the day with no cancellations. But I’m glad that Houstonians are taking time to tell their story.

Feeling lost for something to do, I wandered around the Museum District and noticed a bit of graffiti from the Knitta Please Posse.


Revolting! What a disgrace!!!

And look, even more tragically violent knitting action!


Dudes, I was getting tired of all this exploring and photos and stuff. So I decided to have a sit down and ponder all that I had seen.

Sigh……. I still dream of Edna Gavito.

It was a dark & stormy afternoon…

Good afternoon Houston.JPG

… so I decided to play hooky from a conference on carbon emissions trading and drive around my beloved city.

Of course, what better way to fuel up on a soggy afternoon than with some spicy Thai food! Ready?


This wonderful mecca of yumminess is family-owned and features the best Thai food in Houston. These guys will kick the tom yum out of Tony’s Thai or Thai Cottage any day of the week. Since Kanomwan is family-owned, they keep non-traditional hours. Better call ahead to make sure they’re open before you venture out. But let me tell you Houston… this place is worth it.

Afterwards, I needed some caffeine, so I went directly across the parking lot from Kanomwan and picked up a mocha from Bohemeo’s.


After a few sips, I couldn’t believe my luck! Excellent Thai and now excellent java!? What gods must I offer sacrifice to for so much good fortune? Not only does the place offer great coffee, but they also feature a micro-cinema night, poetry reading, and artwork from area artists.

Speaking fo art… now that I was all revved up, I decided to go check out the Commerce Street Artists’ Warehouse. The place doesn’t have “regular” exhibition hours… so if there’s not an event going on, then you just show up and hope someone is around that will let you in. If you get tired or angry of waiting around for someone to open the door, then you can check out the boxing rink/gym next door. Dude, I’m serious. Go check it out if you think I’m lying.

Anyway, each artist has their own studio to do their “thing”. Here’s the door to Jo in Nine G Hell!


And here’s an instillation of “Surge” by Katalin Hausel.


So what is this piece about? Hint: Ms. Hausel has a thing or two to say about the imminent “surge” of troops going to Iraq.

Okay… gotta look busy at the office. Ciao!

Rainy Day Fun?

I’m not clear on what’s “fun” about freezing rain, but it seemed like everyone was preparing for the worst last night. In Sugar Land, for example, trucks dropped sand on the main roads, and commuters hurried home so that they could be someplace safe when the storm hit. I stayed awake most of the night waiting for the sound of rain, but nothing came.

UH may possibly be closed tomorrow depending on the weather, and I’m sure other colleges may follow suit. Although I didn’t hear about any district closings, many private schools were closed today. A day off never hurt anyone, right?

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