Austin | Dallas | Houston
Pick Five (Plus)

Your weekly guide to Houston: An extreme sports zealot, dancing at Miller & Zodiac Heads explained

News_Joel Luks_head shot_column mug

I would say hats off to the young professionals at Candlelighters, but a south-of-the-border hosanna would be more fitting — sombreros off!

This year's Margarita Taste-Off at Eighteenth Bar brought in a whooping $11,500 for Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance, a nonprofit that provides support services to children with cancer and their families.

Whether on ice or frozen, salt or no salt, Armandos, El Tiempo Cantina, Guadalajara, Lupe Tortilla, Taco Milagro and Tila's brawled for top margarita señor. After all the tequila was spoken for, it was Tila's, Armandos and Guadalajara Hacienda which took the first three spots, Lupe Tortilla won Best Original Recipe, Taco Milagro's was Most Refreshing and El Tiempo scooped the award for Most Creative.

Among the throng of 250 were Aaron Will, Julie Reeder, Margaret Pearce, Tim Zawinski, Pamela Sanders, Julia Domning, Ryan Kelting, Taylor Landry, Adam Will and Blayne Laborde

For an otherwise prim and proper tuxedo-wearing, hands-clasping vocal force, the Houston Chamber Choir unleashed their inner jazz-fingers for a peppy performance honoring the music of Leonard Bernstein. His daughter, Jamie Bernstein, flew down to impart memories of her father's journey at the concert, followed by a private al fresco reception at the home of Mariquita Masterson

Amid margaritas and Mexican fare — and a saucy enchilada casserole to die for — in Masterson's joyful, colorful abode, saluting to the guest of honor and the conclusion of the choir's 16th season were the host's daughter Libbie MastersonBob and Marianna Simpson, board president Frank Hood, sponsors David Whorton and Stephanie Brand of Charles Schwab & Co., Dolores Goble, Michael Puzio, Jim and Janie Stevens, and Kathy and Andre Jackson.

Gamblers got lucky at DiverseWorks chance art auction, Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu tied the knott at the home of John and Becca Cason Thrash, and the Foundation for Modern Music hosted its Sixth Annual Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers concert. 

On deck this week is an extreme adventure sports chat with a man that prefers life on the vertical, Motown tunes, a theater premiere, a Houston Food Bank crafty fundraiser and an inaugural experimental music series musicale.

The North Face Speaker Series: Rock Climber Mark Synnott on "Life on the Vertical" at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Mark Synnott has come a long way from his days as a carpenter — that particular career didn't go well for him. Rather than attempting to climb the corporate ladder, he decided to ascend a rock tower standing solid on a fjord in Baffin Island.

That was in 1996, and he hasn't looked back since — he prefers looking up.

This extreme sports zealot loves the unexplored and seeks to take in the world from its most desolate and dangerous parts: Patagonia, Pakistan, Nepal, India, China, Tibet, the Alaska Range, the Amazon and Ennedi desert of Chad in North Africa.

Synnott will recount adventure stories accompanied by jaw-dropping images.

Thursday at 7 p.m. Admission is free, $8 for reserved seating or $20 including a pre-show reception.

Dancin' in the Street: Motown & More Revue at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Etta James, Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, Ashford & Simpson: Yes, life is like a song for all these timeless artists of the Motown era and beyond, and ODPEC & BACE Productions promise to turn the Miller hill into a far out party fitting for the music of these funky stars.

Channeling the tenor of R & B and soul legends is a tall order for the corps of local talent. But year after year, they show they are up to the challenge. The revue is a Memorial Day tradition at Houston's amphitheater of choice.

Thursday through Sunday at 8:15 p.m. Admission is free. Ticketed event.

Catastrophic Theatre's premiere of Miki Johnson's American Fall at DiverseWorks

For a thespian troupe that vows to "destroy you" every time, it's comforting that it also believes in creation. Catastrophic mounts the debut work of company-member Miki Johnson, who also appeared in Bluefinger, The Designated Mourner, Our Late Night, Spirits to Enforce and Big Death.

Johnson's American Falls updates Thorton Wilder's Our Town through a day-in-the-life of six small town folks living in Idaho and a couple of beer-loving ghosts. Directed by Jason Nodler with Carolyn Houston Boone, John Deloach, Jessica Janes, Karina Pal Montaño-Bowers, Troy Schulze, Kyle Sturdivant and Ricky Welch.

Opens Friday and runs through June 9. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, $20 suggested.

Eighth Annual Empty Bowls Houston at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Here's another testament that everyone can take steps to curtail the spiking numbers of Houstonians that routinely go hungry. Empty Bowls started with a group of potters and now welcomes all artists working in any medium who wish to be a part of the movement.

An empty bowl is a reminder of the problem. The event is a solution. Guests will choose from thousands of donated bowls, enjoy a simple lunch of soup and bread, hear live music and watch artist demonstrations. Proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank.

Saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $25.

Brave New Waves Sound Series Inaugural Concert at 14 Pews

Brave New Waves takes over what Binarium Sound series started at 14 Pews, which is otherwise an independent film-screening venue. Composer Paul Connolly curates a diverse lineup of local, national and international artists who look at elements electronica, digital and acoustic as basic ingredients in music composition.

Sunday at 7 p.m., $7-$10 donation recommended.

Staff writer, architecture savant and cool dude Tyler Rudick's pick: Lecture: "In the Realm of Architecture: Some Notes on Ai Weiwei's Spatial Temptations" with Reto Geiser at Architecture Center Houston

Tyler says: "Reto Geiser has been the guiding force behind bringing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's lesser-known work to European and American audiences. An assistant professor at Rice's school of architecture, the noted Swiss designer will shed light on his current exhibit of Ai's residential work on view at Architecture Center Houston with a special gallery talk.

As the Chinese artist's Zodiac Heads enjoy their final weeks at Hermann Park, Geiser's discussion is sure to offer a look at the future of Ai's large-scale projects."

Thursday at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop dance maven turned film junkie Nancy Wozny's pick: Screening of Reality Bites at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Nancy says: "I'm not Gen X, but I've always had soft spot for the generation that came on my heels. Slacker Town had charm, and no one got that better than director Ben Stiller. It's about kids coming out of college facing the chill of the real world. As a mother of two young adults, I can relate. It's still really hard.

"Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke are terrific in this film too. Reality Bites was written by Houstonian Helen Childress and filmed in Houston, two more reasons to go." 

Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $7, discounts are available for members, students, seniors and Film Buff members.

Photo editor, fashionista and design junkie Barbara Kuntz's pick: Paint Your Own Rodrigue Blue Dog at Pinot's Palette - Galleria

Barbara says: "We definitely have musical genes in our family, that's for sure. Now to unleash (hopefully!) another artistic talent by venturing into painting. Yes, I'm going to give it a go at Pinot's Palette "Paint Your Own Rodrigue Blue Dog" on Saturday.

The invitation says all you need to bring are appetizers and any drinks "to heighten" your creativity. Sounds perfect to me. And I know my dogs will love the outcome, no matter what I bring home!"

Saturday at 7 p.m, $45. 

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Houston news, views + events

The Dining Report

News you can eat

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address