Thursday, August 16 is National Rum Day — and that's really all that needs to be said.
Several spots around Houston will be celebrating this day in full swing. Aloft Houston and the Sheraton North Houston at George Bush Intercontinental will both have Bacardi cocktail specials for $12, while Downtownfest Houston will have rum flowing out of several downtown locations.
While this is certainly a sweet way to start off the weekend, here are some other refreshing things also happening.
Thursday, August 16
Journalist Jayme Lynn Blasche talks the infamous Chicken Ranch
If you've never heard the story of The Chicken Ranch, maybe you might want to reserve a box lunch for this particular lecture. The Chicken Ranch was a house of ill repute where Madame Edna Milton had a stable of girls who made oil tycoons, major politicians, and dirt farmers very comfortable. That is until Houston's very own Marvin Zindler went on a mission to bring the place down on local TV. The Ranch famously inspired the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which spawned a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. Journalist/author Jayme Lynn Blasche will give his extensive history of the Ranch during this lecture. Noon.
The Drepung Loseling Monastery monks create stunning sand art
The Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will return once again for a weekend of creating, dancing, music, and basically doing their thing. This is their fourth time in Houston, sharing their art and ceremony to the estimated thousands of people who gather each year to watch them. The monks' big project will be a sand mandala construction ritual, where millions of grains of sand are laid into place to purify and heal the environment and its inhabitants. The monks will also do Sacred Music, Sacred Dance, which comes from ancient Tibetan traditions. (A shorter, family matinee on Saturday at 2 pm has been added this year.) Noon-6 pm (10 am-6 pm Friday and Saturday; 10 am-3 pm Sunday.)
Friday, August 17
University of Houston/The Voice alumna Stephanie Rice returns
University of Houston graduate Stephanie Rice has come a long way. Once upon a time, she was disowned by her parents for being gay. But not only did she graduate UH in 2012 with a biology degree and psychology minor, she memorably was a contestant on NBC's singing competition show The Voice, which led to her pursuing a full-time music career. She's been down with music ever since she scrounged up $100 to buy a guitar after her parents kicked her out. Now, she's coming back to her alma mater for the UH College of Education's First Lecture. Rice said her remarks will address the themes of perseverance and the power of caring adults to influence a student's life. 11 am.
James Harden kicks off JH-Town Weekend with a night of stand-up
Houston Rockets star James Harden will be doing a lot this weekend. He will host his second JH-Town Weekend, which will include a celebrity softball game at the University of Houston and a basketball charity game over at Texas Southern University's H&PE Arena. (All the proceeds from the game will go to Harden's charity organization, 3 The Harden Way, which funds scholarship programs.) But the weekend officially begins with a night of comedy called "James Harden's MVP's of Comedy." The lineup will feature vets from such shows as HBO's Def Comedy Jam, BET's Comic View and MTV's Wild n' Out. So, expect a lot of these comics to step on stage and act a damn fool. 8 pm.
Saturday, August 18
Michael Rapaport and Paul Wall go off on pop culture and sports
Actor Michael Rapaport has become nearly as famous for his social media and podcast presence as for his acting acumen. He's bringing his popular "I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast" to Warehouse Live, where he'll spout off on politics, sports, pop culture, and even Houston's 68-year-old Jean Wilson, the grandmother who shot a suspect trying to break into her home. (Rapaport has has offered her up front-row tickets with drinks on the house.) Thankfully, you don't have to shoot anyone to see Rapaport shoot his mouth off. Houston rapper Paul Wall will co-host for what should be a raucous session. Tickets start at $28.
Four decades of R&B at four downtown bars at the R&B Bar Crawl
When we heard there is going to be an R&B Bar Crawl happening this weekend, we were worried that it would consist of people visiting bars that would play the same six R&B songs you hear on 97.9 The Box every damn hour. Thankfully, this crawl will serve up both new and classic soul goodies. The venues that are part of the crawl — Dean's Downtown, Bovine & Barley, Char Bar, and Pure Nightclub — will each play a different decade of R&B music. The night will finish up with an exclusive, private, all-time classics party. And if you show up as your favorite R&B idol, you might get some prizes your way. 4-10 pm.
The Lyft Summer Concert Series presents The Josh Abbott Band
For the past several weeks, on-demand transportation company Lyft has been celebrating its one-year anniversary in Houston with an outdoor concert series, aptly titled the Lyft Summer Concert Series. This weekend, the series wraps up with a live set from Texas country outfit The Josh Abbott Band. (Conroe Americana singer-songwriter Parker McCollum will serve as the opening act.) And, after that, we're sure Lyft will be there to give you a ride. 6 pm.
Sunday, August 19
Sip and support with Camerata's wine tasting/fundraiser
You wanna sip on some wine for a good cause? Camerata will have a wine tasting inside its establishment that will benefit the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). General manager Chris Poldoian will also run the Berlin Marathon next month to raise funds and awareness for OAR's applied autism research and projects. But back to the tasting — there will be six different wines poured and the tasting will be followed by charcuterie and cheese straight from Houston Dairymaids. Wine, cheese and all the proceeds will go Poldoian's fundraiser — not a bad way to spend a Sunday. 2-3 pm.
Eye-popping puppetry with Mr. Ruraru's Yard
If you're in the mood for some old-school puppetry, there will be a one-day-only, puppet performance of Mr. Ruraru's Yard. Based on the award-winning, Japanese picture book, this performance will consist of the Taiwanese puppetry group The Puppet and its Double doing "a non-verbal interpretation of the exchange of emotions between humans and nature." Houston is the last city in this show's U.S. tour, so take the fam and prepare to be moved by some beautiful, puppet action. 4 pm.