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Your weekly guide to Houston: A social bowl game, New Year's Eve Live, Bach Time & Elmo's World

Your weekly guide to Houston: A social bowl game, New Year's Eve Live, Bach Time & Elmo's World

The cold front brought with it a healthy dose of holiday wintry magic at Rienzi's Holiday Twilight Tour last week.

The home that cradles the European Decorative Arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston decked its halls with plenty of merry jubilee with themed Christmas trees, icons and decorative objects, including a 1950s Texas tree bursting with handmade ornaments by Bernice Perkins Hoag made from Styrofoam, ribbons beads, sequins, pearls and other sparkly jewels. Another tree came smothered in needlepoint accouterments courtesy of the River Oaks Garden Club

Stationed docents shared insider scoop, like a room's color scheme being based on the palette of a painting, or the previous owners, Carroll and Harris Masterson, being quite the social butterflies, or that many of the property's additions were exclusive to the couple's increased interest in philanthropy and entertaining. 

Twinkling landscaping greeted guests through the manicured gardens. Perusing the galleries was accompanied by live guitar music and enhanced by libations and nibbles.

Houston's more risqué art scene was also quite active last week with BooTown's 42nd installment of its Grown-up Storytime reading series. Spacetaker responded in kind with "A Night of Inky Improv."

Think Pictionary meets a written version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? meets a game of broken telephone. Prompts like "Snowmen make good lovers," "watch for falling gerbils" and "Rudolph's mother is a snow-blower" inspired naughty stories of frosty sadomasochism and hilarious family feuds, accompanied by images drawn on the spot.

Blame it all on NANO Fiction writers Miah Arnold, Andrew Kozma and Kirby Johnson who teamed with Hank Hancock and troupe of Sketchy Neighbors illustrators.

Christmas turned to the dark side, and that was a good thing.

Now that Houston Ballet's run of The Nutcracker is over, we can recover from the parodies of Fa la la la and move on the New Year's Eve to ring in 2012. On tap this week:

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas at Reliant Stadium

A tradition six years in the making, the pious mingling of football and holiday time continues with a Texas-sized sports bacchanal at Reliant Stadium. More than 68,000 fans flocked to watch Illinois kick Baylor's butt 38-14 in Houston's bowl game last year and with Texas A&M in the game this year, even more fans are expected.

The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas is set for an 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff, as the Aggies take on Northwestern out of the Big Ten. Sure, you can watch it on ESPN, but is there anything more tingly than being in the midst of the action?

I think not. Tickets start at $30, though if you are one of the lucky folks who scored entry to the Sideline Soiree chaired by Michael Coppens and Kimberly Rawson, which is now sold out, you'll be sporting in style with a delicious brunch and adult beverages galore. 

New Year's Eve Live at Discovery Green

What started as an illuminated art car parade at Thanksgiving has now grown up to a new year's eve sparkly bash — say hello to the rebranded New Year's Eve Live at Discovery Green. It's the closest thing Houston has to Times Square, filled to the brim with live music — Chameleon, Baby Jay and headliner Delbert McClinton — a 3D light show and a gleaming fireworks display at midnight suitable for big and little people alike.

The festivities start at 7 p.m. Saturday. Chill at the Bud Light Celebration Zone with an adult beverage or check out the Pets on Wheels and magic show at the Family Zone. Best of all, it's free. 

Ars Lyrica's "Bach and Time" at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

Like diamonds and Shakespeare, the music of classical music's patriarch, Johann Sebastian Bach, is timeless. Though another year has quickly gone by, reminding us that beauty and time is indeed fleeting and times are a-changing, it's always comforting to know that certain things remain constant, stable, trustworthy.

Get musically lost in the genius of this baroque composer at Ars Lyrica's "Bach and Time" on Saturday at 9 p.m. as you learn how he manipulated the multiple dimensions of time in his compositions. After the musicale, head to the Hobby Center Founders Club to ring in the new year with a healthy dose of bubbly, tasty hors-d'oeuvres and more tuneful entertainment in style. Concert tickets start at $21.25, gala festivities run $60. 

Towers and Trees Downtown Walking Tour

If you need a respite from all the holiday celebrations that dominate the month of December, you may want to put on some walking shoes and learn insider intel on what makes the architecture between Hermann Square and Discovery Green worthy of study. 

Organized by Architecture Center Houston on Saturday at 10 a.m., the guided walk explores the history of Main Street and the skyscraper boom through the '80s, ending with the city's newest green space and center of leisure activities.

Meet at City Hall. Tours are $10 for AIA Houston and ArCH members and $20 for non-members.

Houston explorer and CultureMap's adorably awesome Whitney Radley's pick: Hayes Carll at House of Blues

Whitney says: "Hayes Carll is dreamy, irreverent and an unparalleled storyteller. And he's great live. Watch 'Another Like You' and go see him at House of Blues before he gets too big." Friday at 8 p.m. 

Arts smarty pants and beer lovin' lovable gal Nancy Wozny's pick: Screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Nancy says: "I'm into puppets these days so Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, screening at the Museum of Fine Arts through Saturday, is on my holiday movie blitz. Sure, you know Elmo, but not Kevin Clash, the man behind the puppet. The film chronicles his life as a Jim Henson fan to working beside the Muppet mogul.

"Kids have been going nuts over the furry 3-year-old red mop of a puppet who speaks in the first person for decades now. Think of the 'Tickle me Elmo' craze.

"Not only did my little sister get schooled by Elmo on Sesame Street, but both my boys as well. Playing with dolls is rarely this much fun."

New Year's Eve Live
Discovery Green gets a dose of sparkle at New Year's Eve Live, a family-friendly party that includes an illuminated art car parade, live music, activities, a 3-D light display and fireworks. 
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
Love Elmo? Who doesn't. Learn who's behind the furry creature at the screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Football and holidays are inseparable. In Houston, the tradition continues Saturday during which the Aggies will take on the Wildcats. 
Bach and Time
Ars Lyrica rings in the new year in timeless style with classical music's patriarch in "Bach and Time."
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