Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

From a global pandemic to rising inflation and interest rates, there are plenty of things to be stressed about in 2023. And when they say everything is bigger in Texas, that includes the stress levels.

Texas was ranked the ninthmost stressed state of 2023, according to the latest report from personal finance website WalletHub. WalletHub compared all 50 states across 41 metrics to determine every state’s worries on certain issues, such as work, money, or family-related stress. The report is timed to April as National Stress Awareness Month, as designated by the National Institutes of Health.

In the overall work-related stress category, the Lone Star State ranked No. 5. Texas employees specifically have the highest stress levels in the nation when it comes to their average hours worked per week. That probably includes Houston, which was named the No. 1 most stressful city to work in. Two fellow Southern states – Mississippi (No. 4) and Louisiana (No. 3) – had higher work-related stress levels, while Wyoming (No. 2), and Alaska (No. 1) earned the top two spots.

Texas also ranked No. 5 in overall family-related stress. The states that have higher family-related stress include North Carolina (No. 4), New York (No. 3), Nevada (No. 2), and New Mexico (No. 1).

In the category of health and safety-related stress, Texas ranked just outside the top 10 at No. 11. Most Texans aren’t quite feeling it when it comes to financial stress, ranking in the middle of the metaphorical stress road at No. 23. However, Houstonites are feeling that financial squeeze if they want to live comfortably in the city.

The good news? Texans aren't quite as stressed as they were in spring of 2021, when the state placed No. 6 in the same study. (At that time, COVID-19 was still raging, and vaccines had just become available.)

Leah C. Hibel, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of California, Davis, says much of the financial stress individuals experience is a result of systemic issues, not because of how an individual lives his or her life.

“[It’s] due to rising housing costs, rising food costs, and stagnant wages,” she explained. “Individuals can try to live in places where the cost of living is lower and wages are higher, or where food, child care, and other expenses are subsidized through state programs. Individuals can take on additional work and cut extra expenses, but sometimes these fixes are beyond what an individual can do.”

The top 10 most stressed states are:

  • No. 1 – Mississippi
  • No. 2 – Louisiana
  • No. 3 – New Mexico
  • No. 4 – West Virginia
  • No. 5 – Nevada
  • No. 6 – Arkansas
  • No. 7 – Alabama
  • No. 8 – Kentucky
  • No. 9 – Texas
  • No. 10 – Oklahoma

The full report can be found on wallethub.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

battling bots

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Astrodome transforms into 'entertainment village' in new redevelopment plan

new day for the dome?

A second life for the "8th Wonder of the World"?

"I envision a gateway to the future of NRG Park," native Houstonian Mike Acosta told ABC13. "A multi-faceted entertainment village."

Early in 2023, Acosta began the formal process of putting together a plan to revitalize the Astrodome — a building he says remains structurally sound. In light of recent statements by local officials, many made to ABC13, he's ready to match those comments with concepts.

"My goal is to bring a vision," Acosta revealed. "Let's not talk about what is difficult — that's not what Houston is. Houston is about getting things done."

What Acosta, along with three partners — all with connections to the Dome — wants to get done through an LLC called Astrodome reIMAGINEd, is use private funds to develop the Dome into a publicly accessible, revenue-generating destination to work with NRG Park's primary tenants.


Continue reading the story, with accompanying video, on our news partner ABC13.

Lance McCullers Jr., José Altuve, and Kyle Tucker Team Up for $600,000 grand slam charity bash

outta the park

Houston has long topped lists for most generous cities in America, and our celebrity pro athletes have always been MVPs in that regard.

A grand slam example is Team Up, an annual event starring Houston Astros superstars Lance McCullers Jr., José Altuve, and Kyle Tucker. The trio recently hosted their fifth annual Team Up event, which raises funds for the three beloved charities they each founded, working with the well-respected Athletes and Causes foundation.

A 30-second timeout for our Tailgate

More on the Team Up event, but first, Houstonians who want to step up for tomorrow’s athletes should hit CultureMap’s Tailgate event.

Our big, sports-themed bash returns at 7 pm Wednesday, October 25 at Silver Street Studios (2000 Edwards St.). Fans can enjoy sports-inspired bites from some of Houston’s top and award-winning restaurants and premium cocktails. Partiers can also bid on memorabilia from Texas legends, get their game on with game-day fun, and check out local sports-focused nonprofits and give back in a big way.

Early bird tickets are $35 and $60 for VIP through Saturday, September 30, then move to $50 for general admission; $75 for VIP. Find a full roster of the hot restaurants, sponsors, plus more information here. Kill any chance of FOMO and grab tickets early: Like all great CultureMap events, tickets will go fast.

Astros, A-listers, and fans Team Up for a huge night

Back to Team Up — also held at Silver Street Studios — where more than 500 fans gathered for a chance to meet the three Astros stars and for score coveted photos with them. The record-breaking event raised more than $600, 000 and support their charities: the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which supports animal rescue, adoption, and no-kill shelters; the Kyle Tucker Foundation, which assists those in need of hospice care; and the José Altuve Foundation, which supports the Sunshine Kids foundation.

Astros players’ wives were on hand to support their hubbies, as well as teammates Ryan Pressly, Michael Brantley, Maurico Dubon, Kendall Graveman, and Grae Kessinger. Astros staffers also showed up to support the cause and mingle with the crowd.

Nina and Jos\u00e9 Altuve Team Up 2023Nina and José Altuve.Photo by Catchlight Group

High-rolling local philanthropists and fans checked out and snapped pics of the mini fleet of Rolls Royce and Bentley rides on display. Refreshments came courtesy of a Champagne wall and specialty spirits and cocktails from Maven (McCullers is a partner). Attendees got a chance to win jewelry or a highly coveted Astros World Series ring and learned more about each charity, including Bo’s Place.

“For us, it’s a big night to represent Houston and all the people who are here,” McCullers told us (we’ve been hanging with him at Team Up events since 2018). “We restaurants, people in the beverage space, partners — all these people who help throw this amazing event. And we have the amazing charities here and the one’s we’re here representing, so it’s just an important night for us. We’re just really proud to represent Houston, represent the Astros, and keep coming every year to make it bigger and better.”

Lance McCullers, Jr., Beau King, Jos\u00e9 Altuve, Joanne King Herring, and Kyle Tucker Team Up 2023Lance McCullers, Jr., Beau King, José Altuve, Joanne King Herring, and Kyle Tucker.Photo by Catchlight Group

The fiery, always team-first Astros ace also reminded fans not to sweat the season — and postseason. “We control our own destiny — we’re in first place,” he said. “ We’re confident in the team that we have, so we have to just make sure that we go play our best brand of baseball. If we win the division — that’s our goal — we don't have to worry about anybody else.”

We also pressed McCullers to come up with another epic slogan this year, after her dropped the unforgettable “Bury Me in The H” rally last year. (We’re waiting, LMJ.)

Dream sports packages and fur babies FTW

Emcees Julia Morales, the fan-fave Astros reporter, and emcee/auctioneer Johnny Holloway hyped the crowd for the live and silent auction, which featured a widely sought-after private dinner with Kara and Lance McCullers Jr., Altuve, and Tucker. One-of-a-kind art by Skel of dazzling portraits of Altuve, McCullers, Tucker, the team were also hot items, as well as a chance to throw the first pitch at a game plus Diamond Club seats.

Julia Morales and Johnnie Bravo Team Up 2023Julia Morales and Johnnie Bravo.Photo by Jacob Power

Even the Rockets got int the game: bidders threw their hands up for courtside Rockets tickets along with a dinner in the owner's suite, courtesy of Blake Fertitta.

Adorable puppies and doggos from Animal Shelter and Adoptions melted hearts; one adorable fur baby found a forever home with one of the volunteers. A handsome and noble service dog also reminded the crowd of the importance of saving and supporting animals.

Tena Lundquist Faust, Margie Lundquist, Sandra Cooper, Tama Lundquist Team Up 2023Tena Lundquist Faust, Margie Lundquist, Sandra Cooper, Tama Lundquist, and an adorable pup.Photo by Catchlight Group

Partiers stepping up for the grand slam night included: Nina Altuve, Samantha Scott, Kat Pressly, Joanne King Herring, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, Donna and Norman Lewis, Frances and Tony Buzbee, Danny and Iris Shaftel, Monica and Joe Casiano, Cherie and John Lindley, Jenna Lindley, Shelli and Steve Lindley, Matthew Lindley, Randy Hopper, Bill Baldwin andFady Armanious, Randy Bates, Tama Lundquist, Tena Lundquist Faust, Christine and Steve Johnson, Jody Merritt, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Chris LaFollette, Mick Pritchett, Charlene Floyd, Bobbie Nau, Lesha Elsenbrook, Shelley Boyer, Melissa and Dan Sugulas, Katie and Jon Deal, and many more.