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The world will bid a final "goodbye and thank you, Ma'am" to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at her state funeral on Monday, September 19 at London's Westminster Abbey.

While the service for Her Majesty, who passed away September 8, will be attended by 2,000 family, friends, dignitaries, and heads of state, the event is expected to draw a record 4.1 billion viewers from around the world.

In the United States, every major network, broadcast outlet, and streaming service will provide coverage. And in Houston, viewers will need to get up before the sun to tune in live. The funeral starts at 5 am local time, with many noteworthy events happening before and after it (see schedule, below).

Here is a complete guide to the network, cable, and streaming service coverage, per the L.A. Times and Hollywood Reporter. (All times are local to Houston.)

Networks (television and streaming):

  • PBS: PBS will carry the BBC’s live coverage from London, starting at 3 am. A primetime special, The State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II: Events of the Day, will then be broadcast at 7 pm.
  • ABC: David Muir and Robin Roberts will anchor coverage, starting at 4:30 am.
  • NBC: Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Lester Holt will anchor coverage, starting at 4:30 am.
  • CBS: Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell will anchor coverage (time TBA).

Cable networks (television and streaming):

  • BBC America: Coverage from London will start at 3 am.
  • CNN: Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett will anchor coverage starting at 4 am, with additional anchors and reporters joining throughout the morning.
  • MSNBC: Chris Jansing will anchor coverage, beginning at 2 am, following with a special edition of Morning Joe from London and continuing through services.
  • C-SPAN: Live coverage will begin at 4:30 am.
  • Bloomberg TV: Live coverage will run from 4-6:30 am.
  • Fox News Channel: Martha MacCallum, Ainsley Earhardt, and Piers Morgan will anchor coverage, starting at 2 am.

Other streaming options:

  • BritBox will stream BBC live coverage, starting at 3:30 am.
  • BBC is live-streaming from London, 24 hours a day, on their news app and at www.bbc.com/news. (Click on the Queen Elizabeth II tab.)
  • ITV News offers live-streaming at www.itv.com/news and through YouTube.
  • Sky News offers live-streaming at news.sky.com, as well as through Peacock and YouTube.
  • Subscription-based streaming platforms (with free trials available) will be streaming the funeral, including: FuboTV, Sling, YouTube TV, Peacock Premium, Hulu + Live TV, and Paramount+. The service will be available to stream on regular Hulu as soon as it concludes.

Schedule of events

The funeral service itself will begin at 11 am in London (BST), which is 5 am in Houston (CDT). The service is expected to last about an hour, but it's preceded and followed by other events that also will be broadcast. Here is a schedule of events for the day, according to this handy guide from BBC. All times below are CDT.

12:30 am: The Queen's lying-in-state at Westminster Hall will end. Hundreds of thousands (including soccer legend David Beckham) have been "queueing up" and waiting in line up to 14 hours to walk by her coffin and pay their respects. The BBC is live-streaming the lying-in-state here.

2 am: The doors of Westminster Abbey will open for guests to begin arriving for the state funeral. Heads of state — including U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden — will attend, as will royal family members from across Europe (many of whom were blood relatives of the Queen). Find the guest list here.

4:44 am: About 15 minutes before the funeral, the Queen's coffin will be carried, via gun carriage, from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. Senior members of the royal family (including King Charles and princes William and Harry) will follow the coffin in the procession.

5 am: The funeral at Westminster Abbey begins. It will be presided over by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

5:55 am: Near the end of the funeral, a bugle call called "Last Post" will be played, and two minutes of silence will be observed nationally across the UK. Then the "new" national anthem "God Save the King" will be sung and a lament will be played by the Queen's piper.

6:15 am: A walking procession — including military bands and members of the armed services — will draw the coffin from the Abbey to Wellington Arch.

7 am: The coffin will be transferred to a state hearse for its final journey to Windsor.

9 am: The state hearse will arrive in Windsor for a walking procession up Windsor Castle's Long Walk. Members of the armed forces will line the three-mile route, and members of the royal family will meet the cortege outside the castle.

10 am: The coffin will enter St. George's Chapel for a committal service attended by a congregation of 800. At the conclusion of the 45-minute service, the Queen's coffin will be lowered into the royal vault, and the royal family will leave the chapel. The service will include many traditions symbolizing the end of the Queen's reign, including the removal of the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's orb and scepter from the top of the coffin. (Read more about what to expect here.)

1:30 pm: The Queen will be buried together with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the King George VI memorial chapel inside St. George's Chapel. The private ceremony is just for family, and it is unclear whether any part of it will be made public.

Photo courtesy of HGTV

Ken Hoffman meets the tattooed, tough HGTV star who demolishes home sellers in advance of his Houston visit

no average joe

Recently, I was in for my semi-annual teeth cleaning (Editor’s note: About time, Ken.) and nitrous oxide session when the dental hygienist leaned me back in the barber’s chair and asked if I’d like to watch the TV mounted on the ceiling.

I asked, “What channel do most people ask for?” She said, “HGTV by far, and that includes men and women.”

Okay, while you’re doing demo in my mouth, let me watch David and Hilary Love It or List It.

That was the first question I asked Joe Mazza, star of Home Inspector Joe, a new hit show on HGTV that follows Mazza conducting full cavity searches on houses for prospective buyers.

Mazza is a fast-talking, wise-cracking, tattooed-up, motorcycle-riding, hip New Yorker who searches high and low for hidden problems in a house. It’s fun entertainment watching him tear apart a house discovering structural flaws and safety issues. I’m sympathy sweating for the homeowner who’s praying, please don’t look in the attic.

Mazza will be the star attraction this weekend at the Houston Home + Garden Show at NRG Center. He will appear on the Fresh Ideas Stage at 6 pm Friday September 16 and 11 am and 2 pm Saturday, September 17. Mazza will offer tips and ideas how to make your house more attractive to potential buyers, plus demonstrate DIY tricks of his trade and conduct a live Q&A with the audience.

The Home + Garden Show runs through Sunday. Tickets are available online.

I caught up with Mazza in advance of his big appearance.

CultureMap: Before HGTV gave you a show and made you a TV star, you inspected homes and worked in construction for 20 years as just regular ol’ Joe Mazza. Did you have any idea how popular HGTV was?

Joe Mazza: It’s massive. It’s wild. Every office you go into, everyone I talk to says “it’s on my TV all the time.” Guys will tell me, “yeah, my wife is always watching it.” I’ll ask them, “and you don’t?” They’ll say, “well, yeah.” I’m super honored to be in the position I’m in now. It’s ridiculous, I can’t even explain it to you.

CM: HGTV must have a zillion shows pitched to them every year. How did Home Inspector Joe get their attention?

JM: They found me through Instagram, through social media. USA Today saw me in 2019 and said, “Hey, Joe, you want to do a video for us about first time home buyers? Whoa, that’s crazy, so I did it. The word got out. HGTV saw me. They contacted me and said there was an opportunity for me to possibly have my own show. Fast forward, here I am. It was all through social media. It was me being me, just doing home inspections. I have fun doing what I love and we go from there.

CM: There are thousands of professional home inspectors around the country. What was it about you that caught HGTV’s interest?

JM: My personality was a massive factor how I got the show. I watch all those videos about home inspection on social media and they’re very educational, but they’re very boring. You have to have fun with what you’re doing, even in bad moments. You can joke about things, say asbestos, but be very serious at the same time. It’s all about engaging your audience.

CM: Do people understand the role a home inspector plays in the home buying process? Who do you work for, the buyer or the seller?

JM: I work for the buyer 99 percent of the time. The real estate agent will refer me to the buyer or the buyer will hear about me through word of mouth. I work for the person who’s paying me and that’s typically the buyer. No one stands in my way, no one tells me how to do my job or what to put in my report.

CM: Are home sellers scared of you?

JM: Now they are, but not every one of them. I was at a house recently and the real estate agent and the seller were there. They saw me and went, “oh, crap.” To me that was flattering.

CM: How thorough is a home inspection?

JM: Certain things we can and can’t do. If a place is inaccessible, we don’t have to go in there. If we can’t get on a roof, we don’t have to struggle to get on the roof. What separates me from others, that roof that I can’t get on, I will find a way to get on it. You have to dig deep.

What keeps me out of trouble is, I make sure I’m on point 100 percent of the time. I inspect every house as if my wife and daughter are moving into it. If you go into an inspection with that mentality, you’re going to kick butt.

CM: How sneaky are homeowners at hiding flaws or potential deal breakers in their house?

JM: Very, very. I love it when they try, because I’m going to catch them. If I go through a basement and it’s freshly painted, that’s a red flag right there. “You just painted the basement. Why?” I start digging deeper, not just inside the basement, but outside to see what’s going on. A lot of problems in the basement start on the outside.

I’ll see if they put boxes or furniture in front of a moldy wall. They’ll say, “where else am I supposed to put the furniture?”

CM: What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve found during a home inspection?

JM: I had an inspection close to my house. I was in the crawl space and as I walking around the floor was crunching. I looked down and the floor was covered with teeth. There were thousands of teeth down there. It was gross and terrifying.

Was I going to find hundreds of bodies in the backyard? It turned out the guy was a tooth manufacturer and threw teeth in there a hundred years ago. No one warned me about that. The grossest thing, besides dead animals, people leave stuff out in the open — inappropriate personal stuff. I just keep working around it.

CM: Ever hired to inspect a house occupied by a hoarder?

JM: I’ve done a couple of houses where they were hoarders with wall-to-wall stuff. Usually I’ll just turn around and walk out. There’s nothing I can do.

I will tell the real estate agent that the house is a fire hazard and you’re putting people in jeopardy. If the house is just dirty, yeah, whatever, that’s fine. I’m okay if they have a lot of junk around. But a hoarder’s house, like on that TV show, that’s disgusting.

I had a house that had 15 cats and like 12 dogs. They didn’t clean anything ever. I walked in and the hit of ammonia slammed me to heaven. I got dizzy and started gagging. I went outside and the owner wanted to know what was wrong. She was scratching her arms. I told her, “for one, your arms are bleeding. Your animals are crapping and peeing all over your house. The house needs to be condemned.”

I told the buyer to get the hell away from this house.

-----

Joe Mazza appears at the Houston Home and Garden Show at 6 pm Friday September 16 and 11 am and 2 pm Saturday September 17 at NRG Park. Show runs through Sunday, September 18. For tickets, full schedule, and more information, visit the official site.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia

7 spectacular surprises inside Chip and Joanna Gaines' new Fixer Upper castle in North Texas

Royal revelation

“Are you ready to see your fixer upper?” the enthusiastic tour guide asked, channeling Chip and Joanna Gaines and their famous “big reveal” line from TV’s Fixer Upper. This time, it wasn't the home owners waiting outside a first glimpse at their home makeover; it was a small group of tourists gathered on the porch, ready to step inside the Gaineses’ most ambitious renovation project yet — a century-old castle in Waco.

For the first time ever, Texas’ king and queen of renovation have unlocked the doors and let the public into one of their famed fixer-uppers before it’s featured on their Magnolia Network show.

Known as the historic Cottonland Castle, this three-story, 6,700-square-foot residence was started in 1890 and finished in 1913. The Gaineses purchased the dilapidated structure in 2019 and designed and executed a regal flip that will be featured on an eight-episode special called Fixer Upper: Welcome Home – The Castle, beginning October 14.

They plan to sell it in the fall. But before a home sale comes an open house, and for three months only — through October 29 — the castle is open six days a week for guided tours.

Hour-long castle expeditions take visitors through every room, nook, and cranny — from turret to toilettes. Knowledgeable guides dispense history, impart design information, and reveal behind-the-scenes stories from Chip and Jo that may or may not make it on TV.

For Fixer Upper fans, Magnolia maniacs, and Gaines gangs, it's worth a drive to Waco to experience the castle transformation in real life before it hits the small screen. A tour offers the very rare chance to walk through the door (in this case, a 10-foot-tall, 400-pound, solid-oak door) into the world of a Chip-and-Jo reno.

Without revealing too much, here are seven fun surprises you’ll find behind the castle walls.

1. History meets homey. A castle museum, this is not.

“Chip and Joanna’s vision was that they really wanted to honor it with historical pieces but also make it more practical for the modern family that’s going to live here in the future,” guide Megan Shuler said at the beginning of the tour.

While many original features — including seven fireplaces — were restored, the castle has been fixed up as a home for the future, not a shrine to the past. One-of-a-kind and collected antiques (such as the kingly dining room table from Round Top, Texas) blend with pieces from the Gaineses’ own Magnolia Home collection. A 17-page “Castle Sourcebook” lists design elements and products and where to buy them. And in the ultimate modern touch — a branding tie-in — a forthcoming “Colors of the Castle” paint collection will be available through Magnolia this fall.

2. Sweet nods to the castle’s past. Posted on the wall in the foyer is a poem written by Alfred Abeel, the owner who completed construction in 1913. It talks of making the castle “‘home sweet home’ all seasons of the year.”

On the center of the dining room fireplace mantel is Abeel’s family crest, along with the phrase (in Latin), “God’s providence saves me.” Next to it, children’s heights are recorded from the 1930s to the early 2000s, the last time a family lived here.

3. A cozy nook in the turret. The original design was modeled after a small castle on the Rhine River in Germany, and there is one tower turret. A space historically used (in “real” castles) for military defense has, here, been turned into one of the coziest corners of the house. Tucked into a corner next to the winding staircase, two comfy chairs sit under an antique-y light fixture from Austria. It's the perfect place to curl up with a book from the library upstairs.

4. Rooms with storylines. “One of the challenges Chip and Joanna had when they bought the castle was, there was no one, really, they were designing it for,” Shuler explained. “So they would create storylines for each room to help tell their story.”

Two of the four bedrooms, for example, are the “boy’s bedroom,” and “girl’s bedroom.” The storylines are that the future homeowner’s son would come back from college and stay in his childhood bedroom, and that the future homeowner’s granddaughters would stay in the room while hanging out at the grandparents’ house.

The boy’s room contains more masculine furnishings and decor, including a watercolor portrait of Roy Lane, the famous architect who helped complete the castle. The girl’s room is painted in “Rose Pink,” a color named after Joanna’s grandmother.

5. Bodacious bathrooms. There are three-and-a-half “throne rooms” in the castle, and they’re some of the prettiest spaces, mixing metals, woods, and tiles; even original radiators look like works of art. One of the most spectacular rooms in the house, in fact, is a grand, gleaming bathroom — which (tease!) will be fully revealed on the show.

6. Party in the basement. “Gathering spaces” are a hallmark of Chip and Jo’s homes, and in the castle, they take place in the dungeon — er, basement. A “card room” for poker games or family game nights sits next to the family room, which houses the only TV in the castle. The guest bedroom’s also in the basement, along with a laundry room and a former wine cellar now left “blank” for the new owners to reimagine.

7. Behind-the-scenes tales and tidbits. Fixer Upper devotees will devour the charming and quirky tidbits about the Gaineses shared throughout the tour. There are a few design elements and furnishings originally meant for their own home, including an item banished to the castle by their daughters. There’s a fun story about what Chip did when they found bones — yes, bones — in the basement. And, the prime selfie spot for Fixer Upper fans is a large mirror that, the tour guides say, Joanna used to touch up her makeup during the filming of the show.

Castle tour tickets, $50, are available through the website, with 20 percent of proceeds benefiting The Cove nonprofit organization. (Note that the home does not have an elevator and requires guests’ ability to access three staircases.)

Tips for a Magnolia pilgrimage in Waco:
Shop: No castle jaunt would be complete without a stop at the Magnolia Silos complex. A new 8:15 am tour, offered Monday through Saturday, takes visitors behind the scenes and on the roof before the crowds (and the heat) arrive. Hint: August is a “slower” month at the Silos, and Tuesday through Thursday are less crowded. Tour tickets are $25 and come with a free coffee from Magnolia Press.

Eat: Chip and Joanna’s Magnolia Table cafe stays busy all day, every day. If you don’t have time to wait for a table, visit the takeaway market next door. Grab to-go items like pimiento cheese and crackers, a butter flight, banana pudding, and chicken salad sandwiches, and enjoy them on a table outside (if it's not too hot).

Stay: Availability at Magnolia’s four vacation rentals can be hard to come by, but watch the website for nights to pop open. Make it a girls’ getaway with a stay at the grand Hillcrest Estate (which sleeps 12), or go solo and book the darling Hillcrest Cottage, the Gaineses’ newest and smallest lodging, which opened in fall 2021. A forthcoming Magnolia boutique hotel, in the historic Grand Karem Shrine building downtown, is slated to open in 2024.

The castle will be on tour only through the end of October, before it's featured on a special season of Fixer Upper - Wecome Home.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia
The castle will be on tour only through the end of October, before it's featured on a special season of Fixer Upper - Wecome Home.
Photo by Nick Scurfield

Bun B's Trill Burgers topple Houston cult-favorite in epic Good Morning America showdown

GMA Burger battle

Two of Houston's most acclaimed burger purveyors faced off in an epic battle on national television this morning. Good Morning America featured Trill Burgers and Burger-Chan on a Houston-centered edition of its “United States of Burgers” segment.

Filmed near downtown at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, a panel of three judges — Top Chef finalist and Olympian Dawn Burrell, ABC13 anchor Chauncy Glover, and former Houston Texans star Jonathan Joseph — evaluated both competitors for a chance to compete in New York City on Friday for a $10,000 prize. After sampling both burgers, the judges unanimously selected Trill Burgers to advance.

Trill Burgers served its OG Trill Burger, a double-patty cheeseburger with onions on a Martin’s potato roll. Rather than serve its own smash burger, Burger-Chan offered its Alison Cook burger, named after the Houston Chronicle restaurant critic’s order that she described in her popular Burger Friday column: a five-ounce patty topped with cheddar cheese, kimchi relish, sauteed onions, and sambal mayo.

Winning the judges’ acclaim is only the latest accolade for Trill Burgers, a smash burger concept developed by Houston hip hop legend Bun B in partnership with California-based restaurateur Andy Nguyen and Houston publicist Nick Scurfield. First introduced at the 2021 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, the concept has gone national by serving at events such as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and the Coachella Festival.

Bun and chef Mike Pham will represent the restaurant in New York on the morning of Friday July 29.

“I couldn't be more proud to represent Houston in the biggest burger battle in America,” Bun B said in a statement. “I put this city on my back ever since we started UGK, and I am going to continue to carry it culturally, not just in music, but now in food. Let's go, baby.”

Burger-Chan is owned by chef Willet Feng and his wife Diane. First opened in Greenway Plaza (now closed), the couple opened a new location near the Galleria earlier this year. Chef Feng’s signature umami glaze helps set Burger-Chan’s burgers apart. Housemade sauces such as sambal mayo and scallion aioli allow diners to customize each burger to their tastes.

“It was probably a once in a lifetime experience to show our restaurant on a national level,” Diane Feng tells CultureMap. Later, she adds, “Even though we didn’t win, we’re really proud of what we put out there . . . It’s got the American part with the cheddar and the onions, and the Asian part that we’re really proud to showcase.”

Burger-Chan may have lost the competition, but the TV appearance has already boosted the restaurant’s profile. Feng says she received a phone call from a diner in Dallas who saw the segment and promised to stop by on his next trip to H-Town. Hopefully the appearance lures a few Houstonians, too.

Meanwhile, those who missed the segment may watch it below.

Bun B's Trill Burgers won the competition.

Photo by Nick Scurfield
Bun B's Trill Burgers won the competition.
Photo by Ferni Cabello

Texas' biggest pop culture convention returns to downtown for a weekend of stars, gaming, and more

Houston

The stars will be all the way out for this year's Comicpalooza, going down this weekend (Friday, July 15–Sunday, July 17) at George R. Brown Convention Center.

The pop-culture convention has rounded up a premier guest lineup this year. Look for Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), Terry Crews (White Chicks, America's Got Talent), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Lance Reddick (John Wick, The Wire), Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The X-Files), rock legend Alice Cooper, and a host of others.

Festivities will kick off with the Friday Night Launch, featuring a neon-themed dance party dubbed CP Friday Bash, wrestling matches from Texas All-Star Wrestling, Mario Kart 64 tournaments (always a fave), and more.

Saturday and Sunday, fans will be immersed in the pop-culture festivities the moment they arrive, with live entertainment and engaging activities including chainsaw ice sculpting by Houston-favorite Reverend Butter.

Once indoors, visitors can check out a vast show floor featuring new and returning special attractions, panels, and art-pop-culture finds. As always, there will be a bustling exhibit floor, filled with diverse merchants offering an array of items. Shoppers can wander the aisles of unique finds, rare collectables, and other cool merchandise.

The special attractions are, indeed, off-the-hook. Robotica: A Robotics Experience will host intense battle bot tournaments in the U.S. Navy Battle Zone, featuring robots as big as 250 pounds and as small as 150 grams.

Returning bigger this year, the Itasha Showdown will display more amazing anime and pop-culture-themed cars. Additionally, fans will have the opportunity to participate in mock trials at Fandom Court, where they can state their case to a jury on a wide variety of topics, such as which team would be victorious in a battle royale: The JLA vs. The Avengers?

The Comicpalooza Cosplay Contest on Saturday will display unique, hand-crafted costumes and props based on favorite characters, while young, aspiring cosplayers will be able to showcase their budding talents in the Kid’s Cosplay Contest on Sunday.

Fans can experience witness interviews and lively shows in the Comicpalooza Podcast Program, which hosts sessions throughout the weekend with educational panels, game shows, and live podcasts covering various pop-culture topics.

The Live Art Charity Auction will come alive Saturday evening, where fans will watch and bid on unique pieces of art being created during the event by visiting Comicpalooza artists. Funds raised by the silent auction will go to Fresh Arts, a charity that champions our local art community to succeed in the business of art

On the second floor, fans can visit Cultural Arts Avenue, where guests can explore the Houston community’s history and culture with organizations such as 1940 Air Terminal Museum, The Printing Museum, Project Row Houses, Community Artists’ Collective, Houston Cinema Society, Houston Symphony, and Houston Climate Justice Museum ,and Cultural Center.

Also on the second floor, K-pop performances and demonstrations by local group KLOVR will wow spectators.

Gaming, a huge draw, will continue throughout the weekend on the third floor, joined by celebrity panels, the Neon Realm experience, and other programming.

For the most up-to-date information, including general details, special guests, admission prices, and schedules, visit the official site.

Texas' biggest comic/pop culture spectacle is back this weekend.

Photo by Ferni Cabello
Texas' biggest comic/pop culture spectacle is back this weekend.
Facebook/Magnolia Network

Chip and Joanna Gaines' new Fixer Upper castle is opening for tours in Central Texas

Hear ye, year ye

Sound the trumpets! Texas' king and queen of home renovations, Chip and Joanna Gaines, are opening the doors to their castle and letting peasants traipse in.

Okay, so it's not a real royal castle — it's a historic castle-style home in Waco that they've just renovated — but the invitation still stands.

For the first time ever, the public will get to step inside a Fixer Upper property before it's featured on the Gaineses' home-reno show. According to Magnolia Network, the castle's painstaking and Herculean renovation will be the subject of the eight-episode special Fixer Upper: Welcome Home – The Castle, airing in September.

But before the show airs, the couple is offering intimate guided tours of the century-old structure in Waco's posh Castle Heights neighborhood, July 21 through October 26, 2022.

The Gaineses told The Insider that the tours will give Fixer Upper fans a look at every room in the castle and will focus on Joanna's approach to designing the house. The project, they said, has reminded them of the power of "beauty in unexpected places."

"For nearly 20 years, we dreamed and imagined what it would be like to breathe new life into this abandoned, century-old castle," they told the magazine. "Finally having the opportunity, we're again reminded that there's great reward in unearthing beauty in unexpected places. The doors are open once again, and we can't wait to host you here at the castle so you can experience this stunning historical home in all its glory,"

A Magnolia representative calls the castle "the most historic restoration project that Chip and Jo have ever done."

The three-story, 6,700-square-foot castle — located at 3300 Austin Ave. — became known around Waco as the Cottonland Castle. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, construction started in 1890 and was completed in 1913. "[The] finished residence, modeled after a German castle on the Rhine River," the Trib says, "included a tower, servants’ quarters, eight fireplaces and interior touches such as Italian Carrara marble, Honduran mahogany paneling and Caen stone from France, according to the wacohistory.org account."

Joanna wrote in a blog post that she and Chip had been eyeing the property for a long time. "We’d drive by often, and Chip never ceased dreaming aloud about how fun it would be to restore the house to its former glory," she wrote. "Sure, he had heard rumors of the water damage inside and the serious plumbing problems and the tangles of knob- and-tube wiring. But those things couldn’t keep this dreamer from dreaming and imagining what it would be like to breathe new life into the old place."

The Gaineses bought the property in 2019. According to the Trib, the price they paid was not disclosed, "but the property was listed at $425,000 and had a tax appraisal of $350,700 at the time. It is now appraised at $1,127,470 for tax purposes."

The public tours are also an open house of sorts. Eventually, a Magnolia representative says, the castle will be made available for purchase. Tour attendees will get to see the home staged exactly how it will be shown on the show this fall, the website says.

Tour tickets are $50 per person (kids age 7 and younger are free), with 20 percent of proceeds benefiting The Cove nonprofit organization; they're on sale now. (Note that home does not have an elevator and requires guests’ ability to access three staircases, they say.)

For more information and tickets, visit the website.

Jo and Chip in front of a Caen stone fireplace in the Cottonland Castle.

Facebook/Magnolia Network
Jo and Chip in front of a Caen stone fireplace in the Cottonland Castle.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

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Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.