April 16th, 2010

The Procrastinator’s Plan 4.16.10

Who would have guessed, but my weekend is pretty planned out. Am I turning over a new leaf? Not at all. When you end up traveling for four weeks straight, you don’t have much choice but to do a little planning. Now back in Houston, it’s time to immerse myself in all the things that I love about this place. Dinner at T’afia and a Broadway show are on the docket for tonight, but if that doesn’t sound appealing, I’ve got a few other options for you. Feel free to throw any suggestions our way as well. The thing about waiting until the last minute is that you don’t always catch everything, so let me know if there’s anything I missed.

Head to The Heights
No, it’s not a reference to the quaint Houston neighborhood, but don’t miss your opportunity to catch the traveling production of Broadway’s In the Heights(http://www.intheheightsthemusical.com/). The musical tells the universal story of a vibrant community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights and this is the last weekend of its run in Houston. Author Lin-Manuel Miranda, who grew up in Manhattan’s vibrant and diverse Washington Heights neighborhood, wrote the original concept back in college. He used his background in a close-knit Puerto Rican family as inspiration for his work as a writer, composer and performer. Originally an off Broadway production, it moved onto Broadway and took home most of the major awards in 2008. The procrastinator has his tickets (http://www.broadwayacrossamerica.com/shows/inTheHeights.html) for tonight, but with matinees and evening shows throughout the weekend, there’s still an opportunity to catch it at the Hobby Center (http://www.thehobbycenter.org/hobbyprod/homedisplay.aspx).

You Look Marfreless
If you are looking for an opportunity to unleash your inner freak, you need look no further than Marfreless in River Oaks. “Dark, Dingy and Undercover,” was how it was described to me by an unnamed friend. A perpetual bachelor, I’m sure he’s spent many nights with many different women there. It’s the kind of place you take your girlfriend or mistress, while pretending you’ve never been there when your wife asks if you’ve ever heard of it. Or, depending on your relationship, it’s the place you head to with your wife every weekend. This is not the see and be seen crowd, more like the see and pretend you didn’t crowd. If that’s your scene, then you already know what’s up, but continue reading like you don’t, so your cover isn’t blown. If it’s not your typical destination and you’re looking to add some spice to your relationship (the legit one or the one on the side) this weekend, find a dark corner and let go of your inhibitions. Just be careful where you sit, you don’t want to catch something from the couches. Make sure you know where you’re going, like any good den of sin, there are no signs. Look for the red door across from the old Sherlock’s in River Oaks, but don’t tell them the Procrastinator sent you.

Tattoos are Hot
If you’re looking for a little bit of culture from across the pond, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=83290) is playing at the River Oaks Theater (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/houston/riveroakstheatre.htm) this weekend. Based on the novel written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson that was published posthumously, it’s an epic tale of serial murder and corporate thievery. The first book and subsequent movie in Larsson’s “Millenium Trilogy,” it follows Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, magazine publisher and amateur sleuth as he tries to solve the case of a 16 year old girl’s disappearance forty years ago. Show times are 1:40, 4:50, and 8 through Monday for certain. With opportunities to see it throughout the weekend and bad weather in the forecast, this might be the time to go pick up the book and start reading it on Friday (someplace other than Marfreless—the lighting’s bad) and then make a date to see the movie on Saturday or Sunday. If you’re really feeling adventurous, pick up a girl with some tattoos to take to the movie… and no, tramp stamps do not count.

Mama Mia
With locations throughout Houston, you can find Mia Bella wherever the night takes you. Serving Houstonians for over 10 years, it is a great place for dinner if you’re heading to either Marfreless or going to see Girl with Dragon Tattoo. Modeled after traditional Italian Trattorias, each of the locations are fun, intimate and moderately priced. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. Play it safe and make yours online at their website(http://www.miabellatrattoria.com/). It’s a great place to gather with friends and family and enjoy food, wine and comradery. It has been one of my girlfriend’s favorite places for as long as I’ve known her and it’s always one of our favorite places to dine.

New York, New York
I usually don’t use the Procrastinator’s Plan as a pulpit, but after watching Top Chef Master’s this past week. I remembered everything I hated about NYC and everything I love about Houston. Monica Pope did the Bayou City proud by winning the quickfire challenge with, of all things, a Mediterranean styled grilled cheese. When it came to the main challenge, a soul food dish for Mekhi Phifer, Monica’s deconstructed shrimp and grits looked damn good on the HiDef. The most compelling part of her appearance though wasn’t her food, it was how she took the time to lend a helping hand to a fellow chef, like any true Texan would. It was interesting to see how the editors focused on the seemingly natural rivalry between Pope and New York’s Marcus Samuelsson, who, like most New Yorkers , didn’t know when to shut the hell up. Monica might not have beaten Samuelson, but she outclassed him, which is really saying something on a Reality TV show,(yes, even one on Bravo) As I watched the end of the show, I had an epiphany. The two chefs were the epitome of the citizens in their respective cities. One was ready to pitch in and lend a hand at the first sign of trouble, the other was so wrapped up in a selfish pursuit, they forgot how to be a decent human being. I can’t say how proud I am that Monica Pope call’s our city home! Head to T’afia before going to see In the Heights and experience the best of both cities.

— Marc

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