Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the Brittney Griner blocking shots and swishing nets in Waco to a trip to NorthPark Center the kids will love. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Nov 18–Nov 25]
Baylor University has arguably the best basketball program in the state. This season the men’s team is ranked number eleven and the women’s team is ranked number one. The school also has the most electrifying player in college basketball: Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8-inch power forward from Houston who was the only collegiate player to make the 2011–12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team. Griner is equally adept at scoring, rebounding, and doling out assists (she ranked second nationally in triple-doubles last season), and she plays relentless defense (she ranks first in blocked shots). She is intimidating, too. In 2010, she was ejected from a game for punching Jordan Barncastle of Texas Tech in the face after Barncastle fouled her. Starting Tuesday, when the regular season tips off, fans will get to watch Griner shrug off the competition as they try to block her path to a national championship.
Ferrell Center, Nov. 22, 6:30 p.m. baylorbears.com
Letting the public watch your unfinished movie at a preview screening is a potentially unhinging experience that Chris Eska is willing to endure. The Texas filmmaker, raised in Ottine, population 98, wants to make sure he gets every detail right in his third film, September Morning, especially since expectations are high. Eska’s previous film, August Evening, about a first- and second-generation immigrant family, won Best Film at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was awarded the John Cassavetes Prize for films shot for under $500,000. September Morning, a Civil War-era tale about a boy in search of a wanted man, is not a sequel, but it projects similar themes of family and creating your own path. During the screening, Eska will take into account the viewers’ reaction to the film. “It is valuable for me to watch it with an audience so I can see how I perceive each scene when I feel the weight of their eyes on the screen,” Eska said.
Rice University, Nov. 19, 2 p.m. swamp.org
Art to the Nth
East Austin is now a gentrified Slacker-era neighborhood, but for many years the area was considered less than desirable by outsiders. The East Austin Studio Tour , which allows the community’s artists to open their workspaces to the public, was spawned in 2003 as a way to showcase the eastside’s potential. Now E.A.S.T., in its tenth self-guided tour, has grown to three hundred artists showing at 145 studios and more than sixty catchall places, like coffee shops. “If you’re savvy, you get the catalog early and find out the twenty or thirty studios you want to see,” said Shea Little, the tour’s co-founder, “because it’s impossible to see it all.” Take advantage because E.A.S.T almost didn’t happen this year. It took the passing of an ordinance last month to allow residential studios to act as storefronts during the tour to keep the affair from possibly unraveling. “The city was awesome,” Little said. “They really wanted to make this happen.” Travel by foot or by bike to discover the abundance of artistic and cultural diversity.
Various locations, Nov. 18-20, various times. eastaustinstudiotour.com
Do the Locomotion
The mall is fun for the entire family when the trains are choo-chooing at NorthPark Center , Dallas’s epicenter of high-end shopping. Viewing the trains is the perfect parent-child time-killer while the other parent hits the sales. Now in its thirteenth year, the Trains at NorthPark is touted as the most elaborate holiday toy train exhibit in Texas. The track will stretch 1,600 feet, between Barneys New York and Nordstrom, to create a miniature version of the United States for the 24 Lionel train sets to traverse. Show your children the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, and Grand Central Station without having to hop in a different mode of transportation. If your child is particularly intrigued, consider buying a souvenir railcar as an early holiday present. Sales benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas .
NorthPark Center, Nov. 19-Jan. 1, various times. rmhdallas.org
The World Gaming Championship is a B.Y.O.C. (bring your own controller) event, but the spectators who come to watch 256 competitors vie for top honors in Madden NFL 12 will have their food and drink supplied by the hotel.
Embassy Suites Riverwalk Hotel, Nov. 19, 9 a.m. worldgamingchamps.com
On Monday your co-workers will ask why you are bobbing your head up and down, and you will smile and say it’s a side effect of admiring the candy-coated low-riders and hip-hop sounds of the Houston rapper Bun B at the fortieth anniversary Tejano Super Car Show .
Ector County Coliseum, Nov. 19-20, various times. tejanosupercarshow.com