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Texans who are eagerly anticipating America’s historic return to the moon now have a new date to mark on their calendars. Artemis I will launch on Saturday, September 3, with a two-hour window beginning at 1:17 pm, NASA announced August 30.

Viewers can tune into the livestream of the rocket and spacecraft at the launch pad on the NASA Kennedy YouTube channel. Additionally, live coverage of events can be found on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

This comes after the initial August 29 launch was scrubbed. At that time, teams were not able to chill down the four RS-25 engines to necessary temperatures. Teams also caught and quickly managed a hydrogen leak on one of the rocket’s components.

NASA reports that teams are currently addressing and testing both issues in advance of the Saturday launch. Another important component for flight windows — weather — is currently favorable. Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 forecast favorable weather conditions for Saturday. Though some rain showers are expected, they are predicted to be sporadic during the launch window, per NASA.

Artemis I is the first flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket (dubbed SLS), and the ground systems at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation to extend human presence to the Moon and beyond,” NASA notes in a news release. “The mission will demonstrate the performance of the SLS rocket and test Orion’s capabilities over the course of about six weeks as it travels about 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and back to Earth.”

Given the gravity of the launch, NASA planned considerable fanfare for the broadcast, including celebrity appearances by Jack Black, Chris Evans, and Keke Palmer, as well as a special performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock. A planned musical performance featured “America the Beautiful” by The Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Representatives from Johnson Space Center had not received an update on the Saturday broadcast program when contacted on Wednesday, August 31.

Texas — and Houston specifically — has been inextricably tied to lunar missions ever since NASA’s first launches. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy boldly declared that America would go to the moon before the end of the decade in front of a packed Rice University football stadium.

On July 20, 1969 — a commitment to the late President Kennedy’s directive — Apollo 11 marked its arrival to the lunar surface with a statement heard around the globe from Commander Neil Armstrong, who would take mankind’s first steps on the surface: “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.”

And the Bayou City has (somewhat tiredly) been the source of a ubiquitous sentence — actually, a paraphrasing — uttered by Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The adjusted “Houston, we have a problem” declaration was later immortalized by Tom Hanks (as Lovell) in the blockbuster Apollo 13.

What will be the next iconic phrase sent back to Houston when NASA’s manned mission readies to land on Earth’s sole satellite? The countdown is on.

Photo by Adam Graser

Legendary Texas battleship casts off for much-needed repair

Anchors Aweigh!

The most iconic water-borne symbol of World War I and World War II in Texas moved on August 31 from its home at the San Jacinto Battleground Site for much-needed restoration.

Battleship Texas left its current home to Galveston’s Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corporation facilities for repairs to its hull. Fans and history buffs assembled as early as 5:30 am to watch the ship disconnect, swing, and attach to its tug craft.

Anticipating national curiosity, the Battleship Texas Foundation had set up livestreaming via the official Facebook page or YouTube channel. Those interested can review hourly status and updates here.

For years, the legendary dreadnought, which was built in 1910, has been carefully addressed. Tackling the massive amount of water leaking into the ship, companies BTF, Resolve, and Valkor worked for six months to drastically reduce the leak rate from 2,000 gallons per minute to under 20 gallons per minute, making the ship significantly safer to tow.

Notably, the Battleship Texas Foundation hand-picked the Gulf Copper shipyard in Galveston specifically due to the company’s recent acquisition of a floating drydock that is capable of lifting the juggernaut battleship out of the water, according to foundation press materials.

Currently, the oldest battleship in existence that witnessed both WWI and WWII is owned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 2019, the state legislature appropriated $35 million to fund the ship’s hull repair.

A symbol of America's military might, Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 and at the time, was (somewhat fittingly, given the name) considered the most powerful weapon in the world. The warship is credited with introducing and innovating gunnery, aviation, and radar.

In 1948, Battleship Texas was decommissioned and made a permanent museum, appropriately on April 21, Texas Independence Day.

Beyoncé rules the internet with historic Twitter emoji celebrating new album

a bee for queen bey

Texas and the worldwide Beyhive are buzzing in anticipation of Renaissance, Beyoncé’s wildly anticipated new album, which dropped Friday, July 29 on Tidal and streaming services everywhere.

In honor of the news that broke the internet this summer, Twitter has released a new fandom emoji in honor of the Texan icon. Notably, this is only the second time ever that Twitter is creating an emoji for a fandom: BTS, the insanely popular K-Pop act, received the first custom fandom emoji in 2017 when the group reached 10 million followers.

Cutesy and completely apropos, the new Beyoncé emoji is a take on the instantly familiar bee emoji, replete with a regal golden crown. It appears for users when Tweeting with #BeyHive.

Twitter crafted the new emoji in honor of the passionately fierce BeyHive presence on the platform. When Beyoncé deleted her profile pics on all social media, her Twitter BeyHive army quickly and astutely predicted a new album was coming.

“The #BeyHive brings their passion for Beyoncé to the timeline everyday—from speculation about new music to sharing their favorite lyrics,” said Twitter’s head of music partnerships Kevin O’Donnell in a statement. “The custom #BeyHive emoji is our way of celebrating this vibrant community ahead of Renaissance’s release.”

This isn’t the first time a Texas superstar has received their own Twitter emoji. Our G.O.A.T Simone Biles was the first Olympian to ever receive a custom image — the emoji is a silhouette of an adorable leaping goat (aww) in uniform and, fittingly, sporting a gold medal.

Renaissance is Beyoncé’s first major, fully solo studio album since the achingly personal and revealing smash Lemonade, which she released in 2016. In June, Beyoncé deleted her social media profile images and released an announcement in all black that teased the album name and release date, setting the internet ablaze.

Things hardly cooled down when, two weeks later, she released a striking cover image. The stark photo sees the icon posing on a luminous, silvery horse that neatly matches her metallic, spiky, very revealing outfit. Fans speculated that it harked from everything from Lady Godiva on horseback to Bianca Jagger photographed at the legendary Studio 54 nightclub.

As for Renaissance, Variety was first to report that the album will feature both dance and country-leaning tracks. Ryan Tedder, leader of One Republic, who co-wrote her 2008 hit “Halo” contributed, as well as other heavy hitters.

Late last month, the queen shocked fans with a surprise drop of “Break My Soul,” the first single from the album; the song is already No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic songs list. Sony Entertainment is already hosting and promoting “Club Renaissance” listening parties all around the world.

The new album is full of intriguing — and fun — titles that seem both examinations and revelatory, such as “America Has a Problem,” “Thique,” “Alien Superstar,” “Plastic Off the Sofa,” and of course, “Summer Renaissance.”

Here’s the full song list:

  • “I’m That Girl”
  • “Cozy”
  • “Alien Superstar”
  • “Cuff It”
  • “Energy”
  • “Break My Soul”
  • “Church Girl”
  • “Plastic Off the Sofa”
  • “Virgo’s Groove”
  • “Move”
  • “Heated”
  • “Thique”
  • “All Up in Your Mind”
  • “America Has a Problem”
  • “Pure/Honey”
  • “Summer Renaissance”

Fans are buzzing over Beyoncé's Renaissance, which dropped July 29.

Beyoncé/Instagram
Fans are buzzing over Beyoncé's Renaissance, which dropped July 29.
Photo courtesy of Big Easy Ranch

Luxurious Texas ranch retreat tees up new 18-hole championship golf course

acing it

A prestigious and exclusive getaway for Texans has just rolled out an exciting new destination for golfers. Big Easy Ranch, the private Colorado County retreat (about an hour from Houston) has unveiled the name and open date of its new 18-hole championship golf course.

Dubbed The Covey — which harks to the ranch’s wingshooting and upland hunting — the par 72 course will boast more than 7,400 yards with multiple tee boxes, Zeon Zoysia fairways and rough, and TifEagle greens, all aiming to offer optimal playing and course conditions for the area, per press materials.

Groundbreaking kicked off in September, and The Covey is slated for completion this fall. Renowned golf course architect Chet Williams returned to design The Covey; he originally designed The Ranch’s nine-hole, par three course.

Big Easy has already seen an uptick in members, Big Easy’s Nicole Scarbrough says.

“With the announcement of the new 18-hole golf course in spring 2021, we introduced the Legacy Membership, a new level of membership providing access to the ranch amenities along with exclusive access to the … course,” she says. “With a conservative limit of 300, more than 100 Legacy members have already joined. This is pretty significant considering The Covey will not be completed and open for play until fall 2022.”

Scarborough also notes that the retreat has seen new members from Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio — as well as across the U.S.

Meanwhile, course plans also for a second clubhouse that will provide sweeping, 360-degree views of the courses and neighboring foothills, plus lounge areas, a full service bar, dining areas, a wine room, and upscale locker rooms for both men and women.

Considered the elite retreat in Columbus, Texas/Colorado County, Big Easy Ranch (2400 Brunes Mill Rd.) spans 2,000 acres of hilly terrain. Besides golf, members enjoy sporting clays course, fishing lakes, an infinity pool, wingshooting, whitetail and exotic hunting, luxury overnight accommodations, and a 12,000-square-foot lodge that serves up high-end dining and an award winning wine program.

Members can also take advantage of estate homesites that range from two-thirds of an acre to more than one acre, as well as shared ownership villas.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Austin real estate guru reveals the awesome power of staging

Ask the Expert

After owning her own company in another market, Susan Griffith combined her considerable experience with a passion for her new surroundings and launched one of the most formidable careers in Central Texas real estate.

Her performance with Kuper Sotheby's International Realty has merited a place in the Elite 25, representing the top 1 percent of Austin luxury agents, for 19 years.

One of the most vital things she has learned during her exemplary career is the power of staging.

"I am passionate about keeping up with the latest interior design trends, and have had the opportunity to collaborate with great stagers who inspire me," she says. "Staging creates an emotional connection with a potential buyer. It's about creating a space where memorable moments can happen."

Debating about whether you should get your home staged before putting it on the market? Read on for more of Griffith's advice.

Inspire buyers
People often search for homes online first, and a listing that includes staged photos are much more likely to catch a potential buyer's eye.

"Most buyers are uninspired by an empty house, and staging helps them see the best use for each room and imagine living in the home," says Griffith.

Go virtual
The pandemic changed a lot about the real estate industry, with one of the biggest being the introduction — and popularity — of virtual tours and staging.

Griffith has embraced this technological advancement, using it for both interior design and exterior landscaping. It especially came in handy after the 2021 freeze.

"Through the power of virtual staging, we were able to bring life to the trees, bushes, and grass, making the landscaping appear lush and vibrant — which it would have been if it were not for the freeze," Griffith says.

She always purchases a floorplan for each of her listings, to ensure that the virtual experience mirrors the in-person one as much as possible.

"Sometimes a floorplan by itself is not enough for a potential client to visualize the layout of a home," she says. "Virtual staging seamlessly guides a client through each room and helps them imagine how the spaces can be used."

Simple steps
There are small things you can do that make a huge impact, such as letting in natural light and having the same bright light bulbs throughout the home.

Griffith also advises having as much walkable space as possible so that each room has a good flow. This can be achieved by removing any furniture too large for the space that would block windows or walkways.

Having countertops free of any clutter and everything picked up off closet floors make those spaces feel much roomier.

"Many people do not want to spend the money to stage the outdoor areas, but it always makes the home more inviting," Griffith says.

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See testimonials from Susan Griffith's clients here, or contact her at 512-626-4102 or susan.griffith@sothebysrealty.com.

1002 Lund St. was on the market for about three months without staging — once staged, it sold in a matter of weeks.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
1002 Lund St. was on the market for about three months without staging — once staged, it sold in a matter of weeks.
Rendering courtesy of Meow Wolf

Wildly popular Santa Fe art experience Meow Wolf opens 2 Texas portals

Imagination station

The mesmerizing Santa Fe-based interactive adventure known for enchanting art lovers and amusement zealots with its mind-bending immersive experiences is tripping into Texas with two new permanent exhibitions.

Announced Wednesday, May 11, Meow Wolf will open a new "portal" in Grapevine next year, marking the innovative business’ first permanent installation in the Lone Star State. A portal in Houston will follow, in 2024.

The new Grapevine portal (so called for Meow Wolf’s expertise in transporting visitors to fantastic realms of imagination) will be located in the Grapevine Mills shopping mall and encompass 40,000 square feet in the space formerly occupied by a big-box store. The Grapevine Meow Wolf is scheduled to open in 2023.

Following the Grapevine opening, Meow Wolf aims to unveil its Houston portal, which will be in the historic Fifth Ward cultural district and include Houston-based real estate firm The Deal Co as development partners. The Houston portal is planned for a 2024 opening.

Meow Wolf got its start in 2008 as a DIY collective of Santa Fe artists, growing into a full-fledged immersive-art affair with the opening of the permanent Santa Fe location in 2016. In 2021, the company branched out with two additional permanent portals in Denver and Las Vegas. Each location hosts a unique art exhibition, ranging from Santa Fe’s mysterious “House of Eternal Return” to Las Vegas’ surreal supermarket-themed “Omega Mart” and Denver’s transformative “Convergence Station.”

While additional info on themes, names, artists, and specific opening dates for the new Texas portals — the company’s fourth and fifth permanent exhibitions — will be released in the coming months, and the company declined to reveal the build-out costs for the new locations, Meow Wolf has confirmed that more than 50 percent of the artists contributing to the rooms, dioramas, and murals at the new Lone Star State portals hail from Texas. Meow Wolf says it will actively begin recruiting more artists and staff for the new Texas portals this summer.

The new locations, which the company teased as part of its appropriately mysterious Texas Portals marketing campaign, are part of a larger expansion plan for the arts consortium, says Didi Bethurum, vice president of marketing for Meow Wolf, which will add more permanent installations and roll out other artful projects in the coming years.

While Bethurum notes that several factors play into the decision-making process when choosing a new Meow Wolf location, she highlights the size and art-loving communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas as key criteria.

“Dallas is the ninth-largest city by population in the United States and Houston is the fourth-largest. Bringing Meow Wolf experiences to large cities allows for us to share art with the greatest amount of people,” she says, also calling attention to the Texas Cultural Trust’s 2021 State of the Arts Report, which claims Texas’ arts and culture industry has blossomed by more than 30 percent in the past decade. “We seek to be part of the amazing growth of this sector.”

And considering Meow Wolf has a “legacy of utilizing unique spaces” that allow for artistic creativity to flow — an old bowling alley in Santa Fe, a new experience district in Las Vegas, and football-stadium-adjacent triangular highway void in Denver — Grapevine’s nostalgic mall vibes and Houston’s diverse and historic location make for ideal haunts for Meow Wolf.

Likely also contributing to the Grapevine location decision is the fact that one of Meow Wolf’s founders, Matt King, grew up in the area and was even present at the grand opening of Grapevine Mills in the late 1990s.

“I am thrilled to welcome Meow Wolf to Grapevine,” says Mayor William D. Tate. “Our city is a premier destination for entertainment, and the interactive installation these artists will build at Grapevine Mills pairs perfectly with the high-quality restaurants, wineries, and family-friendly activities we have worked to place all over our fine city for decades.”

This marks the first time Meow Wolf will open two exhibitions in the same state at roughly the same time, certainly a major undertaking for any arts organization. But given that some 3 million raving fans have already visited Meow Wolf locations and that the company has been eyeing these Texas markets for more than two years, the new portals are destined to become a howling success, enthralling locals with “revolutionary artistic expression” unlike anything Grapevine or Houston have previously experienced.

“The Meow Wolf story universe is expanding, and Texas holds the keys to our next chapters,” says Jose Tolosa, CEO of Meow Wolf. “Opening a permanent exhibition in the largest and one of the most diverse states in the country has been on Meow Wolf’s radar for years, and we are excited to be formally underway. The opportunities this state has presented have already become the touchstones of a vibrant, arts-centric portal of imaginative creativity.”

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H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.