Restaurant Week “Voice”

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

Our first stop for Houston’s Restaurant Week is Voice. Undeniably the best new restaurant we have seen in years, this gem inside the Hotel Icon rolled out the red carpet for diners. The mushroom soup cappuccino is not to be missed. This decadent appetizer is served in a coffee cup and looks just like its namesake. The ingredients: crimini mushroom, truffle foam and porcini powder create a power-house of flavors so delectable, this could be the best soup I’ve ever had.

The roasted pork-loin is spot on and flavorful with a bourbon garlic sauce, granny smith apples and roasted corn. Other options are black grouper and clod steak.

The molten warm chocolate cake and strawberry rhubarb crisp end the night perfectly.

The portions are full sized. For the $35 fixed price, this dining experience is a great value. 220 Main 713-224-4266;

Bleed It Out

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

The Uncomfort Zone with Robert Wilson

Bleed It Out by Robert Wilson Half a century ago marketing consultant, James Vicary, pulled a hoax on the American people as a way to promote his advertising agency. He reported that he flashed the words “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” on the screen for a millisecond during a movie in a theater, and caused large numbers of people to visit the concession stand. He called the effect Subliminal Advertising. Subliminal means that the effect functions below the threshold of consciousness. Years later, when others failed to duplicate his results, he admitted that he made the whole thing up. Never-the-less, the myth continues.

So, is there any advertising that does work below the threshold of consciousness? Yes. Much of advertising is clearly designed to speak to you on a subconscious level. Ads are created to get you to relate to the setting; the background music; the age, race and gender of the actors; their clothing; and the activities in which they are involved. The idea is that you will recognize yourself in these people and, in turn, make the connection, “Ah, this is my kind of product.” You don’t think it… you feel it. And, feelings move us to act.

A few years ago I was involved in non-profit fund-raising for a Christian Mission in Africa. In order to learn what type of appeal would bring in the most money, we conducted a series of focus groups. We asked, “Which would you be more likely to do: A. Give money to feed starving babies; or B. Give money to teach people how to grow drought resistant crops that would end starvation in their community.” The answer they gave was almost universally: B. The comments we heard frequently included the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

We then tested both appeals. Oops, the focus groups were wrong. The appeal for feeding starving babies won by a landslide. The lesson we learned was that the emotional appeal to save the life of a child is much more powerful than a logical appeal for teaching a village survival skills that would eliminate starvation. From that point forward, the heart-tugging stories of babies dying headlined every ad we ran.

Emotion trumps logic every time. Take for example, Nick Ut’s 1972 photograph of a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl who was naked, shrieking and running away from her village that had just been bombed with napalm. Fear, despair and suffering were written all over her face. More than anything it was her complete vulnerability that captured our attention. One snapshot revealed the gut-wrenching horror of war, and millions of people, whose hearts were touched, turned their attention toward ending the Vietnam War.

Perhaps you recall hearing these potent words in a speech by Jesse Jackson back in 1984: “These hands… these black hands… these hands that once picked cotton will now pick presidents.” Thrilling words. Exciting words. I remember them well. And, even though I wasn’t his target audience, they created a powerful image in my mind, and when he finished, all I could say was, “Wow!” Meanwhile, for millions of African Americans, it was the motivation needed to put apathy aside and go to the ballot box.

We are charged and moved by many emotions. Here are just a few: acceptance, amusement, anger, angst, annoyance, anticipation, arrogance, awe, anxiety, bitterness, calmness, caution, confidence, courage, determination, disappointment, discontent, disgust, desire, delight, elation, embarrassment, envy, excitement, fear, friendship, frustration, gratitude, grief, guilt, hate, happiness, impatience, inadequacy, irritability, inspiration, joy, jealousy, kindness, loneliness, love, lust, modesty, negativity, nostalgia, paranoia, patience, pity, pride, regret, resentment, sadness, self-pity, serenity, shame, surprise, timidity, torment, worry, yearning, and zeal.

Which ones move you?

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit

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Horseshoe Bay Resort

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Houstonians have been escaping to Horseshoe Bay Resort in the hill country for generations. Now, many are are buying lots and building luxurious weekend homes in Skywater, a new community adjacent the resort overlooking Lake LBJ.

Skywater is an environmentally friendly community with first-rate amenities. Within the 1,600 acre project is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, fitness center, extensive hiking and biking trails through lush hill country terrain, resort style pools, tennis courts and gardens. Attached to Horseshoe Bay Airport and Jet Center, residents can arrive via private plane. Its proximity to Horseshoe Bay Resort makes parking yachts convenient.

The community is divided into four neighborhoods, each with golf and lake views, but individual focuses. Some are child friendly with activity areas and fishing ponds, others are on ridges with 360 degree views and one is close to the golf clubhouse and outdoor gathering area; perfect for the social crowd. Coming soon is an airport community complete with wide streets and oversized garages so residents can fly in and drive home.

Developers of Skywater laid infrastructure for a green community.  Nearly half the property is reserved for golf, hiking and open space. Following guidelines from LEED, a green building rating system, they created rainwater harvesting, passive solar energy systems, naturally treated saline pools and alternative transportation and parking. The sales pavilion is powered with 100 percent renewable energy. The community is committed to helping residents incorporate earth friendly features into their homes by sharing ideas and resources.

Located in the middle of Texas’ hill country, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in this growing little town. Marble Falls is nearby, offering popular restaurants like Cafe 909 and The Lookout. You’ll also find shopping and a few charming “watering holes.” Many wineries are in the area and a plethora of outdoor activities can be found. For the really ambitious, Austin is about 45 minutes away.

A little over 210 miles outside Houston, this scenic retreat is about three and a half hours away by car or one by plane. With homesites starting in the high $100s, Skywater is not for everyone. But if you crave views, hill country, outdoor activities and fresh air in a luxury environment, and happen to have a plane, it’s a convenient getaway.

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