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From top left: Claudia Velasco, The Weeknd, Gillian Flynn, Edwin Cabaniss, Marianna Parnas-Simpson, Jose Armando Bustamante, Ashtyn Rivet, Jacob No

Image: Chris Danger

You won’t get us this year, winter doldrums. We’re inviting a group of inspiring butt-kickers to our party, and they’re going to help us thwart you. First up: Claudia Velasco, who works for the Mexican consulate in Houston and successfully kicked the butt of a foot-long-garden-blade-wielding intruder at her West U home. We’re also inviting The Weeknd (playing the Toyota Center on December 13), not because of the chart-topping artist’s sudden ubiquity, but because he spoke out against Taylor Swift, who, at their first meeting, kept touching his hair. Gillian Flynn, too, is on the list, for writing a novel, Gone Girl, that was full of despicable characters but nevertheless a joy to read—no easy feat. (She speaks at the John Cooper School’s Signature Author Series on December 4.) Edwin Cabaniss, who’s redeveloping the historic Heights Theater, gets a seat even though he’s from Dallas, because he made over that city’s awesome Kessler Theater—and we’re hoping for the same awesomeness for Houston. There’s Marianna Parnas-Simpson, director of the Treble Choir of Houston, which just made its Carnegie Hall debut and will perform the matinee shows (December 12 and 13) for Christmas at the Villa de Matel Convent (if you haven’t been, go); Jose Armando Bustamante, who’s both a high school student and businessman, having started successful sneaker-restoration business RetroSnickers; and Ashtyn Rivet, outreach manager at BARC, which recently reported an adoption rate of 70 percent, a huge jump from 40 percent just a few years ago. And finally, we have to invite Jacob No, who recently opened the Greater Church of Lucifer in Old Town Spring, because … because he opened the Greater Church of Lucifer in Old Town Spring. He gets in on audacity points alone.

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