Sea turtle speaker Dr. Charles Caillouet, speaking about the sea turtle, will be the guest at the April meeting of the East Texas Herpetological Society. Caillouet will discuss the National Marine and Fisheries Service's current sea turtle research program in Galveston. People are wondering if the hatchling relocation programs are working -- especially people who've worked the beaches on spring dawns, netting the hatchlings moments after they hit the surf and carefully placing the silver-dollar-size babies in containers, where they'll be raised safely before their release. The theory: if the tiny baby turtles first put their webbed feet in the sand of a particular beach, they'll be imprinted, and no matter where they're released and meet mates, the adult female turtles will return to that beach to lay their eggs. Do they? Caillouet's program will cover the creatures' habits, ecology and future prospects.
This program should be fun for turtle fans who watch the Discovery Channel and especially for those who've been lucky enough to see adult Ridleys in the Gulf. Sea turtles swim the way land turtles walk -- with an unhurried, lumbering rhythm. 7:30 p.m. Houston Zoological Gardens Educational Building, 100 yards to the left of the main entrance. For more details call 446-8588. Free.
La Traviata Houston Grand Opera promises this will be HGO's "most sumptuous Traviata yet!" Quite a claim to live up to. Even the second production, done in 1961 in the Music Hall, was a bang-up affair with set pieces that were bigger than real castles and with dazzling, extravagant costumes to make Mardi Gras look like a high school Halloween party.
HGO also suggests that this might be the ticket for opera virgins. The story is tragic -- resplendent with weeping and wailing and threats and even selfless nobility from the fallen woman. The tunes are hummable, and many are manageable for a good whistler. The sets and costumes go over the top. Verdi, to distance himself and audiences from the salacious story, set the action earlier than his own time (which was the mid-19th century); La Traviata is set in the flowery time of Louis XIV. Isn't that Romantic?
La Traviata is based on the play La Dame aux Camelias, by Dumas fils, about a consumptive courtesan. She should be familiar, at the very least, from the 1937 MGM film with Greta Garbo.
Another plus, for first-time operagoers and mavens alike, is the "Scala Diva" exhibit on display in the Wortham foyer. This photo exhibit chronicling life backstage at Teatro alla Scala, Italy's premier opera house, has never been shown in America.
One more note for neophytes: La Traviata is sung in Italian, but HGO productions have surtitles. Opens tonight at 7:30. Thru May 1. Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $15-$70.
Great Texas Beach Trash-off There are nasty wicked vile unwholesome people who do mess with Texas. What can you do? Lend a hand in the Great Texas Beach Trash-off. Volunteers not only improve our shores but also contribute to environmental research. Texas General Land Office Commissioner Gary Mauro says, "Texas shore could use your help" -- a reasonable, albeit corny, call to arms. To spend three hours making Texas coasts a better place, call (800) 85-BEACH. 9 a.m.-noon.
Let 'er Rip Another reason to go to Galveston: insane giggling and squeals of delight from the audience and from the big blond onstage. Rip Taylor, recently seen in Home Alone 2, brings his wacky, zany, confetti-throwing stage act to the Gulf shore. Taylor was a prop comic when prop comedy was cool (before hacks like Carrot Top wandered onstage carting trunks of glued-together garbage). Always a trooper, Rip Taylor sang on Broadway in several shows, he has worked with all the great ones, and now here he is at the Grand. 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894. $15-$30.
Redneck alert Jeff Foxworthy, God's own cracker, is quite a prolific author. He's got five books on the shelves in the Sniglets section of your local bookstore; You Might Be a Redneck If... is the best known. The redneck shtick, which is not the whole of his act, is what Foxworthy is a little bit famous for, and it will be, no doubt, a key element in his new (as yet un-named) sitcom. Tonight Foxworthy presents his down-home friendly and extremely successful stand-up show at the Bayou City Theatre.
Foxworthy, a former IBM repairman, has not been spoiled by his Cinderella story. "I had always done this," Foxworthy says. "I just didn't know you could get paid for it. It sounds corny, but that first night I went up, two minutes into it I knew this was what I wanted to do." When his parents found out, he says, "We had to have the conversation -- 'Are you on drugs? What's wrong? We'll get you help, honey.' Which all changed the first time I was on The Tonight Show. Then Mother says, 'Lord, why did you waste all those years with IBM?' " Those years don't seem to have held him back. Since he quit IBM in 1985, he has gone from working clubs to selling out concerts, he's sold a million books, his recording is doing well on the country charts and he's got a TV deal. Which, of course, he thinks is just jim-dandy, but as he explains in his signature Georgia drawl, "If it goes it would be great. If it doesn't... When I started, all I wanted was to be on Johnny Carson. After that, the rest of this is gravy." Jeff Foxworthy will generously share all this. Reserved seating. Doors open at 7, Foxworthy goes on at 8. Bayou City Theatre, 6400 Richmond, 977-5495. $18.
Westheimer Colony Art Festival The best place to buy swamp-ivory jewelry. Swamp "ivory," according to Abbeville (Louisiana) artist Kathy Richard, is recycled alligator teeth. With every earring, necklace, pin and bolo, buyers get the numbers from the Louisiana hunter's license and alligator tag, so they need not fear that they're wearing illegally obtained animal parts. The festival, of course, has more than swamp goods: something like 300 artists and craftsfolk will be selling art of the wearable, useful and wall persuasions.
Proceeds from the festival benefit Lawndale Art and Performance Center, Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, the YMCA and the AIDS Foundation Houston. Saturday and today, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 1800 Main, 521-0133. $3.
Fidonet chat Electronic Frontiers Houston presents an afternoon with Tom Jennings, creator of the world's fastest-growing network of computer bulletin-board systems. Fidonet is a decade old now and has only one purpose: to allow BBS users to network their friendly social systems. No vast databases, unless you count the endless file directories of shareware and GIFs. No online information services, unless you count the endless postings from ordinary users. Fidonet links boards and their users in Eastern Europe, the former U.S.S.R., much of the Third World and
of course the U.S.A. If this is all geek to you, maybe you should go and find out how to have some real fun, cheaply, with your modem.
Jennings wants to educate the online public about Fidonet and such. (He also asks that we "mention somewhere that I am a fag anarchist nerd troublemaker activist.") Jennings doesn't jibe with any stereotype, and neither does his network. "Every BBS was completely different," he says, each one "run by a cantankerous person who ran their board the way they saw fit. Period. So Fidonet had to fit that environment." There is a possibility that Jennings will be autographing eight-by-ten glossies of Fidonet. 3 p.m. University of Houston-Downtown, room 1099-N, One Main Street, 661-1561. Free.
Copier art In one well-known Xerox, on Monday Snoopy is all but comatose. This days-of-the-week mood index probably hangs on at least one corkboard in every office building in Houston. There are
others -- the duck with a sledgehammer over his computer, captioned "Hit any key"; the ever-popular "You want it when!"; and so on. People have been playing with copiers since the machines were introduced. Some people, like Sandy Tramel, have gone beyond playing and started exploring the artistic possibilities. She does collages of medical illustrations and images from women's magazines of the '40s and '50s -- decoupage, as it were, with a color copier. This is the sort of art where, although the inspiration and execution may be beyond one's means, the supplies and technology
Sandy Tramel's untitled exhibition is on view at the Carnegie Regions Branch Library thru April 30. 1050 Quitman, 227-9177. Free.
Tin house fireside chat "Rain on a tin roof chats" might be more
apropos. Those of us who remember corrugated tin as housing material can't help but associate it with sounds ranging from the soothing patter of a light drizzle to the hellish life-inside-a-drum effects produced by violent storms. Recently, however, galvanized sheet iron has been used for designer homes -- not just for those out in the sticks. This trend, seen in Houston's West End, is the focus of the Rice Design Alliance's 17th annual architecture tour. As a prep for that adventure, the architects and owners of tin houses will participate in a chat covering the pros and cons
of dwelling in an industrial-looking building. 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance 8 off University, 524-6297. Free.
'90s reconstruction We of this decade can do just about anything with what we were born with -- pin ears back, bob noses, boost busts, nip and tuck and peel to, as one Dr. Scott A. Cohen puts it, "combat the signs of aging as well as correct some of nature's flaws." Cohen offers the suggestion that Mother Nature makes mistakes, and that they can be corrected. "More and more people," the doctor says, "are discovering that plastic surgery is a safe and viable alternative." After the excesses of some Jacksons, one little ol' cosmetic procedure doesn't seem all that extreme. The American Business Women's Association-Astrolite Chapter sponsors a seminar on options for the curious and the committed. Reservations recommended. 7:15 p.m. Guest Quarters Suite Hotel, 5353 Westheimer, 797-0085. Free.
Brown Bag Break for parents The Children's Museum is for families, really. The Families First program, developed at Wheelock College and the Boston Children's Museum, is a set of lunchtime seminars for parents. Today's discussion is Temperamental Differences: Understanding and Accepting the Child You Have. As parents find out early, children are not the neat and tidy blending of two people's better genes. They are their own selves. This workshop helps parents understand their children's unique personalities and find aspects that enhance positive relationships within the family. Parents are invited to bring lunches, and child care is available during the sessions ($3 per kid). Noon-1 p.m., Children's Museum, 1500 Binz. To register call 522-1138 ext. 206. $10, $8 Museum members.