Press Picks

may 15
Family Day at Bayou Bend To celebrate International Museum Day (this time of year, the calendar is packed with this stuff), come to Bayou Bend for demonstrations of spinning, weaving and needlework. George Washington's mother will be on hand to talk about our first president's life as a little boy. (Not, of course, his real mother, but an amazingly lifelike representative.) Museum docents and other staff will also be answering questions today. This is the day to find out how precious objects are acquired and cared for. 1-5 p.m. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 1 Westcott Street, 520-2600. Free, no reservations required.

Galveston Historic Homes Tour The 20th annual tour takes visitors through nine amazing houses dating from antebellum Texas through the turn of the century. "Each of these homes has a unique history," says Galveston Home Foundation executive director Betty Massy. "Some have survived occupation by Civil War combatants, devastating fires, Galveston's 1900 hurricane and, in many cases, years of abandonment and neglect."

The tour includes an illustrated Homes Tour catalog with a map and descriptions of each home. You can set your own pace and route, or take advantage of shuttle service. Noon-6 p.m. Tickets available at The Strand Visitor's Center, 2016 Strand, and at the 1859 Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway, Galveston, (409) 762-TOUR or (713) 280-3907. $15.

may 16
Transit Appreciation Week There's an old Pogo strip in which Churchy La Femme, turtle and troubadour, urges his friends in the Okefenokee Swamp to observe "Farmers' Wash Day." Silly as it may sound, we may well have signed such a celebration into officialdom by now, what with Hallmark, special-interest groups and elected officials all crowding up the calendar. Likewise, "Transit Appreciation Week" may sound like a bad joke, but it's a good idea.

Ask around: if you have friends who work I'll bet you find at least one wage slave who took Park & Ride once, because of car repair or some such, and has been a faithful Metro rider ever since. If you work regular hours on a paved two-lane street, chances are good that you could enjoy the bus. Think of it -- free time to read, in the morning and afternoon. You could save big bucks on gas money and enjoy environmental moral high ground.

There are unique thrills, too, in Transit Appreciation Week. Captain Planet will appear at Metro RideStores on Tuesday, May 17 to give away posters, pop-up books and other Planeteer items. During Transit Appreciation Week, May 16-20, five bucks will get you a ticket good for all week and anywhere Metro goes. And, you might just get to travel elsewhere in the contiguous United States -- patrons who mail in their $5 passes by May 31 will be included in a drawing for two round-trip air tickets (be sure to print your name, address and phone on the pass before mailing it). Passes and contest details can be found at many grocery stores, all designated ticket outlets and Metro RideStores. Call 635-4000 for schedules and information.

Life Through Time The Museum of Natural Science's expanded and improved paleontology exhibit opens today. Walk under the tail of a 20-ton herbivorous dinosaur, or feast your eyes on a raging battle scene with Tyrannosaurus Rex. More than 450 specimens will be on permanent display, and oh what a display it is. It's got a working waterfall, and elaborate murals and dioramas complement the fossils exhibited.

Life Through Time is designed to give visitors a sense that they're strolling through various times, beginning with Precambrian -- 4.5 billion years ago -- and marching on through the Paleozoic Era, the ever-popular Jurassic and right up to the fairly recent Cenozoic Era. (All Houston-area local fossils are from the Cenozoic Era. The swamp we live in was once home to Ice Age mammals such as the giant sloth and the giant armadillo. One of each, dug up along Brays Bayou in 1952, will be presented, and as you stare at the remains of these colossal creatures, remember that similar bones could be right in your own back yard.) 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Life Through Time is now a permanent exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive, 639-4600. $3, $2 children under 12. (There's never an admission fee for members.)

The Modern Theater of Language Inprint Inc. presents prose and plays read by Alley Theatre company members. Before the reception, enjoy excerpts from Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy, Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, David Mamet's Duck Variations, Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, Harold Pinter's Applicant and Last to Go, Gertrude Stein's A List, Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, Tennessee Williams' The Lady of Larkspur Lotion and, wrapping up this festival of modernity, Robert Wilson's Letter from Queen Victoria. The goal of this web of words is to benefit Inprint Inc., which will in turn do even more to promote writing and the appreciation of the literary arts in Houston. 7:30 p.m. Alley Theatre, Neuhaus Stage, 615 Texas Avenue, 521-2026. $20, $5 students.

may 17
Boatyard Tonight's always the night for comedy book-ended by jazz, under the low-slung roof of a long shed by the freeway. Dick Williams, who organized the show, says, "This venue survives on the interest of those who desire to see developing comedy, and the good will of comics who are willing to participate for little or no compensation." Comics say it's a great place to learn how to bomb. Although not always cheerfully. As one put it with a certain measure of rancor, "I was there working to six people who really didn't like me and the other tables were all fighting with each other." I say Pauly Shore would never have made it through a dues-paying process like this, and any true fan of the wacky arts would delight in seeing newbies develop their craft. And, it's not all amateur. Certain well-known former locals drop by to work on new material, to fool around, or just because they can't stand not going up.

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