s parents, we hope) will have the opportunity to get together to discuss realistic plans for keeping kids off the streets and, instead, involved in positive recreational and educational pursuits. Teen employment will also be a hot topic. 7 p.m. Sharpstown Recreation Center, 6600 Harbor Town. For info call 845-1210. Free.
Absolut Extravaganza Those who can't take tequila will take this to heart -- a celebration of being Texan with vodka. There are, you know, hoards of Slavs in the Hill Country so it's sort of fitting (although Absolut is a Nordic distillation).
Actually, there's more than simple imbibing going on here. The celebration is also a benefit for DIFFA, a group that does artsy things to raise money (nearly $1 million to date) to fund programs that help those with AIDS. At this fest, 50 signed and numbered lithographs by Karen Blessen will be sold for $300 each. Speaking of art, the Steak and Stone Crab restaurant is newly remodeled. 5:30-8 p.m. Truluck's Steak & Stone Crab Restaurant, 5919 Westheimer, 520-7111.
Canine good citizens Mutts will be allowed on the grounds of the AstroWorld Series of Dog Shows. Mutts who are prepared to take the canine good citizen test, that is. In recent years, the American Kennel Club has become a lot less snotty about mixed-breed dogs. This may be because of the success of Frisbee Dog, Agility Tournaments and Flyball, which are open to any old cur who can perform. Whatever the reason, the opportunity to be a good citizen is open to all dogs (for a $5 fee, and we assume the dog will need to be wearing proper tags). Dogs will be expected to walk on a leash, sit, stay and work and play well with others. The certificate they get for doing this could be used as a sort of character witness in case some shrill neighbor-child claims to have been menaced by your dog. Of course, as long as you're out with your dog, you can enjoy the other sights of the dog show, including obedience classes that are usually relegated to the back of the AstroArena while breed judging beauty contests take place in the main ring. Canine Good Citizen Testing 2-4 p.m. Dog show from early till after dark. Aug. 12-14. AstroArena, Kirby at Loop 610, 791-9069. Admission $7, $3 children under 12.
Alice in Wonderland This twisted tale of strange creatures in a dark wonderland is perfectly suited to the ballet stage, and to the talents of Ben Stevenson. Stevenson created this ballet because he thought it would be "a great way of introducing young children to dance, yet still entertain adults." Carroll's wonderful characters -- the white rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter -- are presented through masterful dance, fabulous costumes and magnificent music. This production could give a small child nightmares -- the kind of nightmares remembered fondly, as magical, in dull adulthood. Thru the 14th. Tonight's performance 7:30 p.m. Brown Theater, Wortham Center, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $5-$70.
Karaoke contest Warble your way to fame and fortune -- well, perhaps to the national finals in Kah Nee Tah, Oregon. Contestants must be 18 years or older and can choose any of the more than 3,000 English and Japanese CDs in the Benihana lounge. The rules state, says manager Narongk Utsaha, "that contestants must not earn more than 25 percent of their incomes through singing." 9 p.m. Benihana of Tokyo, 9707 Westheimer, 789-4962. No entry fee.
Gary Primich Hot on the heels of his Travelin' Mood release, juke-joint harmonica ace Gary Primich blows his blues in our town. This is just one of the many stops for this old-style harp player, who has played with really, really greats such as Big Walter Horton and Pinetop Perkins. 9 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $5.
See Stout commissioned The Houston Council of the United States Navy League announces the commissioning of the USS Stout (DDG 55) at the Port of Houston. The ship's sponsor, Mrs. Bettie Boorda, and her husband, Admiral J.M. Boorda, the current Chief of Naval Operations, along with the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable John Dalton, will be in Houston for this official party. The public, ordinary squids like you and me, will be able to tour this Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer from 1-6 p.m. today and then again from noon-6 p.m. on Sunday. Wharf 32, Port of Houston. For details, call JO1 Forrest Parrott, 953-5916.
One Tough Texan Jan Hudson, writer of rough-hewn romances, makes a special appearance to promote her new book, One Tough Texan. The prose of Hudson, a licensed, non-practicing psychologist, runs like this: "The last thing Need Chisholm expected to see when he looked up from his beer was a naked lady. But there she stood in the doorway of the Ace in the Hole Saloon, backlit by the afternoon sun." This naked lady is one Kate Miller, who is already in the witness protection program and has just had the bad luck to witness another murder. The publishers refer to the ensuing plot as having a "Conquering Hero" theme. The popular, award-winning writer appears 1-3 p.m. Bookstop at Deerbrook Commons, 9668 FM 1960 Bypass, 548-1551. No cover.
Millbend Coffeehouse Millbend is having its regular quaint coffeehouse in The Woodlands tonight. The Harry Fish String Band is set to play, and we can only hope they won't get too rowdy. This band, although well versed in bluegrass and similar ilk, has on occasion been less than polite to ladies in their audience. (In fairness, we should note that ladies who resorted to unlady-like refusals were let alone and that some women enjoy being dragged up on stage and made fun off.) The coffeehouse is a non-profit, smoke-free venue in a Unitarian Universalist building. The goal is to promote local acoustic artists and poets. A portion of each night's proceeds are always given to charity, and that charity is decided on by audience vote. As always, coffees, teas, juices and desserts will be available, and an artist and a poet will be part of the evening's entertainment. 7 p.m. Millbend Coffeehouse, 1370 N. Millbend Dr., two blocks west of I-45 and one block south of The Woodlands Parkway. $6 recommended donation.
Omar and the Howlers Heavy-duty hard-core blues from local favorites at the best possible spot -- a club with outdoor seating and barbecue. Omar and The Howlers have sort of a national rep these days, but you can forget about all that and enjoy them as a blues band. Brazos Bottom Bar & Grill, 7010 FM 762, Richmond, 341-5210. $10. (If you have to park on the road, and you probably will, be sure that no tires are on the pavement and your parking lights are on. Last time we were at the Brazos, officers of the law kept taking the stage to explain that this is what it takes to avoid being towed.)
History of Black Baseball "Before You Can Say Jackie Robinson! Black Baseball Leagues in the Era of the Color Line, 1885-1950" opens today at the Galveston County Historical Museum. Everything from actual bleacher seats from Jersey City's Roosevelt Stadium to baseball cards of almost-forgotten heroes will be on display. The photographs and memorabilia for this exhibit were gathered by Larry Hogan, a professor of history at Union County College in Cranford, N.J. Dr. Hogan will give a program at 3 p.m. Baseball and history fans who can't make the program will still have plenty of time throughout the summer to see this exciting, and enlightening exhibit. Until Time/Life comes out with a book series about black baseball, this is a rare opportunity. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. 2219 Market Street, Galveston, (409) 765-7834. Free admission.
Orange Show Eyeopeners Tour Take a bus trip to see kooky stuff all over town. Hundreds have, so why not you? Folk art, funkiness and the just plain weird are all celebrated. The whole purpose of this four-hour tour is to see what your fellow Houstonians have done with their homes, how they've made them worlds of pure imagination. We suggest that tour takers check their deed restrictions before acting on their inspiration, however. Not every neighborhood is kind to artistic vision. 3-7 p.m. Departing from The Orange Show, 2401 Munger, 926-6368. $20.
Help Nancy Ford Celebrate Her First Mid-Life Crisis "Old age is no place for sissies." That quote from Tallulah Bankhead sets the tone for this fortysomething theme party. Special guest Julia Sweeney (a.k.a. Pat) will be on hand to help the comedian deal with this mid-life crisis ominously identified as a first. The talented and charitable Ms. Ford has set this whole shebang up as a benefit for AIDS Foundation-Houston. Along with all the entertainment, there is a raffle and a silent auction of goodies donated by a wide variety of generous merchants -- the grand prize is a trip for two to New Orleans. 6-10 p.m. Plaza 9200, 9200 Buffalo Speedway, 666-3464. $10.
Munchies The Houstonian Big Band plays first, around 8 or 9, and an open-mike follows at 10:30 p.m. That big band is real dang big -- an 18-piece band squawunched up on the smallish stage. Watching them set up without knocking each other over has a certain entertainment value, which is not to say that they're not entertaining as musicians. The open mike is free form. No sign-up, just show up and wait in the wings until your time comes. Do comedy, sing folk music, play a harp... whatever. Probably, they'd let a dog do tricks. Food (it is 'Munchies") is served until 11 p.m., but they tell us, "We're pretty flexible. If youÕre really nice, or it's slow, someone might go back and fix you something after that." The music can be heard from the outside tables, too. Munchies, by the way, has one of those long, long, long lists of fancy beers at not bad prices. Munchies, 1617 Richmond, 528-3545. No cover.
Houston City Council Should City Council make the CIA leave Joseph Charles' internal organs alone? Does Bob Lanier have someone's backpack? Can Geneva Brooks convince our leaders that it is a mortal sin to be naked under your clothes? Questions like these are raised at every meeting of the Houston City Council. If you go every week, then you're either a pain freak or a reporter. If you don't ever go, you deserve what you get. City Hall Annex. 8:30 a.m. Tuesdays; 2 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday; 8:30 a.m. Wednesday if Tuesday is a holiday. Free, but parking can be tricky.
Comedy Showcase T. Sean Shannon, a performer and writer with boisterous, even doofus, charm is back in town for one brief, shining week of sets on the Loony Toons stage. Shannon ran off to L.A. some years ago and has done quite well. He got his little comedy act on all the little comedy shows on cable and did writing gigs for In Living Color and Comic Strip Live. But, he says, "They're canceled, so I'm on the road again. Network television's loss is the Comedy Showcase's gain." He's glad to be back in good old Space City. "I love the Astros," he says, "but they'll probably be on strike." And then, with genuine sadness, "That's a bummer." Clearly, fame and fortune and La La land have not kept our boy from keeping up with the home team. Asked about his current act, Shannon says, "I don't want to give away any of the few bits I've got going for me," but does note that everyone loves his bit explaining that America is going downhill. "It's obvious," he says, "because the insane are now bland. We've got postmen snapping, chemistry teachers shooting people. The insane criminals are becoming dull." He longs for a finer time, an America with psychotics one could really be creeped out by. See Baby T, a nostalgic patriot. You can see him twice nightly Aug. 17-21. Tue.-Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 8 & 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m. Comedy Showcase, 12547 Gulf Fwy, 481-1188. $6.50-$8.50.