The Great Comma War At the Houston Press, the style is to omit the final comma, unless doing so would cause confusion: "Leave out the serial comma (the one before the word 'and') in short lists," our style book dictates. "Leave the comma in if you need it for sense." Not everyone here is sold on this and there have been words, harsh words, uttered around the water cooler. Secretaries, people who frequently know more about the nuts and bolts of writing than the folks whose letters they type, also argue about commas. Maureen Giacchino, president of Training Team Inc., will present a full hour's talk on "The Great Comma War." (Hint: the press release uses final commas.) Giacchino has offered her input at a variety of space agency agencies and Unisys and other high tech hot spots and brings the good word about wording to the Professional Secretaries International, Southwest Houston Chapter. Networking at 5:45, dinner at 6 and program at 6:30 p.m. Hilton Southwest, 6780 Southwest Freeway. Call Dot Osborne for reservations and information, 261-4290. $12. Their next program will be e-mail -- less work for secretaries! Ha ha, just kidding.
Fashion It's not everyday that one has the chance to see a play that so delighted Edgar Allen Poe that he saw it eight times. This Rocky Horror Picture Show of 1845 was penned by one Anna Cora Mowatt, a woman born into a proper, blue-blooded family who had her life laid out for her but had her own, better ideas about what to be and do. She wanted to be a writer and do as she pleased. This play came after she had written two novels, a life of Goethe and a plethora of essays and poems. As the title should tell you, this is satire and shrewd social criticism. 8 p.m. October 21, 22, 27 & 29, Houston Community College, Central Campus, Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin, 630-1138. $5, $3 students.
Honky Tonk (Part III) Our tacky Texas heritage of screaming guitars celebrated in photography. Cute boys in crew-neck sweaters, bad boys with nekkid women decoupaged to their guitars and shots of Texas architecture, all by Tracy Hart. Some of these photos, which are no more than ten years old, inexplicably look to be from the '50s. Maybe it's the picture of the nekkid blond pasted to the bottom of Jimmie Vaughan's guitar. Through January 31. Opening tonight, 6-9 p.m. The Heights Gallery, 1438 Herkimer, 868-9606.
First Houston Storytelling Festival Today and throughout the weekend storytellers will be practicing and teaching their craft. Internationally known storytellers will get up and do some telling, ghost tales will be told in honor of the season and classes for novice jabber-jaws will be held. James Ford, among others, will be presenting helpful workshops for those who need to know the difference between being a charming raconteur and being a full-blown storyteller. Ford's "From Anecdote to Story" is first thing Saturday morning. (Saturday ends with a Liar's Concert and a Harvest Moon Concert.) Tonight, the weekend begins with Kid Tales at festival central, Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Drive, 523-3289. $45 for the whole shebang, also tickets and day passes for a la cart events.
Glen or Glenda and The Sinister Urge This weekend, the Rice Media center presents films by directors who follow their own unique visions and manage to involve noted professionals in their low-budget projects. Tonight's double feature is by Ed D. Wood Jr. By now, everyone knows about Glen or Glenda. The Sinister Urge is an odder flick. According to the Media Center's Christine Gardner, The Sinister Urge proves conclusively that grainy photos of fleshy babes in lingerie cause juvenile delinquency. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853. $4.25 (for single or double feature).
The Night They Invented Champagne To honor Lerner and Loewe, the Houston Symphony will present a pops concert with staged vignettes from beloved musicals such as Camelot, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady and Paint Your Wagon. Yes! Paint Your Wagon! Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe were large, they contained multitudes. Guest conductor David Bishop will lead the program, which continues tomorrow and Sunday. 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$50.
Westheimer Art Festival Judging from the calls we get, the Westheimer Art Festival is the number one event for out of town guests and, especially, visiting in-laws. Every week someone calls and wants to know when the Westheimer Art Festival is. The Westheimer Art Festival downtown, that is. There are two. The fall festival begins today and, for hoopla, a metal windvane by Houston sculpture Noah Edmundson will be unveiled. Close to 300 Texas artists will be proffering their wares at the 21st Westheimer Art Festival. Tomorrow and today, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Downtown, Main at Calhoun. Call 521-0133 for festival information. $3, free for children under 12.
Pop Love and Help Me, O' Please Help Me Evening number two of works by directors with unique vision and no money; this time it's premieres by Houston's own Kyle Henry. Pop Love is described as a micro-budget, non-linear dark comedy and it appears to be based on Henry's play Balance & Symmetry, which is about a flaky flautist who falls for a pop singer with a messiah complex. Help Me, O' Please Help Me stars the indefatigable, irascible Rose Malone, of Rodney D. Young commercials and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. This short film, Henry says, is a spoof of John Waters' movies. The ultimate quality of Ed Wood's and Kyle Henry's efforts might differ, but the details of their careers are full of eerie parallels. Both men look normal, perhaps even overly clean-cut, so long as no one knows what they do alone in their dark editing closets. The working style of both men is best described as flirting with disaster. The adventurous Mr. Henry reports, "On several occasions, crew and cast members had near-death experiences (i.e. loaded guns, crashing light grids, repeated self-induced electrocution with a defunct microwave), but I am happy to report no one died, which is always a plus." (No octopus motors lost, either.) Seduced by his vision, Henry's crew, like Ed Wood's, was a tight unit that worked for little or no money and whiled away the hours singing their favorite ditties. "I Hate Kyle," sung to the tune of "Three Blind Mice," was one of them. Finally, like Ed Wood, Kyle Henry did theater work first and then had parts in his own films. More than a coincidence? Two screenings, 3 and 7:30 p.m. The late show to be followed by a reception with live music and refreshments. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853. Special premiere price, $5.
Elijah The Houston Masterworks Chorus opens its ninth season with a rafter-raising classic oratorio. Distinguished conductor Robert Porco and organist Robert Brewer lead the 150-voice chorus in Medelssohn's over-the-top interpretation of the Old Testament story. Think of it as sound and fury signifying something. 7:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main, 529-8900. $15 & $20.
Taste of the Village There are easily a dozen lovely restaurants in Rice Village and the very lovely owners and managers of these establishments have joined together to help the hard-working scholars at the University of St. Thomas. Today, Village restaurants will be offering a bite of their best dish to all Taste of the Village ticket holders; proceeds from Taste of the Village go to college scholarships. Prego offers antipasto, El Meson will serve Ropa Vieja and black beans Fabada Asturiana, Jason's Deli will pass out muffalettas, The Village Brewery will draw cold ones and Mientje's will serve some of their richest coffees. Eat yourself sick, stroll around enjoying the live music and bask in all this indulgence in the name of a good cause. 2-6 p.m. To purchase tickets, call the University of St. Thomas, 525-3100. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold. $20 advance, $25 today.
The Phantom of Montrose Silly spooks spoof for Body Positive/Houston and the Foundation for Interfaith Research and Ministry. Cocktails, buffet and silent auction, 6 p.m.; performance of musical entertainment based on, but in no way intimidated by, a well-known Broadway smash, 7 p.m. Texas Medical Center Conference Center, ballroom, 2151 W. Holcombe, 524-2374. $25, $50 and $125.
George Crumb 65th Birthday Festival Gala Crumb has had a busy weekend -- master classes, brown-bag lunch lectures, performances and at least one moderated interview, and today the distinguished composer wraps up his Birthday Festival with another full schedule of events and then an exclusive gala. The playful, imaginative composer will conduct master classes at St. John's Episcopal School during the day, give a public lecture in the afternoon at the University of Houston and then kick up his heels with a select crowd in the evening. Call 688-6120 for festival information or tickets to the gala. There are a limited number of tickets available for the black-tie birthday party at Gremillion Art Gallery, 1706 Post Oak, 622-4241. For more information, call 227-ARTS. $125-$165.
Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series Renowned Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai and novelist John A. Williams will read. Though both men have rather stuffy sounding credentials, this should be great fun. Amichai was born in Germany, raised in Palestine and served in the commando units of the Haganah underground during the Israeli War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign; he kept his eyes wide open all the time and is nonetheless a man of compassion, not bitterness. Williams has written 12 novels, including The Man Who Cried I Am, and has chronicled the lives of important black Americans in biographies such as For Ourselves: Images of Malcolm X, If I Stop, I'll Die: The Comedy and Tragedy of Richard Pryor and The Most Native of Sons: Richard Wright. 8 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 743-3013. $5 suggested donation.
Lauren Bacall Screen legend, former Mrs. Humphrey Bogart and, before that, nice Jewish girl Lauren Bacall will sign copies of her new autobiography, Now. Yes, new autobiography; she had another one a few years ago that covered both her marriage to Bogart (he died) and her marriage to Jason Robards Jr. (he drank). 8 p.m. Bookstop, 2922 Shepherd, 529-2345. Free.
1994 Guiding Star Awards A rare and splendid chance to meet "Susan" of Sesame Street and applaud good teachers. Six Houston-area elementary teachers will be honored at this benefit. The taxpaying public is invited to come and meet these teachers and likewise meet Loretta Long, best known for her role as Susan on Sesame Street. Long was one of the original humans on the show, which means she was working with muppets before muppets were cool. Visitors will get a chance to see the Children's Museum's newest exhibition, "Magic School Bus in the Earth," and to hear the Star of Hope Homeless Children's Choir sing. All proceeds go the Star of Hope shelter and, if the thought of so much goodness gives you pause, note that sinful, wicked desserts will be served. 6-9 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz. For details, call 492-5401. $5.