Press Picks

november 3
22nd Annual Jewish Book Fair Hoo-boy, a couple dozen authors are scheduled to read and sign, Booktronics will be promoting audio books and trendoid multimedia items, and Barbie's mom and Gene Siskel will appear. (He's the skinny, balding one.) Fiction, non-fiction, children's storytelling and a 15,000-volume bookstore add up to a literary scene the Bookstop Cafe couldn't imagine.

Gene Siskel talks about writing about movies on Saturday. Barbie's mom, Ruth Handler, will talk about climbing the corporate ladder and battling breast cancer next week, on Tuesday the 15th. Those fab appearances aren't the half of it. The book fair continues through Wednesday, November 16. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200.

Glenn or Divine? A drag show about a legendary drag act -- is this recursive camp or what? Vaughn Monroe attempts to unwrap the riddle wrapped in an enigma that was Glenn Milstead, the Glenn Milstead who achieved worldwide fame as Divine, the fabulous creature in John Waters' Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Hairspray, to name but a few. Milstead was, by all accounts, a lovely person. To his friends and coworkers, Milstead was a beloved and respected friend. To movie fans, he was a 300-pound diva with a unique flair. Monroe's theatrical, Divine: Portrait of a Sex Goddess, stars John Jonns, who does a drag act as "Simply Divine" and shares the stage with his dancers, Tim Thomas and Jeff Johnson.

This trio and supernumeraries too numerous to mention take us backstage and down-home with Divine as well as to the up close and personal concert stage. Opening tonight at 8 p.m. Through Saturday, November 19. Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 8 p.m. Skyline Theater, Houston House, 1617 Fannin, ninth floor, 759-0701. $15.

november 4
Great Tastes of Houston After a week of warm-up lunches, the Great Tastes really gets going with a kickoff party attended by the Mayor and the Missis. More than 30 restaurants are serving up grub, non-stop shows will be on three stages and those with an eye for quality entertainment can people watch. Several contests, much like pie-eating contests, "will take place on stage in front of cheering crowds." Jalapeno Meltdown and the Chopsticks and Toothpicks Dexterity Challenge look especially interesting. Professionals will compete with chain saws to see who is "The Greatest Ice Sculptor in Houston."TheAlamoJets,the Testostertones and Mary Cutrufello are all slated to play, too. Our mayor has declared Great Tastes of Houston to be the Bayou City's "official fall celebration." Kickoff after work. Mayor expected to show, albeit briefly. Pig-out party continues till 10 p.m. tonight and then throughout the weekend. City Hall and Heritage Park.

An Evening with Steve Roberts and Behemoth Meet a geek on wheels: Steve Roberts touring the highways of this great nation of ours on a bicycle built for the information superhighway, his Behemoth. His super-Schwinn has more satellite receivers than a trailer park and better networking capabilities than your average office PC. Why? Good question. On the one hand, it is kind of a nifty idea for a lark -- loading up a bike with solar-power suckers and several computers and going on the road for a while. But, to go on the road for months, to go on Donahue, to go on to talk at universities ... where can this end? See him speak and draw your own conclusions. 7 p.m. University of Houston, University Center, Cougar Den. For info call the CRASH (Computer, Robotics and Artists Society of Houston) hot line, 946-2732, or e-mail Free.

ComedySportz The troupe, which did not go on strike, celebrates its fourth anniversary with a special evening of clean, competitive comedy and extra, extra audience participation. Celebrity judges will be on hand! 8 p.m. Above Treebeards, 315 Travis, 521-2226. $6.

november 5
Celebrate Your Independents Celebrate at the Jewish Book Fair or at your local independent bookstore -- November 5-12 is National Independent Bookstore Week. Stephen King, of all authors, is the poster boy. He went buzzing around on his bike, signing books at indie stores only. Kansas was a close as he got to us, but he does have an official message for those who are fed up with or have never cared to read books about fat-free wokking for adult survivors of alien abuse. "Independents are important," the prolific writer says, "because of the diversity they offer. They're important to me and to everybody who wants more diversity than, say, Judith Krantz, John Grisham, Stephen King and Danielle Steele." Stop by your friendly neighborhood independent bookstore and pick up a copy of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Barabbas, Brother to a Dragonfly or What's This Cat's Story.

Environmental Dog Show The North American Wolf Association and the Mexican Wolf Coalition of Texas (both groups populated with Homo sapiens, not lupines) are putting on a show to raise money for their causes. Environmentally minded vendors and exhibitors will have booths up in the pavilion, as will, probably, the people who sell ordinary rubber booties for dogs. This is an all-breed and mutt show. Dogs who do not usually show can take a chance in the barking and howling contests and compete for prizes in "Dog with the Longest Tail." Owners will vie for the coveted title, "The Owner That Most Resembles Their Dog." 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Landolt Pavilion, Clear Lake, 286-7788. $4, free for children under 12.

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