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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
Warehouse Art Crawl Get down, get funky, cruise through warehouses and grok art. "View the countless works of over 30 artists in situ." Commerce Street, East Freeway Studios, DiverseWorks, Mother Dog Studios, Purse Building Studios, John Calaway Studios, Bernard Sampson TV and Slotcar Museum are all official crawl spaces. After everyone has ogled art and exhausted themselves getting from once place to another, there will be a big party. Infernal Bridegroom Productions will entertain. The crawling commences at 2 p.m. Post party 8 p.m. Commerce Street Artists' Warehouse, 2315 Commerce. For more info, study a crawl poster (on any inner city telephone pole) or call 227-3716. Free.
British Halloween John Lennon, at one point, inquired as to whether "you remember the fifth of November." As every good Englishperson knows, that's Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up Parliament in the 17th century. He was caught and the plot thwarted, but now every little English schoolchild has a lovely excuse to dress up and play tricks. The Houston Choral Society will celebrate with a concert, Two British Friends, honoring Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Hey, any excuse for thrilling choral music is fine with me. Holst and Williams shared an interest in hymns and, subsequently, folk songs. (They were far less snotty and self-centered than John Lennon was.) 8 p.m. Westchester Theatre, 901 Yorkchester, 627-3609. $5-$10.
The New Arts Six -- A Joyful Noise Six women who have sung classical music from Mozart to Copeland present a celebration of African-American music, poetry and literature with an emphasis on the spiritual. The women in this unique musical group are all teachers and thus able to stuff education down the throats of children with minimal effort. They sing so sweetly, young and old alike forget that they're being subjected to something educational and culturally important. 3 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Road, Galveston, 480-1894. $6-$10.
Texas Renaissance Festival The largest festival of its kind, and there are just droves of festivals of this kind. How long has it been since you made the trip? The food isn't half bad -- it isn't cheap, either -- and much of the entertainment is worth the drive. This year's big new entry is "water jousting," which is water skiers going at each other with Nerf lances or something and pretty much proof that the whole festival is now admitting that the Renaissance stuff is just window dressing. Not that any of that matters. The Ren Fest is a fine way to take advantage of the fall weather, get out of town and enjoy the Flaming Idiots and the infamous mud show and falconry ... and maybe scope some babes in chain mail bikinis. Maybe even order a chain mail bikini for yourself, or someone you want to see in scanty steel. They were not flooded! The ground is fine! No pets! No outside food or drink! 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Weekends through November 13 on Farm Road 1774 between Magnolia and Plantersville. For more information, or detailed directions, call (800) 458-3435. $12.95, $6.95 children under 12, free children under five.
Par Fore Pets Captain Harold has long since left his "Theater of the Sky," but he continues to be an active, although perhaps not as antic, contributor to society. Harold Gunn, a far more interesting broadcast personality than Marvin Zindler, is the chair and emcee for the Par Fore Pets golf tournament to benefit the Houston Humane Society.
Gunn is claiming to be a "rabid" golfer and an "animal lover." He is large, he contains multitudes. In honor of Captain Harold, this golf tournament will have a shot-Gunn start. Now that the weather is cooler, golfers aren't all getting out of bed at God-thirty and creeping onto the links by dark of moon. This tournament begins at a reasonable hour: noon. Old Orchard Golf Club, FM 13134, Richmond, 529-6005,
523-8046. $200 per person, $800 foursome.
Walt Disney's World on Ice -- Beauty and the Beast "We bring this classic story to life ... the movie you all loved is now on ice in your hometown." Gee, thanks Disney. It looks just swell -- more than 75 milliners, dyers, tailors, embroiderers, seamstresses and silk-screen artists spent six months toiling on the costumes for this production. But wait, there's more!
When they went into the "On Ice" business, the extravaganza producers at Disney HQ quickly learned that one of the great things about doing animated features is that you can continue to use the voices from the movie without having to take the actual actors who did the voices on tour. This production has super-skaters acting out the roles of Beauty, Beast, Gaston, Le Fou and so forth, but the superstar film voices are employed for voice-over.
Mickey also makes an appearance. (What? You don't remember him from the movie?) Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Through Sunday, November 13. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. Tickets are available at the Summit box office, 961-9003. and through Ticketmaster and other brokers. Special deals -- family nights, $2 off for kids under 12 -- abound. Shop around. $10.15-$15.50.
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra One of public radio's most popular symphony orchestras and the maestro who made it what it is, Leonard Slatkin, appear for one night only. And perhaps for a last night only; this is said to be Maestro Slatkin's final tour with the orchestra. Actually, the music-loving public gets two shots at Slatkin. During the afternoon, he's signing his, and the orchestra's, new Carmina Burana CD at Record Town in the Galleria (2 p.m.).
The evening symphony program focuses, as is Slatkin's wont, on American composers and more modern symphonic music. Claude Baker's Shadows: Four Dirge-Nocturnes for Orchestra; Samuel Barber's Symphony no. 1., op. 9; and also Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4 in f minor, op. 36. Claude Baker himself will give the curtain talk on his works. Curtain talks are at 7:30 in the lobby. Concert begins at 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-