Press Picks

december 15
Rockets Those dastardly Los Angeles Lakers are back in town tonight, and if you're of a mind to recall the bleak days of the last decade when Showtime was riding high (and roughshod) over everything in the West, you might want to pay a visit to the Summit just to gloat. Or maybe just to see one of the better rivalries in basketball. Even at the height of Laker dominance, the Rockets never really rolled over and played dead (the home team did beat L.A. in 1981 and 1986 with Hakeem, Moses, Lewis Lloyd, Robert Reid and Ralph Sampson leading the way), and now that the Rockets are the NBA elite, L.A. isn't content to simply admit defeat and then retire to the dressing room to look through its scrapbook. If you recall, two Sunday's ago on the left coast these selfsame Lakers, even without greats Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, A.C. Green and James (married-man-who-doesn't-want-just-one-but-two-naked-vixen-undercover-cops) Worthy, beat the hell out of the world champs.

But hey, Hakeem's hand was hurting, so we excuse the Rockets for a subpar showing. Tonight -- we hope -- we'll see a truer example of how things have changed in professional basketball as the Dream and his team reintroduce Los Angeles to the 1990s. And should you miss this particular blast from the NBA past, you'll have a second chance come Saturday, when the Boston Celtics, who in the '80s dumped on the Rockets after they squeaked by L.A. into the championships, arrive in Houston. These Bird-less Celtics have proven pretty hapless, even if they do have Dominique Wilkins, but don't expect the Rockets to show them much sympathy. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 961-9003, or call your local ticket broker.

The Attitude Club New and improved with never-before-seen characters! Marianne Pendino premiered her one-woman show last year. The first run of The Attitude Club was extended, and extended, and extended again. Now Pendino returns with her homegrown show about self-help. "The piece is much more of a play now," Pendino says of the refurbished musical evening. "It is more focused on my character's spiritual journey to change a very bad attitude." No less a funny personage than Lily Tomlin was a fan of The Attitude Club's first incarnation, and now it's even funnier. Pendino is a bit nastier and has added a new character, one Hazel Dun, a guru with her own infomercial. Stuart Smalley, watch out! Opening tonight at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m.; Thursday shows at 7:30 p.m. Through January 7. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Boulevard, 524-6706. $12 Thursdays; $15 Friday and Saturday.

december 16
The Kingdom of Zydeco Less than a month ago, the Greenway theater presented High Lonesome, a loving, thoughtful bluegrass music documentary. Now, they continue celebrating the music of our people with The Kingdom of Zydeco. The climax of the film is the crowning of a new zydeco king, a big-bang ending that provides the suspense in this documentary. Most people who've been in this corner of the state for any time know that zydeco's quirky, joyful blend of R&B and Cajun music boasts Afro-Caribbean rhythms -- certain bands in the West Indies are indistinguishable from stateside performers who play Fred's Lounge in Mamou.

However, even those who have mastered the high-speed, bouncy two-step required to dance to zydeco may not be aware of the music's less obvious aspects. The influence of stodgy German (and Italian) accordion playing cannot be dismissed. And we should keep in mind that this part of Texas is part of the Cajun prairie and that roughneck money and mobility fueled the growth of zydeco. Ah, but there can be some tension even against a backdrop of happy, happy music with an irresistibly jumpy beat. Who will be king? The documentary shows the contest between pup Beau Jocque and old veteran Boozoo Chavis. Jocque is young and strong, but Boozoo, well, Boozoo is Boozoo. All the current players cite as influences Boozoo and former king Clifton Chenier. Chenier is gone now, leaving Boozoo as the oldest player around. Will the venerable Boozoo be respectfully honored with the crown? Or will a bunch of hot shots ignore tradition and make newcomer Beau Jocque the king? See an early show to find out, and then go dancing at the Zydeco Ballroom. The Kingdom of Zydeco plays nightly through December 22. Landmark's Greenway, 5 Greenway Plaza, 626-0402. Feature ticket price $6.50.

december 17
Cowboy Claus Most of the year, the George Ranch Historical Park provides a time-travel trip to the early days of Texas. For the holidays, however, the 474-acre park gets with the season. Cowboy Claus, whose black boots have pointy toes, will ask children what they want for Christmas, and check on their naughty and niceness, all weekend. Children will also be able to watch cowpoke crafters make cornhusk dolls and other toys and even string a little popcorn or make decorations at the blacksmith shop. Tonight only, there will be a candlelight celebration, wagon rides and a feast and entertainment around a campfire. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Campfire Christmas Evening 6-9 p.m. Located 30 minutes from the Galleria. Take U.S. 59 south to Crabb River Road, go south and follow the signs. 545-9212. $5, $3 children under 12; Campfire Christmas Evening $20, $15 children under 12.

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