Press Picks

thursday
december 29
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- Live The Power Rangers are the hottest ticket in town. Need evidence? News of this appearance of the youthful do-gooders caused more of a stir than any of Barbara Streisand's recent American concerts. In fact, if Ms. Streisand had more business savvy, she would have signed on for the Mighty Morphin tour and played the fabulous and wicked Rita Repulsa. But Streisand won't be missed; the Rangers' multimillion-dollar spectacular is as grand as anything "on ice." (As in Beauty and the Beast On Ice, Aladdin On Ice, etc.) The five Power Rangers, lil' Alpha 5 and dread Lord Zedd meet in a show filled with special effects, pyrotechnics, astounding aerial stunts, martial arts and glamorous evildoers.

Parents uninterested in the adventures of the five fresh-faced, squeaky clean Rangers might enjoy the show on another level. While the kids drool cotton candy (or whatever they're selling in the AstroArena that day) and stare goggle-eyed at the show, parents can study the production and ponder the fact that designers Rikki Farr and Ian Knight have also staged shows for Prince, Barry Manilow and The Who. Through December 31. Today, 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. AstroArena, Astrodomain, Kirby at Loop 610, 799-9555. $9.50-$17.50; a limited number of Power Section seats are available.

friday
december 30
Kwanzaa for kids As part of its holiday Festival of Lights, the Children's Museum is having Kwanzaaworkshops throughout the week. Rosalind Holt leads children in song, tells stories and teaches crafts. This workshop focuses on Nguzu Saba, the seven principles of unity. Perhaps the most important part of this workshop, though, is that kids will be able to be messy without parents having to clean up. Today's workshop is from 1-2:15 p.m. and pre-registration is required. The facility is open Tue.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 522-1138. Fee for the full five-session series is $20, which breaks down to $4 a day -- for kids whose parents can't get them to class every day.

Kwanzaa for all The Museum of Fine Arts' A Place for All People program is sponsoring "Days of Zawadi." Zawadi is Swahili for "gifts" and the term is used in Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa, the African-American festival, will be celebrated in this holiday happening with crafts demonstrations, dances by Kuumba House performers, videos and other prideful frolic. Through December. 1-4 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7586. "Days of Zawadi" included with museum admission. $3; $1.50 students, children 6-18 and seniors; free to children under 5.

Cafe au Lait Young French writer-director-actor Mathieu Kassovitz originally titled his film Metisse (Blended); he could have dropped that java notion and simply released it in America as She's Gotta Have Two Men and a Baby. The "she" of Cafe au Lait is Lola (Julie Mauduech), a free-spirited and apparently fearless West Indian girl. When the rabbit dies, she tells both of her beaus about her delicate condition, explains that she has no idea which of them is the lucky winner and then they all move in together. One possible father is the very regal Jamal (Hubert Kounde), an African Muslim who trades his studies for a slacker job and fatherhood -- never mind that a greater good would be done for the unhatched heir if Jamal continued at the university. (Although, perhaps, a young man not bright enough to understand that lawyers make more money than burger flippers might never be able to offer his children anything more than what he has left of his own inheritance.) Kassovitz himself stars as the other suspect, Felix. This one is a scrappy bicycle messenger who could almost be a French and Jewish version of "Puck" from The Real World 3. Jamal and Felix have nothing in common, aside from Lola, and don't get along. They bicker like children while Lola moons around in the glow of pregnancy. Mathieu Kassovitz is only 25 years old, so perhaps this film is a hint of things to come, evidence of an auter in the making. Or maybe Kassovitz is just a fan of Spike Lee's on-screen women, and throws out this homage to/Francophile version of She's Gotta Have It to goad Lee into making another movie with female central characters. Opens today and continues for one week. Several shows each evening. Landmark's Greenway, 5 Greenway Plaza, 626-0402. $6.50 feature ticket price.

saturday
december 31
New Age New Year's celebration "ReGenesis" is not brand-spanking-new; this midnight meditation has been held on seven previous New Year's Eves. Moreover, soft-spoken John Maisel and Christina Morris are helping to get this little do together and they are both members of the Rotary Club. So, it's Rotarians setting up this event, they say, "to bring about inner harmony and create a world of peace." The design is grand: "ReGenesis" will be held in the Crystal Pyramid at Moody Gardens. Last year, more than 300 people crawled in with the waterfalls and butterflies (whose opinion of these late-night festivities in their home is unknown). Music for this evening will be "SO" sound, Barry Oser's "multidimensional sound experience." This SO sound will be played over speakers of Oser's own design and, for those with tastes more in line with an eremite, Richard Hite will play Tibetan gongs. And, possibly, those who join together in the pyramid will enjoy the music of cetaceans. The whales and dolphins who create this music will not be present; the cetacean songs will be pre-recorded. This year's theme is "A Gathering of Angels Celebrating Peace," which means, presumably, that those who attend are angelic. Make reservations now; seating is limited. And remember to carry a cushion or stadium seat; seating is also BYO. The pyramid can accommodate 500 people, but Maisel says they'll stop taking reservations before "we have so many people that it would be uncomfortable in there." Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For reservations, call (409) 763-8989. $15.

From Vienna to Broadway The Houston Symphony rings in the new year with its annual New Year's Eve Gala. Conductor-in-residence Stephen Stein leads a classical and pops concert with violinist Uri Pianka, soprano Teri Hansen and baritone Lawrence Craig. Craig stepped in at the last moment, replacing the previously announced baritone, because he is jolly and full of holiday spirit. Fans may recall his recent symphony performance in Messiah.

The classical side of the program is Strauss, and a little Kreisler. After intermission, 20th-century selections from George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim will reverberate through the hall. The program concludes, traditionally, with "Auld Lang Syne." When the concert ends, the audience will be invited to leave the red plush seats for the stage and dance to the big band music of Cary Richards and his orchestra. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $35-$70.

sunday
january 1
About those resolutions ... We know, we know; you were too busy during these dreadful holidays to get around to doing good works. You were too busy, and that's okay. However, as the new year dawns crisp and clear, opportunities abound. You could, to help the less fortunate, stop by the local library and find out about the literally hundreds of local organizations that depend on volunteers -- volunteers who each do their tiny part to end human suffering by feeding, clothing, sheltering and educating those in need, or working as advocates. Or, you could just call up Meals on Wheels right this minute and get the ball rolling. Meals on Wheels, for those unclear on the concept, delivers nutritious food to the elderly. (I have a great aunt who has cooked for herself every day and, going into her second century, she not only shows no sign of slowing down but also makes excellent brown gravy. She and the women she plays cards with are doing just fine, thank you, and probably so are many AARP-aged folks you know. But there are some who would appreciate a little assistance.) If you think about those old folks for a moment, you might recall their teaching you about doing right, and doing for others less fortunate. The Jewish Community Center is now responsible for providing Meals on Wheels to 130 homebound, elderly people in southwest, west and central Houston. The volunteers who deliver the meals also chat a bit with the recipients, which takes a little extra time but, as they say, means so much. For information about the program at the JCC, call Sue Riklin, 729-3200, ext. 3245. To find out about Meals on Wheels programs elsewhere, call the Area Agency on Aging, 794-9001.

monday
january 2
Quest for the Moon The oldest existing daguerreotype of the moon and photographs taken by men on the moon (our men!) and other moonerabilia are on display in "Quest for the Moon and Other Stories: Three Decades of Astronauts in Space." I once read a clever science fiction story that told of a top secret Air Force mission whose astronauts land safely on the surface of the moon and find evidence that they weren't the first earthlings to make the trip. Who beat these brave and noble Americans into space? Was it the Russkies? The Chinese? Nope, it was a top secret U.S. Navy mission. That pulp story accurately reflects the uglier side of the space race -- petty little squabbles between bigwigs more interested in their own careers than pulling together as a team. "Quest for the Moon," however, points to the other side, the romantic side of this romantic quest. It also reflects humanity's ancient fascination with the moon. Oh sure, NASA gave us Tang and widespread use of Velcro and many other important scientific discoveries, but at the heart of it all, we went to the moon because it was there, and trying to justify the journey beyond that just isn't necessary. (If you have a fine space craft, you don't need justification.) The photographs of NASA activities in Texas, California and Florida reflect this adventurous spirit. The exhibition also features art inspired by the moon and stars (as seen through modern, light-polluted skies) and the notion of space travel (i.e. bug-eyed monsters, moon maidens and rocket ships). The exhibition continues through February 5. The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 526-1361. $3; $1.50 students, children 6-18 and seniors; free to children under 5 and everyone on Thursdays.

tuesday
january 3
Tres hip open mike night The Blue Iguana has been a rave (as a fave) since the moment they opened that one narrow door. Perhaps wannabes who play there will also garner acclaim from the get-go. We can't guarantee that the club's good luck will carry over to those who take its stage, but we can guarantee that fabulous babes, flat-bellied slacker boys and a large percentage of the food servers working in Houston will drift by the bar and make small talk in the dark -- even by current standards -- club. Fashionably late. The Blue Iguana, 903 Richmond Ave. (between Montrose and Elsbury), 523-BLUE. No cover.

wednesday
january 4

Last chance for marathon tips The Training Edge Lecture Series continues, and with an annual event. Once again, top running coach David Brennan presents a seminar one week before the Houston Tenneco Marathon. Brennan's lunchtime lecture will cover last-minute preparation strategies and tips on running the race. Attending this lecture will also give highly competitive runners a peek at some of the competition. Knowing who the competition is doesn't help anyone in the running of the marathon, necessarily; knowing who the competition is may only allow for more specific pre-marathon jitters and nightmares and fantasies of triumph. Attendees are invited to bring a lunch, and reminded that there is food service at the Downtown Y. David Brennan's lecture, "The Marathon is Here! What Now?!?" is sponsored by Pace Physical Therapy and MEDIFIT of America. Noon-1 p.m. Houston Room, Downtown YMCA, 1600 Louisiana. For details, call PACE, 659-7223. Free.

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