Student reading Middle and high school students who've worked in the Rice/HISD School Writing Project will read from their works. Isn't this brave of them? Public speaking is often tough for slick, highly paid CEOs, and here are school kids getting up in front of the public to read their own personal, creative works. 4-6 p.m. Rice University, Ley Student Center, entrance no. 13 off Rice Boulevard, 521-0031. Free.
"In the Crossfire" A battle of words between state Senator Jerry Patterson and Deborah January-Bevers, executive legislative director of ZAK (which stands for "Zero Accidental Killings"). Patterson and January-Bevers will not face each other alone -- as seconds they have Ron Wong, a law enforcement officer, and Leslie Barnard of Houstonians Against Gun Violence, respectively. Senator Patterson is quite the gun enthusiast and has proposed a statute which would allow us to carry concealed weapons. Oh, sure, that sounds great for people like us, but what about them? This debate, "In the Crossfire: A Debate on Gun Control," is number two in a series presented by the American Civil Liberties Union. 7:30 p.m. Houston Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray. For details, call 942-8966. Free.
Let's Be Friends Zoe, a junior Joan Rivers of muppetdom, is the star of this show, but other Sesame Street monsters and our old pal Mr. Aloyisious Snuffleupagus are on-stage, too. The theme of this show is that art and entertainment are vital to public life and the well-being of the citizenry, and that any speakers of the house who would say otherwise are much, much meaner than Oscar the Grouch. At least, that's a subtext some people could see in any Sesame Street show. Big Bird and Bert and Ernie and the rest are all drawing top dollar now, but they started out on the dole. Not that kids care. Kids will enjoy the singing and dancing and encouraging messages. The show continues through Sunday. Today's performance is at 7:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $10, $11 and $12.
New Texas '94 The very charming and talented Lorenzo Thomas, Bobbie Wright and Therisa Callier are all included in this anthology of prose and poetry and plain Texas. The book will be read from and signed at Nia, which is a terrific little bookstore and a great place to visit for all your Black History Month needs. If, for whatever reason, these modern writers don't speak to you, pick up works by turn-of-the-century or 19th-century writers. Or scope the non-fiction selections. New Texas '94 readings and signings 6-8 p.m. Nia Gallery and Bookshop, 7725 West Bellfort, 729-8400.
Sourdough unplugged: Cowboy Valentine Don Sanders will celebrate cupid day in his own inimitable way, and as "Sourdough," for the kids. Sourdough is the folk singer's cowpoke character. In this afternoon's concert, Sourdough will croon Western tunes, talk about Wild West lore and tell a special story of a cowboy's pet alligator who falls in love with the crocodile girl from the circus. This story is, plainly, whimsical. However, Sanders' "Sourdough" performances are usually educational and full of really true facts about cattle punching life. After telling of the reptile romance, Sanders will, as himself, lead the children in modern activity songs. 2 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999.
Tiny and Ruby: Hell-Divin' Women Hot-blooded, no-nonsense babes on tour are celebrated in this documentary about The InternationalSweethearts.The International Sweethearts were an interracial, all-woman jazz band with Tiny Davis and Ruby Lucas. Tiny played trumpet, Ruby played drums, and guess what else? Yep. Melissa Ethridge was not the first lesbian musician. This delightful short documentary precedes a screening of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It. The whole show starts at 7:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $6.
Hug-a-Bug An entire week of anti-aphid biological control is under way and all of y'all are invited to participate. From today until next Saturday, people who visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center will be given a vial of live ladybugs to release inside the glass cone. The good folks of the butterfly center must use this method of pest control because conventional chemical pesticides would kill the very expensive, delicate, butterflies as well as killing plant-eating mealy bugs -- and never mind that tin of ant bait we spotted on our last visit. During Hug-a-Bug week, visitors to the center will be treated to an exhibition explaining exactly what plant pests are and, conversely, which good bugs will eat them up, yum. The exhibit will tell not only which bugs are which, but also where to find them. All these insect extras are included in the regular butterfly center admission. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-4600. $3; $2 seniors and kids.
Suzanne Westenhoefer This lady is not just another lesbian dope-head on a Moped. Oh, looking at her dark roots and frizzy perm, one might assume she's just another mallbilly Beverly Hills 911 wannabe wearing too much eyeliner -- and perhaps she is that. But she's something else, also. Westenhoefer is a dyke comic, which just goes to show you never can tell. And why would you want to? I mean, unless you're looking for a valentine, her sexual proclivities are none of your business. (Even though she uses them as a marketing tool. Oh, well.) Westenhoefer makes merry on the subject of valentines, all types, and other social ills for one show only. 7:30 p.m. HCCS Central Campus, Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin (at Holman). Advance tickets are available at Inkling Bookshop, 1846 Richmond, 521-3369 and Crossroads Market, 610 West Alabama, 942-0147. $15 advance, $17 at the door.