Press Picks

Black History Comedy Showcase Paul Mooney has a fair claim to being part of black history. Not what you'd call a friendly comic, Mooney has a bit about a movie deal. It seems he's making a picture called The Last White Man in America. It has a happy ending, Mooney assures audiences: "We catch him." He's not always that harsh, but Mooney's act has always been topical. He's got a spin on O.J., and I can't wait to see what he has to say about the Michael Jackson/Lisa Marie nuptials. Mooney is joined by D.L. Hughley, original host of Comicview, and Alonzo "Hamburger" Jones. 8 p.m. Houston Arena Theatre, Southwest Freeway at Fondren. For tickets call Ticketmaster, 629-3700.

february 25
French pianist Moody, blond pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays a program of music by moody, blond composer Franz Liszt and music by high-strung impressionist composer Claude Debussy. Thibaudet has appeared at the behest of the Society for the Performing Arts once before, playing fabulously after stepping in at the last minute for another pianist. Thibaudet won contests and medals as a tot, and now he's acclaimed as a recording artist and concert performer on every continent -- but that could be said of a few dumpy, phlegmatic pianists, too. Thibaudet has that extra-special chemistry thing going on. 8 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 227-2787. $18, $22 and $26.

february 26
Bethie She comes with reptiles: children's entertainer Bethie brings Sam the Snake and Ivana the Iguana. Sam and Ivana are almost part of Bethie; they're her puppets. Bethie's show has original puppets, songs and stories. In a rare use of the word "zippy," USA Today raved, "Bethie's zippy style will appeal to both kids and parents." Parents unsure about allowing their children to enjoy the antics of a woman with reptile puppets can scope Bethie in advance by playing her videos or cassettes in the privacy of their own homes. 11 a.m. Jewish Community Center/West Houston, 1120 Dairy Ashford, 556-5567. $5, $2 children.

The Annual African-American Music Gala Teacher and conductor Robert Henry is honored in a vocal program emphasizing the African-American contribution to choral music. Traditional spirituals arranged by African-American composers Harry T. Burleigh, R. Nathaniel Dett, William Dawson, Hall Johnson, John. W. Work and Robert A. Henry will be conducted by Roland Carter. Sure, the Houston Ebony Opera guild has presented other fine programs in the past, and it's sure to present fine programs in the future. But is that any excuse for missing this concert? 3 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas, 432-1900. Tickets at the door (if still available) and at Sankofa and Nia bookstores. $10, $25 and $35.

february 27
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo People tend to think that the livestock show, and carnival, are just opening acts for the rodeo. This is, as some folksy types might say, bass-ackwards. The events and attractions outside the Dome are the most entertaining. Pig races are far and away the most festive event. Some men can pick a pig, some can't -- but remember, no wagering please. Those who want to do more than watch can stop in at the petting zoo. They have Chinese silky chickens, perhaps the very breed Robert Penn Warren wrote about in his short story "The Frizzly Chickens." Frizzly chickens have long feathers and look like they might be wearing Mardi Gras costumes. Those alarmed by such exotic creatures, and the occasional wallaby, should get up early and focus on plain livestock. 4-H and FFA livestock judging starts today at 8:15 a.m. Sure, the rodeo PR machine makes a lot noise about "youth," but when it comes to handing out ribbons and cash, the kids are relegated to first thing Monday morning, which is not a festive time. Sadly, this fair has no snake oil salesmen, and the midway is without freak shows, but otherwise the whole shebang is old-fashioned fun at thoroughly modern prices. Tonight's big show entertainers are Brooks and Dunn. This is their fifth year at the rodeo, and they're fine boys. David "I've got a thinkin' problem" Ball is also on the bill. All day. Astrodomain. Tickets at the gate, and grocery stores and ticket brokers everywhere.

february 28
Grease Monkee Fiftyish moppet and former Monkee Micky Dolenz, late-night child advocate Sally Struthers and living flashback Rex Smith star in the Tommy Tune production of one of the most popular musicals of all time, Grease. But wait, there's more! Before the show, Dolenz, who plays DJ Vince Fontaine in the show, will play DJ for the crowd, overseeing dance contests and spinning platters, vinyl records just like the 64 million records he sold as a "Hey hey we're the ...." Pre-show '50s fun at 7:30 p.m. Performances TuesdayFriday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 8 p.m. Opening tonight, shows every night through March 5. The Music Hall, 810 Bagby, 629-3700. $36$42.

march 1
Biomediation As the first breezes of spring waft through the skies, we should pause to consider what exactly is in that air, and in our water. Not every last one of us here in Houston is directly involved in the production of petroleum hydrocarbons, and certainly only a scant few of us can be blamed when petroleum hydrocarbons, and toxic wastes, are spilled. However, we're all affected by what's in our air and water. What we want in our environment, sometimes, are xenobiotics, little creatures. Today, Dr. Neal Guentzel, director of the Biomediation Laboratory at UT-San Antonio, will talk about what havoc contaminants can wreak and how man-made microorganisms can be let loose to take care of things without going berserk and, a la the Blob, devouring Baytown. This biotechnological lecture is open to the public, and might be useful for science-minded high school seniors struggling to plan a PC, yet profitable, major. 7:30 p.m. UH-Clear Lake, Bayou Theater, Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard, 283-2004. Free.

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