Press Picks

thursday
february 23
The Persistence of Hate in the 21st Century Despite having endured the Holocaust, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel doesn't consider hate part and parcel of the human experience. His optimistic view is that hate has many faces, and until people learn to recognize and battle it effectively, it will persist well into and beyond the 21st century. That "well into" is an amazing remark, for it carries the notion that if we learned to recognize and battle hate effectively, we could end it, perhaps not by the millennium, but soon after. Wiesel has racked up more awards than you can shake a stick at, but what he is concerned about is using his talents with language to call for human rights and peace. This evening, he lectures on fear and racism. 7:30 p.m. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun), 743-2996. Free.

Health and Human Rights: Inextricable Connection Boy, I'll say. People kept in the gutter, or medieval prisons, aren't likely to be healthy. Dr. Jonathan Mann, director of Harvard's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, spends most of his time fretting about public health and human rights issues and one of his specific areas is pandemic recognition and response. Pandemic recognition and response -- that is, recognition of and response to epidemics that cover a wide geographical area -- is an excellent way to deal with public health issues. After all, things that affect our health tend not to recognize cultural or national boundaries. Moreover, the sort of alliances required for dealing with hyalomme ticks, or proprionic fevers are exactly the sort of alliances one needs for general respect and friendliness. Mann, chairman of the Global AIDS Policy Coalition, speaks at 8 p.m. Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon, 524-9839. Free.

Don Quixote It's unlikely that when Miguel de Cervantes sat down to churn out his massive parody of chivalric works that he imagined it would serve as the source for a ballet, especially a ballet that's become one of the dozen or so mainstays of the classical repertoire. After all, arthritic, delusional knights aren't the sort to cut a very memorable rug. But Marius Petipa solved that little problem in 1869 by making the Don little more than an observer to the real action, a love affair between two Spanish villagers, Kitri and Basilio. Over the years, Don Quixote has been notable in that, in an art form where men are often a mere backdrop to the more graceful and important ballerina, it was a showpiece for male dancers. Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov in particular made bravura use of Cervantes' tale. The Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson, however, may have different thoughts. He's rechoreographed Don Quixote, and the attention the Houston Ballet has focused on dancer Lauren Anderson -- who'll portray Kitri at tonight's world premiere of Stevenson's take on the tale -- indicates that he may have swung the pendulum back to the female performer. Here's hoping he hasn't cut all of Basilio's showoff leaps, though. Brown Theater at the Wortham Center, Texas at Smith, 227-2787. 7:30 p.m. tonight, February 25, and March 2, 3 and 4. 2 p.m. February 26 and March 5. $5-$70.

friday
february 24
Crisis in Chiapas Photographs by Marco Antonio Cruz, Angeles Tarrejon and Antonio Turok; writing by Subcomandante Marcos, the poetic leader of Ejercito Azapatista de Liberascion Nacional; and supplementary writings by journalists covering the Chiapas crisis have all been arranged in an exhibit. The curators promise that this show is apolitical, and suitable for children of all ages. Some of the images have a very all-American, vintage Life magazine look. Opening 68 p.m. Friday, February 24. Through March 24. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853.

J.R. Richard There were times when you'd sit with mouth ajar watching former Houston Astros hurler J.R. Richard, not even knowing the ball had been pitched to the defenseless batter. That's how dominatingly fast Richard threw, and how fast he collected cash as a result. Unfortunately, things slowed down to a tortoise's crawl, and Richard lost his fortune and ended up living under the Southwest Freeway at one point. Now he has a sales job and a contingency apartment, and the 44-year-old Richard, who has never asked for a handout from anybody, says his faith in God and his inner strength have helped him cope and turn his life back toward better days. With that reversal of fate comes a tribute to Richard hosted by Pastor C.L. Jackson. 7:30 p.m. Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 2801 Conti Street. The tribute is free and open to the public, but donations can be made at the gala or by mailing to "Trust FBO J.R. Richard," c/o New Testament Church, 3401 Anderson Road, Houston, TX 77053. For more info call Rick Kizzee at 433-9668 or 433-7533.

Lamb In this fragile Irish film, Liam Neeson plays Michael Lamb, a Christian brother working at a home for boys. His clerical collar is getting a little tight, but he's still a lamb of God. However, the lamb of the title may be Owen, a boy from the home. Dissatisfied with the care Owen's getting, Michael takes him and runs away. Not trained for life in the secular world, Michael soon finds he can't really care for his young charge. It all turns out badly; pondering the question of how else this story could have ended, and the attendant questions about the care of problem children, institutionalized and otherwise, is where Lamb leaves one. The questions are not comfortable or easy, but Lamb is a beautiful study. Opening today. Several shows daily through March 2. Landmark's Greenway, 5 Greenway Plaza, 626-0402. Feature ticket price $6.50.

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.

saturday
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.

sunday
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.

monday
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.

tuesday
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.

wednesday
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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