Skeleton Clock A newly retooled version of Trey McIntyre's Skeleton Clock opens the Houston Ballet's "farewell to the rodeo" mixed repertory program. Why farewell to the rodeo? Because this town is rodeo mad, that's why. McIntyre is not so easily influenced, not anymore. This new Skeleton Clock, he says, is simply "an abstract dance work, influenced by the mechanical workings of a clock." Now, he says, "most of the conceptual ideas I had about the ballet have fallen away." Meaning he's working on his ideas, rather than an idea of what he is supposed to do -- or what others like, say, Twyla Tharp have done. The program also includes Ben Stevenson's Three Preludes and the world premiere of his Sylvia Pas de Deux. The program closes with George Balanchine's Western Symphony. Western Symphony is Balanchine's toe-tapping, knee-slapping homage to the beauty of the American West, written after his travels under the region's big and bright skies. The first of seven performances is set for 7:30 tonight. Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 227-2787. $5-$70.
Summer Festivals of Southwest Mexico What happens to us here on the Gulf Coast is that we are brought down by the unseasonably cold -- for Houston -- days of March, and then, in our low-down state, try to sate our lust for things Latin with the suitable but not exciting cuisine of Taco Bell. This does not work. For a little of that AViva! feeling, wait for a windy, bright day and go fly a kite on Galveston Island ... or scope out George O. Jackson's huge, full-color prints taken among the Nahua, Tlapanec and Amusgo cultures of Guerrero, Mexico. You got your joyous rites of gratitude, your lively harvest festivals and all kinds of other scenes of passionate people. Helpful plaques identify and explain the festivals in the photos. On the second floor mezzanine today through September 9. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-4600. $3 adults; $2 children under 12.
Free Outdoor Concert The Albert Thomas Convention Center is dead; long live the Albert Thomas Convention Center. The deal is, plans are afoot to turn the former Albert Thomas Convention Center into "Bayou Place at the Albert Thomas." This "Bayou Place at the Albert Thomas" would be a multi-venue theme park of swinging singledom for swinging singles and happy couples. Night clubs, restaurants and little coffee booths, everything needed for a date, would be all under one roof. This concert is just a way to spread the word. Mrs. Molly, Duck Soup, Randy Pelt and Three Dog Night will perform. Budweiser is a sponsor of this pre-Party on the Plaza party on the plaza, so we can assume that Bud beers will be sold at the drink booths. (There'll be food booths, too.) 5-10 p.m. Jones Plaza, downtown. For details call the Civic Center, 853-8000.
Scenes from My Love Life "A play about sex clubs, phone sex and personal ads." Or, "a play about sex clubs, phone sex and theatre critics." The fliers vary. The consistent information says that writer Ronnie Larsen, who directed his show's wildly successful San Francisco premiere, is in town to direct this production. We are not ready to call Larsen the Neil Simon of Gay America, but he's in the neighborhood. Fridays and Saturdays through March 25. Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 527-8243. $15.
Donald Byrd/The Group Choreographer Donald Byrd has gone far beyond Bob Fosse's pelvic thrusts and choreographs urgently lascivious moves. Going even farther, his dance addresses need (as in primal human needs) and discusses romance. Those, and other uneasy, inevitable tensions between the sexes, are explored in Bristle. The program also includes The Group's Bessie Award-winning Drastic Cuts. If this all sounds dreadfully modern, it is. However, Byrd's dancers are classically trained and excruciating perfectionists. 8:30 p.m. Today and Saturday, March 11, Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). For tickets, call 228-0914. $10.
The Orange Show reopens Whee! Spring is here, the pond is full and The Orange Show is open again. Postman and folk artist Jeff McKissack's bizarre and inspiring monument to the orange and concrete has been repainted by hard-working Orange Show volunteers, and every man, woman and child in the entire city of Houston is invited out to celebrate. Soon, the folk art monument/foundation will be busy with school lunch programs and wild artistic events and, of course, the Art Car Parade. Tonight, another season is kicked off in goofball style. The Men of Houston Morris Dancers will begin the evening with druidic flair, strutting in English traditional dances inspired by ancient rituals. Then, Bandu Espritu will perform their special blend of hip-hop, samba, reggae and funk. When funk-a-fied, dance-happy revelers get hungry, they can have a little nosh -- Mike Behne will be dishing out spicy snacks. This is a uniquely Houston experience. 7-11 p.m. The Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 926-6368. All this, and a very special feeling of goodwill, for only a five spot.
Texas Brewers Festival Prime your own fine self for St. Patty's Day and the upcoming season of Party on the Plaza with a festival of brewski. There'll be bleary smiles all around Market Square as Sugar Land cuties shake their booties with corporate wonks, as skate trash and suburbanites mix and mingle, and all the dogs will wear kerchiefs round their necks. Oh! It will be a scene as heartwarming as Christmas Day down in Whoville. The Whos had Christmas spirit; our spirits will be the best brews from eight Texas microbreweries. Celis is one of the brewers, so those aching for some colored beer, the St. Patty's staple, might not have to wait. They may not draw green beer, but perhaps the fine folks of Celis will be serving their strange, disturbingly pink and somewhat peppery raspberry beer. The logo for this event is an in-his-cups armadillo tapping a keg, but make no mistake: "The Texas Brewers Festival encourages safe and responsible drinking and promotes an appreciation of brewing as a craft as well as a community." Noon-8 p.m. today; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Market Square. There's no admission charge. To drink, folks must first show ID and buy a $3 festival mug. Then, folks buy $2 tokens (one token equals one pint). Those who buy too many tokens can get a safe ride home from Yellow Cab.
Dalia Golubich The Croation pianist returns for another concert. Music lovers who attended her Croation-benefit concert last spring already appreciate the caliber of her playing. Her skills are also appreciated by the jury of the 1995 Rubinstein Master Competition in Tel Aviv; she's one of the 50 pianists invited to compete. Tonight, the Channing Concerts present Golubich in their only program of the season. Golubich will play Chopin, Debussy, Haydn, Schubert and Schumann. 8 p.m. Central Congregational Church, Holman at Caroline, 526-5200. Free.
Stargazer '95 This "movie and autograph show" is advertised with the single goofiest flier I have ever seen. A man who looks to be Bella Lugosi in a turban is the only art, stars are all over the page and the text says "You will attend...." However, the art they sent along is way cool -- a Rita Hayworth headshot, some Lana Turner cheesecake and a High Sierra still with Bogart and Ida Lupino. The special guests are Sidney Berger, star of Carnival of Souls, and Craig Ledbetter, editor of Asian Trash Cinema. The dealers will be selling autographs, posters, sheet music, stills and videos. Could be just the place to dig up pix of Poodles Haniford (equestrian clown and vaudevillian), Peter Lorre in Mad Love or Kirk Alyn as Superman. This three day geek-fest opens with a preview party on Friday, runs all day Saturday and will be cooking today, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Ramada Hotel, 7787 Katy Freeway (near I-10 and Antoine). For information, call 827-7203. $5 per day.
Ballet Espanol de Diana Acero Diana Acero studied in Barcelona and Madrid. Before forming her company, she toured Europe with Antonio Torres' company. Her troupe of four dancers fuses traditional Spanish style with contemporary elements. The Houston Society of Flamenco Arts is hosting this concert -- once again bringing international artists to Houston. (Ballet Espanol de Diana Acero is based in Madrid.) 2:30 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Cullen Recital Hall, 4001 Mount Vernon. For reservations or more information, call 640-2975. $12, $8 seniors and students.
When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies Authors Carol M. Hunter and Jane R. Hirschmann will sign copies of and discuss their book and host a "speakout." My own belief is the best body positive remark ever made by a woman in this country came from the rouged lips of Gypsy Rose Lee. When she was middle-aged, some goombah asked Ms. Lee if she minded not having the equipment she had when she was younger. She told the fool, "I've still got everything I had when I was 30, it's just lower and wider." Meanwhile, back at the ranch, usually staunch feminist Loretta Lynn has a poor opinion of the female form. "Really," she said, "that little dealybob is too far from the hole. It should be built right in." Come on out and talk about your struggles with body hatred, or about the joys of being a natural-born vixen. All are welcome. 7:30 p.m. Bookstop Galleria, 2501 Post Oak Boulevard, 627-9810.
Moody Mansion Marketing is all. As proof, we offer this message from a historical foundation: "In an effort to provide today's museumgoer with what they want -- options -- Galveston's Moody Mansion and Museum announced today a more accessible and flexible tour program for its visitors." It is not clear if they don't have the funds for tour leaders, or realized that people don't like being led around, or changed for some other reason entirely, but the fact is they changed the program. Now, anyone who wants to see the Moody Mansion can check in at any time and take his or her own person on a self-guided tour. Don't get any wild ideas about running amuck in the mansion, though. Knowledgeable and no doubt eagle-eyed docents will be stationed on each floor. The Mansion is open every day except Monday. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 14:30 p.m. 2618 Broadway, Galveston, (409) 762-7668. $6, $5 seniors, $3 students ages 618 and free for children under six.
A Conversation with Gregory Peck Now, he may not be the best actor in the world. But he's a damn good Gregory Peck, and tonight the premier aw-shucks hero himself will speak, in his rich, Atticus Finch meets John Doe voice, to mere mortals. Unbeknownst to many, Peck's career in Hollywood has covered more than 50 years of film acting. Peck has also produced films, been the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was the founding chairman of the American Film Institute. The Society for the Performing Arts brings Peck and his program, which includes film clips, to the smallish Brown Theater. Microphones will be set up in the aisles so that audience members can ask the great man questions. 7:30 p.m. Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas, 227-2787. $10$50.