Party on the Plaza Austin blues band Soulhat is the first band of the season, and Popa Chubby opens. This official kickoff concert has a St. Patrick's Day theme: "Show your most creative use of green." Many of your fellow Houstonians, and even folks from Katy and suchlike, have drunk themselves green at Party on the Plaza; being creative with the color is going to mean more than just being emerald around the gills. Party starts at 5 p.m. Jones Plaza, downtown. For info, call 961-2992. Free.
Walden This is the second segment of all-around art guy Jonas Mekas' filmed diaries, and we've chosen to highlight this particular set of moving images because they came with a lovely photograph of the very recognizable Andy Warhol. Using Warhol as the sole hook for this film might convey the wrong impression. Mekas was born a poor farm boy -- no, really. He was born in Lithuania in the '20s, and had the misfortune to spend several years in displaced persons camps in Western Europe. Somewhere along the line, he got bit by the film bug. Tonight's offering is not a major and elaborately constructed underground film. Instead, Walden is a genuine journal: bits recorded on the fly, almost every day, from 1965 to 1969. 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853. $4.50.
St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen Contest I realize that this is the most small-minded, inside-the-Loop Pick ever, but I just don't see how anyone can really, truly celebrate St. Patty's Day without stopping by Griff's. They don't have grill-your-own-steak night, and they don't have any of the original furniture from the old Rice Hotel, but they've got distinctly Irish neighborhood pub-ness in shamrocks, which means you have to do some of your Paddy's Day celebrating at Griff's. Why not make it tonight? Some lucky girl or woman will be chosen parade queen -- and the chosen one will be presented to the city tomorrow evening at the Aeros game. This contest is the finals, so if you'd like to be the parade's center of attention, you're too late. Better luck next year. Griff's Shenanigans, 3416 Roseland, 528-9912.
St. Patrick's Day semi-private weirdness Those of you who haven't lived here all that long may not know that we once had a hotel with a pool big enough for water skiing -- water skiing, as in with boats. For reasons that have never been clear to me, or former Shamrock general manager and Hilton executive Porter Parris, "a terrible thing -- destruction -- happened to her." Destruction is one of the worst things that can happen to a building. As always, in the early hours of St. Patrick's Day (9 a.m.), a wreath will be laid on the Shamrock site (6900 Main) and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" will be sung. Perhaps the 1995 Jameson Irish person of the year, John M. O'Quinn, will attend. He's sure to be up early, like a child on Christmas morning, for at noon the whisky people will honor him at a luncheon at the Houston Club (811 Rusk) and give him a specially commissioned piece of Waterford crystal.
St. Patrick's Day very public weirdness Since 1967, we've been changing Buffalo Bayou from its usual brackish green-brown to brackish green-brown highlighted with vivid kiddie-Crayola green. The reason for this is, you know, that today is St. Patrick's Day. No one has ever shown a reason why this should not be done, so it is. Downtown working stiffs, who are fretful and fractious after three months with few outdoor entertainments, dig it. The music comes from the Bagpipe, Drum and Fife Corps of the Texas Army, with very loud noise from the Texas Army cannons firing green dye into the bayou. Everybody gets to be Irish for a day, and for an environmentalist/landscaping green theme, trees will be given away -- bald cypress trees donated by the fine folks of the Parks and Recreation Department. The Slippery Rock Boosters Club hopes to dye not only Buffalo Bayou, but also White Oak Bayou. Main festivities commence at 11:30 a.m., with greening at 12:30. Behind the Old Spaghetti Warehouse, Travis at the bayou.
Bill Conti's Tribute to Henry Mancini Bill Conti is no Henry Mancini, but you've probably found yourself mindlessly humming a few of the Oscar-winning composer's tunes -- "For Your Eyes Only" or "Gonna Fly Now," for instance. Conti opens the program with his own works, and concludes, after intermission, with undeniably classic works such as Mancini's Peter Gunn theme, Pink Panther theme, "Moon River" and "The Baby Elephant Walk." 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$50.
Houston Book and Paper Show Almost 100 exhibitors will be selling all manner of antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books; prints, etchings and maps; and movie posters, lobby cards and autographs. MacDonnell of MacDonnell Rare Books of Austin plans to bring an 1851 Moby Dick, list price $10,000; an 1885 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, list price $1,850; and a 1929 A Farewell to Arms, list price $1,500. If those books are too dear, someone has hacked up a 1611 King James Bible and will be selling leaves for only $25 per page. Expect similar highs and lows among the map and print prices. (This being a Texas show, there'll be plenty of maps of this oft-divided landmass.) 9 a.m.-6 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Astrohall, conference center, enter off Kirby at Murworth. For details, call 496-7827 or fax 493-5501. One $3 ticket is good for both days.