Mystery of the Maya There's an interesting blend of images here. The source is ancient Mayan structures in the isolated, dense jungles of Central America. The original images -- structures, carvings, paintings and glyphs in Wright Codex and other Mayan languages -- were cleaned up with modern restoration techniques, and then the images were scanned into computers. By tweaking these images, computer artists were able to bring out previously obscured details without damaging or altering the original Mayan works. These final images are being shown on the IMAX screen. The temples of Bonampak are intense. Mystery of the Maya begins today. 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $5; $3.50 children under 12. We recommend buying tickets in advance.
Pete Fountain Given Bubbha Thomas and Pete Fountain, it's difficult to understand how jazzmen have that late-night viper rep. You couldn't find two nicer guys, and this weekend you can find "Mr. New Orleans" at Jones Hall playing in the Houston Symphony's pops series. (Pete Fountain was "discovered" by Lawrence Welk. James Dean and Maila "Vampira" Nurmi were great friends. Odd alliances abound.) 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$50.
Attila Samuel Ramey, the 1992 season's bare-chested Mefistofele, is back on-stage at Houston Grand Opera and bare-chested as Attila, the scourge of God. Yep, in addition to being the most celebrated bass of his generation, Ramey is a hunk-and-a-half. And more! The world has pretty boys and talented voices, but precious few have no-kidding star quality. Ramey has it in spades. In Mefistofele, during the scene in which Faust is wailing a soul-sellers solo, Ramey, in crimson tights, was supposed to be silently playing solitaire in the background. Anytime there was the slightest pause, Ramey would lay down a card, or make some tiny move, and completely stole the scene. Not a good ensemble worker, perhaps, but a tremendous stage presence. Verdi's opera, with Ramey in the lead role, is far more than dramatic music about a short, shaggy guy invading Italy on a mangy pony. (Verdi used dramatic license to add characters and doll up the story.) Pre-curtain lecture 30 minutes before the opera. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Through May 12. Houston Grand Opera, Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $10-$135.
Galveston Bay Sampler Boat Tour Skip that Princess cruise; see the bay instead. The day-long Galveston Bay Foundation floating classroom tour takes you past the San Jacinto Monument, the Cedar Bayou salt marsh, oyster landings and sources of water pollution. Naturally, clear-eyed scholars will be on hand to talk about the history of the bay, and discuss how we (and natural disasters) have hurt and helped the resource. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Departing from the Houston Yacht Club, Shoreacres. To register call 332-3381. $40; $20 for anyone under 18.
Great Texas Beach Trash-Off For almost a decade, the Texas General Land Office has been urging Texans to scuttle across the beach, like so many ridley hatchlings, to pick up litter and debris, which can interfere with said ridley hatchlings and other wildlife. Plus, it just looks trashy. Generally, Trash-Off organizers haul off the garbage. However, if you find something nifty, such as the Pontiac Fiero found on North Padre last year, maybe you can just slip it into your beach bag and keep moving. Since 1987, 139,508 volunteers (they keep very close tabs on the number of volunteers, apparently, and never round their numbers), have collected 2,849 tons of mess on Texas beaches. In 1995, you can join the fun. Call (800) 85-BEACH or (800) CLEANTX for your crew assignment.
The Art Car Parade We have to pay money to get into the Houston International Festival, we only have one daily newspaper and the Richmond strip is considered a fun place to party. The old standards are gone and life looks grim. Are we stuck in a dinky, third-rate town? I say the question hinges on whether or not we have a good Art Car Parade this year. One good sign -- there's no admission charge for watching the parade from the sidewalks along McKinney north of Louisiana and along Travis from McKinney to Market Square. (Or from the windows of your office, if you happen to have one along the parade route.) Parade begins at 1 p.m., Allen Parkway at the Sabine Street Bridge. All the one-of-a-kind vehicles should reach the finish line, the Houston International Festival City Hall Stage, at 3:30 p.m. (Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the inventor of the Rat Fink, is a judge.) Awards ceremony and surprises follow. Houston International Festival tickets are $3 at ticket outlets and $5 at the gate. For more information about the parade, call 926-CARS. For more information in general, access an international newspaper database and learn about the popularity the Houston Art Car Parade has attained in the world's capitals.