The Art of Visibility/LiB Meeting Nancy Ford, a woman who's come to terms with her own natural-born spunkiness, an empowered adult woman who recognizes that she is fundamentally cute and, rather than feigning a less bubbly personality, accepts and uses her natural adorableness to her own advantage, will be highly visible as an out lesbian twice this week. Tonight, she's the speaker for the July meeting of Lesbians in Business. Ford is one of the founders of Outsmart magazine, a regular on the Gay 90s cable access show and frequent guest on KPFT/90.1 FM's Lesbian & Gay Voices, and she's a popular standup comic. Her talk tonight is "about the importance of visibility and how it affects our lives in the workplace." She'll also explain how she got up the nerve to launch a publication. The meeting is open to all lesbians who are in business, and lesbians who would like to be. Networking starts at 6, meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Innova, 20 Greenway Plaza. For information, call the LiB Line, 529-0077, or fax 529-2598.
I Hate Hamlet And who doesn't? Once in a while, anyway. Shakespeare's Melancholy Dane is, after all, so often so whiny and indecisive, and much much worse we are always expected to revere him. Bah. Icons are no good at all unless we have fun with them occasionally, and in Paul Rudnick's spicy and thoughtful play we have fun at the expense of the morose Prince, and at those who don't get the whole "unresolvable wrestling with one's place in life and one's desires on earth" thing. In this buddy play, a shallow soap star gets a chance to play Hamlet in the Big Apple (had it been written later than 1991, Rudnick would no doubt have given us a Canadian-born American film star playing Hamlet in Toronto). Because this is fiction, our hero gets a good apartment for the summer. In fact, the rooms he rents were once John Barrymore's, and the ghost of the grand actor appears and gives acting lessons to the shallow soap pup. First performance 7:30 p.m. tonight. Through August 6. Alley Theatre Large Stage, 615 Texas Avenue, 228-8421. $15.
A.J. Jamal Established comic, new club -- sounds like a quality night out to us, especially with the comedy scene as dismal as it's been lately. Jamal, who will be recognized by anyone who watches FOX (and everyone who's anyone watches FOX), is well-known for his role on In Living Color. Those who somehow missed the show that spawned Jim "The Riddler" Carrey might know Jamal from The Tonight Show, Comic Strip Live and other shows frequented by your better standup acts. Jamal will be live, in person, for five shows this weekend. 8:30 and 11 p.m. tonight and Saturday and 8:30 p.m. only Sunday. If you haven't been to Jus' Jokin' Comedy Club, note that proper attire and proper identification are required for all patrons. 9344 Richmond, 975-7262. $12.
Say No, Max! Those A.D. Players just don't quit. Days after the close of Joseph and the Madras Plaid Jacket, a children's show with perhaps the best dancing cows this town has ever seen, the A.D. Players S.T.O.P. (Social Theater Overcoming Problems) troupe offers a free show about resisting peer pressure and ignoring the dreary lure of drugs and alcohol. The boy hero of the story is ten-year-old Max -- and, yes, ten-year-olds do do drugs, and drink. They watch talk shows, they pick things up, they engage in all sorts of stupid, shortsighted and self-destructive things. Max, of course, eschews such behavior and invites the audience to join in his musical celebration. The goal of the 28-year-old theater company is to "confront the social issues that young people face today." Kids get a lot of that -- well-meaning folks confronting them with programs about the social issues already confronting them -- and this probably helps. After all, Clarissa can't explain it all, and neither can mom and dad. 11 a.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. Call 520-3290 or 520-3292 for details or information on handicapped seating. Free.
Church social The denizens of Montrose have fun in many ways -- including old-fashioned church socials. The Grace Lutheran Church has baked cobbler and set the stage for an evening of laughter and fellowship, literally. Homemade cobbler is promised, and there will be musical entertainment, sketch comedy and a melodrama (cheering and hissing mandatory). 7 p.m. Grace Lutheran Church, 2515 Waugh, 528-3269. Donations to benefit the church's outreach ministry will be accepted.
Talent show and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T One of the great things about living in Houston is the sure knowledge that, each and every summer, we swamp-city dwellers can see a classic Dr. Seuss film from the outdoor comfort of tractor seats at The Orange Show. This is a tradition, and a fine one at that -- after all, how many civic traditions involve movies starring Hans Conreid? In the film, Dr. T. is Dr. Terwilliger, the most fiendish piano teacher who ever lived, and he tortures his students and makes them wear hideous beanies. At The Orange Show screening there will be a talent show starring ordinary Houstonians before the movie. Young and old alike will strut their stuff, and the winner will be determined by The Orange Show's highly technical response-o-meter. 8 p.m. The Orange Show, 2401 Munger, 926-6368. $3; free for talent show participants.
Houston Hip Hop Festival The Commerce Street Art Warehouse becomes a veritable theme park of hip-hop, with all the elements of hip-hop culture -- the music, the dance and that art -- in one convenient location. This is great for people who don't have anything like this in their neighborhoods, and for hip-hop artists (visual and musical) looking to broaden their audience. Local artists Daniel Sandoval and Jeff Shore will unveil some street art pieces inside the warehouse on Thursday. Sandoval, we are told, "is a talented emerging artist whose deliberate naif Latino style belies the sureness of his brush." Kid Style, Cipher, Skeez 181, Kram and G-wiz, who have a genuine naif style, will also have spray-painted works on display. And, as is de rigueur for festivals, there will be craft and food booths. Also, music from Seeds of Soul, Mad Hatta, The Terrorists, Soul Rebel and Fliponya. 8 p.m.-4 a.m. Commerce Street Art Warehouse, 2315 Commerce. (Directions from the organizers: "Go north on Main or San Jacinto, turn right on scenic and serene Commerce Street. Look for Mike Scranton's two metallic towers on your right." Mike Scranton's two metallic towers are the two things that, if you were driving east on Commerce, could only be Mike Scranton's two metallic towers.) $5 before 9 p.m.; $9 after. Call Urban Beat magazine, 926-2442, or, for information on the art show, Commerce Street, 225-5527.
Indians of the Plains: A Flash of Glory An exhibition of more then 100 objects from the Witte Museum collection of Plains Indians artifacts opens today in Richmond. Bring the kids; this show tells more of the story of Native Americans than does Pocahontas. Alongside the drums and toys and tools of the Choctaw, Lakota Sioux and Nez Perce, the Fort Bend Museum will have works by renowned Western artists such as Bodmer and Catlin, and works by not-so-renowned (yet, anyway) local artists Ken Turner and Tony Sherman. Turner's painting Ghost Dance is part of the exhibit as are sculptures by Missouri City artist Sherman. Sherman, known in these parts for his The Black Cowboy sculpture, has contributed to this show a series of seven busts of Native American chiefs such as Geronimo, Chief Joseph and Sitting Bull. Sherman, who, like many native Texans, has Native American blood -- a Choctaw grandmother -- will be on hand this afternoon, giving lectures at 2:30 and 4 p.m. Opening 1-5 p.m. Exhibition on display at the museum's John M. Moore home through August 13. Fort Bend Museum Complex, 500 Houston Street, Richmond, 342-6478. $2.50; $2 seniors; $1 children.
Lesbian Ladies of Laughter Nancy Ford, again, along with Nancy Norton and Laurie Davies are out of the closet and on the comedy club stage with a "male and hetero friendly" show. These are not, we are told, "just lesbian comedians ... they are comedians who happen to be lesbians." Just think of the evening as a night of "non-stop laughs from three of the best comedians touring today," unless you are, specifically, looking for a show that "fills a void in the lesbian and gay entertainment community." Tonight only. 8 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $12 advance; $15 at the door.
Astros In this midweek, midseason game, the Astros meet the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many saw Craig Biggio hit the first home run for the National League All-Stars, but how many saw him display his old-fashioned, family values on television? At the All-Star gala, Biggio was shown at Six Flags with his baby son, and all the media vultures asked him if he wanted his little boy to grow up and be a ballplayer, too. Craig, sounding like an accepting modern dad, said repeatedly that his son could grow up and be anything he wanted to be. But then he added, "Anything he wants, except for a ballerina." The family man and the rest of the team play at 7:05 p.m. Astrodome, Kirby at Loop 610. (Sneak down Murworth; beat the traffic.) For tickets, call 6-ASTROS. $4-$17.
The Liars' Club Award-winning author Mary Karr will read from and sign her memoir. Mary Karr didn't do anything spectacular; she just grew up in Port Arthur, like Janis Joplin and legions of refinery workers' kids, and thought she had a tale to tell. Not, however, a "survivors" tale. The plain facts are that Karr's mother was a nut and her father was a drunk. The plain facts, however, are not a story, and Karr is a storyteller who seeks not to whine about what happened to her, but to show what happened to a group of people. Of her family, and herself, she says, "We were a terrific family of liars who were redeemed by the slow unearthing of truths." Karr doesn't write like your standard official victim. In one scene, she is having a tough time with dad. Instead of clinically noting that she was unable to express herself or some other hooey, she explains, "I didn't let out a chirp." Tonight, she speaks up, using her gift for language. 7:30-8:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 3003 West Holcombe, Vanderbilt Square, 349-0050.