Lessons in Living Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief of Essence and author of Lessons in Living, will talk about her place as a "mother, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor" in the divine plan. (Check Thrills, Readings and Discussions, for details of Taylor's two other Houston appearances.) 7-9 p.m. Shrine Bookstore, 5309 M.L.K. Boulevard, 645-1071.
Relativism The Philadelphia Family -- a loosely knit association of local artists who take their name from a group of vindictive relatives in the City of Brotherly Love who were profiled recently on tabloid TV -- present a show of varied art works. Paintings are the least of it; you also get jewelry, photographs, collages, assemblages and framed drawings. These works by Jeff Atchley, Amy Brock, Susan Hanft, Cindy House, Laura Lark, Suzanne Paul, Adam Skjonsby and Gerald Thorp will be on view one time only. 7-10 p.m.PhiladelphiaFamilyHQ,2305 Woodhead, 521-0584. Free.
A Norman Rockwell Kind of Christmas Second Baptist Church is going whole hog -- this year they've got the Candy Village, the Electric Light Parade, dinner theater, the Angels of Light outreach project and a "multimedia Broadway-style musical" called A Norman Rockwell Kind of Christmas. Instead of celebrating the season with pageant wagons or Dance of the Six, Second Baptist is going for the mid-20th-century traditions of pipe-smoking, folksy illustrator Norman Rockwell. Singers and actors will be presented in tableaux mimicking actual Norman Rockwell paintings, all this music and imagery depicting "the perfect New England Christmas." 8 p.m. tonight and December 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, 365-2401. $10-$14.
Mud 'Tis the season to be jolly, and also the season to enjoy underground theater. Infernal Bridegroom Productions comes to the rescue of grinches and hard-core drama fans with a tinsel-free show, Mud. A brisk 45 minutes long and performed in the brisk, mostly unheated theater space of Commerce Street Arts Warehouse, Mud is the work of Maria Irene Fornes. The California and New York productions of Mud got good buzz, and Fornes is considered an "important" playwright. The Cuban-American's drama is set in a claustrophobic environment; the tension comes from an invalid and a caretaker locked in an interdependent relationship fraught with need and resentment. "It's Mud," Infernal Bridegroom informs us. "Wallow in it." Opening tonight, 8 p.m. Through December 16. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Commerce Street Arts Warehouse, 2315 Commerce Street, 802-0321. Tickets are sold at the door only (no reservations accepted), and they go quickly. $5.99.
The Joy of Giving Celebrity Bowl This is a football game, foremost, and the beauty of it is that no matter who wins, a Houston team will come out on top. The Bisons and the Skyhawks, our local semipro football teams, will take to the gridiron not in competition for any prestigious trophy, but to entertain Houston's children. Organized by the World Youth Foundation, this event has one motivation: to give kids the opportunity to get out and have some fun and some new experiences. Football's not the only item on the agenda; before the game, Santa will make a visit and distribute as many as 3,500 toys, and local sports celebrities such as Marcus Robinson and Alonzo Highsmith will sign autographs. Then at halftime, bands from Smiley, Yates, Kashmere and Forest Brook high schools will square off, with the winning ensemble marching away with $1,000 for their school's scholarship fund. Pregame activities start at 11 a.m.; kickoff is at 1 p.m. Texas Southern University football field, 3100 Cleburne. For more information, call Paula Highsmith at 313-1900. $10; free for children 12 and under.
Lights in the Heights Only a couple of elements have a price tag at this holiday celebration: photos with Santa are $5 plus tax and commemorative T-shirts are $14 for adult sizes, $7 for children's sizes. Santa starts posing at 7 p.m. near the T-shirt booth at the Norhill esplanade. The celebration begins, though, as soon as the sky gets dark. Neighbors from 15 blocks along Bayland, Euclid, Norhill and Beauchamp streets will line their avenues with luminaries. To add to the celebratory atmosphere, 27 ensembles -- choirs, folksingers and bands -- will entertain. Walk around and gaze at the decorative streets, or hop into a carriage or haywagon for a holiday ride. It's free either way. 6-9 p.m. To reach the Woodland Heights, take the Taylor Street exit off I-10 and go north, or exit Houston/North Main off I-45 and take Houston Avenue south. For more information, call the Woodland Heights Civic Association, 683-5188.
The Austin Lounge Lizards In their usual theatrical style, the Lizards announce this as "their last 1995 Houston club date." If you have somehow managed to avoid the whimsical but nonetheless technically expert musical stylings of the Lizards so far, then now might be time to remedy that oversight. Wholesome tunes about acid rain (the placid, acid rain that rhymes with Lake Champlain) and trysts at Beaumont truck stops are part of the Lizards' repertoire, as is a stellar cover of "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" and a bluegrass take on the music of Pink Floyd. The Lizards, basically, are geeks who went on to get good jobs but just never got over that "let's be in a band" urge. Not at all in the Lizards' free-spirited style, the 8 p.m. show is non-smoking. The second show, where smokers are welcome to light up and add to their future medical needs, is at 10 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $10.
Red for Danger, Fire and Love: Early German Silent Films Long before Alexis Carrington Colby (a.k.a. Joan Collins) dominated Dynasty, the zaftig Asta Nielsen sashayed through the world of high finance as the title character in The Queen of the Stock Exchange. During this 1918 romantic melodrama, she manages to corner the copper market with a smart investment here, some insider information there. In the end, however, her fortune is cold comfort when her lover dies in a mining mishap. Nielsen was a superstar of the early European cinema, though she retired after the advent of sound. (She retreated to her native Denmark following Hitler's rise to power, despite a firm offer from propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to run her own German studio.) Her uniquely restrained style of silent-movie acting is just one of the treasures waiting to be rediscovered in this series co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut-Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts and programmed by film scholar Barbara Hales. Queen of the Stock Exchange is one of several newly restored German silent films that will be shown today and next Sunday. 2 and 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5.
John Wayne Bobbitt and the Bobbitt Girls The man who proved that your name is indeed your destiny -- and who has through sheer force of personality managed to squelch whatever wincing sympathy some guys may have once had for him -- is coming to town with a trio of co-stars from his triple-X epic, John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut. (This is, we are told, the best-selling porn flick of all time. Go figure.) It gets better; the Bobbitt Girls have names! John Wayne and his reattached manhood will wiggle on-stage with Tiffany Lords, Jordon St. James and Jasmine Aloha. We're hoping that Bobbitt and his girls have been studying with David Copperfield or maybe Penn and Teller and the show is a reenactment of the slashing, all done with smoke and mirrors and spurting buckets of realistic stage blood. Alas, though, we hear that Bobbitt merely wears a tux, shows some clips of himself with Howard Stern and hosts the show. Regardless, what a way to start the week! First show today at 12:30 p.m. Four shows daily through December 16. 12:30, 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Free lunch buffet 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Michael's International, 6440 Southwest Freeway, 784-5900. $2, daytime; $6, evening. Michael's usually has a rule about not allowing unescorted ladies, but during Bobbitt's run, this rule will be waived at the doorman's discretion.
Dr. Nafis Sadik Lorena Bobbitt had her own ideas about birth control that, despite a certain fiendish appeal, are not really practical. Dr. Nafis Sadik has ideas about birth control that are not only practical, but also vital. The Pakistani doctor specializes in women's health and is the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund. Sadik's talk is sponsored by the Houston Chapter of the United Nations Association and 36 political and advocacy programs focusing on environmental, population and women's issues. 7 p.m. Rice University, Hamman Hall. For information, call 783-7159. Free.
SportsLab It's not every day that the world's first and only interactive touring sports theme park comes to town, so why not lace up your athletic shoes and head on out for "the opportunity to feel like a star athlete"? Guests are promised "the opportunity to experience sports in a way they only dreamed of before." The price of admission includes a chance to "take a crack at a [virtual] Tom Glavine fastball, learn how to drop into the pocket like Jim Kelly and scale a four-story high rock wall." We suspect that for scaling that wall, instead of your athletic shoes, you'll need rented rock-climbing shoes sprayed on the inside with special sticky stuff. Rock climbing, while not overtly popular in this flat city, offers a myriad of interesting challenges and sensations. (And by the way, Tom Glavine's not a fastball pitcher; he's a control pitcher. But hey, he was MVP of the World Series, and it can be daunting for a theme park to keep up with all these niggling sports details.) Through January 1. Today through Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Astrodome parking lot. Tickets available through Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $15; $10, seniors and children four to 17; free, children under four.
Rainbow Ranglers Country music-loving gays and lesbians (and their friends) are invited out to scoot a boot in Texas-style dance classes. Couple dances, more than line or square dances, are taught, and Wednesday nights are for advanced level dancers. 7-10 p.m. Brazos River Bottom, 2400 Brazos. For more information, call 880-0670.