Press Picks

thursday
january 25
Playing the Game: How to Win at Office Politics Seminars are getting more daring. This workshop, from Robert F. Sarmiento, Ph.D., is about successful professional game playing. Most people, Sarmiento says, know that office politics have more to do with success than performance, "but often we refuse to play because some people do it unethically." His class offers "an ethical, professional approach to playing the game." 7-9 p.m. The seminar will be held in the Greenway Plaza area. Call 877-1981 to register. $20, plus $5 for materials.

Jazzy Lady Marilynn Thibodaux may be familiar to Houston audiences for her work in local TV commercials, TUTS musical theater and the late, great Comedy Workshop. But right now, she eschews light comedy for cabaret-style jazz. Over the past few years, she's been studying the arts of scat and jazz stylings, studying at workshops all over, especially workshops in Chicago. She also sings swing,"If I Were a Bell"; blues, "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You"; Latin-tempo, "Peel Me a Grape"; and ballads, "Detour Ahead." And yes, she's heard that she resembles Liza Minnelli and, in fact, has worked as a Minnelli look-alike. Thibodaux will be accompanied by Claudia Burson, piano; David Klingensmith, bass; and Richard Waters, drums. 8 p.m. Ovations, 2536 Times Boulevard (off Kirby), 522-9801. $6.

friday
january 26
Wild Things! Last week, a Barnes and Noble program had kids happily eating worms. This week, they'll eat "wild animal crackers" and share stories with Maurice Sendak's one and only Wild Thing. 6:30 p.m. Barnes and Noble, Vanderbilt Square, 3003 West Holcombe Boulevard, 349-0050. Free.

Four Saints in Three Acts This opera is advertised with the tag line "two visionaries, one vision," and we're not sure if the two visionaries are supposed to be Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson, the librettist and composer, or Robert Wilson and Robert Wilson -- Wilson gets double billing as director and designer. The opera is a contemporary masterwork, HGO says, "especially as envisioned by Robert Wilson." Four Saints was introduced at the Wadsworth Anthenaeum in 1934, in Hartford, Connecticut, and rather than touring the sticks and being polished, the show went directly to Broadway. Because it's short and odd, Four Saints is not in the repertoire of many companies -- in fact, no major productions have been mounted since that first glorious run. But because HGO did not make its international reputation doing conventional repertory, we get to see a lavish, loving, lively production. Dennis Russell Davies, a conductor who's made his mark with American music, is the conductor and wears a baseball cap in press shots -- and he may just wear it during Four Saints and Three Acts. Niftily, this production comes on what would have been the late Virgil Thomson's 100th birthday. Sung in English without surtitles. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. See Thrills, Theater, Opening for other dates and times. Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas, 227ARTS. $15-$75.

After-opera benefit Planning to see the opening of Four Saints? Why not make an evening of it? The Menil has 100 tickets to the opera and a special supper (catered gratis by Jackson Hicks) for art lovers who enjoy original opera and the chance to help bring other icons, specifically the Madonna and Child, to our town. This dinner-theater package benefits the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum now under construction. Works by local artists -- Dixie Friend Gay, McKay Otto, James Surls and the like -- will be centerpieces at the dinner, and will be sold by silent auction to raise more money for the Chapel Museum. This festive dinner follows the 90-minute opera. For more information, call 523-2426. $500-$2,500.

Informance Meaning well, but choosing a name that is cheesy beyond belief, Gregory Boyd and the Alley Theatre offer "Informance" discussions before the Alley's Shakespeare plays. Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar are playing in repertory (and featuring Corin and Vanessa Redgrave), and the Alley doesn't want to take any chances with the audience. Before the shows, Gregory Boyd will explain Shakespeare to all. Vanessa Redgrave does her first directing on our side of the pond and stars in Antony and Cleopatra; Corin Redgrave also directs, and plays the title role in Julius Caesar. (Though the play bears his name, Caesar is not the lead character; he's assassinated early on, leaving poor Brutus to brood.) Through February 11. "Informance" talks are given 45 minutes before curtain time. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m., Tuesday- Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 7:30 p.m., Sunday; 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 228-8421. $31-$40.

Cleo's Comedy Theatre Cleo's Comedy troupe has a home -- and it's on Washington fairly near where Radio Music Theatre opened its first theater; not a bad place to begin. For those who missed Cleo's shows and holiday review last year, and haven't seen the group at a private party, producer Diane Ragsdale and a half-dozen comics do sketches, parodies, magic and improv. Ragsdale, by the way, believes deeply that laughter is the best medicine; she launched her troupe after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She is, obviously, a survivor. The theatre's grand opening is at 8 p.m. tonight. Shows through March 2, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Cleo's Comedy Theatre, 3722 Washington Avenue, 787-9969. $12.

saturday
january 27
Big Band Salute to Artie Shaw Crooner Julius La Rosa, Johnny Smith's Ink Spots and the Gramercy Five take everyone on a musical stroll down memory lane in a tribute to the late big band leader Artie Shaw. Swing standards such as "Begin the Beguine," "Indian Love Call," "Stardust" and Shaw's signature song, "Nightmare," will be performed. Three shows only. 2 and 8 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Sunday. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894 or (800) 821-1894. $10-$20.

Skin Speak: the First Survey of Houston Tattoo A runway show of the inked begins this five-week exhibit devoted to the art of tattooing. More than 40 artists, including Richard Stell, Matthew Wojcieschowski and local favorites Dragon Mike and Tiger John are participating. Lyle Tuttle, the grand old man of skin illustration, will host a panel discussion one evening, but during the entire show, the why and how of the art will be under constant discussion. Jodi Griffin of Scream'n Demon will have a station set up for the duration of the show, and then, on February 20, Griffin will demonstrate the art of tattooing and a representative from the Texas Department of Health, division of Drugs and Medical Devices, will talk about health-related issues and the very tricky free-speech issue of pending legislation addressing gang-related tattoos. The discussion will include, surely, the growing interest among the formerly not-tattooed (that is, people who aren't sailors, bikers or Maori), but we're wondering if tattoo removal, a booming medical business, will also be talked over. The opening and runway show, 7-10 p.m. DiverseWorks, 117 East Freeway (off North Main at Naylor), 223-8348. The show is free; tattoos can be had for various prices.

sunday
january 28
Bagel Bowl A costumed Bagel Dude, the Bruegger's Bagels mascot, will frolic on the sidelines as Rice and University of Houston students compete in a coed flag football game. Funds raised from the coed flag football, Bagel Dude antics and T-shirt sales will benefit the United Jewish Appeal campus campaign. 1 p.m. Rice University soccer field (entrance no. 8 off Rice Boulevard). For more information, call 743-5397. Admission is free; Bagel Bowl T-shirts are $8.

monday
january 29
Self-Employment 101: The Legal Basics of Self-Employment Self-employed Houston attorney and raconteur Kathy Biehl offers advice on the nuts and bolts of self-employment. She'll explain, in a concise 90-minute talk, "what documents need to be filed with which agencies, how to protect a business name and critical, but often overlooked tax and insurance issues." Biehl will also talk about the differences between working alone and working with a partner. When she's not giving seminars, teaching courses at Rice or the University of Houston Law Center, writing for publications such as The American Bar Association Journal or doing general law, Ms. Biehl enjoys her leisure by singing in public and contributing to publications such as Rubberstampmadness and her own Ladies Fetish and Taboo Society. There is, she knows, a full, rich existence for those who have the energy and smarts to work for themselves and run their own lives. 7:30 p.m. The Spectrum Center, 4100 Westheimer, Suite 235. For reservations or information, 524-5051. $35.

tuesday
january 30
Albert "Huff" Huffstickler The Austin poet and artist will read some of his many poems (he sometimes produces a poem a day) and introduce an exhibition of his art work. The former University of Texas librarian has been published in more than 100 journals and the Bellaire zine, Arrowsmith. Keddy Outlaw, the producer of Arrowsmith, wanted to stick her neck out for Huff, explaining that "he is a dear man who is quite excited about coming to Houston." He is a dear man, and it is true that his poetry is noted for its "warm, humane, nurturing style and content." However, it is also true that his poetry looks at hard ugly facts of life -- the struggles of the indigent and the insane, for instance -- and that he is not so much folksy as what Charles Bukowski might have been without all the smug, macho outsider posturing. Art preview, 7-8 p.m.; poetry reading, 8 p.m. Barnes and Noble, Vanderbilt Square, 3003 West Holcombe Boulevard, 349-0050.

wednesday
january 31
Randall Robinson The Harvard Law School graduate, hunger striker and freedom fighter is pleased, of course, that South Africa has democratic elections, but he believes that there is still much work to be done. Robinson will talk about the fight ahead for civil rights and democracy at a special program sponsored by TSU's Lyceum and Cultural Arts. 11 a.m. Texas Southern University, university auditorium, 3100 Cleburne, 527-7456. Free and open to the public.

Serious Fun with Amelia Bedelia The Emmy Gifford Children's Theatre brings the adventures of the relentlessly literal-minded maid to Galveston. Amelia is a wonderful character for children because she tries to do her best, and although she gets terribly mixed up when told to "draw the drapes" and "dust the furniture," she has talents that are recognized. Basically, that's what a child's life is like -- people give you nothing but confusing instructions and your only hope is to come up with something you can and like to do. 7 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $5 and $6.

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