Houston International Festival Back and better than ever, the Houston International Festival celebrates West Africa and a variety of local traditions. For two weekends, 20 blocks of downtown will be devoted to entertainment from Texas, the United States and the world; to wonderful foods from Texas, the United States and the world; and, yes, shopping! Arts and crafts booths with goods from all over the globe will be open all day, both weekends. The festival also offers not only six stages for live entertainment on weekends, but also lunchtime concerts April 2226. (For more on the music, check out Critic's Choice, page 62.) Our mayor and a host of international dignitaries will launch the festival with a sneak peek at some of the international entertainment. The real deal, which is educational and exciting for the whole family, begins tomorrow. The mayor and his cohorts may also explain festival admission, but in case they don't, here's the deal: single tickets, $5; festival friend deal, good for two season passes, $25; Supercuts passport, good for four admission tickets, coupons and parking, $12; kids under 12 get in free. The lunch-break opening ceremonies, 11:30 a.m.noon. City Hall Plaza, downtown. For more information about the opening ceremonies or other festival events, call 654-8808.
Kids Expo '96 Kids who want to see something they shouldn't try at home will love the ESPN-2 sports arena and the ESPN-2 Extreme Team and Skate Great Xtreme Team. There are no fights to the death in this arena, but the action is almost as thrilling. Stunt bikers will flip and fly, skateboarders will make 25-foot jumps and in-line skaters will do things few dare try -- and between their three shows daily, the skaters will conduct workshops. For the less, let's say, kinetic children, more than 1,000 live fish have been trucked in for the Fish-O-Rama, an indoor pond where kids can catch and keep trophy fish. Also, there will be standard kid fair fare such as a petting zoo, pony and camel rides, costumed Disney characters and music. 9 a.m.9 p.m. today; 10 a.m.6 p.m. Sunday. Astrohall, Astrodomain, Kirby at Loop 610. For more information, call 748-Kids. Regular admission, $5.50; $3.50, kids. Fiesta stores are offering passes for $1 admission at all checkout stands. Parents are advised to come prepared to spend money.
Galveston Maritime Festival The Coast Guard will demonstrate exciting air-sea rescues with wriggling humans dangling from an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, and a variety of boats and sea-life memorabilia will be on display. 9 a.m.6 p.m. today and Sunday. The waterfront at Pier 21, Galveston. For more information, call Allen LeCornu at the Admiralty Marine Model Gallery, (409) 766-1777. Free admission.
Urban Harvest Celebration of Earth Day There are more than 30 Urban Harvest gardens in the greater Houston area, providing produce for the needy and hands-in-the-dirt work for civic-minded Houstonians, and today they are all open for touring. Soil that was first tilled for Liberty Gardens of WW I is still producing veggies in Urban Harvest gardens of today. Some of the vegetables are exotic, too. Urban Harvest has a seed library program providing rare types of seed. To learn more about this and other Urban Harvest programs, tour a garden or orchard in your neighborhood.10 a.m.4 p.m. A map put together by Urban Harvest shows the location of 29 of the growth sites: Blessed Veggies is the garden listed in Northeast Houston; there are six gardens in Northwest Houston; six in Southwest; three in Southeast; and 13 inside the Loop. For more information, call 880-5540. Free.
Waterfest '96 Don't get the wrong idea: this is not some water-park-with-rides event. This is a serious look at water. The Jesse H. Jones Park hosts a full day of entertainment and education about that aqueous stuff that keeps us going. At various times throughout the day, the Spring High School science club will demonstrate water quality monitoring, Debi McNapp will give a puppet show and Karen Stockton will present her digital concert and slide show, Hug-a-Water-Drop. And families can enjoy boating and other wet events, too. This is a fitting Earth Day celebration, as water covers the bulk of the Earth's surface. 10 a.m.4 p.m. Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick Drive, 446-8588. Free.
Meet Miss Frizzle's maker Prolific, and award-winning, children's author Joanna Cole is surely best known for creating Miss Frizzle and the Magic School Bus, but she's in town today to sign copies of a new and different book, Give a Dog a Bone: Jokes and Riddles about Dogs. 11 a.m. Munchkins Books for Children, 2530 Times Boulevard, 522-3911.
Victor Borge At the age of ten, Victor Borge played piano with the Copenhagen Philharmonic orchestra. By rights, he should have gone on to become an acclaimed virtuoso. Unfortunately, though, Borge had a sense of humor (not a great advantage for a classical pianist in those days), so he went on to create his own mix of music and jokes. Although he can play a straight concert when he wants to, he still prefers to entertain with classic tunes and corny clowning. Audiences don't seem to mind. 3 and 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894 or (800) 821-1894. $15, $29 and $37.50.
Some Mourn, Some Rejoice A play by Jewell Handy is the centerpiece for this 12 Minutes Max! presentation. Handy's canny narrative, about the politics of hair as told from a young girl's point of view, comes between a dance work based on the story of Ferdinand the Bull and a two-voice performance poem by Jacsun Shah and Rise Collins. 8 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. $12; $7, students.
Plymptomania This is a red-letter weekend for fans of animator Bill Plympton. First, not only is Fine Toon gallery showing original production artwork from animated Plymptoons such as Your Face, The Kiss and 25 Ways to Quit Smoking, but also Bill himself will make a rare appearance today. He'll be signing art items from 12:303 p.m. 2427 Bissonnet, 522-6499. Later in the day, Plympton's first live action feature, J. Lyle, will be shown at the Rice Media Center. J. Lyle isn't entirely live action -- the dog in it has cartoon lips and the titular sleazeball lawyer has animated internal (and external) organs that try to convince him to give up his shallow ways and live a righteous life. J. Lyle will be shown with a short work from Plympton's current project, and Bill will introduce the Saturday show. 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday. Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $5.
An Afternoon of Brahms Andre Watts has been tinkling out memorable tunes for more than three decades, or ever since Leonard Bernstein asked him to substitute for an ailing Glenn Gould. Watts was a mere pup of 16 at the time, and if he didn't grow into the eccentric that Gould was, he did grow into an equally engaging pianist. It's been some seven years since Watts last played in Houston, and as the grand finale of the Society for the Performing Arts season, he, clarinetist David Shifrin and cellist Gary Hoffman will perform three fine works by Brahms. Not only that, if you show up early enough, you'll get a yummy brunch and a curtain talk as well. Brunch begins at noon; curtain talk, 1:30; concert, 2 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. For more information about the brunch, call 227-9976. $10$47.
Kate Clinton She's no relation to our current president, but this feminist comic makes the most of the coincidence of her name. Her motto is "Liberte, soroite, hilarite" and she's already got a contract with America -- "It's called the Constitution." This smart, funny and not at all pandering comic will give us two shows. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Avenue, 869-8427. $10, $17.50 and $20.
Madam Sadat A woman who knows a great deal about leadership, community involvement and women's issues, Madam Jehan Sadat, is the guest speaker at a kosher luncheon for the Women's Division of the 1996 United Jewish Campaign. The goal of the luncheon is to bring women from all walks of Jewish life together to concentrate on the goals of the campaign. The purpose of Madam Sadat's talk is to continue in her role as a speaker for peace. 11:30 a.m. J.W. Marriott, 5150 Westheimer. For reservations, call Gary Kornblith, 729-7000. $27 per person, plus a $136-minimum pledge per person.
Eat Drink Man Woman Noting that the Houston Community College System has at least 14,000 students of Oriental ancestry, and that institutions of learning should promote cultural interest and enlightenment, HCCS is hosting an Asian film festival. Asian-American, Chinese and Japanese films will be shown, with Eat Drink Man Woman and Great Wall as the opening night offerings. Double features will also be shown Wednesday and Thursday; check Thrills for details. Eat Drink, 6:30; Great Wall, 9 p.m. Landmark Greenway 3 Theatre, 5 Greenway Plaza. For tickets, call Matt Veach, 718-7791, or Denny Smith, 630-7237. For directions to the theater, call 626-0402. Free.
Meet your monkey uncles Zoologist and paleoanthropologist Meave G. Leakey (who married into the Leakey clan) will talk about our ancestors and distant relations. She knows all about our kin from digging in the dirt of Africa -- the cradle of mankind. Her most recent discoveries have to do a with a hominid called Australopithecus anamensis, who is suspected to be the critter right at the juncture between Homo and australopithecine folk. After Leakey's talk about fossils from the Turkana Basin in Kenya, there'll be a dessert reception. 7 p.m. Museum ofNatural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Hermann Park. For reservations, call639-4629. $15.
Elie Wiesel Nobel Peace Prize-winner, author and Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel will talk about human rights at a benefit for the Holocaust Museum Houston. After the war, Wiesel became a journalist in Paris, and he didn't discuss his experiences in the concentration camps until the late '50s. Since then, he has published 35 books, garnered many honors and spoken eloquently for the rights of Argentina's "disappeared," Cambodian refugees, Kurds, Nicaragua's Miskito Indians, Soviet Jews and prisoners in the former Yugoslavia. The chance to hear Wiesel speak in Houston is a rare and valuable opportunity. 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For more information on this lecture or museum membership, call 942-8000. Lecture open to charter members; charter memberships are $100 and up. Each member gets two tickets.