The Mask of Moriarty Hugh Leonard plays fast and loose with fictional heroes; his new play is described as "Sherlock Holmes meets Monty Python." Main Street Theater, however, keeps Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved detective in good hands: the comedy-mystery is directed by Freeman Williams, who directed Main Street casts in three previous productions with Sherlock -- Crucifer of Blood, Tainted Blood and Sherlock's Last Case. (The theater's calling Williams "MST's master of the macabre and zany.") Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $10$15.
The Sleeping Beauty This classic ballet features an eternal princess, a grand dame and Janie Parker (whose imminent retirement means she'll soon need an appellation other than "Houston Ballet principal dancer"). The grand dame is Dame Margot Fonteyn, this century's finest Aurora. Fonteyn provided "special coaching" for the 1990 production of Ben Stevenson's production. That coaching, and other details, paid off. In 1992, Dance Magazine cheered the ballet, Stevenson and "witty details, including a ferocious, Joan Collins-style Carabosse who wears a tutu with sequined snakes on the bodice." (Unlike most companies, Houston Ballet has a woman, rather than a man in drag, dance the bad-girl role: Sandra Organ and Susan Cummins will alternate.) Janie Parker will alternate in the role of Princess Aurora with Rachelle Jonell Beard and Lauren Anderson. (Parker's dates listed in Thrills, Dance.) Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $10$75.
Guy Harvey Expect a parking lot full of Ford trucks with GCCA and Ducks Unlimited bumper stickers: internationally famous marine-life artist Guy Harvey is signing autographs and selling art at Academy this weekend. The Jamaican-born painter studied marine zoology at Aberdeen University in Scotland, studied further at the University of the West Indies and then produced a thesis on the ecology of coastal pelagic fish. But scholarship paled beside the call of the wetlands muse. Beloved by fans of the finned and waterfowl, Harvey produces both large works, such as a 26-foot-high sailfish mural on Fort Lauderdale's busiest bridge, and small ones, such as leaping redfish on T-shirts. He also creates seascapes on canvas and sells posters. This art signing might be a terrific place to pick up a Father's Day gift. Harvey will be at the Katy Freeway store, 8723 Katy Freeway, 59 p.m. today. Tomorrow, he'll be at the Pasadena store, 5500 Spencer Highway, 10 a.m.2 p.m. At both appearances, he'll offer customers a chance to win an original print and sign autographs on any of his works (which we think must include funked-up old T-shirts that are very much the worse for wear). Asia/America Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art Okay, pals and gals, we're munching spring rolls and slurping pho like there's no tomorrow, so don't you think it's time we got interested in other aspects of Asian and Asian-American culture? Of course it's time, and it's time to see some knockout art, too. The University of Houston and the Asia Society present "Asia/America," a groundbreaking survey of works by contemporary Asian-American artists. Many styles and countries are represented, and many of the works are surprising, striking and unforgettable. On view through July 2. The show has a preview, 79 p.m. tonight, and at 7 p.m. June 13, guest curator Margo Machida and three artists will be part of a round table discussion. Also, on Saturdays in June and July, some of the artists will lead workshops for kids. ($5 per person or $25 for a set of six.) Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston (entrance number 16 off Cullen), 743-9530.
The River Under the River Houston Weave Dance Company presents its first show. The new company, formed by five Houston-based choreographers, unveils five short modern dance works. Musical accompaniment ranges from Brian Eno to Pergolesi, and dancer/ choreographers will discuss their choices in a pre-curtain talk before the performances. Talk, 7:30; dance, 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Rice University, Harjo Studio. For more information, call Bonnie Boykin Busker, 664-5935. $7; $6, seniors and students.
Beyond Desire: New Lesbian and Gay Performances Take a trip down memory lane with former Pomo Afro Homo Brian Freeman, and get wisdom from Technomama Ann Sisnett, a Panamanian-born poet who's head of the Foundation for a Compassionate Society (look for 'em on the World Wide Web). Both poets will read at the first performance in this summer's Beyond Desire: New Lesbian and Gay Performance series; tonight's installment is titled "Pretty, Witty and Wild." 8 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. $10; $7, students.
Montgomery Old West Festival In modern-day Texas we have few opportunities to see a herd of longhorns on a cattle drive, even during the bigger rodeos. The Old West Festival doesn't have a rodeo, but it has roundup entertainment such as roping and branding; cloggers; a performance by the Jose Brothers, cowboy nerds; and a barn dance. (Those who don't want to dance can visit the saloon and gaming parlor in the evening.) Some of the unique entertainments include readings by cowboy poets, Native American basket making crafts and a horse training demonstration by Larry Heidbreder. And don't worry kids: Sourdough the cowboy (a persona of Don Sanders) will sing. His antics are offered along with monkey puppets and stories from Deermoon. 10 a.m.midnight today; 8 a.m.5 p.m. Sunday. Montgomery Old West Festival, downtown Montgomery, 15 miles west of Conroe where Highway 105 meets FM 149. For more information, call (409) 449-MOWF. $8; $4, children three12; free, children under three.
Black Skimmer open house Skimmers are the only birds whose lower beaks are longer than their upper beaks, and when they skim you can see why. Sporting tuxedo colors, like penguins, the sharp-winged birds skim low over the water and scoop up food with their lower beaks. Skimmers are normally shy, reclusive birds, but for reasons of their own, a colony has resided on an oyster-shell parking lot at the Dow industrial complex since 1968. Skimmer scouts know where the birds nest, and they're ready to introduce the public to more than a thousand of the pot-bellied, red-beaked birds. Refreshments and shade will be available. 9 a.m.noon. Dow Texas Operations, take Highway 288/332 through Lake Jackson, turn right onto Highway 523, turn left at Dow Gate A-41 and then get shuttle service to the skimmer lot. For more information, call (409) 238-2276. Free.
Water Garden Festival Most people who garden seriously for any length of time eventually think, "Hmmm, maybe I should put in a pond." But few do, because ponds are hard to design and require major maintenance; and also because there's often little support for would-be water gardeners. Today, however, is the day for those who yearn to learn about installation, water filtration and which plants and animals to stock. Experts Dave Artz, Leo van Poppel and Kevin Richards will be on hand to lead new and struggling water gardeners through the ins and outs of such endeavors -- there's even a seminar on waterfall art display. BeepBeep the clown will keep kids out of your hair, and non-gardeners can gorge on turkey legs and lemonade. All in all, it's a fun day for the whole family. 9:30 a.m.5:30 p.m. today and Sunday. Lilypons Water Gardens, take I-10 west to Brookshire, Exit 731 (FM 1489-Koomey Road), and find Lilypons a quarter-mile south on the left. For more information, call 391-0076.
Hibiscus Show and Sale The secrets of these showy tropical flowers are available to you, the so-far-unsuccessful hibiscus grower. The Lone Star chapter of the American Hibiscus Society's show and sale will feature a vast array of plants, including the relatively hardy Chinese hibiscus that grows well along the Gulf. Along with the plants, the society will be selling a helpful text, the Hibiscus Handbook. This how-to and all-about book contains everything you need to know. 15 p.m. Bellaire Civic Center, 7008 South Rice Avenue. For more information, call 668-9772 or 665-2491. Free.
Hone your computing skills Many office workers -- and we all know this is true -- seek solace from the Monday doldrums by playing computer games. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but playing solitaire will get you only so far. This drab, hot Monday, why not give the World Wide Web a shot? Forget the complex and confusing instructions your sys admin offered; just point and click on your own. We suggest that you find, download, install and play the pre-release version of Quake, a soon-to-be-available game from ID Software, the people who brought you Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. This may seem like a not-entirely legal activity and a waste of time, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The people at ID want you to test their wares; they're practically begging people to slurp the alpha version. And by finding, downloading and installing Quake, you'll be teaching yourself valuable information-gathering skills, skills you need to be a front-runner on the information superhighway. It's easy, and it's fun -- although not so quick: searching, downloading and mastering this little freebie might take all day. Fire up your Web browser and point it at a search engine (Yahoo or Magellan or whatever the computing powers-that-be command you to use). The free alpha sample can be found with search terms "Quake" and "ID." Remember: you're doing this to become a better and more productive employee.
The Pleasure Police David Shaw, writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning media critic for the Los Angeles Times, asks a rhetorical question: "Why in the world have the healthiest, wealthiest, safest and most pampered people in the history of humanity turned into nation of pushy, whiny, misinformed nutrition Nazis, teetotalers, prudes and abstainers?" Though his book The Pleasure Police may not answer that question, he does have a bang-up time detailing the shallow, self-serving stupidness of nimrods who believe all the bad science they see on Hard Copy. Beware, you witless fascists who try to take the fun from the lives of normal, thinking people: in this happy book, the religious right, feminists and all the ant-people take their lumps. Shaw signs copies, 7:308:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt Square, 3003 West Holcombe, 349-0050.
Lively Arts Festival In most cases, wise and good parents teach their children to shun and fear mimes. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Say, for instance, that it's Wednesday, and you need to haul the sprouts out for some entertainment. What's cheap and new? Why, the Lively Arts Festival. There, trained mimes who can get grant money will entertain your li'l shavers with Outsiders on the Inside. This is a sci-fi story about baseless hatred, a Hatfields and McCoys on the planet Ecalpon. Kids will enjoy the colorful costumes, the music and the dance, and they may even learn valuable lessons. 10:30 a.m. today, Thursday and Friday. Presented by Texas Mime Theatre at HCCS, Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin. For more information, call 520-MIME. $5; $3.75, individuals in groups of ten or more.