Astro World Series of Dog Shows All the dog show fun you've come to know and love -- agility dogs, breed ring strutting, canine Frisbee, flyball, "heavy petting" at the service dogs booth and ordinary mongrels qualifying for Canine Good Citizen certificates. Yes, it's four days of dogs, dogs and more dogs, and this year, there's also something new. For the first time ever in our part of the world, trainer Herb Williams and the talented pups of the Iams Wonderful World of Dogs will amaze and enlighten fans with their performance. The 30 dogs do doggie dressage and precision drills, play musical chairs and otherwise demonstrate their athletic skills and smarts. They've wowed animal lovers abroad (Princess Anne) and on TV (David Letterman). The dog show runs from 8:30 a.m.3 p.m. today; 8 a.m.past suppertime Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Williams' dogs perform four times daily. AstroArena and Astrohall, 8400 Kirby. For information, call (800) 884-2443. $7; $3, seniors and children under 12.
Men Like Women Who Like Themselves Relationship-issue authors Steven Carter and Julia Sokol scored hits with He's Scared, She's Scared, Men Who Can't Love and What Really Happens in Bed, and now they've created another book about how to get and keep a man. Men Like Women posits that men are actually paying attention, and since what women want most desperately to hear is that men are actually paying attention, this book is selling like hotcakes. Carter will be here, signing books and spreading his message of commonality: "If you think men and women are from different planets, you need a stronger telescope." 7-8 p.m. Jeremy's Bookshelf, 2441 Bay Area Boulevard, 486-8028.
Summer Stock What a trooper -- Judy Garland was fresh from rehab when she strutted across a sound stage singing "Come on, get happy" in a performance since imitated countless times by countless drag queens. That number -- not to mention Gene Kelly singing "You Wonderful You" -- contributes to the 1950 magic of this "let's put on a show" show. A new 35mm print of Summer Stock will be shown as part of a double feature with Gene Kelly's dance fantasia, Invitation to the Dance. 7:30 p.m. The Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $4.50 (for single or double feature).
Ruddygore The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston have explored most of the traditional G&S repertoire, and to great acclaim. Now they strike out for new territory, producing a full staging of the thriller Ruddygore, or the Witch's Curse. This 19th-century G&S parody of 19th-century melodrama offers a bad baronet, a pure maiden, ghosts and a curse requiring each member of the Gore line "to commit one terrible crime a day." The society explains that the show has languished even while other G&S shows thrived -- not because Ruddygore is less entertaining than The Mikado or Pirates of Penzance, but because it costs a lot to produce. Opening tonight, 8 p.m. (Other showtimes in Thrills, Theater.) Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 627-3570. $10$28.
Steak! The Musical Good ol' Joey Berner -- fresh from Psycho Beach Party -- directs this goofy Western about vegans on the Chisholm Trail. Kathy Biehl, Chris Emery, Jesse Jou, Gretchen Lindquist, Matt Sanders and a herd of other troublemakers star. Music, dancing and cattle. Opening tonight, 8 p.m. (Full show listings in Thrills, Theater.) The Actors Workshop, 1009 Chartres, 236-1844. $10; $8, seniors and students.
Tamalalia! The newly hatched Free Range Arts Foundation premieres with an all-Tamarie Cooper show featuring fashion, dance and pasta as the lovely and talented Ms. Cooper thinks fashion, dance and pasta should be presented. Actress/choreographer Cooper will present movement and performance pieces, including "Get Back to Me on This One," which was recently enjoyed at the American College Dance Festival Gala. Thrift-store fashion shows interleave the theatricals, and the evening ends with Tamarie at the stove for a cookery-and-commentaryprogram.Free Rangers Jaime Flowers, DeWitt Gravink, Lara Heiberg and Amanda and Katie Moulder dance and model in the show. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. The Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 867-9350. $7.
How to Get Out of Debt and Stay Out and the ABCs of Investing Houstonians Dr. Earl E. Allen and Earl E. Allen Jr. will sign copies of their helpful, hopeful book. 23 p.m. Main Street Books, 4201 Main (by the downtown Sears), 522-3555.
Special Effects This IMAX study of cinema trickery takes you behind the scenes on movies from jolly old King Kong to the just-released Kazaam and the in-the-works Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition. You'll learn about techniques ranging from stop-motion animation to digital effects a la Industrial Light and Magic, plus tried-and-true methods like matte work and forced perspective. The new IMAX flick opens today, and continues through August, alternating with Africa: The Serengeti. IMAX showtimes: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 p.m.; late shows Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $5; $3.50, children under 12.
Christmas in July Frequently during the holiday season, one wants to give to charity but is strapped for cash. You can't use the Christmas-spending excuse at this time of year. Knowing that, and knowing that it's too darn hot, MIX 96.5 unwraps a holiday gift drive today. Santa will be on hand, figure skaters will sweep across the ice and carols will be sung. Best of all, this will all happen in the cool comfort of the Aerodome Ice Skating Complex in Sugar Land. All proceeds go to the MIX 96.5 Christmas Wish gift fund. 14 p.m. Aerodome, 16225 Lexington Drive, 790-0965. $5 gets you everything for the ice-skating party -- admission, skate rental and refreshments -- but you can always donate more.
Opossums and Low-Tech Laundry Opossum lovers of all ages are welcome to attend"Opossums:Factand Fantasy," a talk about the glint-eyed garbage-eaters who dwell in our forests, garages and sewers. This Friends of Texas Wildlife presentation, hosted by the Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, will cover the habits of these living fossils and explain what they think they're doing here in North America, being marsupials and all. The possum expert will also dispense Native American lore and tips for homeowners who are sick of losing pet food to the greedy creatures. Moon, Harris County Precinct 4's non-releasable opossum, will represent his species, live and in person. "Opossums: Fact and Fantasy" starts at 2 p.m. From 13 p.m. Saturday, park personnel invite everyone to the Redbud Pioneer Homestead for a historical re-enactment of a pioneer wash day. After this, you'll go home and kneel down in thanks before your appliances. Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick Drive, Humble, 446-8588. All park programs are free. Call ahead to arrange disabled access.
Afro-Nouveaux Local merchants who deal in African and faux-African designs will display their fashions, along with the clothes of New York designer Paul Lawrence. This is a regular fashion show, with hot hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, but it's also a sale. Bring your checkbook, and plan to stock up on African clothes and art. Presented by M.E.D.I.A. (Multi-Expressive Dramatic, Informative Artists). 5 p.m. Ovations, 2536 Times (at Kirby), 526-7996. $15, advance; $20, at the door.
George Foreman's Knock-Out-the-Fat Barbecue and Grilling Cookbook First he's a huckster for Fritos; now he's Mr. No-Fat. Oh, well, at least in his dotage, George Foreman has the good sense to find some work outside the ring. His latest book is jam-packed with healthful recipes, and "filled with George's wit and charm." (Purists who think barbecue means beef fat should see the Wednesday Picks.) 7:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 7626 Westheimer (at Voss), 783-6016.
A Little Yellow Dog Walter Mosley is even more popular since his Easy Rawlins mystery Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a major motion picture. Never one to rest on his laurels, Mosley is in town promoting the fifth Easy Rawlins mystery, A Little Yellow Dog. (Yes -- shades of Travis McGee -- each of the Rawlins books has a color in the title.) At noon, the author stops by Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet, 529-CLUE, mrdrbybk30, he talks to fans at Barnes & Noble, 7626 Westheimer (at Voss), 783-6016.
Andrew Lloyd Webber -- Music of the Night The songs are the work of a man so successful that Madonna and Michael Jackson both probably envy him, and the show stars gypsy-maned Grammy-winner Melissa Manchester. 8 p.m. Through July 28. Tuesday through Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday 2 and 7 p.m. Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 629-3700. $25$45.
Buzz Aldrin Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the men who actually walked on the moon, took a cue from William Shatner and, with hisoriginalcareerwaning, stepped into the writing arena. His science-fiction novel, Encounter with Tiber, was officially released yesterday, and today Buzz will sign copies at three area stores. (Buzz didn't walk on the moon alone, and he didn't write the book alone. His co-author is Hugo and Nebula nominee John Barnes.) Buzz will promote his book, promote the space program and shake paws with book buyers from 3:305:30 p.m. at Jeremy's Bookshelf, 2441 Bay Area Boulevard, Clear Lake, 486-8028; from 6:308 p.m. at Future Visions Books, 10570 Northwest Freeway (Highway 290 between Mangum and 34th), 682-4212; and at 8:30 p.m. at Borders Book Shop, 9633-A Westheimer, 782-6066. Buzz will sign only books purchased at the bookstore where he is appearing.
Smokestack Lightning Will George Foreman show up for this? Author Lolis Eric Elie and photographer Frank Stewart celebrate the release of their social history of barbecue with a taste-off. Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country discusses sauces ranging from standard red to Vietnamese duck, and describes the men and women who have made this country's barbecue great. A dozen local joints will present their barbecue for tasting, and local folks will compete not only as cooks, but also in a "Keeping Clean and Getting Creative" contest for creative bibs, aprons and chef's hats. 711 p.m. The Orange Show,2402Munger,926-6368, firstname.lastname@example.org. $15; $5, children under 12.
Speakeasy Somewhat in conjunction with Blaffer Gallery's "Asia/America" show, Lawndale Art & Performance Center presents a two-part video series, "Home: A Series of Short Videos and Films." Tonight's program offers Xich-Lo, a 20-minute study of a Vietnamese woman preparing to visit Ho Chi Minh City; HOME, a 37-minute feature about the identity issues of two Indian women; Letter Back Home, a video letter about the inner-city life of Laotians and Cambodians in San Francisco; and White Christmas, "a personal documentary of Philippine culture 'after 400 years in a convent and 50 years under Hollywood.' " 7 p.m. (The series' second part is tomorrow.) Lawndale Art & Performance Center, 4912 Main Street, 528-5858, email@example.com. Free.