Press Picks

Texas Association of Magicians performances At least 1,000 magicians are expected to congregate in our town for an industry convention,and you,the average American whose only foray into the exciting world of prestidigitation stops at Bullwinkle imitations ("hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat") are invited to the evening shows. All day long, all weekend, magicians and their families will swap secrets and attend talks, but every night at 8 p.m., they'll troop over to the Music Hall for a two-hour show. Tonight's show features a 17th-century conjurer's style show from Michael Ross, Martin Lewis (who also lectures at the convention), Brett Daniel (seen recently on The World's Greatest Magic TV special) and ventriloquist Mark Merchant. (Psst, want to see close-up magic, hear masters lecture on the craft and even talk to dealers about buying illusions? Register at the convention, Friday through Monday at the Hyatt Regency. $55, individual; $100, family. Call 376-2487 for details.) Shows, 8 p.m. Friday, today and Sunday. The Music Hall, 810 Bagby. Tickets will be on sale at the box office one hour before the show, or at Frankel's Costume Co. Inc., 528-6036. For more information on the convention, call 376-2487. $10.

september 1
Martian Maggot Kids too little to be swept into back-to-school excitement can still find enjoyment at AstroWorld. Looney Tunes Town recently added a kiddie attraction, the Martian Maggot. Perhaps needlessly, the AstroWorld people proudly boast that it's "the only ride of its kind in the world." The Maggot is a cartoon-style spacecraft, and the titular Martian is Marvin, beloved by small children and computer nerds everywhere. The ride is decoratedwithI.M.s,the"instant Martians" Marvin makes when doing battle with Bugs. The Martian Maggot is designed both for children under 48 inches tall and their moms and dads. After the munchkins have ridden with a parent on the swinging spacecraft, they can go solo on one of the other Looney Tunes Town rides. Tonight, as one of the last nights of the summer season, the park will remain open until 10 p.m. On Monday -- Labor Day -- AstroWorld reverts to its regular hours, 10 a.m.8 p.m. Six Flags AstroWorld, Kirby at Loop6 10,799-1234, One-day ticket, $29.95; under 48 inches tall, $18.95; senior citizens age 55 and older, $14.98; children two and under, free.

Music of Motown The Community Music Center of Houston invites everyone to a holiday weekend family show featuring covers of classic Motown. Hits made famous by the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell, Gladys Knight and her ever-present Pips, the Temptations and the Supremes will be heard again. Bring a blanket to sit on, and get ready for a flashback evening. 8 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.

september 2
Topsy Turvy The Museum of Health and Medical Science continues its mission to make learning fun. Two new science interactive classes debut on this holiday, "Topsy Turvy" and "A-Maze-Ment." Topsy is about balance, while A-Maze-Ment is about the brain. Throughout September, both classes will be offered Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. And, of course, they're offered on this rare Monday at the Museum. 9 a.m.5 p.m. 1515 Hermann Drive, 521-1515. $4; $3, seniors, students and children under 12.

First Clan MacLeod Celtic Arts Festival The extra-special guest at this rowdy festival is Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th Chief of the MacLeods; the merely special guests are a bevy of Texans who excel in traditional Scottish and Irish music, song and dance. Haggis? Golly, yes. Great gobs of it, and Scotch eggs and giant turkey legs. Jack Whitt, an expert in the art of the single malt, will conduct not one but two seminars on whiskey (tasting optional). And though Scotch tastings aren't appropriate for children, the festival has plenty of other stuff for the wee ones -- fire eaters, jugglers and kids games. Bring the whole family and stay all day. 11 a.m.midnight. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065. $5; free, children 11 and under.

september 3
It's not open mike One of the few rules is, and this is a rule for comics, the performers are to treat this as a workshop and do new material. Sure, it's nice to see TV faces do their same old TV material, but sometimes, your comedy evenings ought to be more exciting. Tuesday, the Laff Stop has about a dozen comics, some grizzled veterans and some fresh new faces, honing their jokes in front of the live audience. While they work, you drink and laugh. The roster of grizzled veterans includes Riley Barber, who, in accordance with the rules, will not do his wonderful Tennessee Williams impersonation; fresh faces include Tracy Brown. Tuesday's comics go on at 8 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $3.

september 4
Condom contest Win cash prizes (cash to be donated to a charity of the winner's choice) or a trip for two merely by telling the judges, and the entire world, how wonderful you are. All male U.S. residents 18 and over, married or single, gay or straight, are invited to nominate themselves as the Durex Ramses Strong & Sensitive Man. Entries must be 50 words or less, and will be judged on strength, sensitivity, originality and appropriateness. Entries can be submitted by mail (Durex Ramses Contest, Box 535, Seaford, NY 11783) or via the Ramses World Wide Web site ( All entries must be received by 3 p.m. EST, September 20. Good luck.

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