Press Picks

thursday
august 29
Educators' Open House To help harried teachers plan and prepare fun outings for the new school year, the museum district is holding an open house. Shuttle buses will ferry teachers between eight institutions, refreshments will be served and the various museums will give educators the inside skinny on a variety of programs -- among them, tours, teacher workshops, classes for children, lending resource centers and outreach programs. Sponsored by the Children's Museum, Contemporary Arts Museum, Friends of Hermann Park, Holocaust Museum, Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Health and Medical Science and the Houston Zoo. Brochures and free fact sheets aplenty, plus door prizes. No advance registration required. 48 p.m. For more information, call 639-7300. Free.

Kathleen Madigan Not so long ago, this girl-next-door-looking girl was working as a journalist and waitress. Now she's performed standup comedy on a Bob Hope special, on David Letterman and at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Having left the nasty, low-paying life of newsrooms and restaurants behind, Madigan is touring with her polished, friendly comedy, and she is a woman with a mission. "I'd like," she says, "to make a million dollars, retire, move to Ireland and drink as much Guinness as humanly possible." Clearly, a woman to be admired. Nightly through Sunday. Tonight, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $6.50$10.

Rough Night at the Remo Room Nicely timed to coincide with the release of A Very Brady Sequel, Radio Music Theatre opens its new show, also about a beloved, cornball family. The Fertle Family, a herd of singing Baptists from Dumpster, Texas, takes a break from butter pie and folksy peccadilloes to deal with big-city problems like crime, drugs and homelessness. Rough Night at the Remo Room premieres tonight at RMT's own cabaret. 8:30 p.m. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. Reservations required, really; RMT sells out all the time. $14.

friday
august 30
Houston's birthday bash The fine folks at the Houston Heritage Society, them what keeps up the antique houses in Sam Houston Park, are throwing a free party to honor our city on her 160th birthday. Cake will be served, a costumed battalion will fire salutes with muzzle-loaders and docents will show a slide show celebrating the life of Sam and Margaret Lea Houston. ("Their Life Together" is a slide show that does not focus on Eliza Allen Houston or Tiana Rogers Houston.) The tearoom will offer the usual menu, and a special birthday entree. Party, 11:30 a.m.after noon. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby, 655-1912. Free.

Great Big Beautiful Doll Oh, goody! A new trashy unauthorized biography. Eric and D'Eva Redding, formerly Anna Nicole Smith's manager/photographer and makeup artist, have put together a juicy tell-all. The Reddings promise that their book covers such unsavory (read: fun) topics as Anna's work in Houston men's clubs and tells "how she preferred women for sex and men for 'favors.' " All that innuendo and 16 pages of "many never seen before" photographs. Those pics are said to include "her 'audition' pictures for Playboy" and "intimate portraits taken as a gift for her elderly lover." Eric signs books this evening. 8 p.m. Borders Book Shop, 9633-A Westheimer, 782-6066.

Vic Damone Ain't this a show -- the singer's singer croons standards such as "You're Breaking My Heart" and "On the Street Where You Live," and sings contemporary ballads such as "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera. Damone, the man Frank Sinatra lauds as "having the best vocal equipment in the business," will be backed by the Houston Symphony. In his long career, Damone has worked with everyone from Rosemary Clooney to Michael Feinstein, produced more than 1,000 recordings and sung for untold thousands of people -- and this week, he'll perform three nights in Houston. Houston Symphony Pops with Vic Damone, 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $17-$56.

saturday
august 31
Ranching Heritage Weekend Just when you think you've seen everything at the George Ranch, the living-history-project people round up artifacts and photographs that no one has seen before. Over Labor Day weekend, the ranch will also have cowboys demonstrating cowboy deeds, activities for kids and chuck wagon chow. Tonight, the arena entertainment is a full-bore ranch rodeo. (Prior to the rodeo or team roping, kids can practice with "Barney Bonehead," the roller roper mechanical horse.) Sunday and Monday offer singing, storytelling and team roping.10 a.m.6 p.m. today, Sunday and Monday. Rodeo, 7 p.m. The George Ranch is 30 minutes from the Galleria. Take Highway 59 south to Crabb River Road, go south and follow the signs. 545-9212. $6; $3, children. Rodeo admission, $3 or free with Saturday admission ticket.

Warren Finn Racquetball Tournament Pros and novices who might be your neighbors alike will compete in a plethora of divisions -- including mixed doubles and juniors. Play starts at 5:30 p.m. today, and concludes Monday. Jewish Community Center, Warren Finn Racquetball Center, 5601 S. Braeswood, 729-3200, ext. 3239. No charge for watching.

Labor Day Luau This lulu of a luau may be the luckiest beach party ever because the fine folks at Moody Gardens will be giving away lottery tickets. The low-level gambling accompanies a Palm Beach party with live music for dancing in the sand -- plus limbo, volleyball and fun for the kids. Wear a swimsuit; put water wings on your offspring. 711 p.m. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. Free.

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.

sunday
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, http://www.sixflags.com. 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.

monday
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.

tuesday
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.

wednesday
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 (http://www.durex.com). All entries must be received by 3 p.m. EST, September 20. Good luck.

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