Jesse Amado: Renascence The work of San Antonio artist Jesse Amado will be featured in the last Perspectives series show of the year. Recent large sculptures and drawings will be shown along with groovy assemblages. Whether the main of Amado's style comes from working as a fireman or from his fine arts training is for you to decide, but he does like to fool around with household objects -- bars of soap, for instance -- and heavy industrial materials like rebar. Susan Schmaeling of CAM says his works "are suggestive of abstract narratives, hidden history and forgotten memories." Today's opening features a gallery talk by Amado, 6:30, then a reception, 79 p.m. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, 526-0773, www.camh.org.
Chastity Bono The November Lesbians in Business meeting features star speaker Chastity Bono, the daughter of California Republican congressman Sonny Bono and tattooed professional famous person Cher. Despite her famous parents, Chastity seems like an easygoing, well-adjusted type, and her work for the National Coming Out Project is more gay and lesbian politics (and personal politics) than just the attention-desperate yammering of some celebrity kid. At the LiB meeting, Chas will talk about being out as both a personal and social act. 7 p.m. Innova Building, 20 Greenway Plaza (corner of Portsmith). For more information, call the LiB Line, 529-0077. $20. (Most monthly meetings are $5.)
The Dream Maker's Daughter Express Theatre begins its holiday season with this musical comedy about a toy maker, his lovely dolls and his jealous daughter. Opening with a benefit reception, 7 p.m. tonight. The catered food for this theater benefit is stuff kids will eat -- pizza and the like instead of raw-cauliflower crudites. (Subsequent shows listed in Thrills, Kids, On-Stage.) Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 759-1314. $20.
Watch the skies! For Benevolent Aliens Night, the Rice Media Center screens a pair of sci-fi classics. There's The Day the Earth Stood Still. Then, don your way poppin' 3-D glasses for It Came from Outer Space -- a cinematic experience that you just can't get at home. Gee, wow! there are two showtimes for It Came From Outer Space, 9:15 and 11 p.m. The Day the Earth Stood Still in all its Theremin-scored glory plays just once, 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $5 (for single, double or triple feature).
HPSVA Fall Jazz Festival The special guest artist at this concert will be John Twomey, a world-renowned "manualist." Discovered by Johnny Carson, Twomey posses a unique talent: By squeezing air through his hands, he can play even rather complex jazz tunes. Sure, any school kid can make obscene noises by squeezing air through his hands, but Twomey can make art. His music-making has previously been accompanied by Les Brown (Twomey was standing in for the Band of Renown), Doc Severinsen and the Montreal Symphony; tonight, he plays with the HSPVA Jazz Ensemble (both no. 1 and no. 2, as directed by Robert Morgan) and with the HSPVA Jazz Octet (directed by Mike Moreno). 7:30 p.m. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Denney Theatre, 4001 Stanford, 942-1967. $6.
Great Houston Coverup The seventh annual Star of Hope blanket drive has begun in earnest. Blankets for the homeless may be dropped off at any Houston-area Marriott hotel. You can also drop off other cold-weather gear such as sweaters and coats, too. 9 a.m.5 p.m. today and Sunday. For more information, call 443-5242.
Texas Mennonite Relief Sale and Quilt Auction All the Mennonite churches of Texas have joined together in this craft sale to benefit the charitable works of the Mennonite Central Committee worldwide. Not only folksy Mennonite craftworks and quilts, but also trinkets and whatnots from more than 30 countries will be sold. Bring the kids, shop for a long time, refresh yourself with baked goods and hot dishes, shop some more and then line up for the handmade quilt auction at noon. Whole shebang, 9 a.m.4 p.m. Houston Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Road, 464-4865. Free.
Sandra Brue's Sandicasts We've bought Sandicast creatures as grandparents' gifts, and so have you if you've got any sense. Sandy's animal sculptures land on the line between realistic and Hummel figurine, and are durable enough to survive mild teething by real pets (or small children). She does all the breeds favored by the types who sport "I [heart] My Vizsla" bumper stickers, and even variations on popular breeds (for instance, she offers several sizes of both sable and tricolor shelties); plus she sculpts zoo inhabitants, especially the cute baby animals. Those who don't go for cheerful art objects might enjoy torturing a live dog with one of Sandy's amazingly lifelike, realistically posed cats; just plonk one down between the dog and its food bowl. Sandy will be in town to meet fans, sign her works and tell happy-fun stories about pets and figurine collectors. Noon4 p.m. Ashley Avery's, 1218 Willowbrook Mall, (281) 894-5449.
Warehouse Art Crawl Once again, it's time for all the funky warehouse artists to open their studios, and sometimes their homes, to the gawkers of the art-buying public for fun, frolic and maybe Christmas shopping. Seven warehouse studios will be open, and some feature the works (and works in progress) of more than a dozen artists. Hey, and you can park at any gallery and ride an art-car shuttle to the others. The H.B.S. Warehouse, Erie City IronWorks and Mother Dog Studios are participating. Good parking is probably available on Commerce Street, and the 2300-2400 blocks are home to Brenner Studios, Calaway Studios and the venerable Commerce Street Arts Warehouse. 29 p.m. For more information, call 228-0635. Free, and free prize giveaways.
Franklin the Turtle There are shelled friends beyond Yertle, and Franklin is at the head of the pack. The reptilian charmer himself will visit story time today, and the stories will all be about his adventures. 2 p.m. Munchkins Books for Children, 2530 Times Boulevard, 522-3911. Free.
Tibetan Tantric Fire Puja The monks of the Gaden-Shartse Monastery will present a ritual to "purify the environment and attract auspicious conditions." 6 p.m. The Yoga Center of Houston, 2438-A South Boulevard, 524-4572. $15 donation.
Pilgrimage to America Trust Ima Hogg when it comes to pilgrims; Bayou Bend is having a Thanksgiving-themed family day with pilgrim stuff and "performances that celebrate some of the many cultures that influenced America." Also, home tours and craft workshops for the kids. 15 p.m. Bayou Bend, 1 Westcott (at Memorial), 639-7759. Free.
Muza Rubackyte Houston's small and enthusiastic Lithuanian-American community is very excited about this concert. Lithuanian pianist Muza Rubackyte, who's been performing and recording in Europe for several years, will stop here during an American tour. Along with her concert work, Rubackyte is a professor at the Lithuanian National Academy of Music. 4 p.m. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun (entrance no. 1). For more information, call 629-3700 or 808-1982. $15; $7, seniors; $3, children under 12.
Jonathan Richman Perennial weirdo and Kingpins cameo singer Jonathan Richman brings his special brand of goof-folk to the Satellite, and we have no idea what he'll play. He's recently released his 20th recording, you know, but is not opposed to playing music from his happy youth. You've seen him on Conan O'Brien -- oh, wait, you haven't. We don't get Conan in these parts. Throw your TV out the window, and see live music every night -- especially tonight. Nineish. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington, 869-COOL. $7.
Unruly robots You know, if your kids are so clotted by the misinformation on the Learning Channel that they prefer bloodthirsty live-action dinosaurs to the fossils, careful representations and information in the Museum of Natural Science's paleo hall, then here's a deal: Dinamation, a popular touring show of moving and grooving creatures, is now set up at the museum. There are 13 robots in the hall, including the new and exciting Utahraptor, a.k.a. "Super Slasher," and a full-size, 45-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex robot controlled by joysticks. Cower at the roaring Pachycephalosaurus, or control the T. rex. The exhibit is scientifically responsible, to the extent that a show putting Mesozoic, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous critters on the same stage can be. The museum is open 9 a.m.6 p.m. today. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-IMAX, www.hmns.mus.tx.us. Dinamation, $6; $4.50, children. At the Museum through March 30.
Autumn Feast with Herbs Whoo-hoo, just in time for funky veggie soup time, Lucia Bettler of Lucia's Garden will teach a class on cooking a full five-course meal with harvest vegetables, harvest grains and game hens. And herbs galore, of course. For more information or to register, call the Leisure Learning Unlimited people, 877-1981, and ask about class no. 3180. There are ways to register without getting on their mailing list.
Meat market The Roxy needs men. Twelve knockout babes have been found for its female calendar, and now 12 hunk-a-monk men are needed to grace the glossy pages of the male version. You need not be a model to enter; you just have to look like one. Four lucky studs will be chosen tonight; they and the other chosen studs will return next Tuesday for the finals. What time? After dark, when grownups go out to play. The Roxy, 5351 West Alabama, 850-ROXY.
Moscow State Ballet Forty Russian dancers will leap and twirl in handmade costumes for one night only. This international Nutcracker will be danced in the classic Russian style, and with the Slavic interpretation, which involves more dancing by the little girl, here called Misha instead of Clara, and less mincing about looking starry-eyed. 7:30 p.m. Julie Rogers Theatre, Beaumont Civic Center, 701 Main, Beaumont, (409) 838-3435, www.nutcracker.com. $17$32.50.
The Compleat Works of Wllm Shakespeare (abridged) A play-within-a-play parody romp thing, The Compleat Works began as a simple performance piece fooling with the idea of a half-hour Hamlet. The Reduced Shakespeare Company playlet was later expanded to include a ten-minute Romeo and Juliet, and now the thing covers 16 comedies, some morphed into other forms (including a cooking show). Only three actors are on the stage, but the three men, in Stooges fashion, play herds of characters. The show opens tonight at 8 p.m. and continues through January 11. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Theater.) New Heights Theatre, 339 West 19th Street, 869-8927. $15.