On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family Lisa See has written a long and detailed (if not particularly elegant) book telling the story of her family. One ancestor emigrated from China in 1867, and his story is one of missionaries, concubines, nightclubs and illegal marriages between Chinese and Caucasians. The book is full of haunting old photos and a handful of silly letters sent between young lovers. See will talk about her book and the immigrant experience in America. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701.
Joe's Digital Diner Bay Area multimedia artists Joe Lambert and Nina Mullen invite everyone for a heaping helping of spaghetti and cyberstuff. While spaghetti is slurped, Lambert and Mullen will present a theatrical event explaining and illustrating their brand of storytelling. The pair's experience in theater, visual arts and computer tomfoolery are all brought to bear. 7 p.m. (Information about Digital Diner workshops in Thrills, Classes & Workshops.) DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. $10.
Taking the Info Highway off the Beaten Path More cyberstuff, this from video artist Philip Mallory Jones. Jones was a video artist before video art was cool, and he now has his video images digitized and on-line. Tonight, DiverseWorks, Prairie View A&M University and the Southwest Alternative Media Project presents a lecture by Jones. He'll talk about the on-line art and interactive CD-ROMs that are part of his First World Order project, a study of Africans and African-Americans and especially of symbols and cultural practices. 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 223-8346. $4.50.
An Ideal Husband Recently, we received some Internet junk mail attributing to Oscar Wilde the line "Bigamy is having one wife too many; monogamy is the same." That attribution may or may not be accurate, but it's certainly likely, because Wilde was one of the wittiest writers ever to walk the earth. This play is about wicked women, foolish wives and insider trading; to say the 100-year-old work has aged well would be an understatement. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Theater.) Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $10-$15.
Laugh for AIDS Tonight's appearance by Jason Stuart is a benefit for AIDS Foundation Houston. Stuart is not only a very out comic, he's also a film and TV star with a role in the soon-to-be-released National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation and the television show Fire Co. 132. 8 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $7.
Flora, the Red Menace The best way to explain this Depression-era musical is to quote a note director Charlene Hudgins penned to explain a photograph: "Basically the same description as the other photo -- Harry and Flora are about to get seriously romantic when they discover Charlotte has been lying in wait for Harry under his bed." Sounds like fun, eh? 8 p.m. tonight. (Other showtimes listed in Thrills, Theater.) HCCS, Central Campus, Theatre One, 3517 Austin at Holman, 718-6570. $5; $3, students.
Itzhak Perlman and Samuel Sanders Even people who know nothing about classical music know of Itzhak Perlman, although they're maybe not familiar with his frequent accompanist, pianist Samuel Sanders. The program for this recital includes such showboating works as Beethoven's Sonata in D Major, op. 12, no. 1 for Violin and Piano and Grieg's Sonata in C Minor for Violin and Piano, op. 45. Curtain talk, 7:30; music, 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $12-$45.
Miracle on Main Street If watching Weather Channel news of the frosty misfortunes of our northern brethren has you itching to enjoy real winter sports, then lace up your skates for a spin around the ice downtown. As of today, Houston's one and only outdoor ice rink is open for business. This year, the rink is bigger (60 feet by 120 feet), has longer hours and is open (every day except Christmas) through January 5. Noon11 p.m. 1000 block of Main, 654-8900. Skating, $5 weekdays and $6 weekends and holidays. Skate rental, $2.
FUN The London Guardian calls it "A chilling halfway house between Kids and La Heine (Hate)"; we'd add that it's a little like Heavenly Creatures, except that the protagonists aren't so sympathetic. If those references mean nothing to you, then this story of young girls on a pointless crime spree (because it's "fun") is probably not your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you're snobby enough to sneer because we gave the English translation of La Heine, you can't afford to miss this Houston premiere. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. tonight; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Rice Media Center,Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 223-8346. $5.
Beyond Therapy Paula McCrae, the HCCS Southwest director of this production, has a theory about the appeal of Christopher Durang's comedy about love, happiness and psychotherapy. "I think Durang's message throughout the play," she says, "is that if you look at psychological suffering in the right frame of mind, you can usually find the humor in it." This is the last weekend, and tonight's show is at 8 p.m. (Other times in Thrills, Theater.) HCCS Stafford Campus, 9910 Cash Road, 261-5424. $5; $4, students.
Any Saturday Night in Texas Chris Wall and his band, Cowboy Nation, have chosen Blanco's for the release party of their new CD -- a good choice, since the bartenders at this inside-the-Loop kicker bar love Wall's honky-tonk ballads. 9 p.m. Blanco's Bar & Grill, 3406 West Alabama, 439-0072. $5.
Dome Run It's a heart healthy event -- it's good for your heart and one dollar of each participant's entry fee will be donated to the American Heart Association. The Houston Press Dome Run 10K features, obviously, a 10K (open to runners and wheelchair athletes) and a three-mile fitness walk. A Dome-floor blowout is the post-race party. The walk starts at 7:50 a.m., other events follow and registration and general milling around begins at 6:30 a.m. Late registration is $20. West side of the Astrodome parking lot. Questions?Call 624-1448.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company Most Saturdays you can see suds made, find out if yeast pull is painful and get the lowdown on sparging during Saint Arnold brewery tours. The holiday season, however, offers more. This is the time of the Christmas Ale, a malty brew with an alcohol content of 7 percent by volume and frisky hop spiciness. Kevin Bartol, a big brew monkey with Saint Arnold, claims that the crew is cooking ten times as much Christmas Ale as last year because "last year our supply was so tight we weren't able to save any for our own Christmas party." Free tours and tasting, 1 p.m. 2522 Fairway Park Drive, 686-9494, www.saintarnold.com/saintarnold. Free.
National Council of Jewish Women's Cabaret Singer Jeanie Brandes is the entertainer for this benefit. NCJW will spend the money raised on worthy projects including aid to domestic-abuse victims, home instruction for preschoolers and a lunch program for HIV-positive people. The cabaret also features dinner, an auction and desserts from La Madeleine. 7 p.m. Adam's Mark Hotel, 2900 Briarpark Drive. For more information on the cabaret or NCJW, call 667-5694.
Lari Pittman's Enterprise CAM presents critic and author Dave Hickey in an art lecture about the midcareer works of Lari Pittman currently on view at the CAM. 3 p.m. University of Houston, Architecture Theater (entrance no. 16 off Cullen). For more information, call 526-0773 or visit www.camh.org. Free.
Hilton Als In his book, The Women, Als says "Being an auntie man enamored of Negressity is all that I have ever known how to be. I do not know what my life would be, or if I would be at all, if I were any different." The black gay writer also says insightful things about his mother: "I think the resemblance my mother saw between herself and my father's new girlfriend shattered any claim to originality my mother had. And, being a woman, she chose to be critical of this similarity rather than judge my father." He goes on in the same lucid, direct and compassionate way about all manner of relationships and identities. Although he's a widely published journalist (Village Voice, Vibe, etc.), The Women is his first book, and he'll talk about it during his first Houston appearance tonight. 7 p.m. The Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 521-2026. $10; $5, seniors and students.
Cleo's Comedy Theatre Cleo's hosts an open mike on Mondays, and though this rowdy event is not as polished as the cabaret show, it can be plenty of fun. Seeing awkward, inexperienced comics do a couple of bits well is fun, and so is seeing experienced comics messing around with new material. Also, occasionally, there is a wicked, sharp little joy to be had in watching someone -- someone who seems like the kind of person who thinks he's funny only because he's such an overbearing boor that all his underlings and peers humor him -- die miserably on-stage. 8 p.m. 3722 Washington, 861-2135. $3.
All About Phones Man, these kids today have toy cell phones in their kiddie cars, they have gum packs shaped like beepers instead of candy cigarettes and they frequently have their own phone lines by fourth grade. In short, they know phones. To give them a deeper insight into these expensive yet commonplace toys, the Children's Museum presents an exhibit, "All About Phones," full of electronics information and featuring The Telephone Man, a 14-foot-tall interactive sculpture made of and about phones by the Art Guys. Grand opening and ribbon cutting, 10 a.m. The Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 759-1314. $5.
True secrets and lies June Cross, a Frontline producer, has created a very personal episode -- tonight's show, "Secret Daughter," is the true story of June's biracial upbringing. June was born to a white mother and black father in the fifties, and her mother gave June to a black family when she was four. June saw her mother, and her mother's husband, TV star Larry Storch, only on vacations. This special, 150-minute episode of Frontline explores the complex relationship between June and her mother. 9 p.m. PBS, Channel 8. Free.
Brisk walks Now that we have something that could be described, at least by South Texans, as a nip in the air, decent people feel the need for a brisk walk. The best place for city dwellers to enjoy such an excursion is on the outer loop trail of the Arboretum and Nature Center. It's wide, smooth and tree-lined from start to finish. If you can't take a walk through the park, take a walk through the park's on-line site any time, chron.com/arboretum. 4501 Woodway. 681-8433. Free.