Press Picks

Evening of Dances of Universal Peace The Houston Holistic Arts Group presents spiritual folk-type dances based on the traditions of a variety of ethnic groups whose core beliefs are in vogue with the Houston Holistic Arts Group. Their motto is "What is art but life and life art?" -- which sounds like something Homer Simpson would say if he'd been bitten by the caring-and-compassion bug. They mean well, but aren't exactly articulate. 7:30 p.m. Several Dancers Core Studios, 2328 Bissonnet, 813-4842, matomich@ix.netcom.com. $5.

1996 Enron Jingle Bell Run The stated purpose of this fun run is to benefit the Houston Downtown YMCA Youth and Urban Services Programs, but it may also benefit Downtown Y members, who will get free oranges and bananas on Monday and Tuesday if the runners don't gobble up all the post-run snacks. The one-loop, level course is on downtown streets, and the event includes a one-mile race for kids ages ten-13, a five-mile wheelchair race, a 3.2-mile in-line skate, an adult five-mile run and a 3.2-mile family fitness walk. And there's a costume parade at 4:40 p.m. The other runs start between 2 and 3:15 p.m. Anyone who participates, either as a runner, volunteer or just gawker, is urged to bring a Care Enough to Share gift and put it under the Y's tree for inner-city kids. The Jingle Bell Run begins and ends, and has an after-race party, at the downtown YMCA, 1600 Louisiana, 659-8501, fax, 758-9210. To volunteer as a helper, 659-8501. $17, adults; $8, children.

sunday
december 15
Celtic Christmas A lot of people can boast about how they overate during the holidays -- but why not be one of the few who can brag about overindulging with haggis? Yes, at the second annual Celtic Christmas, that entrails treat will be served -- plus colcannon, fit-for-any-festival turkey legs and good ol' Irish stew, accompanied by fine beers, ales, mead and cider. Father Christmas, face painters and games will entertain the kids while grownups just get soused near the warm glow of a yule log. Celtic music makers such as Ceili's Muse, Gordian Knot and Wyndnwyre and Scottish dancers will perform. Noon-10 p.m., rain or shine. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065, www.garden-heights.com. $7; free, children 12 and under.

monday
december 16
Find out what kids are up to Tonight the winners of Intel's "Inventors of the Future" contest will be honored at an awards ceremony. Local kids in grades five through nine were invited to "artistically render" their version of the future, and the grand prize is a pair of 133 MHz Pentium-based multimedia computers. The winning student gets one machine; the student's teacher gets the other. The awards ceremony will take place in the Intel Interactive exhibit at America's Smithsonian, and the winning "artistic rendering" will become part of the exhibit. Awards festivities, 79:30 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas. Exhibit tickets are free and available on a first-come, first served basis; advance tickets may be ordered by calling (800) 913-TOUR at least five days in advance, though a $3.50 service charge applies. Groups of 20 or more can reserve free advance tickets by calling Jill Chappell at (202) 227-3100.

Hamlet Plucky Englishman Kenneth Branagh is here, live and in person, to introduce his version of Shakespeare's story of the melancholy Dane. Branagh's film features great actors such as Derek Jacobi (members of a certain generation remember his role in I, Claudius), John Gielgud, Judi Dench and Rosemary Harris. Big-name Americans such as Charlton Heston and Robin Williams are also in the show. The celebrity introduction of the four-hour film begins at 7 p.m. Landmark River Oaks 3 Theatre, 2009 West Gray, 524-2175. $15-$50.

tuesday
december 17
Heritage Society Holiday Dress The only time I've ever been carsick in my life was during a return trip from seeing the Heritage Society Homes in holiday dress, so it is possible that this could be a less-than-perfect family event. Of course, thousands and thousands of Houston families have taken their children to see this glowing display of Christmas traditions and priceless antiques without incident. Holiday celebrations, we all know, involve risk. Kids get sick, they get cranky, they get in horrible fights with their siblings and say hideously embarrassing things in front of relatives -- that's just the way it goes. Viewing the historic homes in Sam Houston Park as homes, as places where kids got sick, got cranky, got in horrible fights with their siblings and said hideously embarrassing things in front of relatives, adds depth and insight to the tour, and might make you realize that your home is just as special as any of these. Tours through January 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. every day except Sunday; 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby, 655-1912. $6; $4, seniors; $2, children under six.

wednesday
december 18
Adopt an animal Adopt an animal the easy way -- through the Houston Zoo's Adopt-an-Animal program. Those who spend as little as $20 will get a holiday zoovenir kit including a five-by-seven glossy of the adopted animal. "Parents" also get a yearlong subscription to Adopt Nooz and invitations to the Pumpkin Patch party in October. Adopt-an-Animal is a great gift idea, too. (Imagine: "Look, Uncle Bud, I've got you a warthog!") The adoptable animal of the moment is McLane, a miniature donkey. The four-month-old beast currently lives with his mother in the Children's Zoo, and he is an especially apt Christmas gift because Mary, pregnant with baby Jesus, was carried on a donkey to Bethlehem, and according to the sort of people who can say "baby Jesus" with a straight face, the distinctive marking on a burro's back is a cross. In any case, all the animals at the zoo can be supported by Adopt-an-Animal, and you can spend as little as $20 or as much as you can afford. For more information, call or visit the zoo. Houston Zoological Gardens, Hermann Park, 529-2632.

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