Press Picks

thursday
december 26
Family Fun at the MFA At this familycentric event, you can not only see art, you can hear art, you can make art, heck, you can be art. In the same environs as Albert Einstein's scratchings ("Masterpieces from the Pierpont Morgan Library"), 6,000-year-old antiquities ("Splendors of Ancient Egypt") and pan-Asian works of spiritual and historical import ("An Enduring Legacy"), artists of another variety will provide holiday face painting. Plus, there'll be workshops and musical concerts. Today, from 2:303:30 p.m., the Heads-up jazz ensemble performs. (Saturday afternoon, get down with the sounds of the Chinese Senior Citizens Association.) Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-3700. Family Fun activities are free with museum admission: $3, adults; $1.50 seniors, students and children ages sixeight. Free, children five and under.

L5: First City in Space It's not L5: Space City, because, well, Houston has the Space City name all tied up. Creator Pat Rawlings was well aware of that when he made his film, because he's from Space City. Rawlings, a Houston artist and aerospace designer, spent two decades at the Johnson Space Center, which led him to create this "glimpse of the future where the development of space isn't limited by government budgets." He's got some imagination, and with it he's managed to develop a believable tale of the future. The year is 2096, and 10,000 Earthlings representing every nation have colonized L5, a Lagrange Point between the Earth and the moon where "everything placed stays put." Alas, however: The life-support systems have reached their limits. So a couple of brainiacs develop a plan to catch a comet to replenish L5's water supply, setting up a roller-coaster action sequence. Documented on the IMAX 3D format, the film includes real images and actual data collected from NASA's Viking space probe; some scenes were actually filmed in orbit. The show opens today, with showtimes at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, (800) 582-4673. $6.

Hair The last time a local professional company presented this generation-defining musical, twentysomethings of the time were lining up behind George Bush, and the folks who would become today's twentysomethings still thought of rent in terms of household chores. Now that the nation has spawned another generation of pacific youths, the timing seems right for another production of Hair -- "the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical," in case you didn't know. Presented by Empire Productions, complete with a few groovy activities scattered throughout the run (check out the "be-in" on New Year's Eve). Opens tonight, 8 p.m. Performances continue through December 31 (see Thrills, Theater for additional times). University of Houston, Cullen Hall (entrance number one off Cullen). For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 629-3700. $13.69-$35 (the two front rows have been set aside for students; tickets are $19.68 -- get it? Heh-heh.).

friday
december 27
"Houston! Christmas Trees Return to Earth" No, these trees have not been away on some intergalactic diplomatic mission; they've been yanked from their natural setting, adorned with baubles of various manmade substances and lit up brighter than an upstart country singer with a down-and-out mentality. They've served their purpose well, and now they're ready to be ground into mulch so that they can do their part to continue the cycle. The city has designated six spots, including the Consumer Recycling Center at the Southwest Freeway and Westpark and the Memorial Park ballfields (the ones off Memorial Drive across from the golf course), as its official tree recycling drop-off sites. Plus, the city will chip in a free seedling in exchange for each recycled tree. Today through January 5, excepting New Year's Day. For additional locations or more information, call 845-1111 or 865-4201.

Beatle Bugs on ice Maybe we Houstonians aren't hockey purists. I mean, how many times have fans here rooted for a tie just so they could get to see a nail-biting shootout? And maybe we are still trying to learn the one or two rules actually enforced on the ice. No matter. The name of the game at any Houston Aeros matchup is fun. What's most fun is that they win frequently -- nowadays, they really do! -- but the topnotch sideshows rule, too. Between periods at tonight's contest with the Milwaukee Admirals, the cast of Beatlemania will perform and KLDE will premiere a quartet of VW Beetles painted to honor each of the Fab Four. 7 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700, www.aeros.com. $7-$40.

saturday
december 28
End of the Year Life Review Attain all the benefits that come with having your life pass before your eyes without all the pain and expense that's so often associated with having a near-death experience. Choose to review your life and "experience a powerful inner light, know your judgments and move into acceptance and change"; see, feel and know the impact you've had on others. Sandy Penny has done all this, and her inner guides have encouraged her to bring this opportunity to the masses. 7:30-9:30 p.m. CenterPoint, 7621 Westview, 688-7224. $15.

sunday
december 29
Microsoft Discovery Bus The first thing you'll want to know is that, yes, the Discovery Bus is climate-controlled -- a fact that's not necessarily a given on a public school bus that's almost midway through a yearlong tour that reaches from Montreal to San Antonio. The second thing you'll want to know is that though some serious miles have been put on this bus, the point of the exhibit is to show how, through the magic of technology, one can travel the globe without ever leaving home. The bus is equipped with ten workstations and five laptops on which visitors can play games, learn to surf the net and use basic business programs, and take historical/geographical adventures. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Today and Monday. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. Bus tours are free. Museum admission is $3; $2, children under 12.

Jerry Jeff Walker Walker and his Gonzo Compadres have a new album out, Scamp, his 27th. With so much material at his disposal, what can Jerry Jeff's audience expect? The best of both of his worlds, it seems: Hear the all-new stuff mixed in with selections from his greatest hits disc, Night After Night, recorded live at the Birchmere outside Washington, D.C. The prez and vice-prez are said to have stopped in that particular Alexandria, Virginia "listening room" one night to hear Walker. Though neither politician is known for having discriminating taste in music, Walker isn't necessarily aiming at those with discriminating taste. His is a fun music with broad appeal. He may even throw in a Christmas song or two, gonzo-style, of course. 7:30 and 10 p.m. tonight and Monday. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Avenue, 869-TICS. $18$39.50.

monday
december 30
Not Necessarily Clean, but Sober A night of comedy with no drink minimum! That's because there's no drinking -- by the comics or the audience. Will this mean the comedians have to work harder for laughs? Maybe. More likely, though, it'll mean less heckling. Among the non-drinkers on the bill is Jimmy Pineapple, whose biting and sometimes blue comedy is the reason the Laff Stop couldn't go with "Clean and Sober" on the marquee. Since you won't be drinking during his performance, you may even leave the club remembering a Pineapple line or two to quote in the office the next day, if you're the sort to quote Pineapple in the office. Andy Huggins and Ronny Kenny are also on the bill. Juice, soda, assorted bottled waters, coffee and tea will be available. 8 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray in the River Oaks Shopping Center, 524-2333. $8.

tuesday
december 31
New Year's Noon When the clock strikes 12 -- 12 noon, that is -- Houston youngsters will hit the punch, toot their noisemakers and parade through the halls of the Children's Museum to welcome the New Year kid-style. There'll be none of that icky adult stuff, such as kissing on the lips or sipping champagne or saying an inebriated something to your employer/spouse/parent that will haunt you until the day you die. Here kids can celebrate and still get to bed at a decent hour so mom and dad can get to the icky stuff in peace. The party starts at 10 a.m., at which time Discovery Guides will show the kids how to make their own hats and noisemakers. The parade's at noon, followed by a party with cookies and punch. Don't be late, they warn, as the museum will close today at 3 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 522-1138. $5; $4, seniors; free, children under two.

Holiday in the Park on New Year's This is a pure-dee fun thing to do, and given the prices for New Year's Eve activities in town, AstroWorld actually seems reasonably priced tonight. Count down the last moments of 1996 with Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Pepe Le Pew and the gang, then sing along to "Auld Lang Syne" as fireworks burst overhead. Before the main event, stroll through the decorated park, take in a holiday show or two or four, scarf down a funnel cake and take a ride down Santa's Snow Hill. A special craft area has been set up for kids, and guests get free party hats and noisemakers. Noon to midnight. 9001 Kirby Drive, 799-1234. $21.95; $19.95, children under 48 inches tall; $15.48, seniors; free, children two and under.

New Year's Eve with Jennifer Holliday Houston's own "Dreamgirl" sets loose her soulful pipes on the hometown crowd to celebrate the passing of another year. Holliday has won a Tony and a Grammy and even had a dance hit a decade back with "No Frills Love." She'll probably sing that, as well as "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," a song that garnered this songbird a great deal of attention at the tender age of 22. This is a dress-up event, and since you're all dolled up, why not go all out? The regular ticket price includes a post-concert party, a continental buffet and dancing; however, the Gold Package ($500 per couple) will get you all that plus a cocktail reception, dinner at Charley's 517, a room at the Four Seasons Hotel and a free ride to and from the shindig. 10 p.m. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue, 228-8421. $75 per person.

Out of This World This musical adaptation of Moliere's classic comedy Amphitryon concerns the god Jupiter, his crush on a newly married mortal and Jupiter's wife Juno's desire to thwart hubby's plan to seduce the young woman. Does our heroine stand a chance? Jupiter's son Mercury gets in the mix when he sets out to help his dad, then falls for a mortal of his very own. The action takes place in Greece, and really, if you were a god, isn't that where you'd live? The music and lyrics are by Cole Porter. Champagne reception, 8:30 p.m.; performance, 9 p.m. Additional performances through January 12 (see Thrills, Theater for showtimes). Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $50.

wednesday
january 1
Psychic Fair Extravaganza You just can't get through an early morning episode of The Andy Griffith Show these days without several commercial interruptions from telephone psychics -- techno-minded practitioners of the intuitive arts -- hawking their services. If seeing these has piqued your interest, but you're not the type to sit on the phone, test the waters at this one-day event. Gary Wayne is the celebrity psychic, and you'll find experts on numerology, astrology, tarot, palmistry, massage therapy and aromatherapy. Moreover, Arthur Douet, internationally acclaimed portrait and spiritual artist, will be around to promote copies of his 1997 calendar. And you know, in this day and age when going to a bridal fair or craft show will run you six or seven dollars, the psychics are only charging a buck; they know we can't afford more coming on the heels of Christmas, which I think proves they're the real deal. (However, if you're content taking your chances venturing into the New Year without psychic advice, at least put on a pot of hoppin' John for good luck before settling in with the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl and your old habits.) 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Marriott West Loop Hotel, 1750 West Loop South. For information, call 706-6931. $1.

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