Meet Darth Vader He'll never be nominated for father of the year, but his appearance does make for the best photo op since Santa hightailed it north. Plus, he comes bearing gifts from "a galaxy far, far away." 11 a.m.-noon. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. Free.
The Great American Train Show Who didn't want to grow up and drive a train when they were kids is what I want to know. The romance, the whistles, the power to bring traffic to a screeching halt at each intersection through which you traverse, the great hats: Relive the fantasy at the Great American Train Show. More than 10,000 model trains will be on display (and for sale!), including a four-track railroad that they'll let you -- or your kids, if they must -- operate. 11 a.m.5 p.m. today and Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas, (630) 834-0652. $5; free, children under 12 accompanied by a paying adult.
Cat Fanciers' Association Championship Cat Show Feast your eyes on all manner of cats, taking special note of the Maine coon cat. Organizers describe this animal as one "noted for its size and people-loving, gregarious personality," which makes it sound about as much like a dog as a cat can get. This could be the perfect pet. Purebred cats, kittens and everything for and of cats will be available for purchase. Hosted by the Silver Rebels Cat Club, with some proceeds going to the Bay Area SPCA and other area animal welfare groups. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Moody Gardens Convention Center, exhibit hall, 1 Hope Boulevard, (281) 367-7822. $5; $3, seniors and children under 12.
Grease Vintage is hip. Case in point: Levi Strauss reissues -- and sells -- its old-style, shrink-to-fit waist overalls at $100 a pop; Californians successfully stage a mass protest of a planned revamping of the original McDonald's; Grease is back. The stage version only has about half of the good songs from the movie version, but tunes such as "Summer Nights" still shine, there's an occasional good dance sequence and the clothes in the pajama party scene are sweetly risque. 3 and 7:30 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, (800) 821-1894. $14.50-$45.50.
Polka can do it all! That's what the Polka Lovers say: Lose weight, exercise, meet people, have fun -- all with polka. Polka newbies can see for themselves at this afternoon shindig featuring the Texas Plainsmen, Jim Rhode and Tony Janak. This dance is a low-key opportunity to make polka contacts; you see, polka dances, like raves, happen all the time, but only those in the know can find them. 1-6 p.m. Rosenberg American Legion Hall in Rosenberg. For directions or more information about the Polka Lovers Klub of America, call (281) 480-3965. $6.
Irish festival Just a few weeks back, the Duck hosted the Noise for Toys benefit, and later this month they'll open for a fundraiser for a liver transplant candidate. Today, that spirit of generosity is extended to the Southwest Celtic Music Association. Houston's most loved Irish entertainers will gather to generate some cash for the upcoming North Texas Irish Festival. Noon. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $6.
Smithsonian Voices of Discovery In conjunction with America's Smithsonian, ten speakers of considerable reputation will spend two weeks offering more than 50 free lectures and workshops at locations all over the greater Houston area to teach us more about the culture that is America. Today, David Pawson of the National Museum of Natural History talks about "Marine Monsters: Real and Unreal" at 4:30 p.m. and "Exploration of Great Ocean Depths: Progress and Promise" at 7:30 p.m. at the Cypress Creek Branch Library meeting room, 6815 Cypresswood Drive in Spring (376-4610). At 6:30 p.m., James Zimbelman of the National Air and Space Museum covers "A Spacecraft Tour of the Solar System" at the Bear Creek Branch Library meeting room, 16719 Clay Road (550-0885). Future topics cover first ladies' roles, Latino culture, women's suffrage and African-American urban and social history, to name a few. For more information, call 662-2275. Free.
Unveiling Yves Saint Laurent The spring '97 collection is in! Between noon and 2 p.m. today and Wednesday, Saks will host an informal modeling show of Laurent's spring line. (Get a jump on viewing the spring collection via the cyber catwalk; the new designs can be found at www.worldmedia.fr/fashion/YSLrivegauche/ -- just click on the shopping bag. The look is fairly classic and conservative until you get to the "brown silk crepe dress," where the splits begin to rise awfully high.) Saks Fifth Avenue, Designer Salon, level two, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard, 627-0500. Free.
Jimmy Carter: Living Faith Where there's a former president, there's Secret Service (and stringent rules). When our 39th president sits down to sign copies of his most recent book -- this one on faith (natch) and how it has guided him -- there'll be no dawdling. They say the 72-year-old Georgian is a fast signer, but don't even ask him to scribble his name on photos or especially bumper stickers. The humorless guys in the dark suits just aren't going to allow it.7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. (Tomorrow, it's the same rigmarole at Borders Books and Music, 9633-A Westheimer, 782-6066, at noon.) Signing, free; the book is right at $20.
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