Good Luck Launch of Ubitout Records If someone told you she was starting a record company here, you might reply "good luck." Apparently aware of the local clime, Elise Degraye has dubbed the debut party for her new indie label "with a taste for the bizarre" the Good Luck Launch. For the inaugural festivities, she's enlisted the help of homeboys Project Grimm and Rubbur, plus the Necro Tonz, a low-down lounge act from Dallas, Diamond Shamrock, noise scammers from Austin, and others. More highlights: male and female alternative belly dancing and the chance to wish Elise a happy birthday. Nibbling of complimentary grub, 9:30-10:30 p.m.; music till 2 a.m. Emo's Alternative Lounge, 2900 Albany, 523-8503. Free, 21 and over; $7, everyone too young to drink.
Grandpa Hasn't Moved in Days Could it be that he's mesmerized by TNN's Dallas? By the Hee-Haw reruns? By a Mattress Mac commercial? No, he's just dead. (Grandpa, that is, not Mattress Mac). Being that Grandpa was a Fertle, his funeral is no solemn matter. The Singing Fertle Family returns to Dumpster in this new Radio Music Theatre comedy, wherein big brother Lou -- a big liar, too -- fudges Grandpa's dying wish in order to wring money out of his rich relatives and laughs from the audience. Subtle it ain't, but call ahead to reserve a seat. These shows always sell out -- perhaps because the Fertles are like family for many of us, or perhaps because you can drink beer and eat spicy peanuts during the performance. Opens 8:30 p.m. tonight. Through May 3 (see Thrills, Comedy for additional showtimes). Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. $14.
Salome Opera goes to the movies, finds a bright young director and, just maybe, a new audience as well. Atom Egoyan, whose Exotica earned an International Critics Prize at Cannes, makes his operatic debut with Salome, the tale of a family whose dysfunction runs to biblical proportions. Egoyan has experience with the themes of voyeurism and sexual obsession, and to this Houston Grand Opera production's vaguely contemporary setting he adds film clips and surveillance cameras. But psychoses make up only part of the operatic equation; you also need a soprano with strong pipes. To meet that requirement, Houston Grand Opera celebrates the return of the highly regarded Hildegard Behrens as the princess with a lethal yen for a certain Baptist. Opens 7:30 p.m. tonight. Through February 7 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $16-$175.
Dom Irrera Irrera, host of Showtime's Full Frontal Comedy, is one of those rare comedians who's recognizable even to those without cable. (He's the guy who imitates his Philly cousin Johnny, who says things such as, "That guy is a lowlife little fat rat weasel ... and I don't mean that in a bad way.") Despite his mainstream name recognition, Mr. "Badda boom, badda bing!" is full-on and relentless -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. 8 and 10:30 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $12.50.
Ciao Marcello The Rice Media Center starts its spring season off with a tribute to the late Marcello Mastroianni, who amassed more than 130 film credits over 40 years. The first presentation in Rice's short retrospective is the Houston premiere of Mastroianni's final film, Three Lives and Only One Death, in which he shows off his considerable diversity by assuming four different roles: a wayward husband, a distinguished professor, a sinister butler and a businessman who scams on his taxes. The film also stars Chiara Mastroianni, his daughter with Catherine Deneuve. (Subtitled) 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard), 527-4853. $5.
The Cherry Orchard The folks at Infernal Bridegroom have gone out on another limb here, staging a production that requires a low-key acting style rooted in realism. Yowie! Andy Nelson, Tamarie Cooper, Celia Montgomery and their cohorts have proven themselves capable in past productions, so the prospects of them rising to the challenge of convention in this spare production of Anton Chekhov's masterwork about the problems of being human seem promising. 8 p.m., with an opening reception after the show at the Palace Cafe, 401 Louisiana. Through February 15 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Commerce Street Art Warehouse, 2315 Commerce Street, 935-2008. Play and reception, $9.99; reception only, $5.
Joyce Pensato Pensato's creations look like the hellish alter egos of the animated characters we've come to know on a first name basis -- Mickey, Donald, Bart, etc. -- but her works aren't scary. In fact, Pensato's representations confirm our suspicion about what's really been going on beneath those little cartoon facades, and the result is comforting. This Guggenheim-winning artist has been in residence at DiverseWorks drawing her enormous charcoal figures right onto the studio's 14-foot walls, and tonight her first exhibition in the Southwest is unveiled. Opening reception, 7-9 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. Free.
Yuri Naumov It's hard to learn to play guitar when all you have as a teacher are bootlegged Beatles and Led Zeppelin tapes. Harassment by the KGB doesn't make matters any easier. But Siberian pop star Yuri Naumov vaulted those and other hurdles to become an accomplished instrumentalist and singer who packs cafes and concert halls from Moscow to Soho. Naumov's intricate picking shows more dexterity than a champion typist, and his use of reverb and other effects puts a decidedly electric edge on his acoustic stylings. The former medical student (who was booted from school for performing "imperialist propaganda") sings a few songs in English, but it's his bluesy Russian drawl that really makes the ears perk up. 7:30 p.m., Kaplan Theater, Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 664-3587. $8-$10.
Battle of the Big Bands -- Round 2 If recent television reruns of The Benny Goodman Story and The Glenn Miller Story have whetted your appetite for hot swing, then prove you're not a cold turkey and catch Round 2 of this big band fest. The hits of Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Kay Kyser and Gene Krupa are on the bill. And though we're disappointed they left out Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, not to mention Woody Herman, we're excited about the inclusion of Krupa, a man who preferred a flashy style and wasn't content simply to keep time for Goodman. Thus he invented the stick-flying drum solo and led his own band. Does that make him responsible for Buddy Rich? Whatever, maybe it's time somebody made a good movie about him. 2 and 8 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Sunday. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $14.50-$22.
Margaret Mee: Return to the Amazon Eighty-five of Mee's spectacular watercolors are included in this exhibition organized by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. A passionate conservationist, Mee journeyed through Brazilian Amazonia for more than three decades, capturing on canvas the beauty she saw and being among the first to raise holy hell about the destruction of the rain forest; her scientific documentation of plant life there remains unequaled. Opens today and continues through September 21. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, 639-4629. $3; $2, children three11.
Super Bowl Sunday It's Super Bowl Sunday, and that means the best thing on TV today is TBS's Andy Griffith Show marathon countdown; will "Man in a Hurry" rank as the viewers' favorite this year? If this debate doesn't interest you, perhaps you'd better tune in to the second best program, Super Bowl XXXI -- Green Bay versus New England. Hunker down with a few friends, put the Cheez Whiz in the microwave, draw numbers for your squares game and pop a top on a tallboy of Coors: Now you're ready. The Packers and Pats battle it out at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans at 5:18 p.m.; you can catch it on Fox Channel 26 or on KTRH/ 740 AM. Among the halftime highlights: three-year-old Andrew Thompson of Nashville, Tennessee, will sing his award-winning rendition of Oscar Meyer's b-o-l-o-g-n-a song.
TxDOT and the Katy Freeway The Texas Department of Transportation has been looking at a 40-mile stretch of I-10, from downtown to the Brazos River, and is ready to present to the public plans for improving the roadway. The main part that's out of control, as I see it, is between the Loop and the Beltway; too many people are driving on it too often. My solution? Get everyone out of my way. If you'd like to review the plans your ownself and offer a little feedback or possibly work up a gripe session with fellow motorists, you can do so at any of four TxDOT public meetings. The first is 4-8 p.m. today at the West End Multiservice Center, 170 Heights Boulevard. Each session will be held in an open-house format so that participants can come and go whenever they please.
The Fine Art of Seduction Dr. Louis Markos, professor of literature and film history at Houston Baptist University, presents this lecture, subtitled "The Rules for Courtship in Hollywood's Golden Age." Though it's not always elevated to such a level, there can be an art to this business of seduction -- sadly, this art seemed to have reached its pinnacle in the '30s and '40s, when men were men, women were women and nobody ever thought of calling movies "films." Markos will review this period of history, complete with clips, and perhaps offer insight into the proper strategies a la Gable or Bogart or Veronica Lake for winning over the object of your heart's desire. 7 p.m. Museum of Printing History, 1324 West Clay, 522-4652. $10.
Ann and Cecile Richards honored Former governor Ann Richards possesses the sort of grit required of living legends and progenitors of change; what's more, her daughter Cecile seems to have inherited a bit of that do-right-with-an-attitude spunk. The Houston chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women honors the mother/daughter team tonight with its Hannah G. Solomon Award for the Richards women's ability to enact social change in a far-reaching and recognizable way. 7:30 p.m. J.W. Marriott, 5150 Westheimer (at Sage), 667-5694. $35, dinner only; $75, dinner and private reception.
Jonathan David Bass An illusionist who looks to be of the David Copperfield school of hair and makeup, Jonathan David Bass is in Houston for a lengthy stint. Only in his twenties, Bass has already been awarded the Siegfried and Roy Lion's Head Award for Excellence and Creativity in Magic, but his act is steeped in tradition in that he uses doves, practices a little Houdini-style escapism and makes things disappear. The twist is in his contemporary ideas and innovative execution; he won't be the least bit intimidated if you sit up close and try to learn his secrets -- which you most likely won't. He's pretty quick, too. Through February 2. Dinner seatings 6:30-8 p.m.; showtime, 9 p.m. Magic Island, 2215 Southwest Freeway, 526-2442. $15, show only; $24.95, dinner and show.