Press Picks

thursday
february 6
Vintage poster art Back when advertising was still in its infancy and the poster was the prevailing promotional medium, serious artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, he of small stature and large appetites, sold their talents on behalf of nightclubs, spirits, cigarette papers and other products. The new Retro Gallery specializes in vintage posters, especially European works from the first part of this century; come out to the grand opening and view works that put modern billboards to shame. Bonuses: Free hors d'oeuvres courtesy of Regine's, and a portion of all sales benefit Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). 5:30-10 p.m. Retro Gallery, 1839 West Alabama, 522-7074 (or visit www.retrogallery.com). Free.

Introduction to Tequila You've probably already made its acquaintance (though you may have no memory of having done so; tequila can do that to you), but here's betting you don't know tequila the way Ricardo Cisneros does. He lives in Cancun, where he works for the Ritz-Carlton and goes by the title of tequiliere, a designation created for him by the Tequila Producers Association of Mexico. He's in town tonight to talk up he subject of the agave-based liquor and lead folks on a tasting spree. The PR material suggests that tequila makers are trying to upscale the image of their product, so bringing a funnel to place in your mouth while you lie on your back and ask Cisneros to pour away would probably be frowned upon. The seminar is limited to 100, and reservations are required. 5 p.m. La Valerosa, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard, 965-9600. Free.

friday
february 7
Freshly Hatched Salon gatherings might be lost on this generation, but when dance patrons are invited to partake of a little wine before, during and after a show and are encouraged to stick around and mingle afterward, well, then it starts to sound like a party -- and that's an idea we can all comprehend. Freshly Hatched includes Nancy Galeota-Wozny's "To/With/ For Gertrude Stein," a piece that investigates the pleasures and challenges of dancing and listening to Stein's "The Making of Americans," plus Laura Hope Steckler's "Blue," which she performs in her wedding dress, Kathy Woods's "Hippies Standing on a Corner," as interpreted by an all-male urban dance group, and more. If you've any experience at all with marriage, sex, other forms of human interaction, the ozone layer or early 20th-century literature, you'll be able to add to the post-dance chitchat. If not, check Thrills, Classes and Workshops; there may be a Leisure Learning course more suited for you. 8 p.m. tonight, Saturday and February 14 and 15. The Duplex, 1924 Brun, 521-4560. $8.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Breathing: It's one thing we're born doing, but even after a lifetime we still may not be getting it right. Fear not: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is here to teach us how to breathe in vital life energy as well as oxygen. Specifically, Shankar's workshop focuses on sudarshan kriya, or "that action which gives one a proper vision of oneself," a healing breath that uproots and flushes out negative emotion. Kinda makes you feel like panting, doesn't it? Shankar has been doing this since he was a tot, just sitting there rapt for hours. You don't have to go to that extreme; a four-day workshop and a commitment to practice for a few minutes each day is all it takes to get rapt your ownself. 7-9:30 p.m. February 7 and 10; 9:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. February 8 and 9. Mission Bend Civic Association, 15234 Corona Del Mar (near Bellaire Boulevard and Highway 6), 564-2216. $200 (includes lunch).

Houston Safari Club's Silver Anniversary Celebration Then again, if your idea of a good time is focused less on your own breathing than on stopping the breathing of something else, you might want to hie on down to the Galleria Marriott for a weekend of seminars and vendor displays on taxidermy, custom rifles, exotic furnishings and more. All paying visitors are entered into a drawing for a dream hunt at the world-famous Sanctuary, and if that means something to you, then you ought to know that, yes, trophy mounting is part of the prize. Tonight's lecture, set for 5 p.m., is "What You Need to Know Before You Book a Hunt in a Foreign Country"; tomorrow's full slate includes "Gourmet Cooking of Wild Game." 1-6 p.m. today; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. JW Marriott, 5150 Westheimer, 666-7171. Exhibition, $5; seminars, free.

A Soldier's Story HCC celebrates Black History Month with a lineup of free screenings highlighting the serious achievements of African-American actors. Serious, we say, because there's not a comedy in the lot. Tonight's feature is A Soldier's Story, in which a black officer is murdered at a Southern military post in the 1940s. Denzel Washington, Howard Rollins, Adolph Caesar, Patti LaBelle and David Alan Grier (who's had lighter moments) star. 7 p.m. Houston Community College System, Stafford campus, Building B, Room 117, 9910 Cash Road, 718-7791. Free admission, free popcorn, free lively discussion following the flick.

An African Gift This children's theatrical piece is composed of three African folk tales, and the gift is valuable life lessons that come wrapped in a night of humor and entertainment. The narratives come from Cameroon, Liberia and Zimbabwe, where communities often rely on such virtues as honesty and cooperation for mere survival, and they explore what happens when greed and distrust rear their heads. Houston's own Y.A. Bagersh is responsible for the concept, and he also directs this world premiere production. 7 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 759-1314. $5.

Jews/America/A Representation Art folk at Congregation Emanu El and Congregation Beth Israel have collected 40 or so of French photographer Frederic Brenner's works, and have divided them equally between their galleries for a special shared exhibition. Brenner's photographs show the diversity of Jewish life across America, from small towns to big cities; the Frenchman traveled the nation seeking to break stereotypes, and in his quest he photographed the famous -- Estee Lauder, Barbra Streisand -- and the not-so-famous -- Nice Jewish Boy movers and Jews with Hogs (Harleys, that is). Exhibition shows through April 9. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Kahn Gallery, Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Boulevard, 529-5771; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Margolis Gallery, Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 North Braeswood, 771-6221.

saturday
february 8
Conoco 10K Rodeo Run Tired of running in circles? The Rodeo Run takes you point-to-point, from the downtown arts district west to Main, under the gnarled Pierce Elevated, past New Orleans Original Po Boy and the Museum District, skirting a couple of nice neighborhoods and the Medical Center on the way to the Astrodome. Shuttles will operate between the starting and finishing points, just in case you don't want to run all the way back to get your car (and if you do, we'd rather not hear about it). You're free to park at either location. Okay, free and the Astrodome are words that don't jibe -- if you exercise your free will to park at the Astrodome lot, you'll have to pay the $4 parking fee. Procrastinators beware: There is no packet pickup on race day; the final registration session is from 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, February 7, at Conoco Center, 600 North Dairy Ashford, Gate C. Wheelchair race, 9:45 a.m.; 10K, 9:50 a.m.; post-race party, 10:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.rodeorun.conoco.com, or call the race hotline at (281) 293-2447. $18.

Fishing with Mark Mark Chestnutt, that is. The Beaumont native who tore up the country charts with "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" and "Too Cold At Home" is promoting a line of fishing gear. Stop by and have him sign your tackle box while you're hearing about the big one that got away. Noon-4 p.m. Academy, 2404 Southwest Freeway, 520-1795. Free.

Sisters: Reflection in a Mirror The MFA's series of films by Russian women continues with Svetlana Proskurina's 1992 look at a famous stage actor who loses his sense of identity, failing to even recognize his own reflection. Here, the contemporary filmmaker examines the post-Soviet "lost generation" while dealing intimately with loneliness and human connectedness. 9 p.m. tonight; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5.

sunday
february 9
Tet Festival In case you missed New Year's in January, here's another, courtesy Houston's Asian population. Usher in the Year of the Ox by immersing yourself in everything Far Eastern -- from the dragon dance to Vietnamese vocalists to ancestral remembrance ceremonies to basketball tournaments. That's right, basketball tournaments; cultural exchange works both ways. Presented by the Vietnamese American Youth Organization. The fairgrounds open at 10 a.m. Pasadena Convention Center and Municipal Fairgrounds, 7902 Fairmont Parkway, 759-9161. $5.

Between the Covers That's what Cris Williamson and Tret Fure are calling their latest release, and they're making a stop in Houston to promote it. Bonnie Raitt has compared Williamson's voice to "honey dripped on a cello" -- obviously she means this as a good thing, more figuratively than literally; Raitt's gone on to refer to the couple's work on Between the Covers as an "inspiration." The sound is a combination of guitar rock, folk and women's music, whatever that is. 7 p.m. Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin, 630-1113. $14 in advance (available at Inklings Bookshop and Crossroads Market); $15 at the door.

John McLaughlin: Western Modernism/Eastern Thought MFA curator Alison de Lima Greene describes McLaughlin's work as "deceptively simple"; he was heavily influenced by the Zen concept of Ma ("marvelous void"), and his paintings have become increasingly spare over time. That may sound like we're being set up for an exhibition of blank canvases, but actually, McLaughlin's works sought to reconcile the geometric harmonies of abstract art with Zen ideas. Opens today, 12:15-6 p.m. Through April 20. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $3; $1.50, seniors and children ages six-18.

monday
february 10
Ceoltori The word is Gaelic for "musicians," and refers here to Sue Richards and Karen Ashbrook. Both are held in high esteem in Celtic harp circles: Richards is a four-time American Scottish Harp champion and WAMMIE winner, and Ashbrook is responsible for advancing the reputation of the hammered dulcimer through her many books and recordings. Tonight they play for a number of worthy causes: the Lever Harp Preservation Society, which is sponsoring the concert; the Homeless Pets Placement League, which will rake in a portion of the proceeds; and our own good sense of fun. 8 p.m. Ovations, 2536-B Times Boulevard, 522-9801. $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

tuesday
february 11
Ghana Dance Ensemble More Black History Month education disguised as entertainment. The 25 members of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, who've traveled here from Accra, will don colorful costumes and introduce patrons to traditional ceremonial, ritual and religious dances during a two-hour-long program. West African percussionists provide the beat, and judging from the company they keep, the performance is sure to be topnotch: The troupe is here under the direction of Babatunde Olatunji, master of drums, who's helped to score such films as Raisin in the Sun and She's Gotta Have It and was a major influence on Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. 8 p.m. Music Hall, 810 Bagby, 629-3700. $17.50-$25.

wednesday
february 12
Entrances and Exits: Houston's Theatre History Jim Bernhard has had a hand in the inner workings of nearly every major theater group in Houston at one time or another, his associations running from Theatre Under the Stars (his current employer) to the Alley to Stages to SPA and more. He's even done a little writing for the stage and has acted and ... well, he knows his stuff. He's probably hip to a lot of dirt, too, but he may be too polite, or too entrenched, to share the good stuff. Still, this lecture, the third in the "Houston: Our City, Our Past" series, will offer insight into where Houston theater's been and maybe where it's headed. 8 p.m. First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5200 Fannin, 526-5200. Free.

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