Press Picks

thursday
february 13
Freedmen's Town celebration The fate of Freedmen's Town has been hot on the lips of developers and politicians of late, but at least one structure in the historic district won't tumble to make way for upscale housing. The former home of Rutherford B. Yates, freed slave and printer, will soon become a museum commemorating Houston's oldest black neighborhood and Yates's good deeds. Celebrate this coup with the responsible parties -- Catherine Roberts and the Museum of Printing History. And while you're there, get a peek at the documentary Sons of Freedmen's Town: The Story of the Yates Printing Co., and hear a lecture from UH professor Amilcar Shabazz. All this, and free munchies, too! 7 p.m. The Museum of Printing History, 1324 West Clay, 522-4652. Free, though a donation would be looked upon very kindly.

Museum of Natural Science Valentine's dance At this Houston Press Romance/HMNS singles dance, the mood is set for love: a little wine, a little jazz and a lot of hulking fossils that scream, "Life's short -- get some while you can." Business attire is fine for this semiformal event. 7-11 p.m. Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, 639-4629. For info, call Romance at 624-1414. Admission is free with a Romance ad.

The Birds No, this is not the Hitchcock movie where birds take over and peck people to death. In Aristophanes's play, it's people who do the pecking -- two Athenians who want to escape strife and political corruption by leaving the big city and starting their own community with a group of birds. Laissez-faire soon wears thin, the expatriates start making rules and before long imperial domination won't satisfy them. Tonight at 8 p.m. Presented by the highly touted Aquila Theatre Company of London at the University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). Call 524-5113 for more information. Free for UH students, staff and faculty (bring ID); $5 for the rest of us.

friday
february 14
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo The Rodeo itself is as predictable as a cold snap in mid-February, but the Fat Stock crowd plumbs the depths of fashion with renewed vigor each year. Remember last February, when half the kids were wearing those ridiculous Cat in the Hat hats and grown folks were walking around in Hee Haw overalls? Livestock show, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; rodeo, 7 p.m. Astrodomain, Kirby at Loop 610, where it's always been. 791-9000. Livestock show, $5; $2, children ages six12. Tonight's rodeo, with performances by LeAnn Rimes and Alan Jackson, is sold out, so the only tickets you'll be able to find will be ridiculously priced. (For more rodeo info, check out the Press's guide in the middle of this very issue.)

Hug-a-Bug Week An entomophobic's nightmare, that's what this is: Children and grown people alike carrying vials full of ladybugs into a glass cage swarming with butterflies; little red beetles crawling on people's fingers before flying away to devour aphids and mealybugs. Heck, it's just another nature-loving day at the Cockrell Butterfly Center, where the special ladybug release continues through February 23. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Museum of Natural Science, Cockrell Butterfly Center, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, 639-4600. $3, adults; $2, children under 12.

Vaqueros remembered Casa Ramirez is known as the place to view traditional Dia de los Muertos altars come October, but owner Macario Ramirez celebrates rodeo fever, too, in his own way. His annual tribute to vaqueros and rancheros is up once again, and serves as a reminder to us that our rodeo heroes' cowboy ancestors would have perished in the mesquite brush if not for the lessons they learned from their Mexican counterparts. While you're paying your respects, check out "Amor Eterno," a Valentine's-inspired display that includes skeletal bride and groom figurines from Daniel Lechon's calavera series -- little jolts of reality that no swooning bride would dare allow atop her wedding cake. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery, 239 West 19th Street, 880-2420. Free.

Beethoven's Ninth and the Ode to Joy Ball Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was met with wild applause on the night it opened, and 173 years later, classical music fans still feel giddy when it's played. To symphony lovers, it's what "Born to Run" is for the rest of us -- and it's a perfect precursor to the Symphony Ball, which follows in a climate-controlled tent across the street in Jones Plaza. The ball features food by Tony's ... at Home and music by the Ed Gerlach Orchestra. 7:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $21-$76; $500-$1,000, gala tickets.

Sixth Annual Battle of the Sexes So you went to the museum dance and all you left with was a belly full of free appetizers. Now it's Valentine's and you don't have a date. ComedySportz may have the answer, or at least an answer. During the halftime of their annual Battle of the Sexes show -- you know, all that boys-against-girls, who's-the-stronger-sex humor -- one selected fan will receive the white-tablecloth-and-candles treatment along with a serenade courtesy of the CSz player of the winner's choosing. 8 p.m. Treebeards, 315 Travis, 521-2226. $8.

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