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.

I'll Show You Mine If You'll Show Me Yours! This is the Art League's way of reaching out and giving Houston art lovers a great big Valentine's hug. The ubiquitous Art Guys -- or Art Guise or Art Guyz, or however they're spelling their name this time round -- play host, and artists Jim Pirtle, Nestor Topchy and Jackie Harris perform. Prizes are offered for boxer shorts/lingerie attire, plus the League promises music, dancing and "surprises." 8 p.m. Houston Heights Boxing Academy (boxers -- get it? These artists can be so clever), 72 Heights Boulevard, 523-9530. $5, with a cash bar.

National Condom Day So you're not inclined to keep your warm fuzzies to yourself, eh? Well, if you must love, love responsibly -- that's the message from the American Social Health Association. For more information about safe sex, call (800) 972-8500. Or, if this news reaches you too late, call the STD Hotline at (800) 227-8922.

saturday
february 15
Appearance Center It's not bad enough having cancer. No, then you go through chemotherapy and all your hair falls out. Precisely when you need to feel your strongest, you start to worry about your looks. Marilyn Robinson has been there, and she's ready to help other cancer patients nip these concerns in the bud. Today she unveils one of her two new Appearance Centers -- drug-store sections selling products for cancer patients -- and she'll show cancer patients how to wear hats, wigs and even sunscreen with panache. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Briargrove Pharmacy, 6435 San Felipe, 783-5704.

Country chic So you're tuned in to CMT and you're thinking, how can I, a normal Texas gal, get a look like Tanya Tucker or Wynonna Judd? Well, hold on to your pastel Wranglers, 'cause Rique is here to show you the way. He's the image consultant to the country stars -- including Lyle Lovett, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris. Helen Frances, who promotes weight loss without dieting, joins Rique to teach seminar participants "to enhance their natural beauty and inner essence." Noon-3 p.m. Sweetwater Country Club, 4400 Palm Royale, Sugar Land, 622-7676. $35.

47th Annual Charity Cat Show For 47 years, the Houston Cat Club has almost always held its annual show in January. This year, though, the Smithsonian exhibit bumped the kitties from the convention center till February -- and, organizers worry, into conflict with the Rodeo. This year's optimistic theme: "How the West Was Won ... With Cats, of Course." 600 felines will compete for points, ribbons and the coveted Fancy Feast Waterford goblet. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas, 468-0409. $4; $3, seniors and children under 12.

sunday
february 16
Houston Symphony Bon Voyage Word is that Europeans are hot for Texas bands right now. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Houston Symphony is taking a three-week tour of the Continent, but not before giving local supporters a chance to hear its roadshow: Phaethon, Christopher Rouse's contemporary tone poem dedicated to the Challenger astronauts, as well as Beethoven's Eighth and Mahler's First symphonies. This trip will be the first time the symphony has performed at the Barbican Centre in London or in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, which tickles director Christoph Eschenbach's fancy -- as does spreading American-made music overseas. 6:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS, $15-$35.

Vietnamese Music Academy Awards and Concert This first-ever glitzfest is billed as "the biggest and most glamorous Vietnamese concert event ever put together in the U.S.A." It's a kind of People's Choice Awards for Vietnamese music old and new. Fans have voted via mail, fax and the Internet, and their faves will be saluted with red carpets, celebrity performances and lifetime achievement awards. 2 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 961-9003. $35$100.

monday
february 17
Boney on the budget It's that time of year again, when city government reaches out to the citizenry. Tonight, District D gets its chance to tell Councilman Jew Don Boney what it wants. Sewer lines, streets, police and fire stations, libraries -- all are up for discussion. 7-9 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 754-0149.

An Evening of Quickies Scriptwriters/Houston gives ten writers just five minutes each to deliver an original monologue. The local authors might present comedy, satire or drama -- but they're guaranteed to do it quickly, then clear the podium for the next hopeful. 7:30 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Jones Theatre, 3910 Yoakum. Free.

tuesday
february 18
How to land Mr. Right Psychotherapist Neill Scott has studied the subject -- that is, he's studied Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneiders's retrograde book The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right. And now, through Leisure Learning Unlimited, he's ready to teach you all those things your mother tried to: how to be a nice girl; how to play hard to get; and what to do when your man won't commit. 7:15-9:30 p.m. In the Richmond/Kirby area (for more specifics, call 877-1981 and ask for class number 5002). $15.

wednesday
february 19
Chip Flatow Besides being a standup comic, Chip's a licensed psychological counselor and certified hypnotherapist. Maybe if you don't laugh at his little jokes, he'll hypnotize you, make you believe he really was funny, and while he's in there, stir up a midnight craving for fried liver. As long as you leave thinking you had a good time, you got your money's worth. The Dream Doctor, as he's sometimes called, opens a two-week stand tonight. 8:30 p.m. The Comedy Showcase, 12547 Gulf Freeway, (281) 481-1188. $6.

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