Great American Meatout River Phoenix, Ally Sheedy and other celebrities noted for treating their bodies like temples (ha!) have campaigned for past Great American Meatouts; this year, Rue McClanahan and James Cromwell top the star-studded list of plant-eaters urging Americans to forgo meat, for today at least, and experience the joys of more compassionate noshing. For more information, call (800) MEAT-OUT, or visit www.envirolink/org/ arrs/farm/index.htm.
Celebrate India's 50th anniversary It's been five whole decades since India said no to British rule and became its own boss. To celebrate, Brazos Bookstore is hosting a spring reading series by three Indian authors. First up is novelist Vikram Chandra, who used to spend a good deal of time around these parts. His new book, Love and Longing in Bombay, offers five tales for the price of one: a love story, a ghost story, a mystery and so on, all recounted by a civil servant in a Bombay bar. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. The reading is free; the book sells for $22.95, and Chandra will only sign copies bought at Brazos.
Smell Patti LaBelle And, if you like what your nose finds, you can smell like Patti LaBelle, too. Those who've already caught a whiff of Patti LaBelle's new signature fragrance describe the scent as a light, exotic blend of floral notes and musk. Today, the benailed one herself will be on hand to plug her namesake perfume. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Foley's, 1110 Main Street, 651-7038. Ogling, free; products, $27.50-$35.
Big fishing show Anglers come from hundreds of miles away to attend the Annual Fishing Show, where they visit old friends, keep up with the latest technology and, mostly, snare great deals on the paraphernalia a fisherman needs to catch big fish. Learn how to use all the new high-tech gadgets; take a gander at new-issue rods like the Corky, designed for use with soft jerk baits; and sidle up to the worm bar for your choice of wigglers. A full slate of seminars is scheduled daily. Noo-n9 p.m. today and Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas, 353-1618. $6, adults; $2, children ages six12.
Monkey King A new children's production features not Dave Letterman (that would be Monkey Boy) but a character from Chinese folklore. Lily Chen and Trey McIntyre (yes, of the Houston Ballet) conspired to bring this 400-year-old superhero to the stage. The first part is performed in the traditional Chinese style; the second, set in the 20th century, is rapped. 7 p.m. Through March 30. (See Thrills, Kids, On-stage for additional showtimes.) Presented by Express Theatre at the Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 759-1314. $5.
Duchamp weekend Marcel Duchamp established himself as one of the most influential artists of this century -- and spawned a repeatedly used sitcom gag -- when he proffered an actual urinal for exhibition. A few decades later, in 1957, the French Dadaist traveled to Houston to talk on "The Creative Act." Now, on the 40th anniversary of that lecture, Rice University hosts "Rethinking the Creative Act," revisiting Duchamp's impact through a symposium featuring a half-dozen Duchamp scholars. 4-5:30 p.m. and 7-8:30 p.m. tonight and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Rice University, Sewall Hall, Room 301, 527-8101, ext. 2770. Free.
Spring Space Out That's the theme for this spring-break happening for brainiacs. At Space Center Houston today, gaze upon a real-deal Martian rock, as well as a replica of the international space station's X-38 crew escape vehicle. In more down-to-earth fashion, conduct your own debriefing of a space shuttle crew. The STS-82 shuttle crew, the space walkers who recently fine-tuned the Hubble telescope, will sign autographs and answer questions, 11 a.m.-noon today. The theme for next week: Speed Week. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through March. Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Road 1, 244-2105. $11.95, adults; $8.95, children four11; free, children under four.
Don Quixote and the Knight of the Mirrors Unencumbered by norms (such as an organized theater company) and employing various forms of expression (video, puppetry, actual acting), a group of artists have come together to present the many-layered story of the chivalrous but impractical knight. Adapted and directed by Nick Cooper, with an original score by Dan (not Dana) Cooper. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday and March 28 and 29. EZ Credit Theater, 316 Main Street, 222-0443. $5.
Houston Children's Festival The venue has changed and a fence has gone up and, sadly, for the first time ever it's going to cost money to attend an event at the theater in Hermann Park. But the Children's Festival continues to offer a lot of bang for the buck, not the least of which is a night-topping fireworks display at Miller Outdoor Theatre with Garfield, Odie and a 60-piece symphony orchestra. All day, kids can make their way through 12 Big Family Adventure Zones (a zone for big adventures, that is, not a zone limited to big families) and meet Mario Andretti (!) and Chris Economaki ("The Voice of Indy") as the two host a mini-Grand Prix for kid-size race cars. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. today; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theatre, 684-6080. $3.95; free, children under three.