Hurricane season The rest of the world already knows, but it's taken a while for the Yanks to figure out why soccer is the number one sport on the planet. For one thing, the fast, hard-banging action never stops, and at more advanced levels the incredible athletic feats and crisp teamwork boggle the mind. Houston's premier futbol team may not be World Cup material, but the Houston Hurricanes play at a level that will impress even the average Brazilian. The 1997 season opener at Robertson Stadium features a number of new arrivals to the squad, including coach Richard Pardo, a former member of the Puerto Rican national team. Recognizing soccer's growing appeal among the younger set, the Hurricanes have dedicated their season to Houston's youth and will admit fans age 16 and under free to every home game. 8 p.m. Robertson Stadium, University of Houston (off Cullen). $7; free, 16 and under.
Wallace and Gromit: The Best of Aardman Animation Mix the best of Disney, Jay Ward and the Brothers Quay, mold it into clay and bring it to life with a British sense of humor and you've got Aardman animation. Included are two Nick Park Academy Award-winners: "A Close Shave," featuring scatter-brained inventor Wallace and Gromit, his levelheaded canine, as they unravel the mystery behind a nationwide wool shortage, and "Creature Comforts," a hilarious series of polite complaints from over-assimilated zoo animals. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. tonight and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Rice University, Rice Media Center (entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard), 527-4853. $4.50.
27th Annual Buffalo Bayou Regatta It's not just a regatta anymore, but the 14.5-mile canoe and kayak race remains the centerpiece of this downtown waterfest. For the less competitive, there's the Anything That Floats Parade, a sort-of Art Car Parade that bobs along 400 feet of murky water. What you sail is up to your imagination, but in crafting your buoyant beauty, keep the general rules of the Art Car Parade in mind: No endangering the public, and no stalling on the parade route. The festivities conclude with an awards ceremony and a party on dry land. Registration, 7:30 a.m.; regatta races, 9 a.m.; Bayou Bash, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; parade, noon. On the banks of Buffalo Bayou next to the Sabine Street Bridge, 654-8900. Bayou Bash, free; entry fees are $15-$20 per person or $250 for a corporate team.
Fotofield More fun on Buffalo Bayou's shores. The folks with the Buffalo Bayou Artpark are organizing a mass planting ... of photo art. Mount a photo on a stick, or a stake, or anything else you can jab into the ground, and plant it in the grass with scads of others. If the weather conditions are right, expect a bumper crop of Houston vistas. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Buffalo Bayou Artpark, Sabine Street Bridge at Allen Parkway, 229-9760. Free.
Bayou City Art Festival -- Memorial Park Once upon a time, this spring arts festival was called the Westheimer Art Festival. And once upon a long time ago, it was actually on Westheimer. But now it's found a home in Memorial Park. Three hundred artists will sell works amid the tall pines and permanent bathrooms of the Memorial Park Picnic Area. The festivities include a free children's area, where young'uns can learn the how-tos of painting. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Sunday. Memorial Park, Picnic Loop (south of Memorial across from the golf course). $5; free, children under 12.
1997 Yiddish Festival The ongoing festival celebrates Yiddish, especially through its use in music and films. You get a little of both today, plus local expert Howard Kuznetz will guide you through Yiddish outposts on the Internet; his presentation is followed by a panel discussion on the past, present and future of the language. The music comes in the form of a family Passover sing-along, and the film, Image Before My Eyes -- in English (the subtitles are in Yiddish) -- is a docudrama on Jewish Poland. Activities are scheduled throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, extension 3231. Today's events are free (prices vary for events on other days).
New Art from L.A. As curator of contemporary art for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Howard N. Fox knows what's hot on the L.A. art scene, and today he reveals all in a talk modestly titled "Anatomy of the World." 1 p.m. San Jacinto College South, 13735 Beamer Road, campus administration building, Room 101-N, 922-3418. Free.
Mike Sumler CD release Houston-based singer/songwriter Mike Sumler's been performing since 1969, playing in Arkansas and Texas, with bands and without, developing for himself a die-hard following among the Anderson Fair-type crowd. It seems fair, then, to call his debut CD, Rain, long-awaited. Sumler got some help on Rain from his pal Rock Romano (a.k.a. Dr. Rockit), Tommy Dar Dar, Alaina Richardson and other local lights, and those folks, plus Jack Saunders, will play along with Sumler for his release party tonight. 8:30 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $6.
Arabia Shrine Circus The circus is back in town, and before every show, you can meet the Clown Jewels, even have your picture made with one. The Shrine Circus has more than 35 clowns, Bengal tigers, the Flying Rodogels (acrobats) and the Swaying Winns (pole dancers), a human cannonball and the Russian Cossacks, whose troupe now goes by Riders of the Night, who'll ride at breakneck speed under black light. 9:30 a.m. and 12:15 and 7:30 p.m. today (see Thrills, Kids for additional showtimes). AstroArena, Kirby Drive at Loop 610, where it's always been, 2-CIRCUS or 629-3700. $10-$12; free, children two and under.