Press Picks

thursday
april 10
Makeup artist to the stars Laura Mercier, crafter of mama Madonna's look du jour, is in town to spread a little Evita-style glamour. Today and tomorrow, the artiste (whose clientele also includes Lisa Marie Presley and Isabella Rossellini) will command a team of cosmeticians offering free makeup consultations. At the Neiman Marcus counter selling Mercier's line, Classique. (Classique, by the way, is based right here in Houston.) 11 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Friday. Neiman Marcus, the Galleria, 2600 Post Oak Boulevard, 621-7100. Free; reservations required.

Makeup artists for the city Houston's image is the topic du jour for today's Downtown Houston Association luncheon. To discuss "Perception vs. Reality," the association has lined up a panel that includes Elyse Lanier (Mrs. Mayor, and head of the Image Group), Tim Relyea (Cushman Realty), Eddie Webster (Greater Houston Convention and Visitors' Bureau) and Luli Heras (Greater Houston Partnership, economic development). Bill Balleza moderates, lest the praise of our fair city (make that "our world-class city") gets out of hand. 11:30 a.m. Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar, 658-8938. $45.

MFA spring clearance The Museum of Fine Arts is clearing out its leftovers. Not the Egyptian stuff -- that's been packed up and shipped home -- but rather nifty items from the MFA Stores, including handmade jewelry, toys, contemporary products and tribal artifacts. Thousands of items are on sale for as much as 75 percent off, and the bargains include even those sweet terra cotta frogs that look like pygmy hedgehogs. Noon-9 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. No admission to get into the stores.

The Honeydogs The boys in this Minneapolis quartet are a long way from home, but then, they usually are. The Levy brothers (Adam and Noah), Trent Norton and Tommy Borscheid tour zealously, tightening their twang-free alt-country pop act at every stop. They've pumped their Americana sound into two CDs -- a self-titled debut in 1995 and the recent follow-up, Everything, I Bet You. They've also eked out time for side projects; most notably, Noah Levy was Golden Smog's drummer (recording Down by the Old Mainstream with players from Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks, Wilco and Run Westy Run). 9 p.m. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, 869-COOL. $5.

The Uninvited: Dance and dinner at DiverseWorks You are invited to eat, but not to dance. That activity is left to a pair of choreographing sisters who call themselves 33 Fainting Spells (after the number of fainting spells they counted in several Chekhov plays). Have a few cocktails; witness Dayna and Gaelen Hanson's dance-theater piece The Uninvited, which has been described as "terrifying" in the Hitchcock sense of the word; then, if your stomach's up to it, nosh on food provided by DaCapo's Cafe. 7 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. $75. (Performances sans dinner are scheduled for Friday and Saturday; call 228-0914 for tickets, which are $15.)

friday
april 11
La Boheme The New York City Opera brings Puccini's classic to the island city, thus capping the Grand 1894 Opera House's 1996-97 performing arts season. La Boheme is one of the most familiar and pleasing operas around. In it, four poor but spirited Parisians share the best and worst that life has to offer. 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $14.50-$53.

No Boundaries Zocalo Theater unleashes six local artists for two nights of dance/performance in which there are no boundaries -- save, perhaps, gravity and the imagination. Amanda Knox journeys through scaffolding using a sound collage; Sophia Torres presents a new work created and designed with a suspended tire; Sandy Marcello introduces short performance visuals and wig sightings; and that's only half the show. Even Zocalo says to "expect the unexpected." 8:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 802-2516. $7.

EDS Track Cup This cycling series attracts the best in the U.S., so naturally the competition is intense. Along with bragging rights, a hefty hunk of prize money's on the line: $6,000 divvied up among the top finishers. Mainly, though, these world-class athletes are in our world-class city to promote their sport, and to dazzle spectators with speeds sometimes reaching 45 miles per hour. Of the 12 events this weekend -- five men's, four women's, three team -- the keirin, which starts with racers drafting behind a motorcycle and ends with a high-speed sprint, sounds the most purely entertaining. (Those wild 'n' crazy Japanese wager on keirin like we bet on greyhounds.) Everybody who's anybody in cycling will be here, including current world keirin champ and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Marty Nothstein. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 7:30-10:30 p.m. today and Saturday; 10 a.m.-noon and 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (keirin day!). Alkek Velodrome, 19008 Saums Road, (281) 578-0693. Free for spectators.

Aeros' last stand The Aeros have made it into the playoffs, barely, and are now fighting to hold onto home-ice advantage -- a battle they've been waging on the road, thanks to a schedule slight on home games. They're back in the Summit tonight, though, for the last regular-season home game, and are out to slay the big, bad San Antonio Dragons, the most penalized team in the league. Tonight's also fan appreciation night, with giveaways galore. Both teams conclude their seasons Saturday night, when the matchup switches to San Antonio. 7 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-AERO. $7-$40.

saturday
april 12
Enron Earth Day Festival Come celebrate glorious Mother Earth by perusing booths set up by Keep Houston Beautiful, the Sierra Club and such. After you've collected all the brochures on conserving, preserving and beautifying the planet, dispose of them in the appropriate recycling bin and find a spot on the lawn to enjoy the real point of this Earth Day gathering: music. Houston's own Beat Temple kicks the party off at 10:30 a.m., followed by R&B chart-topper Erykah Badu, Wang Chung, the Barenaked Ladies (!) and Toad the Wet Sprocket. (Listen up, fans of the Barenaked Ladies: It may be tradition, but it's not in the spirit of conservation to throw boxes of macaroni dinners at the band.) Funny gal Sheila Rivera fills in the gaps on-stage, and kiddies get their due, too, with a moonwalk, a Velcro wall, a bungee swing and a chance to mark up a giant coloring book. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Buffalo Bayou Park, west of downtown between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive, 266-1000. $6; free, children under 12.

Commerce Street Art Warehouse benefit gala First it was lights at Wrigley Field; now it's air conditioning at Commerce Street Art Warehouse. Yes, it's true, the nonprofit art space -- home of 20 artists and a regular venue for Infernal Bridegroom Productions, SonicWorks and more -- lusts after modern amenities such as A/C, heating and an improved electrical system. The catch, of course, is money. Drop a few bucks their way tonight, and they'll reward you with visual art and performances by IBP players, DaDa Net Circus, eMCee, the Houston Underground Players, the Mushroom Tribe, Sirrom Caravan and more. A silent auction (with offerings from the Art Guys, Jim and Missy Pirtle, Kelli Kelly, the resident artists and others) starts at 9 p.m., with the fun going strong till 2 a.m. Commerce Street Art Warehouse, 2315 Commerce Street, 224-0872. $10; $8, students.

Montgomery and Stritch -- Seems Like Old Times Tonight, the concert stage in the woods becomes a cabaret room, a la the Algonquin Hotel, an oddly intimate setting for the reunion of singer Sharon Montgomery and singer/pianist Billy Stritch. Montgomery is a local gal; Stritch has left her and his native Sugar Land for the bright lights of New York City. For this night of sophisticated entertainment, seating is on the stage, and waiters make passes between tables hawking not beer in paper cups but wine and dishes catered by Carrabba's. 7 and 9 p.m. today; 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, (281) 363-3300. $35.

Takin' It to the Streets "Takin' It off the Streets ... and to the Stage" might well have been the name of this high-energy dance program for youngsters and their families. The members of the dance troupe Koro will do a bit en pointe and to classical music, but they do it in high-top sneakers. The bulk of this program covers break dancing, hip-hop and the street styles of Brazil, New York and Chicago. 11 a.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 100 Concert Drive, 520-9267. Free.

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild This new IMAX feature takes us to a part of the world barely tainted by man, mainly because it's a part of the world not conducive to man's creature comforts. Except, that is, as seen from the comfort of an IMAX theater. Take a seat and watch as Alaskan salmon travel 10,000 miles across the Pacific to certain death; see Alaskan brown bears struggle to pack on an extra 300 pounds to make it through hibernation; and squirm as polar bears scarf seals. It's reality, but it's not all harsh; this film also captures the aurora borealis lighting the frigid, dark skies. 10 a.m., then every hour on the hour. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, 639-IMAX. $5.50.

sunday
april 13
Funday in the Park Funday Sundays are back. Max the Squirrel and his cohorts kick off a long season of city-sponsored family fun in neighborhood parks with the usual games and rides (think school carnival with corporate sponsorship). Plus there's music, today compliments of Alma Tejana and Destino. This is just the first of 27 weeks of Funday activities; check with Max at 7-FUNDAY to see when he'll be at a park near you. 1-6 p.m. Guadalupe Plaza park, 2311 Runnels, 7-FUNDAY. Free.

PoloFest Polo season opens in Houston today with a My Fair Lady-themed festival. The couple best dressed in the style of that movie's "black and white" Ascot scene will walk away with a prize. Horace the horse groom, who's said to have a way with crafting horse balloon animals, will wander the grounds with other period characters. Spectators are allowed to play a special game of croquet -- one that uses polo mallets and balls. Plus, they can snack on crumpets and Pimm's Cup (the famed English polo drink, dontcha know). And then there's the traditional divot stomp at the game's halftime. Oh, and there is actually a game: the USPA's Governor's Cup, which goes on for six chukkers (that's playing periods to the uninitiated). 3 p.m. Houston Polo Club, 8552 Memorial Drive, 622-7300. $15; free, children 12 and under.

The oldest ethnic festival around The Sts. Cyril & Methodius Slavic Heritage Festival, the elder statesman of ethnic festivals in Houston, honors a whopping two saints and five nationalities (Croatian, Czech, Polish, Slovenian and Ukrainian). The day starts traditionally, with Mass at 10 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies with the presentation of flags, the singing of each national anthem and the announcement of five princesses. Past that, the festival takes on the familiar pattern of food (pierogis, sausages, pastries and such), music, dancing and cultural displays. 11 a.m. University of St. Thomas, Jerabeck Center, Yoakum at West Alabama, 529-1616. $3; free, children under 12.

monday
april 14
An Evening of 12-Step Humor If you're a fan of dry humor -- we're not talking Bob Newhart -- then call the baby sitter and gas up the car. Mark Lundholm presents a night of comedy for the chemically challenged, a program aimed at those who've been to hell and back with drugs and alcohol and are ready to laugh at the in-jokes. Lundholm was the first non-alumnus invited to entertain at the Betty Ford Center Annual Alumni Reunion -- an honor that shows how funny he is, since the establishment boasts an amazing roster of talented graduates. 8 p.m. Spellbinders, 10001 Westheimer (in the Carillon Center), 266-2525. $10.

tuesday
april 15
Mini-medical school Tonight kicks off five mini-lessons on health and medicine. You won't earn a medical degree or the six-figure salaries such a degree commands, but you will leave with a better understanding of why you ought to eat right and exercise, and what's involved in genetic testing. Future topics cover migraines, plastic surgery and aging. 6:30-9 p.m. Museum of Health and Medical Science, 1515 Hermann Drive, 521-1515. $15; $25 per couple; $10, seniors & students.

Meet Michael Ondaatje What a coup for the Houston Reading Series: Tonight's reading is by Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient. He wrote the Booker Prize-winning story in 1992, and it became the best movie of 1996, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He's written more, including his memoirs, a couple of novels and two collections of poetry. 7:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 743-3014. $5; free, seniors and students.

wednesday
april 16
Six Degrees of Separation Not the Kevin Bacon version -- that's an Internet game for bored college students. Here, a young black man claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son ingratiates himself into the lives of a wealthy New York couple. He's not who he says he is, and as the plot unfolds, all comes to light -- as do the threads of chance that link one person to another. 7:30 p.m. Through May 18 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Boulevard, 524-6706. $5, preview tickets.

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