Press Picks

1997 Houston Highland Games and Scottish Festival Sure, Scottish men sometimes dress up in skirts, but lest festivalgoers think them sissies, they're putting on a show of strength, tossing sheaves, cabers, hammers and rocks as their Highland ancestors did. (Tossing smart alecks who tease them about their garb isn't part of the competition, just extra credit.) The games continue with bagpipe and drumming competitions and children's games; the festival action includes whiskey tastings, dancing and workshops on genealogy and Robert Burns. Babe fans (and who isn't?) will want to catch the sheepherding exhibition. Gates open at 10 a.m. Houston Farm and Ranch Club, 1 Abercrombie Road (off Highway 6 near I-10), 871-0061. $7; $5, seniors and teens; free, children 11 and under.

Townes Recalled It's been more than four months since Townes Van Zandt passed away, and people are still gathering to remember him and his songs. We should all be so lucky when we go to that great concert hall in the sky. Even in light of the cascade of Townes tributes, though, tonight's event promises to be special. It'll include not only musicians who admired Van Zandt, but also those who knew him from his earliest days as a performer as well as family and close friends. An exhibit of Van Zandt photos gathered from his compatriots will be on display, as will rare videos of Van Zandt performances. Mix in music from the likes of Linda Lowe, Eric Taylor and Bill Cade, and you have a sendoff that Townes himself probably wouldn't have minded attending. All proceeds go to Van Zandt's family, while copies of the photos will be donated to the University of Texas's archives. Presented by Writers in the Round. 8 p.m. Hamman Hall, Rice University, entrance 14 off Rice Boulevard, 664-7331. $15 advance tickets, $20 at door; $10, students; children two and under free.

CAM Community Open House Mayor Bob and wife Elyse will cut the ribbon on the new and improved Contemporary Arts Museum, welcoming the facility back after a four-month, $2 million facelift. One improvement is that Starbucks now sells coffee in the Education Resource Room. The exhibitions for this grand shindig are "Finders/Keepers" upstairs and "Yasumasa Morimura: Actor/Actresses" in the three times larger Perspectives gallery downstairs. The Art Guys and the Balloon King will create art on the spot, and the HSPVA Jazz Ensemble will provide mood music. Noon-5 p.m. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, 284-8250. Free.

may 11
Jewels of the Romanovs Are they coming or aren't they? As of our deadline, they were: 250 or so objects from five major Russian collections, including the priceless Romanov Dynasty jewels. That's 115 jewels and uncut gemstones, the sort of stuff that's usually kept under tight security in a special gallery beneath the Kremlin Armory. One piece, a gothic-style bracelet circa 1800, contains a 27-carat diamond -- the largest table-cut diamond in the world. Costumes, paintings, icons and religious artifacts round out the show. Besides the opening, today is also Family Day, with drop-in art workshops and a performance by Uzori, a Russian folk dance ensemble, at 2:30 p.m. Museum hours are 12:15-6 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $6; $5, seniors; $3, children ages six-18; free, children five and under.

may 12
Fourth Annual Fox 26 Food Drive The Houston Food Bank reaps the benefits of this food drive, a joint project of the television station and the National Association of Letter Carriers. From 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fox news anchors and Sunny 99.1 DJs will meet and greet passersby, collecting non-perishable goods and doling out freebies. Don't get the idea that the letter carriers are slacking off, because by today the postmen have already done their part: On Saturday, the other men in blue scooped up food donations left by residents at their mailboxes, bundles they'll deliver today -- no postage due -- to be sorted and added to the donations made at the site. FOX 26 parking lot, 3935 Westheimer, 626-2676.

Library recalls cards Fort Bend County librarians want to borrow from their patrons: In celebration of the library's 50th anniversary today, they're seeking Fort Bend County library cards, old ones dating perhaps as far back as May 12, 1947. The owner of the oldest card will receive a gift and special recognition. But it's anyone's guess what happens to the person guilty of the biggest overdue fine. George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview, Richmond, (281) 341-2677.

may 13
Great American Taste Fest Local restaurateurs know that eating high-fat, low-fiber food can be fun, but can really sock it to your health. Today, those chefs atone for the damage their creations have done to their patrons' health by cooking cancer-fighting dishes. Guests at this "Laugh-In" themed benefit for the American Cancer Society benefit include Rob "Danger Boy" Johnson from Channel 2 and Sam Malone from KRBE. 6:30-9 p.m. Edwin Hornberger Conference Center, 2151 West Holcombe, 266-2877. $45; $80 per couple.

may 14
Love! Valour! Compassion! The Alley Theatre moves from The Greeks forward into the 20th century. Love! Valour! Compassion! is standard Terrence McNally fare, with eight gay men sharing a summer house over three holiday weekends. They joke, bitch, love and contemplate reasons for being. Michael Wilson directs. 7:30 p.m. Through June 1 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). The Alley Theatre, Neuhaus Arena Stage, 615 Texas Avenue, 228-8421. $35-$37.

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