Sinuosity and Elite Syncopations Ballet promoters tout these free, outdoor performances as a chance for non-balletgoers to discover that there's more to the art than women in tutus pretending to be swans. (I'll say -- like young men leaping about in tights, muscles bulging....) For balletomanes, the performances offer a chance to dress down and guzzle wine while the dancers dance. The program includes Sean Kelly's neoclassical Sinuosity, in which 15 dancers flow and groove to the music of Enya, and Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Elite Syncopations, in which 13 dancers let their hair down for dizzying, New Orleans-flavored jubilation. 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 100 Concert Drive, 520-3290. Free.
Night of Reckoning That's what you get when you see Sling Blade, har har. It's also the theme for a Dead Reckoning records showcase at Rockefeller's tonight. The Dead Reckoners are Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, Mike Henderson, Harry Stinson and Tammy Rogers, solid musicians all who, two years back, said "no more" to the Nashville machine, started their own label and have since been making cool country music -- a sound camped in the canyon separating commercial country and rough-drivin' alt country. New Reckoners Fats Kaplan and Alison Prestwood are along for the ride as well. 8 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Avenue, 869-TICS. $15.50.
Birthday from Hell Another chapter unfolds in the Fertle clan's continuing saga: Bridgette Fertle is turning 40, gracelessly -- she's got a bad attitude about aging and a worse attitude about no one remembering that it's her birthday. Earl Fertle's too busy with his induction into the High Order of the Little Baby Owls, and Mama Fertle is convinced she's just encountered her late husband Ned. As folks in the audience wait to see if Bridgette gets what's coming to her, they can celebrate the new and improved facilities at Radio Music Theatre: tiered seating, upgraded lighting and better sound. Opens at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Through August 30 (see Thrills, Comedy for additional showtimes). Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. $14.
Draw your mom Today, Randalls invites kiddies to submit drawings of their moms. At each store, winners in three age groups will take home a gift basket of Mother's Day goodies. And if your kiddo's not a winner, he or she can return to concoct an alternate gift: From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday or 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, kids can decorate a cake or pull together a flower arrangement with their own little fingers. All 52 Houston-area Randalls stores are participating.
Four Million Houseguests The new IMAX 3-D movie at Moody Gardens follows 11-year-old Elly as she explores her eccentric grandfather's house. The houseguests she meets are not cockroaches, fortunately; they are the residents of the microscopic world reflected on a screen that's six stories tall. The fanciful score accompanying this flick is by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins (Remains of the Day, Howards End), and James Garner provides the grandfather's voice. Showtimes are 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. today (see Thrills, IMAX for additional showtimes). Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. $6.
Texas Country Roots Texas's Don Walser yodels in one of the finest rooms in town tonight. The equally legendary Johnny Gimble, Don Edwards and Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery join him to play the Western swing music they popularized back in the heyday of Bob Wills. Presented by Texas Folklife Resources. 7:30 p.m. Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $20-$30. (Prior to the performance, Gimble and his son Dick Gimble will teach a master class at Sand Mountain Music, 3624 Washington Avenue, 228-2532.)
An Evening of Waltzes In its final performance this season, the Galveston Symphony Orchestra will trot out Johann Strauss's Viennese waltzes -- "Blue Danube," "Roses from the South" -- as well as his "Thunder and Lightning Polka." Patrons don't have to sit back with their hands folded in their laps, though; this gig is in a ballroom, so folks can groove to the tunes. It's a night of classical entertainment without snobbery: The liberal dress code welcomes ball gowns and casual duds with equal zeal. 8 p.m. Davidson Ballroom (across from the Tremont House), 2300 Ship's Mechanic Row, Galveston,
(800) 821-1894. $15; $12, seniors and students.
Diez de Mayo Folk-art purveyor Macario Ramirez suggests that it's time for all Americans to consider the culture behind Cinco de Mayo, and he's not talking about swapping margarita recipes. To help such explorations, his Casa Ramirez gallery is exhibiting essays written by HCC students about the influence of Hispanic elders in their lives, accompanied by the gooey photographs Agapito Sanchez took of the essay subjects. Ramirez's business acumen is as sharp as his intentions: He scheduled his art reception for long after the Cinco de Mayo parties have blown over. Opening reception, noon-4:30 p.m. Through May 18. Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery, 239 West 19th Street, 880-2420. Free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.