Press Picks

thursday
may 15
Erik Estrada Yes, CHiPs fans, Ponch is back. He's traded in his Kawasaki and police baton for the suave silken bathrobes of the Mexican telenovela Dos Mujeres, Un Camino. And to celebrate his return to the fringes of celebrity, he's written a tell-all, My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. Tonight, as he signs your copy, you can ask those burning questions about life as a '70s beefcake, fights on the set of CHiPs, his near-death experience and what his former co-hunk Larry Wilcox is doing now. 7 p.m. Borders Books, Music & Cafe, 12788 Fountain Lake Circle, Stafford, (281) 240-6666. Schmoozing is free; the hardback is $22.

Sonny Throckmorton Songwriters Festival Sonny Throckmorton -- the songwriter responsible for the Judds' "Why Not Me?" and a slew of other country hits -- hosts this annual gathering for aspiring hit machines. The seminars and workshops will be led by impressive pals of Throckmorton's, people such as Gretchen Peters, author of Martina McBride's "Independence Day" and "My Baby Loves Me." But with showcase bands such as the Harry Fish String Band and the Hollisters, trainees might find themselves too busy dancing to take notes. Through Sunday. Brazos Bottom Bar & Grill, 7010 FM 762, Richmond, 781-5182. $10 daily; $25, festival pass.

friday
may 16
Greek Festival Need to release some stress? Want to see thin, fragile discs hit hard concrete and shatter into a thousand tiny pieces? Watch local notables indulge these destructive impulses at the St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church Festival's Grand Opening Plate Breaking Ceremony. If they clean their plates of authentic gyros and baklava, they get to smash them with a happy dance and yell "Opa!" Those without Greek heritage are highly encouraged to attend. After all, event coordinators admit, plate-breaking is "an American thing." Festival opens at 10 a.m. with food, dancing, face-painting, moonwalking, games and performances. Plate-breaking at 11 a.m. 915 Eldridge. 866-8883. $2.

World's Largest Movie Theater With 112,000 square feet, 30 wall-to-wall screens, stadium seating with extra legroom and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, the spanking-new AMC Studio 30 claims the record. You can be among the first to worship at this temple of mass media commercialization: Tonight's "sneak-a-peek" lets you check out not just the theater but 30 flicks ranging from Mission: Impossible to Fargo. Remember, being first is almost as important as being biggest. 6-10 p.m. AMC Studio 30, 2949 Dunvale between Westheimer and Richmond. Call KRBE at 266-1000 for more information on the preview. $.25 -- yes, that's 25 cents.

Student Sale at the Glassell School of Art Through Sunday, the Glassell's professional-level Studio School will offer for sale its artists' best paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry -- stuff that's much more likely to appreciate in value than those flowery watercolors you'd buy at the Holiday Inn's starving artist blowout. 5-8 p.m today. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 639-7500. Free admission.

Houston Met Spring Concert From the ashes of the Delia Stewart Dance Company, Michelle Smith and Dorrell Martin have resurrected the Houston Met. Delia's traditional jazz is mixed with ballet and modern dance, and dancers are picked for their capacity to "emote" rather than for toothpick legs. The Spring Concert features playful, energetic and comedic pieces by nine choreographers who hail from as near as HSPVA and as far as Chicago. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Family Performance 7 p.m. Sunday. Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin at Holman, 522-6375. $5-$15.

String Cheese Incident The Rocky Mountain ski bums of String Cheese Incident are said to make serious use of hula hoops and describe their music as "funkalatino-Afrojazzadelic bluegrass." Think Satellite favorite Leftover Salmon, only less Cajun and more Latin. Best of all, SCI opens for the perennially wacky Banana Blender Surprise. 9 p.m. Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Ave., 869-COOL. $6.

saturday
may 17
Texas Lesbian Conference Rednecks, conservatives and impressionable children, run for your strait-laced lives! Hundreds of lesbians converge on one hotel to celebrate their visibility and empowerment. The weekend-long tenth anniversary conference has everything from inspirational speakers (such as discharged military nurse Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer) to playshops on hot sex in the '90s ("You'll never look at fruit the same way again!"). Tonight, comedienne Lea DeLaria performs bits from her CD, Bull Dyke in a China Closet, and the Dallas band II Girls, II Guitars, II Much rocks same-sex couples into the wee hours of morning. 7 p.m. Renaissance Houston Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East. $15 for tonight's entertainment. $70, conference registration; $55, hard times discount. Call 867-3934 for more information.

Boozoo Chavis The official "King of Zydeco," as elected by the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, heads an afternoon of down and dirty, hot and sweaty, homegrown musical treats with performances of chanky-chank music by Peggy Scott Adams, Patrick Green, J. Paul Jr., Geno Delafose and Brian Jack. Boozoo, a 67-year-old accordion-wielding Louisiana native, wrote zydeco's first hit single in 1954: Paper in My Shoe. His inspiration? "My feet were cold," he explains. "Didn't have no socks or none of that ...." 2 p.m. Crosby Fairground, FM 2100 Crosby-Lynchburg Rd. in Crosby, (281) 530-9843. $15 pre-event, $18 at the gate, $6 kids under 12.

The Great Monopoly ChallengeThis regulated two-round Parker Brothers tournament is not child's play, so brush up on your money-mongering. (Does Donald Trump have a motivational video? Now's the time to find out.) Top winners can exchange their play money for real trips or jewelry. Arrive early so you can call dibs on the silver car game piece and cruise stylishly past jail and onto Boardwalk. A light dinner will be served before the games begin, and all proceeds go to the Jewish Community Center's special-needs programs for the physically and mentally challenged. 6 p.m. The Houstonian Club, 111 N. Post Oak Lane. Sponsor a table of four to six players for $500 or come alone for $50. Call 729-3200 for information.

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