Press Picks

thursday
may 22
An Intimate Evening with Maya Angelou Maya Angelou -- national poet laureate, actress, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and civil rights activist -- brings her beautiful words and booming voice to Houston in support of the National Kidney Foundation. 7:30 p.m. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). 743-5186. For tickets, call 629-3700. $50, $75, $150, $250.

friday
may 23
Special Olympics On the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bob, wife Elyse and former Cowboys coach Tom Landry will be waiting for the 700 hot and sweaty law enforcement officers completing the torch run from towns across the state. But there won't be much time for welcoming niceties: From City Hall, the officers have to run to the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium for a torch-lighting ceremony with former UH track star and Olympian Carl Lewis. The torch run passes City Hall at noon; opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. at Robertson Stadium, UH entrance 15 off Cullen Boulevard. Athletic events -- including aquatics, cycling, gymnastics and more -- will take place at UH, Rice University, Yates High School and other locations around town. Competition runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Saturday; 8 a.m.-noon Sunday. Call (281) 587-6866 for a schedule and more information. All events are free.

The Diary of Anne Frank The A.D. Players have extended the run of this play based on the classic book. In case you somehow don't know the plot already: Anne, a young Jewish girl, comes of age while hiding from the Nazis. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Grace Theater, 2710 West Alabama, 526-2721. $17$19. Not recommended for children five or younger.

saturday
may 24
Just For(e) Play Comedy group Just For Play debuts with a shameless celebration of pubescent humor. Their antics include sketches with names such as" 'Drag' Net" and "Men Are from Heaven, Women Are from Hell"; one performance is proudly likened to Meg Ryan's famous fake in When Harry Met Sally. Still not sure whether the show is for you? Consider this sample: A pseudo-ad touts "NicoSperm Gum" -- for a three-second orgasm when you don't have time for the messy real thing. 11 p.m. Cleo's Comedy Players, 3722 Washington, 776-0248. $8 in advance; $12 at the door.

Third Ward Blues Four of America's greatest bluesmen -- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the late Albert Collins, Johnny Clyde Copeland and Joe "Guitar" Hughes -- grew up within a couple of blocks of each other in the Third Ward. Up-and-coming filmmaker Heather Korb documents Houston's blues heritage with performance footage from the four and candid conversations about their relationships to music and each other. The premiere will be followed by a performance by Joe "Guitar" Hughes at the Velvet Elvis.8 p.m. Rice University, Rice Media Center (entrance no. 8 off University), 572-4882. Free.

Robot Zoo No one has ever seen a giant squid alive, but the Robot Zoo engineers have created the beast's machinated double. Yes, kids of all ages, you can drive this squid by jiggering the "nerves" and "muscles" that control its expulsion of water, and you can maneuver the 18-foot tentacles to capture a fish. The gigantic robotic fly climbs walls -- and you can too, with your own Velcro hand and knee pads. And that's just the beginning: The mechanical bestiary also includes a chameleon, rhinoceros, platypus, giraffe, bat and grasshopper. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Through Labor Day at the Space Center Plaza, 1601 NASA Road 1, (281) 244-2105. $11.95, adults; $8.95, kids four-11; free for children under four.

From Death to Birth You got questions? Dr. Pandit Tigunait has answers. But save the simple stuff like "Will I ever meet Mr. Right?" for the phone psychics. This disciple of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas cuts right to the metaphysical chase in his all-day workshop with "previously undisclosed" answers to questions such as "Why do we exist?" and "What will happen to us after we die?" 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Yoga Center of Houston, 2438-A South Boulevard. Call (800) 253-6243 to register. $109 in advance; $129 at the door.

Balalaika Society Folk Concert A balalaika is basically a Russian mandolin with a triangular body and three strings. (I had to ask.) You can see a slew of them and hear them played at the society's concert featuring Moscow Conservatory-educated Evgeny Tsygankov. The Caravan will sing gypsy tunes, and the Uzori Russian Folk Dance Ensemble will perform comic skits about a problem that crosses all cultural boundaries: relationships between men and women. 7:30 p.m. Rice University, Hamman Hall (entrance no. 14). For more information, call 937-6227. $12.

sunday
may 25
Bay Area Exotic Cage Bird Fair If your parakeet prattles or your cockatiel does cartwheels, this is the place to show off your pride and joy. Over a thousand of our fine-feathered friends, ranging from the littlest society finch to the most expensive macaw, will be displayed or sold. But be forewarned: The birdie talent show will be full of tough competition. Last year, top honors were taken by a couture-wearing cockatoo. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. $6 to enter Moody Gardens; $2 to see the bird show. For information on exhibiting your winged wonder, call Tom Stuart, (281) 337-2448.

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