Press Picks

Black Skimmer Open House Usually, these rare seabirds nest at wild waterfront properties such as sandbars and oyster-reef outcroppings. But in 1968, a colony settled at a crushed-shell parking lot at the Dow Chemical Company complex in Freeport -- and, supported by Dow volunteers, they thrived there. This morning, you're invited to check out this unlikely nature preserve. Keep an eye out for baby skimmers; they're the gray downy ones. 9 a.m.-noon. To reach Dow's Plant A, follow S.H. 288/332 through Lake Jackson and Clute toward Surfside. Stay on S.H. 332 and turn right at the light onto F.M. 523. After crossing the Dow barge canal, turn left at the light. For more information, call Pat Kuchar at (409) 238-9610. Free.

Success 1997 Hey, you. Yeah, you. Are you rich yet? Have you achieved everything you ever dreamed of? Do you live every moment to its absolute fullest? Well, dammit, it's your own fault. But help is on the way: The top -- absolute TOP -- motivational speakers in America promise to propel you off your flabby duff and instill in you a can-do, go-get-'em attitude that will revolutionize your life. An all-star lineup -- including Zig Ziglar, Peter Lowe, Elizabeth Dole, Larry King, Christopher Reeve, Colin Powell and Hakeem Olajuwon -- will mouth platitudes live and in person. 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. $225 at the door; $69-$89 if ordered ahead of time by telephone, (800)689-6961. Check your ironic detachment at the entrance

Bayou Bash The ninth annual Louisiana-style festival includes performances by Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, the Lee Benoit Cajun Band, Rockin' Sydney Simien and headliner Joe "King" Carrasco. Besides the usual festival accouterments -- arts 'n' crafts, a caricature artist, face-painting -- you can also expect food of varying Cajun authenticity: boiled crawfish, jambalaya, fried alligator, pork kabobs and those inescapable "bloomin' " onions. 2-10 p.m. The Astrohall, 8400 Kirby. $4; children 12 and under free if accompanied by an adult.

Steeleye Span Given the global spread of Celtic folk-rock, the idea of tracing the form's roots back to its genesis might seem a futile exercise. But like Adam and Eve, a pair of English bands hold title to the music, and one of them, Steeleye Span, is still layering electrons on traditional material almost three decades later. Though a couple of original members have moved along, the band is still fronted by the indomitable Maddy Prior, one of the brightest voices in music, period. She's joined by founding member Gay Woods, whose recent return to Steeleye gives the band a one-two women's vocal punch that Don King would admire. They and their rollicking cohorts prove once again that life actually begins at 200. Joining Steeleye Span at the Second Annual Midsummer Festival are several local Span spawn, with plenty of grog to quaff and other appropriate diversions available. At Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065. Doors open at 4 p.m.; Steeleye performs at 8:30. $14.

Blunt Masta Classic "Strictly for your vibin' pleasure," deejays such as MC Kool B, DJ Prince Ra and DJ Ben-Ha-Meen (all the way from D.C.) will spin acid jazz, spoken word, hip-hop, roots, jungle and house music. Plus fashion shows of urban gear and "natural" hairstyles -- braids, twists and locks. 9 p.m.dawn. Waxx Museum, 1601 Leeland, 650-5799. $10, 21 and over only.

sunday
june 22
Clifton Chenier Zydeco Tribute "The King of Zydeco" died almost a decade ago, but his music lives on in hard-rocking, Grammy-winning recordings -- and in this annual tribute. Mary Thomas, Clifton's sister and host of KPFT's zydeco show, hosts this afternoon celebration, and Leo Thomas and his Louisiana Zydeco Band provide the necessary dance music. 5-9 p.m. Shakespeare Pub, 14129 Memorial Drive, (281)497-4625. $5 cover charge includes a barbecue dinner.

monday
june 23
Kim Coles If you like the babe-licious actress as Synclaire on Living Single, you'll also like her new book, I'm Free But It'll Cost You: The Single Life According to Kim Coles. Her advice to the lovelorn cries out for a Fox Network laugh track. Want to get rid of a guy without hurting his feelings? Coles suggests these lines: 1) "I think personal hygiene is overrated." 2) "Would you like to buy a Watchtower?" 3) "I'll be right back; I have to change my tampon." Coles will deliver other such insights and sign books 6-8 p.m. at Nia Gallery and Bookshop, 7725 W. Bellfort, 729-8400. Basking in Coles's presence is free; the hardback costs $18.95.

Bharati Mukherjee Perhaps you've read Mukherjee's The Middleman and Other Stories, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; or maybe her novel Jasmine, about a young Indian woman's grappling with scary American freedoms. Tonight Mukherjee reads from her new novel, Leave It to Me. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. Basking in the glow of high literature is free; the hardback costs $23.

tuesday
june 24
Two-for-one spaying "In heat" can be taken literally: Summer is peak breeding season for dogs and cats. To combat pet overpopulation, every Tuesday through July, the Fund for Animals Spay & Neuter Clinic will desex two of your beasts for the price of one. Operations for two male cats will cost a mere $15; for two females, $25. Two male dogs, $25; two females, $30. 1603 Shepherd Drive. To make an appointment, call 863-0010.

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