Giorgee Awards Without a doubt, the Ensemble Theatre claims some of the best actors in Houston, and it makes perfect sense that they should give awards to all that talent. Named for the theater's founding director, George Hawkins, the Giorgee Awards honor the best work in the theater over the past year. Join other theatergoers to sip champagne; then go to the dedication ceremony and awards show, in which winners are interviewed, Oprah-style. The oh-so-dignified but oh-so-fun evening ends with dessert and coffee. 7 p.m., The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main, 520-0055, ext. 308. $25, individual; $40, couple.
Buddhism in Daily Life: Limitless Joy & Freedom Ole Nydahl and his wife, Hannah, were the first Western students of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, known in Tibet as "the king of yogis." Since then, Lama Ole has written eight books and set up 180 meditation centers. According to his press release, he uses a "dynamic modern style" to convey the Buddha's teachings and the "unbroken transmission of the Karma Kagyu Lineage." Whatever that is. 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5200 Fannin, (281) 992-5052. $10 suggested donation.
Garrison Keillor Only the most cynical and hard-hearted can resist the charms of Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. Those gentle Lake Wobegon tales, so full of life's paradoxes! The goofy skits! The silly fake ads! Or that strange occasional moment on the show when some backwoods regional singer comes on and warbles some of the most arresting music you'll ever hear, and you feel that strange little voice has come out of your radio speaker and reached right into your chest to cleave your heart in two. Great as the radio show is, it doesn't satisfy Keillor. He writes books too, mostly about Lake Wobegon, his fictional Minnesota hometown. His latest, Wobegon Boy, is on the shelves now, and this evening he'll sign that book and maybe even speak to you in that sonorous radio voice. 6 p.m., Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.
The Dark Mirror, Picasso: Photography and Painting Picasso did more than simply paint, sculpt and draw some of the most important art of the century; he also took photos. Some he used for inspiration, some he made in collaboration with other artists and some he took solely for the sake of the photographs themselves. For the first time, these photos will be displayed together -- along with 100 paintings, drawings, prints, collages and one sculpture -- offering a chronological view of Picasso's exploration of photography and the ways he used it. The show opens today and runs thru Feb. 1; today's museum hours are 12:15-6 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $3; $1.50, seniors, children 618.
Pilgrim Days Ever wonder how folks used to celebrate Thanksgiving? After all, we've been making merry and getting stuffed since the 1600s, and things must have changed over the years. This afternoon, at Bayou Bend's Family Day program, John Keahey offers a living history presentation, Dressing for America's First Thanksgiving. Plus crafts for the kids and the usual attractions of the Hogg home and its 14 acres of woods and formal gardens. 1-5 p.m., Bayou Bend, 1 Westcott (at Memorial), 639-7759. Free.
The Jewish Holiday Baker If you're still trying to figure out how to make good challah, babka or rugelach, you can learn today from the very best. Joan Nathan, author of The Jewish Holiday Baker, will demonstrate her skills as part of a three-course luncheon at the Rice Epicurean Cooking School today. 11 a.m., Rice Epicurean Cooking School, 6425 San Felipe. $72 includes lunch. Nathan will lecture on Jewish holiday baking again tonight, 7:30 p.m., at The Wolfe Center, 6200 North Braeswood. $10 admission includes a sampling of desserts. To order tickets for either event, call 661-0034.
PhoneWorks You want to inject just a little bit of brightness, a little bit of culture, into your gray November days, but don't have money to spend, or the energy to go out and find something marvelous. Simply pick up the phone and dial PhoneWorks. You'll hear a local writer read from his or her very own work. Pimone Triplett, the writer featured this week, has published her lovely poetry in the prestigious Paris Review. And you can hear her today without all the bother and expense of locating a "literary journal." Dial 228-2882. Free.
Sebastian Junger Man Against Nature makes terrific fodder for literary ventures -- just ask Homer, Hemingway or Robert Stone. Sebastian Junger is one of the latest writers to take on the troubles we puny little people get into when we encounter the unforgiving majesty of nature. His best-selling book The Perfect Storm re-creates the last days of six men who disappeared at sea. Hear him read from this page-turning tale tonight. 7 p.m., Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.
Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion Though there are over 500,000,000 Hindus in the world, the religion remains a mystery to most Americans. But not to Dr. Stephen Huyler, who's lived and worked in Indian communities for 25 years. He's the guy behind this summer's exhibit "Painted Prayers: The Creative Identity of Women in Village India" at the Museum of Natural Science, and is co-curator of the "Pooja" exhibit currently at the Smithsonian. Tonight, he explains all to the Asia Society. Miss it, and you risk atoning for your ignorance in your next incarnation. 7 p.m. Compass BankRiver Oaks, 2001 Kirby, 439-0051. $10.