Press Picks

thursday
january 1
YMCA league sports Okay, this is it: the first day of the new year, and the first day (so the old adage has it) of the rest of your life. It's time to shape up -- literally. So what if you went and ate and caroused and made general mayhem over the holidays, and now you feel hugely fat and utterly dull? You just need to get up and moving. How to get motivated? The YMCA, ever interested in your good health, has a fabulous answer: Sign up today for league volleyball or basketball. With eight different co-ed leagues to choose from, and an all-women's team in both sports, you're bound to find a group of athletes whose abilities match your own. 5 a.m.-10 p.m., Downtown YMCA, 1600 Louisiana, 659-8501. $20-$40 per person, depending on which league you join.

friday
january 2
Civil War on the Island A quick question for all you Civil War buffs: What major Southern port was the only one still in Confederate hands at the end of the War Between the States? Why, it was Galveston, of course. We owe this piece of history to General John B. Magruder and his troops, who on January 1, 1863, defeated Union forces occupying Galveston in the Battle of -- now here's a hard one -- Galveston. Today, tomorrow and Sunday, the Galveston Historical Foundation will commemorate this battle, which was fought on the city's waterfront, with a series of community-wide events. See the dedication and unveiling of a Texas Historical Commission monument; or if that sounds just too banal, wait until later and show up for the opening reception for a new show titled "Galveston, the Civil War Years" at the Historical Museum. Later in the weekend, hear roundtable discussions on the Civil War; take a harbor tour or walking tour of battle sites; or visit a Civil War Book Market, among other activities. 5 p.m., unveiling and dedication of monument at the 1858 Customs House, 20th Street at Postoffice Road; 5:30 p.m., opening reception at the Galveston County Historical Museum, 2219 Market. Call (409) 765-7834 for more information. Today's events are free, though several other events this weekend charge admission fees.

Crystal Gayle I can't help it. I always call her the Don't-It-Make-My-Brown-Eyes-Blue girl. Though she's hardly a girl anymore (her signature song came out in the '70s), with all that hair she still sort of looks like one. Tonight's audience will surely hear "Don't It Make...," as well as other favorites such as "Talking in Your Sleep" and "I've Cried (the Blue Right Out of My Eyes)." But tonight's performance isn't purely a re-creation of the past: For starters, in the past she wasn't fronting a whole classically trained orchestra. This weekend, Gayle joins the Houston SymphonyExxon Pops for three appearances. 8 p.m., tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m., Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $19-$59.

Vallejo The Vallejo brothers were born in the small town of Wharton, Texas, and then they moved to slightly larger Birmingham, Alabama, where they grew up listening to the Tijuana Brass and Santana. After pushing the musical envelope as far as they could in Birmingham, they decided to move to Austin, where over the last couple of years they've been developing their own sound, which has been described as a fusion of Latin rhythms and culture with music that owes much to Jane's Addiction and Aerosmith. Sonnier Brothers open at 9:30, Vallejo plays at 10:30 p.m., the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, 869-COOL. $5.

saturday
january 3
Charity Cat Show Whether you call them kitties, tomcats, stray cats, damn cats, tabbies, mousers, pussies or just plain old cats, more than 600 will be at the convention center this weekend, strutting their stuff as only the most feline among us can do. Organized by the Houston Cat Club, this event, now in its 48th year, is said to be "unmatched locally" in its efforts to provide funds for many local humane groups, among them the SPCA, the Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League. And for the price of a ticket, the spectator gets a lot of cat in return. At noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. today and tomorrow, you can see what's billed as "trick-performing Hollywood feline stars." Shop the "Kitty Super Mall" for feline froufrou. Or just ogle all the pretty cats. 9 a.m.5 p.m., today and Sunday, George R. Brown Convention Center, Hall C, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, 853-8000. $6; $3 seniors and children under 12.

Forty Carats It's an old set-up, but sometimes the tried and true works best. In Forty Carats, a play by Jay Allen, a 40-year-old divorcee vacations in Greece, has a wild fling, then returns to her successful New York life only to encounter the "object" of her fling dating her daughter. The production is the latest offering from Theatre Southwest. They're calling it "intriguing and hilarious," and it's being presented in their brand-new performance space out in lovely southwest Houston. If this little teaser interests you, or if you just want to see what they've come up with in the way of a new theater, visit them this evening, which is opening night. At 8 p.m. tonight; runs through January 24 (see Thrills for other dates and times). Theatre Southwest, 8944A Clarkcrest, 661-9505.

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