In the human view of the insect world, there are good bugs and there are bad bugs. We consider some (such as parasitic wasps, lacewings, praying mantises, assassin bugs and ladybugs) to be good guys because they eat huge numbers of soft-bodied, plant-eating pests. But others (including roaches, beetles, grasshoppers, ants, water bugs and spiders) get the honor because we can eat them. You can witness both ends of the food chain at the Museum of Natural Science's Hug-a-Bug Weekend. Through Sunday, February 14, you can release ladybugs into the Cockrell Butterfly Center to do battle with the rain forest environment's bad bugs. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children. And tonight at 7:30 p.m., David George Gordon, author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook and The Compleat Cockroach, will give a cooking demonstration in the Burke Baker Planetarium. Admission is $12. Regular hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1515 Hermann Dr., (713)639-4629, www.hmns.com.
Orchestra X tries hard, some would say too hard, to be "Houston's hip, groundbreaking orchestra for the information-age audience." With this production (or should we say productions?) of Carmen, the performers may have outdone even themselves. First, they play the Georges Bizet opera while we watch the Cecil B. De Mille silent film. Then, after intermission, the performance is updated, localized and translated into English: Spanish soldier Don Jose becomes a Houston Police Department officer; the man-eating gypsy title character becomes a temptress from "east of Navigation." Jose is betrothed to a River Oaks debutante, and Carmen is the lover of a famous Tejano singer. Oh, did we mention that the three Carmens will be at the abandoned Americas market, formerly El Mercado del Sol? 8 p.m. Also, Saturday and Sunday, February 13 and 14, at 7 p.m. $22.50 at the door; $18 in advance; $10 for students. For an extra $50 per person on Valentine's Day you can sip champagne and dine on a catered Ninfa's dinner. 2115 Runnels St. Call (713)225-ORCX for more information.
If you stand downtown at the corner of Texas and Smith streets this morning, you'll have the best people-watching vantage in town. At 9:45 a.m., the wheelchair division of the Conoco 10K Rodeo Run will roll by. Five minutes later, Olympic marathon gold and silver medalist Frank Shorter will start some 5,000 runners on their way to the Astrodome. Hot on their heels at 10 a.m., the wagons, floats, trail riders, balloons and marching bands of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade will blow through the intersection. Congratulate yourself that you don't have anything to do with this organizational nightmare (or ten kilometers to roll/run/walk), and sit back and watch the action. If you haven't gotten enough by 10:30 a.m., drive over to the parking lot of the Astrodome for "healthy beverages and snacks" at the postrace party. Registration to run in the 10K is $18; proceeds go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Educational Fund. There is no race-day registration.
In 1937, Igor Alexandrovich Moiseyev, then ballet master and former principal at the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, took a group of 30 ballet dancers and started teaching them traditional Russian folk dances. A grateful Soviet government granted them the supreme, but strange, title "State Academic Ensemble of Popular Dance." Communism came and went, but the Moiseyev Dance Company stuck to its folk roots. Thanks to the Society for the Performing Arts (and the end of the Cold War), you can see the famous dancers at Jones Hall. 8 p.m. 615 Louisiana. Call (713)227-ARTS for information and tickets, $15 to $47.
Forget the roses, chocolates and cards. The goofiest, most lovey-dovey-romantic yet wonderfully embarrassing purchase we've come across is the Statesman Chorus. For about $50, their "Valentune" performances, part singing telegram and part barbershop quartet, will track your date down at any location you give them -- home, office, hotel, restaurant, street corner, shopping mall -- in the greater Houston area this weekend. For more information, and to order, visit the Statesmen Chorus web site at www.neosoft.com/~statesmn/ or contact the Valentunes Chairman via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know what a "jocker" is? The dominant man in homosexual prison duos. Know where the word came from? Hobo lingo for an older man who keeps an adolescent boy -- known as a "punk" -- around as a servant and sexual plaything. That's right; according to playwright Clint Jefferies, "riding the rails" during the Great Depression could be quite an interesting endeavor. The Jocker opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Little Room Downstairs Theater, 2326 Bissonnet. Performances continue through February 27, Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Call (713)523-0791 for tickets, $15.
Sally Field, Maya Angelou, Lily Tomlin and Ann Richards will all be at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts this spring -- not to see the Symphony or some such, but just to chat ... on stage. You can talk back in question-and-answer sessions. The Unique Lives and Experiences series kicks off today with author Betty Mahmoody. Call (800)678-5540 or go to www.uniquelives.com for future dates, showtimes and more information. Prices for the series begin at $99; proceeds benefit the Houston Area Women's Center.