This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, March 20
Mary Kay Andrews, author of ten mystery novels, is moving closer to the more genteel, literary realm of Southern fiction with her latest offering, Savannah Blues. A former newspaper reporter, Andrews covered the real-life murder trials of Savannah antiques dealer Jim Williams, the inspiration for the best-selling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. With its eccentrics, old money, scandals and whispering, Savannah is a good place to set a novel. The protagonist of Savannah Blues, Weezie, is a newly divorced antiques "picker" who moves from her fancy historic town house to a carriage house, adopts a mutt named Jethro and starts an antique business. Things get ugly when her ex-hubby's new lady turns up dead. Andrews reads at 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 12850 Memorial Drive. For information, call 713-465-5616. Free.

Friday, March 21
Sometimes actors forget to snap out of character when the cameras stop rolling. In Roman Polanski's rare 1966 film Cul-de-sac, gangsters invade the home of a not-so-happily married couple living on an isolated English island. The bad guys hold the couple hostage while waiting for their boss to arrive. Apparently, during filming, actors Donald Pleasence, Lionel Stander and Françoise Dorléac began to feel like hostages themselves and, as Polanski later wrote, "soon started playing their parts for real." Perhaps that helped the cast in their performances; whatever the case, critics give the dark comedy's acting two thumbs up. Polanski himself has said that Cul-de-sac is his best film. See it at 8 p.m. today through Sunday, March 30. Rice Media Center, entrance no. 8 (University at Stockton). For information, call 713-348-4882. $5 to $6.

Saturday, March 22
If you're the type of person who talks on the phone while sending an e-mail, we've got the perfect activity for you. Dancing is fun and good exercise. Today, forget the gym. Head to the University of Houston's Frontier Fiesta, where you can raise your heartbeat dancing to the salsa and merengue beats of Mi Rumba and Fulanito. The fiesta spans several evenings. On Thursday, March 20, hip-hop acts Choppa, Weebie, Popa John, P-N-C, Baby Boy and BMD perform; and on Friday, March 21, Honeybrowne, Dub Miller and Kevin Fowler croon their country songs. At Fiesta City, you can hit the carnival booths and watch Broadway-style variety shows. Fiesta City opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 20, and runs through Saturday, March 22. Performances start at 9:30 p.m. At Holman and Scott, behind the University of Houston stadium. For information, call 713-743-5181. Free.

Straight suits: Nagano Shigeichi's Graduation from an Executive Training Course is on view at the MFAH. See Tuesday.
Courtesy of Nagano Shigeichi
Straight suits: Nagano Shigeichi's Graduation from an Executive Training Course is on view at the MFAH. See Tuesday.

Sunday, March 23
Why do people even call psychics? On late-night commercials they tell amazed callers things like, "You're two months pregnant, aren't you?" But what the caller doesn't realize is she's just paid someone to tell her something she already knew. Handwriting analysis is similar. Say you attend today's "Secrets Revealed in Handwriting" event at CenterPoint, and a reading of your scribbles tells you you're an introvert. If you really are one, you probably had that confirmed this weekend when you went to a party and stood in the corner all night. It would be better if the analysts could tell you something you didn't know, like, that the one thing missing from your life is the yellow #77 Jasper Winston Cup NASCAR race car on display today at Paddock Gallery. Spending the day staring at a cool car is probably just as productive as handwriting analysis. Handwriting event: 7:30 p.m. 1920 Hollister. For information, call 713-932-7224. $15. Race car: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 6111 Skyline Drive. For information, call 409-762-3930. Free.

Monday, March 24
Few people become lifeguards because they have a particular regard for human life. No, they do it so they can sit on their thrones, towering above the little people, coating their noses in goo as half-naked members of the opposite sex flirt with them. And for the feeling of power that accompanies a shrill blow of the whistle. It may seem that to become a lifeguard, one must be tan, blond and languorous, but anyone who's certified can join this mysterious order -- and certification takes a mere five days. The YMCA lifeguard course imparts the skills needed to lifeguard at pools, lakes, rivers and surf and water parks. If you take it, summer flings will come. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today through Friday, March 29. Downtown YMCA, 1600 Louisiana. For information, call 713-758-9217.

Tuesday, March 25
"The History of Japanese Photography" is an ambitious focus for an exhibition. Perhaps that's why until now, no one in the West has taken a comprehensive look at the work of Japanese photographers. Houstonians will be the first to view this traveling exhibit, which includes 19th-century portraits, propaganda photos taken during World War II and magazine photographs. Recent work is also on display; see Kon Michiko's photos of fish from the sushi market, Yanagi Miwa's "elevator girls" trapped in shopping malls, and Shibata Toshio's landscapes. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; and 12:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Beck Building, Museum of Fine Arts, 5601 Main. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit www.mfah.org. $3.50 to $7.

Wednesday, March 26
We all get junk e-mails dozens of times a day. Yes, some promise to enlarge our breasts or penises, but others are more sinister. Messages asking you to update your account information, are, of course, sent by scammers who want your credit card number. And when someone actually forks the information over, the unscrupulous bastards start spending it up. To fix the problem, victims must navigate the maze of bureaucracy, filing reports and contesting claims -- basically, it's a huge pain in the ass. Today, learn about how you can protect yourself at the Houston Business CrossRoads talk "Identity Theft," by Michell Stanton, CPA. 7:15 a.m. Ramada Plaza Hotel, 7611 Katy Freeway. For reservations, call 713-932-7495. $17.

 
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