Don't go to the SLANT: Bold Asian-American Images festival expecting to catch the latest Margaret Cho concert movie or a documentary on sushi chefs. The annual event is a showcase of real, homegrown Asian-American cinema, and for the first time this year, local musicians and writers will be featured as well. "Houston has a vibrant contemporary arts scene and a large Asian-American population, but these two sectors don't interact enough," says festival director and founder (and former Press staff writer) Melissa Hung. "This festival helps bridge that gap."Houston Community College in Alief will participate in SLANT this year, with shows by five bands, spoken word by six local writers and free workshops in poetry, origami and vegetable carving. But the film festival at Aurora Picture Show is still the SLANT centerpiece. Its short films by 17 directors promise to shatter stereotypes, explore family relationships and bring a fresh perspective on the Asian-American experience. In other words, no Long Duk Dong.
The films may share themes, but their subject matter couldn't be more different. Daniel Hsia's How to Do the Asian Squat is a five-minute mock instructional video on a bizarre new craze; Gavin Tachibana's The Flavor, a Texas premiere, shows how a corn dog addiction can lead to enlightenment; and Thomas Moon's 98.599 examines how top-rated high schools attract cheaters. The festival's most straightforward indictment of wack American cultural assumptions, perhaps, is Wes Kim's Why It's a Good Thing, which imagines a world where all Asian-Americans actually know kung fu. Friday, May 2, through Sunday, May 4. HCC - Alief, 13803 Bissonnet, and Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora. For film information and a full festival schedule, call 713 868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $5 film admission.-- Troy Schulze
The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, the man who has walked more picket lines than any other national leader, will descend on Houston for an energy summit hosted by the local bureau of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. The event will honor minority- and women-owned businesses in the energy industry. In a panel discussion, Jackson and others will discuss how these companies can survive uncertain economic times. And, that night, don't miss your chance to break bread with the good reverend. You never know when he'll be called overseas to negotiate a hostage situation. Panel discussion, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Wednesday, May 7, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana. Dinner, 7:30 p.m., Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-571-0881. Dinner tickets, $150 to $2,500. -- Troy Schulze
The typical decorating show takes a rich person's already well appointed home and makes it even fancier. What's the point of that? In "Dueling Designers Decorating on a Dime," on the other hand, volunteers will spruce up the homes of 20 residents living at Footprints in the Sand, a housing project for battered women and their children. At first the women didn't know what to make of the project. "When you're in transitional living," says Sara Cress, the executive director at Footprints, "it's day to day, feed your kids, get them school supplies. The idea of having extra money has never been one of those things they've been concerned with." But now that volunteers have started to haul in supplies, residents are excited. The homes are nice, says Cress, "but they're pretty generic, and this is personalized to their own taste." Professional designers judge the redecorated homes this weekend. 1 p.m. judging, 2:30 p.m. awards ceremony, Sunday, May 4. 7990 Glass Circle. For information, call 713-631-3369 or visit www.footprintshouston.org.-- Cathy Matusow
Comics fans will swoon at Lone Star
The success of the X-Men, Spider-Man and Daredevil movies has given the comic book industry a real boost, and Lance Moore, the organizer of this weekend's Lone Star Collectibles Show, knows it. That's why the event will cater to new-school gameboys and old-school fanboys alike. Featuring current and back-issue comics, as well as Star Wars, Star Trek, fantasy and gaming merchandise, the show coincides with national Free Comic Book Day (Saturday, May 3) and the release of X-Men 2. Artist Dave Cockrum will make an appearance at Lone Star; in 1975, he designed the comic book costumes for X-Men Nightcrawler and Colossus, who make their cinematic debut in X-Men 2. If the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons had a wet dream, it'd be about this show. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Holiday Inn, 7787 Katy Freeway. For information, call 936-560-0372 or visit www.lonestarshows.com. $5. -- Bob Ruggiero
Next Up, Miss Milky Way
From the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants, the Miss Galaxy pageant was bound to spring. This is the pageant's second year, but it comes to Houston for the first time this weekend, when Miss, Mrs. and Miss Teen Houston U.S. Galaxy will be crowned. The lucky ladies will go to the state competition in San Antonio, and then -- who knows? -- maybe even on to the international contest. Organizers won't be bothering with a talent competition; the contestants will just go head-to-head in the evening gown, swimsuit and "private interview" categories. 7 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Renaissance Houston Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East. For information, call 713-699-9858 or visit www.premierepromotions.net. $15 for spectators. -- Cathy Matusow