Dancing with Dinosaurs

The natural science museum sheds its stuffy image

You might find it odd that the Houston Museum of Natural Science would try to attract a social, nocturnal crowd by holding a weekly freakdown -- with hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, free IMAX and planetarium showings and, of course, live music -- inside its hallowed halls. But last year, inspired by the success of the Friday-night mixers at Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History, HMNS organizers created "Mixers, Elixirs & IMAX." And it turns out that folks here like dancing next to dinosaurs, too."It's designed as an intellectual alternative to the club scene and after-work bars," says HMNS marketing guy Brad Meyer, "a means for the museum to attract new audiences and dispel the idea of museums being dusty old buildings strictly for educational purposes."

This year, the museum has scheduled such acts as Yvonne Washington (May 9), Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters (May 23), Grupo Ka-Che (May 30), the Zydeco Dots (June 6) and Irie Time (June 20) to perform inside the museum's paleontology hall. "It's a very unique setting -- very different than a typical lounge or hotel ballroom," says Meyer. "The acoustics in the paleontology hall really provide a big sound, too." Let's hope nobody decides to cover Was Not Was's one-hit wonder, "Walk the Dinosaur." Now that would be cheesy!

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Fridays through June 20. Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive. For information, call 713-639-IMAX or visit www.hmns.org. $12; $10 for members. -- Craig D. Lindsey

 

Shanghai River's Rémy Sidecar

The afternoon was not going well. My job interview had been a disaster, my cell phone was dead, and my perfectly coiffed hairdo was starting to melt in the hot Texas sun. I needed a cool, quiet place to rethink my game plan, and Shanghai River(2407 Westheimer, 713-528-5528) provided that oasis. The gracious host ushered me into the small, dimly lit, empty lounge area. On the TV overhead were gruesome war images -- not exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. But Tony, a courteous barman if ever there was one, offered me the remote control. While I was channel-surfing, he whipped up a lethal combination of Rémy Martin, Cointreau and orange curaçao. I slurped the first one down a little too quickly. He refilled my glass, and in minutes we were both busting a gut over a certain VH1 video ode to babes with big butts.

1-1/2 ounces Rémy Martin VS Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau Premium Orange Liqueur

1 ounce sweet & sour

1 ounce orange juice

1 ounce DeKuyper Orange Curaçao

Orange wedge

Maraschino cherry

Measure out ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and empty contents into a hurricane glass. Garnish with cherry and orange wedge on a plastic cocktail spear. -- J.W. Crooker

 

SAT 5/10
Material World

Iklektik Designs started out in 1996 with two galleries in Tokyo and Bangkok. Since then it's expanded into New York, London, Singapore and, finally, Houston. Set up in a third-story loft near downtown, the Houston gallery boasts David Adickes's giant presidential heads in its parking lot and funky objets d'art inside. The wannabe SoHo vibe is palpable, as evidenced by the Stephen Torton 1982 photo series of Madonna and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Also on view: Japanese textiles, nuclear-orange sunflowers preserved in pink liquid, antique Burmese furnishings, a horse statue and more avant-garde photography. Opening reception: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 10. 2500 Summer Street, suite C. For information, call 713-869-5151. Free. -- Troy Schulze

FRI 5/9
Frederick of Kentucky

It's your chance to meet a real celebrity: Frederick Booker Noe III, great-grandson of Jim Beam. Never heard of him? Say hola anyway -- after all, he'll be swirling snifters and mixing Knob Creek Manhattans for free at two tasting events around town. Noe will also be sharing drink recipes and some Beam family stories; he's bound to tell the one about his ancestor discovering bourbon by aging a batch of corn whiskey in white-oak barrels that had been charred in a fire. Listen politely while chugging the libations. 3 p.m. Friday, May 9, at Spec's, 2410 Smith Street, 713-526-8787. 9 p.m. Friday, May 9, at Mo's Place, 21940 Kingsland Boulevard in Katy, 281-392-3499. Free. -- Cathy Matusow

 
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