Friday, Septemeber 12
There's a reason competitive eating has generally focused on the hot dog: The units are discrete, countable and -- barring a regurgitative finish -- pretty clean. Galveston's Festa Italiana seeks to buck that trend with its spaghetti-eating contest (Atkins dieters beware). Other activities include bocce ball, grape stomping and a poker tournament. For folks who think they've got the pipes to outdo Dean Martin on "Volare," there will also be an Italian karaoke contest. Don't say we didn't warn you. 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. 13th Street and Broadway in Galveston. For information and a full schedule, call 409-797-5157 or visit www.galveston.com. $6.
Saturday, September 13
The rodeo may have started as a way for hardworking cowboys to blow off steam and earn local bragging rights. But these days, rodeos have been so slicked up and professionalized that the connection to the work that inspired the contests has been lost. Real ranchers will tell you, though: Their work isn't all chuck-wagon races and performances by the Gatlin Brothers. We bet they'll be happy to hear that some true working ranch cowboys are coming to town for the first ever Bayou Bend Ranch Rodeo, where they'll compete at team branding, team penning, bronco riding and milking wild cows. The authenticity should make up for the lack of glitter. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Houston Farm and Ranch Club, One Abercrombie Drive. For information and a full schedule, call 281-463-6650 or visit www.hfrc.org. $14; free for children 11 and younger.
Sunday, September 14
September is National Hispanic Heritage Month, and although hereabouts we don't need a specially sanctioned month to celebrate Latin culture, it does bring some fine entertainment opportunities. Today the Houston Symphony will present its 13th annual ChevronTexaco Fiesta Sinfónica Familiar. Newly named associate conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto will be revving up his baton arm for a full program of Hispanic music, and soprano Eugenia Garza will be making her Houston Symphony debut. 6 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. Free; tickets available in advance at the Jones Hall box office.
Monday, September 15
If you can pull together enough bug spray to last an evening at Miller Outdoor Theatre, then pour it on and celebrate La Noche del Grito ("The Night of the Shout"). Today is the eve of the anniversary of the war of Mexican independence from Spain, and it's customary to throw parties where revelers "shout" that independence is coming. This year's independence celebration features folkloric dance companies, Mariachi Los Arrieros and Latin pop star Jennifer Peña. Consul General of Mexico Eduardo Ibarrola will give the shout himself at 9 p.m. La Noche del Grito begins at 6 p.m. 100 Concert Drive in Hermann Park. For information, call 713-284-8350 or visit www.houstonparks.org.
Tuesday, September 16
Admit it: It's been a while since you had a checkup. Perhaps your last personal physician wore funny animal ties and gave out lollipops, hmm? Don't be surprised, then, if your mom or your brother or your best friend shows up today to haul you in for some blood work, just to make sure you're okay. Today is Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages us to cajole, coerce or kidnap our phobic friends and relatives and bring them in for some preventive maintenance. You'd do as much for your car, wouldn't you? For information, call 1-800-444-6472 or visit www.healthgap.omhrc.gov.
Wednesday, September 17
When she starred in The Graduate, Anne Bancroft was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman. Yet she was cast as Mrs. Robinson, the much older, decadent and calculating seductress who was the most attractive of all Benjamin's parents' friends. Tonight this dryly funny classic about postgraduate paralysis and intergenerational sex will show at the River Oaks Theatre. The screening benefits Women in Film and Television/Houston, an organization dedicated to promoting equitable treatment and opportunities for, well, women in film and television. We don't mean to suggest that anyone could have played the juicy, enduring role of Mrs. Robinson better than Bancroft, but the fact remains that the older woman's part went to a young, flat-bellied actress. Women in Film and Television, we ask you: Is that equitable? We wonder what Joan Crawford would've done with the part. 5:30 p.m. pre-screening mixer at Birraporetti's, 1997 West Gray. 7:30 p.m. screening at River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-788-8075 or visit www.wift-houston.org. $7.