With mainstream masculine role models seemingly limited to hypermacho athletes, wisecracking/ass-kicking action heroes and proudly sociopathic hip-hop stars, it's clear that in 2004, boys still don't cry. But what do boys do? In PG-13: Male Adolescent Identity in the Age of Video Culture, a new multimedia exhibit opening this week at DiverseWorks, New York City-based artists Janet Biggs and Barbara Pollack examine the predicament of being young and male in today's society. The results are both humorous and harrowing. Janet Biggs's works are deliberately jarring. Two installations, entitled Ritalin and Haldol, simulate the internal states of hyperactivity and Tourette's syndrome, respectively, through the sometimes brutal juxtaposition of jerky video, music and voice-over. Another piece, Chamblee, stares down a high school wrestling team, focusing on the sexual ambiguity of this socially acceptable outlet for aggression. It also looks at the ways Hollywood sports dramas can influence real-life sporting events.
Barbara Pollack is the mother of an adolescent boy. Essentially real-time documentaries, Pollack's pieces record the minute facial reactions of her son Max as he assumes and/or mocks both the murderous lead role in a violent video game (Perfect Dark) and the heavily sexualized "male gaze" foisted on him by the mere act of watching a Britney Spears music video (Stronger).
Perhaps most telling with regard our current societal climate is another work of Pollack's. American Army captures young Max's face as he is "killed" playing the titular video game, a fun recruitment tool downloadable from the official Web site of the U.S. Army. Opening reception, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Through May 1. 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold
The Passion of the Clone
Who could blame a devout Catholic geneticist for using cloning to hurry along the Second Coming? Especially one who's got the cojones to steal some DNA-soaked threads from the Shroud of Turin. Actual scientists have praised the level of technical detail in local author J.R. Lankford's thriller The Jesus Thief -- no surprise when you consider her degree in electrical engineering, with a minor in physics. Lankford may raise a few churchy eyebrows with her choice of a black maid as the egg donor for Jesus 2.0. If you go out to meet the author this weekend, bear in mind what she says to those who would cry blasphemy: "I want to emphasize that this is fiction, not a new Bible." Book signing 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 3003 West Holcombe. For information, call 713-349-0050 or visit www.thejesusthief.com. Free. -- Lisa Simon
The Soul of a Good Book
Hard-boiled mystery novelist George Pelecanos inserts a lot of music references into his novels, and his latest, Hard Revolution, is no exception. Only now you can listen to music as it comes up in the story by spinning the limited-edition CD available only at Pelecanos's book signings. Hard Revolution is set against the Washington, D.C., race riots of 1968, back when Pelecanos's recurring detective character, Derek Strange, was just a rookie on the force. The accompanying CD features a lot of great soul music of that era -- and not the overplayed oldies. It features acts such as Wilson Pickett, Albert King, Sam and Dave, Solomon Burke, the Impressions and Otis Redding. Give your brain a break and let the soundtrack set the story's scene for you. 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 17. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet, 713-524-8597 or www.murderbooks.com. Free. -- Bob Ruggiero
The divine Ms. Channing puts in a personal appearance
If you've ever wanted to know what it really feels like to get a hickey from Kenickie, now's your chance to ask the head Pink Lady herself. Of course, versatile actress Stockard Channing has had a widely varied career since her definitive Rizzo in Grease -- she also starred in the 1993 film version of Six Degrees of Separation, screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this week. Based on the Broadway play by John Guare, Degrees involves a wealthy New York couple (Channing and Donald Sutherland) who are duped by a charming young black man (Will Smith) who claims he's a college friend of their son's and that Sidney Poitier is his father. Channing will attend a cocktail reception and answer your searching questions before the film rolls. Pink satin jackets not required. 5:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. screening, Monday, March 15. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7571 or visit www.mfah.org. $25. -- Bob Ruggiero
If your old hot rod still burns rubber (or least gets a field trip to the driveway now and then), it's eligible for competition in the annual Fords of the '50s Old Car Picnic. Just don't tell the old girl that they're letting cars as young as 1980s models compete. She'll kick your ass to the curb. Registration is $5, and autos must be of the Ford, Edsel, Mercury, Lincoln, Continental or Thunderbird variety. Backseat makeout sessions allowed at owners' discretion. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 14 (rain date: March 21), San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, 3523 Battleground Road in La Porte. For information, call 713-479-2431. Free for spectators. -- Troy Schulze