Thursday, April 1
What's up, fools? Today is National Freebie Day, the one day a year when you don't have to pay for anything. All the stores in town are opening their doors and closing their cash registers for a day of free shopping. Take what you want; they'll make more. But before you get too excited, we should let you know there are a few stipulations. "Last year was such a huge success that all the stores ran out of everything by early afternoon," says April Furst, national spokesperson for the event. "So this year we're only allowing people to take whatever they can fit in their pants or purses." And if you hear any bells or whistles sounding as you leave the store, be sure to stick around -- you've just won yourself free room and board for a few years. For information, call 713-555-5555. Free.
Friday, April 2
Okay, now this one is real. At least we think it is. Today the Houston Symphony is playing P.D.Q. Bach's Fanfare for the Common Cold. Before all you neophyte musicologists start scrambling for your textbooks, we'll let you in on the gag: P.D.Q. Bach, the purported black sheep of the Bach family, is actually Peter Schickele, the acclaimed contemporary composer. In addition to Fanfare, the symphony will perform Haydn's Symphony No. 60 (Il Distratto) and his Symphony No. 45 (Farewell). Anybody in the audience who shushes you today has obviously missed the point. 7:30 p.m. today and Thursday, April 1. Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. $21 to $83.
April is National Poetry Month, so you'd better get started on that iambic pentameter. Or, if you prefer a more passive approach, you can check out the tail end of the Houston International Poetry Festival at Southmore House, H-town's own love-in artist collective for slam poets. Brother Said will host, and the poets spitting at the mike tonight will have their words recorded on a commemorative CD. There's no open-mike for this event, so if you want to be recorded for prosperity, you've got two options: You can either snap your fingers really hard in admiration for the wordsmiths (it's expected at such things, you know), or you can bring along 100 copies of your own verse for the event's "instant anthology." Word. 8 p.m. 3107 Leeland. For information, call 281-658-0827 or visit www.geocities.com/hip5poetry. $3.
Saturday, April 3
The Houston Heights could be the new Amsterdam. Just think about it: You've got freewheelin' socialist politics over at Pathfinder Books on Eighth Street, cutting-edge electronica at Onion Creek on White Oak, and killer weed at, well, you'll have to figure that shit out for yourself. And the Heights even has its own outdoor flower market. The first Saturday of every month, the parking lot behind Kaplan's Ben Hur is transformed into a bazaar of sights and scents, where flowermongers and artists display their wares as part of the Historic Heights First Saturday event. You might want to consider going dutch. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yale Street Arts and Flower Market, 210 West 21st Street. For information, call 713-802-1213 or visit www.yalestreetmarket.com. Free.
Today Mercury Baroque presents Handel's Messiah. Wait a minute"isn't it April? Isn't Messiah a Christmas classic? The folks over at Mercury tell us that the original version premiered in Dublin in April 1742, so Messiah was originally associated with the Lenten and Easter season. They may be right, but it's going to be a little weird listening to it without an eggnog buzz. 7:30 p.m. Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.mercurybaroque.org. $15 to $25.
Sunday, April 4
When you look at a classic work of art like René Magritte's Golconde, chances are you're far more concerned with his vision and technique than with all the huss and fuss it took to bring the work to you. But consider this: That work is over 50 years old, and it still looks damn good. Conservators are the plastic surgeons of the art world. You can find out all about their craft at the Menil Collection's lecture series "Inside the Menil: Anatomy of a Museum." Today's talk is by Elizabeth Lunning, the Menil's chief conservator. She'll talk about "The Conservation of Works on Paper." It takes a lot more than Botox, folks. 3 p.m. 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9414 or visit www.menil.org. Free.
Monday, April 5
If we told you to go check out Glover Gill's Cocktail Piano Hour, you'd probably think we were sending you to see some old dude in a blue leisure suit. Fair enough, it does sound a little cheesy. But what if we told you Gill did the music for Richard Linklater's Waking Life? Or that Gill's arms are covered in tattoos? Or that the event is at the Continental Club? Maybe then you'd give us a little respect. 8 p.m. 3700 Main. For information, call 713-529-9899 or visit www.continentalclub.com. Free.
Tuesday, April 6
Although intended for the wee ones, the Children's Museum's latest offering could be an excellent seminar for rednecks. At "What's Not a Pet," they'll learn, well, what's not a pet. Dogs, cats, fish -- these are pets. Raccoons, squirrels, coyotes -- these are not pets. (And contrary to what your uncle Bubba says, they aren't dinner, either.) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit www.cmhouston.org. $4 to $5.