This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, April 8

You might know of Jim Norton from his regular gig on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, that asinine show that comes on right after The Daily Show on Comedy Central. You know the one we're talking about: A group of comics sits around making jokes about world affairs while moderated by Quinn, who not only knows jack-shit about foreign politics, but also is about as funny as a land-mine casualty. But don't judge Norton because of the company he keeps. He can riff with the best of 'em when he's alone on stage. Nothing is off limits in his act, he says, except jokes about women farting. It has nothing to do with integrity; it's just that smelling them gives him an erection. 8 p.m. today and Sunday, April 11. 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 9 and 10. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For information, call 713-524-2333 or visit www.laffstop.com. $15 to $18.

Friday, April 9

Houston, we're really slipping when it comes to national kudos. Los Angeles is back on top as "America's Smoggiest City," and Detroit just bumped us out of our coveted "Fattest City" slot. Come on, people! Are we going to take this lying down? Well, given that we're overweight and addicted to our cars, we probably aren't going to do anything too strenuous about it, but we can at least try to branch out into other superlative contests. How about "America's Birdiest City"? Apparently, we've got a good chance to win this one. Corpus Christi was the only Texas city to enter the contest last year, and it garnered top honors with 228 species. We can take 'em. All you have to do is look around your neighborhood and count as many species as you can in a 24-hour period. You then report the results to the coordinator listed below and voilà: You've just helped Houston regain its glory. The contest uses the honor system, so keep it real -- being flipped the bird while sitting on your fat ass in traffic doesn't count. Today and Saturday, April 10. For information, contact Stennie Meadours. E-mail: stenmead@aol.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 1087, Bacliff, TX, 77518. Free.

Saturday, April 10

What would you do if you were given unlimited funds and space to create a public art project? Would you give Houston its own Eiffel Tower? We hope not, because we've already got enough oil derricks in this state. We suggest building a gigantic magnifying glass directly over your ex's house. You can explore the possibilities tonight at the opening for "Immodest Proposals: Unreasonable Public Art Projects for Houston." Organized by the Buffalo Bayou ArtPark, this exhibition of artists' sketches is a tribute to the absurd. There's no telling what you're going to see, 'cause the organizers themselves won't know until the sketches arrive. It's all about the element of surprise. The show opens from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today and is on view through May 1. Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, 2315 Commerce. For information, call 713-520-0152 or visit www.bbap-houston.org. Free.

Sunday, April 11

Calling all ladies who like ladies. If you haven't been watching Showtime's The L Word over at Chances, you've been missing out on a whole lot of sapphic shenanigans -- on the show andin the bar. You can make up for lost time today during a four-episode marathon. The event, um, climaxes with the season finale at 9 p.m. All good things must come to an end -- at least until next season. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 1100 Westheimer. For information, call 713-523-7217 or visit www.chancesbar.com. Free.

Monday, April 12

You can almost imagine an elderly rapper saying these words: "Back in my day, it took more than a few rhymes and a bunch of bling to be a hip-hop star. You had to be able to sputter and spit out phat beats with your own mouth." Digital rhythms have eclipsed the art of beat boxing, and what was once a product of the streets is now a product of the studio. You can relive the good ol' days at Aurora Picture Show's screening of Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box. Just about everybody who's anybody in the world of mouth-made sounds is featured in this documentary, including Rahzel, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Mos Def, DOA, Mix Master Mike and the Roots. Boom-chicka, boom-chicka, boom. 9 p.m. today and every Monday in April. Dean's Credit Clothing, 316 Main. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $5.

Tuesday, April 13

When you name your exhibition "Uncontrollable Beauty," you'd better bring it. According to the folks at McClain Gallery, William Beckley, "considered one of the forerunners of post-conceptual narrative art," has created pictures of "flower forms without flowers." All of which sounds pretty damn impressive, until you realize that the works are just pictures of flower stems. We don't expect you to buy into the hype, but we have to say that his pics are definitely worth a look-see. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday, April 17. 2242 Richmond. For information, call 713-520-9988 or visit www.mcclaingallery.com. Free.

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