Thursday, November 4
Truthfully, unless you're a glad-handing, card-hurling businessperson with a frozen smile, there aren't a whole lot of reasons to hit a chamber of commerce event. Understanding that, the folks at the Asian Chamber of Commerce are tempting folks with food. At the Westin Oaks Hotel for the Asian Epicurean Event, you can sample offerings from Asiana Garden Restaurant, Atami Japanese Steak and Sushi, Cafe Le Jadeite, Cafe Tin Tin, Fadi's Mediterranean Delight, Nit Noi and Mo Mong, among others. Ladies, exchange beauty tips (guys, exchange numbers) with Karen Wong, Miss Chinatown Houston. Dig in at 6 p.m. Grand Ballroom, 5011 Westheimer. For information, call 713-782-7222 or visit www.asianchamber-hou.org. $25 to $30.
Friday, November 5
Up until now, we'd always figured that only Gallery Furniture's jumpy Mattress Mac could find enlightenment at a furniture store. Now the folks at the chic furniture spot Pad are shedding some illumination with "The Enlightenment Show." As part of its "Outsider Art" series, visiting artists share their works within Pad's swank walls. Artist Mikel Robinson, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, will be showcasing his photo-collage light boxes. The show also features San Francisco artist Topher Adam, who manipulates digital photography and attaches photo transparencies to molded plastic light boxes. Hit tonight's opening reception and you'll catch a DJ, drinks and food from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 1665-A Westheimer. For information, call 713-521-4423 or visit www.padtx.com. Free.
Saturday, November 6
We're not saying that new theater troupe Collide is making a commentary on our current society with their new production, Danton's Death. Nah, this little ditty is just a redo of Georg Büchner's drama that confronts the issues of patriotism, terror and justice via the French Revolution. In the show, 11 Collide actors take on more than 50 speaking parts. The morally upright (if not uptight) leader Robespierre uses the revolution to maintain his power; anyone who disagrees with him or speaks out against his regime pays a little visit to le guillotine. Georges Danton, once a passionate revolutionary, finally tires of the corpse parade and decides to lose himself in some good old-fashioned debauchery. The raunchiness should be fun, but really, a political leader who uses a traumatic event to stay in power while he scares the hell outta the citizens? Where do they get this stuff? 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through November 21. Helios, 411 Westheimer. For information, call 713-528-5108 or visit www.theatre-collide.com. $5 to $10.
Sunday, November 7
When you think of down-home, slap-yo'-mama Texas barbecue, chances are you're envisioning a lonely little shack on the side of I-10, not an upscale area like River Oaks. The new owners of the River Oaks Grill are aiming to change that perception with the Throw-Down Barbecue Cookoff, which, ironically, benefits Citizens for Animal Protection. Open to River Oaks residents, the cookoff finds contestants drumming up their best 'cue and two side dishes for a panel of celebrity judges. What's in it for non-Oakers? Your entry fee gets you plenty of grub, beer and wine. We'd like to see slow-smoked venison served on Tiffany stoneware, but that's just us. Space is limited, so make your reservation and throw on your snazziest bib at 4 p.m. 2630 Westheimer. For information and reservations, call 713-524-8351. $25.
Monday, November 8
It's a well-known psychological truth that kids react differently to domestic strife and tension. Some lash out at others. Some lash out at themselves. And some get famous. Josh Braff and his younger brother Zach have taken their awkward, sometimes painful youths as Jersey kids and cashed in via fictional works. Zach's already made a name for himself acting in the quirky NBC comedy Scrubs and most recently by writing, directing and starring in the critically heralded flick Garden State. And Josh recently released The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, a novel that's almost a Royal Tenenbaums put to print. Jacob Green grows up with a narcissistic, sometimes nutty dad, gets some "in-home" sex ed from his live-in nanny and watches his mother carry on an affair with her psychology professor (who just happens to lecture on surrogate motherhood). But life could be worse for Jake. He could be more like his older brother, who gets kicked out of Hebrew school for drawing the rabbi in ménage à trois with a lobster and a pig. Braff signs his book today at 6:15 p.m. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 713-729-3200, www.jcchouston.org. Free.
Tuesday, November 9
Cher is one of those rare pop phenoms who is impersonated so much, she's almost a caricature of herself. It's practically impossible to picture her without thinking of Jack from Will & Grace doing his dead-on "If I could turn back ti-oohhm / If I could find a wa-ooooh!" The ageless actress-singer is crossing the country for what we're guessing is the first of perhaps a couple of "farewell tours." Oh, and she's coming to Beaumont. That's right, one of the world's biggest diva-licious icons is hittin' Jefferson County. Even if you're not a fan, we think the trip to Beaumont is worth the gas, if for nothing but to witness thousands of big-city dandies and fabulous drag queens descending on a small Southeast Texas town. Pack for a roadie and Cher a moment with the divine diva at 7:30 p.m. Ford Arena, 5115 I-10 South. For information, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.cc.com. $39.75 to $79.75.