This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, December 23

We at Night & Day know that our readers are a charitable bunch, even if they don't have pockets deep enough to afford most benefits. But tonight there's a free one: the "Mistletoe and Martinis" Houston Holiday Happy Hour at Red Star. The Russian-themed club will go all out with free food, drink specials and perhaps a little mistletoe-induced action here and there. Proceeds go to the Christmas Eve Big Feast of Sharing at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which offers up meals, toys and clothing to Houston's neediest families. If you don't have too many drinks -- which would be a feat, considering they're only $3 each -- you can get up early and volunteer at the feast. 5 p.m. 2606 Fannin. For information, call 713-655-7827 or visit www.redstarnightclub.com. Free. For information on the feast, call 713-752-2582.

Friday, December 24

So you're canceling that springtime trip to Europe because you just had to get your second cousin that special U2 iPod. Thankfully, Old Town Spring will transport you -- in spirit, at least -- to the likes of Sweden, France, Germany and England with its "Christmas Around the World" decorated trees. The trees, created by local schoolchildren, are part of Old Town Spring's annual "Home for the Holidays" festival, which decks out the turn-of-the-century town in thousands of white lights, holiday laurels and bows. And if you still can't stop your card-swiping wrist, you can comb local shops for unique gifts. Sweden will be there next year, after all. The fest's final days are Thursday, today and tomorrow. Old Town Spring is exit 70A off I-45 North. For information, call 281-651-9955 or visit www.oldtownspring.com. Free.

Saturday, December 25

Ah, nothing quite captures the warm sentiment of coming home for Christmas like the words "Ah, shit, y'all done fucked up and let me in this bitch." Yes, on this holiest of days, Houston welcomes back native son Lil' Flip, in town with Z-Ro, Bun-B, Herschel Wood Hard Headz and Street Gang, for some holiday rapping. Notorious for his frequent use of the words "crunk," "gat" and "chrome" and his extraordinary amount of metal in the oral region, Flip is known as a freestyle prodigy, and his last two albums, Undaground Legend and U Gotta Feel Me, both have gone platinum. Flip's love for his hometown is literally tattooed on his forearms: "Tha" (right arm) "Clover" (left) is a sort of bodily shout-out to his Cloverland neighborhood. Word has it Flip's embarking on careers in film and fashion design in the coming year. We're not sure whether his style prescription will be sports jerseys, bandannas and metal teeth for all, but don't doubt him yet: He claims to be "the only one who went to prom in a mink." 8 p.m. Moody Gardens Expo, One Hope Boulevard in Galveston. For tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. $22.50.

Sunday, December 26

The Los Angeles Clippers have long been the redheaded stepchild of the NBA -- but for now, at least, they're on pace to have their first winning season since 1992 (and only their seventh in 34 years). Tonight, it's up to the Houston Rockets to ensure that the NBA still has someone to pick on, as Mike Dunleavy brings his Clippers to H-town to take on Yao Ming and the rest of the local boys. 7:30 p.m. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For tickets, call 1-866-446-8849. $10 and up.

If basketball's not your thing -- or if you prefer toothless Canadian dudes to jacked-up ballers -- then jump on I-10 and hit tonight's Texas Wildcattershockey game. The team is stubbornly clinging to the bottom spot in the national rankings, but their matchup against the Mississippi Sea Wolves is promising, since they don't win much, either. And anyway, you don't go to hockey games to see them score -- you go for the gore. After the game, the rink opens up to the public for a postgame ice-skating session, so you and yours can re-enact great breakaways, power plays and checks ("Look, Jimmy, here's where John Snowden lost a tooth!"). And no, we're still not sure what a Wildcatter is. Game begins at 5:05 p.m. Ford Arena, 5115 I-10 in South Beaumont. For tickets, call 409-833-7747 or visit www.wildcattershockey.com. $8 to $20.

Monday, December 27

The way Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles have played this year, they absolutely deserve to be watched on the big screen. Pay homage to Rush Limbaugh's favorite quarterback and the rest of his NFC-best team at the Alamo Drafthouse's screening of their Monday-night game against St. Louis. The big screen might make the Rams' flaws all the more obvious, but thanks to an overall mediocrity in the NFC, they're still in the running for a playoff spot. The Drafthouse serves up barbecue ribs, border tacos and Alamo nachos, and of course, buckets of beer beginning at 8 p.m. West Oaks Mall, Westheimer at Highway 6. For information, call 281-556-0204 or visit www.alamodrafthouse.com. Free.

Tuesday, December 28

Given the hangovers, the gray weather and the post-holiday boredom, it's easy to understand why you might be a bit depressed right now. Some say you can up your mood by looking at bright colors, and if that's the case, then Mixture Gallery might be better than Zoloft. Their current exhibition, featuring spectacularly colorful paintings by Jackie Gendeland Melissa Brown, is an acid-tripper's dream. Gendel, a Yale MFA, concocts fluorescent landscapes, shapes and people both abstract and figurative, and Brown's fanciful, cartoonish landscapes will make all that stale fruitcake seem like just a bad dream. 1709 Westheimer. For information, call 713-520-6809 or visit www.mixturegallery.com. Free.

Wednesday, December 29

The fact that it's almost 2005 is really freaking us out. (Um, weren't we supposed to have at least three figures in the bank by now?) At moments like these, a little regression never hurts. Reprogram Music and Clark's have the right idea: Their new weekly series, Rockit Disco, features a blend of underground disco, rock and roll, hip-hop, indie pop, '60s funk, electro and retro. DJ Ceeplus of KPFT's Reprogram Radiohosts the Soul Train-esque evening, which should be a perfect primer for the weekend's festivities. The spinning begins at 9 p.m. at 318 Main. For information, call 713-237-8220. Free.

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