Born and raised in poverty on the island of Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid never dreamed she'd become part of New York's literary elite. But the girl shipped off to the United States at age 17 to be an au pair (or, as Kincaid puts it, a "servant") would be discovered by New Yorker columnist George Trow, become a staff columnist and writer there, and eventually marry the son of the magazine's editor, Wallace Shawn. She silenced detractors who suggested that nepotism was the only reason for her career success by penning critically acclaimed tomes centering on life in the West Indies like Annie John, Lucy and The Autobiography of My Mother. The celebrated author visits Houston today for a reading and lecture. Expect an intriguing discussion of America, race relations, New York media and more. Just don't expect her to get too touchy-feely -- this is a woman who once said, "I feel it's my duty to make everyone a little less happy." 8 p.m. Grand Hall, Rice Memorial Center, 6100 South Main. For information, call 713-348-5585 or visit www.rice.edu. Free.
Friday, March 4
For those complaining that this year's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo musical lineup lacks, well, flavor, the folks at the Rodeo have lassoed Alicia Keys to headline Black Heritage Day, which, says the rodeo event guide, "spotlights the contributions of black pioneers to the cultural achievement and heritage of the city of Houston and the state of Texas." Judging from the way Keys tore it up at the Grammy Awards, this promises to be a can't-miss gig. 7 p.m. Reliant Park, One Reliant Park. For tickets and information, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.rodeohouston.com. Tickets start at $16.
Saturday, March 5
It's bruising enough to your ego to attend a hip art show, only to find that the artist is a ripe old 22. But what about when said artist is six? That's just cruel. Such is the case with little Stephen Sumrall-Orsak, who's unveiling his works today in his show, "Six." (Thanks for rubbing the age thing in, kiddo.) While his contemporaries are peeing on themselves and each other at the playground, this young one spends his time at his own little art space at the Houston Foundry, sketching portraits in charcoal. And here's the thing: They're good. At this rate, we can probably expect a Warholian effort from him by what, 15? Meet the wunderkind from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Houston Foundry, 1712 Burnett. For information, call 713-547-0169 or visit www.sumrall-orsak.com. Free.
Now that hanging out with a six-year-old has reminded you of how little you've accomplished, it's time to drown your feelings of inadequacy with some serious partying. Tonight, the denizens of Houston's progressive stage scene will be shakin' it at the Infernal Bridegroom Productions Annual Gala. This year's theme is "The Wedding" and features food, drink, games, a silent auction, a mass wedding ceremony and a contest to crown the world's ugliest bridesmaid's dress. (Judging by some of the weddings we've have attended lately, that should be one to watch.) Make marry at 8 p.m. Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston. For information, call 713-522-8443 or visit www.infernalbridegroom.com. $50 and up.
Sunday, March 6
We long for the good ol' days, when you could score food and lodging as a traveling jester rather than getting a real job. The three goofs in the Country Playhouse's Help Me! I'm Bent! enjoy such an existence, but they fall on hard times after their lame jokes get them thrown out of a cushy palace gig. The bumbling yuksters roam the woods, eventually stumbling upon a poor, sweet elderly couple who they promptly rob. But karma is a bitch, as these three morons soon find out. In an effort to accommodate your venture outside the loop, the folks at the Playhouse have made this a free show, so watch the fools at 7 p.m. 12802 Queensbury. For information, call 713-467-4497 or visit www.countryplayhouse.org. Free.
Monday, March 7
You're not 24 hours out of the weekend and already, today has kicked you in the ass. You need to blow off some steam. Oh sure, you could crash the gym like "those" people, but we think there's nothing like hitting a smoky pool hall for some nine ball. On Mondays, your pool games are on the house at Slick Willie's Family Pool Hall. Grab a date, friend or a smack-talking co-worker and saunter into a participating location, say the Montrose spot (our favorite). Then, score a table, down buckets of domestic beer for $16 ($20 for you import snobs) and take in the crowd. 1200 Westheimer, 713-522-2525. For other participating locations, visit www.slickw.com. Free.
Tuesday, March 8
We're not quite sure why humans have colonized the moon in the year 2081, as is the premise of Earth's Wild Ride, the latest IMAX flick playing at the Burke Baker Planetarium. Has yet another Bush destroyed the environment? Did Donald Trump break down and buy all the available real estate? Hard to say, but one thing's for sure, the earth ain't what it was. So explains a moon-dwelling grandfather to his wide-eyed grandkids, who soak up his memories of living on earth. Through grandpa's stories, you'll be treated to whitewater canyon rafting, an intimate view of molten lava on a volcano and a visit with wooly mammoths and dinosaurs. (What, no Apprentice reruns?) Runs hourly from noon to 5 p.m. daily. Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive. For tickets and information, call 713-639-4629 or visit www.hmns.org. $3 to $5.