Houstonian director-producer John Tucker has scored big. Crazy big. The TSU alum jumped on board with rapper Mike Jones and directed the video for Jones's breakout single, "Still Tippin'." Now Tucker's vid is getting some seriously heavy rotation on MTV. To help you score this kind of crazy luck, Tucker has created the Historically Black College and University Film Festival, featuring his industry colleagues. This year's fest offers seminars on directing music videos by filmmakers who've worked with Ja Rule, Slim Thug and various hip-hop/rap stars. There are also tips on finding acting and on-air TV work.
"A festival like this really inspires people," says filmmaker Benny Mathews, who gained national fame with his Where's the Party Yaar?, the hilarious Indian-American immigrant story. Mathews, who recently wrapped production on music videos for Houston's Geto Boys and Scarface, will host a screening of his film and discuss how the local hip-hop community can help newbies break into the biz. "Houston's got a hot hip-hop scene, and these guys do a lot of videos," he says. "You just have to show them what you can do." 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, 3100 Cleburne. For information, call 713-660-7003 or visit www.hbcufilmfest.com. $3; free for TSU students. -- Steven Devadanam
A telepathic heroine is hungry for the wolf in Dead as a Doornail
After 20 years as a successful mystery novelist, Charlaine Harris decided to branch out with 2001's Dead Until Dark. This "romantic supernatural Southern mystery" introduced protagonist Sookie Stackhouse, who has gone on to star in four subsequent sagas. "Sookie is a girl who has the misfortune of being telepathic," explains Harris. "As you can well imagine, this pretty much killed her dating life." That is, until she started hooking up with vampires, who are technically dead and therefore immune to her pesky mind-reading abilities. The new Dead as a Doornail finds our heroine moving on -- she's now intimately involved with a werewolf. So can we expect any hot human-lupine action? "There's not much sex in conventional mysteries," says Harris. "The Sookie books aren't superexplicit, but they're about as far as I want to take it." Harris talks wolf love at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
A Dose of Desi
I hold my breath as the silver scimitar streaks through the air and toward the little boy's head.
A blindfolded man wearing an orange turban, loose white clothing and high-tops strikes the ground -- three inches from the youngster's dome -- with his sword. (He was supposed to be aiming for the kid's stomach.) We're watching a demonstration by Miri Piri Gatka Dall, practitioners of the centuries-old martial art gatka, at the International Festival, which celebrates India this year. The turbaned Sikh performers have been smashing their sticks and swords at one another in front of a wowed crowd. When they called for volunteers, I declined, but like a chump, I gently nudged a curious boy forward. Now he's lying on the ground with a hamburger bun on his stomach, while the blindfolded swordsman swirls his blade Crouching Tiger-style over him. I've sent the kid to his death.
In a flash, the swordster brings the blade down and slices the hamburger bun in half. The crowd roars as he slips off his blindfold and bows. The kid looks relieved (and a little pissed at me).
I'm at the fest because, as a Canadian-born Indian, I'm trying to get closer to my roots. At the Incredible India Zone, there are booths and stands pushing everything from clothing (I love the ladies' baby tees from Desi Threads that say "Wanna play with my tablas?" across the chest) to spirituality (one booth offers enlightenment with "Changing Bodies: Reincarnation"). An odd man in a monkey suit grabs my hand and leads me to the 25-ton sand sculpture of the Taj Mahal. I take part in a food demonstration with H-E-B chefs, helping prepare a vegetarian dish of eggplant and yogurt (I have no idea what I'm doing). And later I'm on the Center Stage at a Bollywood dance lesson/bhangra party. As I flail my arms, shake my ass and feel like a complete moron, I suddenly feel closer to the homeland. -- Steven Devadanam Demon Love SAT 4/30 With an eye-catching title like "Maidens, Angels, Demons, Saints: Female Desires and Fantasies," you'd expect the exhibit at Las Manos Mágicas gallery to be unveiled around Día de los Muertos or, hell, even Valentine's Day. The two-woman show is actually in honor of Cinco de Mayo and features ceramics by Marieli Alberti-Peterson and papier-mâché by Rachel Slick. Alberti-Peterson's works are composed of earthenware female figures and mixed-media images on clay surfaces. Meanwhile, Slick showcases masks and figures of women, bones, flesh, insects and flowers. Exhibit opens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, and runs through May 31. 4819 Blossom. For information, call 713-802-2530 or visit www.lasmanosmagicas.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam