This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, April 28

Regina Taylor's musical comedy Crowns revolves around a coterie of African-American women whose power and identity are worn on their heads for all to see. The story has been woven together from testimonials of actual "hat queens" and is told through the eyes of an adolescent girl who's worried she might end up a head case like her elders. Note: In order to qualify as a hat queen, a woman must own between 30 and 100 hats. Flip your lid when the show opens at 7:30 p.m. Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For tickets, call 713-520-0055 or visit www.ensemblehouston.com. $25 to $35.

Friday, April 29

These days, it seems like everyone in town is throwing some sort of film festival. If you're a fan of indie cinema, you won't want to miss Pencil Head's Dusk 'Til Dawn Film Fest 1.5.The flick fest raises funds for a bigger festival, Pencil Head's Dusk 'Til Dawn Film Fest 2.0, and boasts a lineup of independent shorts ranging from live-action comedy and dramas to quirky animation. Watch for War on the Homefront, about three shoplifters who, on a quest for a birthday present, make interesting use of playing cards as weapons. (Dude, that is so "Bullseye" from Daredevil.) Also watch for the slick Kaze, Ghost Warrior, a 24-minute animated film. Bonus: a special modern dance interpretation set to the Eagles' "Hotel California" (wow) at intermission. 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. today and Saturday, April 30. Helios, 411 Westheimer. For tickets and a schedule of screenings, call 713-621-9818 or visit www.dtdfilmfest.com. $10 per night; $15 for both nights.

Saturday, April 30

So you've watched just about every season of MTV's The Real World, and you figure you're just as sensitive as the lovable Pedro, as in-your-face as, say, Teck and as generally effed up as Puck. Now, if you only had a shot to get on the show. Well, you're in luck, as today crews from Bunim/Murray Productions will be holding an opening casting call for The Real World. Officially, you must be between 18 and 24 years old and have a valid ID and a photo. But what else are the casting agents looking for, besides total hotties? "We really want characters: a big persona, charisma, people who aren't afraid to be themselves," says casting director Alissa Haight. But you've gotta be hot, right, Alissa? "Well, looks don't hurt," she offers. (Okay then.) Do your best to wow the agents, as they "definitely keep people in mind for future seasons," adds Haight. Who knows? If MTV ever gets it together and does a Real World: Houston, you might be the star. (Just avoid the Puck hairdo, 'kay?) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ToC Bar, 711 Franklin. For information, call 713-224-4862 or visit www.bunim-murray.com Free.

Okay, so you didn't get that coveted callback from MTV and you're understandably depressed. Daniel Johnstonfeels your pain. For almost 15 years, the Austinite has sung about love, despair, loss and general existential anxiety. The perennial indie musico was recently honored with a tribute cover album (Discovered Covered) and the award-winning film The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a darling of the Sundance Film Festival. Oh, and Kurt Cobain wore a Johnston T-shirt during the '92 MTV Music Awards. How's that for cred? Head to the Orange Show today to hang with Johnston and, suddenly, that missed reality-series role will be put in some country-blues-tinged perspective. 8 p.m. 2401 Munger. For tickets and information, call 713-926-6368 or visit www.orangeshow.org. $10.

Sunday, May 1

The setting of laser to wood is perhaps the ultimate conflation of the natural and the man-made, the ancient and the high-tech. That's exactly what Terry Winters did when creating his Graphic Primitives series of woodcuts, which appear as part of "Terry Winters: Paintings, Drawings, Prints 1994-2004" this week at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Winters often bases his patterns and shapes on natural and artificial forms of intelligence, from brain synapses to the networks connecting computers. He also sets 20 same-size paintings into a system that can be configured and reconfigured endlessly. If you're into that kind of thing. Exhibit runs through July 10. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit www.camh.org. Free.

Monday, May 2

You'd just love to kiss the desk job g'bye and paint for a living, right? You're gonna need a plan, Picasso. Pay a visit to Paul Dorrell, who has penned a guidebook for artists called Living the Artist's Life. Part memoir and part how-to, Dorrell's book coaches readers on how to be media-savvy, deal with rejection, show publicly and find that non-shark agent (good luck with that one). We suggest submitting your two weeks' notice after you've heard Dorrell speak at 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 3003 West Holcombe. For information, call 713-349-0050 or visit www.livingtheartistslife.com. Free.

Tuesday, May 3

To be a great leader, or at least a decent pimp, you must own a cane. If you've ever wondered what kind of walking stick Sam Houston or Franklin D. Roosevelt strutted with, head down to the Heritage Society and catch "Walking Sticks: Fashion and Function." The exhibit is being touted as "the most extraordinary collection of walking canes that has ever been assembled and offered to the public." Stare in amazement at how one little sliver of wood could help support William Henry Harrison's enormous bulk. Some of the canes even have secret compartments. It's enough to give you a, um, woody. The caning runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Exhibit runs through May 29. 1100 Bagby. For information, call 713-655-1912, ext. 213, or visit www.heritagesociety.org. $2 to $6.

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