Not interested in getting borracho to celebrate the day? No problem. Head on down to the Cinco de Mayo Book Fiesta and listen to readings from children's authors Pat Mora and Ethriam Cash Brammer. The event is scheduled at 11 a.m. at the Alley Theatre (615 Texas, 713-228-8421) on...May 7 (don't ask us).
Also on Saturday, the League of United Latin American Citizens will be hosting a parade downtown. It begins at 10 a.m., at the corner of Texas and Hamilton by Minute Maid Park, and ends at the corner of Texas and La Branch (for info, call 713-695-5980).
What's that? Napoleon III was defeated in Mexico, not Bonaparte? Those damn margarita-swilling historians... -- Brian McManus
A lesbian Latina uncovers a killing in Desert Blood
In JuŠrez, right across the Rio Grande from El Paso, the mutilated bodies of more than 300 women have been found over the last 12 years, and the killer -- or killers -- have never been caught. Alicia Gaspar de Alba is a poet, novelist and UCLA professor who grew up in the El Paso area. This week, she'll be reading from her latest book, Desert Blood, which uses those gruesome murders as a backdrop for a highly personal, semiautobiographical mystery. Touching on so many hot-button issues it's surprising the pages don't burst into flames, the novel tells the story of a Los Angeles woman who, with her girlfriend, is trying to adopt a baby from El Paso. But the woman carrying the child turns up dead, and the protagonist finds herself caught up in the conspiracy surrounding the crime. The author reads at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 5. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-7821 or visit www.voicesbreakingboundaries.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
My day of trying to break into the Biz starts at Toc Bar, where, as I stand among an impossibly hot crowd, I've never felt older, more unattractive or lamer. It's a breezy Saturday afternoon, and while gorgeous young hipsters (all aged between 18 and 24) stand and chat outside, the wind blows through their hair like a slow-motion shot in a Britney video.
It's fitting that they look like pop stars, since they're all here to try out for MTV's The Real World. Since 10 a.m., hundreds of these ridiculously attractive, eager young folks -- some from as far away as Louisiana and even Missouri -- have lined up. Two nearly identical blonds chat me up because I look "official" (read: old). A Hayden Christensen look-alike with a tight tee and boy-band hair sneers at me when he realizes I'm not a casting agent.
True to MTV style, the casting call is a party. While a DJ spins, a hot brunette grinds on a pole in the middle of the club. Meanwhile, folks are taken in ten at a time, sat down and asked a barrage of random questions. In the end, several lucky kids are held back for second interviews.
Being too, um, "seasoned" for MTV (again, read: old), I head to the Galleria for an open casting call by Inside TV magazine, which is offering a chance at walk-on roles on some network shows. Hopefuls stand in front of the camera and read from a screen as their image is superimposed on an image from a real TV show. I read as Charlie (Sheen, that is) from Two and a Half Men. I'm not saying I'm the next George Clooney, but I think I'll be sending Spielberg the link to my performance. (And if you want to witness my humiliation, e-mail me and I'll send it to you, too.) -- Steven Devadanam
An Odd Slant
All right, what's the deal with Asian-American filmmakers and the topic of hair? A quick glance at the featured lineup for the fifth annual Slant Film Festival reveals both Hairwolf, about a disgruntled lycanthrope, and The Hairs, which follows the adventures of a man obsessed with achieving personal hairlessness. Hmmm. But the follicle focus is sidestepped in other films on the bill, including Top Woman Shooter, about a handgun-champion mom (perfect Mother's Day fare) and How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun-Umma, which functions as both an impromptu Korean cooking class and a peek into immigrant folkways. Festival runs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 8. Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.hyphenmagazine.com. $5. -- Scott Faingold