Dang, You've Got Skills!

Show 'em off at a midnight screening of Napoleon Dynamite

Dude, of course you know what a "liger" is (it's, like, a lion and a tiger mixed -- bred for its skills in magic, duh). And you totally know that Rex Kwon Do is, like, the greatest of all martial arts. Heck yes, you do. Well, you do if you've seen Napoleon Dynamite, like, infinity times. But if for some reason you've managed to miss arguably the greatest cinematic homage to high school geekdom ever, you can catch it this weekend at River Oaks Theatre's midnight screenings.

Friday at midnight, get your fill of Napoleon, the coolest dork at Idaho's Preston High School, his über-effeminate brother, Kip, his loser uncle, Rico, and of course his best buddy, Pedro. Show up at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night for a Sweet Look-A-Like Contest and a D-Qwon Dance Off. "You don't have to be in costume, but if you can do a dead-on Pedro or Kip impersonation, that's awesome," says Rob Arcos of River Oaks Theatre. Look legit, have a killer time, and bring some ChapStick (just in case your lips hurt real bad). Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28. 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-333-3456 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com. $6 to $8. -- Steven Devadanam

Charmed, We're Sure

Dixie chick Ronda Rich wants to ring your belle

WED 6/1
As those of us south of the Mason-Dixon Line know, there's just somethin' about the way our lil' ladies flirt. Professional Southern belle Ronda Rich is spreading the gospel of Dixie womanhood in two new books, both of which she'll be signing this week. In What Southern Women Know About Flirting, Rich spills the grits on the benefits of "charmnacity," a quality she unashamedly compares to kudzu in its insidiousness. "Remember," she admonishes, "you cannot be a good flirt without being a good storyteller." Rich puts her money where her mouth is with her first novel, The Town That Came A-Courtin'. In it, a lonely Southern divorcée and authoress finds true love -- and a creepy stalker -- during a book-tour stop in Bliss, Mississippi, a town where "emotions are not sacred and events are not secret." Get Rich at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. Barnes & Noble, 12850 Memorial Drive. For information, call 713-465-5616 or visit www.barnesandnoble.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Sith Head

In a galaxy far, far away (well, west Houston, anyway), I'm standing next to a fat guy in a Darth Vader costume. He's wielding a plastic lightsaber and trying his best to look menacing (well, I am a little scared after seeing him). It's 10 p.m., and more than 400 people are lined up outside the Alamo Drafthouse theater in West Oaks Mall to be the very first ones to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at the midnight showing. As I hang outside with the mostly youngish fans, I spot only a few masks and sabers. Where are all the Star Wars nerds I keep hearing about, the ones who just have to see the flick before everyone else does?

Inside, it seems. I meet Marc, who's 32 years old and has been waiting at the Drafthouse since 7 a.m. (His effort won a special promo poster.) "Um, don't you have a job?" I ask him.

"Oh, yeah, I'm a banker," he says, proudly showing off his Star Wars-themed "Imperial Domination" T-shirt. Apparently the Force has always been strong with Marc. "This is special," says the native of Vietnam, almost getting misty. "When I came to this country, Star Wars was the first movie I saw."

The doors finally open to sci-fi geek paradise. Waiters scurry about, serving beer and pizza while nerds repeat movie lines to one another. We watch clips of old Star Wars toy commercials. Then there's a countdown to midnight, and as the title jumps on the screen, folks scream in delight -- some even make loud Chewbacca noises.

But I'm right there with 'em, thrilling to epic space battles and fuming over Anakin Skywalker's betrayal of the Jedi -- and his wife, Padmé. (I mean, Natalie Portman's freaking hot!) And when we empty out of the theater at 2:30 a.m., I can't help but high-five my fellow nerds, er, fans. -- Steven Devadanam

Two-Timin' Twombly

FRI 5/27
You can never have too much Twombly. Knowing this, the folks over at the Menil Collection are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the elegant and prestigious Cy Twombly Gallery with a new retrospective, titled "Fifty Years of Work on Paper." It's a bit of a departure from the iconoclastic artist's paint-smeared canvases, instead showcasing copious use of crayon and collage. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston simultaneously will be hosting the U.S. debut of the artist's war-themed painting cycle, "Lepanto." "Fifty Years of Work on Paper" opens Friday, May 27, and runs through September 4 at the Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400, www.menil.org. Free. "Lepanto" opens Friday, May 27, and runs through Sunday, September 11 at the MFAH, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, www.mfah.org. -- Scott Faingold

Coyote Pretty

FRI 5/27
The Rio Grande Valley boasts some exotic and interesting wildlife -- and not just the coyote smugglers or balding and belt-buckled birds of prey at roadhouse bars. The region is home to a unique ecosystem of animals, documented in the photo series "Visions of South Texas: Beyond the Ranch Gate." Check out curious lizards and majestic birds taking flight in front of a backdrop of blue sky. It's a chance to see Texas critters in their natural, uh, crittering habitats. Exhibit opens Friday, May 27, and runs through August 7. Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive. For tickets, information and a schedule, call 713-639-4629 or visit www.hmns.org. $3.50 to $6. -- Bob Ruggiero

 
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