There you are, busily packing bits of beach sand into Dixie cups and constructing sturdy castle towers that are, in your mind, worthy of King Arthur and his court. You even dig your heels around your imaginary hero's house to simulate a moat for protection. You have quite the imagination, knave! But we've got news for you: Sand castles don't have to be castles anymore. They can take the shape of, for example, Marvin Zindler's head. A brainy bunch of sand-sculpting wizards -- architects, engineers and designers -- is descending upon Galveston for the 19th annual AIA Sandcastle Competition, where 85 teams will compete for the highly lauded Golden Bucket Award. Let's face it, their intricately refined sand sculptures make your rinky-dink creation look like a crap castle of titanic proportions. Dig in at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 4. East Beach, Seawall Boulevard at Boddeker Drive. For information, call 713-520-0155 or visit www.aiasandcastle.com. Free. -- Brian McManus
Reality (and the cold) bite in Andrea White's new book
Houston's first lady, Andrea White, does more than glad-hand at parties and ride in parade floats. She's now an author, and her first tome, a page-turner aimed at the young adult market, chronicles the hell of reality TV. In Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083, five teens are contestants on a reality show that re-creates Robert F. Scott's doomed 1912 attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. But in the future, reality TV is, well, real. There are no safety crews to help out this group of 14-year-olds as they try to navigate the pole while 50-below winds assault them. Will our heroic teens survive their Antarctic peril? Will an elderly Joe Rogan make them eat worms? Find out when White reads and signs at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Borders Bookstore, 12788 Fountain Lake Circle, Stafford. For information, call 281-240-6666 or visit www.bordersstores.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
The air is stifling outside the River Oaks Theatre, but that hasn't stopped a line of people from gathering there just before midnight for a screening of Napoleon Dynamite. This ain't just a run-of-the-mill midnight show: Tonight, Dynamite fans are facing off in a look-alike contest and dance-off. Will someone pull off Napoleon's gawky, white-guy-'fro look? And will anyone even touch his skills on the dance floor? Man, I'm almost giddy in anticipation.
The doors open, and the sweaty fans pile into the theater, where Rob, the theater's upbeat marketing guru, greets them with promises of prizes for the best costume. To my surprise, no one shows up as Napoleon. But four beaming high school girls -- Avery, Megan, Emily and Jessica -- have dressed up as tater tots (Napoleon's preferred portable food, for those not in the know). Korinna is striking as Napoleon's love interest, Deb, replete with the ponytail, tacky '80s outfit ("I got it from Wal-Mart," she tells me) and purple Caboodles case ("Well, that's actually from my closet," she admits). Then there's a fortysomething mom who bears an uncanny resemblance to Kip, Napoleon's effeminate brother. She's got the big glasses, shorts and socks 'n' sandals thing going on. And even her name -- Terry -- is sexually ambiguous. Yes!
But the audience screams loudest for Jason. Tall, gangly and clad in American-flag pants (stars on one leg, stripes on the other -- duh), he's also sporting an American-flag bandanna and a blue Polo shirt that says "Rex" on the chest. There's no mistaking him as the film's goofy martial arts instructor, of Rex-Kwon-Do fame. He even bellows, "Bow to your sensei!" in dead-on Rex timbre. He's the clear winner.
Only one girl, Annie, gets up on stage for the dance-off. As we hoot, she duplicates Napoleon's ass-shake for the crowd before the movie begins. On my way home, I vow to buy the Napoleon DVD -- and some flag pants. -- Steven Devadanam
Paul Fleming uses a commercial cement product called Hydrocal to make luminous white plaster casts of found objects (kitchenware, say, or computer parts). He then colors them with brightly hued resin. "From this he makes a living?" you can almost hear his great-aunt ask. Fleming's new exhibition at Barbara Davis Gallery, "Escape Pod," evokes thoughts of plummeting to safety through space. The work, though, seems to be about a different kind of escape: giving the slip to stale ideas through the ingenious twisting of commonplace items. Opening reception 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 3. Show runs through July 2. 4411 Montrose. For information, call 713-520-9200 or visit www.barbaradavisgallery.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold
"In heaven, everything is fine," trills the Lady in the Radiator, one of the many distressing, dreamlike figures wending their way through David Lynch's Eraserhead, showing this week at the Houston Center for Photography as part of its film series on mental health. Thrill as industrial noises clash with jaunty Fats Waller organ solos and our hero, the schlubby, Don King-coiffed Henry (played by the late Jack Nance), learns some hard lessons about child rearing and reality versus perception, all at a grinding, deliberate pace that makes 2001: A Space Odyssey seem like a Roadrunner cartoon. 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4. 1441 West Alabama. For information, call 713-529-4755 or visit www.hcponline.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold