This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, July 7
Oh, these new-school celebrity couples: TomKat. Brangelina. Bennifer (again). Please! We prefer the classics, like Phantine, composed of the Phantom and lovely Christine from The Phantom of the Opera. Andrew Lloyd Webber converted the classic novel into a Broadway staple in the '80s, with the lurking, brooding Phantom, the object of his creepy desire, Christine, and that catchy chorus: "the Phaaaaaaaaaaaantom of the Opera is here"" Recently, the tale was turned into a forgettable movie, but the show is fantastic on the stage, and you can watch the tragic love tale this month at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. See Phantine (okay, it's weird, but come on, like TomKat's any better?) today at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Show runs through July 31. 800 Bagby. For tickets and showtimes, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. $21.25 to $71.25.

Friday, July 8
The dog days of July are enough to make you want to strip down to your birthday suit. Of course, if you're a member of the Healthy Hides of Houston, you're already stripped down all day, every day. The local nudist group wants you to join them as they celebrate Nude Recreation Week. Aside from what you already do in the nude (bathe and, well, that), you're encouraged to enjoy other daily activities, like mowing the lawn, playing tennis or just reading a good book -- naked. Today, the Healthy Hides are inviting you to an informational -- and clothed, thanks to those pesky health codes -- dinner. "We want people to know about all the fun activities we have, like monthly house parties," says Healthy Hides spokenudist Wayne Kircher, who also informed us that he was, in fact, naked at the time of the call. Pray for us, please. Get the naked truth at 6:30 p.m. Golden Island Chinese Restaurant, 901 North Shepherd. For information, visit www.healthyhides.org. Free.

Saturday, July 9
Years ago, this would've been one of the hottest (and hardest to score) hip-hop tickets of the summer. But today, you can catch rap legends Doug E. Fresh and the Sugarhill Gang for free at the Universal Sounds of Hip-Hop, which is being thrown by the Black Heritage Society as part of their Hip-Hop Against Drugs program. The concert kicks off with local acts DK Kool Herc, Times II, Klassy Thugz and, of course, Doug and the Gang. Grab a seat early at Miller Outdoor Theatre and make sure you've memorized the words to "Rapper's Delight" ("I said a hip hop / the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop-a / you don't stop..."). 6 p.m. 100 Concert Drive. For information, call 713-645-9598. Free.

Find out who Phantine is in The Phantom of the 
Opera at the Hobby Center for the Performing 
Arts. See Thursday.
Joan Marcus
Find out who Phantine is in The Phantom of the Opera at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. See Thursday.

Now that you've been sweatin' to some hip-hop, it's time to chill out at the Party by the Pool, which promises to play out like a summertime rap video. The scene: DJ Def Jam Blaster and DJ Hi C will spin while superhot models strut around in bikinis at the Chancellor's Ballroom. (You'll remember the ballroom as the site of the exclusive P. Diddy Pool Party a few weeks ago.) Hop in the water, where there will be diving, chicken-fighting and breath-holding contests. Or, just sit back and watch (or participate in) the bikini contest; the winner pockets $500. Ladies are encouraged to don their hottest swimwear; dudes, go with shorts and no shirt. "Guys, if you got nothing to show off, don't come," party organizer Trevin Nelms warns. (Guess we won't be showing up.) 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. 6535 Dumfries. For information, call 281-898-0051. $10 ($5 for anyone in swimwear).

Sunday, July 10
Gordon Terry enjoys depicting extraterrestrials in his art. But lest you pin him as a typical sci-fi geek, check out his new exhibition, "Passport to Magonia" at New Gallery. Terry has created an "enchanted realm" by pouring a polymer compound onto a flat surface, freezing it and then placing the weird mix on plastic panels and acrylic bars. The result is crystalline shapes, Pollock-esque splatters and big weird medallions of paint. In works such as Gnostic Cosmology, his funky, organic-looking shapes and splashes look almost like alien forms sprung to life. Has Terry drawn inspiration from Star Trek? Or does he get his ideas from the Force? You decide. Exhibit runs through August 15. 2627 Colquitt. For information, call 713-520-7053 or visit www.newgallery.net. Free.

Monday, July 11
Sicko-camp filmmaker and self-described "crime groupie" John Waters once explained his perverse fascination by saying "everybody looks better under arrest." Yes, crime is sexy, and Jack Kerley understands. In his new novel, The Death Collectors, which he'll be signing today at Murder By the Book, sexy detectives Harry Nautilus and Carson Ryder are repeatedly stymied in their attempts to solve a 30-year-old Manson-style case by the interference of ghoulish serial-murder fans. Hold up -- Harry Nautilus? Carson Ryder? Forget detective work; these dudes should be in porn! 6:30 p.m. 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8957 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free.

Tuesday, July 12
Bob Lee isn't called Da Mayor of the Fifth Ward for nothing. To start with, he lives and works in the Bloody Nickel. He also speaks for his fellow denizens through his vibrant, distinctive and pointedly political collages, which are on view at DiverseWorks in the exhibit "Bob Lee: Fifth Ward Working Class Art." The pieces are painstakingly constructed and then copied (the better to be mailed to neighbors and public figures). Like any good mayor, Lee creates work that deals with issues like poverty, racism and education, although perhaps with a bit more spunk and humor than your average office-holding suit. Through August 5. 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Free.

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