This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, September 15
Here's one reason to revel in adulthood: You're finally old enough to eat dessert for dinner without getting in trouble. Unleash your sweet tooth and show off your dance moves at the Just Desserts Dinner + '80s Dance Nightat Rickshaw Bambu. We suggest you don your widest belt, bangliest bracelets and hottest colors -- like pink, orange and Day-Glo green -- and maybe even break out "The Robot." Finally, a place to rock out to the tunes you crooned into your hairbrush before you discovered angst and flannel. Cocktails and three courses of desserts fuel you up so you can spin right 'round, baby, beginning at 6:30 p.m. 2810 Westheimer. For information, call 281-870-0827. $45. Cash bar. RSVP required.

Friday, September 16
As Hollywood veterans living in the Clear Lake area, Hal Wixon (an actor who's starred with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field) and wife Karen (she's done makeup for the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Gregory Peck and even -- gasp! -- Gilbert Gottfried) wanted to spark interest in film within their community. "Someone said, 'Why don't we do a film festival?" says Hal. "We said, 'Sure.' Of course, nobody knew a damn thing about doing a film festival." Though the couple's first Gulf Coast Film Festivalin 1999 was quite modest, over the years they've managed to secure visiting celebs like Northern Exposure's Janine Turner, and at this weekend's seventh annual event, they're presenting a lifetime achievement award to actor Armand Assante, whom you may remember from Striptease. Meanwhile, 32 indie flicks from all over the country, plus Europe and Japan, will be screened over the weekend, with one winning the overall Best of Festival. Meet and greet from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, September 16, at the Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake, 2000 NASA Parkway. Screenings run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, September 17, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, September 18. For schedule and venue information, call 281-333-5804 or visit www.gulfcoastfilmfest.com. $3 per screening; $20 for a day pass; $30 for a festival pass.

Saturday, September 17
Whether you march to the beat of a different drummer or drum to the beat of the band, you'll be welcome at EarthDance 2005, billed as "the world's largest dance party for peace," which benefits local nonprofit organizations and the Citizens' Environmental Coalition. Drummers are encouraged to bring their own instruments and join in -- if only to wake the neighbors. Get your beat on from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann. For information, visit www.earthdance.org/houston. $10 suggested donation.

After your drum is tapped, get cleaned up, throw on some fresh duds and hang with your dawgs at the Latin-themed Houston PetSet Soiree, which benefits local animal welfare organizations. Mix and mingle with young professionals and show off your puppy pics, or sway to the rumba-rific musical stylings of the South American band Sur. Once you're full of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, unleash your generosity (and your pocketbook) on the silent auction. 7 p.m. Artista, 800 Bagby. For tickets, call 713-328-5140 or visit www.houstonpetset.org. $50 presale; $60 at the door.

Sunday, September 18
If you're saddled with kiddos today, you've got options. Hold on to your sanity and take the family to Bayou Bend's Free Family Day, a.k.a. A Celebration of Sounds. The rugrats can fiddle with a variety of orchestral instruments at the Instrument Petting Zoo and shake things up with rain sticks and wind chimes at the activity booth. And you, friend, can relax in the Diana Garden to the sounds of the Lonestar Bluegrass Band and guitarist Jawad, as he presents "The Roots of American Music," a retrospective of the contributions of folk, blues and jazz. 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 1 Westcott. For information, call 713-639-7750 or visit www.mfah.org/bayoubend. Free.

Monday, September 19
Peter Roseis a prolific filmmaker and artist who comments on time, space, light and darkness by exploring landscapes as well as the astronomical wonders of the night sky. Suzanne Anker is a visual artist and theoretician who comments on the "genetic age" of things like designer babies by, for example, manipulating Rorschach test images into 3-D objects. The pairing of Rose's "Selected Works" and Anker's "Future Natural" at the Deborah Colton Gallery promises to be a thought-provoking and visually stimulating show. See it at the opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday, September 16, or skip the crowds and view privately today. Exhibits run through November 5. 2500 Summer, third floor. For information or to schedule a viewing, call 713-864-2364 or visit www.deborahcoltongallery.com. Free.

Tuesday, September 20
They were making a career out of singing about off-kilter topics like Mr. Miyagi and Oompa Loompas, scoring fans with addictive tunes like "These Days." Yes, things were going great for Alien Ant Farm until a bus crash in Spain maimed lead singer Dryden Mitchell and killed their driver. But the band has bounced back and is on the road again. Don't miss their hyper, raucous cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." 9 p.m. The Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For tickets, call 713-654-7846 or visit www.engineroomhouston.net. $12 to $14.

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