Gilligan's Island did it; so did Survivor and Lost: Start with a tropical island with sandy beaches and clear water as far as the eye can see. Insert some non-islanders and tweak the supporting details a bit, and it's a blockbuster. This has been the recipe for success so many times, one has to wonder, Is the jig up? Maybe not. As much human interest piece as science experiment, Reel Paradise is a documentary that follows indie guru John Pierson and his family in their last month on the Fijian island of Taveuni. The family lived there for a year so Pierson could screen films (mostly mainstream and whatever was approved by local censor boards) for free at the local theater, the Meridian 180 Cinema. It was all part of his experiment to see what the films would mean in a whole other part of the world. Pierson introduces the first showing of Reel Paradise at 7 p.m. Friday, November 4. Screenings continue at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 5, and 7 p.m. Sunday, November 6. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org. $6. -- Mary Templeton
A Tough, Smart Lawyer
A prick turns savior in Mark Gimenez's The Color of Law
Scott Fenney is a smug, WASPy ex-football player-cum-high-powered attorney with a pretty wife, a pretty Ferrari and a pretty damn expensive home in Highland Park, the most exclusive neighborhood in Dallas. He makes for a pretty one-dimensional character in the outset of Texas author Mark Gimenez's debut crime drama, The Color of Law (think Jerry Maguire, before Renée Zellweger "completes" him). But when the son of a Texas senator and presidential hopeful dies after a wild night with a doped-up prostitute, Fenney is forced to represent the hooker, and he's forced to deal with some complex racial and moral issues. A little To Kill a Mockingbird with some Law & Order thrown in, Color is a page-turner, and Gimenez -- a real-life attorney-turned-author -- seems to warrant his billing as "the next John Grisham." Meet Gimenez at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 3. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Ways of the World
Open letter to my grandkids (part II):
I want to share my experience at Game Four of the World Series, and some lessons I've learned that should help you -- if we ever get back.
1. When you're going to a World Series game, make sure you're drunker than everyone else around you. It's more than an hour till game time when we get to Minute Maid Park, but the lady over my left shoulder is piss-drunk. She holds her screams for a good ten seconds. I can still hear her shrieking when the Astros are at the plate: "C'mon, Jason Lane! C'moooooon Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!" (One problem: It's Chris Burke who's up to bat.) I'm wishing that I was plastered, too.
2. If you're trying to get on TV, use your head or, more specifically, your back. There are bee costumes and painted faces galore. But who gets on TV? The guy who writes "Backe fan!" on his back. Clever.
3. If you want to avoid the Kiss Cam, go to the restroom or go for beer. Or both. The folks at Minute Maid think it's cute to put couples on the big screen with a big heart around them. Then they're supposed to kiss. When the Kiss Cam gets close to us, I break for the restroom, promising beer when I return. A good move. Use it.
4. Screw the crowd -- be a free thinker. Putting on your rally cap is a tradition where you wear your hat upside down when the team's behind. As we flip our lids, I pull several valuable hairs off the front of my head. You know what? We lose 1-0 anyway.
5. When you're at the game, buy a program. They go for a heckuva lot more on eBay than the mug I bought.
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Get on the "Wagon"
You don't get much more visceral than "The Meat Wagon," Robert Gober's installation at the Menil Collection. The exhibit, featuring uncanny vignettes of what Gober calls "natural history dioramas about contemporary human beings," certainly lives up to its name. Among the exhibit pieces are a wax leg perforated with drains and a Madonna penetrated by a culvert pipe, interspersed with 40 pieces from the Menil's permanent collection. Making intriguing use of common objects, Gober reinterprets the exhibit space and raises provocative questions about childhood, home, sexuality, religion and transcendence. Exhibit runs through January 22. 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit www.menil.org. Free. -- Mary Templeton
We Like Bike
If you think the biking scene is just tattooed guys in black T-shirts and leather who sit around talking about choppers, then you're no fool. At this weekend's Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show '05, they'll be out in force, along with acres of hot custom bikes. There'll also be a trade show, a fashion show, live music and models. Consider it American Chopper come to life. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 5; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 6. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For tickets, visit www.easyriderevents.com. $7 to $27. -- Steven Devadanam