A flower pillow by Tina Kotrla
A flower pillow by Tina Kotrla
Frank Rose

Knitting Factory

SAT 7/30
Crochet, at long last, has been liberated from its stodgy, pot-holding reputation. That's right, yarny loops are hip again, and local sculptor Tina Kotrla is joining the fray with her show "My Own Sweet Time," which opens this weekend at Gallery 1724. Kotrla, who calls crocheting a link to her past, learned some basic stitches from her mother but allows her creations to go awry. "I don't really follow patterns," she says. "I make things and they'll take a strange direction." This approach, she says, references not only crochet's long history as fine art but also its "low art" status as a household hobby.

The crochet sculptures include several "flower pillows," or stuffed, shapely poufs with floral attachments. Displayed alongside them will be a few drawings, collages made with materials such as wood and zippers, and some sculpture featuring shower caps -- all revealing Kotrla's enthusiasm for "things related to the domestic." Check out her comfort art beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 30. Show runs through September 2. 1724 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-2547 or visit www.gallery1724.com. Free. -- Julia Ramey

They Killed Humpty!

A classic nursery rhyme takes a dark turn in The Big Over Easy

TUE 8/2
Welsh screenwriter-turned-novelist Jasper Fforde isn't content to just crank out quirky crime thrillers; he seems to want to start an entirely new genre. The Big Over Easy, which he'll be discussing and signing at Murder By the Book, foists a murder plot onto an unsuspecting cast of, well, nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale characters. The story begins when one Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III is found "shattered" and detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary (who one can bet is at least somewhat contrary) are assigned to the case. According to his Web site, Fforde wrote Over Easy way back in the early '90s and couldn't get it published. Looks like it's the industry that has egg on its face now, eh, Jasper? 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 2. 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8957 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold

I'm with Stupid

It's not every day that I'm rammed in the ass by a buffalo.

Being nearly trampled by the hairy beast is surreal enough. But that it's happening at Space Center Houston makes it, well, that much more bizarre.

Of course, bizarre is par for the course at the auditions for "Stupid Human and Pet Tricks," one of the most popular segments ever on Late Night with David Letterman. I'm standing in the courtyard -- now in need of a change of pants -- and trying to snap photos of Clyde, a thousand-pound buffalo, and his pal Lil' Bill, the baby buffalo (a mere 100-plus pounds) who has nearly run over me. The buffalo show off their (relative) agility by winding around some barrels. Clyde performs a "leap of death," in which he casually ambles over a stagehand lying on the ground.

The event is hosted by Channel 11's morning funnyman Jonathan Walton, who coaxes Reese, a fawn-colored, furry Chihuahua, into doing a little "happy dance." Goofy, a dachshund, deftly balances a doggie treat on her nose. There's a cockatoo, Seymour, who drinks water from a bottle cap that he holds in his beak. And there's even an iguana, Lucy, who pretends to fall asleep when her owner says "Letterman."

The humans are, well, a little stupider. Dustin, from Tyler, makes the sound of a galloping horse by flopping his tongue and mashing his jaws. (Guess there's just not a lot to do in Tyler.) Little Damien squirts a stream of water through his teeth. There's Kellie, who picks her nose with her tongue (yum), and Lydia, who pinches the hair off Walton's arm with her toes.

In the end, it's up to the Letterman folks to decide who's stupidest. Man, I shoulda entered. None of those fools could hang with my "buffalo dance." -- Steven Devadanam

Sing Till You're Horse

SUN 7/31
What do you get when you cross Simon Cowell with an American quarter horse? No, not an insult-spewing Mr. Ed (darn), but rather the Best Pop Singer in Houston contest at Sam Houston Race Park. Sunday afternoon, dudes and divas ages nine and up can take a shot at mmm-boppin' and booty-shakin' for a chance to win $2,500 at the finals on August 14. We can hear the racetrack-inspired pop now: "Hit me, baby, one more time / doo-dah, doo-dah!" Races start at 1:30 p.m. Sundays; contests take place between races. 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 281-807-8760 or visit www.shrp.com. $3 for adults; free for kids 12 and under. -- Katie Walsh

Quite an Ass

The main character in Robert Bresson's Balthazar is a total jackass. Literally. The 1966 French film follows the abuses visited upon the title character, a hapless donkey, at the hands of unfeeling humans. The poor beast's burdens mirror those of his unfortunate counterpart, a young woman named Marie. Bresson was notorious for using "nonprofessional" actors, who he insisted gave more believable performances than trained ones, and Balthazar is considered a masterpiece of naturalistic filmmaking. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7300 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6. -- Scott Faingold


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