Cinco de Mayo: Grupo Folklorico Children's groups perform traditional dances in fabulous costumes, whirling for Cinco de Mayo. Often called Mexico's Independence Day, the holiday actually honors the defeat of French troops by outnumbered Mexican forces at the city of Puebla in 1862. More of an "Alamo Day" than an independence day. (The Cinco de Mayo battle was one seemingly decisive meeting which, in the final analysis, did not reflect the outcome of the whole conflict.) What happened next? The Children's Museum is sure to have the answers, plus kid-specific entertainment. Performances 6:30 & 7:15 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 522-1138. Free.
Cinco de Mayo: The Cadillac Bar The party for adults begins at noon today and runs pretty much through the weekend. For lucky winners in the women's bikini and the men's best-chest contests, the party ends with a lost weekend: a Continental Airlines package will be one of the prizes. So that those who don't almost strip for show also have a chance at air fare, two tickets will be given away each night. Survivors of tonight's bash will be awarded a "Cinco Survivor" ticket good for a free margarita at Friday's continued fiesta. The time? Happy hour, Apor su puesto! Cadillac Bar, 1802 Shepherd, 862-2020. No admission charge.
Tattoo Expo '94 Tattooing astral bodies is about the only thing they won't be doing at this Walpurgis Night of skin illustration. The three-day expo is brought to you by Jack Armstrong and Chuck's Custom Tattooing (Chuck's shops are in Beaumont and Galveston -- places where tattoos stand for something).
Tattoo competitions, booths and other fun will be open to all skin-art aficionados. Only registered conventioneers will be allowed to compete, and they must enter by noon. 10 a.m.-midnight. Hobby Airport Hilton, 8181 Airport, 645-3000.
Human-Alien Contact: Transforming Consensus into Reality Nationally known UFO expert Michael Lindemann will present this lecture at the May meeting of the Houston UFO Network (HUFON). The message seems to be that if enough people say it, it's so.
The typical drawings of alien visitors -- wedge-shaped faces, huge eyes and tiny triangular noses -- remind me of something. Many nights have I been awakened by just such a creature, its glowing eyes inches from my own. In my case, the inhuman presence is my cat. With her, too, there is a strange humming sound -- purring. Many cat owners have been roused from sound sleep by a weight on their chest and opened their eyes to see the familiar face of a cat, ears flattened back in pleasure, scraping its raspy tongue on their chin.
But that's just one explanation. Those who really give a hoot about UFOlogy -- and really, about the paranormal in general -- should try to figure stuff out. My skinny buddy Bill Brown, who has been given a huge grant from an Ivy League school to film a documentary about UFOs, suggests, "Maybe everyone will find a little relief from that nagging existential bellyache by focusing on the external and transcendent for a change. UFOs are the VW buses of the cosmos, man." 7:30 p.m. Holiday Inn I-10 at Silber, 597-2834. Free.
Canine Frisbee Disc Club Community Championship Dogs take to the air, soaring upward over and over, leaping toward heaven to snag spinning Frisbee Discs. Border collies, the quick and silent ninjas of dogdom, compete with labs, goldens and feisty mutts. All this excitement goes for the good of Citizens for Animal Protection. The fine folks from CAP will take time from providing shelter and safety for abandoned and injured animals to man the food and drink booths and run the show -- and the raffle that is the heart of the fundraiser. Bring the whole family (keep dogs and particularly fractious children on leashes, please). 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Memorial Park, ball diamond #4. Free.
Vivo y Positivo '94 Margarita Mix-off Arnaldo and Janice Richards of Pico's Mex-Mex, Houston's premier home of tradicional cocina mexicana, celebrate Cinco de Mayo today with tequila contests, the Houston Zoomobile and flamenco dancers. Local restaurateurs vie to have their concoctions judged the Best Margarita in Houston. Vivo y Positivo '94 is a whole festival -- craft sales; music, including Ethnic Rain, a nine-piece world music band and Latin jazz artist Norma Zenteno; and a raffle. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. The new Pico's, 4527 Lomitas (Kirby at Highway 59), 942-9955. $3 donation for local HIV/AIDS group.
The Mark of Zorro Silent film as you've never seen it before: outside, a la the drive-in, and accompanied by the Houston Symphony. In this 1920 flick, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., the original swashbuckler, stars as the masked Zorro -- a Mexican avenger -- and as mild-mannered Don Diego. Like Superman and the Scarlet Pimpernel, this hero rights wrongs in disguise and makes a point of being known as a wuss.
Donald Hunsberger, director of the Eastman-Dryden Orchestra -- which specializes in accompaniment for silent film -- will direct the symphony as the screen is filled with flashing swordplay, pre-OSHA stunts, equestrian derring-do and lust in the dust of long-ago California deserts. 8:30 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands. To charge tickets by phone call 629-3700. $7.50 on the lawn, $9.50 reserved seats.
Feed Mom Grateful children might prepare, lovingly with their own hands, a special meal. Culinarily challenged kids, however, can turn to the talented chefs at several Houston restaurants. Mother's Day specials abound. Hyper-trendy 8.0 turns traditional for Mother's Day: moms eat free when they bring in three others (if everyone has an entree), and a party magician will stroll from table to table performing sleight of hand while patrons enjoy green eggs and ham. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 3745 Greenbriar, 523-0880. Moms eat free at Fornos of Italy, as long as two others in the party purchase entrees. Southern Italian cuisine such as capellini with shrimp, scampi and ravioli di pollo can be complemented with 99 cents mimosas. Dine al fresco or inside from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 10001 Westheimer, 789-5552. Moms who like something a bit more stout than a 99 cents mimosa should be féted at Senor Frog's. At the cantina, mothers who have brunch with their families will be treated to a free 'rita of any variety. The newly opened Senor Frog's Restaurante y Cantina serves brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 5016 Westheimer at Post Oak, 871-1616.
Or, you could take mom out for Asian food in the evening. Nit Noi, Nit Noi Too and Kim Son offer free flowers for mothers and have special menus for Mother's Day. Kim Son downtown has a buffet, and in the upstairs banquet room, a jazz trio. Parties of eight or more are entitled to a free bottle of champagne, and there will be red roses for all mothers. 6-10 p.m. 2001 Jefferson, 222-2461. Nit Noi and Nit Noi Too have special menus featuring traditional Thai food, and owner Alice Vongvisith has dendrobium orchids for each mom. Both restaurants open 5-10 p.m. 2462 Bolsover & 5211 Kelvin, 524-8114. All of these restaurants suggest that you make reservations, and you could dress to please your mom. Just this once.
Wilson Whitley Memorial Celebrity Golf Tournament The University of Houston African American Studies program continues to celebrate its 25th anniversary at UH. Today PGA pro Charles Sifford, Buffalo Bills back Thurman Thomas and former Astro Jimmy Wynn contribute by whacking the little white pill. The tourney honors UH alum Wilson Whitley, an All-American football player and Lombardi Award winner; the goal is to raise $76,000 for African American students. The play is five-team scramble, with one celeb in each group, and plenty of corporate honchos have signed up to play. Cross your fingers for good weather. 1 p.m. Dinner and awards 5:30. Tour 18, on FM 1960 two miles east of Highway 59 North. 743-2811. Dinner tickets $20.
Manon: A Ballet Brief Lady MacMillan, widow of choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, is one of the speakers who will reveal intimate details of the creation of MacMillan's Manon. Lady MacMillan, who has overseen productions of her husband's works since his death two years ago, will discuss, among other things, his interpretation and artistic treatment of Abbe Prevost's novel Manon Lescaut. UH French professor Valentini Papadopoulou Brady will discuss the literary and historical aspects of Prevost's story. The romantic tragedy involves a fine, upstanding young man who is willing to lie, cheat, steal and kill for a beautiful woman, despite -- or perhaps because of -- her failings. Designer Peter Farmer, whose sets and costumes are part of the Houston Ballet's May 19 premiere, offers insights on his contributions. The Ballet Brief, part of the Houston Ballet and Ballet Guild's educational outreach program, is designed to enrich dance appreciation. (If you miss the talk, Manon Lescaut is a $4 paperback at most bookstores.) 7:30-9 p.m. Hamman Hall, Rice University Campus, entrance 14, off Rice Boulevard, 5-BALLET. Free.
Keep watching the skies Today is eclipse day, and crack scientists know all about this celestial phenomenon and have for years. The annular eclipse (one in which the moon covers all but a bright ring around the sun) begins at 9:51 a.m. By 11:30 (the official science time is 11:26) the moon's disk will cover 71 percent of the sun. Somewhere between then and 1:18 p.m., the eclipse will reach its full magnitude -- 79 percent. This amazing celestial event happens up in the sky for all to see, but you can't look at it. However, as many schoolchildren know, there are ways to enjoy the eclipse without burning a hole in your retina. The Today's Vision Dancing Eyeballs, a group of costumed eye-care professionals, have been out teaching kids how to build safe viewing boxes. Call (800) SEE-TODAY for a free fact sheet.
Or, you can pop in at the Museum of Natural Science, which is pretty much Eclipse Central. They have a trained staff to answer questions. They've also got specially adapted telescopes, special mylar glasses ($2.50 each), and spiffy Solar Eclipse Viewing Kits with mylar glasses, a solar quadrant for measuring the sun's elevation, a geography activity sheet and other nifty gadgets ($5).
There is also a DIY way: poke a pinhole in some aluminum foil and let the sun shine through it. The image of the eclipsed sun will shine through. The special eclipse activities at the Museum continue for the duration of the event and cost a mere 25 cents. Museum of Natural Science, in Hermann Park, 639-4600.
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TexUS Roots Texans for Urban Sustainability wants even the smallest lawn to be an eco-marvel of organic management and maintenance. Thousands of homeowners do it to their yards, and now you can too. The TexUS May meeting is open to the lawn-mowing public; plant-type author J. Howard Garrett is lined up as the speaker.
Organic landscaping doesn't mean letting your lawn deteriorate into a dusty prairie populated with bugs the size of terriers. It means having an Earth-first ecosystem in your own back yard. 6:30 refreshments, 7 p.m. program. Interfaith Ministries Building, Board Room, 3217 Montrose, 261-7645. Free.
Bad boy of German cinema Rosa von Praunheim will present his films A Virus Knows No Morals and City of Lost Souls. Several works in von Praunheim's oeuvre are included in DiverseWorks' Beyond Desire film festival. The "bad boy" is also responsible for It is not the Homosexual Who is Perverse, but the Situation in which He Lives, Underground and Emigrants and Army of Lovers. The fuzzy, jolly lesbian and gay pictured at the top of the previous page are from that army -- hardly looks like bad-boy stuff to me.
That photo is just one moment from von Praunheim's 27 years as an underground filmmaker. He's long been regarded as the senior member of the Berlin School of underground filmmaking and, long before the position was in vogue, his attacks on gay monogamy evoked outrage within the homosexual community. Houstonians have many chances to see his films this month at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Goethe Institute. Tonight is the only chance to see the director. Von Praunheim talks about his 30 films, his goals and his obsessions. 7 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. Call for prices.