The United Nations: A New Humanitarian Order Stop watching so much CNN! That's no way to learn anything, except maybe how many ties Judge Ito owns. For a detailed update on the United Nations, check with Erskine Childers. Given the UN's financial difficulties and recent ineffectual responses to flagrant violations of international law, one might well wonder what is to become of the organization. Childers is no longer with the UN, but after 22 years there, he knows a thing or two about international peacekeeping. Childers' lecture is free; however, a limited number of seats are available. 5:30 p.m. Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ross. For reservations call 524-9839.
Health Shots: A Wayward Glance The wayward glance is not at the issue of health and health care. In this zesty production, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) leaves behind the traditional standards of health-care programming and opts for a variety show, the Houston premiere of which is tonight. Health care for humans, and what we ought to do for our home planet, is the subject, and zany is the style. See jokes about gang violence and condoms while getting the straight skinny about prenatal nutrition, childhood immunizations and community resources. Four shows, opening tonight with an 8 p.m. performance. Other shows Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. Hamman Hall, Rice University, entrance no. 14 off Rice Boulevard. Free parking in Lot F. For tickets, call 521-4462 or 439-6253. $5.
Anderson Fair They're baaack! Tonight, Anderson Fair opens for its 25th year, completing a quarter-century as purveyors of fine folk tunes, cold beer and live music as it was meant to be -- in an intimate setting. Buddy Mondlock, who has never before played Anderson Fair, is on the stage tonight. Shall we run through a roster of entertainers who played Anderson Fair, way back when, and are now big stars? No, you know who they are. And maybe Buddy Mondlock is a really big star waiting to happen. Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant (at Welch, kind of behind Texas Art Supply), 528-8576. $5.
Falconer Blase Dragna will demonstrate the ancient art of falconry. Ancient? I bet the Pharaohs trained raptors. Dragna will demonstrate with a live hawk. 1 p.m. Bookstop, 2215 FM 1960, 580-0195. Free.
Tony Bennett What is all this talk about a comeback? Tony Bennett's star never faded. Tony, legendary star, recent MTV icon and hunk of decades comes to the Houston Arena Theatre for one amazing show. Guess why the crooner is in town. Because women want him: the 375,000 women of the Hadassah, the largest women's organization in the world. The Houston chapter arranged this concert for their annual fundraiser. Their recent good works include citywide breast cancer screenings and helping the Hadassah's medical complex in Jerusalem. Of course, with Tony Bennett on-stage singing a string of standards, who cares? The stellar program includes "Fly Me to the Moon," "Steppin' Out" and, of course, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." This is a not-to-be-missed event, but if you have to miss it, you can still contribute to Hadassah. 8 p.m. Houston Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway (at Fondren). For tickets, or information on Hadassah, call 728-9172. $50 and $75; $250-$999 (per couple) patron tickets include a post-concert reception, $1,000-$5,000 small-group patron tickets include even more.
Three Minute Stories A good friend of mine once said, "There are a million sentence fragments in the naked city," and I knew exactly what he meant. Your friends, too, oh humble Picks reader, probably pop off with pithy, idiosyncratic remarks all the time. Round 'em up -- your friends, not the remarks -- and come on out for a casual evening of storytelling. Those mutants from Zocalo Theater offer this invite: "Please don't leave this important cultural event in the mouths of those performers who want to hog the mike. Join the famous and infamous and take your turn in a warm, shared community experience of oral history." Professionals and semi-pros at this speaking biz, local spoken words lights like Stephanie Holder, Luis Lemus, Elizabeth McBride and Randy Watson, will be limited to three minutes. In fact, all storytellers will be limited to three minutes, so there'll be plenty of time left for your time on-stage. When not telling stories, everyone will sit quietly, listening attentively and drinking cider. S'mores may be made! 9 p.m. Zocalo Theater and Performance Company, 5223 Feagan, 666-3479. $5.
Old Turtle is coming! No need to fear, Old Turtle is no giant, mutant terrapin on a killing spree. Old Turtle is, in fact, an art car. An art car with a mission. The converted Volkswagen Beetle was designed after the heroine of Old Turtle, an award-winning story preaching about peace and environmental issues. Old Turtle is lumbering through all 50 states (we assume there's a boat or plane involved in the trip to Hawaii) to encourage children and adults to write to members of the UN, offering their ideas about world peace. (I'd like to start a rumor, right now, that Old Turtle is based on my beloved Gamera, who is a friend to all children and has rocket jets in his carapace and would have no trouble getting from Plano to Paauhau. When you see Old Turtle driving by, join with your neighbors and co-workers and the homeless and sing the Gamera song. Sing-alongs are as likely to bring about peace as anything.) Today, Old Turtle will be in Friendswood, which is fitting. 1-3 p.m. Jem Books, 3224 FM 528 (at Bay Area Boulevard), 996-9918. Free, and all are welcome.
The Pirate We goofed. The Minnelli matinees are on Sundays, not Saturdays, so if you were at the MFA looking for a dose of song and dance yesterday, we're sorry. But check this one out. While it's not Vincente Minnelli's best, the interplay between Judy Garland and Gene Kelly is marvelous, and it did introduce the standard "Be a Clown." Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 639-7515. $5.
Those eyes If reading this is making your head hurt, don't blame me. Perhaps your aqueous humor is building up and squishing your optic nerve. Glaucoma is not one, but a group of eye diseases -- all of which can cause blindness. This is National Glaucoma Awareness Week, and the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness has set up several free screenings. The screening exam checks eye pressure and peripheral vision, but does not take the place of a complete eye exam. Today's screening: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Northwest Assistance Ministries, 4610 West FM 1960. For details of this, or other free screenings, call the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness, 526-2559.
Lawndale Art & Performance Center Take the "M Train" and see slides from the L.A. Metropolitan Transit Authority. You remember the L.A. train -- it got blowed up real good in Speed. You'll get an entirely different, although no less exciting, impression of that rail system from Jessica Cusick, the public art director of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. Tonight she talks about what artists can bring to "built structures" (for the lay audience, that means public and private buildings and parks). Meanwhile, in the small gallery, lecture-goers can see a wonderful installation by Wisconsin-born and Dallas-based artist Kathy Lovas. This "M Train" uses slides from multiple slide projectors, lights, a soundtrack and rocking-chair seating to create the sensation of a rail journey. Lovas' "M (for memory) Train" is based on a train she used to ride as a child from Indiana to Chicago, but the images that fill out the trip at Lawndale aren't limited to the actual scenes she saw on that stretch of the Great Plains. They go back in time, incorporating photographs that appear to be from the last century, pictures of people who clearly had something to say, even if we don't know what that something was. Lovas' photographs can bring to mind the images in a volume that rare book collectors, and other weirdoes, may know about, Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip. This work is a collection of photographs and news clippings and writings from Wisconsin's 19th-century settlers, and it has an unsettling effect. Lovas' work evokes a similar mood. A title Lovas superimposes over one of her old photos says, "Remembering is one of the most important things you do." And she seems to mean that we must not only remember our own lives, but also the lives of our ancestors. Cusick speaks tonight at 7 p.m.; Lovas' installation is on view through February 25. Lawndale Art & Performance Center, 4912 Main Street, 528-5858. The show and tonight's talk are free.
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Women read The first Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading of the new year features Pulitzer Prize winner E. Annie Proulx and feminist poet Marilyn Hacker. Last year was a very good year for Proulx: she was honored with a Pulitzer for her novel, The Shipping News. She was also given the National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award. Hacker has a National Book Award, something many poets would kill for, and eight published books of poetry. Moreover, she has a flair with sonnets and other excruciating forms. Both women will read about their earthy subjects with sophisticated style. 8 p.m. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For details, call 743-3014. $5 suggested donation, free for seniors and students.
Tribes of the Buffalo: A Swiss Artist on the American Frontier Plains Indians ... we all have romantic ideas about the Apache, Blackfeet and Cheyenne; even the names of lesser-known peoples evoke rich images. But what do we really know of the Blackfeet? Or of the Assiniboin, Mandan and Hidatsa? Tribes of the Buffalo has 123 objects from 19 different 19th-century Plains (and Woodlands) Indians. Those who attend the exhibit will see, along with these compelling objects, a complete set of vivid aquatints by Karl Bodmer. These engravings were created by Bodmer following a 183234 expedition to North America. Prince Maximilian, a noted naturalist from Wied-Neuwied, Germany, hired Bodmer to accompany him on an expedition to what was then, at least to Europeans, a very new world. Bodmer created engravings and prints for Maximilian's Travels in the Interior of North America (1832-34). The book was, for many years, an important record of the Plains and Woodlands Indians. With the advent of photography, and later studies, Bodmer's prints and Maximilian's writing were superseded. (Superseded purely because of faddism. Their book is detailed and accurate.)
Both the collection of prints and the collection of artifacts come from the John Painter Collection, and neither has ever been given a public display before. This exhibition opens January 27. Tonight, David C. Hunt, an expert on Maximilian's expedition and Bodmer's art, will introduce Tribes of the Buffalo with a lecture. Coffee and dessert will be served after the lecture and preview. 7 p.m. Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive; for reservations, call 639-IMAX. $15.
Modern Preservations: Back to the Future Preservations? Landmarks? Hey, this is Houston; we tear everything down. Had to demolish the early 20th-century buildings to make way for the post-war boom, tearing down everything to make way for the modern '50s architecture and movie theaters with refrigerated air; then knock those down for space city '60s structures; raze various outlying communities to lay out acres of Brady Bunch tract houses in the '70s; and then in the '80s mow down more for planned communities and impressive po-mo architecture. Sad but true, pretty much. However, a few landmarks still stand. Tonight's program from the Rice Design Alliance focuses on pre-war buildings and sites, and what might be done to preserve them. This symposium is the first event in a series that includes other lectures and tours. 7:30 p.m. Jones Auditorium, University of St. Thomas, 3910 Yoakum. For tickets, call 524-6297. $5, free for students.