Erik Estrada Yes, CHiPs fans, Ponch is back. He's traded in his Kawasaki and police baton for the suave silken bathrobes of the Mexican telenovela Dos Mujeres, Un Camino. And to celebrate his return to the fringes of celebrity, he's written a tell-all, My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. Tonight, as he signs your copy, you can ask those burning questions about life as a '70s beefcake, fights on the set of CHiPs, his near-death experience and what his former co-hunk Larry Wilcox is doing now. 7 p.m. Borders Books, Music & Cafe, 12788 Fountain Lake Circle, Stafford, (281) 240-6666. Schmoozing is free; the hardback is $22.
Sonny Throckmorton Songwriters Festival Sonny Throckmorton -- the songwriter responsible for the Judds' "Why Not Me?" and a slew of other country hits -- hosts this annual gathering for aspiring hit machines. The seminars and workshops will be led by impressive pals of Throckmorton's, people such as Gretchen Peters, author of Martina McBride's "Independence Day" and "My Baby Loves Me." But with showcase bands such as the Harry Fish String Band and the Hollisters, trainees might find themselves too busy dancing to take notes. Through Sunday. Brazos Bottom Bar & Grill, 7010 FM 762, Richmond, 781-5182. $10 daily; $25, festival pass.
Greek Festival Need to release some stress? Want to see thin, fragile discs hit hard concrete and shatter into a thousand tiny pieces? Watch local notables indulge these destructive impulses at the St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church Festival's Grand Opening Plate Breaking Ceremony. If they clean their plates of authentic gyros and baklava, they get to smash them with a happy dance and yell "Opa!" Those without Greek heritage are highly encouraged to attend. After all, event coordinators admit, plate-breaking is "an American thing." Festival opens at 10 a.m. with food, dancing, face-painting, moonwalking, games and performances. Plate-breaking at 11 a.m. 915 Eldridge. 866-8883. $2.
World's Largest Movie Theater With 112,000 square feet, 30 wall-to-wall screens, stadium seating with extra legroom and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, the spanking-new AMC Studio 30 claims the record. You can be among the first to worship at this temple of mass media commercialization: Tonight's "sneak-a-peek" lets you check out not just the theater but 30 flicks ranging from Mission: Impossible to Fargo. Remember, being first is almost as important as being biggest. 6-10 p.m. AMC Studio 30, 2949 Dunvale between Westheimer and Richmond. Call KRBE at 266-1000 for more information on the preview. $.25 -- yes, that's 25 cents.
Student Sale at the Glassell School of Art Through Sunday, the Glassell's professional-level Studio School will offer for sale its artists' best paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry -- stuff that's much more likely to appreciate in value than those flowery watercolors you'd buy at the Holiday Inn's starving artist blowout. 5-8 p.m today. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 639-7500. Free admission.
Houston Met Spring Concert From the ashes of the Delia Stewart Dance Company, Michelle Smith and Dorrell Martin have resurrected the Houston Met. Delia's traditional jazz is mixed with ballet and modern dance, and dancers are picked for their capacity to "emote" rather than for toothpick legs. The Spring Concert features playful, energetic and comedic pieces by nine choreographers who hail from as near as HSPVA and as far as Chicago. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Family Performance 7 p.m. Sunday. Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin at Holman, 522-6375. $5-$15.
String Cheese Incident The Rocky Mountain ski bums of String Cheese Incident are said to make serious use of hula hoops and describe their music as "funkalatino-Afrojazzadelic bluegrass." Think Satellite favorite Leftover Salmon, only less Cajun and more Latin. Best of all, SCI opens for the perennially wacky Banana Blender Surprise. 9 p.m. Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Ave., 869-COOL. $6.
Texas Lesbian Conference Rednecks, conservatives and impressionable children, run for your strait-laced lives! Hundreds of lesbians converge on one hotel to celebrate their visibility and empowerment. The weekend-long tenth anniversary conference has everything from inspirational speakers (such as discharged military nurse Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer) to playshops on hot sex in the '90s ("You'll never look at fruit the same way again!"). Tonight, comedienne Lea DeLaria performs bits from her CD, Bull Dyke in a China Closet, and the Dallas band II Girls, II Guitars, II Much rocks same-sex couples into the wee hours of morning. 7 p.m. Renaissance Houston Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East. $15 for tonight's entertainment. $70, conference registration; $55, hard times discount. Call 867-3934 for more information.
Boozoo Chavis The official "King of Zydeco," as elected by the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, heads an afternoon of down and dirty, hot and sweaty, homegrown musical treats with performances of chanky-chank music by Peggy Scott Adams, Patrick Green, J. Paul Jr., Geno Delafose and Brian Jack. Boozoo, a 67-year-old accordion-wielding Louisiana native, wrote zydeco's first hit single in 1954: Paper in My Shoe. His inspiration? "My feet were cold," he explains. "Didn't have no socks or none of that ...." 2 p.m. Crosby Fairground, FM 2100 Crosby-Lynchburg Rd. in Crosby, (281) 530-9843. $15 pre-event, $18 at the gate, $6 kids under 12.
The Great Monopoly ChallengeThis regulated two-round Parker Brothers tournament is not child's play, so brush up on your money-mongering. (Does Donald Trump have a motivational video? Now's the time to find out.) Top winners can exchange their play money for real trips or jewelry. Arrive early so you can call dibs on the silver car game piece and cruise stylishly past jail and onto Boardwalk. A light dinner will be served before the games begin, and all proceeds go to the Jewish Community Center's special-needs programs for the physically and mentally challenged. 6 p.m. The Houstonian Club, 111 N. Post Oak Lane. Sponsor a table of four to six players for $500 or come alone for $50. Call 729-3200 for information.
The Critical Response Workshop Everybody's a critic, and the tender feelings of sensitive artistes -- choreographers, dancers, actors, directors and playwrights -- are often bruised by indelicate critiques of their works-in-progress. Political activist and dancer Liz Lerman invented a way to keep those egos from being stomped too hard. Her "Critical Response" method, which lets the artist control both the pace and content of a discussion, is designed to create a strong bond between artists and their peers. Houston choreographers Linda Phenix and Sarah Irwin act as guinea pigs for a workshop that's open to the public. If you go, they ask that you leave your "language of judgment" at home. 2-6 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 228-0914. $5 general admission.
Gulf Coast Volleyball Tournament Summer's here, and with it comes the chance to get sand in your bathing suit, paint your nose with zinc oxide and watch men in Speedos grunt and spike volleyballs at each other. If this sounds less than exciting, enter the men's and women's doubles tournament yourself. Check-in is 8-9 a.m; games start at 9:30 a.m. $15 advance registration for players; $25 at the gate. Free to watch. Stewart Beach, Galveston Island, (281) 482-1376.
An Evening of Art Songs and Arias New York-based soprano Camille Zamora, an HSPVA graduate and former Omega House volunteer, has organized a concert to benefit the AIDS hospice. Croatian pianist Dalia Lazar, baritone Randall Scarlata, Lester Lynch, former Houston Grand Opera soloist Thomas Laine, soprano Sharyn Pirtle, German soprano Stefanie Krahnenfeld and Zamora herself will perform songs from works including Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville and Candide. 8 p.m. The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 523-7110. $50 and $150 (includes reception with performers).
Huehuetl Huehuetl (pronounced something like "whit-whit") is a family affair from Jalisco, Mexico, that uses legend, dance, music and ritual to tell the history of ancient Mayan, Teotihuacana, Olmeca and Aztec musical instruments. The Huehuetl adolescents teach children to make woodwinds, which they can play in the performance. Gates open at 4 p.m. for a festival with food, poetry and the music workshop. Performance 5:30 p.m. Centro Aztlan, 5115 Harrisburg Boulevard. To pre-register for the workshop call 926-8771. Free.
10K Walk 'N' Roll-A-Thon The AIDS charities aren't picky: For their 10K fundraising event, you can propel yourself through Sam Houston Park however you like: walk, pedal, skate, blade, roll, crawl or ride virtually any non-motorized contraption. You'll be encouraged by high school cheerleaders, the Gay Men's Chorus and the HSPVA Jazz Quartet. Proceeds benefit 14 local AIDS service organizations. 9:30 a.m. Sam Houston Park at the corner of Lamar and Bagby. Registration is free; call 629-WALK.
Matisse, Picasso and Friends This traveling show's impressionist masterworks are so fragile and sensitive to light that they've rarely been presented to the public since the Baltimore Museum of Art acquired them in 1949. The 120 selections from the Cone Collection include 50 prints, drawings and watercolors by Matisse and another 50 by Picasso -- plus 20 pieces by Cezanne, Degas, Renoir and van Gogh. Through July 13. Museum hours are 12:15-6 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $3.
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A Denim Affair Seguin's own Janice Woods Windle wrote a best-selling novel, True Women, concerning the epic stories of Texas frontier women -- a book largely based on her own family's folklore. Tonight, she'll get to watch its metamorphosis into a CBS miniseries starring Dana Delaney of China Beach fame. True fans can join Windle at a watch party for part one of the TV event hosted by the Women's Fund for Health Education and Research. Put on your cowboy boots, pick out your favorite recipes and meet the true woman herself. 7 p.m. Rice Memorial Center, Rice University, 974-5570. $35.
Scott Gertner's First Anniversary Talent Search Rock star wannabes will have their five seconds of fame and a shot at $1,000. Bring your buddies -- they may rib you incessantly for your on-stage antics, but acts are judged based on audience response, so you'll need all the noisy friends you can round up. Gertner and his band go on at 9:30 p.m. tonight; the talent competition begins at midnight. Talent showcases continue all week. Midnight Tuesday and Wednesday; 10:30 p.m. and midnight Thursday and Friday. Each night's winners advance to Saturday's finals. Cody's in the Village, 2540 University Blvd., 520-5660. $6 to listen, $20 to play. Call (800) 701-2340 to register.
Houston Audubon Society Sanctuary Seminar Get away from it all without having to go too far: Paul Freed of the Houston Zoo takes you on a slide-show journey through the rain forests of South America. 7 p.m. Edith Moore Sanctuary Cabin, 440 Wilchester Boulevard. Reservations required. $5 donation suggested.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile If funnyman Steve Martin were to write a play, what would it be about? Of course: Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso as twentysomethings, swilling beer together in a Parisian bar, commiserating about the nature of genius. 7:30 p.m. Runs through June 15. Alley Theatre, Large Stage, 615 Texas Ave. Call 1-800-259-ALLE for tickets and show times. $31-$43.