National Conference on Children and Violence Everyone who works with or around children, has children, might have children, knows a child or simply lives in this country, which, in case you haven't been paying attention, is well-populated with children, is urged to attend all or part of this three-day conference (and accompanying cookout). The non-cookout part of the program is a staid endeavor. The program includes 50 workshops, 12 panel discussions, six interest group meetings, six special topic meetings and several important speakers. Said speakers include Marian Wright Edelman with the Children's Defense Fund and Ronald G. Slaby of the Educational Development Center and Harvard University. If the academic discussions and networking among 120 national authorities seem dry, at least try to attend the candlelight march and rally against violence. The conference itself, while not slighting any discussion of causes, will focus on intervention and prevention programs. Through Nov. 12. Sheraton Astrodome Hotel, 8686 Kirby. For registration information call 283-3030 or fax 283-3039. $269 for all three days and cookout at the George Ranch, $125 for one day. Call now and cut a deal that suits you.
ExplorasauraBus Microsoft guru Bill Gates, recently the subject of serious scrutiny by those members of the Justice Department interested in antitrust cases, is now out scouting for kids so he can pick their brains. He's got a whole Windows wonderland rolling into town. The ExplorasauraBus is actually a 45-foot-long 18-wheeler packed with all the latest in Microsoft gadgetry. Mark Bunting, TV's "The Computer Man," and ExplorasauraBus mascot McZee are touring ten cities looking for kids to compete in Microsoft's "Imagine the Magic" contest. Six kids, the best and the brightest from grades three through six, will be chosen from amongst a horde who will compete by, in 50 words or less, telling "what the coolest computer in the world could do." The winners will share their ideas with Bill Gates on the Microsoft Campus and then go home with a new computer plus a big pile of CD-ROM software for themselves and for their schools. The Bus will be open from 1-5 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Computer City, Weslayan Plaza, 3908 Bissonnet, 665-0022.
Drive-In Live Zocalo Theater, mostly helmed by thespians too young to actually remember the fabulous '50s, nonetheless presents a show on the decade by unique and eccentric Texas entertainers. Jim Pirtle opens the bill with a live performance; his act will be followed by a series of post-modern commercials for area merchants that will be shown on a giant outdoor movie screen constructed by Nestor Topchy. This screen will also be used for the world premiere of Mantis, a video piece by Trey McIntyre, who is a certified local celebrity. A member of the Houston Ballet, McIntyre has received recent acclaim as the choreographer of Company B. Edward Albee, who is a certified national celebrity, lends his voice, too: "In a world where most things are too predictable, too safe, there is always Zocalo, as a healthy alternative. Prepare to be surprised, enthralled, bewildered and, occasionally, appalled." We're prepared for dancing buckets of popcorn telling us it's time to go to the snack bar, or a make-out row along the last aisle. If we don't get those, we'll know these folks are familiar with drive-ins only from books. 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow. Zocalo Theater and Performance Company, 5223 Feagan, 861-2442. $20 advance, $25 at the gate. Sneaking people in by putting them in your trunk is not advised.
Colombia, a Land of Contrasts The Colombian Folkloric Ballet show, which features works such as The Legend of El Dorado, is just the ticket for those who've recently seen Stargate and have developed, or reawakened, a taste for antiquities and exotica. This modern ballet draws on the themes of the old ones, the ancient ones. 7:30 p.m. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, entrance no. 1 off Calhoun, 668-1264. (Advance tickets also available at Marines Empanadas, if you're stopping in for some Monkey Juice.)
An Evening with Bill Cosby Comedian, actor, writer, cigar smoker and Jello pitchman Bill Cosby performs one night only in the Arena Theatre. My dad took me to see Bill Cosby at the Arena in the early '70s, when I was too wee to attend nightclubs, and
I remember every minute of it. That was before anyone had heard of AIDS. (And before Bill Cosby was on TV every other minute, selling something or wearing sweaters.) Tonight's show is a benefit for the Bering Community Service Foundation. Houston Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway, 988-1020. $50-$200. ($200 tickets include admission to an exciting after party.)
Mr. Resistor He's wired, he's wacky, he's a stop-motion action hero for all ages. Mr. Resistor the star of a short spoofing the Terminator and other such screen studs. Video artist Mark Gustafson's trinket hero shares the small screen with Matthew Brunner's Ella and Her Dad, some creation of the Quay Brothers and Muddy Hands by Evan Dunsky on The Territory. 10:30 p.m. KUHT/Channel 8.
K-ARTS Classical 25K Run Number two in the series of marathon warm-up runs has a purpose beyond getting people psyched up and strong enough for the Houston Tenneco Marathon. K-ARTS shudders at the thought that anyone would think their highbrow programming is the exclusive domain of pale and delicate indoor types -- and shudders briskly, like a triathlete charging from an icy lake and shaking dry before bicycling up a mountain. "Several people," in the understated estimation of K-ARTS general manager George Stokes, "have asked why a classical radio station would get involved with a race for seasoned runners like this." Stokes sniffs, "I suppose they think we sponsor only classical music or 'artistic' events. K-ARTS is out to dispel this myth ... to de-mystify the world to classical music radio." This 25K is a serious race; however, anyone who can run 15.5 miles in less than four hours is welcome to enter. Entry forms can be picked up at K-ARTS, 1600 Smith, Suite 5100. Late registration and packet pickup will be held at the Fleet Feet Store, corner of Woodway and Voss, and registration will be held 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, November 12 at the Post Oak YMCA. Race begins at 7 a.m., Wortham Center Plaza, 500 Texas. Mayor Bob Lanier will be at the finish line, his Honor having taken a less strenuous route to the end of the track, to present awards to the winners. For more information, call 523-5679. $20.
Epilepsy Awareness Day For reasons no one has adequately explained, most children are more reassured by pets and tame animals than by anything else. (Although puppets run a close second.) This fact in mind, the Epilepsy Association of Houston/Gulf Coast and the Houston Zoo have teamed up for a little community education. Epileptics and their families are urged to attend the zoo today. A docent will lead them on a tour. They'll enjoy a puppet show (good odds are these puppets are named Joanne and Brian) and then meet Ethel, the sea lion with seizures, and the Epilepsy Association's "Winning Kid," Anne White. Ethel is fed medicine twice a day, the doses tucked inside squids. Seeing Ethel gobble cephalopods somehow encourages children to take their own medicine without a fuss. (Perhaps Ethel sets a good example by taking her medicine and leading a healthy, active life. Or perhaps the kids are just grateful they can take their drugs without having to down calamari.) 1-5 p.m. Houston Zoological Gardens, Hermann Park, 1515 North MacGregor, 525-3300. $2.50, $2 seniors, 50 cents for children. For more information, call the Epilepsy Association, 789-6295.
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Call in sick to work Memorial Healthline has crib notes for layabouts. Yes, in this day of the Discovery Channel and public service announcements about all sorts of diseases and various sufferers going on Oprah, calling in sick when you are not in fact stricken with something awful isn't easy. Everyone has a smattering of medical knowledge now. You can't just say you're "feeling bad." You need specific symptoms. The more obscure, the better, especially if you're calling in sick on a Monday after having a rousing time at the company picnic on Saturday. Fear not: Memorial Healthcare System Healthline has recorded information on almost a thousand subjects. It's not as quick and easy as 444-FILM, but it beats the heck out of plowing through medical journals. It also could be a help in answering those horrible questions kids ask -- questions like "Why do we have nightmares?" Dial up anytime and find out all kinds of tidy factoids about the ways we fall apart. Then call in sick with a more creative excuse than Dutch Elm Disease. You can spice your spiel with useful terms such as Isordil, diaphoresis, nystagmus (Brooke Adams suffers from this), turbinate bones, hyperplasia, Korsakoff's psychosis and Wernicke's disease. Your boss will be filled with fear and sympathy and you'll be off the hook and on the couch with a bag of Oreos in time for Muppet Babies. (If it turns out that you actually have any of the symptoms mentioned on the Healthline, see a doctor immediately. The Healthline is not intended for diagnosis or as a replacement for sound medical advice. Luckily for those who are actually ill, there's also a doctor referral program on the Healthline.) 222-CARE.
Festival of Lights Fun*Shop As part of its annual Festival of Lights, the Children's Museum is setting up a variety of Fun*Shops where, on different days, kids are told about different winter festivals from across the globe. Today, children can learn the history of Diwali -- learn where and when Diwali is. It's a Hindu holiday. Families line the balconies, windows and rooftops with dipa lamps -- think of the luminaries during Lights in the Heights. The light from these dipa lamps is to guide the Goddess Lakshmi into the home, where she will bring good fortune. Other Fun*Shops later in the month will focus on Loi Krathong and Chanuka, with Santa Lucia, Las Posadas, Christmas and Kwanzaa to follow in December. 4-5 p.m. Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 522-1138. $5. Pre-registration required.
Ann B. Davis The Brady maid signs Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook. As far as we know, recipes do not require meats from Sam the butcher. Yep, here she is, after all these years, on a book tour. Isn't it interesting how well some careers work out? Wear something polyester and give her a big bland smile, to remind her of the good old days in TV-land's first famous broken home. 12:30 p.m., Bookstop, 2922 Shepherd, 529-2345.
FotoFest FotoFest, in all its ten-year anniversary glory, will continue through the end of the month. Wednesdays and Mondays, the Global Environmental Project section of the show presents a speaker series. World population, always a growing subject, is the topic of today's little discussion. Robert Fox, sociologist and demographer, will talk in detail about the Third World, the parts of it that are doing well, and how development in those countries affects resources around the globe. James Blackburn Jr. cracks a rather hard nut on November 21 -- "Globalization of Environmental Law." The Global Environmental Project has standing exhibits, too. Those who can't attend lectures can check out the "Hall of Globes" and play with the cyber-stuff at the "Earth Forum," a joint project with the Museum of Natural Science. Lectures are 7:30-9 p.m., George R. Brown Convention Center. For info, call 840-9711. $75 for the whole series, includes ticket to FotoFest.