The Psychiatric Chemistry of Chocolate Harvey Rosenstock, M.D. explains it's not quite all in your head. Find out, from a medical point of view, exactly what it is chocolate fiends are after when they spend the rent money on Godiva truffles or giant Nestle's Crunch bars. Refreshments are served at these "To Your Health Seminars"; chocolate, though, is not likely to be on the menu. Carob, maybe. 7-8 p.m. Bellaire Hospital, Sun Room, Pavilion for Mental Health, 5314 Dashwood (use the Clarewood Street entrance), 669-4060. Free.
Russian Music Concert Folk and light classics from Viatcheslav Semyenov and Natasha Semyenovareontheprogram.Mr. Semyenov is a professor at the Gnessin Institute in Moscow. He and the missus happen to be in the States because of a convention in Reno. He'll play the bayan (Russian accordion) and she'll play the domra (a mandolin-type instrument). 8-9:45 p.m. Holcombe Music, 5450 Weslayan. $5.
Knives, guns, cocktails and the fight of the century "In typical renegade theater fashion, the cast is a fine mix of actors, musicians, dancers, artists, drag racers, alcoholics and carnival freaks." That sounds too good to be true -- has Infernal Bridegroom Productions really procured a carnival freak? That's unlikely, and unimportant, as the assembled cast is freakish enough. Jason Nodler, who fans of the avant will remember from In the Under Thunderloo, directs Bertolt Brecht's In the Jungle of Cities in such a way that the audience is part of the scene, and the scene is a Chinese bar. As Mike Scranton designed it, however, it's not your typical Chinese bar. Scranton, who always sweeps the Art Car Parade awards, likes metal and tools. His social skills range from lacking to nonexistent, but he can build anything.
Andy Nelson, stage-friendly slacker, is magnificent as C. Shlink, a Malay lumber dealer. Supporting players include that Jerm creature, Jerm Boor, and the most happenin' of the Brads, Keenlies' Brad Moore. Really, this production is all about malt liquor and Old Gold cigarettes. 9 p.m. Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, 2315 Commerce St., 521-0967. $5.99.
Nintendo PowerFest '94 Stand back, Sega! This is three days of non-stop Nintendo action. Venture Store customers will compete for prizes, including a truly grand prize trip to the Nintendo World Championship '94 finals at Sea World in San Diego. Today and Saturday, the play is 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, the early play is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The top eight scorers will be pitted against each other in the final playoffs at 3 p.m. Garfield, or at least an actor in an amazingly lifelike costume with a giant head, will be shaking paws and enjoying jokes about lasagna near the greeting card department. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Venture Store, 12005 Northwest Freeway. No admission.
ViennaFest Just when you thought you'd seen every festival possible, ViennaFest comes to The Woodlands. This is your chance to yodel. Entrants in the yodeling contest on the hill will be fortified with bratwurst, sauerkraut and a little Schmittsohne Diesporter. And the tiny children will dance -- both plazas at the pavilion will be made up as Viennese town squares with merriment, craft booths and dancers.
The Houston Symphony will perform Strauss, Mozart and Beethoven and Brahms. Polka bands, home-grown, will be playing prior to the concert. Come to 19th-century Vienna in The Woodlands. "A Night in Old Vienna," 8 p.m. tonight; "ViennaFest Grand Finale," 8 p.m. Saturday. The plaza opens at 6:30 p.m. on both nights. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. $7.50 lawn, $9.50 reserved seats.
Hamlet Hands down, Hamlet is the best-known play in the Western world, and then some. How many productions of Hamlet have you seen? How many reruns of the episode where Lucy gets a job on the Vitameatavegamin commercial? (There are more people who can spell the name of that fictional elixir than can quote a line from Hamlet's contemplating-suicidespeech--morereasontosee Shakespeare.) Don't you think it's time to see another Hamlet? Pack up a picnic, lather up with insect repellent and make your way to the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Hamlet, tonight and Aug. 4, 6, 10 & 12. 8:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 520-3290. All seating is free, but tickets are required for seating under the pavilion. Tickets, four to a person, are available each performance day at the theater box office from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Radney Foster The slim young man in wire-rimmed glasses and cowboy boots has a fresh release, Labor of Love, coming in August. He'll be singing new songs, all with his stamp, and old (like from last month on the radio) favorites. Radney Foster's first recording, Del Rio, TX 1959, produced several drive-time tunes everybody on the freeway can sing along to: "Just Call Me Lonesome," a playful country shuffle about heartbreak, the plaintive "Nobody Wins", and "Easier Said than Done." He's come quite a ways since appearing as half of Foster & Lloyd; now he's working with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Vince Gill and Tanya Tucker and showing up on the country charts. As Foster sings it in "Making It Up As I Go Along," though, he's just an average guy. "It comes down to a few basic things," the singer says. "Worrying about your house payment, doing your job right, keeping your relationship together and being a good father to your children." Ten-ish. Bushwhacker's, 3630 H Spencer Highway, 946-8827, $7 advance, $9 at the door.
Great American Train Show More than 10,000 trains will be chugging in the AstroArena -- this is America's largest touring model train show. If that sounds like no big whoop, then you don't know how many train shows there are. Dozens. Really. Gomez Addams' set, even before being blowed-up, was nothing compared to the HO-and N-scale tracks wending through elaborate dioramas set up at this show. And, you can play. For kids, a special operating model railroad with four giant throttles, four huge mainlines and more than 50 gates, bells and whistles that children can operate will be available. The latest in model trains will be on display (and on sale), along with classic Lionel and American Flyer cars and locomotives. Noon-5 p.m. today and Sunday. Astrodome AstroArena, Kirby at Loop 610. $5, children under 12 free.
Destiny in Space Space Center Houston has a new IMAX feature, Destiny in Space. Suits from space are in cases, space station and shuttle replicas and an actual moon rock are always displayed at Space Center Houston. Plus, "Space Dots" are sold in the concession area. Premieres today; shows continuously. Open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Space Center Houston, NASA Road 1, 20 miles south of downtown on I-45, 244-2100. $11.95; $10.75 seniors; $8.50 under 12.
Michael W. Smith Joy Fest '94 concludes with Michael W. Smith, named by People magazine as one of the world's "50 Most Beautiful People." Smith, apparently, enjoys blurring the line between Christian and pop music and his awards show it -- a Grammy, multiple Dove awards and the 1992 American Music Award for "Favorite New Adult Contemporary Artist." Six Flags AstroWorld, Southern Star Amphitheatre, outside the Loop at Kirby. General admission free with park admission ($24). (Reserved seating an extra $3. 629-3700.)
Paul Driscoll Magic Island, the site of the sphinx overseeing 59, celebrates its tenth anniversary in a "Big Way" -- with 6' 9" Paul Driscoll. Like Tommy Tune, Driscoll is a towering, Texas-born talent who's done time in Las Vegas. His otherwise standard classy comedy and magic act includes a piece called "Velvis." Velvis is a special tribute to the King, and to a well-known American art form. 8:30 & 9:30 p.m. Magic Island, 2215 Southwest Freeway, 526-2442. Show only, $15; show and dinner, $34.95 per person.
... and the earth did not swallow him The heartbreakingly beautiful title of this film is appropriate. Tomas Rivera's award-winning novel, ... y no se lo trago la tierra, is the inspiration for writer/director Severo Perez's film. This is a clear-eyed view of the lives of Mexican-American migrant workers in the 1950s, all scattered like dry leaves. Both Perez and the film's producer, Paul Espinosa, will be present for this Houston premiere, and the reception following the screening. 3 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 743-2841. $4; $3 seniors, students.
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Visions of Paradise See film series celebrating the urge to create, and the unique visions of folk artists at the Orange Show. Part one of the series pays tribute to Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder, Calvin and Ruby Black, and Minnie Evans. Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder built over 100 sculptures in Nevada. The Blacks' work, known as Possum Trot, is a strange world in the Mojave Desert. (What is it about deserts?) Possum Trot contains a population of wooden dolls, more than 80, and the Bird Cage Theater, where the dolls perform and sing. (Voices recorded by Calvin.)Minnie Evans is an 88-year-old African-Americanwomanwho has created her own mythical animals. 8:30 p.m. The Orange Show, 2401 Munger, 926-6368. $3.
Inspired by Africa: Masks from Houston The artwork most recently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts is the work of Houston schoolchildren. They've been busy while school is out. Fully modern materials such as slick paper, tape and aluminum foil are the media for these masks. The colorful faces -- human, animal and otherwise -- were inspired by the MFA's permanent collection of African masks from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mali and Zaire. Mask-making is a very interesting activity, and the results -- the varied fake faces the kids created -- are fascinating. Thru Sept. 4. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 526-1361. $3; $1.50 students, children 6-18 & seniors; free to children under 5 & museum members and on Thursdays.
15th National Sports Collectors Convention Well, now that we have a team that spawns collectibles, having a sports collectors convention in town is all the more fitting. (And it's right near where the downtown dome might be.) A grand total of 58 sports heroes will appear at the four-day festival. Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Pepper Davis and Johnny Bench are all on the autographing roster. Want Rockets? Vernon Maxwell and Hakeem Olajuwon will appear, both on two days. This is a big dang deal; 50,000 fans are expected to attend. According to Mark Ledogar, the show manager, the average adult collector spends $267. There is, however, no need to meet that oddly exact figure. Drop $20 on a not-so-rare card or just pay the gate fee to gawk. (Hey, they're giving away a Chevy S-10. During the show, Pacific Trading Cards wants everyone to stop by their booth, see their cards, and register to win the Chevy.) Tonight is the exhibitor preview and trade show night, 6-10 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, $45 advance, $60 at the door. Sneak preview Thursday, August 4, $17.50; public show days August 5-7, $8 per day.
Baby Animal Alert The longest eyelashes in the world and knobby knees -- that's all there is to a baby giraffe. It's so cute, tottering around on its spindly legs. This newest zoo baby was born to teenage parents. The mother, Suzette, is 15 and papa, C.J., is 17. In giraffe years, they're comfortably middle-aged. This is the fourth baby for Suzette and the seventh giraffe born in our zoo. The 200-pound infant is only a couple of weeks old. Zoo visitors can see it, but Suzette is a protective mother and zoo staff have not been able to get a close look at the baby. Until they do, it will be without a name. At least as far as we know; Suzette and C.J. may have other ideas. Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, 1515 N. MacGregor, 525-3300. Open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $2.50, $2 seniors, fifty cents for children.