This is the time of year when everyone is sprucing up their digs for the season. You see the stuff everywhere: fat glowing Santas, wreaths the size of Schlitterbahn inner tubes and foot-long candy canes. In the spirit of the holidays, the Orange Show is redecorating, too. Their version of a foot-long candy cane? A "Technological Hemorrhoid." It's a "pink, fleshy fabric piece," says creator Jason Villegas. "It'll 'grow' out of the Orange Show's well, creating little 'growths,' which resemble cell phones and SUVs." The intriguing, if a little gross, piece is part of "Temporary/Contemporary," a new exhibition in which local artists descend on the Orange Show to redo and redecorate the art mecca. Artist Matthew Mazzotta is making a forest out of recycled plywood. Jon Read's installation features wooden tribal characters duking it out with a six-foot robot. ("It's gaudy, very tacky and cartoony," he says with a laugh.) And Aimee Jones will redo the Orange Show's ladies' room with hanging mobiles, streamers, garlands, beading and other "excessive girliness." Get some decorating ideas from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28. Runs every weekend through December 18. 2401 Munger. For information, call 713-926-6368 or visit www.orangeshow.org. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
Bright Lights Big City
Usher in the season at the Uptown Holiday Lighting
According to Wal-Mart, the Christmas season starts around, oh, Groundhog Day. But Houston's kickoff is actually Uptown Holiday Lighting. The event features live holiday music and sing-alongs, food, a stage show, fireworks and the Electric Light Parade with floats. And Santa himself will be pulling the switch and turning on half a million twinkling lights -- with more gusto than a Huntsville executioner, we bet. Starbucks is this year's sponsor, so there will be plenty of steaming, hot java drinks to get kids all jacked up just in time to hit the mall on the way home. Isn't that what Christmas is really all about? 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, November 25. Post Oak Boulevard between San Felipe and Westheimer. For information, call 713-621-2504 or visit www.uptown-houston.com. Free. -- Bob Ruggiero
Been There, Done That
Playing with Firemen
"You have nice nipples," says a pretty blond girl to a firefighter, who may or may not have heard her. Mr. May and several other studly firemen are sitting at a table in a back booth at Cabo Montrose, scribbling autographs at the Houston Fire Fighters Calendar Release and Signing. "He really does have nice nipples," the girl says to her two friends, who nod excitedly.
More than 450 people are crammed into Cabo's on a Wednesday night -- fabulous young gay kids with fabulous hair, giggling women with cameras, creepy older guys with even creepier grins -- for the event that raises around $5,000 each year for the firefighters' Crippled Children's Fund. By 9 p.m. the charity event has devolved into a cross between Pacific Street and a bachelorette party. Whooping ladies are licking firefighters' bald heads. A middle-aged, bespectacled man forks out $350 to have his picture taken with two shirtless firefighters. "Hey, it's all for the kids," he says with a wink.
"For the kids," I chuckle to my friend. Turning to leave, I literally stumble into Kelsie, a freckled nine-year-old girl. She's holding a plastic fireman's hat and a calendar. "She's taking it to show-and-tell tomorrow," exclaims Kini, her beaming mother.
"You're really taking this to show-and-tell tomorrow?" I ask incredulously.
Kelsie gives me a "duh" look. "Yup," she says as she and Mom stroll off.
All for the kids, indeed. Note to the gap-toothed schlubs in Kelsie's homeroom: You guys don't have a chance in hell. She's into firemen. -- Steven Devadanam
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Let's face it. On Thanksgiving Day, the last place Mom wants you is in the kitchen. Give her some room to prepare the giblets and the bird, and head downtown to the 55th annual Washington Mutual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Entertainment will include hot air balloons, marching bands, and a procession of Clydesdales (not toting beer kegs, we presume), costumed characters and cheerleaders. And hey, since a bank is sponsoring the parade, maybe you can sign up for a loan to pay for your Christmas shopping while you're at it. 9 a.m. Thursday, November 25. Parade starts at Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. For information, call 713-543-7000 or visit www.wamuparade.com. Free. -- Bob Ruggiero
Opening a unique, handcrafted gift always feels better than rustling through corporate wrapping paper. The Dunlavy Street Craft Market offers locally produced goods ranging from glassware to soap to knit hats to silk-screened journals. If you get chilly, cappuccino is close by -- the market is nestled in a small lot between Brasil and Mixture Contemporary Art. You can drink a cup and relax, knowing that the Galleria bottleneck is a far-off nightmare. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, November 28. Continues Sundays through December 19. 1709 Westheimer. For information, call 713-529-1993. Free. -- Julia Ramey