A fair and balanced view of the Middle East: Issa 
    Touma's Sufi, at "Mazar: Photographs from the 
    Arab World." See Saturday.
A fair and balanced view of the Middle East: Issa Touma's Sufi, at "Mazar: Photographs from the Arab World." See Saturday.
Issa Touma

This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, April 7

We at Night & Day can think of a million things we'd do if we were hypnotists. Infiltrate the White House and restore some sanity. "Convince" certain Victoria's Secret models to fall in love with us. Get lottery officials to redo those winning numbers to match ours (1-1-1-1-1-1 -- score!). But Flip Orley, a clinical hypnotist, uses his craft to "entertain" people. Inspired after reading the book How to Pick Up Girls Through Hypnotism in sixth grade, Orley has spent years working TV and radio shows, conventions and casinos -- hello, Flip: Smell some opportunity? The shtick is that he gets folks to do kooky stuff while they're under. "Each subject is treated with respect and gentility," says Orley of his subjects (this guy's killing us). 8:30 p.m. today. Through Sunday, April 12. The Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway, suite 431. For tickets and showtimes, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improv.com. $12 to $15.

Friday, April 8

There's nothing like a French threesome to really get the weekend started. Today, a steamy love triangle unfolds in Paris Awakens, a film that follows a troubled 18-year-old French girl named Louise, her sugar daddy Clment and Clment's ne'er-do-well son, Adrien. The flick is one of a series by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas screening at Rice Cinema. If you're hooked on Paris, hit Rice Cinema's Texas premiere of Assayas's Clean (which landed a best actress award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival) on Saturday, April 9, and a screening of A New Life -- hosted by Assayas -- on Sunday, April 10. Visit Paris today at 8 p.m. Rice University, entrance No. 8 (off University Boulevard). For information, call 713-348-4882 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. $5 to $6.

Saturday, April 9

In Arabic, the word nazar means "seeing" or "insight." There has perhaps never been a greater need for insight into the world of the Middle East than now, and fortunately, "Nazar: Photographs from the Arab World" offers a striking, complex, contemporary view. Presented by FotoFest, the 250-plus pictures mark one of the largest exhibits of Arab-themed photography in U.S. history. The first show, "Arab Eyes" -- which features works by 18 Arab photographers -- opens this week at Vine Street Studios. And work by 17 American, European, Australian, Iranian and Israeli photographers will be shown in "Western Eyes" and "A Look Back," both opening on April 23 at the Art Car Museum. You can get a glimpse of Middle Eastern life not normally depicted on CNN or that bastion of fair reporting, Fox News, through June 11. 1113 Vine Street, suite 101. For information, call 713-223-5522 or visit www.fotofest.org. Free.

Sunday, April 10

Folks OTL (outside the Loop) know there's more to life than Applebee's, SUVs and soccer moms in baby tees. So does the Orange Show, as it'll be spotlighting the best fine and folk art in the 281 and 936 area codes in "Art in the 'Burbs," its latest Eyeopener Tour. Today, you can board a charter bus and head up I-45 to The Woodlands and Conroe to see some public sculptures, galleries, tattoo and piercing studios and even the works of a suburban art collector and her 104-year-old (!) uncle. Mix and mingle with cultured commuters, and should you turn your nose up at dining at Applebee's, the tour includes a light catered lunch in the garden of a 40-acre studio/home. Bus departs the Orange Show at 11 a.m.; tour runs until 6 p.m. 2402 Munger Street. For information, call 713-926-6368 or visit www.orangeshow.org. $45 to $60.

Monday, April 11

If you thrill to sitting in bed until all hours poring over that tense crime or mystery novel, Ridley Pearson is your man. Having penned 14 titles, plus a co-author gig with Dave Barry on Peter & the Starcatchers, Pearson has gained a reputation as a writer's writer and a damn good read. His latest effort, Cut and Run, centers around Roland Larson, a U.S. marshal who's fallen in love with one of his protectees, Hope Stevens. After the master Witness Protection List is stolen by the mob, Hope's a target, and now Larson has to race against time and a ruthless killer who uses a -- gasp! -- razor as his preferred method of offing folks. Does Larson have a Hope in hell of saving his girl? Discuss the plot with the sharp-witted Pearson at 6:30 p.m. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free.

Tuesday, April 12

Joseph Messina swears he never played a lick of piano before 1996. But when his sister Tina passed away that year, he took to the ivories and, without so much as a lesson, began to play and compose classical music. Since then, Messina has played for patients at area hospitals; his sounds reportedly heal the sick. Recently, it was discovered that autistic children responded to his playing, especially a child named Stephen Howard, who, as staffers claim at his school, began to speak and write after hearing Messina's CD, Omen's Prayer. Inspired, Messina started the Balloons of Hope Foundation to aid kids with autism. He also plays concerts to raise funds for the foundation, and if you're up for a feel-good evening of classical music, check out Messina at 7 p.m. Cullen Hall at the University of St. Thomas, 4001 Mt. Vernon. For information, call 713-320-1498 or visit www.omensprayer.com. Free; donations requested.

Wednesday, April 13

We'll admit we talked some smack about the Houston Rockets this year, what with the season looking positively abysmal not that long ago. But Tracy McGrady, who consistently lands in the top ten of the NBA in scoring, has been en fuego, and Yao has been dominating (incidentally, he has a movie, The Year of the Yao, coming out next week). And the cagey, veteran role players -- like the finger-wagging big man Dikembe Mutombo, John Barry and Clarence Weatherspoon -- have been nothing short of true ballers. Today, our boys take on Pao Gasol, Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells of the Memphis Grizzlies. It should be an interesting game, given that many of the Rockets players had driver's licenses when some of the Grizzlies were born. See if the boys from Memphis can bear our crew at 7:30 p.m. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For tickets and information, call 866-446-8849 or visit www.houstontoyotacenter.com. Tickets start at $10.


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