Meet the friendly locals of Bhutan -- like Lhakpa Dorji -- 
    in Travellers & Magicians. See Monday.
Meet the friendly locals of Bhutan -- like Lhakpa Dorji -- in Travellers & Magicians. See Monday.
Catherine Ryan

This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, March10

There's nothing more awesome than buying a brand-new designer shirt cut to there to impress that someone, and then wearing it out to the bar only to find out he's a pompous ass with ex-girlfriend issues. Then, you wake up the next morning to discover that your lovely top -- the one redeeming facet of your entire evening -- reeks of stale cigarette smoke. Well, the Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille is out to save your duds, if not your love life, with this evening's Smoke-Free Night. The pub and Communities Against Tobacco will give away gift certificates, theater tickets, comedy tickets, spa packages and other goodies, while comedians and local models patrol the fresh-smelling premises. Starts at 4 p.m. 11470 Westheimer. For information, call 281-589-2122. Free.

Friday, March 11

He may not be the funniest comedian to ever perform on NBC's Last Comic Standing, but Dat Phan wins the award for sacrifice. To make ends meet while pursuing his stand-up career, the Saigon-born laffster, who grew up in San Diego, slept in his car and under a desk in a friend's apartment, surviving on bread, water and ramen. But it wasn't long before the 29-year-old was making the rounds at major comedy clubs. He landed a spot on the first season of Last Comic Standing, eventually beating out fatman Ralphie May for the title. Now, with a sitcom deal in the works, he's touring the country with material about his mom's accent, the lack of Vietnamese martial arts and, well, just being Asian. See if you're up for Dat at 7 p.m. The Meridian, 1503 Chartres. For tickets and information, call 713-225-1717 or visit $40.

Saturday, March 12

Oh, man, parking off Montrose is going to be a bitch. You wouldn't think that South Beach, of all places, would need an angle to pull in the fabulous gay crowd, right? And yet here they are throwing Madonnarama, a multimedia event with nonstop music that's billed as "a tribute to all things Madonna." Headlining this ode to Esther will be Viva, a Material Girl impersonator who'll be jetting in from L.A. Music and videos come courtesy of DJ Ed Bailey, who spins at Velvet Nation in Washington, D.C., and will be playing some never-before-released remixes. Throw in the fact that this is an 18-and-up show, and we're guessing everyone will be there. (Read: valet.) Meet your Madge at 9 p.m. 810 Pacific. For tickets and information, call 713-529-7623 or visit $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

You're not done partying yet. Now that you've closed down South Beach (and spent 45 minutes looking for your car), head downtown and do the late-night thing at Grasshopper's "Paparazzi." The latest in a series of after-hours parties hosted by the Spoiled Boyz, tonight's -- er, this morning's -- soiree is for the seriously style-conscious. Strut and vogue down the runway while DJ Craig Demo lays down the appropriate beats. Don't sweat it if you're smoky and dewy from the Madonna-fest. You've got plenty of time to run home and change. Doors open 3:30 a.m. 506 Main. For information, call 713-222-1442 or visit $15 in advance.

Sunday, March 13

Though they're often purported to be somewhat standoffish, members of the River Oaks crowd are welcoming total strangers to their lawns this weekend for the 70th annual Azalea Trail. It's a self-guided tour, but we suggest starting off at the River Oaks Garden Club, where you'll see some exotic floral arrangements and meet some horticultural experts who'll share gardening tips. Next, head to the lush gardens of Bayou Bend and the nearby Rienzi estate. Finally, visit five private River Oaks homes and get a load of their dazzling azaleas. Get inspired to start your own garden while strolling the grounds. Then, get the hell off their property, you bum. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13. 2503 Westheimer. For information, call 713-523-2483 or visit $5 for single entry; $20 for full tour.

Monday, March 14

Having trouble fitting in a trip to Bhutan? So did the world's filmmakers, apparently; the first feature film to be shot in the country was made in 2002. Many laurels later, the movie, called Travellers & Magicians, debuts in Houston today. It tells the story of two men trying to escape their boring lives in rural villages; they each hit the road in pursuit of their dreams. The film provides a glimpse of what Bhutan's "real" locals are like: The cast, featuring no professional actors, includes a Buddhist monk and a school principal. Landmark Greenway Theatre, 5 Greenway Plaza. For information, call 713-866-8881 or visit $8.

Tuesday, March 15

Ari Fleischer has bad timing. He became White House press secretary in 2000, after a busted election and just before a cataclysmic terrorist attack and subsequent controversial war. Fleischer, who resigned in 2003, will chat today to the Houston World Affairs Council about his new book, Taking Heat: The President, the Press and My Years in the White House. He'll dish on what it's like to hang with the prez, why he thinks the White House press corps is biased and how to protect a bald pate from so many shining lights. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency, 1200 Louisiana. For reservations, call 713-522-7811 or visit $40.

Wednesday, March 16

You've shaken it to Madonna, gotten thrown out of some River Oaks estates and survived the glare off Ari's head. Toast your week at Fox Sports Grill's "Catch the Madness" Super Bracket Buster Bash. For non-sports types, 'tis the season of March Madness, where 64 men's collegiate basketball teams compete for the Final Four and the big prize: the NCAA Championship. Today, fill in your brackets. (You pick all 64 teams and name a winner. Don't sweat it -- Jessica Simpson called the winner last year on her reality show.) Then, get your drink on with extended happy-hour specials and watch the games. You and your crew can bounce to this party at 6 p.m. 5175 Westheimer, suite 2310. For information, call 713-439-1369 or visit Free.


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