Life on the ranch is tough, but Homero Moreno 
    Hernndez smiles big for the camera in 
    Vaquero. See Wednesday.
Life on the ranch is tough, but Homero Moreno Hernndez smiles big for the camera in Vaquero. See Wednesday.
Bill Wittliff

This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, April 29

Unlike most pieces of dorm-room decoration, old-school posters never seem to go out of style. Even established yuppies dig those pseudo-French numbers with pale ladies riding bicycles or mustachioed men dining on the lawn. Grungier folks might prefer vintage prints of Elvis in his Sunday best or freaky circus clowns balancing things on their heads, but the theme is the same: Vintage is cool. And nobody knows vintage posters better than Jim Sherraden, manager of Hatch Show Print in Nashville. Hatch has been printing posters for 125 years with the same letterpress technology, one poster at a time. They've done everything from carnivals to Coldplay, from vaudeville to Vince Gill. Sherraden will be at Shoeshine Charlie's Big Top Lounge today to walk you through a chronological history of Hatch's most famous customers. Free beer, free posters and free valet parking are promised. 7 p.m. 3700 Main. For information, call 713-529-9899 or visit $5 to $10.

Friday, April 30

Tonight is "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Appreciation Night" at the opening of Slump's SNAKEPIT! the Musical. All GLBTs get in for half-price, an offer that makes us wonder how the people at the door will know who is straight and who isn't. Is there some kind of secret handshake that we don't know about? In typical Slump fashion, the plot of SNAKEPIT! walks the line between avant-garde aesthetics and grade-school humor: Elizabeth Stuart and Jenni Rotter play co-workers who begin fighting with each other after they've been swallowed by a giant snake. There's some kind of Freudian message in there, but we're not quite sure what it is. 8 p.m. today. Through May 8. 1117 East Freeway. For a full schedule, call 832-725-9777 or visit $5 to $10.

Saturday, May 1

May Day means different things to different people. If you're a communist, it means it's time to grab a little red book and start marching through the streets. If you're a virginal maiden on the cusp of womanhood, it means it's time to dance off into the forest with a noble suitor. Or, if you're a bored Houstonian with nothing to do on a Saturday, it means it's time to head over to Levy Park for the May Day Festival. A variety of food and entertainment options are available, including an authentic maypole ceremony. See if you can stare at that thing for a minute without thinking of a phallus. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 3801 Eastside. For information, call 713-524-8000 or visit Free.

Or, for some of us, May Day means it's time to gamble. Today is the Kentucky Derby, the big daddy of all horse races. At Sam Houston Race Park, you can place your bets and watch it on the big screen -- and then settle back into your usual Saturday routine of drinking and gambling on live Thoroughbred racing. As an added bonus, the folks at SHRP are having a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest, with prizes awarded to the patrons with the most creative, most glamorous and most "horsey" hats. We can hear it now: "And the woman who looks the most like a horse is..." 10 a.m. 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 281-807-7223 or visit $1 to $3.

Or if you just want to get sloppy and suck some heads, drop by the Houston Press Crawfest. Featuring all-you-can-eat crawfish, soda, cold beer and live music, it should be one helluva party. 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sesquicentennial Park in downtown at Bagby and Preston. For information, call 281-778-6661. $30 to $35.

Sunday, May 2

According to the folks at the Country Playhouse, the young boy in Ed Vela's new play, Poseidon's Gate, gets to experience a dream friendship: working on a lobster boat alongside an old salt who appreciates his help. What kind of dream friendship is that? Is the boy really that big a fan of Hemingway? But seriously, folks, you can check out the play today at a free concert reading performance. It's a good chance to see the latest work of one of Houston's most prolific playwrights. 7 p.m. 12802 Queensbury. For information, call 713-467-4497 or visit Free.

Monday, May 3

As an adult, it's tough to see art for what it is. Leave it to a kid to give it to you straight. Today and tomorrow at the Menil Collection, young authors will be reading works inspired by the museum's collection in a program called Poems and Prose by Young Writers. It's a perfect opportunity to stop thinking so damn much about what art means. Just sit back, watch and listen. Leave your textbooks at home. 7 p.m. today and Tuesday, May 4. 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit Free.

Tuesday, May 4

You'd better pack a tube of Clearasil for this one. As a special corollary to "Chocolate: The Exhibition," the Houston Museum of Natural Science has arranged "Chocolate...Is Served" at the Sam Houston Hotel. This event promises to be a gut-busting feast of the dark, rich stuff. We're talking about chocolate appetizers, chocolate drinks and chocolate entrées. We're talking about chocolate everything. Go for it. You're an adult now; Mom can't tell you what to do. Stuff your face and deal with the bellyaches tomorrow. No one's going to say, "I told you so." 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. 1117 Prairie. For information, call 832-200-8800 or visit

Wednesday, May 5

Back before John Wayne was even a gleam in his grandpappy's eye, the West was won by vaqueros. These Latin American cowboys ruled the range, pioneering roping and corralling techniques on the dusty plains. Bill Wittliff's new book of photographs, Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy, chronicles the day-to-day labor of vaqueros on a ranch in northern Mexico during the early 1970s. The chores performed by these intrepid men have changed little since the first Mexican cowherders hopped on a horse's back and began tending steak-to-be. Wittliff signs today at 6 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit Free.


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