Thursday, February 13
In the '60s, English musician Keith Rowe became frustrated with the limitations of his guitar. So he developed the tabletop guitar and used springs, paper clips, pliers, sheet metal and brushes to draw new electro-acoustic sounds from his instrument. Rowe's innovations have had a profound effect not only on the avant-garde noise/sound world but on rock groups like Pink Floyd, which is said to have moved into a more experimental realm after singer/ guitarist Syd Barrett visited a recording session of Rowe's group AMM. Tonight, Rowe plays with Toshimaru Nakamura, who's part of a new generation of Japanese improvisers making extreme sounds -- some so quiet they're barely audible. 8 p.m. Barnevelder Movement/Arts, 2201 Preston, 713-928-5653, www.pofinc.org/houston. $8.
Friday, February 14
If you're going out to some overpriced, candlelit dinner tonight, good for you (see our dining suggestions on page 43). If you're not, don't stay home huddled under the covers. Attend a lecture that could turn you into half of one of those irritatingly complacent pairs. At the Jung Center, Jennifer Dellner, Ph.D., discusses "Psyche in the House of Love: Or How to Find a Mate Without Really Trying." Maybe Dellner is privy to some secret bit of knowledge that'll ensure that next year you'll be downing champagne and getting laid instead of attending a self-help lecture. 7 p.m. 5200 Montrose, 713-524-8253, www.junghouston.org. $10 to $15.
If -- gasp! -- you aren't desperately searching for a mate and just want to have a good time, go see Brian De Palma's pervy 2002 film Femme Fatale. There's a hot lesbian scene, and you'll get to see Rebecca Romijn-Stamos nude. Who cares if critics think the film's the worst De Palma's ever made? It's sexy, disturbing and not one of those love stories that'll makes you yearn for the bliss of the couple on-screen. 8 p.m. Thursday, February 13, through Sunday, February 16. Rice Cinema, entrance no. 8 (off University at Stockton Drive), 713-348-4882. $5 to $6.
Saturday, February 15
David Berman, the so-called poet laureate of indie rock, refuses to play his music live. This, despite the fact that his country-rock band the Silver Jews (which includes several former members of Pavement) has a cult following that could become huge if Berman were willing to sell himself a little. Of course, Berman's refusal only increases his allure -- as does his recent poetry collection, Actual Air, which has received all kinds of praise. The book inspired Infernal Bridegroom Productions company member (and Press assistant calendar editor) Troy Schultz, who counts Berman among his heroes, to create a show that explores Berman's music and poetry. Actual Air doesn't progress like a narrative; it's more like a collage that offers up Silver Jews songs, recitations of Berman's poetry and visual interpretations of his work via acting, slides and "live painting." Not a live Berman performance, but close. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, February 13 through March 8. The Axiom, 2524 McKinney, 713-522-8443, www.infernalbridegroom.com. $5.99 opening weekend; $10 to $15 regularly.
Sunday, February 16
If you've got a thing for wheels, the Corvette/ Chevy Expo, which boasts 125,000 square feet of 'Vettes and classic Chevrolets for show and sale (plus hard-to-find parts and accessories), will make you drool. Feast your eyes on a '69 Astrovette, a '66 Chevelle, a 2003 50th anniversary Corvette and hundreds of other models. This might be too much to ask, but at the show, try to tear your gaze away from the rides for a few minutes to watch the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Bikini contest today at 3 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit www.corvettechevyexpo.com. $10.
Sometimes a little na#&239;veté pays off. In 1958, Esquire magazine gave novice photographer Art Kane an assignment to snap the jazz greats living in Harlem, and Kane did something a seasoned pro wouldn't have considered: He placed an ad in the paper, asking jazz musicians to show up at a Harlem stoop. Surprisingly, the turnout was huge, and Kane's now-famous photo of masters such as Thelonious Monk, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie jump-started his career. A few years ago, jazz bassist Milt Hinton remembered that his wife had made a home movie of the day. Using that footage, archival performances and interviews with people who were there, director Jean Bach put together the 1995 documentary A Great Day in Harlem, playing at the Museum of Fine Arts. 2 p.m. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-629-7515, www.mfah.org. $5.
Monday, February 17
Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale has found a new cause: the "Save our ERs" campaign. At today's Gallery Furniture Health Fair, he'll join Dr. Red Duke, another local celebrity with an unforgettable voice, to speak about the shortage of beds at our emergency facilities. According to a University of Texas study, during the first ten months of 2001, Houston hospitals had to divert patients nearly 40 percent of the time, causing delays that increased the rate of patient mortality. Visitors can also watch presentations of tai chi, bodybuilding, yoga" and a LifeFlight helicopter making an "exciting" landing at the store. Let's hope there's not a shortage of those, too. 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. 6006 North Freeway, 713-667-4700. Free.
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Tuesday, February 18
As anyone who's ever picked up a National Geographic knows, photographers have a long tradition of traveling to remote places to find interesting subjects. Danish photographer Mads Gamdrup is no exception. His exhibit "Renunciation" contains large-scale landscape photos snapped in the United States, Morocco, Egypt and Iceland. Ironically, Gamdrup's barren settings betray little information about their countries of origin. But the photos' lack of context is intentional, giving the shots a stark, tranquil purity. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 16. Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Fine Arts Building, room 120, entrance no. 16 (off Cullen), 713-743-9530. Free.
Wednesday, February 19
Comedian Spanky has a bit of information he wishes to share with the world: Men are sluts. He's published his findings on the subject in a scientific journal"Oh, all right, he hasn't, but he did publish the 1995 book Men Are Sluts, which contains such insights as "Surveys report women like to look at men's butts, which is no surprise, that's where we keep our wallets!" But the funnyman didn't stop with the book. You can also purchase the Men Are Sluts CD, skull cap, boxer shorts and thong. Spanky expounds upon his theories at 8:30 p.m. today through Sunday, February 23, with additional shows at 10:30 p.m. Friday, February 21, and Saturday, February 22. The Laff Spot, 17776 SH 249, suite 5A, 281-955-9200, www.laffspot.com. $12.