'Tis the night before Christmas, and all through the house a suspicious six-year-old is screaming, "But, Mom, how will Santa know that now I want Scary Spice instead of Sporty Spice?" Little does young Frannie Fickle know that Santa's keeping up with the times thanks to Houston's PDQ.net (there are no Internet providers at the North Pole). Connected kids can e-mail last-minute wish lists to Santa@pdq.net and expect replies from Mrs. Claus, Rudolph or an elf.
Spend the day with family ... but not necessarily your biological one. The Montrose-area 611 Club will make you feel right at home with a potluck spread served right on the bar, along with $1.50 well drinks and beers. The only requirement, says bartender Dan, is that you "bring what you want and don't complain about the rest." At Thanksgiving, more than 40 patrons ate from as many different dishes, and the 611 expects the Christmas crowd to be even bigger. There's also a gift drawing every hour. The potluck party begins at 2 p.m. You might want to check the 611's list beforehand to avoid duplicating dishes. 611 Hyde Park at Stafford. Call 526-7070 or 528-1582 for more information.
It's a big movie weekend, and with 25-foot-tall, 40-foot-long, photo-realistic, stereoscopic, 3-D dinosaurs, T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous is IMAX's biggest production yet. Directed by Brett Leonard of Lawnmower Man fame and starring Thirtysomething's Peter Horton, T-Rex is also one of the company's first forays into the nondocumentary feature film arena. The storyline's a little sketchy: The teenage daughter of a famous paleontologist is bummed because she has to give museum tours while her father and his assistant are off uncovering tyrannosaur eggs. A "mysterious" accident in the museum lab sends her back in time to herds of hadrosaurs, flying pteranodons, ostrichlike ornithomimuses, and a fearsome tyrannosaurus rex protecting its eggs. But people don't watch IMAX films for the plot, and you won't be disappointed by T-Rex's effects: Every detail of the film's computer-generated creatures -- from tooth size to nostril slant -- was run by paleontologists for realism. T-Rex runs through March 11 at the Moody Gardens 3D IMAX Theater at 1 Hope Boulevard in Galveston. Call (800)582-4673 for more information. $7.
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"A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum" is on its way out of town, but not before the Museum of Fine Arts' family weekend, "Holiday Happenings." After touring a 150-year-old, London-based collection of decorative arts that includes Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, Dr. Martens's "Vegetarian Shoes," Chippendale furniture, the fig leaf used to cover the privates of Michelangelo's David in Queen Victoria's presence, and the Vivienne Westwood platform heels that sent Naomi Campbell tumbling down the catwalk, kids can make their own art (like stained-glass windows) under the tutelage of local artists Beth Secor and Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw. The costumed singing group Viva Voce will provide the sounds of 1850s London, and -- on Saturday, December 26 -- storyteller Jeannine Pasini Beekman will tell tales based on works in the exhibition. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Activities are free with regular museum admission: $3 for adults; $1.50 for seniors, students and kids. "A Grand Design" runs through January 10. 1001Bissonnet. Call 639-7860 for more information on Family Days.
If the season's spirit of receiving has your kids upset about not getting a Sony PlayStation or the walking, talking, interactive Tickle Me Elmo, show them how bad life could have been if they'd been born a mere century earlier. At the Heritage Society Museum's current exhibit, "Tuned in & Unplugged: Games, Puzzles & Playing Cards of the Pre-TV Generation," they'll learn that once upon a time children had to make-do with dominoes, puzzles, hopscotch and -- shudder -- Milton Bradley board games. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through January 29. 1100 Bagby at Sam Houston Park. Call 655-1912 for more information.
By this point in the week you've realized -- again -- that family holidays never quite go according to any sort of Norman Rockwellian plan. Spend the aftermath communing with warm and fuzzy American myths via the master himself at the Museum of Printing History. The "Norman Rockwell's America" exhibit features more than 70 of the 321 Saturday Evening Post covers that the pictorial storyteller produced from 1916 to 1963. Rockwell has long gotten a bad rap in the art world for his genre work, but he actually studied cubism in Paris before cubism was cool. When he returned to France in 1932 to continue his studies, his teachers asked him to teach them how to become successful magazine illustrators. So there. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until January 16. Museum of Printing History, 1324 West Clay. Call 522-4652 for more information. $2; $1 for students and seniors.
The 210-pound Bruce Baum was born into comedy in the '70s as the diapered "Baby Man" on Make Me Laugh. Since then, he's appeared on nearly every sitcom from Growing Pains to The Simpsons (as a cartoon version of himself) in various states of undress. Baum also took a star turn in Bobcat Goldthwaite's intoxicatingly funny film Shakes the Clown, but he perhaps reached the height of his comedic career last year when his name was an answer in two separate TV Guide crossword puzzles. (If that's not proof of fame, we don't know what is.) Tonight, the balding man with a mustache promises to perform his wacky brand of punch lines and physical comedy in plain clothes, but prepare for Pampers if you plan to see him on New Year's Eve night. Through January 3. Showcase times and ticket prices: Wednesday and Sunday at 8 p.m., $6.50; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., $9.75. The 7 p.m. New Year's Eve show is $17.50; the 10 p.m. show includes a buffet and costs $39.50. 17776 Tomball Parkway, Suite 5A. Call (281)955-9200 or go to www.laffspot.com for more information.