December 16
Bob Allen's Tell It Like It Is Channel 13/KTRK's affable sportscaster hosts his weekly sports talk show. Modeled on the "sports reporter" format that's worked so well in other cities, Allen's usual panel consists of Chronicle columnist Ed Fowler, the Post's Kenny Hand and 950 AM/KSEV's Ralph Cooper. Discussions get fairly heated -- especially when the Oilers are losing -- and Oiler defensive tackle Ray Childress is usually on hand to provide insight. The show takes place on the Drive Inn's outdoor patio, which has about 20 tables. Seats start to fill at 4 p.m.; Channel 13's live sports broadcast begins around 6:20 p.m.; the show is taped from 7 to 8 p.m. The Drive Inn, 1503 Post Oak, 623-6060. (A.H.)

Didjits They're still one of the best punk-rock experiences the Midwest has to offer -- four funny guys, raging guitars and enough attitude to choke a horse. Pegboy opens. 9 p.m. Shimmy Shack, 4216 Washington Ave., 863-7383. $5 21-and-ups; $7 minors. (B.T.)

December 17
Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly One of the more enduring bands in contemporary R&B, Maze returns to Houston, touring off Back to Basics., their first album in four years. Over the course of nearly 20 years and eleven albums, Frankie Beverly has remained dedicated to creating sophisticated soul with hits like "Joy and Pain" and "Running Away." Longtime fans and newcomers alike will enjoy this group that dares to be traditional. 8 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $28.50.

Handel's Messiah After mistletoe, It's a Wonderful Life and shopping malls, Messiah rates as a bona fide Christmas tradition. The Houston Symphony does this production up in style, bringing conductor/harpsichordist Christopher Seaman back to Space City for a weekend of Xmas cheer designed to make your heart sing (but not your voice, please -- leave that to the professionals). The flaming-red-haired Seaman leads the orchestra, four top-notch vocalists and the Houston Symphony Chorus in Handel's dramatic narrative. Today & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $10-$30. (C.K.)

The Art of Beauty and the Beast This fecund fable has given birth to a movie, a TV show, another movie (with matching merchandise), a musical and, finally, a Disney art exhibit. Beast-lovers are drooling over this colorful collection that includes pre-production work used to make the animated film, and hand-painted original cels. Six of the 18 pieces can be taken home, but it would help if that home is a castle -- prices range from $250 to $3,800. Thru Jan. 8. Fine Toon Gallery, 2427 Bissonnet, 522-6499. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., noonÐ5 p.m. Free. (C.K.)

Lemonheads/Redd Kross Cast aside all the ridiculously irrelevant "alterna-hunk" name tags that have been placed on Lemonheads front-man Evan Dando and you wind up with some mighty tasty pop confections. Supporting their new release, Come on Feel the Lemonheads, Dando and company are sure to have a rougher edge to their live sound than on disk. Maybe they'll even give us a preview of their cover of "Plaster Caster" to be released on the Kiss tribute album next year. L.A. ultra-cool rockers Redd Kross open. 8 p.m. Tower Theatre, 1201 Westheimer, 629-3700. $15.

Fuckemo's Right now, it's the name attracting more buzz in Austin music circles than anything else (guess where this band couldn't get a gig...), but at least one discriminating fan of my acquaint in Austin swears up and down that this is the future of punk rock. Go see for yourselves. 10 p.m. Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh, 521-0521. $3. (B.T.)

Brave Combo It's eight days 'til Christmas, and Denton's polka-masters are the authors of the world's finest Christmas album, It's Christmas, Man. What the hell are you doing reading this? Feo y Loco and Gone Blind open. 9 p.m. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 862-3838. $8 21- and-ups; $10 minors. (B.T.)

December 18
Macintosh Experts MacSnobs take note: Two of the hippest techno-gurus in the business take their 60-meg act to the University of Houston. Bob LeVitus -- "Dr. Macintosh," author of Stupid Mac Tricks -- demonstrates his favorite utility software and winds up his MacSpiel with Dr. Macintosh's Top Ten Power User Tips. Mac evangelist Guy Kawasaki discusses life lessons learned through 33 "remarkable people" -- including Apple Computer super-nerd Steve Wozniak, his former workmate. Both experts have written a load of books and will be pushing them heavily at this, the monthly meeting of the Houston Area Apple Users Group. 10 a.m. University Center, UH, 4800 Calhoun, 522-2179. One-day guest passes for non-members available on a limited basis. (C.K.)

Sebastian Whittaker Houston's own bop-influenced jazz drummer hasn't been making much noise lately, but here he is again, setting up shop for a two-day stand at the little jazz bar on Montrose. 8 p.m.-midnight. Cezanne, 4100 Montrose, 522-9621. (B.T.)  

Pork Last time I recommended this Austin band on the strength of one song -- a Jo Carol Pierce cover -- and complained that I hadn't been sent any other material. Well, someone was reading, cuz the band promptly delivered a homemade eight-song tape, including material that's been released as a K Records single. The songwriting doesn't quite live up to Pierce's (very little does), but all the spunk and energy that made Pork's version of "My Boyfriend" so stellar is present in spades. Imagine the Ramones jamming with early X. Imagine yourself at Rudz, 2706 White Oak, 862-3838. (B.T.)

Genitorturers As the name implies, there's a gimmick at work here. The GTs like their rock with holes in it, and if you've longed for a cross between the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow and Gwar, you just might get your wish tonight. Grunge knockoffs Mindfunk and Life of Agony open. 7 p.m. The Asylum, 6134 Airline, 694-6623. $10. (B.T.)

December 19
Annie Leibovitz Exhibit Pop culture makes a triumphant foray into the museum world with an exuberant retrospective of Leibovitz's portraits. It's about time that the Museum of Fine Arts opened its doors to one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. From portraits of Ella Fitzgerald to Jodie Foster, this exhibit includes the most exquisite photographs of Leibovit's career. The definitive and truthful style of her work captures the essence of each of her subjects, an intimacy that few photographers are able to convey successfully. Thru Jan. 30. Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thu., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 12:15-6 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $3 adults; $1.50 children. (K.M.)

December 20
The Pig "Live" Monday nights at the Pig are one of Houston's best-kept secrets. All drinks are $2 (except import beers) and unlike the normal sardine-packed, weekend-get-a-peek-at-the-band-if-you're-lucky gatherings, the pool table is open and the place has a homey neighborhood-bar vibe going. A mighty fine CD jukebox, dart boards and plenty of breathing room make this a Monday-night place to be. Open until 2 a.m. The Pig, 2150 Richmond, 524-0696. FREE. (S.W.)

December 21
"In Search of Our Fathers" This week's Frontline tells the story of Marco Williams' seven-year search to find the indentity of his father. His journey started in the spring of 1981 in Philadelphia, and, video recorder in hand, he travels around the country and to Paris. Should be interesting. Moving. Cheap. 9 p.m. Channel 8/PBS.

December 22
Omega House The Omega House is searching for people interested in helping to ease one stage in the battle against AIDS. The House, founded in 1986, is home to many AIDS patients seeking solace and comfort during their difficult days. One of Houston's only facilities to house AIDS patients, the Omega House offers a nurturing environment aimed at providing patients with a normal life. Volunteers are needed to help with chores ranging from cooking to bedside care. If you're interested in helping, call the Omega House, 602 Branard, 523-1146. (K.M.)

December 23
Houston Rockets vs. Denver Nuggets Our magnificient boys in maroon and gold take on the team of the future in the Midwest Division. The Nugs have struggled in recent times, but through a seemingly endless list of lottery picks -- the latest being power forward Rodney Rogers, a self-described cross between Karl Malone and Charles Barkley -- the Mile High bunch is actually worth seeing. Though, in a all likelihood, most Houston fans won't. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $11-$150. (A.H.)

Contributions from Alex Hecht (A.H.), Crosby King (C.K.), Kathryn McKinnis (K.M.), Brad Tyer (B.T.) and Sam Weller (S.W.).

Yuletide SpiritWith Christmas just around the corner, Houston folks are getting into the spirit. While the Heights and Post Oak are showcasing their brilliant lights, there's plenty of other ways channel your X-mas energy. Here's but a taste of the activites:

Sponsor a Family The American Business Women's Association is sponsoring a family for Christmas. The Taylor High School choir will perform holiday music. A non-perishable food item donation is requested. Tue., Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m. Holiday Inn, I-10 and Hwy. 6, 578-5066. Reservations recommended. $15.

Toys for Tots Drive Neiman Marcus will host its annual Christmas is for Kids toy drive. Toys for the drive do not have to be purchased at Neiman Marcus, but must be wrapped and delivered to the Town & Country store. Thru Dec. 18. Neiman Marcus Town & Country, 10615 Town & Country Way, 984-2100.

Children's Theater
All I Want For Christmas Selfish Princess Petunia receives a special gift and a valuable lesson for Christmas. Thu.-Sat., 10:30 a.m.; Fri., 1 p.m. A.D. Players, Rotunda Theater, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer, 526-2721. Thru. Dec. 18. $5.  

Frosty the Snowman The snowman we all know and love returns to Houston just in time for the holiday season and cooler temps. Sat., 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. The Company OnStage, 536 Westbury Square, 726-1219. Thru Jan. 1. $4.50.

The Toys Take Over Christmas A hard-hearted toymaker learns a lesson about love -- from his toys. Tue.-Fri., 9:30 & 11:30 a.m.; Sat. & Sun., 1 p.m. No performances Dec. 24 & 25. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy., 527-8243. Thru Dec. 26. $5.

The Turn-Around Christmas Sonya the Skunk and Calico Kitten track down Willie the Weasel, who has stolen and is selling Santa's toys. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. Kuumba House, 3412 LaBranch, 524-1079. Thru Dec. 23. $4.

Music Christmas Concert and Sing-a-long The Sugar Land Community Orchestra will perform holiday music in this free Christmas concert. The event will even include an appearence by Santa. Sat., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. Clements High School, Elkins Blvd., 242-0249. Free.

Holiday Concert
The Space Center Houston and KRTS Radio present this musical that features 18 choirs from area high schools, churches, elementaries and colleges. Dec. 18, 20, 21 & 23. Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Road 1, 244-2100. $9.95 adults;. $5.95 kids.

Pennzoil Choir The 40-member Pennzoil Choir delivers three 45-minute performances. The choir will sing holiday melodies in this, its 14th annual performance. Thu., Dec. 16. Pennzoil Place Lobby, 700 Milam. Free.

Christmas Attitudes The Pasadena Little Theatre presents Christmas Attitudes, a series of short plays about Christmas attitudes. The six comic playlets include a skit about a man who becomes despondent because no one will let him be Santa Claus. Fri. & Sat., Dec. 17 & 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 19, 3 p.m. The Pasadena Little Theatre, 4318 Allen-Genoa Road, 649-2558. $4.

The Christmas Memory Bettye Fitzpatrick and Beth Sanford present their rendition of this play,.an adaptation of the Truman Capote story that details the way Buddy and Cousin Sook prepare for their unusual Christmas. Christ Church Cathedaral, Latham Auditorium, 1117 Texas, 222-7216. Dec. 17, 18, 21-24 & 28, 10 a.m.; Dec. 20, 21, 27 & 28, 12:15 p.m.; Dec. 20, 27, 1:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 18, 11:30 a.m.; Tue., Dec. 14, 6 p.m. $7.

Christmas Present Gary Laird's holiday romantic comedy involves a tangle of gay lovers. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m. Kuumba House, 3414 La Branch, 439-1825. Thru Dec. 18. $12.

Snow Child A Russian toymaker fashions a little girl out of snow, and is delighted when she becomes real. Wed.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; no performances Dec. 24 & 25. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy., 527-8243. Thru Jan. 2. $5-$9.

Tuna Christmas If you've ever lived in a small town, passed through a small town, seen a small town on TV, or realized that the whole world is a small town -- this is your revenge. The boys from Greater Tuna are back, celebrating the country Texas pleasures of gun sales, bouffant hairdos, KKK meetings and of course, the annual yard display contest. If youÕve never seen Tuna, it is an essential Texas experience; if you have, you know why you need to return. Tue.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 2 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Wortham Center, Cullen Theatre, 500 Texas, 629-3700. Thru Dec. 19. 629-3700. $22-$29.

Twelve Steps to a More Dysfunctional Christmas Rob Nash returns with his one-man holiday sequel to the popular comedy Twelve Steps to a More Dysfunctional You. Tue.ÐSat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 6 p.m. Curtains, 3722 Washington, 862-4548. Thru Dec. 26. $10-$15.

Boat Lane Parade This annual parade has grown to be one of the most spectacular lighted boating events in the nation. This year, boaters will compete for 60 awards. Sat., Dec. 18, 6 p.m. Clear Lake, I-45 between Houston and Galveston. 488-7676. Free.

Christmas Lights Tour Visit the neighborhoods where people go all the way to display their Christmas spirit. The Christmas Lights Tour includes transportation for the sightseeing. Thu., Dec. 16, 6:45 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Leisure Learning Unlimited, 877-1981. Pre-registration required. $15 adults; $10 kids over five.

International Santa Houston's bilingual Santa returns to listen to children'ss Christmas lists in English or Spanish. Mon., Dec. 20, 1-6 p.m. Sharpstown Center, I-59 and Bellaire Blvd., 777-5391. Free.

Winter Day-Camp The University of St. Thomas will host a day-camp for children ages 6-12 during the Holiday season. During this six day session, children can participate in a range of activities, including holiday sports, games and gift-making. Dec. 20-21, 27-29, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The University of St. Thomas, 3812 Montrose Blvd., 522-7911.

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