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january 9
Someone Who'll Watch Over Me An American doctor, an English academic and an Irish journalist find themselves cut off from the world -- they're hostages in Lebanon -- and as dire as their circumstances sound, humor and imagination ride high; rather than bore one another with technical jargon, they turn to exercise, songs, jokes and fantasies about loved ones to maintain their composure under duress. Hosea Simmons Sr., Kent Johnson and George Brock star in the Houston premiere of Frank McGuinness's 1992 play; Ron Jones directs. Opens tonight, 7:30 p.m. Performances continue through February 9 (see Thrills, Theater for showtimes). Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Boulevard, 524-6706. $10-$15; discounts available for students and seniors.

National Volunteer Blood Donor Month President Clinton and the American Association of Blood Banks made this proclamation to honor the eight million people who gave blood in 1996, but they're probably hoping it'll drum up more business. And why not? A single donation can save the lives of up to three people. If you haven't given blood before, know that it'll take 30 minutes, more or less, and it'll hurt, but only a little -- more so when they prick your finger than when they stick you in the arm. (And we might mention that it's a cheap way to get a head start on a good drunk, but that wouldn't be in the spirit of Blood Donor Month.) Call the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at 790-1200 to find out how you can help.

january 10
The Age of Discretion Talk about your big chill. This play's story line follows a group of high school pals who find themselves, ten years on, dealing with the aftermath of AIDS -- death, don't you know -- and HIV infection. The Age of Discretion has been performed in Houston area schools for four years, and concludes this weekend. Promoters suggest that if you think that the theater isn't the best place for a lesson on AIDS, "try experience." 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Denney Theatre, 4001 Stanford, 942-1966. $5.

Dance Month at the Kaplan A day before the group's big farewell to-do at the Wortham Center (for more info on that, check out the dance column), a member of the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company will teach modern dance techniques to a lucky few. Thanks to the sponsorship of I.W. Marks, the master class can be had for a nominal fee -- $5! -- but at that price, you can't expect a chance to try on the great outfits the company dancers sometimes wear. You can, though, expect an intense lesson in Lewitzky's lean and taut style. And Bella herself will be in attendance. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, extension 3275. Tickets are $3.50 in advance, $5 at the door.

Having Our Say Sadie and Bessie Delany share a century of living and a New York Times bestseller based on their experiences. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years is Emily Mann's adaptation of the women's story. The two are the daughters of a mixed-race mother and a former slave, and are with it enough to realize not only that most of their lives are now behind them but that they have a unique perspective on the growth of America. They've seen it all, and they still have hope for the future. Delores Mitchell and Vinie Burrows, formidable women in their own right, star. Opens tonight, 8 p.m. Continues through February 8 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue, 228-8421. $31-$43. Having Our Say is the first of four plays in the Celebration Series, a joint project of the Alley and Ensemble theaters; series tickets are $70.

Health & Fitness Expo 1997 We are not lazy! Our priorities are not out of whack! We're simply uninformed -- or so say the good folks of the Methodist Health Care System, who are hosting this expo to ensure that we have the proper information and techniques to live longer, live healthier and live up to our New Year's resolutions. The three-day expo will feature nearly 25 seminars for runners ("Carbo Loading Prior to Sporting Events," 5:30 p.m. today) and non-runners (sports medicine, nutrition, cardio-karate and more), plus the opportunity to meet world-class athletes and to buy discounted sportswear. The expo is an adjunct to Sunday's Methodist Health Care Houston Marathon (formerly the Houston Tenneco Marathon). 11 a.m.-7 p.m. today; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday (Family Day); 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas, 957-3453. Free.

HomoImprovement Only the phrase "more power" would seem to apply to both the Queer Artist Collective and the sitcom whose title the artists spoof. Having accepted the challenge to "fearlessly be themselves," the folks of QuAC have composed highly personal works of expression, which they'll perform using their written ideas, video and choreographed movement. Racism, sexuality, homophobia and whether Sears Craftsman tools really do have a lifetime warranty (and whose lifetime are they talking about, ours or the tool's?) are among the topics these young men and women address as they investigate identity. Well, actually, they don't talk about Sears, though maybe they should. 8 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 228-0914. $10; $7, seniors and students.

january 11
Shannon Lucid Last week, youngsters were invited to party with Darth Vader; today, they can meet a space figure even more awe-inspiring: Dr. Shannon Lucid, fresh from her record-setting flight aboard the space station Mir. She's spent 223 days of her life orbiting the big blue marble we call home -- no woman has done more -- so maybe she can explain how a person could wile away so much time up there. 2:30-3:30 p.m. Moody Gardens, Garden Lobby, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. Free.

Amelia Long before Shannon Lucid was setting records on high, Amelia Earhart set out to prove that women were indeed more than poor relations in the house of male adventurers. Now, choreographer Michele Brangwen, working with Rice University professor and composer Arthur Gottschalk and three local dancers, has attempted to capture the spirit of Earhart, her sense of exuberance and daring, through dance. The site-specific work was recorded on video at Hooks Airport in Spring, and will be shown at 3 p.m. today. Beforehand, there will be a slide show and video on women in the space program -- and, indeed, the roles of women in the space program have changed significantly since astronauts first proved they had the right stuff. Tomball College Teaching Theatre, FM 249 just north of Main Street, Tomball, 351-ARTS. Free.

january 12
Methodist Health Care Houston Marathon This is Houston's largest sporting event of the year, right down to its large tales of struggles and courage. Take for example the story of David Smith, 59, a TCB vice president who's bouncing back from prostate cancer to take his second stab at finishing the marathon; his trainer is former Olympic marathoner Mark Conover, himself a Hodgkin's disease survivor who ran 50 miles a week while undergoing chemotherapy. Smith and the rest of the remarkable athletes competing in the marathon will take off at eight this morning from the George R. Brown Convention Center. Highlights of the 26.2-mile course, for the viewer anyway, include the Mecom Fountain, where runners will pass by between 8:40 and 9:30 a.m., University Avenue through West U about 15 minutes later and, of course, the finish line. If you're not up to completing a marathon and you're not content to be a spectator, you can show your Houston pride by running in the Downtown 5000 5K fun run, which also begins and ends at the convention center. 7:45, wheelchair start; 8, marathon start; 8:15 a.m., Downtown 5000 start. For more information, call the race hotline at 957-3453.

Julian Calendar New Year Party And you thought New Year's was over. In the land of opportunity, though, there's always more. In 1974, Greg Harbar, frontman for the Gypsies, threw the first of these Julian calendar New Year's parties for his Orthodox friends. The celebration has since grown so large that Harbor and his bandmates now hold their fest at Blue Planet. And as you can imagine, a party this large attracts every ilk of reveler: the Russians, Ukrainians and Czechs are now doing the polka, the frailach (my favorite) and the jig with the Greeks, the Irish, even the Cajuns. Ethnicity isn't a concern; a love of ethnic music is. The Gypsies invite you to dress in your favorite ethnic costumes, and we implore you -- Cajuns included -- to exhibit good taste. Joining the Gypsies will be Myllarit (the Millers), of the Karelian Republic in northwest Russia, and Lenya and Vladimir, a duo from Kiev. 5 p.m.midnight. Blue Planet, 6367 Richmond, 978-5913. $6.

1997 Inaugural Ball Republicans with open wallets are just as welcome as their Democratic counterparts at this Inaugural Ball, a gala fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy. There's nothing like a night of luxurious dining and quality entertainment -- the latter by way of Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters -- in the name of bringing money and awareness to a worthy local cause to convince a good-hearted Houstonian to put his politics aside. The ubiquitous auction for this event is anything but common, featuring tickets for two, compliments of Monica Seles, to the U.S. Open, along with a signed racket, and, thanks to Tony Vallone, a private dinner bash for 12 in his restaurant. 6:30 p.m. Tony's, 1801 Post Oak Boulevard, 522-1051. $175.

january 13
Hidden Secrets of Rubber: Ancient Native American Toys and Modern Space Suits The Smithsonian Voices of Discovery lecture series continues with Mary Baker, a research chemist at the Smithsonian Conservation Analytical Laboratory, and her presentation on the development and conservation of space suits. If you've been to Space Center Houston and tried on the sample helmets they have there, then you're no stranger to looking goofy and you're well aware of the clunky nature of spacewear. Judging from her title, Baker's more interested in function over fashion, and can explain why space suits have developed as they have. 9:30 a.m. Houston Public Library, Moody Branch Library, 9525 Irvington, 697-2746. (For additional lecture times, see Thrills, Museums.) Free.

january 14
Looking at Art Some people can look at a painting of geometric shapes and see a tree. They gaze upon a giant canvas of squiggles and stand in awe of the motion and energy portrayed. You, too, can learn to see that way, and without taking any illegal substances. Local art collectors Marshal and Victoria Lightman will lead novices on a tour of Houston's contemporary art scene, starting tonight at McMurtrey Gallery, where Sandi Seltzer Bryant will talk about her works. The class meets weekly for five weeks, during which time students will become familiar with the major players in Houston's art world, discover new and unusual places in Houston, meet stimulating people and learn the proper shade of black to wear when being artistic. 7-9 p.m. McMurtrey Gallery, 3508 Lake Street, 868-9589. $60.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton The world-famous baby doctor will spend the next few days in Houston trying to bolster the parenting skills of local folks. He'll kick off his Bayou City tour at a fundraiser luncheon benefiting the Children's Museum; the 1997 Parents and Family Luncheon includes a Q&A period, and one hopes he'll finish up in time to get to his next gig, the presentation "Stresses and Supports for Families in the 1990s." Whether Nintendo is a source of stress or support we don't know, but Dr. Brazelton's goal is establishing healthy self-esteem in parents and children. Wednesday, the doctor will conduct a daylong seminar on "Touchpoints in Development: A Model for Early Intervention." Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; lecture, 8:30 p.m. All events take place at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, 1200 Louisiana. Call 522-1138, extension 250, for the luncheon, 227-ARTS, for the lecture. Luncheon, $75; lecture, $20 or $35 per couple.

january 15
Walter Cronkite: A Reporter's Life Before he was Old Iron Pants, he was a young newspaper correspondent for the Houston Press. Not this one, the daily paper your grandparents read. He went on to a lengthy stint with UPI, then wound his way to CBS. The rest is history -- a history he discusses in his autobiography A Reporter's Life. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame inductee, narrator extraordinaire and respected newsman spent a fair bit of time in Texas during his early career, and covers that period of his life in detail in his new memoir. The signing is tonight, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting KUHT/ Channel 8 and KUHF-FM. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Signing, free; book, $26.95.


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