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december 8
Appaloosa Horse Show Committee Auction On October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce said, "Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." (This is one of the most beautiful speeches in our history, but that's not important here.) What was left of the Nez Perce is often described as a pathetic cluster of refugees; but what is usually an overlooked footnote is that they still had 1,100 of their flashy spotted horses. These animals were the best horses on the continent. The magnificent, purebred animals Chief Joseph's people surrendered to the Army were sold off at random. Appaloosas spent the next 100 years prized only by the circus, where striped and spotted creatures are always welcome. Then, after World War II, a magazine article sparked enough interest that an Appaloosa horse club was formed. Tonight, a bunch of well-heeled Houstonians from the Appaloosa Horse Show Committee are having an action to raise money for Livestock Show and Rodeo youth scholarships. This plan might sound like just a rich redneck romp. However, Appaloosa Horse Show people, big belt buckles and all, are obsessed with Appaloosa horses. This means that these people know more about the history of Native Americans than most of us and would no more confuse the Shoshonis and the Karankawa than they would the Chinese and the Italians. The trendy notion of multicultural studies shows up in the least likely places. Moreover, Mattress Mac might show up at this auction. Life is rich. Typical high-end auction items are on the block -- art, scuba lessons, jewelry, furniture, health club memberships and travel packages. 6-11 p.m. Texas Longhorn Saloon, 9900 Hempstead Highway, 683-0386.

Betrayal Since his first play, The Room, premiered in 1957, there has been quite a fuss about Harold Pinter. This fuss hasn't quieted yet (although there might have been a lull after the release of the film The French Lieutenant's Woman, for which Pinter wrote the screenplay). Betrayal is the story of an affair, and Pinter would insist that the affair is the focus, really. "I certainly don't write from any kind of abstract idea," he noted in his salad days, "and I wouldn't know a symbol if I saw one ... I'm convinced that what happens in my plays could happen anywhere, at any time, in any place, although the events may seem unfamiliar at first glance." That "unfamiliar" is wry understatement, and the sort of thing that makes Pinter's dialogue an art unto itself. This production of Betrayal is from What If Productions. Thu. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. Jewish Community Center, Joe Frank Theatre, 5601 South Braeswood. Tickets may be reserved by calling 664-5188. $10, 10 percent discount for seniors and students.

december 9
Rhinoceros Also known as "Inoceros-Rhay," this play by Eugene Ionesco is considered a classic of absurdist theater. Rhinoceros is set in a small French town peopled with ordinary folk in which a two-horned beast suddenly appears, bellowing and trampling. Good God, y'all! Everyone's going rhino! Except Berenger (played in Infernal Bridegroom's production by Jason Douglas and his beautiful bone structure); he is unwavering. As those around him go with the flow and sprout horns from their snouts, Berenger remains steadfast. His girlfriend (talented Jackson Gay) goes rhino, but he won't. Our hero's friend, Johnny (Andy Nelson, who's called "Johnny" despite the fact that the character's original name was Jean), spends a good deal of one act turning into a rhino. Though Johnny wasn't all that hip on being heavy-hided, he nonetheless rationalizes that he "must move with the times." Still, Berenger is unwavering. "I'm the last man left," he says, "and I'm staying that way till the end!"

Ionesco, scholars theorize, wrote Rhinoceros because of personal disgust. Before he left Rumania in 1938, he saw people he had considered peers seduced by the Iron Guard fascist movement. What Ionesco said, tightlipped as a square-lipped rhino, is that the play's personal: "I don't know if you noticed it, but when people no longer share your opinions, when you can no longer make yourself understood, you have the impression of being confronted by monsters! Rhinos!" This allegory is no doubt useful for our times. Despite the rather dark message -- that most people would succumb to peer pressure and pursue a pachydermatous existence -- there's a note of hope. Director Vicki Weathersby has made some promises about an accompanying video installation to be created by Darin Palmer and incorporating floating televisions. Chase Staggs has fashioned a variety of fabulous rhinoceri heads. Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m. Commerce Street Art Warehouse, 2315 Commerce. Advance tickets available, call 522-0908. $5.99.

december 10
Snowfest Personally, I think snow is overrated. Where there's snow, there's salt and where there's salt, even the finest pair of boots won't last five minutes. Still, some people crave the fluffy white stuff. There will be snow in Missouri City today, several tons of it and, conveniently, right in the middle of a holiday carnival. This year's Snowfest honors Joe Romano, career Santa and all-around good egg. The Fort Bend County community 100th anniversary parade and fun run begins at 10 a.m. and then the Snowfest is on at 11:30. Missouri City Civic Center, 1522 Texas Parkway, 261-4260.

Six Flags AstroWorld Snow right off of 610 and live reindeer figure into Six Flags' holiday plans. The frigid air blasting from the park's many air conditioners and the turquoise moisture from the water rides' dyed lakes actually combine to form real live snow here in Houston ... or else they truck the stuff in and spread it on a hill. What's the difference? Either way, it's unnatural snow to be enjoyed at a price -- though at a price much less than the price of the fare to some far off place with real snow. The park is open as usual and with special holiday shows in the theaters and seasonal treats to eat. Through December 18, Six Flags AstroWorld is open Fri., 5-11 p.m.; Sat., 3-11 p.m.; and Sun., 3-9 p.m. Loop 610 at Kirby, 799-1234. $14.95.

33rd annual Christmas boat parade Imagine, if you dare, the bastard child of the Art Car Parade and the Great Houston Duck Race. This boat parade has elements of all our favorite whacked entertainments plus real class. You can't imagine the things people come up with. Live nativity scenes, with animals, have floated in years past, and so have airplanes and entire high school marching bands. Though the first parade was piddling, just five boats, the annual Christmas boat parade on Clear Lake is now one of the largest lighted boat parades in our great nation. Part of the reason, admittedly, is that mid-winter seaside frolics aren't popular in the frozen North. Most of the reason, presumably, is that Texans are just better at fun. 6 p.m. The boats take off from South Shore Harbor Marina and go through Clear Lake and take the Clear Lake channel -- so you can watch from restaurants -- and then move out into Galveston Bay, and then return. Altogether, it's about a three hour show.

Sing along with Mitch He's still alive! The King of Sing-Along, a man so honored as to have been parodied on SCTV, Mitch Miller will conduct the Houston Symphony and a Jones Hall full of Houstonians in an amazing musical evening. He's such a nice guy, Mitch is. Get dressed up and go see his arm-pumping conducting while you still can. Four performances. Today, 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-50.

december 11
Site-specific nostalgia Pinky Hull will return from his comfortable dotage in Branson, Missouri, to play his "plinkety-plink" piano and to sell copies of his book, From Tent Show to Opera; Confessions of a Ragtime Piano Player. Other books about old-time Houston, often hard-to-find books, will also be on sale. A. Pat Daniels' Bolivar! Gulf Coast Peninsula: A Fascinating Voyage on the Bolivar Ferry is simply not a book one might find at, oh, say The Strand Bookstore in New York. Ditto Treasures of Galveston Bay by Carroll Lewis. And especially ditto these books autographed. The less literate might be interested in Marvin Bailey's 1995 calendar with vintage photos of our swamp city in the '30s, '40s and '50s. Refreshments will be served at this book sale and autograph party. 2-6 p.m. Richmond Bookstore, 6423 Richmond (just east of Hillcroft), 952-5845.

Munchies' Messiah Shower singers and those who regularly accompany the radio while driving can feel so left out in this, the oratorio season. Organized professionals, often in corny robes, are belting out "season favorites" and showing off with ecclesiastical classics. They're snobs is what they are; up there with all those hours of practice and good lighting and musical accompaniment as if you couldnÕt do as well in a similar setting. Beau Cain and his orchestra and soloists aren't like that at all. Although they spent much time in rehearsal with Handel's Messiah, when they perform, they invite ordinary people to "sing with the chorus -- on stage or from the floor, to volunteer as soloists for any aria or recitative, or to just hum along with the parts that they know." Talk about giving. The evening begins early, with a tree-trimming at 4 p.m. The Messiah will begin promptly at 7 p.m. A directed carol sing-along will follow. The bar will be open all day and refreshments will be served. Munchies, 1617 Richmond, 528-3545. $1.

december 12
Grace Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir The Grace Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, a 120-voice ensemble, is always running around. It only recently finished performing at the International Church Music Festival in Salzburg, Austria, and it's soon to be the featured choir at the next International Church Music Festival in Coventry, England. As a breather, the choir offers a concert for the simple stay-at-home folk of Houston. Chadwick Edwards will direct his choir, an orchestra and Ms. Ann Frohbieter on Grace Church's organ. Oh, and they won't be playing well-known church choir selections, necessarily. Rutter's Magnificat is on the program, but so is Dave Brubeck's Gloria. 8 p.m. Grace Presbyterian Church, 10221 Ella Lee, 781-7615. Free.

Festival Hong Kong Non-stop action and a body count to rival the evening news. Quentin Tarantino would like to make movies like this, he'd give his eye teeth to make movies like this. The Hong Kong crowd are masters of violence and little else matters. Later in this series Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II plays with the relatively rare The Bride with White Hair. This week, Landmark presents two hard-boiled flicks: Jackie Chan's First Mission and an orgy of action entitled Once A Cop play as an over-the-top double feature. This pairing plays today through Thursday. Several shows daily. Landmark's Greenway, 5 Greenway Plaza, 626-0402. Feature ticket price $6.50.

december 13
Harris County Young Democrats From the looks of the last election, they're the few, but they're still the proud and the brave and they are undaunted. The Harris County Young Democrats is a political -- and social -- network for locals under 35 who are "interested in the political process and the Democratic Party." The next regular meeting will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. Harris County Democratic Party Headquarters, 3702 Travis. For details, call 743-7583.

december 14
8.0 Artisan Market In its desperately trendy way, 8.0 is getting into the holiday spirit. Those who were unable to find interesting gifts at the Nutcracker Market and who're just too close to the cutting edge to send kumquat fruit baskets to their friends may find just the gift they need to give at this modern art mart. Heidi Gerstacker, Robby Wood, Viveka Barnett, Catherine Werle Allen, Elena Cusi Wortham, George Sacaris, Jose Solis III and Jack Stenner have been busy in a caffeine-laden post-po-mo elfin way. Their art, in the form of jewelry, metalwork, ceramics, clocks and decorative household items, will be put out for sale this evening. Proceeds from the sale benefit DiverseWorks. 5:30-8 p.m. 8.0, 3745 Greenbriar, 523-0880.


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