Bordello Choreographer Richard Hubscher (also the artistic director of Zocalo Theater) has been busy creating a new and original dance theater piece inspired by Queen Laura's Bordello, a Galveston whorehouse that operated from the '20s through the '50s. This mishmash of dance, fanciful storytelling and original music (performed by poet/songwriter Michelle Glaw) sounds ambitious and fun. Walk in and pay your money to the "madam," then go upstairs and enjoy the environment/show of this fantasy bordello. Meet Daisy, Fern, Lily and Saffron and let them "entertain" you all night long. 8 and 10 p.m., Nov. 6 and 7, 10 p.m. and midnight, Nov. 8, Kiam Annex Theater, 314316 Main St. (corner of Preston and Main), 222-0443. $7-$10.
Charles Simic In tandem with the Joseph Cornell show currently up at the Menil Museum, Pulitzer Prizewinning poet Charles Simic will read a selection of his work at the museum tonight. His enigmatic, quirky and philosophic poetry creates odd worlds that challenge our most cherished notions of language. Consider this excerpt from "Nowhere": In which No "lives, / Happily ever after. Its sky has no stars, No morning or evening, / No earth under its feet / It's happy because / It only has a word for them, / And the poor Yes / Has a place, ... And an onion / That makes him cry." 7:30 p.m. (no late seating). The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 525-9400. Free.
Whole Foods Market Holiday Cooking Class The holiday season is barreling down upon us, and soon, strange and "wondrous" concoctions will appear on tables everywhere. If you can't stand one more year of your great-aunt Mimi's canned-green-bean-and-orange-Jell-O-salad, spend a couple of hours with the folks from Whole Foods tonight, learning some new and healthful ways to cook for the holidays. They'll show you how to make festive foodstuffs from fresh produce, whole grains and other wholesome ingredients. 7-9 p.m. Spring Branch Community Center, 1731 Pech Road, 789-4477 for reservations. Free.
Grand National Velvet Brown, the 14-year-old butcher's daughter who wants to race horses, was made famous by a young and lovely, violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor in the 1944 film National Velvet. Now, all these decades later, comes the musical version. As in the original, Velvet still dreams of winning the Grand National with "The Piebald," the big-hearted misfit of a horse that she wins in a raffle. But the "authentic Celtic music" of this version ought to bring an interesting richness to this sentimental tale of an English girl's determination to win against the odds. Houston Community College has produced this world premiere, which includes a cast of 35 and a band of musicians with authentic Irish instruments. Thru Nov. 16. 8 p.m. tonight (see Thrills, Theater for other dates and times). The Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin at Holman, 718-6570. $7; $5, seniors and students.
Willy Wang's Workshop Imagine a quiet Saturday morning in the company of 15 of your favorite acquaintances, all of you gathered for the sole purpose of making art. That's what happens every Saturday at the Unitarian Fellowship on Wirt Road in the Willy Wang Workshop. Folks bring $5 (to pay the model and the rent) and draw, paint and sculpt, all under the gentle tutelage of Willy Wang, the altruistic (as in, you don't pay him anything) guide of the course. You don't have to come every Saturday, and sometimes there's even coffee and donuts. Best of all, it's a great place to meet other people who like thinking about art. But is the work any good? Find out tonight, when this ragtag bunch of artists opens a show of their work that the public is invited to check out. Show runs thru Nov. 30. Opening reception 7-9 p.m. St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer, 462-0650 for information.
Godspell Christopher Ayres and Philip Duggins, Masquerade Theatre's artistic and producing directors, have worked hard to bring this '70s musical into the '90s with stylistic borrowings from Stomp and Rent. Thru Jan. 4. 8 p.m. Masquerade Theatre, 720 W. 11th St., 861-7045. $15.
Studio and Stages presents: Carrie Peters Studio and Stages, a group of artists and friends "committed to the discovery of the artist in everybody," open their evening with a dance performance by featured artist Carrie Peters -- but it won't be long, they hope, till you are up on your feet moving to your own inner voice. Jon Kinsella, community "art facilitator," will teach you "magical games" in hopes of releasing that artist inside, too long squelched by workaday capitalism. 7-9:30 p.m., The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose, 880-3067. $10.
Independent Japanese Cinema Sex and family: two great topics for great literature -- and films. This weekend, the MFA hosts five movies by young Japanese directors: Kana-Kana: The Summer That Never Was, Breakable, March Comes in Like a Lion, This Window Is Yours and Osaka Story. All focus on how young folks try to find love and independence under the terrible weight of parental expectations -- proof that the same struggle happens all over the globe. Kana-Kana: The Summer That Never Was shows tonight at 7:30; it's followed by Breakable at 9:30 p.m. See Film Capsules for other dates and times. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5; $6, double feature.
Kenny Barron Trio with Billy Harper and Sonny Fortune Billy Harper was born in Houston but hasn't played here since he left in 1966 to make it big playing saxophone in New York. At last he's come back, lured by Da Camera Jazz, and he brings some great players with him. Besides saxophone master Sonny Fortune, there's the headliner, Grammy-winning pianist Kenny Barron and his trio. Catch them all tonight; judging from the past, it'll be a long time before Harper returns. 8 p.m. Wortham Theater, Cullen Theater, 500 Texas, 524-5050. $21-$41.
Toys Take Over Christmas You can't stop Christmas from starting early. Kids are already making up their lists, and the panic is just beginning to creep up your knees. Before things get too bad, you might want to take the kids out for some fun that requires absolutely no work from you. This Christmas play tells what happens when toys come to life and discover the gift of love. If it sounds like an old story to you, that's okay. After all, it's really for the kids. Thru Dec. 23. 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (see Thrills, Kids, Onstage for other dates and times), Stages Theater, 3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 101, 527-8243. $5.
CPR Mass Training We go through life with our fingers crossed, whispering prayers. But life is brutal, and bad things sometimes happen. The Houston CPR Task Force wants to make you and yours a little bit safer today. Spend six short hours learning some of the simplest but perhaps most profoundly important instructions you'll ever need. Hope that you won't ever have to use what you learn today -- but if things should get ugly, you'll at least be prepared. Classes are available in Spanish; kids must be 12 or older to participate. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Astrodome, 8400 Kirby, call 225-4CPR by 7 p.m. Nov. 7 to register. $10; $5, seniors and students, donation includes course material and T-shirt.
Annual Herb Fair Looking for a good mint jelly, creamy lavender soap or even cherry-root tea? All this and more will be available today at the Herb Society's 25th annual fair. Find teas, mustards, butters, candles and other things that smell and taste delicious -- and get lots of good advice on to how to grow and select your own herbs. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Faith Lutheran Church, 4600 Bellaire. Free admission.
Helmuth Rilling and the Houston Symphony Though Felix Mendelssohn lived only 38 years, he composed some of the best-known music in the western world. To honor the 150th anniversary of his death, German conductor Helmuth Rilling comes to Houston to head the Houston Symphony's tribute to the composer. The three works chosen for these performances -- The Hebrides, Symphony No. 4 (the "Italian" symphony) and The First Walpurgis Night -- illustrate the inspiration Mendelssohn found in art, nature and history. 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 10; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 9, Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS, $13-$59; $7, senior and student rush tickets, subject to availability, at the Jones Hall ticket window 75 minutes prior to the performances.
Waterfront Home Tour You may never be able to purchase a home on Galveston Bay, but this weekend you can at least spend some time wandering through some lovely homes there. Go from Spanish Colonial to Craftsman-style architecture, and dream yourself into an opulent life, if only for an afternoon. Buy a ticket at three of the eight addresses on the tour: 103 Bayridge Road or 911 Bayridge Road in Morgan's Point (Key Map 540Z), or 3306 Miramar in Shoreacres (Key Map 580V). Then move between the homes, from the brand-new to the century-old, at your own pace. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For information, call the Galveston Bay Foundation, (281) 332-3381. $10; proceeds benefit the foundation's programs to preserve the bay.
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Gaylapalooza The Hollywood Reporter called this show "the most successful gay standup comedy show to ever tour." But the comedians want everyone to know their show is not just for a gay and lesbian crowd; they proclaim themselves very "hetero-friendly." So whomever you cuddle with at night, you might want to find your way to Laff Stop to catch these three headline acts -- Gay Comedy Jam stars Scott Kennedy and Kevin Maye, plus Bob Smith, author of Openly Bob -- who perform one night only. 8 p.m., Laff Stop, 1925-A West Gray, 524-2333. $13.50, advance; $15.50 at the door.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters Golf Tournament Tedious back-at-work Monday is a great day for skipping out for a game of golf, and today you have a better excuse than usual. Big Brothers and Big Sisters is holding its Charity Open golf tournament today. Proceeds benefit the organization, which helps kids stay off drugs and stay in school -- and that, in turn, means this tournament is good for society, if not for productivity. 7:30 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. tournament start. 23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd., south of I-10 on the Grand Parkway, west of Houston, 954-7778 to register early. $100 includes entry fee, cart, practice range, and food and beverages all day.
Stop-Smoking Classes As you smokers already know, one of the best holiday gifts you could give your loved ones would be to quit the ciggies for good. But it's hard -- too hard for many people to do alone. Consider signing up for the Sisters of Charity smoking-cessation class. You'll meet for two weeks (on Tuesdays and Fridays), bond with fellow addicts of demon tobacco and partake of the wisdom of facilitator Sherrill King, who before cleaning up used to suck down two packs a day. 4-5 p.m. George Strake Building, 1919 LaBranch, eighth-floor conference room, 757-1000. $20.
Library Scholarship Search If you and yours are getting ready to graduate from high school in just seven short months, you're just beginning to sweat about where all that college tuition money is going to come from. Do what your teachers always advise: Go to the library. Mary Donley, a staff member in the Adult Services Department at the George Memorial Library in Richmond, will show students and parents how to research college scholarships at the library. Lots of money goes unclaimed every year -- and some of it might have your name on it. 6:30 p.m. George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview, Richmond, (281) 342-4455. Free.