Press Picks

may 22
An Intimate Evening with Maya Angelou Maya Angelou -- national poet laureate, actress, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and civil rights activist -- brings her beautiful words and booming voice to Houston in support of the National Kidney Foundation. 7:30 p.m. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). 743-5186. For tickets, call 629-3700. $50, $75, $150, $250.

may 23
Special Olympics On the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bob, wife Elyse and former Cowboys coach Tom Landry will be waiting for the 700 hot and sweaty law enforcement officers completing the torch run from towns across the state. But there won't be much time for welcoming niceties: From City Hall, the officers have to run to the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium for a torch-lighting ceremony with former UH track star and Olympian Carl Lewis. The torch run passes City Hall at noon; opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. at Robertson Stadium, UH entrance 15 off Cullen Boulevard. Athletic events -- including aquatics, cycling, gymnastics and more -- will take place at UH, Rice University, Yates High School and other locations around town. Competition runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Saturday; 8 a.m.-noon Sunday. Call (281) 587-6866 for a schedule and more information. All events are free.

The Diary of Anne Frank The A.D. Players have extended the run of this play based on the classic book. In case you somehow don't know the plot already: Anne, a young Jewish girl, comes of age while hiding from the Nazis. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Grace Theater, 2710 West Alabama, 526-2721. $17$19. Not recommended for children five or younger.

may 24
Just For(e) Play Comedy group Just For Play debuts with a shameless celebration of pubescent humor. Their antics include sketches with names such as" 'Drag' Net" and "Men Are from Heaven, Women Are from Hell"; one performance is proudly likened to Meg Ryan's famous fake in When Harry Met Sally. Still not sure whether the show is for you? Consider this sample: A pseudo-ad touts "NicoSperm Gum" -- for a three-second orgasm when you don't have time for the messy real thing. 11 p.m. Cleo's Comedy Players, 3722 Washington, 776-0248. $8 in advance; $12 at the door.

Third Ward Blues Four of America's greatest bluesmen -- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the late Albert Collins, Johnny Clyde Copeland and Joe "Guitar" Hughes -- grew up within a couple of blocks of each other in the Third Ward. Up-and-coming filmmaker Heather Korb documents Houston's blues heritage with performance footage from the four and candid conversations about their relationships to music and each other. The premiere will be followed by a performance by Joe "Guitar" Hughes at the Velvet Elvis.8 p.m. Rice University, Rice Media Center (entrance no. 8 off University), 572-4882. Free.

Robot Zoo No one has ever seen a giant squid alive, but the Robot Zoo engineers have created the beast's machinated double. Yes, kids of all ages, you can drive this squid by jiggering the "nerves" and "muscles" that control its expulsion of water, and you can maneuver the 18-foot tentacles to capture a fish. The gigantic robotic fly climbs walls -- and you can too, with your own Velcro hand and knee pads. And that's just the beginning: The mechanical bestiary also includes a chameleon, rhinoceros, platypus, giraffe, bat and grasshopper. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Through Labor Day at the Space Center Plaza, 1601 NASA Road 1, (281) 244-2105. $11.95, adults; $8.95, kids four-11; free for children under four.

From Death to Birth You got questions? Dr. Pandit Tigunait has answers. But save the simple stuff like "Will I ever meet Mr. Right?" for the phone psychics. This disciple of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas cuts right to the metaphysical chase in his all-day workshop with "previously undisclosed" answers to questions such as "Why do we exist?" and "What will happen to us after we die?" 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Yoga Center of Houston, 2438-A South Boulevard. Call (800) 253-6243 to register. $109 in advance; $129 at the door.

Balalaika Society Folk Concert A balalaika is basically a Russian mandolin with a triangular body and three strings. (I had to ask.) You can see a slew of them and hear them played at the society's concert featuring Moscow Conservatory-educated Evgeny Tsygankov. The Caravan will sing gypsy tunes, and the Uzori Russian Folk Dance Ensemble will perform comic skits about a problem that crosses all cultural boundaries: relationships between men and women. 7:30 p.m. Rice University, Hamman Hall (entrance no. 14). For more information, call 937-6227. $12.

may 25
Bay Area Exotic Cage Bird Fair If your parakeet prattles or your cockatiel does cartwheels, this is the place to show off your pride and joy. Over a thousand of our fine-feathered friends, ranging from the littlest society finch to the most expensive macaw, will be displayed or sold. But be forewarned: The birdie talent show will be full of tough competition. Last year, top honors were taken by a couture-wearing cockatoo. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800) 582-4673. $6 to enter Moody Gardens; $2 to see the bird show. For information on exhibiting your winged wonder, call Tom Stuart, (281) 337-2448.  

Chiapas Benefit The Austin-based Chiapas delegation and the brand-new Corazon shop (formerly Pueblo to People) offer a craft sale with a conscience. All profits from the sales of traditional weavings made by the Comite de Solidaridad con Chiapas y Mexico will go to the indigenous weavers' cooperative. The goal is to establish an economic base from which the villagers can preserve their communities. Carol Hayman, of the Chiapas delegation, will speak and show slides on weaving traditions and the current political situation in Chiapas. 7:30 p.m. Corazon, 4809 Montrose (look for the hammocks; there's no sign yet), 526-6591. RSVP. Slide show free.

Ringo Starr Ringo and His All-Starr Band of classic-rock icons (including Peter Frampton, Cream's Jack Bruce and Bad Company's Simon Kirke) will perform oldies but goodies like "Yellow Submarine," "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." A multitude of the middle-aged will relive their glory days as well. 8 p.m. Six Flags AstroWorld's Southern Star Amphitheatre, 9001 Kirby Drive, 799-1234. Call 629-3700 for tickets. Park admission is $30.95 if you are over four feet tall; $19.95 if you're not. $5, concert reserved seats; $3, lawn seats.

Sand Blast You can see the amazing sand sculptures, play volleyball and get some sun at this Memorial Day blowout at Stewart Beach. But if you're pre-qualified and really lucky this afternoon, you can dig up KRBE's grand prize -- a "Totally New Life" -- in your roped-off square of sand. The metamorphosis will include 52 pizzas, 52 six-packs of Pepsi, 52 movie tickets, 52 CDs and perhaps 52 new friends. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Stewart Beach, Galveston. Free. For more information, call 266-1000.

Pan African Cultural Festival Zulu poetry will broaden your mind; Southern soul food will fill your stomach; and blues great Grady Gaines will stir your soul. Pay attention to the traditional headdress-wrapping demonstration -- it's got to stay on through the African dancing lesson. The festival starts at noon and the performance begins at 8 p.m. Through Monday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park. For more information, call 521-0629.

Port of Houston Cruises Puerto Vallarta it ain't, but today, for the first time, the Houston Ship Channel becomes a cruise ship departure point. The Norwegian Cruise Line will take you from our brown waters to the very blue ones of the Caribbean: The seven-day "Texaribbean" expedition will stop at Cozumel, Calica and Roatan. Gawk at the big boat from Barbours Cut at the head of Galveston Bay. For more information, call (800) 327-7030.

may 26
George Ranch Memorial Day Celebration Costumed players will take you back to the turn of the century with historical vignettes and a Decoration Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Ranch's Victorian mansion and family cemetery. A baseball game, the great American cure-all, will lighten the mood in the afternoon. It will be played 1890s-style, at the slow pace appropriate to a world before channel-surfing: no overhand pitching, no base-stealing and six balls to merit a walk. Graze on roasted peanuts and fresh watermelon, and take advantage of a long, lazy afternoon outside the city and the century. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 10215 FM 762, Richmond, (281) 343-0218. $6 adults; $3 children.

PhoneWorks You've read every book in the house. The library and neighborhood bookstore are closed. It's too late to get tickets to any of the evening's goings-on. And you're broke to boot. The need for a quick fix of cutting-edge culture is overwhelming. Your head pounds. Your veins tighten.... What to do? Quick, dial PhoneWorks, DiverseWorks's 24-hour hotline for poetry, short fiction and experimental text-based art. You can even respond to the reading after the beep. Fiction writer Bill U'Ren's recorded voice speaks to you through May 31. 228-2882. Free.

It's not the heat; it's the humidity Memorial Day means the smelly, sticky, sweaty summer is upon us. Seize this day off from work to heat-proof your life. Make sure your air conditioning, icemaker and ceiling fans are in tiptop working order. Stock up on cold beer. Hire someone to walk the dog and hang your hammock. And buy yourself a bug zapper: It's great fun to watch the skeeters sizzle.

may 27
Lorie Line Live! Remind you of Regis and Kathie Lee (Live!)? The comparison is not much of a stretch. This department-store pianist has made her way into the pages of the Wall Street Journal with the talk-show marketing strategy of playing nice and making friends. Though her performances take place in large concert halls, they are homey affairs with audience interaction, comic relief and storytelling. Line's Pop Chamber Orchestra is handpicked from the local talent in her hometown of Minneapolis; the group spikes its classical repertoire with Native American flutes, Renaissance recorders, African percussion and gospel vocals. 7:30 p.m., Stude Concert Hall, Rice University, 6100 Main. Call 629-3700 for tickets. $25 and $28.  

Women in Sales Workshop One organization not likely to be featured in the Wall Street Journal is the Houston President's Club. Its free seminar for women is entitled "Stealth Selling: Knowing When Not to Use Your Product Knowledge!" In promoting the seminar, the club took its own advice: Its one-paragraph press release revealed next to nothing. Nevertheless, our interest is piqued. Perhaps there's something to this strategy. 7:30 a.m. 256 North Sam Houston Parkway East, Room 111A. Call (281) 379-2557 for reservations.

may 28
Smokey Joe's Cafe This Grammy-winning 39-song tribute to songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller includes such '50s classics as "Hound Dog," "Yakety Yak," and "Love Potion No. 9." These living legends wrote everything from favorite cabaret numbers to Elvis's and Peggy Lee's greatest hits. Luckily, Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks has spared us from a thin plot line linking these diverse works; what you get is a pure musical revue. 8 p.m. Through June 1. 8 p.m. TuesdayFriday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $40.50-$46.50.

Richard Elliot Kenny G, eat your heart out! Chart-topping contemporary tenor sax star Richard Elliot takes some artistic risks on his new tour (like a Celtic tribute to his Scottish roots, a cover version of Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" and a tiger-striped performing saxophone) -- and in the process is garnering rave reviews and new fans. Tonight's "Evening of Guitars, Saxes and More" also features Peter White, Craig Chaquico and Richard Braun. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Ave., 869-TICS. $25, $38 and $45.

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