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september 12
Ladies cigar smoker reception The Four Seasons Hotel, tired of Amazon fish dinners and men's smokers, presents an evening for women. A new line of cigars, Cleopatra by Don Diego, will be offered, along with tips on cutting, lighting and smoking techniques and a free pocket guide full of handy hints to prevent the novice smoker from making a durn fool of herself. The Four Seasons' food and beverage director, Christina Clifton, is this evening's hostess, and she offers wines and appetizers selected to complement Dominican cigars. 5:307:30 p.m. Four Seasons, Grand Ballroom Foyer, 1300 Lamar, 652-6210. $65 per person, inclusive. (Persons can be male, too.)

World Teamtennis Smash Hits This is about as close as tennis gets to the Harlem Globetrotters. Non-athlete Elton John and superstar Billie Jean King are the hosts, and, oh, let's bring it up again -- Billie Jean King, prior to the famous Battle of the Sexes, said she was going to kick Bobby Riggs' fat ass all over the court, and then she did. Hurrah! Unfortunately, tonight's action includes no such grudge matches. Instead, tennis stars such as Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Murphy Jensen, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras and Monica Seles will play, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, AIDS Foundation Houston, HIV Wellness Center and tennis fans will benefit. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, Greenway Plaza. For tickets, call Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $15-$50.

september 13
Why wait for Christmas? You can have a hippopotamus right now -- and you won't have to feed him, brush him or give him his massage because our zoo will attend to the hippo's needs. The he-hippo in this case is Henry, the she-hippo is Henrietta, and they are both new wards of the Houston zoo. The pygmy hippo pair will live in the McGovern Pygmy Hippo Habitat, and zoo visitors can peep at their watery home from a boardwalk overlook. Our new hippos will be introduced with public fanfare at 10:30 a.m. today. Houston Zoological Gardens, Hermann Park, 1513 North MacGregor, 523-5888. $2.50; $2, seniors; 50 cents, children three12; free, children under three.

Mediterranean Festival You can get anything you want at this festival -- be a glutton and feast on spiced meats and sweets from Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Italy, Palestine and the Slavic countries; be a festival goofball and ride Habebee the camel or talk baby talk to the petting-zoo animals; shop for imported and handmade gifts; sing and dance to folk music; or get in good with God by tuning into a lecture on the Orthodox faith. The always-popular Mediterranean Festival opens this morning and continues throughout the weekend.11 a.m.10 p.m. today, 11 a.m.11 p.m. Saturday and noon6 p.m. Sunday. St. George Orthodox Church, 3505 Bissonnet at Sewanee, 665-5252. $2, or a donation of two canned goods per person.

High Holy Days This is not your father'stemple, but if you've been looking for a way to renew your religious life, why not explore the Houston Reconstructionist Havurah? The HRH, now in its sixth year, has a full set of Rosh Hashanah services planned, beginning with this evening's gathering. Marcia Strba Sterling is the cantor, and Joyce Galaski will lead the services and speak on "Different Images of God" and "Teshuvah in Our Tradition and in Our Lives." Children's program and childcare are available. Services will be held at I. Weiner Jewish Secondary School, 12583 South Gessner. Reservations are required. For more information or reservations, call 728-5050.

Watch the Skies The Rice Media Center begins its 26th year as a repertory cinema with two sci-fi classics, War of the Worlds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. War is a new 35mm print, and the film is a kicky story about one-eyed creatures -- picture a cross between an octopus and a plant -- who try to eat 1950s California. Body Snatchers is a creepy paranoid nightmare which, ahead of its time, suggested that what we have to fear are conformists. A small town is taken over by emotionless pod people and, though they seem to be clean-living, happy shiny people with family values, they are in fact evil creatures who want to destroy us all. Double feature program begins at 7:30 p.m. The Rice Media Center: Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $4.50 (for single or double feature).

Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance Houston dancers are part of this, but they're not alone. Austin's Sharir Dance Company will present two ballets: More About Love, set to music by Israeli composer Yudit Ravitz, and Dervishing, which is set to traditional whirling music and selected contemporary works. The evening also offers Amelia, a dance inspired by the aviatrix, and a poetry/dance work from Houstonians Sarah Irwin and Niobe Ngozi, Ashes Ashes. Choreographer Kathy Wood and her troupe Koro offer another look at their hip-hop and house influenced style with Snicker Snack. 8:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.  

september 14
Humpty Dumpty After the Fall A young Houston author has cracked a tough market, the children's book market, and is on the story-time circuit. Vuthy Kuon, a charming writer and talented illustrator, will read from his book, sign copies and explain how he came to write about putting Humpty back together again. 11 a.m. Barnes & Noble, 7626 Westheimer (at Voss), 783-6016.

Mexican Mercados y Vendedores Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with an exhibition of the frisky, insightful works of Houston photographer Agapito Sanchez. Sanchez has been taking pictures of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans since he was ten, and has a gift for capturing his subjects' whimsy without compromising their dignity. His black-and-white photographs will be displayed along with artwork by kids from Jeff Davis High School. The exhibit opened on Thursday, but will be celebrated with a reception -- snacks and entertainment -- this afternoon. 47 p.m. Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery, 239 West 19th Street, 880-2420.

Push to Prime This dangerous art show, the artist boasts, features "hot stoves, firecrackers, electrical shocks and unguarded fan blades." All that, and waitresses and bartenders, and a punk band from good old Denton. (Denton is full of interesting people and good bands because many of Denton's children have parents who work for FEMA.) The boasting artist is Erick Swenson, and one of his pieces, the Cigarette and Firecracker piece, is supposed to defuse the tension of snooty art openings. That sounds like fun, and, more fun, this interactive installation apparently requires viewers to have drinks in hand. 79 p.m. DiverseWorks, Subspace, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346.

Parrothead Fest Jimmy Buffett is the one man who can inspire button-down workaholics to close their laptops and drink beer, don floral prints and release the slacker within. A year without Buffett, as it seems we are to endure, could up Houston's stress factor to unbearable levels. Welcome, then, the latest notion of the Galveston Bay Parrothead Club -- the first ever Parrothead Fest. This could work as a placebo, as Parrotheads generate as much of the concert revelry as their guru; Barry Willems will sing Buffett songs, and will likely be drowned out by zealous fans, much like the man himself. Proceeds from T-shirt sales and a raffle will benefit the Greater Houston Area Alzheimer's Association. Dress is Buffett casual. 711 p.m. Brass Parrot, 100 Bradford, Kemah, 334-1099. To donate raffle items, call Marcy Fawcett at 338-5013. Free.

september 15
The Living Roots of Music Ethnomusicologist Lauren Pelon will play more than 25 instruments, including weird antiques such as a gemshorn and a shawm. Pelon will also sing and play the Kiowa Indian flute and the lute guitar. Basically, she covers 2,000 years of music in an afternoon, and her educational program is for young and old, and for those who've heard her perform on Prairie Home Companion.3 p.m. George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview, Richmond, 342-4455. Free.

Song of the Hummingbird Author Graciela Limon will perform dramatic passages fromhernovel Hummingbird, and the South American musical group Los del Sur will provide accompaniment. Hummingbird commemorates the life and spirit of Aztec women. 35 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 743-2841. $4; $3, seniors and students.

Flatpickin' with Beppe Beppe Bambetta is a world famous flatpicker and fingerstylist, and he's going to share his skills in a guitar workshop. Bambetta doesn't promise that his students, too, will be lauded as "an acoustic-guitar-flatpicking monster" or for their "superhuman grace on the instrument," but it is likely that watching him work will improve anyone's technique and that the whole afternoon will be a hoot. The Italian musician does a fine fake Southern accent, and may offer recipes from his soon-to-be-published cookbook. Bring your guitar. 3 p.m. Cezanne, 4100 Montrose, 528-5666. Free. Reservations suggested.

september 16
Tutored Scotch tasting Michael Jackson, an internationally renowned authority on Scotches and other malt products, is in town shilling his books and instructing eager neophytes in the proper way to sip Scotch. All six of his books, including the third, revised and expanded edition of The Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch and Michael Jackson's Great Beers of America, will be available for sale, and Jackson himself will autograph his books at 6 p.m., and then lead the tasting at 7 p.m. (He'll also autograph books and taste beers at 4 and 5 p.m. Sunday.) Timber Wolf Pub, 2511 Bissonnet, 526-1705. $25. ($40 for both tastings.)

september 17
Nigel Taylor If the Monday blahs linger, why not join self-help and healing book author Nigel Taylor for "a magical evening of self discovery." Taylor is an Aussie, and his healing work includes not only pep talks for the worried well but also the co-founding of the Balya Cancer Retreat. He's in Houston for two days. Tonight, he lectures on "The Universal Healer," 7:30 p.m. Carmel Temple, 1208 Pennsylvania, South Houston. Wednesday, he talks about "Romancing the Soul," 7:30 p.m. Unity Church of Christianity, 2909 Hillcroft. For information on either evening, call Jayne Payne, 446-1242. Love offering.  

september 18
Etta May You loved her at the rodeo, now see the sassy country comic in the more intimate environment of a comedy club. Etta's also appeared on all those brick-wall comedy shows, all those daytime talk shows (yes, even Oprah), and she offers advice on her own radio show. Join other Etta-heads and hear tales of Etta's childhood in Bald Knob, Arkansas, savor her "pit-bull like" notions of child rearing, and ask her what Richard Pryor is really like. Opening tonight (tonight only, she plays second fiddle to Paul Rodriguez) and continuing (as the headliner) through September 22. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $6.50-$10.

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