May is Mental Health Month The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 17 million Americans have a brush with depression each year. If you're wondering whether your malaise is a reasonable response to dealing with crazy people on the freeway, or instead something that might be helped by medical care, then stop by Gulfgate Mall,10 a.m.2 p.m., for a free depression screening. To find out more about screening, counseling and other Mental Health Month events, call the Mental Health Association of Houston and Harris County, 522-5161.
The perfect bloody mary It's not just cigars that are staging a comeback: mixed drinks are once again cool. Perhaps in hope of riding that trend, the Aalborg Akvavit Vodka people are searching the country for the perfect bloody mary. The typical bloody is made from well vodka and gloppy bloody mary mix and served with a yellow, wilted stalk of celery, and is usually consumed at brunch by drinkers too hung-over to demand quality. This evening's tastings, however, hold the concoction to higher standards. Ten recipes, chosen in a nationwide search for their "imagination, originality, taste, appearance and ease of preparation" will be served to judges and customers. The search for the perfect bloody mary finals, 68 p.m. Rhino Room, 2162 Portsmouth, 522-2162. No cover charge.
Dancin' in the Street A show of Motown and more premieres at Miller Outdoor Theatre tonight. A musical review along the lines of Side by Side By Sondheim, Dancin' in the Street deploys its all-singing, all-dancing cast to recreate the work of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and, we hope, the underappreciated Rufus "Bearcat" Thomas. The musical review is accompanied by a 20-piece band. 8:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
The Rosewood Casket Sharyn McCrumb, author of the acclaimed Appalachian "Ballad" series, has no truck with English country manors or noir environs. Even so, she managed to win the 1996 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel. This evening, McCrumb will not only sign copies of The Rosewood Casket, but will also serve pieces of scripture cake. That dessert, from a recipe in the last chapter of the book, will be baked by Wick Rowland, a talented cook and, not coincidentally, a clerk at Murder by the Book. 57 p.m. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet, 524-8597. (Cake's free; the book is $23.95.)
Yevgeny Yevtushenko The Slavic poet has always been prolific and political. The author of 43 collections of poetry, three novels and three collections of essays, Yevtushenko first showed his conviction by publishing an anti anti-Semitism poem, "Babi Yar," in 1961. Not mellowed by age or success, in 1994 Yevtushenko protested the violence in Chechnya by refusing the Kremlin's highest decoration. This weekend, he's in town to talk about the connections between politics and art, and the connection between poetry and music. Politics and art are the subject of a lecture at 7 p.m. tonight, First Presbyterian Church fellowship hall, 5300 Main. Tomorrow at 3 p.m., he'll cover poetry and music during an appearance with the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra at Planet Music, Meyerland Plaza. Both events are free.
Virginia Slims Legends Tour The legends are here -- Rosie Casals, Zina Garrison Jackson, Evonne Goolagong, Martina Navratilova, Pam Shriver, Wendy Turnbull, Virginia Wade and good ol' Billie Jean King, who made history in women's tennis by whipping Bobby Riggs' fat ass all over the Dome in 1973. (In her first Dome appearance since then, King will throw out the first ball at the Astros game Friday.) Matches begin at 1 p.m. today and Sunday. Westside Tennis Club, 1200 Wilcrest. For tickets, call 953-1111. $25 and $35, single session; $40, weekend package.
Loft Horizon This Rice Design Alliance architectural tour explores a half-dozen commercial spaces (including the 1912 Guatemala Coffee Building) that have been turned into tres hip housing. The Alliance promises to show you "Houston's most adventurous domestic abodes," what "the faint-hearted and conventionally minded might deem insufficiently homelike." Tours, 15 p.m. today and Sunday. The catch is, you have to join the alliance for this tour; your $35 membership includes a complimentary ticket. Stop by the Niels Esperson Building, 808 Travis, or call 524-6297 for tickets.
Houston Balalaika Society 20th anniversary concert We've all heard Paul McCartney express a desire to hear balalaikas ringing out, but who among us has actually enjoyed a string concert featuring the instrument? Here's your chance -- and besides, you also get Charley Rappaport playing the prima domra, Sasha Lisnichuk on the guitar and a performance by the Uzori Russian Folk Dance Ensemble. 7:30 p.m. Rice University, Hamman Hall (entrance no. 14). For tickets, call 937-6227. $12.
The Return of the Movie Palace Gather round, all you wee ones who never went to the flicks before the mid-'70s and minimalls and multiplexes with screens the size of postage stamps, and let the Picks page tell you a secret: at one time, a night at the movies was an event. Theaters were destinations in themselves, ornate palaces worth looking at even when the movie sucked (and yes, movies sucked in the old days as well). Now, some theater companies are trying to bring back that suggestion of sophistication. One of the biggest players in this retro move is AMC, and tonight, thanks to the sponsorship of KRBE/104.1 FM, they'll be giving Houston a sneak peek at their 24-screen Deerbrook AMC Theatre. Eighteen of the screens will be showing free films, popcorn will be yours for a mere $1.04 and KRBE will be broadcasting live and handing out various promotional freebies. See the stadium seating! Gawk at the art deco design! Wow to the state-of-the-art sound! Be the first to leave your bubble gum behind! 6 p.m. to midnight. Deerbrook 24 AMC Theatre, Deerbrook Mall, Highway 59 and FM 1960. Free.
Houston Masterworks Chorus The average squid may not realize this, but our town supports a large population of choral music lovers. For a decade, the Houston Masterworks Chorus has thrilled Houstonians and public radio listeners with high-quality vocal concerts. Tonight's tenth anniversary concert features David Ashley White's Alleluia, a work commissioned by the chorus and performed by Stella Zambalis, Katherine Ciesinski and other nationally renowned singers -- plus a jazz number by Rob Landes and such choral crowd pleasers as Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Be warned that unseemly enthusiasm may erupt: one member of the chorus was moved to sing bits of "Joy" into my voicemail. Tonight's concert is black-tie optional, and a champagne reception follows. 8 p.m. Rice University, Alice Pratt Brown Hall (Entrance 8 off University). For tickets, call 529-8900. $15$25.
Walk and Roll-A-Thon More than a dozen organizations devoted to HIV/AIDS education, health care, volunteer and social service programs will benefit from the thousands of Houstonians who will walk or skate in Southwestern Bell's From All Walks of Life. This is the seventh 10K Walk and Roll-A-Thon, and once again the not-so-athletic types who aren't up to major charity runs have a chance to get a little of exercise while doing their bit for a good cause. Pledge forms are available at Kroger stores. Registration and premium pickup, 78 a.m.; opening ceremonies, 8; walk and roll, 8:30; awards ceremony and party, 10:30 a.m. Sam Houston Park, downtown. For more information, call 629-WALK. Walkers/rollers are expected to raise at least $100, though the minimum pledge is $20. (And yes, you can sponsor yourself.)
Joan Karff's New Dance Group Six young choreographers show their styles in the contemporary dance group's 20th anniversary concert. The group's founder trained with Helen Priest Rogers, Erick Hawkins and Bella Lewisky. Since 1975, she's been teaching dance and presenting original works in Houston. 2 p.m. Jewish Community Center, Kaplan Theater, 5601 South Braeswood, 551-7255. $8 and $10.
Tolstoy is Dead! A new theater space debuts with the reading of a new drama. Tolstoy is the subject -- Sonya Tolstoy, that is. Eight actors, playing multiple characters, will present Elizabeth Gilbert's play about the wife of novelist Leo; afterward, the audience is invited to join a discussion with the actors and Gilbert. 2 p.m. Mercury Studios (a reference, perhaps, to Orson Welles' Mercury Theater of the Air?), 1600 West 13th (north of I-10; west of Shepherd/ Durham), 521-2875. Free.
International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Mobilization The Reverend Troy Plummer, from Bering United Methodist Church, is one of the featured speakers at the local service. The event is in honor of those who have died of AIDS and to show support for those living with it. At dusk. Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ross. For more information or transportation assistance, call 964-8881. Free.
Self-Traps: The Elusive Quest for Higher Self-Esteem Old wives' tales, rules of thumb and common sense argue that self-esteem is built by accomplishment. And though author William B. Swann Jr. doesn't disagree, he points out that starting something -- letting alone accomplishing something -- is sometimes difficult for the downtrodden, the depressed and those with low self-esteem. Swann's book draws on studies by other psychologists and sociologists and offers his theories on how such self-esteem is undermined by contemporary ideas about competence and love. His book doesn't seem to explain why completely worthless, no-good, low-down individuals are often cocky and smug, but one man can't do everything. Swann will sign his book and talk about self-worth, 78 p.m. Bookstop, 2922 South Shepherd, 529-2345. (The book is $23.95.)
Sister city celebration with Baku For 25 years, Houston has had a sister city group, the Houston-Baku Sister City Association. To celebrate these 25 years, and Azerbaijan's recent independence, the sister city group has invited the public to a reception with His Excellency Hafiz Pashayev, ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Azeri exchange students will perform folk dances; carpets and other art objects will be on display. 6:308:30 p.m. Vanderbilt Square, 7171 Buffalo Speedway. For more information, call Jonelle Glosch, 973-3283. Free; reservations suggested.
Art Furniture of the '90s The Society for the Performing Arts and the American Society of Furniture Artists offer the public a chance to view something a wee bit more exciting than tired old Ikea designs. Besides the exhibit, a silent auction of art objects will benefit the SPA; plus, you get hors d'oeuvres and jazz from Harry Sheppard. 79:30 p.m. The Annex at Gremillion & Co. Fine Arts, 2504 Nottingham, 227-3389. $40.
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