Press Picks

march 14
How to Talk to Your Angels Tired of TTouching your pets?
Not so friendly with your psychic friends? Well, then, let Kim O'Neill help you develop your channeling ability and find empowerment (greater empowerment, even), independence and self-awareness by communicating directly with angels. O'Neill says she's led judges, NASA employees, plastic surgeons, police and professors through the celestial spheres and has been an angel-human liaison in Japan, Kuwait, Turkey and Switzerland. (She's also worked as an advertising copywriter, but we won't hold that against her.) Today, the angel advocate will sign her new book, 7-9 p.m. Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt Square, 3003 West Holcombe, 349-0050.

Speakeasy Continuing its series of casual yet informative art talks, Lawndale presents Nikky Finney, a poet and creative writing teacher who's in town to work with Project B.R.I.D.G.E. kids on Foto Fest projects. Finney's talk will cover "Camera House," a camera obscura installation at Project Row Houses; the relationship between what we see and what we write about; and encouraging and developing young artists. Her talk follows the reception for Lawndale's Project B.R.I.D.G.E. opening. Art opening, 5 p.m.; Speakeasy, 7 p.m. Lawndale Art and Performance Center, 4912 Main, 528-5858. Free.

march 15
Alice in Wonderland The story of a girl and her rabbit, and her caterpillar and a wealth of other fantastic creatures, is the fifth anniversary production for Express Theatre, which has pulled out all the stops for this show. This version of Alice was adapted for the stage by Kate Paxton, a well-known figure in Houston theater. Paxton also wrote the songs. Trey McIntyre, whiz kid choreographer (and sometime filmmaker) from the Houston Ballet, choreographed the moves. And last, but certainly not least, Kanchan Kabad designed the wonderful, whimsical costumes for the play. We haven't seen such fanciful children's theater costumes since the A.D. Players' production of Joseph and the Madras Plaid Jacket. A gala tea party reception -- and Alice fans know how tea parties can go -- follows the opening performance. Opening 7:30 p.m. tonight; subsequent performances 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $10-$30; group discounts available.

Sounds and Dance of Puerto Rico Festival Miller Outdoor Theatre begins a new season with international stars such as Ruth Fernandez, Victor Manuel and Grupo Unik-Ko and a wonderful variety of Latin orchestras. In the heat of summer, Miller fans bring blankets to sit on; this time of year, maybe an extra blanket to drape over your body would be advisable. Or maybe you can just close your eyes, succumb to the sounds, imagine you're in Puerto Rico and let your imagination keep you cozy. 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free; free tickets are required for seating in the covered area.

Upcoming Events

march 16
Mortal Kombat: the Live Tour Don't worry, moms and dads, "there will be no blood or other graphic violent imagery sometimes associated with the video game" at this live performance. The Mortal Kombat people are quick to stress the nonviolence angle, insisting that their action-packed show is based on real martial arts and includes some really awesome gymnastics moves, not to mention state-of-the-art special effects and neato laser lights. Moreover, the Mortal Kombat people answer the question, "What is the story or moral lesson behind Mortal Kombat?" by explaining that, "Mortal Kombat is the story of human beings rising above their potential to overcome immortal odds." (Emphasis theirs.) Five fast-action shows: 1, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. today; 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $10, $14.50 and $17.50.

37th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade This two-and-a-half-hour parade promises one St. Patrick's Day parade queen, dozens of floats, 150 entries, plenty of Irish music and innumerable "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" T-shirts. Begins at 1 p.m. at the corner of Richmond and Rice and travels down Richmond to just east of Hillcroft. Free.

Jack Livingston Jack Livingston is leaving us. No more art openings, no more reading series (Livingston was our fair city's first poetry slam moderator and headed up the ArtSpace reading series), no more kids programs and no more Catbox (at least no more Catbox with Livingston on guitar). Before he goes, he's having one last show, "Consumption." Calling himself, for this show, an "armchair Orientalist," Livingston has made delicate brush strokes on linen. The gouaches, mounted on birch, look for all the world like rare and valuable antiques. Of course, they're really rare and valuable Jack Livingston paintings, with the hints of gentle humor and educated taste that are ever-present in his work. The show's up through March 30. Sally Sprout Gallery, 223 Westheimer, 526-6461.

Snapshot An art exhibit designed for the snoopy neighbor in all of us, "Snapshot" is a collection of simple, everyday snapshots by your simple, everyday friends and neighbors. If checking out people's personal web pages and watching funny home videos has only whetted your appetite for red-eyed, out-of-focus images of ordinary Americans, this is the show for you. The artists in this show are folks who, last Saturday and Monday, showed up at DiverseWorks with a selection of their favorite photos and pushpinned them to the walls. Opening, 7-9 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. Free.  

Supercross AMA Series Round eight of this motorcycle mega-event is in the Astrodome. Sputtering supercross bikes will buzz and bounce around the floor of the Dome; thrills and spills are expected. No video cameras allowed. 7:30 p.m. Astrodome, Kirby at Loop 610. Call Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $10-$20.

march 17
St. Patrick's Day Houston has an Irish district -- who knew? Actually, the ones with the knowledge are members of the Upper Kirby District Association and, oddly enough, the Upper Kirby district is the "heart of Houston's Irish district." Using their big red bus, the members of the association are having a UK Pub Crawl. Now, we won't comment on the curiosity of identifying an Irish event with initials more commonly associated with the English, or even note that the Irish and the United Kingdom haven't always seen eye to eye. Houston's a big enough melting pot to let bygones be bygones. Anyway, a pub crawl is something over which an Irishman and an Englishman would likely join hands. For a small fee, revelers can park at McGonigel's Mucky Duck and then shuttle between the Ale House, the Duck and McElroy's Pub. The hot spot for St. Patrick's Day in this district is, of course, the Mucky Duck. The club will have a tent set up outside where you can hear music from Clandestine and Duck regulars Ceili's Muse. Inside and out, they'll be serving homemade Guinness stew, corned beef and no green beer. Noon to way past bedtime. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $3 for the park and ride; $6 cover at the Duck.

Cessna Warbirds Author and aviator Walt Shiel will sign his new book, Cessna Warbirds, and present a slide-show history of the small craft's role in military history. Cessnas, although most often thought of as hobby planes, have been part of military aviation since 1912. Shiel knows about big planes, too, both as a pilot and an engineer. He's logged more than 4,000 hours in the air in planes ranging from the Aeronica Champ to the T-38. On the ground, he's worked on the Northrop B-2 Stealth bomber and the F-16A and F-22 training systems. Lecture, slide show and book signing, 2 p.m. West Houston Airport, 18000 Groeschke Road (just west of Bear Creek Park), 578-1711. Lecture and slide show free, but the book will cost you.

march 18
The Singles Travel Club Singles with wanderlust meet to talk about where to go and how to afford trips in Isabel Kimball's Singles Travel Club. All ages and incomes welcomed. 7:30 p.m. Borders Book Shop, 9633A Westheimer, 782-6066. Free.

The Benny Valerio Band Tonight, let the big blue saxophone outside Billy Blues be a signpost for "straight-ahead, in-your-face blues" from the Benny Valerio trio and for two-pound ribs on a stick. That stick is a bone, actually, trimmed and filed to serve as a stick. The two-pound rib serving is described as "almost a meal." A friend at Billy Blues tells us that the ribs look like something Fred Flintstone would eat, and that "we're thinking of calling them the Big-A Ribs, if you know what I mean -- they're huge!" 8:30 p.m. Billy Blues Bar and Grill, 6025 Richmond, 266-9294. No cover.

Gone with the Wrecking Ball It's a mix between drive-in theater and performance art, and it's one of the best shows in town. Like all classic action-adventures, it's filled with risk, destruction and explosive sounds; it's also a sentimental show, a reminder of the passing of time, of clearing out the old for the new. Drive out to the American Rice grain silo on Studemont just south of Washington, and feel the reverberation as the wrecking ball pounds and tears into the concrete sides of the once-mammoth structure; thrill to the supersized snap, crackle and pop as that same wrecking ball rips through the now-exposed steel reinforcements, creating a sweep of sparks that fan toward the ground. Better than a date movie, and there is, conveniently enough, a parking lot across the street and a Chevron Food Mart on the corner for all your snacking needs. 400 block of Studemont, after dark. Free.

march 19
Georgia Ragsdale Nancy Ford, redoubtable local lesbian comedian, is on the bill, and that alone will bring people out in droves. But the star tonight is Georgia Ragsdale, a former Houstonian who's moved on, and moved up. Ragsdale has appeared on Comedy Central's Woman Aloud and recently filmed a love scene with Margot Kidder. While most stars emphasize the distracting technical aspects of making on-screen love, Ragsdale puts it this way: "You're lying there with practically no clothes on, and they're saying things like 'Don't put your arm there, you'll be out of frame.' And just beyond the lights is this whole bunch of sweaty men doing their jobs. It kind of kills the mood -- unless you're into that." Those who have preconceived notions about lesbian comics' acts might be surprised by the many things Ragsdale is into. One show only, 7:30 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $12, advance; $15, day of show.  

march 20
Broken Glass Celebrating the 50th anniversary of this play's Broadway premiere -- not to mention the recent opening of the Houston Holocaust Museum -- Stages presents Broken Glass. Set in America on the eve of World War II, this play is a psychological study of a Jewish woman, and a moral study of what it means to be American and Jewish. This is an Arthur Miller play, so the woman does not come to an understanding of herself and the factors that shaped her easily. Opening tonight and playing through April 14. Wednesday through Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 52-

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