Tour de Bayou Tonight is the first of six Thursday evenings of "free races, free water, free fun." The races referred to are of the foot variety, specifically going cross-country, even more specifically going cross-country near areas such as Buffalo Bayou. So the series involves more of a commitment than your standard fun run. As such, runners who finish at least four of the six races will be rewarded with a commemorative "Bog Person" hat, which is nothing compared to the personal satisfaction you'll receive from having actually completed these jaunts -- each of which ranges in distance from three to six miles. Stage one is called "The Classic Course," and begins on the south side of Buffalo Bayou at Allen Parkway and Waugh Drive. Park near the American General building. 6 p.m. 524-6662. Free.
Dance Salad This evening of neoclassical and contemporary dance tosses together the music of Chopin, Eartha Kitt, Andreas Vollenweider, Harry Connick Jr. and the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, the works of a few local choreographers and the American premiere of the David Sonnenbluck Ballet Company of Brussels. The Houston Ballet's Sandra Organ will be presenting a work, "Between Us," that features Ballet colleagues Timothy O'Keefe, Dawn Scannell and Dominic Walsh; Scannell, Organ and former Houston Ballet principal dancer Mark Arvin perform in Nancy Henderek's "Journey to Memory"; Keith Anthony R. Cross dedicates his piece, "Heaven," to the late Alvin Ailey; and Sonnenbluck, whose other stint in the States was with Ballet Austin, brings us "Synopsis" and "Desire." 8 p.m. tonight and Friday. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun), 227-ARTS. $8-$25.
Chicano! History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement Henry Cisneros narrates this four-hour PBS miniseries, which is reported to be powerful and enlightening; couldn't you use a little more power and enlightenment in your life? The first two segments are "Quest for a Homeland" and "Struggle in the Fields." The former opens in 1966, with Mexican-Americans fighting to reclaim compromised lands in New Mexico and protect their culture and language, events that ignited passions and spawned Chicano activism across the nation; the latter focuses on the legendary Cesar Chavez. Sneak preview tonight from 7-9 p.m., followed by a panel presentation. The Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. The entire series will be shown in one-hour segments at 8 p.m. April 1518 on KUHT/ Channel 8. Free.
Anne of Green Gables The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion kicks off its 1996 Cultural Arts Season with this one-act musical adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's tale of Anne Shirley, a plucky young orphan from Halifax struggling to find her way in the world and into the hearts of her adopted family. This production comes complete with not only the exploits of a truly beloved heroine, but also a rich musical score, period costumes and beautiful sets. 7:30 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 363-3300. $4.
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme The first couple of American popular music are here. They'll probably sing their signature song, "Blame It on the Bossa Nova," and maybe Steve's big hit, "Go Away Little Girl." They'll smile a bunch, too. Before all that, though, Stephen Stein will conduct the Houston Symphony in Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture, a medley of Duke Ellington favorites and the Beatles' "Yesterday." 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$60.
Tod Waters Waters is out there, artistically speaking. He's got his hand in music (he's the frontman for Spunk), special effects (he's rigged explosions for the Ghetto Boys), tattoos (giving and receiving) and paintings. Some critics have called Waters' work cynical; he refers to it as "weird," and says, "I dig art that makes me feel nauseated." "The Art of Tod Waters" is on display at the Mausoleum Coffee Bar, 411 Westheimer, today and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. 526-4648. Free.
Bellaire Home Tour This year's tour features six extraordinary homes, along with the historic Henshaw House. Not to suggest that the Henshaw place isn't also extraordinary: this home to the Nature Discovery Center was built in the 1920s and, in the 1930s, was the abode of Bellaire's mayor. It has history, and it's been restored. Other homes on the tour range from the new to the remodeled, and can either be looked at in order to inspire simple envy or to inspire ideas for the creative decoration of children's rooms or adding on to older homes. 15 p.m. today and Sunday. Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle, 667-6550. $3, each home; $12, all six.
When They Came to Take My Father Mark Seliger, chief photographer for Rolling Stone, is known for his shots of rock stars. In particular, he's known for finding a star's distinct characteristics and incorporating those into, umm, unusual setups. (He's the guy who got Mick Fleetwood to pose in a wedding gown with John McVie to commemorate their 25 years together.) For his latest project, Seliger's taken his uncanny ability to read people and applied it to capturing somber portraits (and first person tales) of Holocaust survivors. Among the survivors Seliger, a graduate of the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, included in his book are Houstonians Alice Lok Cahana and Max, Sigmund and Sol Jucker of The Three Brothers Bakery. Seliger will discuss his project and sign copies of his collection of stories and images, which he titled When They Came to Take My Father: Voices of the Holocaust, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today. Barnes and Noble, 3003 West Holcombe Boulevard, 349-0050. Signing free; $35 for the book.
1996 Amnesty International Benefit Concert Amnesty International is seeking an audience, and volunteers. The human-rights organization's focus this year is on China -- the political repression and abuse of power therein, et. al. To draw people out to hear the message, Manhole and the Zealots headline a full night of music. Enough music, in fact, to fill two stages. 6 p.m. Power Tools, 709 Franklin, 227-8665. $6.
Seventh Annual White Oak Bayou Fish-Off How the organizers are going to keep attention directed at the fishing when they've promised an Elvis sighting is beyond us. However, prizes have been promised for the biggest, the ugliest and the most unusual fish caught (those ribbons probably won't all go to the same fish). Looks are one thing; another concern is how all these fish will smell while the Fish-Off participants are enjoying the live music, the fish lips contest, the pin-the-fin-on-the-fish game and all the other auxiliary entertainment. Fortunately, the judging and whatnot is at Jimmie's Place -- an open-air establishment. Registration, 810 a.m.; weigh-in, noon1:30 p.m.; festivities, 12:302 p.m. Jimmie's Place, 2803 White Oak Drive, 861-9707 or 864-3008 (Fish-Off hot line). $10, preregistration (includes a T-shirt and fishing hole map). Day-of registration: $3, adults; $1, children age 13 and under.
Anything that Floats Parade This is, obviously, a day for enjoying Houston's waterways. This event takes place in Buffalo Bayou, not to be confused with White Oak Bayou, where the fishing is going on (though your decorated vessel is sure to make a splash in either contest). Anything from a canoe to a bathtub to on-water kinetic sculpture is appropriate for this 26th Annual Buffalo Bayou Regatta event; just make sure it floats. Prizes will be awarded. Noon. From Buffalo Bayou's Overlook Park to the Sabine Street Bridge (along Allen Parkway). For info, call 654-8900. $5 entry fee.
Faure's Requiem Sing-In The Houston Conservatory of Music invites us all out to sing! There's a rehearsal, then a full-blown performance with an orchestra and a piano. Scores will be available; we hope that's enough. (And if you simply can't bring yourself to sing, listeners are welcomed as well.) 2 p.m., rehearsal; 4 p.m., performance. University of St. Thomas, Cullen Hall, 4001 Mount Vernon, 524-6222. Reservations requested, so they can know just how many vocal hopefuls plan to crowd their way on-stage. $5.
Kolbuchowa This is the second Houston stop for David Sonnenbluck and his ballet troupe while they're visiting from Brussels. This one-time-only performance, which he created to honor his parents, is timed to coincide with the opening of the Holocaust Museum; its tale is that of the destiny of the inhabitants of a Polish village who went from living a peaceful existence to one of exile. 7 p.m. The Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 551-7223. $15; $8, seniors and students.
Man ... or Astro-Man? Talk about gimmicky; these guys bill their style as a "Philip K. Dick Dale brand of instrumental music," they claim to "employ advanced sounds and instruments that mankind may never fully understand" and certain members profess to be non-human, in total or in part (though Starcrunch does say he plays guitar better than anyone with five fingers and regular bones). Sure they're bold, and they back it up. They'll play their B movie/surf rock tonight; tomorrow, their new CD, Experiment Zero, goes on sale. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 862-7625. $7.
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Visions to Another World Dr. F. Kent Reilly III, a professor at Southwest Texas State University, lectures on art, shamanism and political power in the Olmec world, this in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts' display of "The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership." The Olmec were known for their huge stone heads, which could imply more than one meaning -- until you see the works. Lecture, 8 p.m. Rice University, Sewall Hall, Room 309, 795-4691. Free.
The Art of Uncle Charlie This has nothing to do with My Three Sons. Nothing. But you might be familiar with this Uncle Charlie, nonetheless, if you've seen the cover of Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkey's latest CD, or any of a number of band posters around town (Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, etc.). Uncle Charlie drew them, and they're on display through June. Paraphernalia Frame Gallery, 2602 Waugh Drive, 521-3625. Free.
Bruce Baum Baum looks a lot like David Crosby (or, perhaps like the Press' own Steve McVicker), but this guy is a comedian -- a prop comedian -- and is said to recognize no boundaries in his search for a gag. In other words, his performance will be risque. He's making a rare Houston appearance tonight. 8 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $10.
God: A Biography The press information on Jack Miles' new book God: A Biography says the tome is worthy of its subject. Hmmm. He does ask such questions as: what sort of "person" is God? And Miles presents God as a great literary character -- the hero of the Old Testament. This former Jesuit, holder of a doctorate in Near Eastern languages from Harvard University and writer for such publications as the Atlantic brings his look at the darker side of the Almighty to Houston, and will sign copies of his recent paperback. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Signing free; $15 for the book.