Press Picks

thursday
february 22
Camp de Thiaroye Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, who has been called the grand old man of African cinema, will attend a screening and discussion of his film Camp de Thiaroye. Sembene began his career in the arts as a writer; living in France during the '50s, he wrote novels, among them the acclaimed God's Bits of Wood, which was based on a strike on the Dakar-Niger railroad. Returning to Africa in the '60s, Sembene decided that film, rather than literature, was the way to reach people. Since, he has written and directed 11 movies. One of the most admired is Camp de Thiaroye, a fact-based drama about African soldiers and how little interest they had in allowing the French to reinstitute the colonial power structure that had been disrupted by WWII. Sembene has won a slew of awards, but he's still willing to come to Houston for the Houston Pan-Cultural Film Festival and to speak to students. Screening, 1 p.m.; reception, 3 p.m. Houston Community College System, Stafford Campus, Forum Theatre, 9910 Cash Road, 718-7768. Parking, admission and popcorn are free.

The African Company Presents Richard III In the 1820s, the black theater company at the African Grove in New York was so successful and popular that nearby white theaters on Broadway had the Grove shut down. So the Grove actors, rugged artists all, put on a production of Shakespeare in a Broadway hotel. Carlyle Brown's play is a celebration of the company, of Shakespeare and of black history. The Ensemble Theatre and HCCS worked together on this production. Opening, 8 p.m. This weekend only. Houston Community College, Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin, 630-1138. $5; $3, students and seniors.

friday
february 23
Lunar New Year Festival The five Asian student organizations at Rice University have organized a pan-Asian Lunar New Year Festival. The Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Taiwanese and Vietnamese students will present a dragon dance, folk dances, a tae kwon do demonstration and a fashion show. Martha Wong will be a guest speaker, and others important in the community, namely restaurateurs, will have food booths set up. Last year, the event drew 3,000 visitors. 3-6 p.m. Rice University, Rice Memorial Center, Grand Hall. Free admission; bring cash for food.

TTouch We've all seen the infomercials on late-night TV, and now we can see animal behavior expert Linda Tellington-Jones demonstrate her animal behavior modification technique in a live seminar. The seminar is in the same price range as the TTouch tapes sold on TV; however, the admission charge benefits the Homeless Pet Placement League, so the first $25, at least, goes to a good cause. The TTouch, as channel surfers know, seems to be some sort of massage. Massage -- some people call it petting or stroking -- can be helpful in training animals. TTouch boosters swear it cures hostility, whimpering, chewing and a host of other neurotic behaviors. 7-9 p.m. Stouffer Renaissance Hotel, Azalea Room, 6 Greenway Plaza, 862-PETS. $25 admission. Don't bring your pets; you'll have to wait to do your actual TTouching once you get home.

Old Times Producing Harold Pinter is a dicey proposition -- his absurdist plays have no plot to speak of, and so if one second of timing or a single line reading is off, the whole production becomes a clown act. However, in Houston, schools tend to do well with Pinter. HCCS Southwest has a production of Old Times ready for a festival in San Antonio, and before going off to compete, the play will be shown here. Opening, 8 p.m. Two hours before the actors take the stage, a collection of art, prints, paintings and sculpture will go on view at the Stafford Forum Gallery. Houston Community College System, Stafford Campus, Forum Theatre, 9910 Cash Road, 261-5424. $4; $3, seniors and students.

saturday
february 24
Houston Hispanic Forum career day The tenth annual Career and Education Day offers Hispanic middle school and high school students and their families an opportunity to visit with representatives from colleges, trade schools, local companies and community leaders. Information about financial aid and scholarships will be available. And perhaps most important, families will have a chance to get involved in their children's futures. Opens 8 a.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, downtown. For more information, call 522-8077. Free.

Compaq SCI://TECH 96 Far be it from us to suggest that Compaq's purpose here is to introduce kids to computers so that they'll demand their parents buy them Presarios. No, we're sure the education of tomorrow's youth is as much Compaq's goal as it is the goal of Montgomery College. In any case, the science fair, a prelim for the Houston Science Fair, integrates general science and technology with Internet and computer technology. Some 1,500 kids from Conroe ISD and John Cooper School in The Woodlands are expected to display their projects and compete in an Internet scavenger hunt. The highlight of the fair may be Humpty's Revenge, a project competition that involves building elevated railways that can carry an egg safely and quickly over the heads of the assembled multitude. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Montgomery College, 3200 Highway 242, Conroe, (409) 273-7257.  

Pig racing As the Oscar nominations show, people just can't get enough of young white pigs. We suspect that the tender porkers who played Babe will not be around for Oscar night, but an enthusiastic group of perky piglets will race every day at the Livestock Show. Races daily, 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Plan your schedule accordingly.

sunday
february 25
Kids on quarter horses A few years back at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Jimmy Dean, the singing sausage salesman, came out on a palomino, galloped around the Astrodome, hit a puddle or slick spot and fell. Some parents no doubt used this accident in their "riding horses is dangerous" lectures. Personally, I've come cantering on an appaloosa mare around the bend of a familiar trail to find a 20-foot stretch of ground washed out, but the mare was so confident that she sailed over the sinkhole. I've held onto a cow horse crab-scrabbling through belly-deep mud holes. And when a hardheaded quarter horse spooked off the road to flounder in loose clay, I wrestled that animal back onto the road. I always stuck like a burr and never got hurt. The lesson here is that Jimmy Dean was a poor horseman, and that little girls don't have to be. Girls (and guys, too) who wish to study equestrian activities have several opportunities today at the rodeo. Youth Quarter Horse classes start at 7 a.m. in the AstroArena. Pony rides, $2, are offered in the Astrohall plaza all day. At 5:30 p.m., Rice and Renee, the Wacky Women of the Wild West, perform in the Wild West Show. Tickets for just the Livestock Show can be purchased at the Dome and are $5; $2, children. Tickets for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are available through Ticketmaster, 629-3700.

monday
february 26
Do the Weather with Dr. Neil Why come home from work to watch the weather when Channel 11 weatherman Neil Frank offers each and every rodeogoer the chance to "Do the Weather with Dr. Neil"? Stand before the chroma key weather map at the official Channel 11/KHOU rodeo broadcast center at the rodeo and "Do the Weather," not for broadcast, but for posterity. Your scripted weather report will be taped, and you can take this souvenir tape home. Amaze your friends and family! 5-8 p.m. weekdays, 2-8 p.m. weekends. Booth near the Dome entrance. All free, even the videotape.

tuesday
february 27
Neuter for a nickel Citizens for Animal Protection, the Fund for Animals Inc., the Houston Human Society, SNAP and other organizations are all recognizing Spay USA Day by offering low-cost surgery. Vets at more than a dozen locations will be clipping cats as part of the Neuter Scooter for a Nickel promotion. (Some locations will offer surgery for dogs, too.) Here's how to take advantage of this offer: call your local shelter or pet store and ask for Spay Day USA information, or call the Doris Day Animal League, (202) 546-1761. Once you have the name and number of a Neuter Scooter location near you, make an appointment. Don't feed your pet or give it water after 10 p.m. Monday night. Show up with a rabies certificate (or $6 for a rabies shot) and then, after your pet is fixed, give the nice doctor a nickel. That's it. That's all it takes to be a responsible pet owner.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly and David Foster Wallace Though David Foster Wallace looks like another smoky-eyed, cheese-eating slacker from MTV -- stringy hair, pretentious stubble and all -- he is, in reality, an accomplished writer with two novels and a story collection in bookstores. He's also winning prizes, among them the John Train Humor Prize from the Paris Review. Reviews in glossy magazines suggest he may be the next big thing, and compare him favorably to Thomas Pynchon. Wallace reads his work in a program with poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly, who's won a slew of awards herself. Both are presented as part of the Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series. 8 p.m. The Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet. For more information, call 743-3013. $5 suggested donation; no donation suggested for seniors and students.

Breast Implants on Trial Hundreds of thousands of the one million women with silicone-gel breast implants have filed lawsuits. That's a story that has been covered -- in fact, it's been done to death. This documentary, though, suggests that while there may be what Houston lawyer John O'Quinn called a "devil in a blue suit" out there -- a business community making money at the expense of women -- we can't necessarily be sure the devil is from Dow Corning. The devil could be a gang of exploitative lawyers. How to determine the truth? The subtext of this story is that the American public may not be properly educated. Medical science, made up of people who did well in biology, has one idea: that there's no link between silicone-gel breast implants and connective-tissue or autoimmune diseases. Juries, made up of people who perhaps did not do so well in biology, seem to have a contrasting idea: implants are too the cause of diseases. Form your own idea; watch Breast Implants on Trial, 9 p.m. Channel 8. Free.  

wednesday
february 28
Derek Trucks This week for the Fabulous Satellite Lounge's Wednesdays on the Road showcase, the main attraction is 16-year-old musical veteran Derek Trucks. Trucks, the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, is a guy with a serious family pedigree of rock and roll. Not that he's trading on family ties. Derek is also a heck of a guitar player -- good enough to impress Tinsley Ellis (on whose 1994 CD Storm Front he played) and Joe Walsh. Derek doesn't like it when his guitar style is compared to Duane Allman's, and he doesn't like being considered a novelty act. "Initially," he admits, "people think it's a novelty. But it's not a novelty if they keep coming back." Doors open at 8 p.m. No one under 18 admitted. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington, 869-


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