Apollo 13-salute sculling lessons Gene Horton of the Houston Rowing Club is offering free sculling lessons for space fans over the age of 15, one dawn rowing adventure -- an adventure that would normally cost $60 -- in exchange for a ticket stub from the film Apollo 13. Horton, a former NASA program manager who was a participant in the real-life Apollo 13 drama, is eager to introduce the Olympic sport to Houston-area boating fans who'd like to tone their cardiovascular systems. Why is he offering this chance only to would-be-rowers over the age of 15? Because, according to Horton, "This generation (born in the '70s) was not even alive at liftoff. I don't think kids today would really get our sense of pride at a gut level, why we are driven to pay tribute to this extraordinary flight crew." Of course, since everyone under the age of 15 was born in the 1980s, not the '70s, and since you'd have to be at least in your early to mid-30s to actually remember any of the original Apollo 13 saga, Horton's real interest may simply be in keeping rowdy youths out of his delicately tuned boats. For those of us who are rowdy teenagers and adults, this is a fine idea. Keeps the competition down. Horton's offer expires August 1. The Houston Rowing Club's 200 members work out daily on Clear Lake and Jarboe Bayou, usually at dawn. For details, call 334-3101.
Astro World Series of Dog Shows Dog lovers have four days to see this canine extravaganza: more than 140 varieties of purebred dogs compete in beauty contests and obedience trials; mutts and others run head-to-head in a flyball tournament and a canine Frisbee exhibition; and there'll be puppy training seminars and Texas Hearing & Service Dogs in a graduation ceremony with their owners. Plus, you can pet the police chief's dog. On Saturday, Houston's most famous hearing dog, Teddy Roosevelt, will demonstrate what he does for Liz Nuchia and then do time in the Texas Hearing & Service Dogs Heavy Petting Booth. THSD is a successful recycling program in which stray dogs from animal shelters are trained to perform special tasks. On Saturday, and the other three days of the show, the Astrohall and AstroArena will be devoted to the largest combined dog show series in the nation. 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. today; 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Astrodomain, 8400 Kirby. For information, call 791-9069. $7; $3 seniors and children under 12; $1 discount with Iams product proof of purchase.
Thea Vidale Local waitress made good Thea Vidale is off prime time and back on the road with her sassy standup act. That would be sassy as in fresh, and not as in sleazy and trading on cheap shock value. On her ABC sitcom Thea, Vidale's character was less boisterous than her brassy on-stage persona. In real life, Vidal is actually mild-mannered, for a woman, and matter-of-fact. When she left her abusive husband, he came after her, but by then, she says, she was a "little tougher and he got intimidated. Of course, a .357 magnum will do that to a person." Now that her personal life is in order, and her career is going strong, Vidale's come back home for the weekend to tell jokes about touchy issues such as racism, women's issues and why she has no plans to lose weight. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. Shows Thursday through Sunday. $13.50-$16.50.
Trial by Jury and H.M.S. Pinafore To gear up for an international competition in August, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston presents two lively comic operas. As usual, the society has commandeered a fine hall for its show -- the Cullen Theater of the Wortham Center -- and brought in pro talent -- Alistair Donkin, formerly of the D'Oyly Carte Opera company. Trial by Jury is a not-too-often seen one-act courtroom comedy about a breach of contract suit -- breach of a nuptial contract. H.M.S. Pinafore is a class-conscious comedy, designed to skewer the royal navy, with mismatched lovers. Dear little Buttercup is the lover with the most name recognition and, as it turns out, the one who has all the answers. After the six Houston performances, the society takes its show to Buxton, England, for the 1995 International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. Ira J. Black will give curtain talks 45 minutes before each performance. Opening tonight, 8 p.m. Through July 23. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 236-8310. $10-$28.
...and the earth did not swallow him Before Mi Familia, there was Severo Perez's award-winning film. Based on Tomas Rivera's novel, ... and the earth did not swallow him is the story of the Gonzales family, migrant workers, and especially the Gonzales' 12-year-old son, Marcos. Screening 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. today; 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5; $4 seniors and students; matinee $4; $3 seniors and students.
Minority Marrow Donor Drive This hurts. There is no painless way to extract marrow from bones, but being a donor is a walk in the park compared to the suffering of the thousands of aplastic anemia, cancer and leukemia patients searching the National Marrow Registry for a matching bone marrow donor. Minority matches are particularly hard to find. To join the registry, one need only give two teaspoons of blood. The Leukemia Society and the Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program will be taking those two teaspoons from potential donors, healthy people ages 18-55, this afternoon. Noon-4 p.m. Westwood Mall, food court, Highway 59 at Bissonnet. 791-6697.
Boogie Woogie Aesop Express Theatre has taken the tales of the Greek sage and set them to swing, ragtime and blues. Express Theatre actors Ann Candler, Daria James and Adrian Porter will don heavy, furry animal costumes and risk heat stroke to perform for kids, outside, in the mid-morning heat of Hermann Park. Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. Call 520-3290 or 520-3292 for details or information on handicapped seating. Free.
Eye on Third Ward: Yates Magnet School Photography Exhibition The idea behind the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund funded "A Place for All People" program is to bring art to the community and the community to art, and this exhibition of works by school kids exactly fits the bill. An exhibition of 50 photographs taken by 25 juniors and seniors at Jack Yates Magnet School of Communications opens today, and the subject of this show is day-to-day life in a specific community, the Third Ward. Reception 2-4 p.m. Through August 13. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 526-1361. $3; $1.50 seniors, students and children 6-18; free children 5 and under.
Miss Saigon This touring Broadway show has a 500-pound Ho Chi Minh statue and a computer-operated, full-scale helicopter, so one can easily see why this is the most-awaited road show of all. The politically charged love story is set during the fall of Saigon. Who would have thought anyone could make a successful musical of that debacle? Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Through September 2. Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m.: Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $15-$60.
Houston Hug Week Ye gods, Houstonians for a Better World, and their earnest executive director, Denise Quick, have declared this "Hug Week." The idea is to promote unconditional acceptance through hugs. Those old-fashioned eggs who favor conditional acceptance and save their hugs for pets, blood relatives and those being congratulated or consoled might want to stay indoors this week, because the Houstonians for a Better World and those influenced by them will be out on the streets, hugging. God knows Houstonians for a Better World mean well, and so if you are one of those warm people who have often longed to give a reassuring squeeze to a parking attendant, or gently snuggle a waiter, or crush your boss with a big bear hug, then this would be the best week for it. In the Care Bear spirit of this event, HFABW suggest hugging "the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker." Hug on your own, or contact Houstonians for a Better World for advice: phone 748-4427; fax 748-8756.
Public speaking champagne breakfast The Magic Circle Toastmasters, a group of professionals who gather to improve their public speaking skills, have a few questions for you: "Does public speaking freak you out? Give you the jitters? Do you get that sweaty palms, dry mouth sensation?" In other words, would your entire personal and professional life be filled with the successes that you so richly deserve if only you could say what you have to say, articulately and with authority, in every situation? Then friend, the Magic Circle Toastmasters have the answer for you. Prospective members and curious guests are invited to learn how the toastmasters help each other improve speaking, listening and presentation skills -- and are invited to learn this at a champagne breakfast. Frankly, I think regularly indulging in deeply civilized activities such as champagne breakfasts is the one true path to self-improvement, but the toastmasters would rather develop useful workplace skills. 6:40 a.m. Rice Epicurean Market on San Felipe at Voss. For details, call Jim Garey, 392-4833.
Summer Boat Show The devilishly clever boat show people have scheduled their show for late July -- far enough into summer that boat lust is at its peak, yet not so far into summer that dog-day doldrums will prevent anyone from boat buying. With the wide array of products on display, a sports enthusiast with a new credit card could incur financial ruin in a single afternoon. Through Sunday, the main floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center will be filled with boats and outdoor products. You get everything from actual yachts to surfboards (long boards and short boards), and free clinics and seminars on fishing, skiing and scuba diving. 1-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. $5; $2 children 12 and under.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Parents who want to get to know their children should take them to the circus. All children love McDonald's, but not all children love the circus. Some children, and not always the obviously timid, find at least one circus spectacle so truly, deeply horrifying -- a clown, usually, but sometimes a baboon or a ringmaster -- that the image haunts their dreams for years. Others return from their first circus emotionally unscathed and simply spend the rest of the summer falling out of trees and off of jungle gyms in their efforts to emulate the aerialists.
Athletic kids will have a plethora of acts to emulate. This year, the Blue Unit of the circus comes to town with 11 troupes of high wire and balancing artists -- including the Tereshenko gymnastics act and the bamboo balancers from the People's Republic of China. Two new babies, Romeo and Juliette, the first elephants born at the Ringling Bros. elephant farm, are also part of the show. We are assured that "a buzz of excitement passes through the audience as the pint-sized pachyderms proudly walk down the Hippodrome track." Jumbo is long gone, but King Tusk is part of the show, and he's billed as "the largest land mammal traveling the face of the Earth." Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. There will be 16 shows over ten days, with a variety of family specials and promotional deals. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 961-9003. Or call Ticketmaster, 629-3700.
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