Press Picks

april 27
If It's Thursday, It Must Be Rome The Friends of Child Advocates Inc. co-opted the name of a 1969 Suzanne Pleshette movie (If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium) to give this fundraiser a kooky, Continental flair. The event is a fashion show, a peek at the latest designs from Gianni Versace. Versace does cutsy industrial clothes, black rubber overalls and pastel-colored rompers with multiple zippers -- his clothes are what we'll wear if there are still malls after the apocalypse. The models will model with poodles dyed to match the clothes. Friends of Child Advocates is raising funds to continue helping Child Advocates Inc. do ad liteum-type things for children tangled in the bureaucracies of judicial systems, CPS and the schools. 7:30 p.m. IDEAS, etc., 3434 Lang Road. For details or tickets, call 529-1396, ext. 206. $100 per person; tables of ten $1,500, $2,500 and $5,000.

april 28
Mystery of the Maya There's an interesting blend of images here. The source is ancient Mayan structures in the isolated, dense jungles of Central America. The original images -- structures, carvings, paintings and glyphs in Wright Codex and other Mayan languages -- were cleaned up with modern restoration techniques, and then the images were scanned into computers. By tweaking these images, computer artists were able to bring out previously obscured details without damaging or altering the original Mayan works. These final images are being shown on the IMAX screen. The temples of Bonampak are intense. Mystery of the Maya begins today. 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $5; $3.50 children under 12. We recommend buying tickets in advance.

Pete Fountain Given Bubbha Thomas and Pete Fountain, it's difficult to understand how jazzmen have that late-night viper rep. You couldn't find two nicer guys, and this weekend you can find "Mr. New Orleans" at Jones Hall playing in the Houston Symphony's pops series. (Pete Fountain was "discovered" by Lawrence Welk. James Dean and Maila "Vampira" Nurmi were great friends. Odd alliances abound.) 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$50.

Attila Samuel Ramey, the 1992 season's bare-chested Mefistofele, is back on-stage at Houston Grand Opera and bare-chested as Attila, the scourge of God. Yep, in addition to being the most celebrated bass of his generation, Ramey is a hunk-and-a-half. And more! The world has pretty boys and talented voices, but precious few have no-kidding star quality. Ramey has it in spades. In Mefistofele, during the scene in which Faust is wailing a soul-sellers solo, Ramey, in crimson tights, was supposed to be silently playing solitaire in the background. Anytime there was the slightest pause, Ramey would lay down a card, or make some tiny move, and completely stole the scene. Not a good ensemble worker, perhaps, but a tremendous stage presence. Verdi's opera, with Ramey in the lead role, is far more than dramatic music about a short, shaggy guy invading Italy on a mangy pony. (Verdi used dramatic license to add characters and doll up the story.) Pre-curtain lecture 30 minutes before the opera. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. Through May 12. Houston Grand Opera, Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $10-$135.

april 29
Galveston Bay Sampler Boat Tour Skip that Princess cruise; see the bay instead. The day-long Galveston Bay Foundation floating classroom tour takes you past the San Jacinto Monument, the Cedar Bayou salt marsh, oyster landings and sources of water pollution. Naturally, clear-eyed scholars will be on hand to talk about the history of the bay, and discuss how we (and natural disasters) have hurt and helped the resource. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Departing from the Houston Yacht Club, Shoreacres. To register call 332-3381. $40; $20 for anyone under 18.

Great Texas Beach Trash-Off For almost a decade, the Texas General Land Office has been urging Texans to scuttle across the beach, like so many ridley hatchlings, to pick up litter and debris, which can interfere with said ridley hatchlings and other wildlife. Plus, it just looks trashy. Generally, Trash-Off organizers haul off the garbage. However, if you find something nifty, such as the Pontiac Fiero found on North Padre last year, maybe you can just slip it into your beach bag and keep moving. Since 1987, 139,508 volunteers (they keep very close tabs on the number of volunteers, apparently, and never round their numbers), have collected 2,849 tons of mess on Texas beaches. In 1995, you can join the fun. Call (800) 85-BEACH or (800) CLEANTX for your crew assignment.

The Art Car Parade We have to pay money to get into the Houston International Festival, we only have one daily newspaper and the Richmond strip is considered a fun place to party. The old standards are gone and life looks grim. Are we stuck in a dinky, third-rate town? I say the question hinges on whether or not we have a good Art Car Parade this year. One good sign -- there's no admission charge for watching the parade from the sidewalks along McKinney north of Louisiana and along Travis from McKinney to Market Square. (Or from the windows of your office, if you happen to have one along the parade route.) Parade begins at 1 p.m., Allen Parkway at the Sabine Street Bridge. All the one-of-a-kind vehicles should reach the finish line, the Houston International Festival City Hall Stage, at 3:30 p.m. (Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the inventor of the Rat Fink, is a judge.) Awards ceremony and surprises follow. Houston International Festival tickets are $3 at ticket outlets and $5 at the gate. For more information about the parade, call 926-CARS. For more information in general, access an international newspaper database and learn about the popularity the Houston Art Car Parade has attained in the world's capitals.  

Bellaire Home Tour The fearless Friends of Bellaire Parks have no truck with superstition and have announced their 13th tour as the 13th. Some home-tour organizers might have come up with a number-free name for the tour between the 12th and the 14th; even in this enlightened age, many buildings don't have a 13th floor. Perhaps the Friends of Bellaire Parks figure that since this is all for a good cause -- supporting The Nature Discovery Center -- they're lucky. Seven homes are shown on the tour, ranging from a '30s cottage to thoroughly modern concrete and glass structures. The Bellaire Garden Club will hold a plant sale in the pavilions behind Henshaw House. Tours from 1-5 p.m. today and Sunday. Meet at Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle, 667-6550. $10 for the tour; $2 for single homes.

Home Is Where the heART Is! A clock by McKay Otto, a happy face chair and other furniture that would fit right in, say, Pee-Wee's Playhouse can be yours. Yes, Make It Home, an area charity dedicated to providing new and "gently used" furniture to help the formerly homeless set up house once again, is auctioning off more than 65 unusual household items for mere money. All the art furniture was created and built by Houstonians. Silent auction begins at 7:30 p.m., and the live auction gets under way at 9 p.m. Lambert Hall, 17th Street at Heights Boulevard. For information, call 783-CARE. $20 advance; $25 at the door.

Jews and Gypsies Members of Gitanerias Flamenco Artists group and the Sephardic music ensemble, Alhambra, present a concert exploring the Arabic and Jewish content of 15th-century Spanish compositions. The influence comes from the cante style of Spanish gypsies and melismatic vocal style of Spanish Jews. 8 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Cullen Recital Hall, 4001 Mt. Vernon. For reservations, call 640-2975. $10; $8 seniors and students.

april 30
Susan McDonald The Houston-born, world-traveling classical guitarist is having a concert and CD release party to celebrate her recording, The Dream of Christopher Columbus. She'll be playing music from the CD, and polishing works she'll perform in her upcoming Carnegie Hall debut. Miss McDonald first fell in love with guitar music at the tender age of four. Soon thereafter, she convinced her parents to buy her an instrument, and at the age of seven first performed in public. By the time she was 14, she was touring Texas and her shows included concerts with the Houston Classical Guitar Society. Despite a busy concert schedule, she's coming to her hometown for this CD release party. (Speaking of local recordings, McDonald was a guest artist on Paul English's Beauty.) 7:30 p.m. Ovations, 2536-B Times Boulevard, 961-4401. $9.

Bowl-A-Thon Retinitis pigmentosa is a dreadful, degenerative disease of the retina, like macular degeneration and Usher syndrome. More than six million Americans suffer from these blinding diseases, and (despite a recent spectacular strike in almost total darkness by Matt Berlin at Marcel's Pinarama Bowl in Oswego, New York) bowling and a lot of other seemingly mundane activities -- driving to work, looking at the stars -- can be impossible for these six million. The Foundation Fighting Blindness has lined up bowlers, who've signed up pledges, and today these bowlers hit the lanes to bowl for charity (one in which a full 82 percent of the money raised goes directly to research) and for prizes such as weekend packages at American resort hotels. Stike-out RP begins at 2 p.m. Fair Lanes Southway Bowling Center, 8180 South Gessner. For details, call 980-0587 or 526-5377. To bowl or be eligible for prizes, bowlers must turn in a minimum of $50 of their pledge money.

may 1
Moo Jane Smiley will read from her winningly titled novel this evening. Smiley is not a happy-fun children's author; she's a happy-fun serious satirical author with eight works of fiction and a National Book Critics Circle nomination under her belt. Moo is a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres. Not feeling any pressure to be even more publicly successful with Moo, she reports, "Writing this novel has been the most fun ever. How else might I have brought together a giant hog, a Marxist horticulturist, a villainous economist, a billionaire and a farmer who plows in a bullet-proof vest?" Oh, and she pronounces the title "Moooooooooooo!" 7:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.  

may 2
The Sisters Rosensweig The NationsBank Broadway Series presents the road show of Pulitzer Prize-winner Wendy Wasserstein's comedy of three siblings, starring people from TV. Nancy Dussault (Too Close for Comfort) plays the triple-threat sister, "housewife, mother and radio personality," while Linda Thorson (The Avengers and One Life to Live) plays the oldest sister, a London banker celebrating her 54th birthday. Greg Mullavey (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) also stars. Opening tonight, 8 p.m. Through May 7. Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $29-$35.

may 3
Kamber and the Golden Apple Susie Storer's adaptation of a Turkish folk tale is, of course, presented as part of the International Festival. The only thing different, the only thing new, are the setting and the costumes. Folk tales about heroic children are an international genre. Our hero is a little boy who has an animal helper, a hawk, and faces a monster, a giant. Kamber learns from the hawk and protects his people from the giant. This isn't any ordinary giant; this giant has three lives. He's also after the golden apple of the title, and our hero may have to defeat him three times. Through June 3. Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. (EarlyStages is available for children's parties after weekend shows.) EarlyStages, Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 52-

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