The Great Storm On this date in 1900, the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history occurred in Galveston. Turn-of-the-century Galveston was all set to become a thriving port city in the style of Manhattan. Then, a tremendous hurricane struck. The powerful storm destroyed most of the city, then crossed the continent, whirling up through Texas, across the country and returning to sea on the eastern coast of Canada. Six thousand people died when the storm hit Galveston, a loss of lives double the fatalities in the Johnstown Flood, the Chicago Fire and the San Francisco Earthquake combined. Pier 21, the harbor-front mini-The Woodlands, is showing The Great Storm, a documentary with historic photos, maps and dramatic illustrations. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of, and coming right here in hurricane season, it's a timely warning. The Great Storm shows every hour, on the hour. Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Pier 21, 21st Street at Harborside Drive, Galveston, (409) 765-7834. $3.50; $2.50 students ages 7-18, free children 6 and under.
Cinderella What is this thing with dancers and feet? Or dance audiences and feet, for that matter? Oh, sure, feet are needed for dancing (or else we might all be watching something called, say, stumping), but that doesn't really explain the fascination with arches and toes and insteps that can make a balletomane talking about a ballerina with a great line sound strangely like someone with a lifetime subscription to Foot Fetishist Monthly. Be that as it may, where ballet is concerned, feet rule, which is what makes Cinderella, a tale with certain lower-appendage biases of its own, the perfect opener for Houston Ballet's 25th season. Choreographed by the Ballet's own artistic direc- tor, Ben Stevenson, to music by Sergei Prokofiev, Cinderella debuted in Houston in 1988 and became an instant hit. Now we can revel in it again, and tonight only attendees will be treated to champagne and chocolate truffles in celebration of the occasion. That almost makes up for the fact that choreographer Stevenson left out the bit from the original fairy tale where the ugly stepsisters cut off their toes to fit their fat tootsies into the tiny glass slipper proffered by the prince. Sept. 8-10 & 15-17, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 11 & 18, 2 p.m. Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, Texas Avenue at Smith. 227-ARTS. $5-$70.
Jerry Lightfoot's Birthday Bash The all-star line up for this blues party includes Grady Gaines, Joe "Guitar" Hughes, Big Walter "The Thunderbird," "Texas" Johnny Brown, Eugene Carrier and many others. Now, the Bird who flies from coast to coast and other bluesmen are not likely to be wearing colorful cardboard hats or playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey -- but don't expect the party to be too low-down and serious. While Lightfoot is known for working traditional blues like "Rockin' on the Railroad," "Katie Mae" and "Boom Boom," he is also the goof who released "Pool Shooting Monkey." That novelty tune, written by singer Sonny Tippitt, is about an ape who plays billiards. 8 p.m. Billy Blues, 6025 Richmond, 266-9294. $3.
Parent/Literacy Volunteer Seminars Pack a sack lunch for yourself and spend the noon hour learning about the main R, the one for reading. Neuhaus Education Center begins a two-month program with this afternoon's workshop, "Help Your Kindergartner Get Ready to Read." Letter recognition, rhyming and other reading-readiness skills will be explained to you. Later topics include the positive-attitude session (with PC gender inspecificity) "Help Your Child Discover Strengths and Talents" and the pragmatic "Help Your Learner with Study Skills and Time Management." Every Friday thru October 28, noon-1 p.m. Neuhaus Education Center, 4433 Bissonnet, 664-7676. Free, but reservations are recommended.
Egyptian Festival Nefertiti's Kitchen and Isis' Pastry Shop will be serving marinated lamb prepared over charcoal and sliced to order; kofta; smooth, lemony tahini; koshary with mild or spicy sauce; sour cream basbousa; melt-in-your-mouth fetir meshaltet; omaly with butter, milk and nuts; and, of course, baklava and shish kebab. To work up an appetite for third and fourth binges, stroll around and view the Ramsis Historical Video Show, shop in the King Tut's Exhibit Room, dig the Egyptian Folkloric Show (several times daily) or see the Coptic Church's weeping icon of Jesus Christ. Crafts and art exhibits abound and, as a special treat this year, there will be evening Sound and Light Shows with stories of the pharaohs and the Sphinx. Despite all this, the star of this festival is Belhana. Belhana is an Egyptian cookbook with more than 120 recipes from Egypt and another 24 from the Middle East. Buy it, take it home and learn important secrets of the ancients. Today, Saturday and Sunday, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, 424 Mulberry Lane, Bellaire, 669-0311. $2 includes all shows and is good for three days. Free for children under 12.
Marilyn Maye Galveston favorite and internationally known jazz artiste Marilyn Maye is back on the island, in concert, for one night only. Maye has been racking up rave reviews since the '50s. Early in her career, the chanteuse was discovered by Steve Allen and appeared with him on the original Tonight Show. She continued to sing jazz on the Tonight Show. She sang on the show 76 times, in fact, a record number of guest spots. Maye is no stranger to the island, either. She played the character of Dolly in Mame for four seasons at the Mary Moody Northern Amphitheater and recently brought her jazz stylings to the Galveston Opera House in a special show with Steve Allen, Louis Nye and Bill Dana. The New York Post said, "Maye is an extraordinary singer and superb technician whose reverence for a lyric is astounding." Her concert tonight is a benefit for AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas. 8 p.m. Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Road, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $25-$35. $35 tickets entitle concertgoers to an after-performance on-stage champagne reception with Maye.
Literacy Banquet Ah, the joys of literacy -- the ability to plow through listings and scan a Picks page ... or read Robert Penn Warren's novels, short stories and poetry. The Houston READ Commission is currently continuing its efforts to help the more than 1 million functional illiterates in our city. This banquet is a chance for the commission to recognize, with the Today's Vision for Literacy Alumni Awards, those who have done their part. The banquet is also a chance for you to contribute to the Houston READ Commission. Reception 6:30; dinner and program, 7-9 p.m. Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, 2222 West Loop South. For reservations and information call 228-1801. $50 individual tickets; $1,000 host table for ten.
Exosquad Meet the elite 22nd-century squadron, the Exosquad, before their show debuts. These MCA action-adventure characters get started saving the human race September 12 on KTXH/Channel 20. The squad space ship, the Resolute II, will be on display. Kids who attend the event can go into the Starlab Pod. (Starlab Pod sound like Biosphere 2? No accident; the event has a sort of greeny, educational flavor and kids will learn about the planets and our galaxy.) Lt. J.T. Marsh and Officer Maggie Weston will be on hand to shake children's sticky pink palms and everyone can sign up for the Exosquad sweepstakes; grand prize is a trip for four to Universal Studios Hollywood. This event lasts throughout the weekend. Greenspoint Mall, 1-45 at the Sam Houston Parkway. Free.
Unitarian Wine tasting This ain't no potluck. A painstakingly prepared menu, which includes vegetarian dishes, is complemented by fine wines and fellowship. The evening begins with a social hour to enjoy canapes and bolini. The salad is Caesar (you really can't expect anything too radical from Unitarians). Pinot Grigio is served with the pasta course (which is veggie) and the evening continues with wines and fine food from Tutto Bene! Family Italian Restaurant. Dessert is tiramisu and, for those who loathe that bitter glop, fresh strawberries and edible flowers. 6:30 p.m. Tutto Bene! 4618 Feagan. For reservations of information, call Jan LaRocque, 932-9192. $37.50 per person. Seating is limited to 84, reservations strongly suggested.
Men Who Cook See a not-so-rare breed in action at the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce's sixth annual gala using this theme. Local boys with a few nifty appliances and some actual professional chefs will serve up a big spread that includes "Comeback Jambalaya Give Me Some More," "East/West Poultry Delight" and "Big Mama's Cobbler." (This last is obviously a stolen recipe, and obviously stolen from a woman. But if you make any sort of fuss around a man who's cooking he'll never even help with the dishes.) They will have music, too (perhaps to cover the sounds of distress and alarm echoing throughout the kitchen). Potables benefit attendees. Proceeds benefit the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce's scholarship fund and program of work. 7 p.m. Hyatt Regency Houston, 1200 Louisiana. For tickets or information, call 522-9746. $25, $10 children 12 and under.
Zoo membership roundup Do be a zoo be. Join the Zoological Society of Houston guild and be a sort of Joan Embery, fostering goodwill for the zoo and all. Guild members aren't required to handle the animals; the work is more party planning. The Halloween Zoo Boo and the Zoobilee take weeks of planning. Right now, the guild is working on a Macy's Benefit Shopping Day for October. Other guild members work as lecture hosts and, of course, attend Meet the Keeper and other fascinating talks. Barbara Lester, curator of primates and small mammals, will speak briefly about why the zoo needs you. 6:30 p.m. Enter Gate 5, Brown Education Center, Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, 1515 N. MacGregor, 529-2632. Guild membership is $15.
Rodney Waters Classical music concerts for the public begin again at the Shepherd School of Music. Tonight, pianist Rodney Waters and guest violinists Yenn Chwen Er, Sylvia Danburg and Eric Halen play a recital of Schoenberg, Janacek, Hosokawa and Bartók. Ms. Danburg is an undergraduate and Mr. Waters is the staff pianist at the Shepherd School. He is also from Lubbock, where great musicians, all kinds, are born. 8 p.m. Shepherd School, Rice University, Entrance No. 8 off University or No. 12 off Rice Boulevard. Free.
Breast Cancer, what you don't know can hurt you Wonderbras? Cleavage is the last thing women should worry about. No woman really looks her best after several weeks of intensive chemotherapy. Puking isn't perky and, no matter how full-figured a gal is, sunken eyes and a sallow complexion are never lascivious. (Greta Garbo playing Camille wasn't actually sick, you know.) Toni Fitzgerald will be speaking at the next meeting of the River Oaks Chapter of the American Business Women's Association. Fitzgerald's topic, "Breast Cancer, what you don't know can hurt you," is news you can use rather than a signal flag for the next fad. 5:30 p.m., Briar Club, 2603 Timmons Lane. For information or to RSVP, call Vaughn at 960-9906.
Dialogue: Racism The fall session of this popular workshop series begins tonight. The nine-week program covers topics such as "Unaware Racism: we've all been infected" and "Internalized Racism." The loosely-structured discussion groups will also view a few films. Ethnic Notions, an award-winning documentary about deep-rooted stereotypes, is scheduled for week six. The Center for the Healing of Racism would prefer that people attend all meetings; however, this is not required. The fall session meets every Wednesday thru Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Facilities provided by the Dominican Sisters, 6501 Almeda. For information call 526-RACE. Free.
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