Press Picks

january 26
Pro-Choice Luncheon Those who've been missing Nina Totenberg since Anita vanished from CNN will be heartened by this news: Nina's in town. The NPR legal affairs correspondent will speak at our local Planned Parenthood's annual Pro-Choice Public Affairs Luncheon. This is the seventh such event, celebrated on the very day the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. Totenberg's topic was not advertised; perhaps she'll talk about terrorism. This event begins at the very civilized hour of noon. Galleria Ballroom, Westin Galleria, 5060 West Alabama. For reservations, call 831-6519. $40 individual, $100 sponsor, $1,000 table.

Endocrinologist offers excuses Hey, what some call sloth could be an actual, legitimate medical condition. Really! Cheer up; you're not lazy, you're sick. You haven't gained weight from overeating, your thyroid is all out of whack. Any niggling little symptoms are signs of complex, but probably treat-able, thyroid trouble. Well, they could be. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are both thyroid disorders, disorders that can be held accountable for weight gain, tiredness, weight loss, nervousness and a host of other genuine symptoms often misunderstood and cited as one's personal flaws. Dr. A. Mario Coscia will talk about the symptoms and causes of thyroid disease and tell how area hospitals are offering $5 thyroid screenings throughout the month of January. The convenient screenings set up by the Houston Thyroid Awareness Coalition will make things hard for hypochondriacs,butsufferersof Munchhausen's Syndrome may find a way to fail the blood tests. The lecture will be 7-8 p.m. Sun Room, Bellaire Hospital, 5314 Dashwood. Free. For reservations, call 669-4262. For information about screenings, call (800) TEST-THS.

Porgy and Bess Houston Grand Opera was the first company to put on Porgy and Bess as an opera, and not a minute too soon. The 1976 production came 40 years after Gershwin wrote it. That coup was extremely successful -- the HGO production won a Tony and a Grammy, set a record for a week's gross on Broadway and wowed 'em in foreign capitals. As David Gockley, current HGO director, puts it, "I have longed to take another crack at Porgy." This year's production is jazzed up with choreography by Hope Clarke, a former Alvin Ailey dancer. The first night is a benefit for Texas Southern University; a benefit, and yet tickets are at bargain rates. 7:30 p.m. Brown Theatre, Wortham Center, 500 Texas. For details or reservations, call 527-7097, 527-7098 or 639-1802. Prices for this benefit performance only: $10-$110, all tax deductible.

january 27
Harlem Globetrotters Take heart, Turbo fans, Globie is in town. Globie is the new mascot for the Harlem Globetrotters. The Globetrotters have gone along for, oh, some 70 years without the lovable imp, but he's here now, and ready to entertain all the little children. And dance to the Globetrotter song, "Sweet Georgia Brown." In a nod to family values, this tour's theme is "Salute the Family." Take the whole family to see the basketball tricksters. An autograph session follows the basketball exhibition. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $9.50. $12 and $14. $2 discounts for seniors and children under 12.

Houston Symphony -- British conductor, Canadian pianist British born Raymond Leppard has led or played in orchestras around the world and is currently the music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. His having a steady job is something of a surprise -- he never seems to settle on anything. He's spent enough time in the studio to make 150 recordings, and somewhere along the line he's resurrected the operas of Monteverdi and Cavalli, written books and spent time in academia. This weekend, he comes to Jones Hall to conduct a program of showoff symphonic favorites. The Houston Symphony is also joined by Canadian pianist Louis Lortie, who's never played in Houston before. Since he was teen, Lortie has won many prizes, and he is very intense for a Canadian. Concerts at 8 p.m. tonight and Monday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $10-$50.

Road Alan Clarke, again. This 1987 film is from a successful play by Jim Cartwright. However, Clarke's unique style is present in every frame. A group of bitter, unhappy young adults -- the women have hairdos and the men wear ties -- tramp around and drink too much and are poised between despair and ... something that could as easily be hope as denial. Those who saw Jane Horrock's work in Sweetie will be floored by her performance here. She has a long monologue, a bitter, insightful examination of every single horrible, filthy detail of her horrible, filthy existence. The women in this film work all week to save up to buy ugly clothes with which to attract oafs who drink too much, make rabid, brief gropes in alleyways and then puke. The poor women don't even seem to enjoy their cigarettes. The film does not, however, end so plainly tragic. It ends with a group of friends flush with inspiration and considering alternatives to their nasty little lives. Whether this resolve is the beginning of new lives for our heroines, or just a cruel trick of youthful hormones, is not said. Road is part of a double feature with Christine, the story of a middle-class drug dealer. Road begins at 8, Christine 9:15 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. Double feature $6.  

january 28
Museum of Fine Arts 5K Run and Walk This is not the marathon, but getting cozy with the sponsor of this run is easier, and the scenery is better. Runners, walkers and wheelchair racers start in front of the bright Children's Museum, move down Bissonnet past the MFA, hook a right on Montrose and past the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Cullen Sculpture Garden and the Glassell School. Then, they swoop down and loop around the Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection. Isn't that a lovely route? After the race, party in the Sculpture Garden with food and drink and live music by Pierre Blanchard and the Zydeco Dots. The run starts at 8 a.m. For details, call the race hot line, 639-7585. Race-day registration $25.

The Gospel Truth This second performance in Da Camera's From Gospel to Gershwin series has some high-toned high art names such as pianist Vivian Taylor, violinist Lynn Chang, and Marquita Lister and Stacey Robinson of HGO's Porgy and Bess, but the folks who matter here are a down-home gospel quintet, The Five Blind Boys of Alabama. A few years back an impresario in Los Angeles had the bright idea of doing a gospel version of Oedipus at Colonus called The Gospel at Colonus. The Five Blind Boys trucked in from the Southland to do a little close-harmony emoting and blew the upscale crowd away. They're likely to do the same thing tonight, and if your only knowledge of gospel is shouting and swaying, then get set for an education: the Blind Boys can be tender as well as forceful, and their concerts can make it clear where R&B and rock and roll got their start. We just hope being in the company of artistes doesn't stifle them. 8 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 524-5050, $14-$29.

january 29
Go to the Cadillac Bar for kids The Epilepsy Association of Houston/Gulf Coast is having its third annual Super Bowl Party, "Camp Out on Super Bowl Sunday," for camp Spike 'n' Wave. The camp offers kids with epilepsy the opportunity to short-sheet each other's beds and snipe hunt and fall out of canoes and enjoy other memory-making antics. Free food and prize giveaways. Fun starts at 3 p.m. Cadillac Bar, 1802 Shepherd. For details, call 789-6295. $20.

Watch the Super Bowl It doesn't matter who's playing. Only one thing matters, this year: this may be the last chance to see beer drunk as the good Lord intended. Everywhere one turns, people are hooting about beer for the connoisseur. The current "meme" -- the term appalling trendiods use instead of "idea" -- has naught to do with suds or brew but is pretentious mewling about Stuttgarter Hofbrau and Traquair House Ale, and which lager goes best with chicken or fish. Don't buy into that stuff; you'll only end up talking about scumpie cider, as if such a thing mattered. Beer is beer, football is football and this is America. We should not let the old standards die. This year, attend the Super Bowl party of your choice and drink beer as God intended: cold. If you eat while drinking beer, eat food you can eat with your hands -- chips, pizza, hot dogs, burgers....

Skip the Super Bowl See Shaft, John Shaft, and Superfly on the pretty big screen at 8.0. Those who must gamble on Super Bowl Sunday can make bets on how many in the crowd will sing-along to the entire Shaft theme song, how many will get the words right and who is most likely to dance all the way through or shout out the bleeped words. There is no admission charge for these fine examples of 1970s cinema; drinks will be sold at happy hour prices and the items on the late-night menu will be the same as they always are. Believe it or don't: reservations are recommended for this trendy bar presentation of videos on a 10-foot video screen. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 8.0, 3745 Greenbriar, 523-0880.

january 30
Mourn Peter Cook is dead, and was laid to rest with no fuss almost two weeks ago in Hampstead. Cook, for the uninformed, was a seminal figure in British comedy as we know it. All the Python's revered him; so did Rowan Atkinson. What you ought to do is make a fuss. Hie yourself down to your friendly local video store and rent all the Secret Policemen tapes on the shelves, and maybe the SNL episodes featuring "Pech a la Frog" and the unidexter's audition. Perhaps, if you're lucky, your video store will have a copy of Bedazzled, one of the top three Fausts of all time. It's highly unlikely that you will come across a copy of the "Dud and Pete" sketches, and that's a pity. Maybe Don's Record Shop has some of the very early, very filthy Peter Cook and Dudley Moore bits. (Moore played the piano, Cook handled the wit and jape and satire.) No More Curried Eggs for Me, a volume compiled by Roger Wilmut and possibly available at used-book stores, has the full text of Cook's "The Miner" monologue and a "Dud and Pete" sketch. If you could dig that up, you'd be the big winner. Non-Warner Cable subscribers can hope for a Peter Cook special on the Comedy Channel.  

january 31
Saks fashion Saks Fifth Avenue presents its '95 spring couture selections and raises a glass to honor Houston Ballet Artistic Director Ben Stevenson at a tres fab luncheon. The horrible possibility is that actual doll-like ballerinas will also attend and sit there looking even more perfect than the models so that you, the well-heeled fashion maven, feel like an ox in comparison. Try not to feel like an ox (even though, in this country, women who are 5 feet, 6 inches and 130 pounds have no trouble feeling like oxen). Try to remember that you're out looking at lovely clothes and honoring a man who has done much to make life in our swamp beautiful. 11 a.m. Doubletree Hotel, 2001 Post Oak Boulevard. RSVP to 523-6300, ext. 271. $75, $100 and $150.

february 1
The American Experience Hello, good evening and welcome to Black History Month. Tonight, The American Experience presents "Malcolm X: Make It Plain." The title comes from Malcolm's ideas about how to relate to an audience. Alfre Woodard narrates this two-and-a-half hour documentary. Included is footage of the man himself, interviews with his biographer Alex Haley and words from some of his Nation of Islam associates. The elements are brought together by producer, director and co-writer, Orlando Bagwell. Bagwell was also a key player in the Public Television productions "Frederick Douglass -- When the Lion Wrote History," Eyes on the Prize, The Great Depression and another episode of The American Experience, "Roots of Resistance." 9 p.m. KUHT/Channel 8.

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