This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Giant Japanese robots changed anime (and Toys "R" Us) forever. See Saturday.
Courtesy of the Consulate-General of Japan at Hous

Thursday, February 26

The moral of The Wizard of Oz -- that your heart's desire is best looked for in your own backyard -- will be given another airing today when the play Theophilus North, adapted from Thornton Wilder's novel of the same name, opens at Main Street Theater in the Rice Village. The eponymous character is itching to bail out of his yawn-inducing post as a prep school teacher, believing that rascally adventure awaits him in the wider world of 1926 America. But when his car breaks down in snooty Newport, Rhode Island, aborting his travel plans, he ends up serving the wealthy families that populate the seaside enclave. The unplanned stop becomes an adventure all its own. And in addition to Dorothy's lesson, North learns something that should prove crucial to his survival in the world: The rich never pay their bills. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Through Sunday, March 21. 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit $20 to $30.

Friday, February 27

With OutKast and Ludacris burning up the mainstream pop charts, it's no great insight to say that hip-hop has come a long way, baby. But Marc Bamuthi Joseph is taking the former street style even further, bestowing on it glory and high-art cred in his evening-length "choreopoem," Word Becomes Flesh. The spoken-word portion of the piece is composed of a series of letters Joseph wrote to his then-unborn son, M'kai. Joseph's powerful, personal opinions about the state of black male parenthood are blended with music, video and damned accomplished contemporary dance in a performance so seamless, you may forget that not all poets can dance like that. Joseph is one baby daddy who doesn't take the job lying down. 8 p.m. today and Saturday, February 28. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-335-3445 or visit $15; $10 for members; $8 for students and seniors.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, February 28

Giant robots have been a traditional feature of Japanese anime since around the time Godzilla had his first bite of Tokyo. Mmm, Budokan. But it was the revolutionary television series Mobile Suit Gundam, created by animator Yoshiyuki Tomino in 1979, that first cast the robots as realistic war machines, driven by complex, conflicted human characters who were not simply goody-goody Speed Racers or evil Racer Xes. The hugely popular series spawned a legacy of movies, novels, comics and video games, and turned Tomino into a respected visionary. He'll be in town today, lecturing on "Japan's Anime Phenomenon: A Cultural Perspective." Feel free to draw your own parallels to Gene Roddenberry's world of Trek. 1 p.m. Hilton, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-652-2977 or visit Free.

Sunday, February 29

Back when the rules of courtship were much stricter (hi, Dad!), women had to sit back and wait for their man to pop the question -- except for one day, every four years. The strangeness and rarity of a 29th day of February left tradition flapping in the breeze, and young women all over fifth-century England ran about tying down the bachelors they loved. The folks at CenterPoint for Body, Mind & Spirit aren't offering to make the asking any easier (or bring down the price of ice), but they can help point you toward the right love object. At today's Psychic Leap Sunday, you can let astrologers, palmists and tarot card readers tell you if you've got a Mr. or Ms. Right on your hands, or if you should wait another four years. Noon to 4 p.m. 1920 Hollister. For information, call 713-932-7224 or visit Free admission; $20 for individual readings.

Monday, March 1

Art League Houston will host a Texas Artist of the Year cocktail reception today at Beso, the Westheimer eatery best known for its mojitos and fried bananas. The honor is given every year to an established Texas-based artist who's been in the biz for at least 20 years and spends time in the community rather than cloistered in a studio. This year's awardee is painter Richard Stout. With his 30-plus-year professorship at the University of Houston, he fills the bill admirably -- and has many charming qualities to boot. "He's almost timeless in his mannerisms," says Art League executive director Claudia Solis. "He's very proper and polite, and not a lot of people are like that anymore." 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 2300 Westheimer. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit $35 at the door; $25 in advance; $15 for professional artists (call above number to inquire about artist's discount).

Tuesday, March 2

If the last time you heard a string quartet, it was sawing jadedly through "Ave Maria" at some overpriced wedding, you might want to check out today's intimate gallery concert by the Miró Quartet. This foursome is atypical -- one member sports a goatee and a keychain necklace, and they all wear black on black. They'll be playing some highly unusual tunes, including the Vietnam War-inspired Black Angels by George Crumb, which features the sounds of maracas and water-tuned crystal glasses in addition to the usual horsehair on cranked-down nylon. 7:30 p.m. Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $30; $15 for students and seniors.

Wednesday, March 3

Rarely in world history has there been a fishbowl like Soviet Russia. The rest of us could observe the Russians, with their castles and their lousy food, but we couldn't interact with them, nor they with us, beyond staring at each other through the glass. And so, in a great metaphorical moment, legend of Russian rock Boris Grebenshikov (known as BG) named his band Aquarium. The height of the group's fame came before perestroika, so they never broke out in the West. But today you've got a chance to hear these monsters of Soviet-bloc rock as they shatter the glass and put the political past right in your face. 7 p.m. Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For information, call 713-654-7846 or visit For tickets, call 713-395-3301. $35 in advance; $45 at the door.

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