Every time "Eyes Wide Open" moves, it has to find more space for all of its shoes. When the anti-war exhibit opened a year ago, it displayed 504 pairs of empty combat boots, one for each soldier who'd been killed thus far in Iraq. When it arrives in Houston this week, it will have more than 1,400 pairs of boots in tow. The American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker organization sponsoring the exhibit, has shown the boots everywhere from Boston to Milwaukee to Tampa, and has tagged each pair with the name of a dead soldier. Alongside the boots will stand a wall of names commemorating Iraqis who died -- marking the first time foreign victims of an American war have been memorialized on home soil -- and a multimedia presentation on the history and costs of the war. The exhibit, fresh from an inauguration-weekend visit to Washington, D.C., runs from Monday, February 7, through Wednesday, February 9. Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 West 26th Street. For information and schedule, call 713-432-0615 or visit www.friendshouston.org. Free. - Julia Ramey
Choy to the World
Hail the rooster at the Lunar New Year Festival
The Chinese certainly have their New Year's timing down. Instead of getting lumped in with the January 1 bit (along with Christma-hanu-kwanzaa-kah celebrations), they'll party it up a little bit later with the 9th Annual Lunar New Year Festival. 2005 marks the Year of the Rooster (and not just any cock, but the "green wooden rooster"), whose crow signals a fresh start by chasing away evil spirits. The festival will feature the traditional "lion dance," as well as dozens of music, dance, acrobatic and martial arts performances. Bring the kids: The festival features food, arts and crafts, and special activities just for them. Show up and let out a hearty gung hay fat choy! from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, February 5 and 6. The International Center, 11122 Bellaire Boulevard. For information, call 281-498-4310. Free. - Bob Ruggiero
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
It's the first weekend of Mardi Gras, and we're drunk on beer and power, looking down on the screaming mass of humanity in Old Galveston Square. Until a few moments ago, we'd been among the thousands of ground-level revelers who packed the Strand. But after finding a door marked "Private," we've managed to sweet-talk our way upstairs to the choicest balcony on the block, where the Stars on the Brazos Krewe -- better known as the SOB Krewe -- are throwing a party.
"How does the other half do it?" we joke snobbishly, sipping free draft brew. Two girls proceed to make out for our benefit as we hoot and holler and toss beads their way. Meanwhile, several hefty women are all too happy to pull up their XXXL T-shirts for us. It's not a totally misogynistic affair: Some of the guys, whose repeated attempts to steal beads have been stymied, resort to mooning us (and flashing other parts) for a chance at some love. A few ladies toss down beads to reward their efforts.
This balcony thing is the only way to do Mardi Gras, we decide as we chat up our decidedly country fellow partyers, many of whom look like they've just come from a NASCAR event. Then there's a tap on my shoulder.
"We need your VIP badges, sir," says a man in a large Uncle Sam hat. "Feel free to git you some beer on the way out and hand over your badges downstairs, m'kay?"
Pretending like we're tired of all this, we hand over our tokens of power -- the VIP badges -- to the friendly door assistant. As we join the screaming, puking, titty-flashing groundlings, we vow to ascend to another glorious balcony -- and make a mental note to avoid partying with people who call themselves SOBs. - Steven Devadanam
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Ah, the dreaded "Blockbuster moments," where we forget the quality foreign films on our must-see list -- like Goodbye, Lenin! -- and instead end up with Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. This weekend, you can catch up on all the foreign flicks you've been meaning to see at the University of St. Thomas's free International Film Festival. Offerings include Amores Perros, Osama and Maria Full of Grace, for which Catalina Sandino Moreno has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. The screenings run Friday and Saturday, February 4 and 5 (for a complete schedule, see Repertory Film, page 39). UST Jones Hall, 3800 Montrose, 713-525-3530. Free. - Steven Devaanam
Sure, you'll be out catching beads, pulling up your top and vomiting on the street at Mardi Gras. But where will Fido and Fluffy be? At home, "mistaking" your bed for a tree or litter box, unless you let them in on the action at the 7th Annual Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Mardi Paws Parade. Your furry friends are invited to get dolled up in their Mardi Gras best and showboat their little tails all around Galveston. Dawgs can check out the cats at noon on Sunday, February 6. Parade begins at 25th and Avenue M in Galveston. For information, call 409-763-0557 or visit www.mardigrasgalveston.com. $15 to $20. - Steven Devadanam