A Closed System

SAT 12/13

Most people have some kind of theory about the origin of life -- and it can often be summed up on a bumper sticker. Some sport a tidy Christian fish; others, a Darwin fish with legs.But artist Matthew Ritchie's interpretation of the evolution of the universe won't fit on a bumper sticker. His concepts provoke, confuse and astound with their strange combination of obscurity and precision. Ritchie's brain runs on a foreign frequency. Cartoon characters, scientific notations, biblical tales and geometric forms come together to narrate his story of life's origins in what has become an entire imaginary universe.

For his first major museum showing, Ritchie will present works in several media, including paint, metal and digital animation. "Proposition Player," his exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, marks the completion of his evolutionary narrative. The artist has been given the opportunity to use the museum as his canvas, allowing him to work on a much larger scale than usual, and he's created pieces specifically for the space. Visitors will get to interact with Ritchie's new-media works, including a digital craps table that invites patrons to roll the dice for the future of the universe. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 13. Exhibit runs through March 14. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit www.camh.org. Free. -- Natalie Ledbetter


Orange Christmas

SAT 12/13

Oh, the colors of Christmas: red ribbons, green wreaths, and"orange? Yep, it's December, time to cover the plants and shutter outdoor attractions like the Orange Show, which is hosting a winter closing party with sparkly lights and faux snow this week. J.W. Americana (named Best Unsigned Band by the Press in 2003) will be there celebrating its latest record release. Other acts include the Ex-Patriates and Houston's very own jackasses What the Hell?, who will perform squeamish feats like sticking cockroaches where the sun don't shine. Yowza. 6 p.m. Saturday, December 13. 2402 Munger. For information, call 713-926-6368 or visit www.orangeshow.org. Free. -- Travis P. Ritter

Love, American-Style

TUE 12/16

If you've exhausted the potential for humiliation on your search for love here in town, maybe you should consider taking your quest to the airwaves. Adventures in Love, the new dating game/reality show from NBC, is in town this week searching for thrill-seeking singles ready to take the televised plunge. Houston casting director Aida Perelman-Jerome explains that the show's looking for "singles, age 21 to 35, who have type-A personalities, a good sense of humor, who are articulate and somewhat intelligent." She also tells us that NBC is specifically looking for "professional types" who can somehow swing three weeks off from work in February and March for filming. Casting call: between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 16. To get an audition slot, e-mail a current picture, your name, age and contact information to [email protected] by Friday, December 12. For information, visit www.nbc.com/contestants. Free. -- Lisa Simon

Cannes You Dig It?
Trophy-wielding barbarians invade the cinema

SUN 12/14

Winning a prize at the Cannes Film Festival is a sure sign of artistic merit, and an almost-as-sure sign that a film will flop at the box office. And if a Cannes winner is released in the middle of the melee of holiday blockbusters, the chances for its commercial success become thinner than the plots of its overhyped competition. So Miramax has set up a free screening to help promote The Barbarian Invasions. The film is a deeply emotional tale about a father and son who must reconcile their old differences in the face of a new crisis. If you like it, be sure to tell a friend about it. Lead actor Rémy Girard will be on hand for a little Q&A after the screening. 7 p.m. Sunday, December 14. Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For tickets, call 713-524-2175 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com. Free. -- Keith Plocke


Back when H-town was just a town, there was no such thing as an urban experience on the banks of Buffalo Bayou. Christmas was undoubtedly a much simpler affair, without all the tumultuous consumerism and trappings of tinsel. Houston has grown up since then, but that doesn't mean we're damned to strip-center hell forever. We can still relive the simpler days at the Heritage Society's Holiday Candlelight Tour, which will feature choral music, traditionally costumed characters and a tour of some of Houston's most historic homes. 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, December 11 and 12; and 4 p.m. Sunday, December 13. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby. For information, call 713-655-1912 or visit www.heritagesociety.org. $2 to $10. -- Keith Plocek

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