Coffee Crusader

FRI 10/1

Repent, ye spendful sinners! Reverend Bill is watching you. Yea, as you buy those cargo shorts from the Gap, that ironic tee from Urban Outfitters, as you stop by Starbucks for your mocha latte, the Reverend will be working for your salvation. To save your soul, the good Reverend will enter these places, lay hands on the cash register and exorcise the demons in it. He'll even lick the walls, the tables, the counters of these evil places to see if they are fit for human consumption. Seriously.

Reverend Bill (or Bill Talen, as his police report reads) is part performer, part revolutionary. The New York-based playwright-artist created his Church of Stop Shopping initially as performance art, inspired by his work with the late auteur/spoken word star Spalding Gray. His uniform: a white suit ("It's a tux left over from a catering job I had in November '98," he says) and priest collar. His choir: a volunteer gathering called the Stop Big Boxes Gospel Choir. His mission: to save the world from rampant consumerism. His enemy: big businesses whom he accuses of employing sweatshops: Disney, the Gap, Urban Outfitters and especially Starbucks. "They're my devil," he says of the coffee conglomerate.

He's been arrested and even faces a possible jail term for his Starbucks crusades. Will he risk a visit to the mecca of mocha, the twin Starbucks stores in River Oaks, when he comes to town? "I must be coy," he says of his intentions. So if you find yourself sipping a latte in your local Starbucks and a man with a blond pompadour and white suit enters, "exorcises" the cash register and licks the walls, relax. He's just fighting for your soul. The Reverend gives a "sermon" at 8 p.m. Friday, October 1. First Unitarian Church, 5200 Fannin. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit $10. -- Steven Devadanam

Tour de Fleurs

SAT 10/2

Is your American Beautyberry lackluster? Are your ornamental grasses patchy? Join local master gardeners on a tour this Saturday through the lush gardens of seven Heights-area homes and see how the experts make sure their begonias and crape myrtles thrive in Houston's unfriendly climate. None of the gardens is professionally maintained, which means your amateur plot can be just as stunning if you take notes on design and care. And even if your tansies are sagging come next December, Houston's first all-Montessori public school will be thriving: The tour's proceeds go to renovating and outfitting its future campus. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 2. 501 Woodland. For information, call 713-880-8004, 713-861-5701 or visit $10. -- Julia Ramey

Ante Up

SAT 10/2

We'll give props to La Chicana Laundry Pictures for getting to the point: Their upcoming fund-raiser is called simply "Gimme All Your Money." For your money, you'll be treated to a screening of the group's film, M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction), plus Tequila Mockingbird, a work that starts out on video and ends up as a live performance. You can also catch live music by Ese, games, prizes and a screening of Un Plato Más, a short flick that pays homage to grub. Still not ready to empty your pockets? Perhaps this will inspire you: The group has tacked a random spectacle onto the evening: the sawing in half of a real, live woman. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 2. Talento Bilingue de Houston, 333 Jensen. For information, call 281-701-3452 or visit $20. -- Steven Devadanam

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See the words of God at the HMNS

FRI 10/1

Finally, a definitive answer to all the barroom arguments: We don't know if there is or isn't a God, but we do know that the Bible was written a very long time ago, not a few centuries ago, as some revisionists say. Get your proof starting this week at the Houston Museum of Natural Science's newest exhibit, "The Dead Sea Scrolls." Thirteen of the 2,000-year-old scrolls that became the Old Testament will be on display. The exhibition is your best opportunity to look upon ancient holy writ in its uncut form; the scrolls are rarely seen outside Jerusalem. Exhibit runs from Friday, October 1, through January 2. One Hermann Circle Drive. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit $9 to $17. -- Scott Faingold

Boogie Knights

SAT 10/2

It's time once more for the Texas Renaissance Festival. You know the drill: jousting, merrymaking, turkey legs whose purchase requires a second mortgage. But here's our beef: All the wandering wenches, harlots and whores never actually put out. In fact, they're nothing but big medieval teases, tantalizing you with large corseted breasts you're not allowed to fondle no matter how much mead you've imbibed. If this were an authentic period event, you'd be able to grab the saucy siren and have your way with her behind Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe. Historical accuracy, indeed! The festival runs from 9 a.m. to dusk Saturdays and Sundays from October 2 through November 14. For information, call 800-458-3435 or visit $6 to $16. -- Bob Ruggiero

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