Meet the Beatle

Though vilified (unfairly) for "breaking up the Beatles" and (perhaps not so unfairly) for micromanaging her husband's life, Yoko Ono has done more than anyone else to extend the artistic legacy of John Lennon. New CDs, DVDs and books have appeared at regular intervals to satiate fans. (Though, honestly, we could have done without the children's pajamas, Yoko.) Ono has been particularly interested in promoting Lennon's visual art in exhibits that have toured the world for the past decade. They've showcased Lennon's whimsical, low-tech, squiggly illustrations and caricatures that, at their creation, were little more than a relaxing hobby for the musician.

"When I'm Sixty Four: The Artwork of John Lennon" contains more than 100 pieces of art created by Lennon from 1968 until his death in 1980, and includes original drawings, lithographs, lyrics and pieces done for his son, Sean. You've seen elephants draw -- but so can walruses. Runs Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24, at the Nordstrom/Foley's wing of the Galleria, 5085 Westheimer. For information, call 888-278-1969. $2 suggested donation benefits the Houston Food Bank. -- Bob Ruggiero



Dry as Dust

Kent Haruf serves up a side of ranch in Eventide

MON 7/25
If the word elegiac didn't exist, someone would have to coin it to describe Eventide, the new novel by Kent Haruf. A sequel to the 1999 National Book Award finalist Plainsong, the new book returns us to the bleak, rural landscape of Holt, Colorado, where aging cowpokes Harold and Raymond McPheron find themselves dealing with a bittersweet case of empty-ranch syndrome. The reader also comes face-to-face with pure, opportunistic evil in the form of the abusive Hoyt Raines, simultaneously the book's most colorful and repulsive character. Violence and sudden, crushing tragedy are dealt with in a compassionate but matter-of-fact style that reads like a less florid cousin to Cormac McCarthy's work, especially in the dry-as-dust conversations between the brothers. Haruf will sign and discuss Eventide at 7 p.m. Monday, July 25. Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial Drive. For information, call 281-497-8675 or visit www.bluewillowbookshop.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold


God's Stadium

"Oh, Lord Jesus, please let this rain stop."

The woman's incantation has worked. Ominous clouds loom overhead, and just seconds ago, droplets of rain were trickling on my jacket. But when she whispers a quick prayer, suddenly the rain's gone.

We're walking over to what used to be known as the Compaq Center and is now, as of this weekend, the new Lakewood Church. It's estimated that 56,000 people, including Governor Rick Perry and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, have shown up for this weekend's opening festivities and for Pastor Joel Osteen's country-boy pep talk.

Inside, hundreds of greeters usher us into the main arena, which is staggering. Purple lights dot the roof. Two huge curved risers house the choir members, who are awash in purple light. Next to them are video screens mounted on what seem to be rock sculptures with ferns and trickling fountains. A mammoth golden globe slowly rotates at the center of the main stage, where Lakewood's orchestra leads us in the rousing anthem "I Am a Friend of God!" People are jumping, leaping and dancing for the Lord. Then we're treated to dazzling, high-tech video montages documenting Lakewood's path from an old feed store in southeast Houston in 1956 to the sprawling Compaq digs. It's in this setting that Osteen draws frenetic ovations from the worshipers as he offers a go-get-'em sermon -- in which he breaks down twice -- about the journey to Compaq and how it "already doesn't look big enough."

Freshly sermonized, I stroll back to my car. The clouds are forming again. I decide to see if my attendance today has made me a "friend of God":

"Lord Jesus, please let this rain stop," I whisper.

I'm nearly washed away by the torrential downpour. Well hell, there's always next Sunday. -- Steven Devadanam

Lord of the Three Rings

There are the more refined joys in life: a captivating oil on canvas in a metropolitan gallery, the symphony, a succulent meal in a tony eatery. Then there are the simple pleasures, like watching a seal play a trumpet or 47 clowns exit a small blue Volkswagen. Yes, the circus is coming back to town, and the 134th permutation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's traveling three-ring show boasts high-flying trapeze acts, acrobatic tigers, the dare-devilish Crazy Wilson and his "Motorcycle Mania" and other spectacles. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 27 and 28; and 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 29. Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park. For tickets and information, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ringling.com. $12 to $125. -- Steven Devadanam

Runaway Grooms

There's plenty to see at the annual Bridal Extravaganza: 500 companies jockeying for your bridal business with five major fashion shows, exotic limousines, even fancy porta-potties. And while you can expect to see tens of thousands of future brides, their moms and tag-along bridesmaids, there just aren't a lot of dudes at the gargantuan ode to all things matrimonial. (We're guessing they'll be at the nearby watering holes, pondering the ramifications of that question they recently popped.) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 23, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 24. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For tickets and information, call 281-340-7777 or visit www.bridalextravaganzashow.com. $9. -- Steven Devadanam

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