Comedy with a message? That's the kind George Lopez sells with surprising success. Most standup comics drink a lot, cuss a lot and would do somersaults for a regular TV gig; Lopez works with children's charities, refuses to present "disparaging television" and turns down roles -- such as the ubiquitous gang member -- that reinforce Latino stereotypes. But the self-described role model recognizes that he has to be funny first. "You have to find a nice balance," Lopez has said. "We all love to preach, but I love people to laugh more." 8 p.m. Also, Friday and Saturday, January 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, January 10, at 8 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952-A W. Gray, 524-2333; www.laffstop.com.
The folks at Chuy's cling religiously to the belief that Elvis Aaron Presley is alive and well and making special appearances in shopping mall parking lots across the Midwest. They collect Presley paraphernalia, display black velvet portraits of the King and spew Elvis trivia (Did you know he has a twin brother named Jesse, or that his favorite flower is jasmine?). And today Chuy's celebrates Elvis's 64th birthday. The 6328 Richmond location is hosting a Look-A-Like Contest at 7:30 p.m., and Elvis LIVE! plays at 2706 Westheimer at 7 p.m. The Elvis Presley Memorial Combo Platter (served with a Twinkie) is on special at both locations. If you dress up like the Man, your platter is free. Call 524-1700 or 974-2322 for more information.
The Museum of Fine Arts' New Greek Cinema film series begins with O Orgasmos tis Ageladas, or The Cow's Orgasm. Don't assume the film's unusual title is metaphorical -- or that it sounds better in the original Greek. This movie actually features a bovine breaking on through to the other side. Two high school girls witness the cow's orgasm and decide to become more daring in their own relationships. Christina goes after the attractive slaughterhouse director, and Athanasia plans to run away with a musician/waiter. Of course, nothing works out as planned. The Cow's Orgasm plays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the New Greek Cinema series continues through January 17 with other films. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 639-7515. $5.
For slightly more conservative cinema, check out the Rice Media Center's tribute to the late, great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The series begins this weekend with a new 35mm print of Kurosawa's 1950 masterpiece, Rashomon. Set in 12th-century Japan, Rashomon is the piecemeal retelling of a crime from the perspectives of a murdered nobleman, his raped wife, the arrested bandit and the woodcutter who witnessed the whole thing. In 1951, the movie won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival and an Oscar for best foreign film. 7:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Also, Friday, January 8, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; and Sunday, January 10, at 7 p.m. The retrospective continues with classics such as Throne of Blood (Kurosawa's take on Macbeth) and Seven Samurai (remade in Hollywood as The Magnificent Seven) through January 24. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 (University and Stockton). For more information, call 527-4853. $5; $8 for a double feature.
If you didn't get enough of an introduction to 1999 last week, try again tonight at the Julian Calendar New Year Party. You see, the Julian calendar -- which determines religious holidays for those of Eastern European Orthodox faith -- says Christmas falls in the first week of the Gregorian calendar's January. Though the Julian version has no Western-style "New Year's Day," Greg Harbar, the Byelorussian founder and leader of the "polyethnic" dance band the Gypsies, decided to throw a big party a week after his Christmas in January. Confused? Don't worry. You don't have to know the history of the party to know it's a party. Come and learn to polka, jig, kolomyjka, schottische, frailach, czardas, hassapiko and maybe even mazurka. 5 p.m. to midnight. City Streets, 5078 Richmond, 840-8555. $6.
Here in Texas, we know that bigger really is better. So Houston doesn't just have a boat show, we have the biggest International Boat, Sport & Travel Show in the world. We have 19 acres -- over half a million square feet -- of the very latest designs in sailboats, motorboats, luxury motor homes, RV accessories, hunting gear, camping equipment and fishing poles. And we have it for ten glorious days. 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Also, Friday, January 8, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, January 9 and 16, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, January 10, noon-9 p.m.; Tuesday, January 12-Friday, January 15, 1-10 p.m.; Sunday, January 17, noon-6 p.m. Call 526-6361 for information. $5; $2, children.
Need a crash course in culture? Local art collectors Marshal and Victoria Lightman will take you to the galleries, introduce you to the artists, give you something relatively intelligent to say at opening receptions and maybe even get you a date in the process. The latest installment of their five-week "Looking at Art" class guides art-ignorant potential collectors through shows at ArtScan Gallery, New Gallery, the Rice University Art Gallery and James Gallery, to name a few. Classes begin tonight and tomorrow at Robert McClain & Co., 2818 Kirby. 7-9 p.m. Call 868-9589 for more information. $60.
Once you've learned to look at art, practice your astute "hmm"-ing at "Special Orders," the Art League of Houston's exhibit of art by local Vietnam veterans. With only a matter of hours separating a survived tour of duty and a largely unpopular homecoming, these soldiers turned to painting, sculpting and poetry to help them return to civilian life. The show features the work of former DaNang microwave technician Jim Robertson, Marine grunt James Migl and paratrooper Micheal Rumery. Medic-turned-FotoFest curator David Brown presents his postmodern poetry. In conjunction with "Special Orders," the Art League's outdoor sculpture garden hosts "Their Dreams Are Behind Them," Houston artist Betty Polifka's sculptural reactions to the Yugoslavian ethnic conflicts. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Through January 29. Art League of Houston, 1953 Montrose, 523-9350.