Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight Even after 40 years of portraying Mark Twain, Hal Holbrook describes his production as a "work in progress." And in fact, the show, composed solely of Twain's own writings, is always changing. Holbrook, who now knows more than 12 hours of Twain's work, chooses what he's going to perform as he goes along, so the show is constantly morphing into whatever it wants to be on any given night. The Washington Post pronounced Holbrook's "transformation [into Twain] so complete as to be almost unsettling at times." See him, tonight only, at 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Road, 480-1894, (409) 765-1894. $14.50-$53.
Da Camera Goes to the Zoo Da Camera, Houston's innovative producer and presenter of ensemble music, starts its series of family concerts this year at the Houston Zoo. Pianist Pedja Muzijevic will play in concert following a musical-instrument "petting zoo" that allows kids to touch, strum, bang and blow on many types of instruments. And they can ask the musicians any questions their inquisitive brains can come up with. 3-4 p.m., musical-instrument petting zoo; 4-5 p.m., concert. The Houston Zoo, 1513 North MacGregor Drive in Hermann Park, 524-5050, 525-3365. Concert is free with zoo admission: $2.50, adults; $.50, kids three-12; free, kids under three.
Basic literacy training workshop Image how your world would be if you couldn't decipher a street sign, a menu, an overdue bill. Of course, it's impossible for a reader to truly understand how the world would be without written language, but anyone who can read and has a heart has the potential to help another person into the world of the written word. The folks at Literacy Advance will show you everything you need to get you started volunteering to teach illiterate adults how to read and write English. 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Jan. 10 and 17, The Museum of Printing, 1324 West Clay, 266-8777. Free.
Blues at the brewery Save up all your beer drinking for the late afternoon and then drive out to the Saint Arnold Brewery. After paying your ten-dollar cover, enjoy all the Amber Ale or Kristall Weizen or Brown Ale this microbrewery can pour down you as you listen to the tunes of blues artists such as Gloria Edwards and Nelson Mill III. Just please, for goodness sake, make sure you don't drive yourself home. 4-7 p.m., Saint Arnold Brewery, 2522 Fairway Park Drive, (281) 820-6976. $10.
Traditional Andean folk music This diverse program features Kjatari, a band that plays traditional folk music from the Andes. The South American group is joined by a host of gifted local nonprofessionals performing everything from classical music to modern dance. 4 p.m., MECA Auditorium, 900 Kane, 802-9370. Free.
Family International Dance The Hellenic Folk Dancing Group of Houston, the Heritage of Thailand, the Houston International Folk Dancers and the Shalom Israeli Dancers will all be kicking up their folk heels during this afternoon of international dance. Adults, teens and kids will all be on stage. And after the show, the entire audience is invited to a party where each company will teach a short dance from its culture. 3p.m., Jewish Community Center of Houston, Kaplan Theatre, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, ext. 3275. $8; $5, members. No experience necessary, but participants are advised to wear rubber-soled shoes.
Tradition and Transformation With this 13-part course, the Jewish Community Center invites you to explore the world of Jewish art and architecture. Each class (which will meet every other Monday through June 29) will consist of two half-hour videos followed by a lecture and discussion. 7:30-9:30 p.m., Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, ext. 3269. $120 for the whole course; $10 for one class.
The neighborhood/magnet/Vanguard decision Getting your kiddo off to school is no longer as simple as packing her lunch and pointing her toward the school down the road. Nowadays there are science magnet schools, gifted and talented programs, performing arts schools, graduate-early high schools, work-while-you-go-to-school schools, a school for pregnant girls and schools for just about every gift and woe in the book. And figuring it all out is a huge headache. Tonight, HISD wants to provide you with enough information to make your decision a little easier. Find out the advantages of attending a neighborhood school, what "gifted" means, what the new Vanguard/ magnet criteria are, what the Stanford test is, what the Naglieri test is and so on. The Parents for Public Schools of Houston will present a panel of HISD staff and volunteers to answer parents' questions about how to "navigate the changing waters of the HISD Vanguard/magnet programs." 7:30 p.m., HISD Board Auditorium, 3830 Richmond. For information, call 892-6763. Free.