Press Picks

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The Orton Dyslexia Conference: Pathways to Potential Learning disabilities cause tremendous frustration, both for the individuals who have them and for their parents and teachers. But knowing the facts, theories and tried-and-true strategies for dealing with dyslexia and other learning disabilities can go a long way toward fighting that frustration. The Houston branch of the Dyslexia Society offers an all-day conference devoted to learning disabilities. Hear the latest from counselors, doctors and teachers. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. University of Houston, Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, 4800 Calhoun, 529-1975. $75, members; $95, non-members.

Wings Over Houston Airshow Festival The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Jet Demo Team spirals through the air in their F-16C Fighting Falcons loud and fast. Their 35-minute program -- complete with diamond formation, six-aircraft delta formation and single- and two-aircraft solos -- shows how extraordinarily graceful those leviathans of metal can be in the hands of a gifted pilot. In addition, the Wings Over Houston Airshow features the French Connection Aerobatic Team, said to be the only husband-and-wife aerobatic team in the world. Daniel Heligoin and Montaine Mallet fly their head-on maneuvers, including the "exclusive mirror-image 360 degrees," to music and poetry. (Ah, romance!) For baser thrills, there's Les Shockley's Super ShockWave "Jet Truck": Its 25,000-horsepower engine propels it at a Guinness Book record of 375 miles per hour. And there's a jump team, military maneuvers and the Red Baron Stearman Squadron. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. today and Sunday. Ellington Field, (281) 531-9461. $30, reserved prime view seats; $15, general admission adults; $5, children under 12; free, children under six.

Tails of the Wild West Humane Society Gala Animal lovers aren't usually the dress-up-fancy type, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy a night on the town once in a while. The Houston Humane Society's country-and-western gala offers an opportunity to party with the pooches. Dine, dance and enjoy the music of Kevin Black in that decidedly human way, then meet 1997 Humane Society's Spokespets Woody and Hank. The gala benefits the "four-legged orphans of the Houston Humane Society." Your ticket includes dinner, beer and wine, and all the doggie kisses you can stand. 7 p.m.-midnight, Sheraton Astrodome Hotel, 8686 Kirby, 434-5555 for reservations. $50, individual; $75, couple.

september 28
Orange Show Eyeopeners Classic Tour Searching out all the folk art in Houston would be hard to do on your own. A lot of it is in (or on) people's homes, and it would be unseemly to go barging in on someone's Sunday dinner asking to look at their cool stuff. Knowing this, the Orange Show has put together a bus tour in which you can join other folk art lovers and discover, in an orderly fashion, what Houston folk artists have been up to. Stop by the now famous Beer Can House, built by John Milkovisch, or chat with Sylvester Williams, Victoria Herberta and other artists whose decorated homes give character to our neighborhoods. They all know you're coming and look forward to the visit. 1-6 p.m. Call 926-6368 for reservations. $30.

Open a New Window: Songs by Jerry Herman Cabaret musical revues are amazingly hard to come by in Houston, a town that prides itself on a burgeoning theater/music/performance-art community. Tonight, however, is an exception. Douglas Robb has compiled his favorite tunes of Jerry Herman's Broadway music to tell the tale of his own coming of age in the theater, moving from his starstruck days as a pre-adolescent through his nights as a Broad-way performer. Desire, art, fame and more are covered in the music from such sparkling shows as Mame and La Cage aux Folles. 8 p.m. Ovations, 2536-B Times Blvd. 521-3237. $10.

september 29
Private School Preview Some say luck begets luck. Perhaps that's so. For instance: Tonight, all you folks lucky enough to afford private schooling for your child also have the opportunity to shop for that perfect place of learning. Eighty private day and boarding schools will gather under one roof to hawk their wares. Representatives from each school will be on hand to answer questions and arrange on-site tours. 6-8 p.m. The Kinkaid School, 201 Kinkaid School Drive (off San Felipe), 782-1640. Free.

september 30
Edmund White White started his latest novel in 1992 believing he would die soon. He was HIV-positive, had watched many friends die over the previous ten years and had no reason to believe his fate would be any different. He took the title of that novel -- The Farewell Symphony -- from Haydn's composition of the same name, in which the musicians leave the stage one by one until only a violin is left. This novel, which White calls "autobiographical fiction," is the third in a trilogy chronicling gay life. The first, A Boy's Own Story, won him national acclaim in 1982; in 1994, he won the Book Critics Circle Award. The London Times called The Farewell Symphony "a monumental achievement"; The Sunday Times of London said it is a "work of singular accomplishment." Meet White and hear him discuss his elegiac novel tonight. 7 p.m. Crossroads Market Bookstore & Cafe, 1111 Westheimer, 942-0147. Free.

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Lee Williams