Press Picks

August 14
The Family Manager's Guide for Working Moms Almost every working mom has had the out-of-body experience of watching herself accomplish more than she ever would have thought humanly possible during her single years. Unfortunately, most lawyer/driver/bottle-washer/fanny-wiper/counselor/tutor/cooks also have the gnawing feeling that everything they do is done com-pletely half-assed, because, like it or not, moms are in actuality only human, and there are only so many hours in one day. Kathy Peel's latest book, The Family Manager's Guide for Working Moms, attempts to address the woes of the work force mother with sympathy, and with guidance about organizing, prioritizing and restructuring a busy life so more can get done, and done well. Meet the organization queen and find out whether or not she's discovered anything better than what you've come up with on your own. 7 p.m. Hastings Books, Music, Video and Software, 1105 North Loop (take I-45 North, exit at 335 West, turn right, bookstore is on the right), (409) 788-2667. Free.

Miss Hawaiian Tropic If you think you have "the bod" (as the contest flyer so distressingly puts it), you might want to see if it'll win you a trip to Hawaii. Tonight, the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Contest will choose a Houstonian to advance to the state finals. Contestants are asked to bring a cocktail dress and a bikini -- one with a full back, of course. This contest is much too tasteful for a thong. 10 p.m. Cafe Elysee, 5055 Woodway, 914-9700. Free.

August 15
Justin World Bull Riding Championship One of the most heart-stopping events of the rodeo has to be bull riding: eight long seconds atop one enormous ton of mad-as-all-get-out bull. The only thing keeping you from dying is the rope clenched in your fist and a couple of clowns. To outlast that beast, you've got to be strong, determined and pretty ornery yourself. This weekend you can see just how ornery the rodeo circuit's most famous bull riders can get. Jerome Davis, Tammy Kelly, David Fournier, Stacy Megenity and four-time World Champion Bull Rider Tuff Hedeman will compete for points and money, and most important, try to stay alive. 8 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $15-$28.50.

Chinese Medical Practices American doctors have a long history of pooh-poohing many Eastern approaches to medicine. But interestingly, as Western medical researchers become more sophisticated, ancient Chinese practices become more interesting to them. Many Chinese treatments are based on a philosophy of living rather than on the hard science of biology, and today you can learn a bit of that philosophy as well as some of the remedies that derive from ancient Asian ways of thinking. Victor Chen, herbalist and owner of Vitamax Health Store, will be the one doing his best to open up closed Western minds. 10-11:30 a.m. Spring Branch Community Center, 1721 Pech Road, 932-9573 to preregister. Free.

August 16
Velvet Elvis Third Anniversary Blue Hawaiian Luau It was only last year that Velvet Elvis owner Barry Capece was embroiled in a lawsuit with Presley Enterprises over whether or not he could use the name "Elvis" as part of his bar's appellation. Capece won the suit, and having prevailed, he's ready to party. In addition to his victory over Presley Enterprises, Capece is celebrating the Velvet Elvis's third year in operation. And what better way to do so than to go out and find a band called the Red Elvises and have them play wild and crazy music? The Red Elvises create a strange but appealing synthesis of Russian folk and good old American rock and roll; their first CD was called Grooving to the Moscow Beat, while their latest has the California-meets-Cossack title Surfing in Siberia. The Red Elvises will be downstairs in the lounge, while on the roof, Mojo Nixon and Elvis Herselvis and the Straight White Males will hold sway. 6 p.m., luau starts; 9:30 p.m., show. Velvet Elvis, 3303 Richmond, 520-0434. $10, advance; $12, door.

The Barbacoa Experience Most would call it disgusting, but fie on the culinary dolts who've never tasted barbacoa, that meat that's been carved from the face of a steer, then sizzled long and slow in a deep, hot hole in the ground. The process -- finding the cow's head, digging around for a good fine hole -- of making this traditional Southwestern food is arduous, but Houstonians Jake Dyer and Devon Fletcher have gone to the trouble of making it happen, and then filming the whole thing for posterity. Tonight they'll share their feat by showing their 50-minute documentary Barbacoa and serving barbacoa tacos. Music will accompany the evening's festivities, and beverages will be available to wash everything down. 8 p.m. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 222-1860. $5 per person, $10 per carload.

Rain Forest Expedition Tour By the droopy days of August it's impossible to find even one tiny good thing to say about Houston summers -- that is, until you gather your heat-sapped energy enough to open your eyes and look around to see what these steaming summers produce in the way of foliage. The names alone conjure images of exotic loveliness: bromeliad, plumeria, hibiscus. And they all produce large, magnificent, color-rich blooms unlike anything seen in milder, more "comfortable" climates. Chris McDonald, Mercer Arboretum's tropical collection curator, will lead a tour of the center's exotic tropicals today. Wander through the gardens and grow some appreciation for our hot summer days before those days have passed. 9 a.m. Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield Road, (281) 443-8731. Free.

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Lee Williams