Press Picks

february 20
Luxurious Consumption Once upon a time, people made a social exercise out of drinking tea. Hence, they needed tea-drinking stuff: porcelains, silver, even furniture made for the occasion. Twice tonight, architectural historian John R. Tschirch explains tea's effect on the decorative arts. 6 and 8 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 526-1361. Free, though seating is limited.

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire And where there's women, there's smoke. That's especially true tonight, when the Morton's of Chicago chain hosts its Second Annual Smoke for Women. Last year, our local Morton's was too new to participate; this year, we're right in the thick of it. The evening starts with hors d'oeuvres and martinis, moves to a four-course dinner with wine and continues with dessert and after-dinner cordials. Afterward, ladies can indulge in a selection of Montecristo cigars. Sounds like there's ample opportunity for getting lit in more ways than one. Still, it's for a good cause: Some proceeds benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Cocktail reception, 6:30; dinner, 7:30 p.m. Morton's of Chicago, 5000 Westheimer, 629-1946. $125 (reservations required).

Foley's: Retailing in a Changing World Foley's, our beloved homegrown retail chain, is nothing if not dependable, but it takes ingenuity to remain dependable and current in the face of fickle shoppers. Tonight, Linda Knight, senior vice president of marketing for Foley's, shares her experiences as an "agent of change." Part of the Barbara Hurwitz Lecture Series on "Managing in a Changing World." 7 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Cullen Hall, 4001 Mt. Vernon, 525-2100. Free.

february 21
Screen Actors Guild archives Even union work is glamorous in Hollywood. In "Moments in Time: Selected Images from the Screen Actors Guild Archives, 19331970," we're shown the beautiful people promoting their unity and their pension fund. This collection of photos and artifacts is making its way across the country for the first time ever, and it starts here in Houston. The exhibit (which, not coincidentally, coincides with tonight's NBC broadcast of the Third Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards) is co-sponsored by the Houston Center for Photography. Through March 8. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. John Cleary Gallery, 2635 Colquitt, 524-5070. Free.

The Formative Years of Philanthropy in Houston Dr. Joseph A. Pratt knows where the money's at in Houston, and today he'll tell all at this luncheon for the National Society of Fundraising Executives. 11:30 a.m. The Junior League, 1811 Briar Oaks, 792-3450. $22 (fax reservations to 780-4802).

The Cattle Mutilation Cowgirl While working on a production crew for a show on paranormal activities, Elizabeth Gray got a good look at cows sucked dry of their blood and guts. This inspired her to write a funny little song. (She can afford to laugh. She's a vegetarian.) Her music video premieres this week at the Texas Film Festival in College Station; tonight, she takes a break from the fanfare to share her humor here. 8 p.m. Spellbinder's Comedy Club, 9801 Westheimer (Carillon Shopping Center), 266-2525. $7.50-$10.

february 22
Big Head Gala David Adickes, he who built the giant Sam Houston statue in Huntsville, is turning his newly renovated studio over to DiverseWorks for a night of fundraising. For this event, or perhaps simply for his own amusement, or both, he's strewn the big heads of all 42 U.S. presidents to date throughout the complex. "Big" to the tune of 15 feet. Performance artist Ann Carlson will have her hands full upstaging the things, but she'll alternately don Astroturf and a wedding dress in her attempt. After her act, there'll be dance music from Bert Wills, who probably doesn't have a big head, but certainly has a big beard. 7 p.m.-midnight. David Adickes's studio complex, 2500 Summer Street, 223-8346. $150-$10,000.

Texas State Tomahawk and Knife Throw Championship and Mountain Man Rendezvous This heftily named event includes primitive archery, fire-making and Native American dances -- just your typical family fun circa 1840, plus two full days of tomahawk and knife-throwing by men, women and kids. It might be worth the risk of flying cutlery to catch Bobby Bridger, the balladeer responsible for the Kerrville Folk Festival theme song, "Heal in the Wisdom." He performs at 3 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m. to dusk, today and Sunday. Traders Village, 7979 North Eldridge Road, (281) 890-5500. Admission, free; parking, $2.

A visit from Cliff Robertson President John F. Kennedy himself picked Cliff Robertson to portray him in the film PT 109. Two hundred patrol torpedo boats later, Robertson is now the official spokesman for the effort to restore PT 309 -- thought to be the only remaining such vessel that saw combat in World War II. It just so happens that during restoration, the sleek boat is docked next to our own battleship Texas. Just so happens, too, that Robertson and a whole slew of PT boat vets are in town this weekend for a symposium titled "At Close Quarters: PT Boats in World War II." Workshops are scheduled throughout the conference at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, but Robertson speaks at 7:30 p.m. tonight on a topic he ought to know something about: "PT Boats in the Movies: An Evening with Cliff Robertson." By the way, once 309 is all fixed up, she's off to the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredricksburg. 7:309-:30 p.m. Nassau Bay Hilton, 3000 NASA Road 1. For more information, call the Nimitz Museum at (210) 997-8600. $12.

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Betsy Froehlich