Press Picks

september 12
Ladies cigar smoker reception The Four Seasons Hotel, tired of Amazon fish dinners and men's smokers, presents an evening for women. A new line of cigars, Cleopatra by Don Diego, will be offered, along with tips on cutting, lighting and smoking techniques and a free pocket guide full of handy hints to prevent the novice smoker from making a durn fool of herself. The Four Seasons' food and beverage director, Christina Clifton, is this evening's hostess, and she offers wines and appetizers selected to complement Dominican cigars. 5:307:30 p.m. Four Seasons, Grand Ballroom Foyer, 1300 Lamar, 652-6210. $65 per person, inclusive. (Persons can be male, too.)

World Teamtennis Smash Hits This is about as close as tennis gets to the Harlem Globetrotters. Non-athlete Elton John and superstar Billie Jean King are the hosts, and, oh, let's bring it up again -- Billie Jean King, prior to the famous Battle of the Sexes, said she was going to kick Bobby Riggs' fat ass all over the court, and then she did. Hurrah! Unfortunately, tonight's action includes no such grudge matches. Instead, tennis stars such as Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Murphy Jensen, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras and Monica Seles will play, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, AIDS Foundation Houston, HIV Wellness Center and tennis fans will benefit. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, Greenway Plaza. For tickets, call Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $15-$50.

september 13
Why wait for Christmas? You can have a hippopotamus right now -- and you won't have to feed him, brush him or give him his massage because our zoo will attend to the hippo's needs. The he-hippo in this case is Henry, the she-hippo is Henrietta, and they are both new wards of the Houston zoo. The pygmy hippo pair will live in the McGovern Pygmy Hippo Habitat, and zoo visitors can peep at their watery home from a boardwalk overlook. Our new hippos will be introduced with public fanfare at 10:30 a.m. today. Houston Zoological Gardens, Hermann Park, 1513 North MacGregor, 523-5888. $2.50; $2, seniors; 50 cents, children three12; free, children under three.

Mediterranean Festival You can get anything you want at this festival -- be a glutton and feast on spiced meats and sweets from Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Italy, Palestine and the Slavic countries; be a festival goofball and ride Habebee the camel or talk baby talk to the petting-zoo animals; shop for imported and handmade gifts; sing and dance to folk music; or get in good with God by tuning into a lecture on the Orthodox faith. The always-popular Mediterranean Festival opens this morning and continues throughout the weekend.11 a.m.10 p.m. today, 11 a.m.11 p.m. Saturday and noon6 p.m. Sunday. St. George Orthodox Church, 3505 Bissonnet at Sewanee, 665-5252. $2, or a donation of two canned goods per person.

High Holy Days This is not your father'stemple, but if you've been looking for a way to renew your religious life, why not explore the Houston Reconstructionist Havurah? The HRH, now in its sixth year, has a full set of Rosh Hashanah services planned, beginning with this evening's gathering. Marcia Strba Sterling is the cantor, and Joyce Galaski will lead the services and speak on "Different Images of God" and "Teshuvah in Our Tradition and in Our Lives." Children's program and childcare are available. Services will be held at I. Weiner Jewish Secondary School, 12583 South Gessner. Reservations are required. For more information or reservations, call 728-5050.

Watch the Skies The Rice Media Center begins its 26th year as a repertory cinema with two sci-fi classics, War of the Worlds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. War is a new 35mm print, and the film is a kicky story about one-eyed creatures -- picture a cross between an octopus and a plant -- who try to eat 1950s California. Body Snatchers is a creepy paranoid nightmare which, ahead of its time, suggested that what we have to fear are conformists. A small town is taken over by emotionless pod people and, though they seem to be clean-living, happy shiny people with family values, they are in fact evil creatures who want to destroy us all. Double feature program begins at 7:30 p.m. The Rice Media Center: Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $4.50 (for single or double feature).

Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance Houston dancers are part of this, but they're not alone. Austin's Sharir Dance Company will present two ballets: More About Love, set to music by Israeli composer Yudit Ravitz, and Dervishing, which is set to traditional whirling music and selected contemporary works. The evening also offers Amelia, a dance inspired by the aviatrix, and a poetry/dance work from Houstonians Sarah Irwin and Niobe Ngozi, Ashes Ashes. Choreographer Kathy Wood and her troupe Koro offer another look at their hip-hop and house influenced style with Snicker Snack. 8:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.

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Edith Sorenson