Press Picks

august 31
Fertles and Friends! An inter-active, full-fledged variety show starring "Doc Moore and the Singing Fertle Family," folk artist "Blind" Willy Davies and Congressman Dog Spranger -- these stars as played by Steve and Vicki Farrell and Rich Mills. This trio of musical comedians don a number of bizarre disguises and offer sketches, songs and a humorous one-act play. Dog Spranger will answer questions from the audience and Davies will compose songs based on audience suggestions (the interactive part of the revue). Some people think it's amazing that just three people manage to present, year after year, quality comedy shows. We think it's amazing that, year after year, Vicki Farrell continues to look exactly as she did when Invasion of the Bed Snatchers first premiered at the Comedy Workshop. It's so unfair; look at her thighs -- and she's had children, for Pete's sake. When you visit Radio Music Theatre, we suggest looking at all the many photos on the walls, a display of eight-by-ten glossies chronicling the many years of comedy shows, and trying to find one tale-tell photo of Vicki. Surely, like Dorian Gray, somewhere Vicki has a picture, a portrait, which shows the signs of aging not seen in her face and figure. This new revue opens tonight, and continues weekends through mid-November (to be followed, no doubt, by RMT's popular holiday show, the annual version of Invasion of the Bed Snatchers). 8:30 p.m. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. Reservations recommended. $12.

Eric Clapton Talk about dinosaur rock; Eric Clapton is no spring chicken, and even during his salad days, the Derek and the Dominos era, he had what hippie chicks call an "old soul," what others call tired eyes, maybe even tired blood. Even "Cocaine," his hit version, comes off with a slow, old-man quality. Clapton has had a long and erratic career. For every commercial and musical success, like Slowhand and Money and Cigarettes, he had flop albums, like Eric Clapton's Rainbow Tour. His 30 years in the public eye have also been spotted with major and minor tragedies. The death of his son being, of course, the most major and the "After Midnight" fiasco a minor problem. (Clapton got some flak when a new, reworked version of "After Midnight" was the music for a beer commercial, even as he was drying out in rehab. Unfair, we think because rehab costs money and longtime chemical abusers are often short of cash.) Ups and downs are the story of his career, and his stage shows are as erratic as his personal life. He might be, tonight, 100 percent the deep weirdo mystic Clapton and sing shivery soulful ballads all night long. Or, he could just be a good guitar player putting out as best he can. With Clapton, you just never know. 8 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. For tickets, see your local ticket broker or the classifieds in any freebie newspaper. $35-$45.

september 1
Nancon 88, or Nancon XVI Texas' self-proclaimed premier gaming convention is serious -- not only must participants learn the many, many detailed and complex rules of their favorite games, they must also abide by a long list of rather strict party rules, these in plain language. Basically: don't drink, use illicit drugs, smoke in unauthorized areas, play "Killer" or "Killer"-type games, piss people off, or wear real or fake weapons with your costume. (Costumes encouraged, "they add to the flavor of the convention," but not required.) Gamewise, Nancon has organized orderly tournaments in everything from Call of Cthulhu to Diplomacy -- Diplomacy, the preferred game of Henry Kissinger. Also, auction, flea market and anime and other dependable con activities. Gaming and anime rooms open 24 hours, through 4 p.m. Monday. Ramada Hotel Northwest, 12801 Northwest Freeway, 520-8700. $25, tournament registration; $15, non-tournament pass for full convention; $5-$8, one-day passes on sale at the door.

The Skin of Our Teeth For many years, according to legend, Thorton Wilder's Our Town was always playing in America -- some school, some church basement, some community theater. The sad consequence of the popularity of this maudlin play is that people don't know that Wilder can be funny. No one dies in this play, and no one returns from the grave to make long sappy speeches about freshly ironed dressed. The Skin of Our Teeth is sitcom stuff; the misadventures of an average American family. Average for their time, that is. This family, the Antrobuses, have a maid. Their domestic situation is slightly nicer than modern middle-class life, but don't let that throw you. These people are as ordinary as the Conners of Roseanne. Opening tonight and playing through September 30. 8 p.m. The Actors Workshop, 1009 Chartres (downtown, behind the George R. Brown Convention Center), 236-1844. $15; $12, seniors and students.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Edith Sorenson