This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, January 15

With all the border conflicts and xenophobia in the world these days, it's nice to see a group of artists interested in emphasizing the similarities between traditionally disparate cultures. The dance-and-music group Morena Amoora is bringing a performance of Middle Eastern and flamenco dance to the Jewish Community Center today. The name of the group is Spanish-Arabic, meaning dark girl/pretty girl. The swarthily beautiful dancers of Morena Amoora will present a wordless dialogue between the two dance styles, employing exotic musical instruments, costumes and accessories. You can come hear the Middle Eastern finger cymbals speak to the flamenco castanets, and see the shawl and the veil work as one. It's a small world, after all. 8 p.m. today and Saturday, January 17. Kaplan Theatre, 5601 South Braeswood. For information and tickets, call 713-551-7255 or visit $10 to $25.

Friday, January 16

Interest in Indian culture is on the rise in the West, as a trip down the aisle of your local video store will show you. But you needn't wait for Indian customs and stories to be filmed and flown over here in order to drink in the exotic flavor. Shunya, a new theater troupe, is dedicated to making the Indian experience a local one. Today they're presenting the English-language play Hayavadana, in which two best friends, Devadatta (the smart one) and Kapila (the handsome one), are both in love with Devadatta's wife, Padmini. The rivals behead each other in a temple and are brought back to life by the powerful mother goddess Kali -- with their heads switched. Which one is the true husband? How will Padmini choose? Is there no end to the jokes that the gods will play on us? 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays, through February 8. The Venue, 4040 Milam. For information and tickets, call 713-412-8478 or visit or $13 in advance; $15 at the door.

Saturday, January 17

With Galveston and the lovely Ship Channel just down the road, Houstonians rarely think of our bayous as city waterfronts. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is seeking to change our minds, and in the process, impress our Super Bowl visitors. At the Planting Party on the Parkway today, you can help plant cypress, river birch and live oak trees along Buffalo Bayou's Northside hike and bike trail, alongside other environmental and community-conscious folks. But it's not all sweat and volunteer labor. For your afternoon delight, "Best of the '80s and More" radio station 106.9 FM will pump out the retro jams, James Coney Island will dish up the dogs, and Budweiser will bring the suds. Come dressed to work and bring gloves and shovels, if you've got 'em. We'll turn Houston into a Riviera yet. 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 300 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-840-8733 or visit $10 for nonmembers.

Sunday, January 18

Hollywood just can't seem to steer clear of the ill-advised pop-star vanity picture. From Spice World to Glitter, the train wrecks keep piling up at the cineplex. We think a starring role in a movie must be part of popdom's standard flavor-of-the-month contract. Luckily, Texas has a crew of comedians whose job it is to skewer flagrant abuses of celluloid. The talented team of Mr. Sinus Theater has chosen today (in rather timely fashion) to sandblast Miss (or is it Mrs.?) Britney Spears's putrid pet project Crossroads. Mr. Sinus, consisting of Austinites Jerm Pollet, Owen Egerton and John Erler, will provide running commentary while the film spools out mercilessly behind them. As the teenybopper road movie runs on, you'll see Britney wear more outfits than could possibly be squashed into her traveling luggage, take numerous PG-13-rated showers and sully the good name of Joan Jett with her karaoke-bar cover of "I Love Rock and Roll." 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1000 West Oaks Mall. For information, call 281-556-0204 or visit $10.50.

Monday, January 18

It should be self-evident, but sometimes we forget that writers are behind almost every scrap of our entertainment. If you'd like to impact the writing process, you can watch -- and comment -- as actors read playwright Mike Collins's new play-in-development Gentleman's Jig today, courtesy of dAdA Productions. "Remember the two smart-asses in the balcony of The Muppet Show?" asks executive director Ann C. James. "The two main characters, Marlowe and Reubens, are like that. They're two old coots, and we form our own opinions about who they are, while they are judging the world." The playwright's father, Michael R. Collins, is a painter, and his work will hang behind the actors on stage, enhancing the studio-style context. And you can drink during the performance, which should enhance your ability to boldly state your opinions of the work. 8 p.m. Theatre LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo. For information, call 713-528-0884. $5, BYOB.

Tuesday, January 19

The tragic loss of your cat Socks under the wheels of that Ford station wagon probably still smarts after all these years. Maybe you wish you could've held her as she crossed over, but your mom held you back. If you're still harboring feelings of pet-related guilt, or if you just can't figure out what your living animal companion is trying to say by peeing on your pillow, local pet psychic Jeanne can help. She's offering pet communications today at CenterPoint for Body, Mind & Spirit. Bring in the furry beast itself, if living, or a photo of your pet if not, and let Jeanne translate the spiritual vibes or misbehavior into words for you. Everyone who comes will get a reading -- just don't horn in on Fluffy's session with questions about your love life, okay? 7:30 p.m. 1920 Hollister. For information, call 713-932-7224 or visit $20; reservations required.

Wednesday, January 20

The age of 40 is not as devastating for a comedian's career as it might be for, say, a dancer's. But Greg Behrendt is milking the milestone birthday for all it's worth on his current tour, Uncool, which stops in Houston this week. Behrendt's "change of life" will also provide the plot for the NBC sitcom he's been signed to write and star in. The new material is about how to reconcile the tattoos, the amps and the chain wallet with marriage, fatherhood and the burbs. If this sounds at all familiar, you might want to come out for the chance to laugh at yourself. Well, not quite yourself -- unless you too have served as a story consultant for Sex and the City and have your own sitcom in the works. 8 p.m. through Saturday, January 24. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For information, call 713-524-2333 or visit $12 to $16.50.

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Lisa Simon