This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, January 22

Gung hay fat choy, everybody. If your new year hasn't gotten the cracking start you'd hoped for, today is another chance for you to get it right. Asians the world over are saying good-bye to the Year of the Goat (calm, kind) and welcoming the Year of the Monkey (curious, clever). If you want to get in on the action, you can head over to the Shanghai River Restaurant and take part in a Chinese New Year celebration. The festivities will include a menu of good-luck foods like whole fish, noodles and mandarin oranges, and a Dragon Dance at 8:15 p.m. every day through the weekend. And there's another new year's custom that should further enhance the party vibe: "everybody's birthday." In traditional China, the start of the new year was when everyone's age ticked up one. Don't miss the chance to party like it's your birthday. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today through Saturday, January 24. 2407 Westheimer. For information and reservations, call 713-528-5528. Free.

Friday, January 23

The Starry Night will provide a feast for both the eyes and ears of art and music lovers. Using Van Gogh's swirling masterpiece as a backdrop, baritone William Sharp, pianist Sarah Rothenberg and a string sextet will perform vocal and chamber music that explores the themes of night, sleep and dreams. The musical works are all from that period right before romantic slipped over into modern, matching Van Gogh's premodern paintings perfectly. 8 p.m. Wortham Theater Center's Cullen Theater, 501 Texas. For information and tickets, call 713-524-5050 or visit $20 to $35.

Saturday, January 24

Meghan Hakes has contemporized the action of Romeo and Juliet, recasting the Montagues as punks and the Capulets as goths. "The Montagues and the Capulets looked very similar," says Hakes. "The only way you could tell them apart was that one family wore blue and one wore orange. In the same way, average people might look at a punk kid and a goth kid and think they were from the same group, not realizing that there are enormous differences." And on the subject of that creaky, schoolbook language: "I asked the actors to think about the poetry and the text as the slang of the two subcultures." Grab your black fingernail polish: If you come dressed as a punk or a goth today, you'll get in for only $10. 8 p.m. today; Fridays and Saturdays through February 7. The Country Playhouse, 12802 Queensbury Lane. For information and tickets, call 713-467-4497 or visit $13 to $18.

Sunday, January 25

Your house might not be up to Cribs standards, but your digs probably have a few things in common with celeb homes: outer walls and windows for keeping out the bugs and beasties (if not screaming fans), a roof for keeping out the rain (if not the paparazzi) and a refrigerator for storing perishable items (if not Cristal). But let contemporary artists have a whack at designing the domicile, and those basic amenities go out the door, assuming there is one. In the new exhibit "Trespassing: Houses x Artists" (read: "houses by artists"), function is form's prisoner. For her design, Barbara Bloom has removed kitchen, bathroom and bedroom from her computerized house template; instead, spaces are "programmed" by the "user." In T. Kelly Mason's house, room-dividing walls are replaced by public common spaces. And in Kevin Appel's glass house, the interior of every room is visible from anywhere inside or outside. As you ponder inhabiting the designs, just remember: People in glass houses have a hard time changing clothes. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, through March 14. Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston main campus, entrance no. 16 (off Cullen). For information, call 713-743-9530 or visit Free.

Monday, January 26

Certain sectors of the sci-fi and fantasy genres have long been in the business of providing fodder for the awakening desires of adolescents. At that time of life when sex is mostly imaginary, Heavy Metal, the 1981 animated film spawned by the magazine of the same name, fills the bill to a T (and A). Claiming to be the embodiment of all evil, a glowing green orb forces a young girl to watch eight scenarios in which it has exercised its evil powers. Each story serves as a thinly veiled excuse for giant-breasted women to get naked and heroes, thugs and scoundrels to engage in hyperbloody battle. The movie features a soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Cheap Trick and Devo, as well as the voices of Second City greats John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty. Just think of it as Beavis and Butt-head's favorite film ever. 8 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1000 West Oaks Mall. For information, call 281-556-0204 or visit $7.

Tuesday, January 27

It's beginning to look a lot like football. Yep, Houston's whipping itself into a frenzy, preparing for the biggest day in all of jockdom, and you can get your own froth foaming at today's Ultimate Pre-Bowl Kickoff Fiesta. The shindig will feature swimsuit models from the 2004 Houston Sports News calendar; a silent auction of signed sports memorabilia; Texas barbecue; bands playing C&W, Tejano and cover tunes; and a raffle for two lower-level tickets to the actual Super Bowl. More than 50 NFL celebrities will be roped off in a VIP section, but the management assures us that they'll get up, mingle and maybe even take a few swimsuit models for a spin on the dance floor. 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Champp's Americana, 1121 Uptown Park Boulevard, 713-627-2333. $15 presale; $20 at the door.

Wednesday, January 28

Doing your job every day lends you a certain expertise. If at this point you could give a lecture on widgets or keeping a lid on your rage when you answer the phone, just think of what the guys and gals in the sex industry can tell you about copulation and the people who pay for it. A group of strippers, prostitutes, phone sex operators, Internet models and so forth is bringing "whore culture" to Houston in today's "Sex Workers Art Show." The show itself will feature music, spoken word, burlesque (that's a strip tease, hence the 18-and-up restriction on attendance) and poetry, all on the subject of what it's like to be a sex worker -- that is, to have arousal as your area of expertise. Not a bad perk. 9 p.m. The Axiom, 2524 McKinney, 713-527-9529, $8.

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Lisa Simon