Thursday, October 7
Guys: Are you in the doghouse this week? Tell your sweetie you're taking her on a tour of Venice. Today, Mercury Baroque opens the new season with "A Day in Venice, 1725," which promises to take you back through time to the city's watery canals, via compositions by Albinoni, Marcello and Vivaldi. The night's works will center on Mercury soprano Ana Treviño-Godfrey and violinist Jonathan Godfrey. Chances are your honey will be so entertained, she won't mind the fact that your little trip didn't include pricey airline tickets, and you'll be back on her good side without going, er, baroque. 7:30 p.m. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.mercurybaroque.org. $25 to $35.
Friday, October 8
Art students, aficionados of the avant-garde and PETA board members are all familiar with Joseph Beuys. The West German artist became a leading figure in the avant-garde world in the '60s, working primarily in sculpture. Never one to understate, he once discussed one of his exhibitions, "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare," in a Düsseldorf gallery wearing honey and gold leaf on his face and carrying -- you guessed it -- a dead rabbit in his arms. Later, in 1974, he'd spend three days in a New York art gallery space with a live coyote. Now "Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines and Environments," the first Beuys sculpture exhibition in the English-speaking world in 25 years, will stop at the Menil Collection, the show's sole U.S. venue. Some 37 Beuys works -- sculptures, DVD projections and "environments" -- will be on display. The avant-garde animal's show opens today and runs through January 2. 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit www.menil.org. Free.
Saturday, October 9
If you're feeling inspired by last night's performance art, vent your creative urges at the Polynesian Cultural Center's hula classes. Learn Hawaiian songs, chants and some serious hula moves, and you'll burn some calories in the process -- hula's been purported to be killer for weight loss. And it's about more than just rump-shaking in grass skirts: Its steps and movements convey power, sexual prowess, sensuality and a deep reverence for the balancing forces of nature. Show 'em how hip you are from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 3517 Austin. For information, call 713-718-6600 or visit www.polynesia.com. $65 to $100.
Now that you've burned some calories, take in a few thousand more at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival. The weekend-long party features musical acts including Roger Creager and Jerry Jeff Walker and kiddie stuff such as arts and crafts, rides, a "monster mural," a petting zoo, pony rides and the "Small Fry" stage, where young'uns can strut their skills. But who're we kidding? The 40,000-odd people who clamor to this thing every year come for the food. Nosh on boudin, frog legs, jambalaya, red beans and rice, alligator and, natch, catfish. Belt out your best "Aii-yiiii!" from 11 a.m. to midnight today, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 10. 334 North Main in Conroe. For information, call 800-324-2604 or visit www.conroecajuncatfishfestival.com. $5 to $10; free for kids 12 and under.
Sunday, October 10
You may not consider a professional hypnotist a real comedian, but consider the passive-aggressive revenge opportunities such a person offers. Your significant other, boss or buddy can be humiliated in public, and you won't be responsible. Take 'em to see Flip Orley tonight at the Improv. Bring a camcorder, and when Orley, who's been hypnotizing folks nationwide for the past 18 years, calls for volunteers, shove your companion up on stage. Later, invite some friends over and pop in the tape. As your hapless victim squawks like a chicken, break-dances and busts out an impromptu striptease, you can sit back and really enjoy the show. 8:30 p.m. 7620 Katy Freeway, suite 431. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improv.com. $15 to $17.
Monday, October 11
Popping out poetry books with titles like S*PeRM**K*T and Tremble, authors-poets-professors Harryette Mullen and C.D. Wright make a unique tandem. Mullen, a professor at UCLA, drops hip, cutting-edge free verse (she's been called the "queen of hip hyperbole"). Wright, who teaches literature and writing at Brown University, has garnered a reputation for unique, erotic poetry ("no need to shave everything / what doesn't take too long is over too fast," she writes). The pair will be reading from their respective selections today at the Alley Theatre as part of the Inprint Brown Reading Series. Meet the literary ladies at 7:30 p.m. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit www.inprint-inc.org. $5; free for students and seniors over 65.
Tuesday, October 12
Ah, presidential debate time. Having trouble explaining the purpose of the whole democratic process to your ADHD kids? Now you've got a chance to explain The Story of the United States of America -- from George W. to, er, George Dubya -- to your darlins in one hour. The rapid-fire history comes courtesy of InterActive Theater Company, who'll act out our nation's entire history quicker than your little ones can watch a couple of episodes of SpongeBob. Plus, your future leaders can jump on stage and interact (hence the name) with the players, adding their own spin on the events. After all, who said a simple grade-school mind can't run the country? 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, through November 18. Talento Bilingue de Houston, 333 South Jensen. For information, call 713-862-7112 or visit www.interactivetheater.cc. $4 to $6.
Wednesday, October 13
We usually roll our eyes anytime a TV drama is billed as "torn from the headlines," but the plot of The Exonerated does have some ironic timeliness. Opening at a time when HPD's crime lab has become so suspect that officials are calling for stays of executions, Exonerated tells the true tale of six death row inmates, their wrongful convictions and their tumultuous days awaiting execution. All six inmates were finally found innocent and set free, though their story, penned by husband-and-wife team Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, is still jarring. Immediately following the show, Amnesty International member Dave Atwood will lead a discussion on death row inmates' rights. 7:30 p.m. Though October 31. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $28 to $45.