This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, November 13
Are you ready to rock en español? Maldita Vecindad has been infusing Latin rhythms into a ska-punk stew ever since 1985, when its members joined forces as students in Mexico City. They gained a following the hard way, by touring intensely as relative unknowns and playing in clubs for free. Even as the group's popularity grew, it began to be overshadowed by newer Mexican rock-fusion outfits, some of which are sharing today's LoMcXimo de la Musica bill (Molotov, Los Rabanes and graphic rap-rockers El Gran Silencio). Here's betting that the relative granddaddies of the rockero movement get you on your feet and skanking. 8 p.m. Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. For information and tickets, call 713-230-1666 or visit $21.50.

Friday, November 14
As is the way with our representative democracy, we the people must sit back and watch as the politicians we've voted into office make choices for us. Deficit spending? Attacks on social security and Medicare? War and more war? Hmm. We don't exactly remember the campaign speeches promising those things. If you're feeling a little down in the mouth about the policies emanating from D.C. and could use a shot of hearty Texas populism, spend an evening with writer and humorist Jim Hightower at a benefit for KPFT and The Texas Observer. He'll give you the lowdown on what's happening in the corridors of power and explain why there's reason for hope. 7 p.m. Texas Southern University, Granville Sawyer Auditorium, 3100 Cleburne. For information, call 713-526-4000 or visit $10 suggested donation.

Saturday, November 15
High art and low art have been borrowing from each other for so long now that there's not really a difference between them anymore. One way to figure out what's high and what's low: the venue. If you're at the Cineplex, and a kid in Home Alone 3 is getting laughs by imitating Edvard Munch's The Scream? That's low art. If you're at the museum standing in front of a flawless oil painting of a jelly doughnut? That's high art. And if you're at a coffee bar downtown viewing lovingly painted reproductions of Coca-Cola ads and manga comics? Well, that's an open question. At Heather Bause and David Thompson's "Portraits" exhibition, you can have a cuppa, see big beautiful paintings and puzzle out for yourself whether snooty high art has been taken down a peg or trashy low art has been elevated. 7 p.m. Tropioca Tea and Coffee Bar, 2808 Milam. For information, call 713-737-7111 or visit Free.

Sunday, November 16
Texas has struck out on its own yet again. We're the only state in the nation to have its own missing-persons DNA database, which is used to compare DNA samples from family members of missing persons with samples from unidentified bodies. Our area's even got its own mounted missing-persons search-and-recovery team, which is spotlighting the new database at today's Texas Equusearch Mission for the Missing Benefit. Retired FBI profiler Mark Young will be on hand to talk about how to keep your kids safe from would-be abductors, but the fun doesn't stop there. The event also features a barbecue and a live performance by all-female country bar band Cowboy's Nightmare. What a richly absurd way to spend an evening -- having a good time while talking about bad times. 1 p.m. Firehouse Saloon and Eatery, 5930 Southwest Freeway. For information, call 281-309-9500 or visit $10; free for kids.

Monday, November 17
Another Veteran's Day has come and gone, and troops are still on the ground in Iraq. In case the news from Washington and abroad isn't enough to remind you of the cost of war, the Houston Symphony has taken up the task with performances of Benjamin Britten's 1961 War Requiem. This is a big, big piece of work, which will feature three soloists, a chamber orchestra, an orchestra, the Houston Symphony Chorus and the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas. The requiem's lyrics are taken from the poetry of Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, a soldier killed in action during World War I. As the music threatens to crumble the walls, his words will invite the listener to imagine "the shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells." 8 p.m. today; 8 p.m. Saturday, November 15; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, November 16. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information and tickets, call 713-224-7575 or visit $21 to $83.

Tuesday, November 18
In a consolidation of World Wrestling Entertainment belt power, WWE champ Brock Lesnar has teamed up with his former enemy and current U.S. champ the Big Show. On Sunday in Dallas, the two are leading a five-man team in an elimination match against Lesnar's sworn enemy, Kurt Angle, and his cronies. And lucky for us, today Houston will be the scene of the first WWE SmackDown to follow the Lesnar-Angle showdown. Who knows what neck-snapping story-line shake-ups will be played out live before our eyes? Since this will be a televised event, WWE promises the whole shebang: lights, pyro tricks, music and the giant Smackdown videotron, where you may just see yourself -- if you bring a sign and convincingly demonstrate shock and dismay at the plot twists. 7:30 p.m. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information and tickets, call 1-866-4HOUTIX or visit $15 to $45.

Wednesday, November 19
Ever since the dawn of the sitcom Christmas episode, audiences have been treated to half-hour reinterpretations of A Christmas Carol. And the story is fertile ground, even if the characters given the Scrooge treatment usually aren't as bad (or interesting) as we might hope. We're still waiting for Tony Soprano's visitation by Christmas ghosts, but in the meantime, the Ensemble Theatre is offering its own take on the tale with Eric LeRoy Wilson's They Sing Christmas Up in Harlem. The play features a range of African-American music and cultural references, plus a suitably nasty numbers-running, loan-sharking Scrooge. And Scrooge's dead partner Marley will be recast as -- you guessed it -- Bob Marley. 7:30 p.m. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information and a full schedule of performances, call 713-520-0055. $12.

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Lisa Simon