This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, September 16

Leave it to Rice Cinema to present two films that offer up more "huh?" plots than an entire David Lynch festival. Today, you can get a glimpse of the strange inner workings of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's romantic life. In the feature-length Cowards Bend the Knee, we follow a hockey player from Winnipeg, Alberta, as he skates through a love triangle. The threesome theme continues in the six-minute Heart of the World, as a mortician and his brother, an actor playing the Messiah, chase a brilliant female scientist whose office is located in the earth's core. Who knew our neighbors up north were so kinky? 8 p.m. today and Saturday, September 18, and Sunday, September 19. Rice University campus, entrance No. 8 (off University). For information, call 713-348-3138 or visit $6.

Friday, September 17

If you fancy yourself a club kid about town, you're obviously well aware that Rich's, the mecca of 18-and-up nightlife, is no more. You're also obviously well aware that Sean Carnahan -- DJ, host, club owner and general local media persona -- has taken the helm of the space. Carnahan is currently holding a "name the club" contest, but for now, it's been dubbed 2401 San Jacinto (perhaps "Sean's" was taken). Friday nights, Carnahan and company throw "Grand Central: Good Guys vs. High Society." DJ Shaw Wairegi spins in the Dragonfly Lounge, a nifty little joint painted pink, brown and leopard print (a pimp's room, if we've ever seen one), and Kelly Hertz plays house and '80s house in the Red Room. The party kicks off at 10 p.m. For information, call 713-759-9606 or visit $10.

Saturday, September 18

Awright, cheapskates, you couldn't ask for a more inexpensive date. Today, you and your special someone can catch all those museum exhibits you've been meaning to take in for free at Houston Museum District Day. The catch: You gotta pony up a buck for the rail or $2 for museum-area parking. Each venue, from the Museum of Fine Arts and neighboring Contemporary Arts Museum to the Menil Collection and Houston Center for Photography, will waive its regular admission until 5 p.m. After you've indulged in everything from impressionist paintings to exhibits on microbes, head to Miller Outdoor Theatre for a performance of Fun and Games courtesy of the Sandra Organ Dance Company (relax, it's free too). All this culture should make for a fun, full day, so long as you don't complain about the cost of lunch. Begins at 10 a.m. at various venues. For a complete list of participating museums, call 713-790-1020 or visit Free.

Or, if art isn't your bowl of salsa, see if you can stand the heat at this weekend's Hot Sauce Festival. Aside from the copious amounts of hot sauce, you can sample salsas, dips, chips, jellies, peppers and even some fiery Bloody Mary mix. You'll get the chance to beef up your culinary acumen at the cooking classes, sample the goods at the amateur salsa contest and pick up insanely spiced goods, like Toad Sweat (we'll let you figure out what it's made of). Young'uns can entertain the masses at Karaoke 4 Kids, while grown-ups can check out tunes from the Kent Aucoin Band, Luther and the Healers and other live acts. We're guessing you'll have a, ahem, gas at the fest. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Houston Farm and Ranch Club, 1 Abercrombie Drive. For information, visit $3; free for children under 12.

Sunday, September 19

Like the proverbial warm puppy or security blanket, there's something downright comforting about Peanuts, no matter how old you are. Maybe it's because the strip and characters hark back to the old days, before PlayStations, Palm Pilots and, hell, even before color TV. Perhaps it's because we're just charmed by Charlie Brown's grim determination, Lucy's type-A personality or Linus's sage wisdom, despite his unfortunate hairstyle. Revisit the gang today at "Good Grief," an exhibit dedicated to all things Peanuts at the Children's Museum of Houston. Step up to the baseball diamond, climb inside the Pumpkin Patch or hang out in the Peanuts classroom. The exhibit promises to be educational, so see if you can finally get the real deal on Snoopy's ability to fly a dog house, the teacher's "wah-wahh-wah-waaah" voice or Peppermint Patty's gender preference. Runs through January 17. 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit $4 to $5.

Monday, September 20

As the debate over immigration and border control continues to brew during this election season, Rubén Martínez puts a face on the issue. The author of Crossing Over: A Mexican penned a tale of a wayfaring Mexican clan, the Chavez family, and their collective journey from Cherán, through California, Missouri and Wisconsin. Martínez tells a story of a family caught between a post-9/11, hostile America and a Mexico that has become unfit for the clan to call home. But Martínez's discussion, as part of Inprint's reading series, promises to be more than a somber examination of immigration -- he'll also be performing original songs from his upcoming solo album. 7:30 p.m. at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit Free.

Tuesday, September 21

Today we suggest a night of classical music by the Tokyo String Quartet, regulars at Rice University's Stude Hall. As the season opener for Houston Friends of Music, the group will perform selections from Beethoven, Haydn and Janácek -- you are brushed up on your Janácek, aren't you? The quartet's been hailed by the London Times for "playing of the highest order," which should satisfy the stuffiest classical music snob out there. 8 p.m. Entrance No. 8 (off University Boulevard). For information, call 713-348-5400 or visit $35 to $52.

Wednesday, September 22

It's no secret that sports is a metaphor for life, which is why we suffer through endless "dropping the ball" and "run the extra mile" clichés at meetings. Playwright Alonzo D. LaMont Jr. has used this connection to explore how black men deal with each other in That Serious He-Man Ball, which is set on a basketball court. Three men -- Twin, Sky and Jello -- share their experiences while they trade stories and hoops. Ballers, shot callers and general theater fans can check it out at 7:30 p.m. today. Through October 17. Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main, 713-520-0055. $18 to $27.

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Steven Devadanam
Contact: Steven Devadanam