Do you think cooking dinner means poking a couple of fork holes into the plastic film covering your frozen entrée before sticking it in the microwave? If so, you might be having second thoughts about whipping up the granddaddy of expectations-laden meals for your family and friends today. You can weasel out of the task by taking a tip from our similarly kitchen-challenged brethren in New York City, who are famous for eschewing turkey in favor of ethnic foods prepared by people to whom the last Thursday in November is just another day. We recommend you order up a crispy, spicy, inexpensive Vietnamese feast from local institution Kim Son and leave the turkey and stuffing to the uncreative traditionalists. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 7531 Westheimer, 713-783-0054; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 2001 Jefferson, 713-222-2461; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 300 Milam, 713-222-2790; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 12750 Southwest Freeway, 281-242-3500. For information, visit www.kimson.com.
Friday, November 28
The last ten years have been pretty cold for Vanilla Ice. But history will show that the pale-faced rapper was ahead of many curves -- he was MTV's only "wigger" in the early '90s, and he laid down a new rap track over a single old uncredited hook back when P. Diddy was still Puffy. His big hits, "Ice, Ice Baby," "Play That Funky Music White Boy" and, um, "Ice, Ice Baby," are now gaining in popularity along with other retro '80s cuts. On top of that, he's gotten himself massively inked, put aside the hatin' of his spiritual children Eminem and Fred Durst and adopted their harder edges. He returns to Houston today, triumphantly reinvented as V-Ice. Brrr. 9 p.m. HUSH, 15625 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-330-HUSH or visit www.hushonline.com. $15 to $50.
Saturday, November 29
For all the young people in your life: a reminder that you gotta have heart. The children's theater EarlyStages presents its seventh annual production of The Toys Take Over Christmas, a story about a self-centered toy maker who's been keeping something essential from his walking, talking toys. Sunny, a curious rag doll, snoops around the toy shop and finds a jar of hearts, enough for every toy in the shop. When they place the hearts on their chests, the toys begin to feel love. You can feel the love too by bringing a new, unopened toy to the show for Toys for Tots. You'll receive a free ticket for each toy you bring today, and $2 off admission per toy for the rest of the show's run. 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Show continues Saturdays through December 23. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $8; one free ticket per toy donation (limit four).
Sunday, November 30
Roller derby has its similarities to wrestling: The girls wear costumes, skate under the names of characters and fight like they mean it. Unlike with wrestling, however, the outcomes are not predetermined. The team of sweet-looking girls in Catholic school kilts may very well beat the snot out of the tough girls rocking the leather bustiers. It's real live sporting action, and it's coming to Houston. You can show your support for this classic in chicksploitation by coming to the Houston Rollergirls fund-raising kickoff party today at the Proletariat. Bands will play, DJs will spin, and old roller derby movies will flick away in the background. Organizers also will be looking to sign up willing and able-bodied females, so you might want to start thinking of a nickname that'll look cute stenciled on the back of your T-shirt. 7 p.m. 903 Richmond, 713-523-1199, www.theproletariathouston.com. $7.
Monday, December 1
Although it's not making the cover of Time magazine as often as it used to, AIDS has not gone away. What has gone away, however, is the staggering number of artists and performers who have succumbed to the disease over the last 20 years. To commemorate World AIDS Day, Dorrell Martin of Fusion Dance, Stanton Welch of Houston Ballet, New York City performance artist Allan Tibbetts, Unhinged Productions, Stages Repertory Theatre, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Hope Stone Dance and vocalist Steven Young will perform in The Illumination Project, an evening of theater and dance honoring those the performing arts community has lost. Jane Weiner, one of the evening's organizers, says, "After doing so many benefits, there is something really significant about doing Illumination. It's a disease that's not going away, and people are forgetting that. This is [organizer] Dominic Walsh's and my way of stating that 'It's still here, people.' " 7:30 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-526-1907 or visit www.diverseworks.org. $35; $25 memory candles.
Tuesday, December 2
Are you tired of the Christmas glitz and glam designed by Tod Oldham that's available on every shelf at Target? If mass-produced, electrified, blinking and talking millennial decorations aren't your style, you might want to check out Art Crowd: An Historical Holiday Experience. The former home of Miss Ima Hogg has been decorated in museum-style holiday finery, handcrafted during a time when the finest Chinese injection-molded plastic simply wasn't available. The pieces date from 1620 to 1840 and promise to bring tears of joy to the eyes of history buffs and Luddites who just can't take the sight of another inflatable lawn Santa. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bayou Bend Gardens, One Westcott. For information and reservations, call 713-639-7750. $10; $5 for students; children under ten not admitted.
Wednesday, December 3
It's lunchtime on hump day. You could race around doing errands, inhale a sandwich at your desk or even sit in a noisy restaurant, stressing about work while waiters rush around with tottering trays, threatening to splatter your collar and cuffs with grease. Mmm, appetizing. Da Camera of Houston has another humble suggestion. You can relax and listen to a fine lunchtime concert, sure to drown out the chorus of troubles in your head. Today the group is presenting Brazil: From Bossa Nova to Samba, a sampling of Brazilian musical styles performed by the Sam Dinkins III Trio and vocalist Vickie Davis-Spears. The music will sweep you away on a tide of blue-water dreams about Carnaval. Curte. Noon. Wortham Theater Center Grand Foyer, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit www.dacamera.com. Free.