This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, July 3
We suggest calling in sick today and booking it out of town to spend the afternoon tubing down the Colorado River. Unlike New Braunfels, Columbus is only an hour away. The six-mile stretch of river used for tubing is shaped like a horseshoe, so you finish up near where you started and don't have to mess with a bouncy, wet bus ride. There's even a set of rapids along the river that'll provide you a little excitement, but of course, still more exciting would be seeing a bald eagle. They're known to cruise the area. Get started down the river between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Open daily. Howell Canoe Livery, 804 Robson. For information about river conditions, call 979-732-3816. $6.50 per tube (don't forget one for your cooler of beer); $30 per canoe; $20 per kayak.

Friday, July 4
It's hard sometimes to celebrate the Fourth of July without an ironic attitude. If you never want to hear the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" again, here's a solution: Travel back in time. That's right, the George Ranch Historical Park's Fourth of July celebration will revisit the 19th century. Kids can take part in quaint activities such as three-legged races, spoon races and a Victorian-style baseball game. And in the spirit of the 1890s, costumed re-enactors will take part in debates on topics such as women's rights and political races of the era. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 10215 FM 762 in Richmond. For information, call 281-343-0218 or visit $5 to $9. (For more Fourth of July options, see Urban Experience, page 34.)

Saturday, July 5
If you're a typical American youth, you probably imbibe large quantities of beer regularly. But do you know how it's made? Today, take a tour of the Saint Arnold's Brewery. You'll learn about the history of American brewing and the process of turning grain into beer. Then, to complete your education, the kind folks at the brewery will dole out two pints to attendees of legal age. Come to think of it, we wonder if there's a rule against taking the tour every Saturday. If somebody calls you out for showing up repeatedly, just say you still haven't grasped the whole concept of fermentation. Cheers. 1 p.m. Saturdays at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2522 Fairway Park Drive. For information, call 713-686-9494 or visit Free.

Sunday, July 6
The year 1970 was a relevant one for M*A*S*H to grace the big screen. People were pissed about Vietnam, and the antiwar black comedy fit perfectly with the public's mood. The film tells the story of two unconventional surgeons (Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould) who deal with the carnage and absurdity of the Korean War by plotting ridiculous schemes, among them flying to Japan to play golf and rigging an army football game. Robert Altman directed M*A*S*H after 15 other directors turned the project down; its theme song, "Suicide Is Painless," was written by Michael Altman, his 14-year-old son. The movie is playing at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of an Altman tribute. Also on the bill are Brewster McCloud (about a kid who lives in the Astrodome), McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us, Nashville and 3 Women. M*A*S*H plays at 7 p.m. Friday, July 4; Saturday, July 5; and today. Brown Auditorium Theater, 1001 Bissonnet. For information and a full schedule, call 713-639-7530 or visit $5 to $6.

Monday, July 7
It's hard to pick the most terrifying way of trying to entertain people: comedy, music or spoken word. The vulnerability level of each realm is high. With spoken word, you have to say your private thoughts aloud, often without the protection of music. With comedy, you have to try to make groups of people laugh; if they don't, you're not a funny person. And music involves singing -- need we say more? Today, give your insecurities a slap on the ass and ascend the stage at the open-mike at McGonigel's Mucky Duck. Maybe your artistic skills will wow the audience and you'll get a standing ovation. Or, at a minimum, maybe you won't get booed. Sign-up is at 7 p.m.; entertainment starts at 8 p.m. 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-528-5999 or visit

Tuesday, July 8
The human bod is an endless source of artistic inspiration. In "Figure Fiction," a new exhibit at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, three female artists interpret our earthly vessels. Mindy Hawkins Herrin of Houston combines metal with leather and rubber to create playful human forms; much of her art is wearable. Sondra Schwetman, also local, uses metal, fabric, wax and wood to explore issues of the body and mind. And Shizuko Kumura, who lives and works in Japan and England, uses needle and thread to create life drawings. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The artists' reception will be held on Friday, July 11. 4848 Main Street. For information, call 713-529-4848 or visit Free.

Wednesday, July 9
Houston, we have a legend in our midst. Grady Gaines played with Little Richard in the '50s and Sam Cooke in the '60s. He's also taken the stage with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bo Diddley, Etta James and Jackie Wilson. Today Gaines -- also known as Big Robert -- and his band, the Texas Upsetters, will play at Sierra Grill. At the show, make sure to request "Strokin'." Gaines has a flair for the theatrical, and when he sings that song, he wanders up to the attractive ladies in the house, mike in hand, and asks, "What time of the day do you like to make love? Have you ever made love just before breakfast?" The man has earned the right to be a little lecherous. 9 p.m. 4704 Montrose. For information, call 713-942-7757 or visit $5 for guys after 10 p.m. Important note: Draft beers are 50 cents after 10 p.m.

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