There's no shame in hating networking events. After all, who really enjoys wandering up to strangers, awkwardly clutching wine in a plastic glass, to make small talk about business? No one, except maybe a few phonies. Still, if you want to get ahead in the world, you have to master the art of bullshitting. In the University of Houston Small Business Development Center's "Networking for Business" class, you can learn to make a good first impression, work a room, approach a large group and remember the names of everyone you meet -- even if, deep down inside, you can't stand them. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 2302 Fannin, suite 200. For information, call 713-752-8444 or visit www.sbdc.uh.edu. $35.
Friday, May 2
Houston is many things, but an island it ain't. So the folks at SHAPE Community Center, Zoe International and Pan African Entertainment are bringing paradise to us with "Island Nite" at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Spectators can lie back on the hill and listen to Sanza, the Dominican group that mixes island sounds with country, rock and pop; Papa Reu, the rapper from Trinidad; DRUM, the Houston-based African rhythm and reggae band; and other groups. But you might want to prop yourself up during dance performances by Kuumba House Dance Theatre and the CBA School of Arts. 3 p.m. booths open; 7 p.m. performances begin. 100 Concert Drive. For information, call 713-284-8350 or visit www.houstonparks.org. Free.
Saturday, May 3
It seems like a bad idea to hang out on a haunted yacht. So at the Baccarat Keels & Wheels classic yacht and car show, make sure to check out the Carrie L. from the safety of solid ground. The 76-foot Trumpy yacht was built in 1940 for Broadway star Fanny Brice and producer Billy Rose; its present owners say it's haunted by the spirit of its former captain, who perished at sea. Of course, if you drive all the way out to Seabrook for the show, it's probably the gadgets, not the ghosts, that float your boat. One of only five operational flying cars (that is, a car-plane combo) ever built will be on view, along with vintage Corvettes, one-of-a-kind Maseratis, rare Ferraris and Jaguars and other special cars. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Free parking with shuttle service to the show at Highway 146 and NASA Road 1. For information, call 713-521-0105 or visit www.keels-wheels.com. $12; $15 at the door.
Sunday, May 4
If you're the kind of person who, just for fun, puts in a new faucet herself rather than calling a plumber -- and you've got a spouse who's the same way -- then here's the perfect opportunity for you. A new TBS reality series, House Rules, will be filmed here over the summer, and there's an open casting call today. Three married couples will be picked to renovate three homes in the Houston area that are desperately in need of makeovers, and the duo that does it best gets the deed and title to the house. "We need people with personality," says casting director Danya Berman. "Outgoing, energetic people who aren't conscious in front of the camera and are able to speak their minds. This isn't Are You Hot?; this isn't Temptation Island. We need real people with talent and creativity." On the show, the couples will compete for their share of a remodeling allowance and make "neighborly" visits to spy on each other's progress. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday, May 3, at these Lowe's stores: 9640 Old Katy Road, 19935 Katy Freeway, 3052 College Park Drive in The Woodlands, and 11225 Gulf Freeway in Baybrook. For information, visit www.lowes.com.
Monday, May 5
French pianist Hélène Grimaud is sick of people talking about her wolves. "It's always about just me and my wolves," she has said, "and I always try to go away from that, and then it's always what comes out." Well, it's damn fascinating that the pianist, who was accepted into the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris at age 13, keeps wolves as pets at her home in upstate New York. But it's also true that the pianist is interesting in other ways. Grimaud has never much cared about her appearance and once said, "I always thought I should have been a man." Yet she is strikingly beautiful and has modeled for Vogue. She often does the opposite of what's expected of her; while Grimaud was encouraged to concentrate on French composers at the music college, she ended up making her reputation by playing German composer Johanne Brahms, an unusual choice. Today, she plays works by Brahms and Bartók with the Houston Symphony. 8 p.m. today and Saturday, May 3; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $78.
Tuesday, May 6
Poor Sam Houston could never have imagined his posthumous fate: to be the mascot for the Downtown Sam Informational Exhibits going up at several locations around the city. The black-and-white drawing of Houston's head, with a bright orange construction hat stuck on it, is downright undignified. But at least we Houstonians might be able to get a little info on what the fuck is happening to downtown. Organizers claim the exhibits will keep us informed about timelines for the completion of construction and building projects, as well as traffic changes and beautification plans. Fact is, we'll probably all be old and gray by the time work on Main Street is completed, but it's still nice to be fed a little hope. The exhibits are on display during business hours at Bank of America Center, 700 Jefferson; M.W. Kellogg Building, 601 Jefferson; 1001 McKinney; Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana; The Park Shops, 1200 McKinney; St. Joseph Hospital, 1401 St. Joseph Parkway; and Bank One Center, 910 Travis. For more information, visit www.downtownsam.com.
Wednesday, May 7
The only heiresses you ever hear about are the ones who drape themselves in designer clothing, bed movie stars and get in catfights in bars (e.g., the Hilton sisters). So it's refreshing to hear about Linda Pace, the Pace Foods heiress who's doing something worthwhile with her dough. In 1995, she started ArtPace, the San Antonio-based nonprofit residency and exhibition program for emerging and experimental artists. Now Pace, who divides her time between San Antonio and Aspen, has published a book about the project, Dreaming Red: Creating ArtPace. She reads at 7 p.m. at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free.