Weekend at Vernie's

SAT 3/22
A church converted into an art film house -- what better locale for an unorthodox holy ritual? "Say 'Hallelujah!' to that media miracle that is the Aurora Picture Show, Houston's one and only film church. See and ye shall believe!" sayeth The Art Guys about Houston's unique film center. The Festival of the Vernal Equinox, a Roman-themed evening of film and feasting, is the setting for Aurora's upcoming fund-raiser. The vernal equinox marks the change from winter to spring, when the sun melts the cold away.At a theater named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, it only makes sense to celebrate with Roman debauchery. Revelers are invited to wear togas or to dress as their favorite god or goddess (ordinary mortals are welcome, too). A film collage, curated by Charles Dove and Andrea Grover, will play throughout the festivities. The work presents a cornucopia of springtime imagery and clips from Roman-themed films, set to an original score. It should establish the mood nicely as visitors mill about nibbling Mediterranean-inspired delights. And the fund-raising silent auction includes such items as a "spring cleaning," a "Roman bath basket" and a "Bacchus basket." 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, March 22. 800 Aurora Street. For information and tickets, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $40 for nonmembers; $35 for members; $200 for a pew of six. Eric A.T. Diekman

FRI 3/21
Got a Crush?
Sadie Hawkins was so ugly, her dad feared she'd never get married. So he decreed the first annual Sadie Hawkins Day, in which unmarried ladies of Dogtown chased eligible bachelors through the streets. Neither Sadie nor Dogtown actually existed; they were part of Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip. But the idea caught on, and Sadie Hawkins events are still popular. After all, it never hurts to have an excuse to ask a fella out. That's why Reg Belafonte and Sed Poitier, who own i10 Media and hold networking events for African-American professionals, are hosting their Sadie Hawkins Affair. Some women will bring dates to the party; others will be asking guys to dance. So, dudes, just show up and make yourselves available. 8 p.m. Friday, March 21. Doubletree Hotel, 400 Dallas. For information, visit www. i10media.com. $10; free with RSVP. -- Cathy Matusow

SAT 3/22
Call of the Wild
In the 1960s, Tony Magar's work echoed the hard angles and sharp surfaces of his New York City environment. But the artist's steel urban-minimalist sculpture was overwhelming his real passion: painting. Willem de Kooning advised Magar that crunching paint was similar to mangling metal. A trip to the American Southwest helped Magar realize the abstraction techniques de Kooning was getting at. The vast, endless skies and sensual curves of the New Mexico landscape became the inspiration for Magar's work for the next 35 years. During that time, Magar returned to New York only once. Destiny? Decide for yourself at his New Gallery opening. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 22. New Gallery, 2639 Colquitt. For information, call 713-520-7053. -- Troy Schulze

Rudyard's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
My workout lasted nearly a quarter of an hour. The dozen or so push-ups and nine sit-ups had me completely drained. What I needed was a quick pick-me-up, so I headed to the nearest bar. Allison has a reputation for doling out high-octane cocktails at Rudyard's (2010 Waugh Drive, 713-521-0521), so I was happy to see her behind the bar when I arrived. She first tried forcing a Sour Queen down my throat, but I nearly gagged, so I asked for something else. She thought for a minute and came back with a sweet little thing she introduced as a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I had smokers to my right, smokers to my left and a strong drink in front of me. Man, it felt good to be healthy again.

1-3/4 ounces Stoli Vanil
2-1/4 ounces pineapple juice

Pour ingredients over shaker full of ice. Strain into a highball glass. Frosting and maraschino cherry optional. -- J.W. Crooker

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