This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, January 8

Do-not-call list, my ass! Telemarketers are still the bane of most our existences. But comedian Jim Florentine is on our side. He's made a name for himself by taping his phone conversations with these faceless interlopers. Whether he's pretending like he's taking a dump or getting robbed mid-conversation, his vengeful comedy is always on the mark. Florentine also has a recurring role on Crank Yankers (as if terrorizing telemarketers weren't ironic enough). He plays Special Ed, a mentally challenged kid who annoys his victims with repetitive questions. Hypocritical? Maybe. Funny? Definitely. 8 p.m. today; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, January 9 and 10. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For information, call 713-524-2333 or visit $12.50 to $16.50.

Friday, January 9

After rolling around in the lowbrow last night, you might feel the need to cleanse yourself in the cool waters of high culture at an art opening (or two) this evening. Michael Post's latest series of wall installations is based on the optical play of intense, luminous color and the structural principle of the tetrahedron (which, for anyone out there without a geometry book handy, is a four-sided triangular box). Post arranges the colorful shapes in mathematically and visually appealing configurations throughout the gallery space, creating a fascinating interplay between the elegant objects and the flat walls on which they rest. The show opens from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be on display through Saturday, February 28. Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline. For information, call 713-659-5424. Free.

Don't stop now: You can still squeeze in another opening before you hit the bars in search of more lively objects of admiration. Sharon Kopriva mines the dark wellspring of Catholic symbolism in "Mounds and Monuments," her latest exhibition of paintings. These intensely religious works are the product of the artist's own spiritual dissolution and rebirth. And after an hour of staring at the imagery of Catholicism, you can start partying with the renewed realization of how good it feels to be a little guilty. Opening: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Works on display though Saturday, February 7. Barbara Davis Gallery, 5701 Main on the 11th floor of the Warwick Hotel. For information, call 713-520-9200 or visit Free.

Saturday, January 10

Long live the King! At Elvis Presley's 69th birthday celebration at Sam Houston Race Park, guests can partake in a peanut butter and banana sandwich-eating contest and a look-alike contest. The crooner who best imitates the King's pompadour and circumstance will take home $1,000 -- unless, of course, he blows it at the races. Dressing up as Elvis also will get you in for free, which will save you a whopping 50 cents at the door. But hey, if you make the right bets, you'd be surprised at how much that 50 cents can multiply. Be careful, though: If you make the wrong bets, you could end up where "the cold wind blows, in the ghetto." Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Live Thoroughbred racing starts at 7 p.m. Contests at 8 p.m. 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 281-807-RACE or visit Admission, 50 cents; parking, $3.

Sunday, January 11

Was your New Year's Eve kiss (or lack thereof) a little less than perfect? Well, now you've got the chance to do it right at the Julian Calendar New Year Party. Running 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar, the Julian Calendar is observed by the Eastern Orthodox tradition in much of Eastern Europe and Russia. So last Wednesday was Christmas Day and this Tuesday is New Year's Eve...just when you thought we'd finally left the holiday season behind. The Gypsies (five-time Press Music Award-winners) will play plenty of traditional ditties to help you polka off all those extra calories from the Eastern European and Russian vittles for sale. But you really don't have to start worrying about your weight-loss resolutions until next week. 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. City Streets, 5078 Richmond. For information, call 713-840-8555. $8.

Monday, January 12

Well, you tried to take in some culture last weekend, but you ended up back off the wagon. Didn't we tell you about plenty of things to do that could expand your mind rather than clouding it? No worries, it happens to the best of us. You can redeem yourself tonight with a trip to the symphony, where guest conductor Claus Peter Flor presents Scheherazade, a masterwork based on the tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. Scheherazade is one of the outermost narrators in the tale-within-a-tale structure of the Nights, and she must keep spinning yarn after yarn in order to prevent her jealous husband from killing her. Writer's block just isn't an option. 8 p.m. today; 8 p.m. Saturday, January 10; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 11. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $21 to $83.

Tuesday, January 13

Whether you're on the Gregorian or the Julian calendar, January is a time for reflection. Were you naughty or nice in 2003? What can you do to improve yourself in 2004? You can either take active steps toward self-improvement by making concrete resolutions, or just take the easy way out and leave it up to fate. Those of you who choose the latter path (you lazy rascals!) should attend Nan Hall Linke's lecture "2004: An Astrological Preview," where she'll lay down the cosmic map for the coming year. Linke was recently featured in the Houston Chronicle as the best astrologer/psychotherapist/landscaper in Houston. We had no idea she was such a whiz with pruning shears. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Spectrum Center, 4100 Westheimer, suite 235. For information, call 713-520-1551. $25.

Wednesday, January 14

If you think our national landscape is in an unsettling state of turmoil, imagine Germany in the 1930s. Millions of unemployed Berliners roamed the streets of the capital, fomenting political unrest. Cabaret, the Tony Award-winning musical, examines this era in the dim light of the Kit-Kat Club, a nightspot where on stage, anything goes. It's playing at the Great Caruso Dinner Theater, a venue as well known for its food as its productions. When you mix in a three-course dinner with drinks, the risqué revue becomes the perfect mix between high culture and good ol' fashioned livin' it up. Now there's no longer any need to beat yourself up about having a good time (unless you're into that kind of thing). 7:30 p.m. today. Playing Wednesdays through Sundays, January 9 through April 25. 10001 Westheimer. For information and showtimes, call 713-780-4900 or visit $35 to $40 for dinner and show.