Are there folks out there who can talk to the dead? Dallas Morning News religion reporter Christine Wicker was skeptical, to say the least, when she visited the strange town of Lily Dale. Residents of the community, which lies 60 miles south of Buffalo, New York, say they're clairvoyant -- meaning they can transmit messages from your granny and your dog after they've joined the angels. You'll have to read Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead yourself to find out whether the author ended up believing that the Spiritualists, as they call themselves, have real powers. We will tell you this: Wicker claims one of them channeled some freaky information about her (but then, maybe she doesn't know about Google). She reads today at 7 p.m. Barnes and Noble, 12850 Memorial Drive. For information, call 713-465-5616. Free.
Friday, May 16
Staring at people's butts is an amusing pastime, but it usually has to be done on the sly. That won't be the case, though, at "Rear View," an exhibition of works by Israel-born artist Oudi Arroni at Judy Speedway Gallery. The invitation to the show's opening reception is, well, a little surprising. In the artist's drawing on the card, it's as if a woman having a gynecological exam decided to throw on some red high heels and cross her legs in the air. And you can actually stare at the work as long as you like, while having a nice beverage and some polite conversation in a gallery space. That and other drawings and paintings of the human form will be on view at Judy Speedway through Saturday, May 31. The opening reception is today from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Subsequent viewings by appointment only. 2472 Bolsover, suite 437. For more information, call 713-529-6057. Free.
Saturday, May 17
Real World Las Vegas was one of the best seasons of the long-running MTV series, and that's probably because the drinking culture in that seedy town led the cast members to act like sluts. We know you're dying to trek to Dave and Buster's to meet Vegas cuties Trishelle Cannetella and Frank Roessler. Tired of messing around with each other, they want to go out on the town with two lucky Houstonians. To win a date, all you have to do is compete in a contest that involves showing off your "physique." Cannetella's Playboy spread will be coming out in June, so if your physique doesn't get you a night with her, don't worry -- you can still see her nude. 9 p.m. 6010 Richmond Avenue. For more information, call 713-952-2233.
Sunday, May 18
If you hate yourself for getting all excited about meeting the Real World babes, we have a wholesome pre-activity that should absolve you of all guilt. The Houston Balalaika Society is presenting a folk concert with music and dance of Russia and Ukraine. Tamara Volskya, a virtuoso on the domra (an ancient Russian instrument similar to a mandolin), will be performing, along with Anatoliy Trofimov on bayan accordion. And the Uzori Russian Folk Dance Ensemble, which specializes in syncopated footwork, will present athletic male solos and funny dances about male-female relationships. When the show's over, it will be bar time. So head to Dave and Buster's -- you deserve it. 7:30 p.m. Hamman Hall, Rice University (entrance no. 14 off Rice Boulevard). For more information, call 713-937-6227. $12 to $15; $6 for children 12 and under.
Monday, May 19
You've gotta hand it to The Vagina Monologues, the show that's forced almost two million people around the country to scream the word "cunt!" Though Calista Flockhart didn't have any luck getting Dave Letterman to say "vagina," she did get the audience of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee chanting the V-word, which is just surreal. Still, the show has all but done its job by this point. People don't even blink anymore when they hear about The Vagina Monologues, which started off as an off-Broadway show and has now been performed in more than 100 North American cities and 40 countries. But holdouts like Letterman are still out there. So here's to expressing solidarity with your vagina, or that of someone you love. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. today; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, May 15 and 16; and 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, May 17. Wortham Theater's Cullen Theater, 500 Prairie. For tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. $35 to $45.
Tuesday, May 20
The gray filmy skin, the raspy voice, the hacking cough -- it's pretty obvious that smoking's a bad idea. It doesn't even alter your state of mind the way, say, a marijuana cigarette might. Yet smokers still spend $5 a day on the devil tobacco. Why? Because it's a bitch to quit. Hypnosis may seem like so much hocus-pocus, but the method is backed up by scientific research, and people say it really works. Anyway, it can't hurt to give it a whirl. After all, today's "STOP Smoking thru Hypnosis" session at CenterPoint for Body, Mind and Spirit costs the same as just three packs of smokes. 7:30 p.m. 1920 Hollister. For more information, call 713-932-7224. $15.
If you're serious about quitting smoking, it's best to quit drinking, too, at least in the beginning. And that doesn't just mean skipping the bars. You'd also have to skip the ice-cold ($7) beer at today's Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals game at Minute Maid Park. A couple tall ones, combined with the slow pace of the game, will land even the most casual puffer in the park's tiny smoking area, where folks squeeze in like sardines and watch the game on TV. Avoiding the brew should be easier in Houston, though, than in St. Louis, where the park is named"Busch Stadium. 7:15 p.m. 501 Crawford. For tickets, call 1-877-927-8767 or visit www.houston.astros.mlb.com. $12 to $39.
Wednesday, May 21
Have you ever noticed how green Houston seems when you're looking down on the city from an airplane? Well, apparently, it used to be even greener, and if something isn't done to check the rampant growth fucking up our environment, the city could be downright barren one day. That's why the Rice Design Alliance is sponsoring "The Greening of Houston," a civic forum that will address the changes in our not-so-fair city's green environment and what we can do to protect what's left. We propose halting the construction of all strip malls in the metropolitan area. 7 p.m. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-348-4876. Free.