Press Picks

december 5
I-45 blues A few Best Of issues back, we named the Pierce Elevated the Best Road to Drive On, partly in appreciation of the bumps experienced at freeway speeds. The thrill is no more, since as of 12:01 a.m. today and for the next seven months that beloved and heavily used section of Interstate 45 is closed for reconstruction: northbound lanes will be under repair for the first several months, then crews switch to the southbound lanes. Motorists who have idled away their time in traffic jams on that stretch of road might fancy picking up a jackhammer and joining the construction crew to relieve a bit of their frustration; a more positive approach might be to delight in the opportunity to see more of the city while seeking alternate routes.

Jack and The Future Is in Eggs Both are billed as "against-all-odds stories of romance, tragedy and, above all, production." In the former, young Jack is overly attached to his overstuffed armchair, which irks Mother Jack, Father Jack and mean sister Jacqueline; they go to great and humorous lengths to rescue him. The latter tale is a follow-up. This stab at absurdist theater a la Eugene Ionesco is presented by Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Preview tonight, 8 p.m. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 520-7080. $5.99.

More shopping Kitchen & Company is opening its newest store in the Houston area. Today, while perusing the kitchen superstore, shoppers are invited to take in a demonstration by Jacques Fox, executive chef at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management; or to get a lesson in cake decorating from wedding-cake czarina Camilla Chiara; or to taste food prepared by Junior Leaguers (whose organization will benefit from a portion of today's sales proceeds). Freebie alert: The first 25 people to post their materialistic desires with the gift registry will receive a pair of Marquis by Waterford toasting flutes. Westhill Village Shopping Center, 7601 Westheimer, 789-1129.

Steve Allen: Humor and Healing The prolific Steve Allen will, in his own witty way, discuss the role of humor in the healing process. This is an opportunity to see a TV legend in person, and to gain insight while busting a gut. 7:30 p.m. Unity Church of Christianity, 2929 Unity Drive, 787-3490. $25.

december 6
Holiday art sale Glassell students have been hard at work perfecting their craft, and now they offer their wares as potential gifts for your loved ones. Paintings, drawings, watercolors, photographs, ceramics, sculptures and jewelry are all for sale. 5-8 p.m. today; 10 a.m.5 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 639-7500.

Nenette et Boni and J'ai Pas Sommeil When Claire Denis made her directorial debut with the autobiographical work Chocolat, she was heralded as a fresh talent. Now the cutting-edge director has a few more films under her belt, three of which are showing as part of the MFA's French Films in December series. The director herself will present Nenette et Boni, the Locarno Film Festival winner about sibling rivalry and a mother's death, and J'ai Pas Sommeil (I Can't Sleep), a true-crime drama about a man and his lover who together murdered more than 20 Parisian women in the mid-'80s. Begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight (other films and times listed in Thrills, Film & Video). MFA, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5, single feature; $6, double feature.

Pharoah Sanders This "titan of the tenor saxophone" (as Down Beat dubbed him) will perform tunes from his new Message from Home. A native of Little Rock, the home he refers to is not Arkansas, but rather Africa, where he recently traveled. His new music is said to shatter the wall between jazz and African music forms; tonight he performs with his quartet and an African percussionist. 8 p.m. Presented by Da Camera at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 500 Texas. For tickets, call 524-5050. $14-$29; discounts for seniors and students.

America's Smithsonian The mother of all pop culture exhibits hits town today -- and adds a little history to the mix. The largest museum exhibit ever put on the road includes Barbara Bush's inaugural gown, Judy Garland's ruby Oz slippers, Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule, Abraham Lincoln's top hat and... well, you get the drift. Nearly 300 artifacts and icons are on tour from their home at our nation's capital. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, through January 28. Tickets are free and available on a first-come, first served basis; advance tickets may be ordered by calling (800) 913-TOUR at least five days in advance, though a $3.50 service charge applies. Groups of 20 or more can reserve free advance tickets by calling Jill Chappell at (202) 786-2706.