The Drop Everything List

Texas vs. the Nation, the South Padre Island Kite Fest, Barbara Smith Conrad, and Eagle Fest . . .

Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[FEB 4– FEB 10]


AP Photo/Ben Liebenberg


Texas Fight
It is common knowledge that Texas breeds the best football players in the country, but once a year it’s worth verifying this fact. So we have the annual Texas vs. the Nation football game, in which a team of our college players (those on Texas teams and those on teams in other states who are Texas natives) faces off against a team composed of the rest of the country’s players. After four years the score stands two to two, making the fifth annual game a rubber match. Will Texas’s Wayne Daniels, the beastly defensive end for the Rose Bowl Champion Texas Christian Horned Frogs, be able to get into the backfield and clobber T.J. Yates, the Nation’s strong-armed quarterback from the North Carolina Tar Heels? Will Texas coach Bill Bates, who earned three Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys, be able to outwit Nation coach Jerry Glanville, the former Houston Oilers coach who talked trash more than he won games? Any true Texas football fan would bypass a Super Bowl without the Dallas Cowboys to find out.
Alamodome, Feb 5, 1 p.m.


Up, Up, and Away
The eleventh annual South Padre Island Kite Fest will have a fleet of “show kites”—mammoth versions costing upwards of ten-thousand dollars that resemble floats at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Some of them are as big as semis,” said Susie Doan, co-owner of B&S Kites, a retail shop that flies in kite-flyers from throughout the U.S. and Canada to perform flights of fancy for the weekend. “This is more of a come and be in awe thing and less of a fly your own kite thing,” Doan said. The beach and ocean backdrop will provide unparalleled scenery. And a lawn chair will come in handy when Team iQuad, a nine-member group navigating quad-line kites (kites with multiple strings instead of just one), performs synchronized routines that can cause stomachs to drop.
The Flats, Feb 5 & 6, 10 a.m.

Courtesy of Alpheus Media, Inc.


Skin Tones
Once upon a time, Austin wanted nothing to do with Barbara Smith Conrad. In 1957, the world-class mezzo-soprano singer, born in Center Point, was banned from performing in a production of Dido and Aeneas, at the University of Texas, because of the color of her skin. The controversy drew national attention, and Harry Belafonte offered to pay for Conrad’s transfer to another school. But Conrad remained faithful to UT, graduating in 1959. Now, more than half a century later, Austin can’t get enough of Conrad. In 2009, after occasional trips back to UT to teach and perform, she was recognized with a resolution by the Legislature, and last year, a documentary about her called When I Rise debuted at South by Southwest. In a dual celebration of the documentary’s premiere on PBS, on February 8, and of Black History Month, Conrad will perform, with musicians from UT and Huston-Tillotson University, Austin’s historically black college, in the Black History Month Concert.
Bates Recital Hall, Feb 5, 7:30 p.m.


Archival Footage
The premiere of a filmmaker’s movie is not always the best night for the filmmaker to receive constructive criticism. The audience is often artificially enthusiastic. It can be much more productive to see the movie the night after it opens, among a cash-paying audience not afraid to react when something is lame. As luck would have it, the second night of Texas Legends: Before They Were Legends, a touring showcase of early developmental short works by some of Texas’s—and America’s—elite indie filmmakers, including Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Robert Rodriguez, will take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in front of a discerning audience with ties to the Texas Independent Film Network, the program’s organizer. Be among a select group to see—and critique—movies that aren’t readily available to the public: a draft of Anderson’s Bottle Rocket; Linklater’s debut film, Woodshock, a documentary featuring a young Daniel Johnston; and Rodriguez’s Bedhead, which preceded his DIY exemplar, El Mariachi.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Feb 4, 7 p.m.


In the Shadow of a Giant
It is no more scientific, but it is certainly more exhilarating, to witness an alligator playing the role of groundhog on Groundhog Day, particularly when that alligator is Big Al, a thirteen-footer considered the biggest in Texas.
Gator Rescue, Feb 5, 2 p.m.


Eagle Scouting
President George W. Bush wasn’t exactly a steward of the environment, but as governor of Texas he did sign a resolution proclaiming Rains County the “Eagle Capital of Texas,” which in

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