Everybody, Sing!


If you always wanted to sing with an orchestra but no conductor ever asked you, plan to be at “The Sing,” Houston’s bright new community sing-along.

“The Sing” is for anyone who wants to sing the world’s great choral favorites (yes, of course, the Hallelujah Chorus is included). No less a personage than Lawrence Foster, music director of the Houston Symphony, will be on the podium; but in keeping with the informal atmosphere, he won’t be drsesed up. Participants will simply come in, get a score, and sing on cue. (And preferably on key—but that isn’t required.) Members of the Houston Symphony Chorale, which is sponsoring the event, will sit among the crowd to help lead the singing.

Sings are always fun and Sing audiences notoriously enthusiastic. Everybody ends up applauding themselves madly. But for singers, hummers and toe-tapping listeners alike, the unforgettable part is the live sound of hundreds of massed voices singing immortal music.

“The Sing”/St. Luke’s Methodist Church/3471 Westheimer/Houston/Feb. 22, 8 p.m./Singers, $2 (score rental); listeners, free.


Kitten Caboodle


Dozens of Persians, Siamese, Rexes, and Maine Coon Cats (as well as those who hold less substantial pedigrees) will be clustering convention—like at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium this month. While vying for best of breed awards, these gorgeous felines will provide benefit funds to sustain their less fortunate counterparts in the Austin-Travis County Animal Shelter.

An ample selection of kittens from pet to show quality will be on sale. Education is the theme: breeders are prepared to answer questions, the Texas A & M Vet School Mobile Van will arrive equipped with slides and pictures of the latest discoveries in small animal research and care. And a wealth of new pet grooming aids, vitamins, and toys will be displayed.

Austin Cat Club Show/Municipal Auditorium/February 16 & 17/10 a.m. to 5 p.m./Adults 75¢, children 25¢.


Time Out of Joint


Officially the Magic Time Machine is a bar, restaurant, and discotheque. But the building is what has made tbe $1 million business a success since it opened last summer.

Architect Ronald Masters’ floorplan is a maze. Diners, returning from the 1952 red MG that serves as the Soup and Salad Bar, regularly get lost trying to find their tables. Each table is different…a Monopoly game, a safari, a Twenties’ Speakeasy, a converted meat locker, a jail cell, a mine shaft, or even an enclosed cube that can be entered only through a small opening. Eclectic just isn’t enough of a word.

Costumed waiters and waitresses include Pancho Villa, Charlie Chaplin, Peter Pan, Snoopy, a peacock, Dracula, and Pocahontas. The walls and ceilings are decorated with scraps of wood left over from construction, upside-down urinal as light fixture, mirrors, comic books, and assorted antiques.

Start the evening with a banana daiquiri, and proceed (if you dare) to a Roman Orgy, which provides at least a pound of roast beef for each orgiast, along with so many trimmings that two waiters are needed to transport them. Each Orgy arrives with blaring trumpets and a chorus of shouting waiters and waitresses. It’s…well…a stimulating experience.

The Magic Time Machine/902 NE Loop 410/San Antonio/828-1478/no reservations taken/ Restaurant open 5: 30-midnight/ Discotheque-lounge open 5-2 daily.


Representative Art


The Texas Legislature is the last place most people might expect to find an artist, but Representative Neil Caldwell of Alvin has entertained observers of the Capitol scene for years with his witty and perceptive sketches like the one above.

Most people who have chuckled at his cartoons don’t know that he is a serious artist with interests in many different media. Claude Kennard, a professor of art history at Southwestern University, decided it was time to rectify that oversight, so he assembled the first public exhibition of Caldwell’s work. It includes oils, water colors, sculpture, gravestone rubbings, drawings, and even some scrimshaw. Most of the work, incidentally, is serious in tone; Caldwell dashes off his political barbs on the spur of the moment and gives them away on the spot.

Neil Caldwell Exhibition/Thru Feb/Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center, Southwestern University/Georgetown/8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily/(512) 863-6511/Free.


A Hearty Selection


For those who want to make a one-stop shopping trip, Speedby’s Old Prints in Houston has all the old valentines you could possibly wish for.

The owners, Elsa and Sam Ross, will pull out stacks of antique and almost antique (turn-of-the-century, Art Deco) valentines. English. French. American.

There are cards in the shop made and colored entirely by hand during eras of history you’ve just read about. Dainty, delicate little tidbits with real lace borders, embossed cameos and curiously quaint forget-me-nots and violets. There are cards with hand-written verses that read like a page out of a Victorian novel.

For shoppers who are feeling a bit morbid, there might be a card or two originally intended for deceased loved ones with embossed white churches, lilies, lilies-of-the-valley, roses and the sad refrain, “Good bye, Sweetheart, Good bye,” written on them. You can bet the person you’re giving it to won’t have another one like it in her file.

There are early day humor cards too. Some were meant to be. Others weren’t. And some, taken within the framework of the time they were written, are downright poison pen letters. Like the one made around 1840 with a poem/rebus combination that reads: “I really cannot make you Mrs. I fear you’d want to wear the…” and a cut out pair of britches. (Oh what a field day a real male chauvinist could have with THAT one.)

For the really soggy sentimentalists, there are marvelous cards which were originally sent to children by doting parents or maiden aunties with sugary verses which read, “Dearest child, happy as a Dove, I send you this, my darling love, May blessings above and blessings below, Always attend you wherever you go.”

And there are “cards” which aren’t cards at all but small valentine gifts. One of the most charming is a little box covered with shells and the remains of the royal purple ribbon that kept it shut. It was most likely a valentine sent out to a ladylove by a sailor who had a girl in every port.

Remarkably enough, most of the cards, although a bit tattered and yellowing with age, are in excellent condition. Many are kept in cellophane wrappers. Some have handwriting on them, making you feel as if you are reading someone else’s diary. Others were never sent or signed, so you can write your own inscription on them.

The cards range from simple to extravagant in detailing and from inexpensive to expensive in price. You can expect to pay from $2 to $200 for the real oldies—a small price for the real thing.

Speedby’s Old Prints/5017 Montrose/Houston/521-9652/Tue thru Sat, 10-2, and by appointment.


Spoil the Child


Designs For Growing, a new Fort Worth toy store that’s been called a sensitivity center for children, houses a multitude of creative children’s accoutrements. The books, toys, children’s furniture, and unusual specialty items emphasize a “Montessori” touch-and-feel approach to merchandising.

The displays are at a child’s-eye level, which allows parents to observe their children relating (or not relating) to the items under consideration.

Designs For Growing is the brainchild of two young mothers, Maggie and Mary Ruth Jones, and PhD candidate Jean Floyd. They have done it well. This month, the store offers art exhibits by area artists and features art-related items for children.

Designs For Growing/7062 Neiman Marcus Square/Fort Worth/732-2816 Mon thru Sat, 9:30-5:30.