Pick Five (Plus)

Your weekly guide to Houston: Nutcracker Market, Cinema Arts Fest, free circus & a flutist badass

Your weekly guide to Houston: Nutcracker Market, Cinema Arts Fest, free circus & a flutist badass

Halloween is long gone. And though we did encounter a myriad of imaginative costumes, the ambiance at 13 | 31 with CultureMap at 13 Celsius morphed into a low-key social affair during which specialty drinks flowed and plenty of pizza pies courtesy of Texas Pizza Wagon — a traveling brick oven mobile — were baked to homey perfection.

Happier Desserts knows how to bake happiness right into a cookie. Happiness being applewood smoked bacon. And those little devils were flying at the Halloween-themed fete.

Jenni's Noodle House in the Heights kicked off its monthly "Celebrity Night," partnering with Noah's Kitchen, a local nonprofit that feeds and clothes the homeless population. Working as waitstaff, 11 volunteers joined founder Amber Rodriguez and tried their hand at satisfying hungry mobs with penchant for doing good and delighting in delectables from the noodlehood.

CultureMappers were everywhere this week, including the American Heart Association 2011 Heart Walk, Houston Zoo's "Feast with the Beasts" featuring the B-52s, Orange Show's 30th Anniversary Gala and the Houston Children's Charity 15th Annual Gala

It's November already. The time change is upon us which means it should really be easier to get up in the morning and get stuff done such that evenings and weekends are freer to get out and play. So, will you?

How will you ration your time this week? Read on for my weekly suggestions.

Nutcracker Market at Reliant Center

Just as the Houston Ballet is preparing to launch its biggest money-making performance run of the year, the Nutcracker Market is making final preparations to open its doors to the public hungry for shopping debauchery worthy of the holidays.

Picture this. Over 325 vendors from just about everywhere will partake in this affair, now in its 31st year. You'll find a schmorgesborg of items including home décor, gourmet food, toys, candles, sporting gifts, novelties and accessories.

The Nutcracker Market begins with a preview party on Wednesday, and it is open through Sunday. A Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon on Thursday and a Macy's Fashion Show and Holiday Brunch on Friday round up the nutty fete.

Houston Cinema Arts Society Cinema Arts Festival Opening Night Party and screening of Downtown Express at MFAH

You should check out the jammed-packed schedule Houston Cinema Arts Society has in store for Houston film lovers. The screenings, talks and live multimedia performances begin on Wednesday night with a red carpet affair that kicks off the five-day bacchanal in style.

Mix and mingle with film directors, movie celebs — including Russian-American violinist Philippe Quint, star of Downtown Express, who will perform as part of the festivities, and film director David Grubin — and take advantage of notable martinis compliments of Roxor Artisan Gin, and munchables courtesy of Whole Foods.

Così Fan Tutte presented by Opera in the Heights at Lambert Hall

Mozart's opera buffa follows one hilarious farcical scene after another as a pair of know-it-all dudes try to prove that "all women are like that." The men dupe their fiancées to test their loyalty, pretending to go away to sea and returning disguised as exotic Albanians. They swap ladies and take the ridiculous gag all the way to the wedding chapel. And you thought Saturday Night Live was silly.

They all live happily ever after, but that's after one delicious tune after another. If women are fallible, men are just foolish. You can decide just how foolish from Thursday to Nov. 20. 

The cast may be young, but quite impressive. Emily Newton took on the role of Ortlinde in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Wagner's Die Walküre. In Così, she plays Fiordiligi, sharing the role with Amarillo-native Sarah Beckham. It's a big cast that also includes Houston favorites Zach Averyt and Brian Shircliffe.

PROJECT Trio in Concert presented by the 39th Annual Jewish Book & Arts Fair

If you think the flute is cute, think again. Flutist badass Greg Pattillo demos that you can get down and dirty with an instrument that otherwise plays the sounds of adorable birds and pre-pubescent virgins.

It's true. Pattillo is his own percussion section, beat boxing through the metal like it's going out of style. How he doesn't pass out while performing such a feat is beyond understanding.

With cellist Eric Stephenson and bassist Peter Seymour, don't expect Mozart to sound refined, Bach to sound churchly and Brahms to seem expensive. It all happens at the Jewish Community Center Saturday at 8 p.m.

Friends of DePelchin's Football & Philanthropy Fundraiser at Texadelphia

It seems that nearly all charities have a young professional supporters group, which is a good thing seeing how much a well-organized and empowered crew can bring to the table. If you are curious to see how such a group operates, check out this social fundraiser hosted by Friends of DePelchin Saturday

The affair is an opportunity to mix, mingle, nosh on complimentary appetizers, enjoy satisfying suds and bid on the silent auction. It's always a good time when football and philanthropy meld together for fun and a cause.

River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) Chamber Series: Clarinetist Nathan Williams at Gremillion Fine Art and Co.

I hate the clarinet, but that may be a result of dating a clarinetist for a couple of years.  Yet, it is after hearing Nathan Williams' Copland Clarinet Concerto that I seriously took a second look at an instrument that I otherwise considered to be an excellent candidate for tacky lamps.

This recital is a delightful opportunity to get to know ROCO's principal woodwind in an up-close and personal recital. He'll talk. He'll play. And you will have a lovely time while sipping on robust Pisco Portón cocktails and nibbles.

I can't think of anything better to do on a relaxed Sunday afternoon

Arts smarty pants and lovable beer-loving gal Nancy Wozny's pick: Opening of Hanging by a Thread at Houston Arts Alliance Gallery

Nancy says: "I've been following Allison Hunter since she put a fish tank in the middle of DiverseWorks at the last FotoFest. Hunter continues her promising interest in the natural world with Hanging by a Thread at Alliance Gallery (formerly space 125) with an opening on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.

"This new batch of work explores the delicacy and fragility of the insect world. Much like her work with animals, Hunter erases the background, giving the insect a kind of nobility The show also features her video Honey Bee, created during her residency at the UH's TLC2 Artist in Residence Program. I saw the first version at a Cynthia Woods Mitchell showing and the complete video recently while visiting her studio. Trust me, there's some gorgeous animation as well witty vintage narration. Bees in Hunter's hand are simply amazing." 

Contributor and Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Cirque Mechanics' Boomtown at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Whitney says: "I'll take any chance to see a high-quality circus production, even if it eschews fanciful costumes and lofty themes for more realistic ones - and especially if it's free. Cirque Mechanics' Boomtown at Miller Outdoor Theatre fits all of the above criteria, following the romance and discovery of a frontier town gold rush."

Friday and Saturday.

Sassy social media editor and feisty adventure girl Fayza Elmostehi's pick: Huntsville Hammer Adventure Race

Fayza says: "Isn't the weather simply beautiful lately? Why spend what's left of those precious, warm daylight hours in a gym?

"On Saturday, Texas Adventure Racing hosts its eighth-annual Huntsville Hammer adventure race, where you can run, bike, and kayak your way to happiness in the outdoors for the morning, part of the day, or the whole day. Don't say we never told you how to get off your couch and take a big gulp of fresh air in the great outdoors."

Arts and architecture savant and all around awesome guy Tyler Rudick's pick: Screening of Upstream with live accompaniment by the Donald Sosin Ensemble

Tyler says: "I'm excited to see John Ford's 1929 backstage dramedy Upsteam at the MFAH on Sunday. Long considered one of Ford's lost classics, the New Zealand Film Archive unearthed a complete tinted nitrate print in 2009 along with more than 75 other American silent films thought long gone cinema history. The plot sounds amazing, a love triangle between three vaudeville performers: a knife-thrower, his "target girl," and a Shakespearean actor."

Think the flute is cute? Flutist Greg Pattillo, alongside cellist Eric Stephenson and bassist Peter Seymour, defies any birdy stereotypes the instrument may have accumulated over its history. 
Cirque Mechanics Boomtown
Cirque Mechanics' Boomtown at Miller Outdoor Theatre mingles fanciful costumes and lofty themes.
News_Nutcracker Market_Shopping_crowd
In the mood for a little holiday frenzy? Try Houston Ballet's Nutcracker Market for themed-gifts, knick-knacks and frills.  Photo by Fulton Davenport: PWL Studio
Nathan Williams
Clarinetist Nathan Williams kicks off River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) Chamber Series at Gremillion Fine Art and Co. Photo courtesy of Nathan Williams
Cosi Fan Tute
If women are fallible, men are foolish. Mozart imbues Così Fan Tutte with scenes that belong on the set of Saturday Night Live, and Opera in the Heights brings the work to live. 
Huntsville Hammer
Are you tough enough? Social media editor Fayza Elmostehi challenges you to an adventure race. She may be petite, but she'll kick your butt.