Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents Robert Dallek, a history professor at Boston University, of all places, made the papers here when his LBJ book, Lone Star Rising, appeared in '91. (A book so anti-Robert Caro that at one point in the notes, Dallek's citation reads, "Ever ready to put Johnson in the worst possible light ....") Dallek has a new book, a book about what qualities make for a great president instead of a Millard Fillmore, and he'll be signing it here today. 7-8 p.m. Tanglewood Super Crown, 6570 Woodway, 465-7278.
1996 Houston In-the-Water Boat Show Captain Ron's Wanderer, a movie-star ship seen in Captain Ron, will be the centerpiece of the show, bobbing gently at the end of Pier 99 and serving as a backdrop for gag photos of boat show-goers in pirate garb. Elsewhere around the seaside, hundreds of new and used ocean-going craft and accessories will be displayed, and folks in the know will be on hand to explain how financing can be arranged. Noon-7:30 p.m. today and Friday; 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Watergate Yachting Center, Clear Lake Shores. Take I-45 south, go east on League City FM 518 and take the FM 2094 exit. For more information, call 981-7668. $7; $3, children under 12.
Greek Festival Opa! The festival returns, and street parking throughout the area will be a nightmare as hundreds, perhaps thousands, drive in for honey cookies, baklava, cheese pastries, cheese-and-spinach pastries and souvlaki. Each year, the festival planners plan bigger, and each year the festival gets bigger -- and some of the best food items are gone by Sunday. Dance programs every day. Today, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-7 p.m. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum, 526-5377. $2; free, children under 12.
The Hermitage: Supermuseum at the Time When the Empire Collapses The Amoco Distinguished Lecture Series on Russia presents Mikhail Piotrovski, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Piotrovski has published more than 100 manuscripts in his area -- the early history of Islam and ancient Middle Eastern civilization -- and he will talk about overseeing the Hermitage during difficult times. 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 621-6300, ext. 25. Free, but seating is limited.
Volatile Organic Compounds The Weave Dance Company and the Duplex Dance Company have prepared a program of women-centric dance, and the program includes two fun bits from Jennifer Bairamgalin. Mighty Mites, Mold and Mildew, performed to spoken word and music by Steve Reich, might have been written after a long day watching commercials for cleaners; and Oomp is set to polka music. 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday, and Friday and Saturday, October 11 and 12. Duplex Center for the Arts, 1922 Brun, 523-3709. $8.
Fright Fest Before the days of Hallmark, holidays were over and done with pretty quickly, but now mall-going Americans celebrate pretty much all the time. Halloween season is officially here, as evidenced by Fright Fest at AstroWorld, and the minute it's over we start Thanksgiving and don't get a break until after New Year's Eve. Pumpkins, zombies and such will thrill families weekends through October 27. Kids under 54 inches tall are encouraged to dress up and trick or treat through Bugs Bunny's Pumpkin Patch. Six Flags AstroWorld, Kirby at Loop 610, 799-8404. Fridays, 6 p.m.-midnight; Saturdays, 10 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. $30.95; $19.95, children under 54 inches tall; $14.98, adults over 55.
Welcome to the Dollhouse They're doing it again -- all through the summer, the Strand Theatre film program gave second chances to those who missed worthwhile movies during their first runs. If you haven't seen this stunning, fearless black comedy about the horrors of seventh grade, here's an opportunity. 7 and 9:30 p.m. today and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Strand Theatre, 2317 Ships Mechanic Row, Galveston, (409) 763-4591. $6; $4, seniors and students with ID.
Race for the Cure Across the country, women are running for a reason in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 5K run. In Houston, 8,000 registrants are expected to gather near the Galleria for the women-only 5K run and family one-mile walk. Runners will wear pink back signs; survivors should wear pink visors; and spectators are asked to "create a sea of pink -- the color of breast cancer awareness -- at every race." Women-only 5K run, 7:30; family one-mile, 7:35 a.m. Same-day entry fee, $25. The starting line is the corner of Post Oak and Westheimer. For information on the run, call 850-9877. For information on breast cancer, try the Quaker Rice Cakes-sponsored hotline, (800) I-SNACK-2.
Texas Renaissance Festival This year's anachronism festival features Chateau du Macabre, a haunted pseudo-dungeon. So far, no public flogging -- but there is a bear show, plus the marital antics of a costumed Henry VIII. Can the guillotine be far behind? Weekends through November 17, rain or shine. 9 a.m.dusk. Reservations required for the twice-daily feast of the Beefeaters. Take I-45 north, turn left on Highway 105, left on FM 1774 in Plantersville and drive six miles to the Texas Renaissance Festival. (800) 458-3435. $14.95; $6.95, kids five-12; free, four and under.