Everything-but-boats show The AstroArena will host a show smorgasbord -- the Texas Home & Garden Show, Holiday Edition; the Fall Vacation & Leisure Show; and the Fall Texas Home Computer Show. The shows, shows the promoters eagerly tout as "a series of shows in their 11th year," will be spread throughout the hall with booths, and if one should become peckish tramping from booth to booth, the usual Astro concessions will be available, along with "epicurean delights" prepared by local chefs during cooking demonstrations. And, hey, don't miss the Holiday Market Village. 2-9 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. AstroArena, Astrodomain, 529-1616. $7; free, children under 14.
Heavy petting Special Pals (a no-kill shelter) and the Pet Patrol (which cares for the pets of AIDS patients) will benefit if you buy art. The Circa Now Gallery is hosting the Pet Fete, "a celebration of animal magnetism." On sale will be a variety of pet-themed works by a variety of artists. Dominique Sachse (who has a special pal from Special Pals) is the honorary chairman and will be present at the preview party and silent auction opening. During the opening, 6-9 p.m. tonight, and through the weekend, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to the pet charities. Circa Now, 1983 West Gray, 529-8234.
Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival It's not every dang day that we get a chance to drive northward and hear a five-year-old play accordion -- so why not hit the highway and listen to wee lad Hunter Hayes hugging his squeezebox, dance in the streets, savor boudin, barbecue chicken and Cajun catfish and see the Catfish Parade. Fun, food and music start tonight, at 6 p.m.; the parade is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday; and there's more festival fest-ing from noon6 p.m. Sunday. Musical guests include L'il Brian Terry & the Zydeco Travelers (today), Billy Joe Shaver (Saturday) and the Grateful Geezers (Sunday). Montgomery County Square, Conroe. Take I-45 north, exit at 105, go right and drive right on to the square. For more information, call (800) 324-2604. $6; $2, children under 12; $1 off any admission with a canned food donation for the Montgomery County food bank.
Threadgill's -- The Cookbook If you thought the Houston music scene could not possibly spend more time hooting about how great Austin is, well, then, you were wrong. Here's a new twist: a musical event celebrating Austin-based music and Austin food. Eddie Wilson, former frontman for Armadillo World Headquarters and now Threadgill's proprietor, will sign copies of his new cookbook and serve Threadgill's specialties. Meanwhile, on the stage, Champ Hood and the Threadgill's Troubadours will play songs from a new CD, Threadgill's, Supper Session, Second Helpings. 7, signing and serving; 9 p.m., music. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $8.
E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial The quirky folks at the Rice Media Center have programmed a solid season of sci-fi classics for the fall, and just for grins, they stuck this barely-old-enough-to-provoke-nostalgia flick in the bunch. Worth seeing on the big screen both for the charm you remember and the skillful filmmaking you may not. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. The Rice Media Center: Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $4.50.
Pam Stone The towering Coach star is back on the road, bringing her goofy, friendly brand of female standup comedy to audiences throughout this great nation of ours. And hey, before you figure she's on the road only as a has-been in need of money, remember that her five-year stint on Coach has put the statuesque blond on the residuals gravy train. "Syndication," she says, "is really cool. Definitely worth going to the mailbox for." As those checks keep rolling in, she hits the road because she wants to. Stone headlines tonight and tomorrow. 8 and 10:30 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $13.50.
The Banded Geckos The Geckos, out and about promoting their new CD Gecoupage, appear in concert not one but two nights at folkie haven Anderson Fair (a smoke-free club). They perform folk, jazz and swing. Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant, 528-8576. $6.
Wood Carvers 26th Annual Show and Competition Learn about wood carving as a hobby or pick up some decorative art for the den. One of the few Houston events with a focus on whittling, the show also includes carving demonstrations and a plethora of whittled wood on display and up for judging. Categories include duck decoy, chip carving, human caricature and relief. 9 a.m.5 p.m. today and Sunday. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, 681-8433. Free.
Cleo's Comedy Theatre Mind Games is the current sketch-comedy and improv show, and the wacky magic tricks have been wowing folks for a few weeks now -- but that's not enough for Cleo's troupe, the same Cleo's troupe that entertained at Caroline Farb's Marvin's Million Dollar Dream party. Tonight, Cleo's celebrates Oktoberfest with German brews, from grape and grain, and German food. And stay late for a 10:30 p.m. performance of Dick William's one-man show, The Plight of the Working Man ($5). 8 p.m. 3722 Washington, 861-2135. Regular show, $12; open mike, $3. Hey, before the show starts there's a happy hour with $2 drinks.
MBA Forum Why worry about the economy when you can get an MBA and control the economy -- that was the plan a few years back, and even now, although recent grads aren't placing as well as they had hoped to, having a master's in business administration is seen as being worth far more in today's volatile job market than actually knowing anything about any particular business. This forum includes a three-hour minority event, "Destination MBA," featuring panel discussions with African-American and Hispanic MBA students and graduates. Find out about nearly 100 schools around the world, and find out what kind of grades, test scores and credentials you'll need to get into those schools. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Doubletree Hotel Post Oak, 2001 Post Oak Boulevard. For more information, call (800) 537-7982 or visit http://www.gmat.org. $5.
Children's Festival Tots and preteens alike will enjoy all the kid-oriented entertainment and activities, and you might share their enjoyment when the Harms Marionettes take the stage. Puppeteer Don Harms works with African-American character marionettes, and in addition to doing shows, does behind-the-scenes puppeteering demonstrations. Harms Marionettes perform four times during the day. Children's Festival, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 363-3300. $4.
11th Annual Muster & Festival Wanna ogle beefcake? Then come on down! Wanna peer at historic photographs chronicling the proud tradition of firefighting? Well, come on out for that, too. The Houston Fire Museum's muster is a great chance for families to learn about fire prevention and fire safety from trained professionals, a great chance to learn about the history of firefighting and a hot, hot, hot chance to meet the hunky firemen of the famous calendar. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Houston Fire Museum, 2403 Milam, 524-2526. Free.
Bayou City Arts Festival At least once a week, someone calls and asks me, "When is the Westheimer Arts Festival?" Fifty-one weeks out of the year, the answer is, I don't know, I don't know for sure where they'll hold it and I don't know what they'll call it this year. But now the information is available. This year, what was formerly the Fall Westheimer Arts Festival recasts itself as the Bayou City Art Festival, moves downtown and happens this weekend. More than 300 artists and craftpersons will participate. 10 a.m.6 p.m. today and Sunday. Hermann Square at City Hall and Tranquillity Park. $5; free, children under 12. Valet parking available at the Bagby/Walker and Lamar entrances.
An Irving Berlin Songbook The Houston Symphony presents a tribute to Irving Berlin, celebrating music from Tin Pan Alley and the Great White Way. Guest conductor David Bishop, a popular music scholar, and a group of crackerjack singers will perform "Alexander's Rag Time Band," "Puttin' on the Ritz" and other hits from Berlin's 1,500-song catalog. On Friday and Saturday, there will be concerts at 8 p.m.; tonight, 7:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $17-$56.
Par Fore Pets The Houston Humane Society hosts a Columbus Day golf tournament to benefit the homeless animals languishing at the society's shelter. The format is foursomes, Florida Scramble, and prior to the shotgun start there'll be fooling around -- putting contests, handthrows and a mulligan sale. That early morning hanky-panky runs from 810 a.m., with the start at 10 a.m. Charitable golfers will whack the ball for a while, then enjoy a jovial awards presentation at 3 p.m. The $85 entry fee, tax deductible to the full extent of the law, includes greens fees, golf cart, range balls, tee gifts, a doggy-bag lunch and, the organizers promise, celebrities! (Sam Malone of 104 KRBE, maybe.) Reservations are required, and "to ensure the safety and well-being of your pets, please do not bring them with you to the tournament." Oh, and you don't have to play to contribute; you can send a check at any time. The Club at Tennwood, Hockley. For more information, call 433-6421.
West Side Story More of a flashback fantasy than your average touring road show, this version of a Broadway classic carefully recreates the original Jerome Robbins choreography. All the details are in place -- Robbins' direction and choreography have been followed to the letter. Classic shows such as this bring out the shower (and car-with-closed-windows) singers in us all. "Tonight, tonight ..." people will be singing the memorable lyrics as they drive aimlessly through underground Theater District parking. Opening tonight and playing through October 20. Tuesday--Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m.; matinees, Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. (The Saturday, October 19 matinee will be signed for the hearing impaired.) Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $40.50-$46.50.
Gilda's Club The late, lamented comedienne Gilda Radner once said that having cancer gave her membership into an elite club to which she'd rather not belong. The legacy she left is a clubhouse for other people who'd rather not belong. Gilda's Club, in New York, offers cancer patients a cozy place for support and understanding, and funds are being raised to open other Gilda's Club clubhouses throughout the country. Tonight, Laff Stop, ComedySportz and special guests present a silly benefit for a sober cause. 8 p.m. The event will be at the Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For information or reservations, call ComedySportz, 521-2226. $10.