Cokie Roberts America's the kind of country in which a good-looking (sometimes) blond with well-connected relatives can become somebody, even if she has a cutesy nickname. Roberts, who currently makes a more-than-comfortable living covering politics for ABC and accepting honoraria for speaking engagements, is the guest at a luncheon benefiting Sheltering Arms Senior Services. Hot off the campaign trail, Roberts will talk about Bill and Bob while guests enjoy a hot lunch. Noon. Hyatt Regency-Downtown, 1200 Louisiana. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call Patty Rabel at 685-6524. $75 and up.
Of Thee I Sing There are two presentations of this Gershwin concert show -- the previously announced 8 p.m. Saturday show and tonight's performance. Of Thee I Sing is a musical spoof, by George and Ira, about John P. Wintergreen's loopy presidential campaign. Proceeds will benefit Main Street Theater's Youth Theater program. Pre- and post-show receptions at the Moose Cafe; performance, 7:30 p.m. Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $30.
Swan Lake The weather is cool now, and you've missed many wonderful shows at Miller Outdoor Theatre, so why not pack a picnic basket and take the kids out for Swan Lake? Houston Ballet presents the romance at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
Black Men, Black Voices This is the first performance in a series of community art projects sponsored by the Houston Blues Society, but the show isn't limited to blues. Jimmy "Louisiana" Dotson and gospel singer Jacky Scott will share the stage with jazz artist Kinney Abair and rapper Dope "E." It's all free, and it's all about the dialogue of blues music and the arts in the black community. 10 a.m.noon. Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington. For information on this performance or other aspects of the project, contact Joseph Kotarba, 743-3954. Free.
The Gondoliers The Gilbert & Sullivan musical, we are assured, is "a veritable United Nations of hummable Italian tunes, exotic Spanish dances and witty English comedy complete with a few royal babies switched at birth." Plus, "you'll have no trouble understanding the natives, as everyone speaks English." Presented by the Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center of the University of Houston at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Cullen Performance Hall, 743-3009. $7; $5, students and seniors.
Florencia en el Amazonas Houston Grand Opera director David Gockley was "looking for an opera that will bring our audience in touch with the artistic, musical, literary and visual aspects of Latin America, but without the annoying insects ...." Actually, Gockley didn't tell Mexican screenwriter Marcela Fuentes-Berain and Mexican composer Daniel Catan that he wanted the commissioned work without the biting pests of our region and lowlands of Central and South America; Gockley asked for "nothing less than the most beautiful opera in the last 50 years." That's a tall order, but most of HGO's premieres (18 in 42 years) have been fabulous, so we're optimistic. Another good omen: Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the author of the story of Florencia. The Spanish-language opera opens tonight, 7:30 p.m. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Theater.) Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $20-$175.
Great Pumpkin Fun Run Good grief! As part of the post-race hoopla after the Texas Heart Institute's fifth annual benefit fun run, costumed children will compete for savings bonds, while fun run volunteers hope to win a NordicTrack. The run is a chance for the physically fit to get out and compete in a friendly fashion, and for Dr. Denton Cooley, head of the institute, to beg for organs. He says the race is a fun way to "heighten awareness about the need for organs." The Great Pumpkin Dash (5K run) starts at 8 a.m., followed by the Goblin Gallop (3K run and walk) and the Witches Walk (1K run and walk). (Wheelchairs are okay in the 5K; strollers permitted only in the 1K and the 3K.) Wortham Park, 2100 block of West Holcombe near Main and Shamrock Drive (in the Medical Center). For more information, call 791-2540 or visit http://www.tmc.edu/thi/. Entry fee for 5K, $18; 3K and 1K, $15.
Texian Market Days Although they've dug up more local history than most visitors can absorb, the historians of the George Ranch aren't done yet. This festival has all the Victorian and cowboy activities Houston families have come to expect -- antique tractor pulls, craft displays, beast-of-burden competitions (everything from ponies to oxen) and square dancing. They'll also have an archaeological dig and, for the first time, antique vendors. We are fairly certain that visitors who find rare and valuable antique pottery or buttons at the dig will not be able to sell them to the vendors, but we're not sure. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. today; 10 a.m-.5 p.m. Sunday. George Ranch Historical Park, 10215 FM 762, Richmond (take Highway 59 South), 545-9212. $7; $6, seniors; $3, children three to 15.
Arboretum Amble Why suffer from arachnophobia when you can enjoy arachno-phoria? Bask in spider joy and love for all the things that crawl and scuttle in the woods at the Houston Arboretum's Halloween party. Along with the spider booth, the park offers "Rummaging Raccoons," "Pond-O-Rama" and "Armadillos Alley," complemented by crafts and games, live animals, puppet animals and animals on film. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, 681-8433. Free.
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