Robert Schimmel One evening after Robert Schimmel had finished his standup routine, an old lady came up and told him, "I liked you up there [on stage]. You remind me of my son." "Your son? Who is your son?" Schimmel asked. "Lenny Bruce," she said. It wasn't the first time that Schimmel's calmly delivered, frankly carnal comedy has been compared to that of Bruce, but undoubtedly it was the most memorable one. Bruce has been gone a long time now, but if Schimmel is really anything like the mythically large comedian, you might want to take the opportunity to see him explode all our social conventions. 8:30 p.m. tonight, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $10.75-$12.75.
Drive for the Cure Breast cancer could affect your mother, your sister, your wife, your lover; but you can do something about this terrible disease today. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, North American BMW and one of our very own local BMW dealers, Advantage BMW, have come up with an interesting fundraising event. Simply get yourself over to Sam Houston Park and slide behind the wheel of one of the many Beemers that will be on hand today for you to test-drive. The test route is 14 luxurious miles long, and $2 will be donated to breast cancer research for every mile you drive. Those who get there early enough will get a free T-shirt, while those who show up between 10 and 11 a.m. can meet Elyse Lanier. During lunch, sandwiches will be provided courtesy of Cafe Annie. But to take advantage of any of these perks, you'll have to drive a car first. If you're on a really tight schedule, call (800) 972-CURE to schedule a drive. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby, 653-8300. Free.
International Quilt Festival Last year, one of the best attended events at the George R. Brown Convention Center was the International Quilt Festival. That says a lot about our love for these homespun works of comforting folk art. Quilts have become increasingly exotic over the years: At the festival you can find both antique and brand-new quilts, and quilts made from rough-hewn cotton, fine velvets, silk and everything in between. Hear lectures, attend classes, get advice or simply shop. More than a thousand quilts, dolls, wearable items and textile arts will be on display through the weekend. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, 781-6864. $8; $5, seniors; free, children under ten.
Dia de los Muertos Exhibit The Day of the Dead, more properly known as Dia de los Muertos, is the Mexican and Hispanic-American event that commemorates and celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed on. Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery opens a show today featuring several altars built to pay homage to those who are gone. These ofrendas are usually constructed in homes, cemeteries or public places, and they often contain art created especially for the occasion. Toys (in memory of children), letters, personal objects and trinkets belonging to those who are gone, as well as papier-mache skeletons and skulls, are all included in various altars. Today thru November 20, see several on display. This is art about loss and love, and art deeply felt by its maker. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Casa Ramirez, 239 West 19th, 880-2420. Free.
Garten Verein Bierhalle First Galveston celebrated its English roots with Dickens on the Strand. Then came the French, via New Orleans, with Mardi Gras. Now this chameleon island takes on the Germans. "Most people don't realize that Galveston has very deep German roots," notes the Galveston Historical Foundation. Indeed, at one time the Garten Verein was among Galveston's "most important social clubs." So to honor that deep and abiding Germanness, Galveston Island will celebrate its first Oktoberfest this weekend. Feldenfest, just back from a series of European performances, will provide traditional Bavarian music, and dancers will be on hand to lead guests in the polka and the chicken dance. Eat knackwurst, sauerkraut, stuffed cabbage and apple strudel, and bid on airfare for two to Germany. 7:30-10 p.m. Garten Verein Pavilion, Avenue O at 27th Street, Galveston, (409) 765-7834. $40-$45, includes dinner and a stein of beer.
Two Heads/Four Feats Two originals come together for this evening of dance at DiverseWorks. Michelle Spencer, who's danced from Oakland to New York, uses dance, text and slides to create her performance pieces, which The New York Times has called "smart, cute and profoundly irritating." Jane Weiner, a recent terpsichorean arrival to our city, will present three dances that cover everything from Argentina to wedding receptions. Best of all, the performance is designed to help raise awareness of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organization. 8 p.m. October 24 and 25. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 228-0914. $12; $10, seniors and students.
Hansel and Gretel Maurice Sendak, most famous for children's books such as Where the Wild Things Are, and Frank Corsaro, artistic director of the Juilliard Opera Center, have created a completely new concept for Engelbert Humperdinck and Adelheid Wette's opera Hansel and Gretel. Gone is the cutesy narrative that the Brothers Grimm tale has been reduced to in recent times. Instead, Sendak and Corsaro attempt to bring into the opera all the terrifying elements of the original story -- which is, remember, about a wicked stepmother whose solution to poverty is to abandon her stepchildren in the forest so there won't be so many mouths to feed. Though decked out with a moral, the Grimm original is a gruesome fable, one full of dire warnings, as so many folktales are. Of course, Houston Grand Opera's version promises to be beautiful as well: With Sendak's opulent sets and costumes and Humperdinck's Wagnerian score, you're bound to be moved while being soundly warned about how perilous life can be. The opera will be sung in German with English supertitles. 7:30 p.m. (See Thrills, Theater for other dates and times.) Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas, 227-ARTS. $20-$175.