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.
American Heart Walk Everyone knows that a real good way to help your heart is to go for a long walk. Today, at the American Heart Association's American Heart Walk, your stroll might help other people's hearts as well. Join 6,000 others for the 5K or 10K run/walk and make yourself a little healthier while you're supporting the American Heart Association's research projects and educational programs. The walk starts at 8:30 a.m. in Sam Houston Park. The starting line is at the Buffalo Bayou Walking Trail. Call 610-5000 for more information.
Trick or Treat Street If you're a parent, you may feel trick or treating has gotten so spooky in a very real way that you're looking for an alternative way for your kids to celebrate Halloween. Today, Young Country 95.7 invites all the little ones to "Trick or Treat Street," at which children can enjoy carnival games, prizes, a costume contest and performances. They can also go trick or treating, and stay safe and sound while doing so. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Hermann Square (in front of City Hall), 900 Bagby, 881-5914. $2.
Techniques of Articulate People Over the centuries, rhetoric has gotten a bad rap. In America, it's been reduced to something only evil politicians partake in. But who among us hasn't tried to wheedle our way out of a traffic ticket, explain away our lateness or convince a boss to pay us what we're worth? That's rhetoric, too -- persuasive speech. We only associate it with politicians because they're so darned good at it.
Today, J. Singal, author of The Articulate Professional, wants to teach you how to speak with all the savvy finesse of someone seeking office. Learn how to infuse your talk with "verbal energy" and get what you want from people. 9:30 a.m. To register, go to 3000 Weslayan, Suite 330, by 5 p.m. Friday or call 877-1981. $45.
Bo Diddley One of rock and roll's many fathers, but still going strong to the tune of a 1997 Grammy nomination, Bo Diddley is a true living legend. He started out a boxer, wound up on street corners with his guitar burning, then found his way to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where Elvis came to hear him play back in the '50s. Tonight, Diddley will be in Houston. We don't know about Elvis. 9 and 11 p.m. Billy Blues Bar & Grill, 6025 Richmond, 266-9294. $25-$50.
An Evening with Gitanerias Put on your best flamenco dress and dance out to this benefit for the Houston Society of Flamenco Arts. Spend the night in the arms of your favorite lover while you burn up the floor with this sexy dance. A prize goes to the best costume, and who knows who you'll meet at an event such as this. 7:30-11 p.m. Italian Cultural and Community Center, 1101 Milford. For reservations, call 520-9364. $25.
Pointer Sisters To help Miller Outdoor Theatre celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Pointer Sisters are coming to town this weekend. Famous for a slew of danceable tunes from "Fire" to "I'm So Excited," the trio is likely to blaze across the relatively small stage at Miller Theatre. Because the gala is a fundraiser, tickets aren't free this time around. But if you sit on the hill, the price is still tiny for the large-sounding performance on tap for tonight. 8 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, 629-3700. $75 in the seats; $15 on the hill.
Montrose Walking Tour Montrose is full of old, interesting buildings with lots of history. The homes in this architecturally diverse, post-Victorian neighborhood include those built in Arts and Crafts, Classical Revival and Mission styles, as well as some that can only be described as weird, eclectic combinations of different architectural approaches. Today, in a walking tour given by the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, get the lowdown on how and when these structures came to be. 2 p.m. Corner of Stanford and West Main (adjacent to HSPVA's parking lot), 216-5000. $7, members, $5, nonmembers ; free, children under 12.
Taste of the Village Walk the Rice Village area while enjoying a '90s version of Norman Rockwell's America. Face painting, Halloween costumes, traveling entertainers, live music, food from more than 30 Rice Village restaurants and even a waiters race will be on hand for you to enjoy. Find smoothies, chocolates, Thai-spiced finger foods,"witches brew" from the Gingerman and lots more. 2-6 p.m. Rice Village area between Kirby, Greenbriar, University and Dunstan. Tickets are available at University Bank of Montrose, University of St. Thomas alumni office and West U Bank. For information, call 525-3115. $20; $10, children under 12; $55, family ticket for two adults and up to three children.
Avid FriendChip Dogs and cats don't have pockets, so they can't carry quarters to call home if they get lost. But thanks to modern medicine they can now be microchipped, which gives a sort of permanent message to phone home to all the shelters, animal control agencies and veterinarians who might come in contact with your lost pet. This week, all week, you can bring your furry friend in without an appointment and have her or him microchipped for life. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Houston Humane Society, 14700 Almeda Road, 433-6421. $25.
Technology Over Time and the Medieval Legacy Technology has certainly taken over; soon we won't even have money. Find out where this rush toward the new began, and where it's headed, tonight. Dr. Peter Bishop, a self-proclaimed "futurist" from the University of Houston, Clear Lake, lectures on the past, present and future of technology. 7 p.m. Museum of Printing History Lyceum, 1324 West Clay, 522-4652. $10.
Wines from Spain: Great Match Experience all things Spanish tonight. This wine and tapas tasting, organized by the government of Spain, salutes the Spanish influence on wine. Eat tapas created by some of Houston's favorite chefs, including Monica Pope of Boulevard Bistrot and Jimmy Mitchell of the Rainbow Lodge, while sipping Spanish vintages. Over 150 wines will be available, so for goodness sake, be selective. 6:30-9 p.m. Paraiso Maravilla, 5714 Fairdale Lane. For reservations, call (800) 317-