True or false: Holocaust atrocities were committed by Nazi Party members, SS men and those they coerced. Not so fast. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Harvard professor and author of Hitler's Willing Executioners, will tell you that your first reaction is wrong. According to his shocking primary research, it was, in fact, "ordinary Germans" caught up in a pre-Hitler anti-Semitic atmosphere who were eager to participate in brutal and murderous activities. His book divided the scholastic world ... and camped out on the New York Times bestseller list for some 25 weeks. Goldhagen has appeared on The Today Show, Firing Line, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and CNN's Talk Back Live; tonight he'll lecture at the Congregation Emanu El sanctuary, 1500 Sunset. 7 p.m. For information, contact the Holocaust Museum Houston at 942-8000.
"Blankets and the exciting stories behind them, midday on Maury...." Maybe not, but the 24th Annual International Quilt Festival will definitely generate heat at the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend. Quilters from around the world show their wares and compete for $67,500 in prizes. Quilt themes cover everything from architecture to fashion: Couples will coo by the Kiss collection, techies might be surprised by the "Virtual Quilting" exhibit, and music fans can find stitched versions of Elvis, Stevie Wonder and Janis Joplin in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Quilt. If you get stung by the quilting bee, there are volunteers on hand to help you -- and the kids -- get started, piece by piece. October 29November 1. Exhibits are open 10 a.m.7 p.m. Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for seniors, free for children ten and younger. Visit the web site (www.quilts.com) or call the festival organization at 781-6864 for more info. (Darcel Rockett)
Destined to surprise Sundance with the next Pi, House of Yes or Slam? Take a crash course in independent filmmaking. Indie Slate magazine and the Hollywood Film Institute will take you from financing, budgeting, scheduling and casting to shooting, directing, post-productions, music rights, distributing deals and film festivals -- all in two days. Recent graduates include In the Company of Men producer Mark Archer and Philippa Braithwaite of Sliding Doors fame. Taught by award-winning filmmaker and HFI founder Dov Simens, 2-Day Film School runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday, November 1. Admission: $289. Call Indie Slate at 939-8844 for details and to register.
At drugstores everywhere today, candy shelves are empty and plastic pumpkins are being moved to the off-season sale aisle. But Halloween isn't the be-all and end-all of morbid merrymaking. It's said throughout Mexico and other Central American countries that on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 1 and 2), the dead are given divine reprieve to return to the world of the living. So the living build ofrendas -- altars laden with paper filigree, papier-máche skeletons, flowers and favorite foods -- to welcome them. The MECA children's Day of the Dead altar will be on display throughout the month, but if you pay your respects today you can also see the Sunday Concert Series featuring the Andean folkloric music ensemble Kjatari. 4 p.m. Free. MECA Auditorium, 1900 Kane, Sixth Ward. For more information, call 802-9370.
Prepare for Election Day (November 3) with a public forum called Women on the Realities of War and Drugs. The Houston chapters of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas have invited coca-grower representatives from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia plus an American drug user-turned-harm-reduction activist to discuss the war on drugs. Among other things, they'll present evidence of U.S. support for chemical spraying and South American armies known for human-rights violations. 8 p.m. Free. First Unitarian Universalist Church sanctuary, 5200 Fannin, 526-5200.
The University of Houston's Moores Opera Center is following up last spring's sold-out production of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles with a fall season that includes Kurt Weill's rarely performed The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. With a libretto by Bertolt Brecht, the jazz-inflected score provoked a riot when it was first performed in Germany in 1930. The opera tells the story of the downfall of a capitalist city, complete with gangsters, criminals, opportunists and ladies of questionable reputation gleefully vying for cash. Friday and Saturday, October 3031, and tonight at 7:30 p.m. $10; students and seniors, $5. Moores Opera House, entrance no. 16 off Cullen.
Known for award-winning novels about his experience in the Vietnam War -- including Going After Cacciato, winner of the 1979 National Book Award; The Things They Carried, a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize; and In the Lake of the Woods, Time magazine's Best Novel of 1994 -- Tim O'Brien now turns his writerly attentions to the war between the sexes. He'll read from his new book, Tomcat in Love, tonight in the Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series. 8 p.m. Free. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call Brazos Bookstore, 523-0701.
A couple who shows together.... Eighty-three-year-old African-American activist and artist Elizabeth Catlett met and married Mexican modernist Francisco Mora in the late '40s when they both worked for the legendary populist artists' community El Taller de Grafica Popular (TGP). They spent the next 50 years together creating politically inspired and socially conscious art -- hers, primarily in the form of sculptures of African-American heroines; his, Mexican Revolutionary paintings of the poor struggling to survive. The Blaffer Gallery hosts the Houston stop of the international exhibition tour "Elizabeth Catlett Sculpture: A 50-Year Retrospective" and "Francisco Mora: Works on Paper" through December 20 and Gallery Thirty-Nine 17 presents "Parallel View: A Labor of Love and Art" through November 28. The Blaffer hours: TuesdayFriday 10 a.m.5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 15 p.m. University of Houston entrance no. 16 (off Cullen), 743-9528. Gallery Thirty-Nine 17 hours: TuesdayFriday 11 a.m.6 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.5 p.m. 3917 Main, 529-5262.