Cue the fanfare: It's opening day at the horse races. When you head down to the racetrack, you can pretend that you love the sleek beauty of the animals, or that you find the gentility and tradition of the sport fascinating, but we know what you're really after. You want to lean far over the railing clutching big-money tickets in both fists as the horses head in to the final turn, screaming, "Run, Spiel Meister, run!" We're not immune to this desire ourselves. So we'll see you there when the crack of a gun opens the new season of Live Thoroughbred Horse Racing today at 7 p.m. Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 281-807-RACE or visit www.shrp.com. $3; free for kids.
Friday, October 24
In a world where 15-year-old girls wear baby Ts with "Porn Star" logos, just how outré can the Sophisticated Bitch line of clothing be? Designer Jeff Taplin uses pretty floral fabrics and cool classic concert T-shirts to create his very out-there clothes. What looks like a demure, full-length denim halter dress from the front is actually totally open across the back -- the better to display boy-briefs emblazoned with the Sophisticated Bitch logo. A floral scarf is draped across a model's breasts, pulled tight and called a blouse. Hemlines leave little to the imagination. We're not trying to suggest that the clothes aren't exciting and fun, we just think they'd play rather well on stage at Rick's. See some skin at today's Sophisticated Bitch Fashion Show. 11 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1000 West Oaks Mall. For information, call 281-556-5200 or visit www.alamodrafthouse.com. $8, 18 and over.
Saturday, October 25
Madison Avenue has never been famous for its shame. But it seems that maybe things have gotten worse over the last few years. It's one thing for a Led Zeppelin song that has entered the public domain to be used to sell you a Caddy, but it's quite another when all the trappings of bohemia and "individual" expression are suddenly available on any shelf at Wal-Mart. Well, take heart, America: Performance artist Penny Arcade isn't going down to Target without a fight. In her new show, New York Values, she shreds the popular culture that has commodified everything that was once expressive and true. As a bonus, she'll also be doing a little dirty talking. You won't find the creator of Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! participating in a tasteful reading of The Vagina Monologues, because, people, and listen closely: It's not a rebellion if it's sponsored by Lifetime Television. 8 p.m. Theater LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo. For information, call 713-868-7516 or visit www.theaterlabhouston.com. $23.
Sunday, October 26
Halloween is creeping up quickly. All over town, people are preparing to laugh in the face of mortality. Lawns and gardens have sprung up headstones and death masks, and the costume shops are selling out of this year's ax-through-the-face rubber headdresses. What better time to take a spin through a real final resting place? Today the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance is hosting a guided walking tour of Glenwood Cemetery. Let cheerful docents take you past the graves of famous former citizens, including eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Maybe you'll get a glimpse of those long, long fingernails reaching up through the sod. 2 p.m. 2525 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-216-5000 or visit www.ghpa.org. $10; $7 for students and members; free for kids.
Monday, October 27
Yes, Inprint, Inc. is offering an evening celebrating a great work of Victorian literature written by one of the genre's leading figures. And yes, attendance at the marathon reading of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey by 30 local women will broaden your mind (and relieve you of the need to read the book yourself). But, more important, today Brazos Bookstore will be chock-a-block with tweedy, intellectual females, earnestly reading from and listening to the demure, but still passionate, coming-of-age story. If you're the type who makes passes at girls who wear glasses, then this is surely the literary event of the gal-watching season. 6:30 p.m. to midnight. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit www.inprint-inc.org. Free.
Tuesday, October 28
The fact that MTV's The Real World has dragged on into a 13th season and spawned a plague of reality-TV clones is in itself depressing. But we feel certain that the next big thing will hit television programming any day now. In the meantime, we'll keep peeking way inside the only somewhat staged lives of reality show participants. Real World Chicago's Cara Kahn's personal struggle with clinical depression was splashed all over the small screen during her three months on camera. Now hoping to use her reality-TV notoriety for good rather than evil, Kahn's giving seminars about depression at colleges around the country. She'll stop in Houston today to prove by perky example that depression can be overcome (with perhaps a spot of Prozac). 7 p.m. University of Houston Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. For information and directions, call 713-743-2255 or visit www.uh.edu. Free.
Wednesday, October 29
Never has there been a more aptly titled first work of fiction than Nell Freudenberger's Lucky Girls. The mere existence of this book flies in the face of widely held notions about how fiction is written and what kinds of people write it. We expect writers to be tormented, unbathed and up to their necks in cigarette butts and empty liquor bottles -- and that any literary merit to their work will not be recognized until they themselves are resting in their paupers' graves. Not so Freudenberger. Young and lovely, she was paid a large advance for her then-unwritten first book, based on a single story that appeared to great fanfare alongside a sexy photo in The New Yorker. Freudenberger is a very lucky girl, and, most gallingly, a fantastic writer, too. Stow your jealousy and hear her read from her first book today. Julie Orringer will also be reading from her first book, How to Breathe Underwater. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free.