Halloween rules. It's a chance for you to get to plow through candy and cocktails -- guilt-free. Here's a roundup of H-town's best fright-night bets: For adults, children and adults who act like children, there's Six Flags AstroWorld's annual Fright Fest. With the park closing soon, this'll be your last chance to partake of ghoulish delights like the Fantom Funhouse of Fright in 3-D. (Runs Fridays through Sundays until Sunday, October 30. 9001 Kirby, 713-799-1234, www.sixflags.com. $25 to $42.)
If you're into spooky cinema, check out the second annual Houston Halloween Film Festival, which will screen short, spooky films by local directors -- and raise cash for arts in education. (7 p.m. Saturday, October 29. Rice Media Center, 2100 University, 832-721-1161. Donations requested.)
The Houston Arboretum transforms into the ArBOOretum, where flashlight-wielding kids can check out the night forest and enjoy a puppet show, pony rides and, of course, tricks and treats. (4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, October 28. 4501 Woodway, 713-681-8433, www.houstonarboretum.org. $3 to $5.) Little lions and tigers might prefer Zoo Boo, which features an animal-themed haunted house, crafts, a costume parade and animals, animals everywhere. (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, October 30. Houston Zoo, 1513 North MacGregor, 713-533-6500. $4 to $8.50.)
Grown-ups can boogie with their babies at KPFT's Scaryoke, where face painting, balloon animals and root beer will keep the kids preoccupied (and hyper) while you embarrass them at karaoke. (6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 29. 419 Lovett Boulevard, www.kpft.org. $5.) Or get all exhibitionistic at the second annual Houston Press Halloween Parade (the theme is "Haunted Hollywood"), where you can compete for prize packages and, of course, attention. (6 p.m. Saturday, October 29. Main at Congress, 713-280-2400, www.deda.org.)
Another option is partying with GALLO, Houston's Gay and Lesbian Latin Organization, which will be serving up a Tejano Brew Ha-Ha, complete with a costume contest, door prizes and a downright scary combination of drink specials and Latin dance music. (8:30 p.m. Saturday, October 29. La Cueva Tequila Lounge, 2312 Crocker, 832-203-8574. $5). Or get dolled up at the über-charitable Bewitched Ball, which benefits the likes of Bering Omega and the AIDS Foundation with a costume contest, silent auction and cash bar. (8 p.m. Friday, October 28. Magnolia Ballroom, 715 Franklin, 713-880-5422. $30 to $35.) -- Julia Ramey
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Open letter to my grandkid(s):
I've decided to share with you one amazing memory: the day the Houston Astros made it into the World Series.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005: My date and I are downtown to catch the action on the balcony of Live Sports Cafe. Down on the street, hundreds of people are milling around at the intersection of Main and Prairie. Just after 7 p.m., the game is broadcast on the wall of the Binz Building, and we've got the best view of the 30- by 40-foot telecast. It's beautiful -- the crisp October evening, the Houston skyline and building-size televised sports.
Thousands explode into cheers when Astros catcher Brad Ausmus crosses home plate for the first run. There's an impromptu call and response, as the folks down below scream "Houston!" and we on the balcony scream "Astros!" back.
It's the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals send up a pop fly.
Astros outfielder Jason Lane prepares to catch it as thousands of people hold their breath.
He catches it. Holy Toledo, we're going to the World Series"
The ground seems to be shaking. The screams and cheers are deafening, with cries of "World Series!" "Forty-three years, baby!" and "White Sox suck!" Everywhere, people are hugging, clapping, dancing and whooping. Cars drive by, horns honking. Two guys are running around carrying a huge "Houston" banner. We jump on the light rail and head to Academy for World Series shirts, but the line spans two blocks. I don't get a shirt, but I do get to see people stomping, kicking and dancing on a Cardinals hat.
Thanks to a dozen or so rum and Cokes, I don't recall much after that. But I do remember that it was an amazing day. I hope you read this fondly.
Oh, and I hope you'll forgive me for blowing your inheritance by betting on the World Series.
Sincerely, Steven Devadanam
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Politics aside, we've never quite understood the whole Bill Clinton-as-a-dumb-hillbilly thing. Dude was a Rhodes scholar. He wrote My Life, his best-selling (if not always glowingly reviewed) autobiography. Oh, and he pretty much wrote the book on how to passionately deny having sex with an intern. (Thanks for that one, Bill.) So it's quite fitting that our quite literate 42nd president is stealing the show at the annual Texas Book Festival, which takes place this weekend in Austin. The fest, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, features such notables as first lady Laura Bush (who loves her some books), as well as a slew of visiting authors like David Handler (you know him better as Lemony Snicket) and Alexander McCall Smith. Make the roadie and you'll catch a literary gala, the "Author, Author!" awards and even "Book Church." See Bill and the bookish bunch from Friday, October 28, through Sunday, October 30. State Capitol, 1100 Congress. For registration, information and full schedule of events, call 512-477-4055 or visit www.texasbookfestival.org. -- Steven Devadanam
There's no shortage of fun Día de los Muertos events around town, but for something truly auténtico, Talento Bilingüe de Houston offers the appropriately titled "Día de los Muertos," a new exhibit by photographers Robert and Mary Helen Perez. The works began when the husband-and-wife team took a trip to Morelia, Mexico, and documented the upbeat Día de los Muertos festivities, which included picnics, impromptu concerts, family gatherings and even a festival outside the local cemetery. Opening reception: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, November 2. Exhibit runs through November 18. 333 South Jensen. For information, 713-222-1213 or visit www.tbhcenter.org. Free. -- Steven Devadanam