Cokie Roberts America's the kind of country in which a good-looking (sometimes) blond with well-connected relatives can become somebody, even if she has a cutesy nickname. Roberts, who currently makes a more-than-comfortable living covering politics for ABC and accepting honoraria for speaking engagements, is the guest at a luncheon benefiting Sheltering Arms Senior Services. Hot off the campaign trail, Roberts will talk about Bill and Bob while guests enjoy a hot lunch. Noon. Hyatt Regency-Downtown, 1200 Louisiana. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call Patty Rabel at 685-6524. $75 and up.
Of Thee I Sing There are two presentations of this Gershwin concert show -- the previously announced 8 p.m. Saturday show and tonight's performance. Of Thee I Sing is a musical spoof, by George and Ira, about John P. Wintergreen's loopy presidential campaign. Proceeds will benefit Main Street Theater's Youth Theater program. Pre- and post-show receptions at the Moose Cafe; performance, 7:30 p.m. Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $30.
Swan Lake The weather is cool now, and you've missed many wonderful shows at Miller Outdoor Theatre, so why not pack a picnic basket and take the kids out for Swan Lake? Houston Ballet presents the romance at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
Black Men, Black Voices This is the first performance in a series of community art projects sponsored by the Houston Blues Society, but the show isn't limited to blues. Jimmy "Louisiana" Dotson and gospel singer Jacky Scott will share the stage with jazz artist Kinney Abair and rapper Dope "E." It's all free, and it's all about the dialogue of blues music and the arts in the black community. 10 a.m.noon. Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington. For information on this performance or other aspects of the project, contact Joseph Kotarba, 743-3954. Free.
The Gondoliers The Gilbert & Sullivan musical, we are assured, is "a veritable United Nations of hummable Italian tunes, exotic Spanish dances and witty English comedy complete with a few royal babies switched at birth." Plus, "you'll have no trouble understanding the natives, as everyone speaks English." Presented by the Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center of the University of Houston at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Cullen Performance Hall, 743-3009. $7; $5, students and seniors.
Florencia en el Amazonas Houston Grand Opera director David Gockley was "looking for an opera that will bring our audience in touch with the artistic, musical, literary and visual aspects of Latin America, but without the annoying insects ...." Actually, Gockley didn't tell Mexican screenwriter Marcela Fuentes-Berain and Mexican composer Daniel Catan that he wanted the commissioned work without the biting pests of our region and lowlands of Central and South America; Gockley asked for "nothing less than the most beautiful opera in the last 50 years." That's a tall order, but most of HGO's premieres (18 in 42 years) have been fabulous, so we're optimistic. Another good omen: Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the author of the story of Florencia. The Spanish-language opera opens tonight, 7:30 p.m. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Theater.) Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $20-$175.
Great Pumpkin Fun Run Good grief! As part of the post-race hoopla after the Texas Heart Institute's fifth annual benefit fun run, costumed children will compete for savings bonds, while fun run volunteers hope to win a NordicTrack. The run is a chance for the physically fit to get out and compete in a friendly fashion, and for Dr. Denton Cooley, head of the institute, to beg for organs. He says the race is a fun way to "heighten awareness about the need for organs." The Great Pumpkin Dash (5K run) starts at 8 a.m., followed by the Goblin Gallop (3K run and walk) and the Witches Walk (1K run and walk). (Wheelchairs are okay in the 5K; strollers permitted only in the 1K and the 3K.) Wortham Park, 2100 block of West Holcombe near Main and Shamrock Drive (in the Medical Center). For more information, call 791-2540 or visit http://www.tmc.edu/thi/. Entry fee for 5K, $18; 3K and 1K, $15.
Texian Market Days Although they've dug up more local history than most visitors can absorb, the historians of the George Ranch aren't done yet. This festival has all the Victorian and cowboy activities Houston families have come to expect -- antique tractor pulls, craft displays, beast-of-burden competitions (everything from ponies to oxen) and square dancing. They'll also have an archaeological dig and, for the first time, antique vendors. We are fairly certain that visitors who find rare and valuable antique pottery or buttons at the dig will not be able to sell them to the vendors, but we're not sure. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. today; 10 a.m-.5 p.m. Sunday. George Ranch Historical Park, 10215 FM 762, Richmond (take Highway 59 South), 545-9212. $7; $6, seniors; $3, children three to 15.
Arboretum Amble Why suffer from arachnophobia when you can enjoy arachno-phoria? Bask in spider joy and love for all the things that crawl and scuttle in the woods at the Houston Arboretum's Halloween party. Along with the spider booth, the park offers "Rummaging Raccoons," "Pond-O-Rama" and "Armadillos Alley," complemented by crafts and games, live animals, puppet animals and animals on film. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, 681-8433. Free.
Rosemary Clooney People, and frequently people on MTV, talk about how long the Stones have been touring and offer huzzahs to Mick and Keith. Those people forget (or maybe never knew about) serious performers such as Rosemary Clooney, who was a radio star in 1945. The Society for the Performing Arts, with proper reverence for historic careers, has chosen the "girl singer" to entertain at the SPA 30th Anniversary Gala. Black tie. Reception, 7; dinner, 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-3389. $250-$1,000.
Skyline Screamers Bring a blanket to sit on, and prepare to be scared: the Houston Storytellers Guild will tell spooky stories for the season. The evening opens with stories suitable for younger kids, then builds to tales that will scare the bejeezus out of strong men. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Marmion Park, at 18th Street and Heights Boulevard, 523-3289. Free.
Latino Laugh Festival Showtime's touring comedy act, starring John Mendoza, has its first live show in Houston this week. Comedy fans may remember the broadcast version, with Cheech Marin and Daisy Fuentes, from TV last summer. This live show is banking on the success of the TV show and, besides Mendoza, features Jeff Valdez, Kim Tavares, Pablo Francisco and Rudy Moreno. 8 p.m. Houston Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway (at Fondren), 988-1020. $21-$23.
Dead Alive One reason for celebrating Western civilization is the number of terrific Halloween movies it's produced -- Halloween and its sequels, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, various brain-in-a-jar flicks and Dead Alive. Being shown this weekend as part of Landmark's Horror Movie Month, Dead Alive is a zombie feature with more slinging gore than any other, a vicious Sumatran rat-monkey and writer/director Peter Jackson's particular sense of humor. Midnight (or thereabouts). River Oaks 3 Theatre, 2009 West Gray, 524-2175. $6.75.
Moonlight Ramble Hundreds of bikers will suffer collective moon madness and ride a 20-mile circle around the city tonight. Sponsored by the Two Wheel Transit Authority and the Houston Bicycle Alliance, the ramble raises money for Houston's Child Helmet program, HPD's Bicycle Police Officers and other cycle causes. Registration, 11 p.m.; ramble, 1:59 a.m. Sunday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, 729-9333. $15.
Zoo Boo Today only, the Houston Zoo has a haunted house and trick-or-treat candy for the kids. Put the little ones in costumes and bring them out to see the vampire bats, Mexican wolves and the ghostly white Bengal tiger. Halloween party, 10 a.m.6 p.m. Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, 1513 North MacGregor, 523-5888. $2.50; $2, seniors; 50 cents, children three12; free, children under three. Any paying adult who presents a Warner Cable bill can get free admission for one child, age three to 12.
India Bazaar Visitors won't be able to ride an elephant through the jungle in hopes of seeing a tiger, but all the other sights and sounds of India are promised at the 13th Annual India Bazaar. Presented by the India Culture Center, the bazaar celebrates the people, culture, arts, music, dance, fashions and, of course, foods of India. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For more information, call 343-0287. $2.
Johnny 100 Pesos A Chilean cops-and-robbers drama based on a real-life misadventure in which a botched robbery and the subsequent Dog Day Afternoon negotiations were broadcast live on TV. The star, Armando Araiza, is a threat to Antonio Banderas. 7 p.m. MFA: 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5; $4, seniors and students.
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Make-A-Wish Foundation Get Ready for Golf After golfing for a good cause, get your Joe Boxer shorts. The Houston Chapter of the Texas Society for Public Accountants is having a tournament to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and everybody who hits the links for this good cause receives a pair of underpants. Registration, 10:30 a.m. Sweetwater Country Club in First Colony. For more information about participating or contributing, call 952-9474.
FUUSA Families Under Urban and Social Attack, a community empowerment group working in the Third Ward, is having a "Motown and Oldies Monday Nite" fundraiser. Richard Alderman, the People's Lawyer, is the emcee, and everyone is urged to don their vintage best for the Motown Best Dressed Contest. This lively, worthwhile event also features live music and a silent auction. 7 p.m. Cody's in the Village, 2540 University. For more information, call 747-8872. $30.
Candidates' Forum 1996 Klein High School students, aided by the League of Women Voters, present four contenders for the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by Representative Jack Fields. Republicans Kevin Brady and Gene Fontenot and Democrats Robert Musemeche and C.J. Newman will air their views and woo voters. 7-9 p.m. Klein High School, at Louetta Road and Stuebner-Airline, 370-5092. Free.
Another You Okay, we're talking here about the award-winning novelist Ann Beattie, not the award-winning comedy writer Anne Beatts. Both have similar names, both write about topical subjects and both are quietly successful women in male-dominated professions, but Beattie writes books. Dreamy sort of books, where people talk a lot and think a lot. Her fifth novel, Another You, also has a supernatural element. Reading and book signing, 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701.