Joseph Cornell Cornell's famous boxes -- exquisite assemblages of small, common objects, text and memorabilia -- were inspired in part by his dreams. Walter Hopps, the big kahuna at the Menil, has remarked, "Among the American artists of his generation, Cornell was a pioneer in expressing the evocative poetry inscribed in objects from the real world ...." From the Menil's own Cornell holdings and from other private collections, Hopps has gathered 75 of the boxes and a smattering of Cornell's lesser-known collages and films. 11 a.m.-6:45 p.m. (See Thrills, Museums for other days and times.) The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 525-9400. Free.
Houston Downtown Street Festival Festival time is upon us. This weekend's big offering is the revamped, renamed Bi-Annual Westheimer Street Festival. Of course, there will be the obligatory arts and crafts vendors, lots of Houston restaurants will show what they can do with food and music will sound forth from six different stages. But best of all, the festivities will now happen downtown among the canyons of our skyscrapers. If you haven't been downtown lately, now's your chance to see some of the changes taking place there. Noon-10 p.m. today and Sunday, downtown Houston, bounded by Franklin, Prairie, Milam and Texas, 688-3773. Free, but organizers ask that you bring a children's book in the name of fighting illiteracy.
Texas Renaissance Festival The Texas Renais-sance Festival happens on 50 acres of piney land about an hour outside of Houston. A strange and fantastic group of artisans, musicians, chefs, actors and ne'er-do-wells assembles for this festival's astonishing run of seven weekends. Watch glass blowers blow glass, coins being minted, broom-makers twine straw together. If artisans don't interest you, spend the day eating Scotch eggs, wild boar, peasant bread and emu trencher. Buy homemade shoes, stained glass or Renaissance clothing. Or just watch the crowd as spectators mingle with 1,000 costumed characters. You might find the Flaming Idiots juggling trio, Merlin the Magician or Robin Hood battling the Sheriff of Nottingham. Historical accuracy, of course, comes second to fun. 9 a.m. to dusk, FM 1774 between Hwy. 105 in Plantersville and FM 1488 in Magnolia, (281) 356-2178,(800)458-3435, www.texrenfest.com. $14.95; $6.95, children five-12; free, children four and under.
Race for the Cure The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure series is the largest series of 5K runs in the U.S. More than 400,000 runners and walkers are expected to participate in 78 cities this year. Of the money Houstonians raise, 75 percent will remain right here to provide breast health care and education for Houston's medical community, including the medically underserved population. Join other women to work up a sweat in the race to cure breast cancer. 7 a.m., registration; 7:30 a.m., women-only 5K run/walk; 7:40, one-mile family walk. The Galleria, Westheimer at Post Oak, 850-9877. $25.
The Heights Festival The Heights Fes-tival -- complete with a parade of local high school marching bands, Boy Scout troops waving from homemade floats and important Heights citizens perched on the convertible rims of shiny red Mustangs -- is one of the sweetest afternoons you'll spend all year. The weather is suddenly October fair, the people are generally kind, and it's not so crowded that you can't move. Food vendors, a petting zoo, music on four different stages and children's games ought to keep the whole family happy. Noon-6 p.m. Heights Boulevard down to 19th Street, 861-4002. Free.
Millennium's Milestones Remember college? It came before the big bills and the weed-whacker and the nights of endless sitcoms droning in the background of that workaday life all college students look so longingly toward. If only you could go back; now that you've been in the "real" world, you'd know how to appreciate those hours of philosophical lectures on big ideas and big historical moments. Rice Continuing Studies Series offers you that chance. With classes such as Humanity and Inhumanity: The Holocaust in Perspective, or Ideas That Sparked a Revolution: The Intellectual Basis of Calculus, you can't help but get wiser -- especially since you'll be paying for the classes out of your own paycheck. Better still: no grades. For information, a catalog or to register, call 520-6022, ext. 416; or send e-mail to scs