Press Picks

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Pumpkin Patch Okay, this fall fest has a little extra that really counts. Yes, yes, they've got a spooky graveyard, scarecrows and a patch full of Halloween pumpkins, but it also has a mule-drawn hay wagon for rides around the neighborhood. Decent people never miss a chance to teach their kids about mules. 11 a.m.5 p.m. Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle, 667-6550. Free. Bring money for the pumpkin sale and craft booths.

Bocktoberfest Music Festival There's not a hotel room to be had in all of Lavaca County tonight, 'cause this Saturday, 15,000 lovers of Texas music are expected to deluge Shiner as the Spoetzl Brewery hosts this city's second annual music fest. The Hollisters and Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys, Houston's contribution to the aural extravaganza, will kick-start the show about the time you're trying to digest your lunch; silken-haired Ian Moore, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and hot, hot Robert Earl Keen are the headliners. Rent a Winnabego or shanghai a designated driver and make a day trip of it to experience what may well be the only nightlife the 2,000 or so townsfolk here will see all year. And be sure, the beer -- Shiner products, of course -- will flow as freely as the music. 110:30 p.m. Spoetzl Brewery, Highway 95 in Shiner. For info, call (800) 5-SHINER. $20,orvisittheShinerWebsite ( to win free tickets.

America: Women Vote! That's a statement, an imperative and the name of a multicity project to rile up the female electorate. EMILY's List, which raises money for pro-choice women Democrats, today hosts a rally to support Congressional candidates across the country. 1:30 p.m. University of Houston, University Center, Houston Room (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). $100. (202) 326-1400, extension 3049.

The Fantasticks See an old, oft-performed show with a lighthearted love theme, and see young, largely unpracticed actors who may grow up to be famous. Matinee today, 3:30 p.m. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Black Box Theatre, 4001 Stanford, 942-1966. $9.

A Streetcar Named Montrose ... the Musical The Halloween Magic Players, persons of considerable energy, some wit and no scruples whatsoever, have prepared a theatrical benefit for the Bering Community Service Foundation and Body Positive Houston. Previous offerings have included The Sound of Montrose, The Phantom of Montrose and Montrose Boulevard. A good time is always had by all, and the whole thing (the evening includes a reception with the cast, cocktails and silent auction) is for a good cause. Liddy Dole, Hillary Clinton, Elyse Lanier and Blanche DuBois are all spoofed in this musical, and Edward Albee is the honorary chairman for the event. 6:30 p.m. Texas Medical Center Conference Center, 2151 Holcombe, 587-6005. $35.

october 20
AutumnFest Around here, we really don't have any autumn to fest. We don't have outdoor ice skating either. And the marvelous thing is, people cope. The Greater Houston Skating Council, a group who can arrange an artificial environment (such as an indoor ice skating rink), hosts a showcase, AutumnFest, in the brand-new Texas Ice Stadium. Local skaters will show their stuff in a dress rehearsal for the season's first qualifying competition for the National Figure Skating Championships. 24 p.m. Texas Ice Stadium, 18150 Gulf Freeway (near the Clear Lake exit), 623-2272. $5.

Electric harp Ray Pool plays jazz on an amplified, plug-in harp, but he also does all the typical New York harpist things. Many Broadway shows have featured his fine fingerwork, and he plays for the Waldorf's daily tea. One Houston show only. 7:30 p.m. Ovations, 2536-B Times Boulevard, 522-9801, [email protected]. $5.

october 21
Coming Home to America Torie Osborn will sign her new book, subtitled "A Roadmap to Gay & Lesbian Empowerment," and share her message about being out all the time, in every situation, until finally bigots shut up and go on with their lives instead of always trying to figure out the sexual preferences of everyone they meet. Osborn, a snub-nosed cutie, practices what she preaches, despite difficulties: after she came out, her mother didn't speak to her for six years, and though she met with Clinton, he doesn't seem to have been listening. 7 p.m. Crossroads Market Bookstore & Cafe, 1111 Westheimer, 522-7988, [email protected].

october 22
Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series The literary dames for tonight's word orgy are poet Heather McHugh and short story writer and essayist Mary Gaitskill. McHugh, a pleasant-faced woman with the air of a baker, or maybe someone who would have been a goatherd six generations ago, is a busy bee who's published five books of poetry, three of translations and one of essays. 8 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 743-3013. $5; free, seniors and students.

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Edith Sorenson