This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, October 30
High school is pretty rough on the goth crowd. The black hair, black clothes and black attitude can earn the hairy eyeball from cheerleaders and faculty alike, and it's a fair bet that the guy in the velvet frock coat won't be voted prom king. But the goths will have their revenge at today's Underworld Halloween Party: Return of the Living Dead Prom Night. Princes and princesses of darkness can dance the night away to the bleakest industrial, deathrock and darkwave sounds, and there will even be crepe-paper decorations in the prom-themed back room. Shadow Reichenstein will be on hand to play some old-fashioned Dallas psychobilly. And at midnight, the best prom couple will be crowned. Cold dish of sweet revenge, anyone? 9 p.m. Numbers, 300 Westheimer. For information, call 713-526-6551 or visit $6.

Friday, October 31
Tales of encounters with the supernatural reliably put butts in movie theater seats. But a slick, special effects-heavy production can't compare to the creepy, intimate feeling of a single voice intoning a haunting tale, especially in an open space in the dark of night. Today, let the evening breeze tickle the hairs on the back of your neck as you listen to Skyline Screamers: Ghost Stories Told Under the Stars, presented by the Houston Storytellers Guild. Wait, did you hear that? It sounded like heavy chains being dragged along the ground. 7:30 p.m. Marmion Park, Heights Boulevard and 18th Street, rain or shine. For information, call 713-817-2620 or visit Free.

Saturday, November 1
In the days of silent films, actors communicated their emotions without the benefit of dialogue. They had no opportunity to say heartfelt lines in the immortal vein of "Hasta la vista, baby." Instead, they chewed the scenery with broad gestures and, in the case of Lon Chaney and his early horror classics, extreme and grotesque makeup. Chaney applied the greasepaint himself, having learned the trade during his many years on the low-budget stage. Today, you can see one of the most memorable fright masks of the pre-Fangoria era when River Oaks Theatre presents the 1925 classic The Phantom of the Opera. Lending an air of authenticity to the silent film experience, Ken Double (the "Voice of the Houston Aeros") will provide a live theater organ accompaniment. 10 a.m. and midnight today and midnight Friday. River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-866-8881 or visit $8 midnight; $6 matinee.

Sunday, November 2
Pablo Neruda's poetry is sensual and romantic on the one hand, plain-spoken and direct on the other. The world-renowned poet, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971, was a communist who wanted to give a voice to those who had no stage to speak from. And he influenced many writers with the beauty and immediacy of that voice. Today, scribes from Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say present a literary ofrenda in honor of Pablo Neruda, coinciding with Día de los Muertos. Performers will read the Neruda poems that most influenced them, as well as works inspired by his words. Bring a notebook and pen along; the event may put you in the mood to spend the rest of the evening composing sonnets. 6:30 p.m. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit Free.

Monday, November 3
A first-rate melody can set spirits soaring, hearts thumping and pulses racing. Sounds like love, eh? The Houston Symphony brings these two transcendent experiences together with its Classical Encounters for Singles series. Today, soul-mate seekers can wine and dine in each other's toe-tapping company, as jazzy first-meeting ambience is laid down by the Blue Monks. Follow that with a rousing dessert of Beethoven and Mahler in reserved-for-singles symphony seating. The connection between music and romance provides a natural conversation opener -- much more suave (and direct) than "So, do you come here often?" 6 p.m. preconcert party at Sambuca Jazz Cafe, 909 Texas; 8 p.m. Houston Symphony performance at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-238-1477 or visit $35 subscribers; $45 nonsubscribers.

Tuesday, November 4
We've all seen the T-shirt: Human evolution progresses smoothly from the stooped-over, knuckle-dragging hominid to the fully upright and square-shouldered Homo sapiens (and, at least according to one T-shirt, back again to a stooped-over, knuckle-dragging linebacker). No shirt explains the evolutionary path from dinosaurs to birds, however. Just how did enormous lizard-looking creatures give rise to the dizzying array of bird body-plans that dot the skies of the modern world? Wonder no more, paleontology fans, because today the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is offering a naturalist certification class in basic ornithology. Find out how the chicken and the eagle could have fallen out of the same branch of the evolutionary tree. 7 p.m. 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit $15 for members; $20 for nonmembers.

Wednesday, November 5
When people commit terrible crimes, we look for reasons. And when the criminals seem too young to have been fully responsible for their own actions, we look beyond them to place blame. What is responsible for turning high school kids into shooters? Video games, violent movies, their home lives? Jane Martin's new drama Good Boys puts the father of a victim together with the father of a shooter and explores a tough question: Can the father be held responsible for the sins of the son? Preview: 7:30 p.m. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0220 or visit $20 to $25.

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Lisa Simon