This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, October 16
We all fondly remember the heady days of the fin de siècle economic boom. Only the stupid and non-adventurous were bothering to finish college or stay at secure jobs with blue-chip companies. Even serious media outposts were claiming that the sky could never fall and that Alan Greenspan would save us if it dared to try. Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was a lonely voice of caution in the great run-up's wind. Now that the bulls have been chased from the land and the bears dance until dawn, his collected columns look like prophesy. You can hear Krugman read from his collection, The Great Unraveling, today, and listen as the nakedness of our emperors is revealed all over again. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit Free.

Friday, October 17
Thomas Kinkade (The Painter of Light) has a little stone bridge to sell you. Bathed in a neon purple sunset, it leads to a tiny thatch-roofed cottage, which is tucked in by a Vesuvian spill of flowers and looked after by the cutest little puppy ever. The well-behaved scamp leaves the garden unmolested, but you might feel a little molested by Kinkade's brand of adorable cottage porn. As "America's most collected living artist" (according to the Thomas Kinkade Web site), it would seem that Kinkade is offering a vision shoppers go for. He sells only reproductions of his paintings (which are "published" on a regular schedule), but this is good news for avid collectors. You can have your favorites -- all of them -- and they are as real and tangible as those Monet Water Lilies coffee mugs on your breakfast table. See the latest Kinkade products and shake hands with the visionary himself at the Houston stop of his 20 Years of Light Tour. 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TLC Galleries, Rice Hotel, 909 Texas. For information, call 281-486-8906 or visit $25.

Saturday, October 18
One thing is for certain, CenterPoint for Body, Mind & Spirit's annual fund-raising event is inclusive. If a method of self-improvement is alternative, non-Western, mystical or unregulated by the FDA, you can be sure it will be represented at today's Whole Life & Psychic Expo. A small sampling of the event's offerings: magnets, aromatherapy, handwriting analysis, channeling, ear candling, quantum touch, chakra balance, crystals and the ancient classics -- astrology and tarot. And in case you're wondering just who you really are, the Psychic Pavilion features past-life readings, aura photography and soul portraiture. You can explore the far reaches of inner space while your kids enjoy balloon shaping and face painting. They may return to you painted up like their totem animals, but it's all in the name of self-knowledge. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CenterPoint, 1920 Hollister. For information, call 713-932-7224 or visit $2; free for kids.

Sunday, October 19
The house lights have come up on the 2003 World Gymnastics Championships. The U.S women's team has pulled out another tear-jerking, crowd-pleasing, come-from-behind win. The medals have been strung, the pools of sweat mopped up and the empty diet pill bottles swept away. But the gymnasts' trainers have cracked their whips and loaded the little champions back onto the circus train for the TJ Maxx 2003 Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Watch the little sprites reject the pleasures of childhood and perform their frantic antics today when the tour tumbles into Houston. Watch closely and you may detect the instant when a smile becomes a grimace of pain. 6:30 p.m. Toyota Center Arena, 1510 Polk. For information and tickets, call 866-446-8849 or visit $15 to $49.

Monday, October 20
Highly polished pieces of theater do not spring forth fully formed. What you see on the stage is the final product of a long, involved process of trial, error and more error. If you've ever believed otherwise, or you'd like to take some comfort in knowing that the creative set works just as hard as you do, Monday Night FootFall may be the show for you. It features brand-new, untested works and shorter pieces that have just been expanded to last 20 to 30 minutes. The artists will be sticking around afterward to further rip back the veil of mystery and answer audience questions about how they do what they do. Performances will include the new dance Wormwood by Daniel Adame of Suchu; Voices of America by Keith Reynolds of Slump and Infernal Bridegroom Productions; and Glass Before Marriage by Toni Leago Valle, which explores the feelings and events leading up to that "I do" moment. 8 p.m. 1117 East Freeway. For information and tickets, call 713-335-3445 or visit $5.

Tuesday, October 21
Has your cat discovered in therapy that she's really a dog trapped in a feline body? Does your dog dream of someday patrolling the streets as one of Houston's Finest? The fantasy of being someone else for a day is not just for humans anymore. Dress up your furry, feathery or flippery friend and trot him to the National Howl-O-ween Costume Party today at your local PETsMART. Events at nine locations citywide will feature costume parades, costume contests and pets doing tricks for treats. There will also be a show of the latest pet fashions, so if Fifi hasn't found the perfect outfit yet, there's still a chance. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For information and addresses, call 877-473-8762 or visit Free.

Wednesday, October 22
Where Hollywood churns out predictable action movies and safe romantic comedies, India's Bollywood makes its money on grand musical spectacles and, well, safe romantic comedies. Just as the Sundance set stands in opposition to the prevailing Hollywood culture, so Satyajit Ray went against the grain in his homeland, producing an elegant, quiet oeuvre over his 40-year career. His final film, The Stranger, is a rough finger probing at tranquil middle-class domesticity. Mixture Gallery has included the film in its October outdoor film series, "A Halloween of the Mind," because the film openly questions the masks of civility that most people wear to keep from rocking the societal boat. And how many times can you listen to Bela Lugosi say, "I vant to suck your blood," anyway? 8 p.m. 2604 Dunlavy. For information, call 713-520-6809. Free.

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Lisa Simon