Freaky Friday Director Tod Browning achieved fame with his 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. But a year later, Browning's career was virtually ruined by Freaks, a murderous circus sideshow drama that made audiences run -- not walk -- from theaters; ironically, like Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Freaks achieved cult success and critics'-favorite status years after its disastrous opening. Horror expert David Skal (Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show) takes a look at Browning's life and career in Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning. He'll read from and sign the book 6 to 8 p.m. at Dark Carnival Bookstore, 3086 Claremont, Berkeley. Free; call (510) 654-7323.
They're Baa-ack! Yes, Tony Vaguely's Sick and Twisted Players are at it again. Their 25th production and annual Halloween treat is a stage adaptation of the 1982 nuclear-family nightmare Poltergeist. The little blond tyke who played TV addict Carol Anne in the film is no longer with us, but her spirit lives on, thanks to a stage portrayal by the diminutive Tish. The question is: Who will play the psychic midget role? Find out at a special opening-night gala (complete with a Carol Anne look-alike contest) at 8 p.m. at Bernice Street Playhouse, 21 Bernice, S.F. Tickets for the opening-night gala are $15 (regular performances are $8-10 through Nov. 4); call 826-5358.
Great Pumpkin Attention pumpkin eaters: Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin truffles, pumpkin crepes, and pumpkin muffins are available at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. Hungry ears can listen to live jazz, blues, hip hop, country, salsa, and rock by artists like Maria Muldaur, En-V-Us, the Sundogs, and Bakra Bata. A haunted house, giant carved pumpkins, and arts and crafts by over 280 creators will be on hand. Beware: Clowns will be there, too. The festivities last from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (on Sunday as well) on Main Street (between Miramontes and Spruce), Half Moon Bay. Free; call 726-9652.
Harvey the Gazoo Most people know Harvey Korman as a Mel Brooks movie regular and the crankiest member of Carol Burnett's TV comedy troupe. But before Harvey himself became famous, his voice did: In 1965 and 1966, Korman provided the snooty voice of the Great Gazoo -- a tiny creature with a big head -- on The Flintstones. Korman will appear with special limited-edition Hanna-Barbera prints featuring Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, and the Great Gazoo from 2 to 4 p.m. at Animation USA Gallery, 222 Sutter, S.F. Free; call 282-8550.
How Big Is Your Basket? If you want to see small baskets, go see Kim Shuck: She creates Tsalagi Native American baskets the size of a postage stamp. A textile artist of Native American and Eastern European descent, Shuck is an expert at weaving traditional Southeastern style baskets of pounded white ash splint. Right before your eyes, she'll fashion some tiny, tiny, tiny ones noon to 4 p.m. at the Exploratorium's "About the Size of It: A Circus of the Big and Small," 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $2.50-9; call 563-7337.
Over Easy There are plenty of places in the East Bay for artists to present their work, but not so many sites for artists to meet and exchange ideas. Aiming to change this, the Speakeasy Theatre Company is presenting "The First Ever Speakeasy Salon," an evening of art, theater, music, and social interaction. The first installment in a monthly series features new works by solo performers Anne Galjour and Josh Kornbluth. A benefit for Black Pine Circle School, the event lasts from 2 to 7 p.m. at 2016 Seventh St, Berkeley. Admission is $12; call 331-9595.
Reggae Parksplash A two-day celebration, Reggae in the Park features performances by pop hybrid Third World; "dub poet" Mutabaruka; dancehall pioneer U-Roy; and Meditations, a roots harmony trio from Jamaica. California artists include Wendy Shaw, Inka Inka, Amandla Poets, Junglz Apart, and Bateke Bateke. A benefit for Global Exchange, the event lasts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday too) at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Tickets are $10-17.50; call (510) 762-2277.
Krazy Klezmer Dating back to biblical times, Sukkot marks the time of the harvest; spanning seven days, it shifts from repentance and judgment to rejoicing and celebration. Marking the "fun" part of the Jewish holiday, the Festival of the Booths offers food, wine, song, arts, and crafts. A broad variety of klezmer music will be presented on two stages; performers include Limonim (a klezmer orchestra), Adama, and Ellis Island Old World Folk Band. The festival lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Arguello Boulevard (between Sacramento and Washington) and Lake Street (between Arguello and Second Avenue), S.F. A Simhat Torah (6 p.m.) and klezmer concert (7:30 p.m.), both at Temple Emanu-El (Lake and Arguello), will follow. Free; call 346-4561.
Jazzorama This year's S.F. Jazz Festival lasts over two weeks; spread throughout the city, it includes performances by youth groups and tributes to legends like Charlie Parker. The festival's fourth evening, "Jazz With a View," showcases the Bay Area's Splatter Trio -- the avant-garde noisemakers will be joined by European pianist/composer Myra Melford. Solo pianist Larry Vuckovich fills the master of ceremonies role; the show starts at 8 and 10 p.m. at Club 36, Grand Hyatt, Union Square, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 788-7353.