Waltz Through Vienna How did an age-old city come to be called the birthplace of urban modernism? The cultural shifts that took place in Vienna at the end of the 19th century are the subject of the two-day lecture and performance program "Vienna Fin-de-Siecle: Nostalgia and the Modern." Soprano Gloria Wood sings the cabaret songs of Arnold Shoenberg, backed by a chamber ensemble, and Dance Through Time presents dances of the era on opening night. Author Carl Schorske moderates lectures on art nouveau, Klimt, Strauss, Nietzsche, and Freud, among other topics, throughout the day tomorrow. Events begin at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 10 a.m.) at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $20-30; call 392-4400.
Holy High Jinks The church takes another hit in David Hare's drama Racing Demon. In the play, the clergy members are fictitious, but the actors in it were given some metaphysical coaching from Grace Cathedral's the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, who helped them sort out motivational questions like "Can a bishop put on his own robes?" The play, nominated for a Tony during its recent New York run, follows a poor immigrant parish in London as Church of England clergymen wrestle with sexual misconduct, ambition, power struggles, and betrayal. Two Sunday matinees (Oct. 27 and Nov. 3) will be followed by panel discussions with area ministers. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 10) at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berkeley. Admission is $12-16; call (510) 436-5085.
The Great Pumpkin Finally Arrives All things pumpkin -- weigh-offs, carving demonstrations, pie-eating contests, treats -- dominate the Great Halloween Art and Pumpkin Festival. The International Pumpkin Association's champion growers join in the Pumpkin Parade, and awards will be doled out to parade participants wearing the scariest, funniest, and most beautiful costumes. Kids can ride ponies and hit up local merchants for treats, but regular street-fair fare from outdoor cafes will also provide sustenance. Live music ranges from Rubberneck's Portland-style Latin funk and the Cheeseballs' '70s disco to jazz and blues from Peter Lamson. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) along Polk Street between Broadway and Filbert, S.F. Admission is free; call 346-9162.
Inclined to Celebrate It's a bit of an upward trudge, but the eighth annual Fiesta on the Hill rewards trekkers with expansive views, plates of Thai barbecue and Filipino pizza, and jammin' live sets by Los Angelitos, Dr. Loco's Rockin' Jalapeno Band, and the Mo'Fessionals. Kids get to pet worms, make masks and hats, decorate baby pumpkins, and have their faces painted; adults get to sink local cops in a dunk tank. The street party begins at 10 a.m. along Cortland between Bennington and Ellsworth, S.F. Admission is free; call 206-2140.
Less Toil, Less Trouble Never mind what's happening on Halloween: What's to wear? The California Shakespeare Festival has a few ideas for people who haven't been plotting their costumes since this summer, and whose time to rent is running short. The fest's annual fund-raising garage sale turns out a couple of hundred costumes, props, and masks from seasons past, some in fairly new condition, others with minor and intriguing flaws like dried splatters of fake blood. Prices start at $1 per item. The sale begins at 10 a.m at the California Shakespeare Festival office, 701 Heinz, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 548-3422.
Is It Live? Citizen Band is a band, but it's a team of engineers and construction workers, too. Over two weeks these techy composers have used building tools and various electronic gizmos to construct a "supertemporal audio structure" in the ongoing public installation Process 3x()x(5)(1+1) (building no. 2). The work culminates with a concert in which Citizen Band plays the gizmos and actual musical instruments as sound generators and guest instrumentalists chime in. The show begins at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $6-8; call 626-5416.
Great Strides Taking a walk through Golden Gate Park this weekend provides the additional healthful benefit of raising funds for the San Francisco Food Bank; proceeds from the 5K and 10K Hunger Walk benefit hundreds of meal programs for low-income adults, seniors, and kids. Participants collect pledges on a sponsor sheet, but the less organized may sponsor themselves by pledging to donate a certain sum for every kilometer they complete. The walk begins at 1:30 p.m. at Marx Meadows, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Call 731-1305 to register.
Word Around Town Downtowners will be reading the writing on the wall, the curbs, the staircases, and the Muni benches when Oakland artist Chandra Cerrito completes her work. Cerrito's geometrically arranged "Word Sculptures," six- to 10-word reflections in rub-on plastic, will be installed for one-week periods and then replaced by new ones at different downtown sites, to provide pause in the Financial District's supercharged workaday world. The sculptures will go up beginning today and continuing through Nov. 24 along Market between Fourth and Steuart streets, S.F. Call 252-2590 for more information.
Act Fast You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder where the time went at PlayGround, a one-night festival of original plays, each of which clocks in at 10 minutes or less and is penned by an emerging playwright. All works are inspired by a single topic (announced Oct. 11), written in six days, and directed by community and professional theater people. The show begins at 8 p.m. at A Traveling Jewish Theater, 2800 Mariposa, S.F. Admission is free (contributions accepted); call 399-1809.