The Week of Oct. 8

The Alexandria Seaport Foundation hosts Alexandria Seaport Day Oct. 9 from 10 to 4 at Waterfront Park, with maritime exhibits, children's activities and a rowboat-building competition. Call 703-549-7078. {diam} The Library of Congress celebrates the printed word in its fourth annual National Book Festival, with appearances by more than 70 writers, Oct. 9 on the Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. Call 202-707-5000. {diam} Enjoy live performances, hands-on art activities, costumed characters and other entertainment at Family Toon Day Oct. 10 at Strathmore Arts Center in Bethesda. Call 301-530-0540. {diam} Bette Midler brings her "Kiss My Brass Tour" to Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena Oct. 11. Tickets are $55 to $135 plus service charges; call 202-397-7328.

The Week of Oct. 15

The Virginia Opera stages Puccini's "Turandot," the story of a cold-hearted Mandarin princess in ancient China, at George Mason University's Center for the Arts Oct. 15 and 17. Tickets cost $44 to $84; call 703-218-6500 or 703-993-8888. {diam} National and local bands will perform during the D.C. Chili Cookoff, an annual benefit for the National Kidney Foundation, Oct. 16 at 12th Street and Independence Avenue NW. Tickets in advance cost $25 from Ticketmaster ($35 at the gate); call 202-397-7328. {diam} The 67th annual International Gold Cup steeplechase will be run Oct. 16 at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Tickets start at $50 per vehicle; call 540-347-1215. {diam} Seafood dishes and other foods, entertainment on two stages, a crafts fair, carnival games and other amusements are all part of the 38th annual St. Mary's County Oyster Festival Oct. 16-17 at the county fairground near Leonardtown. Admission is $5, ages 12 and under free; call 301-863-5015. {diam} The Washington Ballet opens its 2004-05 season with its first full-length production of "Giselle" Oct. 20-24 in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets cost $29 to $80; call 202-467-4600.

The Week of Oct. 22

Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves stars as the vengeful gypsy Azucena in the Washington National Opera's production of "Il Trovatore," Verdi's tragic tale of a kidnapped baby, political archenemies and long-lost brothers, in the Kennedy Center Opera House from Oct. 23 through Nov. 13. Tickets cost $45 to $290; call 202-295-2400 or 202-467-4600.

{diam} The Cathedral Choral Society opens its season with Verdi's "Requiem" Oct. 24 at Washington National Cathedral. Tickets cost $20 to $55; call 202-537-5527.

{diam} Dan Aykroyd, Candice Bergen, Chevy Chase, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Conan O'Brien, Paul Simon, Christopher Walken, senators Christopher Dodd and John McCain and other familiar names are scheduled to pay tribute to veteran comedy writer and producer Lorne Michaels, creator of "Saturday Night Live," as he receives the Mark Twain Prize at the seventh annual Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor Oct. 25 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets cost $25 to $75; call



These upcoming shows go on sale this weekend from Ticketmaster: starting Friday, Little Feat, appearing Nov. 18 at the Birchmere ($35); starting Saturday at 10, "The Irish Tenors," Anthony Kearns, Finbar Wright and John McDermott, Nov. 3 at the Warner Theatre ($29.50, $45 and $65). Call 202-397-7328 (service charges added).



These exhibitions open next week: "Calder Miro," opening Oct. 9 at the Phillips Collection, compares the work of two modernist artists. Call 202-387-2151.

{diam} "Inventions: Recent Paintings by Caio Fonseca," opening Oct. 9 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, features large-scale abstractions by a contemporary painter. Call 202-639-1700. {diam} "Gathering Jewels: Japanese Illustrated Books From the Lionel Katzoff Collection," opening Oct. 9 at the Walters Art Museum, showcases books of woodblock prints. Call 410-547-9000. {diam} "Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance, 1972-1985," opening Oct. 14 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, considers the work of the Cuban-born artist known for body art exploring issues of gender and identity. Call 202-633-1000 (TDD: 202-357-1729).


Opening Oct. 8: "Bright Leaves" is Ross ("Sherman's March") McElwee's personal documentary about the tobacco industry. {diam} In "Friday Night Lights," a high school football coach (Billy Bob Thornton) leads his team to the 1988 Texas state semifinals in the west Texas city of Odessa, where high school football is king. {diam} In "Head in the Clouds," two lovers (Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend) are forced to choose between passion and personal convictions, their fate intertwined with the painful history of a world at war.

{diam} "I {heart} Huckabees" is director David O. Russell's comedy about a couple of so-called existential detectives (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) who help clients with their problems with unusual holistic methods. Also stars Jason Schwartzman and Isabelle Huppert.

{diam} In "Raise Your Voice," Hilary Duff is a small-town girl and aspiring singer whose life is transformed by a summer at an L.A. performing arts academy. {diam} "Red Lights," a thriller based on the Georges Simenon novel, is about a married couple (Carole Bouquet and Jean-Pierre Darroussin) whose fighting takes them into a higher realm of danger. {diam} In "Taxi," Queen Latifah plays a sassy cabdriver who teams with a greenhorn cop (Jimmy Fallon) who wants to solve a string of bank robberies. {diam} Italian filmmaker Pupi Avati's "Incantanto" is the story of a 30-year-old virgin looking for love with a blind woman he meets at a dance. Opening dates may change.


Closing on stage this weekend: "One Red Flower," at Signature Theatre (703-218-6500); "Ivona, Princess of Burgundia," by Scena Theatre at the Warehouse Theater (703-684-7990); and "The Tale of a Tiger," by Rorschach Theatre at Calvary Methodist Church (800-494-8497 or 202-452-5538). {diam} This weekend is your last chance to visit "Baseball as America," at the National Museum of Natural History (202-633-1000, TDD: 202-357-1729); and "Illuminating the Word: Gospel Books in the Middle Ages," at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum (410-547-9000).


Sitting in traffic on Skyline Drive is no way to experience the sensory delights of the woods on a crisp autumn day: There are forests aplenty in and around the city where you can see the fall leaves by boat, by bike or on foot.


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Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are "existential detectives" in David O. Russell's "I {heart} Huckabees," opening Oct. 8. Bette Midler sings at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena Oct. 11."Inventions: Recent Paintings by Caio Fonseca," an exhibition of large-scale abstractions, opens Oct. 9 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.