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weekend roundup

Film, sex and spirits make this a scary, surprise-filled weekend to remember

Austin Photo Author_Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Kelly_viva la vida_Oct 2011_family
it's time for Viva la Vida (in addition to the Austin Film Festival AND Austin Beer Week)! Photo by Kelly Schneider
Austin Photo Set: News_Katherine Craft_AFF_5 things you didn't know_Oct 2011_crowd
Celebrities join the fun during the AFF panels and screenings. Courtesy of Austin Film Festival
Beer mugs
Too many beer specials to choose from. So why not... all of them?

How'd y'all cope with the crowds last weekend? Did you stay away from downtown or brave the masses of music lovers trolling the streets for the best ACL after parties?

This weekend (and all of next week), we've got a whole new crew of visitors in town for the 19th Annual Austin Film Festival & Conference, happening in and around the Paramount Theatre and the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel. The AFF attendees may prefer dark theaters to open fields, but they can get just as rowdy as ACL crowds when the celebrities start showing up on the red carpets.

If you didn't buy a badge to this monolithic yearly film frenzy, you can still buy individual tickets to any one of the films. The lines will be long, but the bragging rites and the celebrity sightings can make up for even the longest outdoor standing session. It's more time to plan out the rest of your 8-day festival schedule.

If you'd prefer to know you have a seat reserved for you, check out a film at the Drafthouse this weekend. Just in time for Halloween, the Master Pancake comedians are lending their movie skewering skills to special screenings of the original Night of the Living Dead. The George Romero classic will feel a lot less scary when you've got these professional movie commentators layering their signature fun on top of the organ-eating and brain-slurping.

Much friendlier ghouls will occupy the downtown streets outside the Mexic-Arte Museum on Saturday during the Viva la Vida Festival, the largest "Day of the Dead" celebration in Austin. Workshops, educational programs, traditional arts and crafts, delicious foods and beautiful costumes will fill this day-long celebration, which is a huge part of how many Latin countries commemorate the passing of their loved ones.

Perhaps much scarier to you is the thought of reading your junior high diary in front of a live audience. That's precisely what happens at the 29th Street Ballroom at Mortified. This is Austin's instance of the nationally recognized reading series that highlights all of the cringe-worthy drama that plagued us in our more vulnerable days when braces, zits and being uncool was all we could concentrate on. This month, producer Dave Nadelburg reads live the love letter that started the Mortified phenomenon ten years ago.

If that doesn't sound scary enough for you, how about seeing hundreds of Austinites dressed up in thongs jiggling all over town in a 5k? The Austin Thong Jog is finally happening this Saturday, beginning and ending at Lipstick24, where a full day of fun activities will then commence. The fun run is in honor of the late Leslie Cochran, Austin's favorite cross-dressing promoter of goodwill, and everyone is encouraged to show up in their skimpiest (exercise-appropriate) workout gear.

If you'd prefer to dress your dog up instead, the pet costume contest is always the highlight of the annual Dogtoberfest celebration at the Domain. This year's puppy-palooza takes place on Saturday, and is held to raise awareness and money for pet adoptions in Austin. Bring your pets (in costume preferably!) to participate in all of the training demonstrations, contests and races happening all afternoon.

If your tastes run closer to bears than dogs, later that night, the ND@501 Studios is hosting the traveling bear dance party, Bearracuda. This gathering of the biggest, hairiest and sweatiest that the gay community has to offer will be dancing the night away to remixes by DJ Matt Consola. This is the only night of dancing where you'll also get a really great spread of snack food to keep you fueled for your night of dancing.

This weekend also kicks off Austin Beer Week (which conveniently runs concurrently with AFF). Dozens of bars and restaurants throughout the city will host special events and tastings of their unique products: craft, cask, barrel-aged and everything in between. This is a great time to make the rounds and check off all those places you just keep meaning to get around to, like Banger's, Hops & Grain and even the Flix Brewhouse.

For the spirits crowd, Takoba is hosting their Second Annual Mezcal Fest on Saturday, showcasing the flavors and uncompromising power of the agave plant. Try over 20 different varietals of handmade mezcals, straight or mixed in amazing cocktails designed by Takoba's star mixologists. Throw in live Cumbia music out in the parking lot from Kiko Villamizar, and you've got an entire weekend escape planned.

If it's escape you're after, why not get over to ZACH for a little live musical theatre? After the amazing performances by Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell that christened the beautiful new Topfer Theatre last month, the cast of Ragtime is ready to blow you away with the power of a locomotive. This production showcases the full capabilities of the new Kuykendall stage, proving that ZACH is ready to deliver in their new 2013 season.

Another show with a whip-smart historical slant is GNAP! Theater Projects' current show at Salvage Vanguard, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. This is the last weekend to catch the talented and tireless ensemble teaching you about the 44 men who have occupied the Oval Office as the Chief Executive Officer. Employing a treasure trove of props and set changes, the show is an appropriately chaotic exploration of our country's tumultuous rise to power. Watch out, or you just might learn a lot and have a lot of fun doing it.

My word, that's a lot to do to keep you busy for at least the next three days! And it's only barely skimming the surface of all the beauty and intrigue and trouble you can get into here in our fair city this late October weekend.

We'll see you back here in a week when it's time to start getting dolled up for Halloween-type parties and The Texas Book Festival. Enjoy your weekend!

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