Helpful Tips on Appearing More Intelligent Than You Actually Are


El Dia de los Muertos FestivalIn celebration of the Mexican cultural tradition of "Day of the Dead," wherein families and friends pay homage to loved ones who've passed, the Figge Art Museum with host the Dia de los Muertos Festival on Sunday, November 2. Held in conjunction with the Figge's current Day of the Dead: Or, El Dia de los Muertos exhibit (running through November 16), the family-oriented event - taking place from 4 to 7 p.m. - will feature traditional Mexican food in the museum lobby, activities including the creation of papel picado children's art and yummy "sugar skulls," craft-making in the studios, and a theatrical presentation on the Figge plaza.

But it's silly to attend a celebration without knowing just what it is you're celebrating, so here are five things you should know to avoid looking like you're just there for the sugar skulls.


1) Know why El Dia de los Muertos is observed at this time of year: The celebration takes place in tandem with the Catholic holy days of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).

2) Know some common Dia de los Muertos traditions: building private altars to the deceased, walking in parades, attending church services, writing poems and epitaphs, and leaving gifts at loved ones' grave sites.

3) Know the origins of El Dia de los Muertos: Scholars believe the celebration began between 2,500 and 3,000 years ago as an Aztec festival dedicated to the "Lady of the Dead" known as Mictecacihuatl.

4) Know how to pronounce "Mictecacihuatl": It's meek-tay-cah-SEE-wah-tl.

5) Know how to use "Mictecacihuatl" in a sentence: During Sunday's event, approach a Figge docent and say, "It's so much fun that Mictecacihuatl herself would plotz!" Then suggest that as a slogan for next year's festival.


For more on the Dia de los Muertos Festival, visit



Fright Night and Boneyard Boogie

The District of Rock Island

Thursday, October 30 and Friday, October 31


Ruh-Roh, Raggy!Ruh-roh, Raggy! October 30's Fright Night in the District is Scooby-Doo-themed, so tell your little Scoobys, Shaggys, and Velmas to suit up for family fun from 5 to 8 p.m.

Among the happenings in this eagerly awaited fall event are master storytellers sharing creepy tales, a carved-pumpkin contest, trick-or-treating at numerous downtown venues, a "Who Stole the Scooby Snacks?" mystery hunt, photo opportunities with the (inflatable) Scooby-Doo star, and a kids' costume contest, with prizes awarded in the categories of best-themed, most original, and scariest. I was thinking of entering my two-year-old niece Gwenyth in that last one, because she's so cute it's scary, but I understand they're trading the "scariest" category with "cutest" for ages three and under. (So she'd win either way.)

And more Halloween-themed District fun - albeit for the grown-ups - can be had the following night, when the Diaquiri Factory hosts the Boneyard Boogie on October 31. An outdoor bash featuring music by DJ Neewollah, '90s tunes with The 90210's, door prizes, drink specials, and free pizza and koozies to the first 200 attendees, this inaugural event even boasts a costume contest of its own, with the best outfit winning its wearer $500. "We don't want to tell you how to dress," reads the Boneyard Boogie press release, "but the hottest costume to rattle our bones will win."

I guess I don't have to tell you what that means, right? My "Human Torch" costume is totally gonna take it.

More information on both Fright Night in the District and the Boneyard Boogie is available at



Swizzle Tree and The Insecurities

Rock Island Brewing Company

Friday, October 31, 9 p.m.


Swizzle TreeOn October 31, the Chicago-based Swizzle Tree and The Insecurities play the Rock Island Brewing Company. One of the bands just released a CD titled No Really I'm Happy. Guess which one.

Guess again.

The latest from the rockers of Swizzle Tree (pictured), No Really ... is the band's fourth release since 2001's self-titled debut album, and the musicians' MySpace page ( allows you to hear the soaring melodies and tight harmonies routinely enjoyed by audiences at the Windy City's Metro, Riviera Theatre, and House of Blues. You'll also be treated to some interesting factoids in Swizzle Tree's bio, among them: (1) The band's original rhythm section left "after a falling out and church robbery," (2) in high school, founding members Saarang, Steve, and Todish worked together in the same nursing home, and (3) "getting high and serving 'old people food' is a good form of bonding."

Chicago's The Insecurities, meanwhile, just released a CD titled Burn the Kiss Hello: A Social Commentary, cite Couting Crows, Nirvana, and the Beatles as influences, and reveal these tidbits on their MySpace page ( (1) They sound like "Quiet Riot and three drunk cowboys," (2) they believe that "most band bios are pathetic and bloated," and (3) they admit that "we're insecure, but we're still better than you." Great. Now I'm insecure.

Friday's Halloween bash finds Swizzle Tree and The Insecurities opening for area favorites Minus Six, and more information on the night is available at



Zombie Walk & Pub Crawl

Moline Centre

Friday, October 31, 8 p.m.


Zombie Walk & Pub Crawl As a huge zombie-movie fan, I couldn't be more excited to tell you about a special, Halloween-themed event taking place in downtown Moline - ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the Quad Cities' very own Zombie Walk & Pub Crawl!

You are cordially invited, on October 31, to arrive at the Moline Centre at 8 p.m., decked out in your finest undead regalia and accoutrements, and join in for an hour's worth of meandering, moaning, terrifying the bejeezus out of local passers-by, and grabbing quick drinks (Zombies, perhaps?) at one of the five local watering holes happy to serve the living-impaired.

Thousands of souls throughout the U.S., U.K., and Canada have participated in this gruesome tradition, but there are some ground rules you need to abide by, so remember: No touching of pedestrians, no illegal activities, and if a car is approaching while you're crossing the street, cross quickly - think new Dawn of the Dead versus old Dawn of the Dead. (A full list of guidelines is available at And on a personal note, try to resist the temptation to shout, "Brains! Bra-a-ains!!!" 'Cause we all know zombies can't talk.

So have a blast, but be cool. The Zombie Walk's organizers would like to make this an annual event, and if a few uncooperative types ruined it for everyone, that'd just tear my heart out.

For more information on the Zombie Walk & Pub Crawl, call (563) 370-3862.



Quad City Symphony Ochestra's Masterworks II

Adler Theatre and Centennial Hall

Saturday, November 1 and Sunday, November 2


Pytor Ilyich TchaikovskyThe Quad City Symphony Orchestra, on November 1 and 2, will present what its Web site describes as "a Tchaikovsky lover's dream." And while that sounds like the best Russian pizza ever, in truth it's the group's Masterworks II concert, featuring the famed composer's Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and Symphony No. 5, plus the Divertimento from Fairy's Kiss, which is actually by Igor Stravinsky, but which was inspired by Tchaikovsky's piano themes.

One hour prior to the weekend's concerts at the Adler Theatre and Augustana College's Centennial Hall, Kai Swanson with host the popular "Concert Conversations," in which the program and its composer will be discussed by Swanson and QCSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith. But there's never any harm in a little prep work, so try testing your Tchaikovsky knowledge with this quiz, courtesy of


1) In 1862, Tchaikovsky enrolled at which prestigious school of music?

A. The Rubinstein Academy of Arts

B. The Zaremba Institute of Music

C. The St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music


2) In 1866, Tchaikovsky began teaching at which institution?

A. The Moscow Conservatory

B. The State School of Music

C. The Boshoi Ballet


3) Which composition marked the beginning of Tchaikovsky's international reputation?

A. The Overture, Romeo & Juliet

B. The Overture, The Storm

C. Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams"


4) Which was the first of Tchaikovsky's great ballets?

A. The Nutcracker

B. The Queen of Spades

C. Swan Lake


5) How long did it take Tchaikovsky to create a working sketch for the Sleeping Beauty ballet?

A. Three weeks

B. Six weeks

C. Three months


Saturday's Adler Theatre performance starts at 8 p.m., Sunday's Centennial Hall presentation begins at 2 p.m., and more information on Masterworks II can be found at



Answers: 1 - C, 2 - A, 3 - A, 4 - C, 5 - A. Yup. He sketched the whole ballet in three weeks ... which is roughly how long it takes me to come up with a workable What's Happenin' idea. And then I just steal a FunTrivia quiz anyway.


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