Barbie Appraisals: In one of her last essays before she resigned as New York Times columnist to pursue fiction and motherhood, Anna Quindlen admitted she might be an old stick-in-the-mud, but she hated Barbie--or, more accurately, the "feminine" values of appearance, acquisitiveness, and artifice Barbie symbolizes. Although the manufacturers of Barbie feign displeasure at having their virtuous blond beauty defiled for political and countercultural purposes, secretly they must love it. Sales of Barbie and her lifestyle accessories, always huge, have exploded in the last few years, largely because of the shots being fired over her little detachable head. In an era of "Take Our Daughters To Work" day and studies which suggest girls are overlooked in the public education classroom, Barbie has become a wanton temptress, luring little girls (and, it must be said, not a few little boys) away from the deprogramming attempts of their progressive mothers into a decadent fantasy world where preadolescent sexuality is rerouted into consumerist frenzy. Rather than making the doll a piece of forbidden fruit, parents might encourage their kids (when old enough, of course) to look beneath Barbie's poised surface to the volcano of unconsummated passion which boils there. Hasn't anyone yet made the connection between Barbie's obsessive shopping and her lack of a vagina? Professional Barbie dealer Krissa Brown stops in at the Inwood Village Bookstop to give free appraisals and advice on starting and keeping a good collection. Bring your Barbies and start a conversation by dropping a provocative, open-ended comment like "I suspect there are some childhood issues Barbie has yet to resolve. What do you think?" Brown appears at 7 pm at 5550 W Lovers Lane. Call 357-2697.
Zastrossi: Kitchen Dog Theater chose to kick off its fifth season with a challenge--mounting a period epic filled with arduous physical sequences. If live theater is good, the physical part of it looks like just so much walking and talking, but any actor will tell you that even the simplest drawing-room drama requires considerable reserves of stamina in terms of maintaining control of the pace and direction of the play. Well, multiply that demand a hundredfold and you have Zastrossi, Canadian playwright George F. Walker's kinky, violent comedy set in Europe at the close of the 19th century. The six actors in the production, which include the talented Kitchen Dog co-founders Joe Nemmers and Dan Day, have been training for almost five months now, four hours a day and five days a week, to bring the script, with its elaborate eruptions of combat, to fruition. If, as someone once said, the actor is a spiritual musician who uses his/her body as the primary instrument, then the cast of Zastrossi is a punk band abusing the hell out of its equipment--for the pleasure of earning your thrills, of course. The play runs Wednesday-Saturday at 8 pm through November 26 in the 90-seat theater space of the new McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $8-$12, with pay-what-you-can performances every Wednesday. For information call 520-ARTS.
STOMP: Do you know a drummer or a music fanatic who's got a case of rhythm like a nerve disorder, using everything in sight or his/her own body parts to create a beat? Everyone does. Do your percussion-obsessed pals a favor and round them up to see STOMP, the British rhythmic ensemble imported to Dallas by TITAS (The International Theatrical Arts Society). STOMP has been making noise, literally and figuratively, since they debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After sweeping Europe, they've prevailed in one titanic test of American celebrity after another--Letterman, commercial endorsements, off-Broadway, L.A. The six men and two women who comprise STOMP are rigorously trained musicians; their goal is to combine sophisticated rhythmic techniques from all over the world with humor, look-at-me showmanship, and a working-class fondness for everyday objects. These folks make anything and everything a percussion instrument--brooms, trash cans, cigarette lighters, your basic junk drawer contents. Think of them as a sort of Liverpudlian version of the Kodo drummers. Actually, don't think about them, just go see them, and just try to keep your hands and feet still. STOMP gives three performances, Nov 3-5 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
Claytie & The Lady: With the November 8 elections now on the horizon, Jeanie Stanley, co-author of the terrific political analysis tome Claytie & The Lady: Ann Richards, Gender & Politics in Texas, discusses the similarities and differences between this year's bland gubernatorial race and the meaner, more engrossing contest between Ann Richards and Clayton Williams. If you think the impact of Claytie's now legendary rape joke (stolen, it must be noted, from Dorothy Parker) was overblown by a press which likes to start fights, consider that Richards won the election by a narrow margin--so narrow it's not a far stretch to surmise the outrage of a relatively small group swung the outcome in her favor. Stanley covers a lot of turf in her discussion at 4 pm at Barnes & Noble, 8525 Airport Freeway. Heads could get hot so close to election time, so come ready to joust. Call 988-7257.