Through the Looking Glass: Getting on the InterNet: As you know by now, all those newsmagazine headlines trumpeting The Information Superhighway were too much, too soon. They spent so much time brainstorming the potential colossal change in our daily lives--yet only a sizable minority of people are anywhere near computer literate (some of us who work with the damn machines every day scrape by on the minimum knowledge we need). Although its usefulness for your daily, nonbusiness life is still debatable, international communications via your personal computer are an intriguing prospect. Plenty of people are already conferencing on every topic profound and trivial you can imagine. If you want to join the cult, consider stopping by the two-hour class-seminar conducted by the North Texas Free-Net. Through the Looking Glass: Getting on the InterNet is a run-through of the basics for beginners, covering everything from buying the right software to choosing a network to maneuvering among the menus to talking to strangers. The first seminar is held 5:30-7:30 pm in the AT&T Customer Technology Center of the Infomart, 1950 Stemmons Freeway. Registration is necessary; call 746-3206. Although the class is free, a donation of $15 to The North Texas Free-Net is suggested. The Free-Net is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing an electronic information community in North Texas.
Cowtown Memories: KERA-TV Channel 13 and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, among other business entities, have teamed up to create an hour-long special which does for Fort Worth what Dallas Remembers, a KERA-produced historical documentary, did for this city. Cowtown Memories is shamelessly nostalgic, even sugary, but also airtight and a lot more compelling than the previously aired look at its sister city. The documentaries themselves don't differ drastically in quality, but the stories told leave the impression that Fort Worth has a far richer and more eclectic history. Fort Worth native and R&B singer Delbert McClinton narrates Cowtown Memories, which takes a look at the late Amon Carter's tireless efforts at civic development; the influx of European and Mexican workers drawn to the cattle ranches; the historic flood of 1949; and other high and low points. The show covers significant events which took place from the turn of the century to the 1960s. Cowtown Memories airs at 7 pm on KERA-TV Channel 13.
Zoobilee of Lights: Little kids, cold night air, and Christmas lights go together very well. The Fort Worth Zoo knows this, so for its second annual "Zoobilee of Lights" holiday celebration it's flirting with phone book-size electricity bills, upping the ante to more than 200,000 sparkling white lights. There are light "sculptures" of animals, as well as several new shows for kids--a Frosty the Snowman musical, evening with Mrs. Claus and her storybook, and a performance of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas re-created as a giant storybook. There's also live entertainment: strolling carolers, holiday music, and parades. "Zoobilee of Lights" is open Thursday, 6-9 pm & Friday-Saturday, 6-10 pm through December 11, when it's open every evening except Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Tickets are $4-$6. Call (817) 871-7050 for a detailed breakdown of events and times.
Sex, Blood & Mutilation: If you've been wondering what gore-lovin' moviemaker-performance artist Joe Christ has been doing since he moved to New York City, you might just stop in for a little of Christ's brand of shock-for-shock's-sake, slasher-flick art. This is stuff for folks who still dig getting a group of people together and renting one of the Faces of Death videos just to watch the virgins squirm. Christ is on a coast-to-coast tour for his soon-to-be-released-but-still-unfinished movie Sex Blood & Mutilation, a 35-minute exploration of pain fetishes, worm-eating, and skin-slicing. He'll also screen his last two half-hour shorts, Acid is Groovy Kill the Pigs and Speed Freaks With Guns, and discuss whatever social commentary can be disentangled from their savagery. Joe Christ brings his short films to Tunnel Werks, 115 N Oakland Ave in Deep Ellum at 10 pm. Tickets are $3. For more information call 744-3337.
Pan-African Connection: The very best kind of multicultural curriculum is the one you create for yourself, reading books and periodicals that tell you more about the world in which you live and why it is the way itis. The Pan-African Connection Bookstore and Resource Center is the place to go if you want to start to understand some of the race issues that plague America. Its Oak Cliff location has proven such a success (saunter over there on any Saturday afternoon and count the number of people browsing intensely in the aisles) that its owners are opening a new location in Pleasant Grove. To mark the event, they've organized a morning, afternoon, evening, and night full of speakers and events. The theme of their opening day celebration should provide relief for critics who charge that Afrocentrism is preoccupied with the past to the exclusion of the future--Africans in the 21st Century. Included in the day's itinerary are Dr. Njoki McElroy, a local storyteller and author who'll perform some dramatic readings; Turewanire Mandla, an organizer with the Nkrumahist-Toureist Party, a Pan-African political organization, discussing the social and political future of African-identified people in the next century; and historian Rudolph R. Windsor, the author of numerous books which relate underexplored episodes in ancient history involving African ancestors. A very full day of activities begins at noon and ends at 10 pm at the new location, 8423 Lake June Rd in Pleasant Grove. For further information call 943-8262.
Jeff Dunham: Being the most sought-after ventriloquist in the country sounds a little like being the world's champion hula-hooper--nice work, if you can get it. But 32-year-old Dallas native Jeff Dunham has managed quite a comfortable life for himself, touring all over the country for most weeks of the year and taking advantage of the near-dead stand-up industry, which is surviving only on one-person shows and people with talents or gimmicks other than just standing up there and chatting. Although Dunham, inevitably, names the late great Edgar Bergen as an influence, he really fell in love with ventriloquism watching Jay Johnstone make the wooden guy squawk on Soap. The guy is fun to watch, mostly because he isn't above using his characters (especially the crab-faced Walter, who Dunham created himself using his own face as a model) to be as rude as hell. Jeff Dunham performs with co-stars at 8 pm in the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm. For ticket information call 373-8000.
Mary Matalin and James Carville: With 1995 just around the corner, it's safe to cite Mary Matalin and James Carville's presidential election-saga All's Fair: Love, War, and Running For the President as one of the most annoying, self-serving nonfiction titles of 1994. The 1992 presidential campaign was certainly one of the most bizarre and watchable in recent memory, with some new unsavory character (the two Jennifers, Ross Perot, etc.) popping up almost every day. The Republican incumbent's top presidential advisor falling in love with and and marrying the Democratic challenger's top advisor sounds like a Hollywood movie (and, in fact, soon reaches theaters as Speechless, with Michael Keaton and Geena Davis, although in this case she's the liberal and he's the conservative), and Matalin and Carville launched a self-publicity campaign to rival their top-dollar efforts for the politicians. While struggling to maintain that strange bedfellows mystique, they obscured the most fundamental fact about their professions--both are hired guns, free-lance mercenaries for whom ideology takes a back seat to issues of career and personal direction. Indeed, you could make a strong case that political media strategists are contributing mightily to the public's cynicism by peddling every dirty ad hominem attack in the book. Matalin is deeply distrusted by many in the Republican Party for her criticisms of the Religious Right, and Carville is just plain shifty, as anyone who's seen D.A. Pennebaker's unrevealing documentary The War Room can attest. When Carville refused to take an on-camera swig of some very expensive Southern bourbon he'd just been handed, that summed up both the film and the man's biggest quality--never let 'em see your humanity. Think of them as the Regis and Kathy Lee of partisan politics. Matalin and Carville speak at 7:30 pm at Casa Manana, 110 E Third in Fort Worth. Tickets are $20 and can be obtained by calling 373-8000.
The Light Crust Doughboys: Garrison Keillor loves The Light Crust Doughboys, but that's not their fault. Since 1931 this musical outfit has been gracing movies, TV, and performance halls all across the country with its staunchly traditional brand of Western swing. Not to be missed is The Doughboys Brass and Reed Ensemble, who'll be tooting out some "Cool Yule" selections for your consumption. The Light Crust Doughboys perform at 7:30 pm at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E Mockingbird near Central Expressway. Tickets are $9. Call 821-1860.
Joy to the World: The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is calling its 1994 Holiday season "Joy to the World." Although all the usual amenities are here to be enjoyed--66 acres of holiday-colored pansies, hollies, and evergreen, a gift shop, Victorian Christmas music, and various events including a Children's Tea Party on December 4--the real reason to go every year is to check out the DeGolyer Estate, where the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum has assigned a different Dallas designer to redo each room in the holiday spirit. Some of the rooms are gorgeous, others look like an M.J. Designs supply plane crashed inside them. "Joy to the World" is open daily through December 31 at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 8617 Garland Rd. Call 327-8263 for complete information on event dates and times.
Voices of Change: Dallas' nationally lauded 20th century chamber ensemble Voices of Change offers the city a southwest premiere by a major national composer as a highlight of its second concert for the '94-95 season. The title of the Benjamin Lees piece, Contours For Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Cello, and Piano, which debuted in New York City three weeks ago, is self-explanatory as far as the instruments goes, but starts off a bit vague with the word "contours." In this case, they are three distinct musical themes which develop throughout the piece, stretching and flowing like lines on a Richter scale. Gregory Hustis, the principal hornist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, sits in as a special guest. Composer Lees addresses the audience shortly before the performance. Voices of Change performs at 8 pm in Caruth Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $12-$18. Call 520-ARTS.
Lines & Wonders: Pay too much attention to the arcane lingo of the art criticism world and you'll soon be driven crazy by all the loop-de-loops. When thinking about the kind of work showcased at Webb Folk Art Gallery in Waxahachie, just remember the distinction between two very general words. "Folk art" is a wastebasket phrase in which everyone who's received no formal training and exists outside the urban-centered art markets of the world is tossed. A sub-category of "folk art" is "outsider" art, which is really a red alert among collectors and critics to indicate this stuff is edgy, obsessive, deeply personal, distinguishing itself from traditional, celebratory pieces. Lines & Wonders is a show featuring the work of five "outsiders"--three illustrators and two sculptors hailing from Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia. The opening reception for Lines & Wonders is December 3, 5-9 pm. The show runs through January 8 at the Webb Gallery, 107 N Rogers in Waxahachie. It's free. For information call 938-8085.
Dance Showdown '94: What's virtually the only kind of musical event which would openly associate itself with a tobacco company these days? A country and western show. Marlboro has sponsored its own national C&W dance competition, which culminates in the Dance Showdown '94 in Arlington. This is an audience largely disconnected (and by choice) from the antitobacco hysteria which has swept the country. And while the genre is currently enjoying a monstrous success that cuts across economic lines, it's the working-class, don't-have-any-insurance, living-from-paycheck-to-paycheck core which finds a great deal of satisfaction in leisure pursuits, be it smoking, drinking, or scuffing the dance floor with their boots. Dance Showdown '94 is the finals for a series of events which have pulled talented C&W talent from regions all across the country. Confederate Railroad, one of many up-and-coming bland, right-wing country-rock party bands, performs after the competition. Dance Showdown '94 takes place at Cowboys, 2540 E Abram in Arlington. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. For information call (817) 265-1535.