Elvis Presley's 60th Birthday: If you really want to rile die-hard Elvis fans, pop the subject of the King's new son-in-law and watch their ears burn. Last October's planned tribute to Elvis at Graceland was supposed to feature Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley performing duet versions of her father's hits, but co-organizer Priscilla nixed all but a brief appearance by Jackson, perhaps sensing that an effeminate African-American pop star accused of child molestation wouldn't be a big hit with Memphis fans. Lest anyone get too high and mighty about Jackson soiling the Elvis legend by marriage, the pill-popping, binge-eating, gun-toting Presley was a few bricks short of a load himself. It seems like he's been dead forever, but this January 8 marks only the 60th anniversary of his birth. Had Elvis not succumbed to the Final Call of Nature, what would he be like right now? Perhaps somewhere close to the curiosity value currently held by Marlon Brando--obese, mercurial, hostile to the press, working only occasionally and with little evident enthusiasm. Two area live music venues remember the King with special events planned all night. On Thursday, The Hard Rock Cafe features a special Elvis menu, an Elvis impersonators contest, and a performance by legendary double Dave Tapley with his 10-piece band. On Saturday at Dick's Last Resort, you can watch Elvis Reenactor James L. Wages and his band perform two shows. There's also favorite Elvis food and drinks and a karaoke contest with the best singer winning $250. The Hard Rock Cafe hosts its Elvis birthday celebration January 5 at 8:30 pm, with Tapley taking the stage at 10 pm. Tickets are $5 (free if you come dressed like The King). The Cafe is located at 2601 Mc-Kinney Ave. Call 855-0007. Dick's Last Resort, Ross & Record in the West End, celebrates the King's b-day starting at 8 pm. It's free. Call 747-0001.
Southwest Boat and Tackle Show: Fishing is the American sport closest to the meditational exercises practiced by Hindus, Buddhists, and other devotees of Eastern spiritual disciplines. Contrary to its reputation as a lazy person's hobby, fishing requires a pretty balanced temperament--or, at least, the ability to maintain one for a few hours. You either love the solitude, the quiet, and the ritual cooperation with nature, or it makes you start thinking about your past failures, present uncertainties, and a future dominated by the specter of death--better pack plenty of beer along with those Chinese take-out baskets full of meal worms and crickets. The Southwest Boat and Tackle Show boasts more than 250,000 square feet of displays featuring everything the die-hard angler needs to get his or her fix--the latest technology in fishing paraphernalia, experts, seminars, demonstrations, and of course, boats, boats, boats. One of the highlights of the four-day show is a Thursday night lecture by nationally renowned professional angler Rick Clunn, a man who participates in some 20 bass tournaments a year. The Southwest Boat and Tackle Show happens Thursday, 5-10 pm; Friday, noon-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; and Sunday, 10 am-6 pm at the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S Griffin. Tickets are $2-$6. For more information call 661-0725.
La Bete Humaine: The Major Theatre screens one of the most technically influential films of the sound era--albeit one with which you might not be familiar. Jean Renoir's 1938 La Bete Humaine (The Human Beast), based on Emile Zola's novel, poses the question, is violence an act of animal instinct or moral calculation? The film follows a misogynistic train conductor (Jean Gabin) who gets tangled up in a plot to kill the husband (Julien Carette) of his mistress (Simone Simon). The filmmaker, of course, was the son of the great Impressionist master Renoir, and although he never claimed his father's visual sense as an influence on his own screen composition, historians have been hunting for parallels ever since. Zola's novel and Renoir's film both matched the gloomy mood of a Europe overrun by fascist dictators. The three screenings of La Bete Humaine--Friday-Sunday at 8 pm--are offered in conjunction with the Dallas chapter of MENSA, although the general public is certainly welcome. Tickets are $6. The Major Theatre is located at 2830 Samuell in East Dallas. For more information call 821-FILM.
The Conformist and La Strada: Kicking off its new Italian film series, The Dallas Museum of Art offers a rare big screening of a compelling classic by a recently deceased master and an even rarer screening of an early work by an acclaimed living filmmaker. Federico Fellini's 1954 La Strada needs no introduction to movie fanatics, but for art film neophytes and folks who've never seen it on a big screen, this one-time-only screening is highly recommended. Rarely has Fellini the storyteller been more disciplined than in this tale of a sad-eyed waif (Giulietta Masina, who died shortly after her husband last year) who finds herself positioned between the cruel circus showman who purchased her as his assistant (Anthony Quinn) and the trapeze artist who understands her better than anyone ever has (Richard Basehart). Bernardo Bertolucci's daring 1971 psychological thriller The Conformist reopened in New York several months ago to great acclaim. Bertolucci explores the ravages of fascist conformism by examining an Italian secret service agent in the 1930s whose repressed homosexual urges involve him in a complex plot that includes an assignment to murder his former professor. The Conformist screens Thursday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 2 pm. A fresh 35 mm print of La Strada screens Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $3-$4 for each. The Dallas Museum of Art is located at 1717 N Harwood. Call 922-1200.