West End's Taste of Dallas: This is a warning to people who think they have iron stomachs--the wide variety of foods available at the West End's three-day Taste of Dallas doesn't necessarily mix well. If you choose to sample Frito pie and ostrich stew in the same hour, please remember that up-chucking might trigger a domino effect in this very public event. The flavors available--Indian, Cajun, Australian, German, Mexican, and plain ol' white trash cuisine--are provided by 36 Dallas restaurants, all of which are eager to tickle your taste buds so you'll want to return to their establishments. To aid digestion, there's a long roster of live bands scheduled to perform, as well as special shows for kids, strolling entertainers, a mist maze, and lots of diversions set up by TV and radio stations. Times are Friday, 5-11 pm; Saturday, 11 am-11 pm; and Sunday, noon-9 pm in the West End. Admission is free, BUT...you must purchase coupons to trade for munchies. For info call 720-7117.
CD/FW Dance Exchange: A Choreographers Showcase: Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth finds its most popular concerts are those served buffet-style--in this case, its semi-annual Choreographers Showcase, which features a sampling of six dances by seven Texas and national choreographers who function independently of large companies. Not everything here is to everyone's tastes, but you should definitely have a lot to talk about on the ride back home. Works include Keisha Breaker-Haliburton's Blue Monday, a solo piece dedicated to the mystery of the blues; Alyson Jones' Sigh not so, an all-female piece set to music by Phillip Glass and Foday Musa Suso that examines how men haven't always had it easy in the field of dance; and Andrea Ariel's Stuck/Unstuck (and otherwise falling), which features three very athletic dancers recreating the tension between spirit and machine. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm in Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Drive in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$20. Call (817) 335-9000.
Ritual: Whenever you hear the phrase "multimedia," a warning siren should go off in your head. Ask yourself one simple question: "Do the different elements actually interact in an interesting way with each other?" If the answer is no, then the artists involved have gotten carried away with their own intentions and forgot you. Actually, the press release for Ritual, a dance concert that combines the talents of choreographers, filmmakers, composers, and photographers, never mentions the "M" word, although its combination of diverse media suggests a juggling act that just might work. The music of Michael Briola and the choeography of Martha Hess and Jennifer Roberts are the featured attractions. Performances of Ritual happen Friday and Saturday at 8 pm in the Theatre on Elm Street, 3202 Elm. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 651-1904.
1995 Texas Hydrofest: With an expected attendance of 60,000, the 1995 Texas Hydrofest is clearly not a happening for hydroplane aficionados alone--you know, those people who drive what look like jet-powered space fighters across the surface of big lakes--in this case Lake Lewisville in Lewisville. The event is subtitled "unlimited hydroplane racing," although there are, in fact, very specific requirements each racer must meet in order to be approved for competition. Across a two-mile oval, men and women who specialize in getting real wet at high speeds will be making 1,200-foot turns. There's also NASBOAT races, watercraft demonstrations, a hot air balloon exhibit, a let's-squeeze-some-flesh-in-here state finals for female tanners, and more. Friday is exhibition day, in which the teams set up, test, and qualify; Saturday continues the time-trials preliminary events; and Sunday is the final big race. Tickets are $5 for Friday, and $8-$10 on Saturday and Sunday (kids under 12 get in free). For information call 221-8800.
The Second Annual Dog Days of Summer: It's difficult to know which is more difficult to control in an outdoor setting--dogs or kids. Since leashes for the latter have almost become as ubiquitous as for the former, things probably won't get too out of hand at the Second Annual Dog Days of Summer in downtown Denton. This is an opportunity for ankle-biters--four-footed and not--to get out in the Texas sun for a variety of activities designed to honor Fido. Expect the unexpected at this excuse to show off your pooch--doggie makeovers, booths set up for glamour shots, a psychic who conducts paw-readings, a singing contest, games, prizes, and plenty of chances to socialize. While the leash for your kid is optional, the leash for the dog isn't--please keep him or her properly restrained, lest the fun get out of hand. 9 am-2 pm. It's free. Denton County Courthouse Lawn, 115 W. Hickory in Denton. (817) 566-8529.
Cluefest '95: Meeting your favorite mystery writer is a strange experience, since you're paying tribute to an individual who has hooked you forever on that most notorious device--the chapter cliffhanger. You know what we're talking about--the mysterious, unexpected event; the unanswered question; the bizarre action without obvious motivation; all of these skillfully positioned like a falling net to drag you into the next chapter. Cluefest '95 is one of the top mystery readers' book fairs in the state, with author panels, book signings, a live radio play, a book dealer's room, and, of course, the chance to meet your literary torturer. Events are scheduled days and evenings July 14-16 at the Harvey Hotel, 14315 Midway in Addison. Guests of honor are national scribes Judith Van Gieson and A.W. Gray, but the list of authors is long. Tickets are $30-$55. For information call 437-4337.
The UFOlogy Society, Inc.: Even if you don't believe, there are people who do. And the next time you get into an argument with one, don't say, "Because the government wouldn't keep something like that from us"--40 years ago, if some guy ran around saying the feds were dismembering corpses for nuclear testing, they'd have locked the poor S.O.B. up. The members of The UFO-logy Society, Inc. are quite serious in their belief that extraterrestrial beings visit the planet regularly, but they're also happy to make converts. The latest meeting of the society covers "Local Sightings and Abductions." You just might find out your neighborhood is a UFO hot spot. The meeting is 7-10 pm at Overtones, 800 N. Coit in the Promenade Shopping Center in Richardson. It's free and open to the public. Call 488-0893.
Penn and Teller: Penn Jillette and Teller are little more than amusing in their brief appearances on chat shows, comedy specials, and MTV; the movie was funny, but a bit long; the books and CDs feel more like licensed merchandise. You really have to see them live to appreciate the mix of showmanship, comic timing, and chemistry that makes their performances such a pleasure. But those who've enjoyed the fuzzy-wuzzy Penn & Teller in small bits, be warned--their sense of humor is wicked, even cruel at times. But they won't insult your intelligence, and their love of the stage infuses everything they do. Penn & Teller appear at 8 pm at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. Tickets are $12-$28. Call 373-8000.
17th Annual Great Texas Balloon Race: Folks who participate in hot air ballooning clearly have more faith in certain scientific principles--temperature, gravity, combustion--than the rest of us. So it's our job to stand on the ground and get neck-strain from holding our eyes heavenward, oohing and aahing while the gigantic swollen bubbles keep the hardy sky-trekkers aloft. The 1995 Great Texas Balloon Race, the event's 17th anniversary, features a variety of opportunities for gawking as competitions in sport and weird-shaped balloon categories fill the weekend. There's also live music, an outdoor mini-mall, a static aircraft display, and more. Gates open Friday at 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 6 am and events are scheduled throughout the day. Kids 12 and under get in free; a weekend pass for everyone else is $10, and daily admission can be had for $2-$6. Gregg County Airport is located in Longview. Call (903) 237-4000.
Texas Bound: Every spring Arts & Letters Live swoops into the Dallas Museum of Art to provide folks the chance to hear international and state writers and actors reading some of the great literature of our time. The program that focuses on Texas artists, "Texas Bound," makes an out-of-season Fort Worth debut with an evening of familiar voices. Dallas Theater Center veteran Randy Moore directs John Benjamin Hickey, who's currently wowing 'em in Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!, reading Miles Wilson's "On Tour With Max"; Joe Sears, recently nominated for a Tony for the Broadway revival of Greater Tuna, reading "Mambo Panties" by Tom Doyal; Hermine Pinson, an award-winning Texas poet and fiction writer, reads her own story "Kris/Crack/Kyle"; and Julie White, Brett Butler's neighbor in Grace Under Fire, reading Mary K. Flatten's "Old Enough." The evening kicks off at 7:30 pm at Fort Worth's Stage West, 3055 S. University. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (817) 784-9378.
Barbra Galluci and Elizabeth McGrath: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary hosts abstract sculptural works by a pair of national artists who seem to have redefined the aesthetic possibilities of the messy garage. Both Barbra Galluci and Elizabeth McGrath specialize in materials that most of us stick in moldy cardboard boxes and store in fire-hazardous piles--carpet, rubber, fishing line, formica, wallpaper swatches. Galluci likes to surprise and intimidate people by the sheer scale and position of her works, and this installation is no exception--viewers are forced to confront her works above their heads, around the walls, and under their feet. McGrath is more introspective--she creates smaller works in almost-recognizable shapes. Both of these artists specialize in stuff you have to look at to appreciate, but a break from our regular spoon-fed mass media diet should do us good. Opening reception for the show is July 14, 6-8 pm. It runs through August 27 at the MAC, 3120 McKinney, and it's free. Call 953-1212.
Ann B. Davis: Ground round, pork chops and applesauce, macaroni and cheese--there must be a lost episode of The Brady Bunch in which the entire clan checks into the hospital to take advantage of the group rate on heart bypasses. Alice was their beloved chef, gliding around behind those orange-colored countertops with hair so indestructible she didn't need a net, dispensing fatty foods like big hugs. Could perpetual sexual deprivation--Sam the Butcher never was the most demonstrative of boyfriends--have contributed to her need to clog Brady arteries? Has actress Ann B. Davis smelled the profit potential in reviving her sit-com persona for an age that tags anything older than a decade as fodder for nostalgia? The answers are maybe and yes, yes, yes! Davis appears to sign copies of her new Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook, with real recipes for comfort foods and reminiscences about favorite episodes. She appears at noon at Taylors NorthPark, 1500 NorthPark Center. Call 363-1500.