Events for the week

Psychic Fair: While it's easy to poke fun at the whole New Age culture, its practitioners repackage philosophies and rituals that predate both the Christian and Muslim faiths. It's not the ideas themselves that offend, but the audience that seems to be most attracted to them--folks with college degrees and high-paying jobs who are looking for a path to self-enlightenment and inner peace that bypasses the blood, sweat, and tears of everyday experience. Can there be spirituality without suffering, cleansing without conflict? Don't blame the New Agers for trying--The Easy Way is the oldest, most well-traveled of American tollways, although each stopping point seems a little more expensive than the last. Come mingle with angel aficionados, near-death addicts, and past-life and chakra devotees at Dallas' Oldest and Largest Psychic Fair, which features not only metaphysical paraphernalia but palm and tarot card readers, psychics, and channelers. The Fair happens noon-6 p.m. in the Lone Star Ballroom of the Dallas Park Central Hotel, LBJ & Coit. Admission is $6-$8, but readings are $15 each. For information call 241-4876.

Music, Magic, and More! These days it takes more than just a shiny red nose and floppy shoes to entertain kids--you gotta create illusions like Spielberg and Disney. While kids' entertainer Jim McNeely doesn't have a computer-powered special effects team working behind him, he does combine an old-fashioned facility for weird magic tricks with a vaudevillian wit and musical sense. McNeely has made quite a name for himself in different parts of the country, because he encourages the children to participate in the proceedings and has the parents trying to figure out how the hell he did that. McNeely brings his one-man show Music, Magic & More for a 5 p.m. show at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven. Tickets are $7-$10. Call 739-2737.

monday
july 31
The Light Crust Doughboys: Texas musical treasure The Light Crust Doughboys have for years advertised themselves proudly as the longest continually performing Western Swing group in America, and now they have the institution to back up that claim--the newly opened Light Crust Doughboys Hall of Fame and Museum. Housed in the McWhorter-Greenhaw Hardware & Music Store in Mesquite, the Museum contains original costumes, photos, books, recordings, and film loops documenting most of the 64 years and cavalcade of big names that have paraded through the organization--Bob Wills, Slim Whitman, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to name a few. The latest incarnation of the Doughboys performs a concert to celebrate their Museum, with a little jazzy assistance from the Doughboys Brass and Reed Ensemble. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $9. Call 821-1860.

tuesday
august 1
Miss America Fashions: 1921-1987: In its 74-year history, The Miss America Pageant has been revered and reviled with more passion than any other public ceremony of this century. The arguments are famous, and convincing on both sides. Is it really so alarming that artificial ideas of physical beauty are honored with elaborate pageants, as they have been in all times and places throughout human civilization? No, until you consider the disturbing fact that Miss America is still the largest source of scholarship money for young women in the United States (how would the founding Ivy League patriarchs have fared in the swimsuit competition?). It's these conflicting realities that make the institution so fascinating, and fire the photographic exhibit Miss America Fashions: 1921-1987, a look at the changing styles in gowns and swimsuits for competitions down through the decades. The exhibit runs through September 30 on the fourth floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street. It's free. For more information call 670-7838.

wednesday
august 2
Dancers Unlimited: In the TV nature documentaries of the '50s, every animal had a classification, every action a corresponding instinct, every habitat its own social function--all described by white guys with suspiciously slick, detached voices. It's this rather humorous giftwrapping of the gory, sloppy, merciless natural world that inspired choreographers Sherri Lacey and composer Frank Lacey, along with Dallas contemporary dance company Dancers Unlimited, to create their own very scientific assessment of American culture in the '90s. Wild Kingdom: Dances From the Suburban Congo is the end result, an original collaborative look at all the basic instincts--mating, shelter, food, social interplay--as practiced by creatures with brain stems big enough to laugh at themselves. Wild Kingdom is performed every Wednesday- Saturday at 8 p.m. through August 26 in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $12-$15. For ticket info call 520-ARTS.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Ever wonder what happens to elephants after they retire from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus? Actually, it does involve a senior citizens' home in Florida. Circus officials have created a farm that breeds new performers and provides a chance for veterans to partake of those activities that Golden Agers everywhere enjoy--chewing the shrubbery, picking the bugs off each other's rumps, cleaning themselves with nose showers. The old makes way for the new at this latest, 124th edition of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus--the star animal attraction is a pair of passionate pachyderms named Romeo and Juliette, the first elephants born and bred in the Florida facility. Can they survive the pressures of an arranged marriage? Watch them perform with all the other circus mainstays--clowns, acrobats, stunt artists, etc. The circus rolls into town for performances August 213 at Reunion Arena, 111 Sports. Tickets are $6.50-$27.50.

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