Barbara Trent: Each time you hear some right-wing pundit decrying "the liberal media," you realize it's part of a larger propaganda campaign that has, for all intents and purposes, brought contemporary American liberalism to its knees. Conservatives have a stranglehold on commentary in print, on television, and especially over the radio waves, firing heavy-duty and extremely effective partisan vitriol at anyone who attempts to investigate the Republican revolution. Such is the state of "free speech" in America that activist and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Trent has been forced to seek alternative venues for her 1992 documentary The Panama Deception. Documentaries have a rough go of it anyway in the distribution world, but even after Trent's exhaustive study of the tangled relationship between George Bush and Manuel Noriega won an Oscar, she still found doors slamming right and left. The film is screened at 1 pm and a discussion by Trent follows in Room 265 of the Speech/Drama Building on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton. It's free and open to everyone. For more info call (817) 565-2537.
The Enigma Files: The True Story of America's Psychic Warfare Program: What would you do if you were an award-winning veteran journalist with best-selling non-fiction books under your belt who believes he's discovered something that many people consider not only unbelievable, but a sign of mental instability? Former Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Jim Marrs has for years been considered one of the leading authorities on the assassination of JFK (his book Crossfire was a prime source for Oliver Stone's film on the subject). More than that, he was (and is) considered a sound, sane voice on a historical event that's stirred up a lot of crackpots. A few years back, Marrs began an intensive investigation into the CIA and its ongoing research on psychic development. Marrs is putting his reputation on the line with his upcoming book The Enigma Files: The True Story of America's Psychic Warfare Program. Marrs claims to have proven that the CIA possessed well-documented evidence to support psychic powers. Marrs talks about his discovery for The Eclectic Viewpoint at 7:30 pm in the Unity Church, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets are $15. For information call 601-7687.
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth: If you've never been to a performance by the modern dance troupe Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth, then their Fifth Annual Gala Concert should be an excellent introduction. The premiere performance of the company's sixth season, the Gala concert is both a best-of offering and a chance for CD/FW to show that it's responsive to the opinions of ticketbuyers. One particularly popular performance from each of the company's five years in existence is repeated. The exception is an impressive premiere coup--choreography by Ballet Impulso artistic director Sunny Savoy de Perez and her husband Ernesto Perez, both of whom are prominent artists in Monterrey, Mexico. Performances of the fifth annual gala are November 10 at 8 pm and November 11 at 2 & 8 pm in the Ed Landreth Auditorium on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$20. For more info call (817) 335-9000.
Dallas Got Run Over By a Reindeer: When Dallas comedienne Judy Truesdell and her buddies staged Dallas Got Run Over By a Reindeer last year, they had no idea the kind of response Dallas audiences would give them--one sold-out show after another. While our fair city has no shortage of comedy troupes, Truesdell has irons in many different fires, and can't do the comedy thing year-round. She saves up for her Christmas show, which mixes Dallas trivia with holiday themes in various sketches and song parodies. Expect good-natured jabs at Highland Park's seasonal light show and the DeVry Institute, which offers Santa training in Truesdell's world. The show runs every Saturday at 8 pm until November 25, when it's performed Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm through December 23 in the Pavilion on the 12th floor of the Ramada Hotel, Market Center, 1055 Regal Row. $30 includes an all-you-can-eat buffet beforehand. Call 255-7306.
Artist-Prophet Royal Robertston: Comfortably nestled in its new historic digs, the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie continues its vital mission of providing a respectful and knowledgeable space for the artists often called "naive" or "self-taught"--men and women who are often older, poorer, and less educated than the average successful gallery artist, but whose constant visions compel them to seek a means of expression. It's a tortured, often lifetime relationship with creativity that can include anything from alcoholism to state-certified mental illness. In other words, these people are no different from other creative types except that their suffering isn't as glamorous because there aren't so many people to watch it. The Webb Gallery's latest show is an exhibition of the works of Louisiana-born Royal Robertson, a self-described prophet who began to create signs, shrines, calendars, and celestial designs at the age of 14. Opening reception for the show is November 11, 6-9 pm through December 1 at 209-211 W Franklin in downtown Waxahachie. It's free. For more information call 938-8085.
SMU's 21st Annual Literary Festival: The truly great thing about living close to so many major colleges and universities is that they frequently offer excellent cultural programs at no charge to the general public. Indeed, even if you can't afford to attend Southern Methodist University, you can still partake of its 21st Annual Program Council Literary Festival. All nine readings during a five-day period are free and all happen in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer at Airline. Yusef Komunuakaa, Vince Gotera, and Walt McDonald discuss "The War Within: Vietnam Poets 20 Years Later" November 12, 8 pm. C.W. Smith reads November 13, at 3:30 pm; Craig Lucas reads November 13 at 8 pm; Ralph Angel reads November 14 at 3:30 pm; David Guterson reads November 14 at 8 pm; Robert Kellhy reads November 15 at 3:30 pm; Alison Lurie reads November 15 at 8 pm; SMU student readings are scheduled November 16, 3:30 pm; and the festival wraps up with Bebe Moore Campbell November 16 at 8 pm. For info call 768-4400.
Robert Rauschenberg: Sculpture: Artists become so revered for their accomplishments in a certain medium that curators, scholars, and admirers begin to let work in other media fall through the cracks of study and appreciation. Such is the case with internationally acclaimed artist Robert Rauschenberg, who for the past four decades has made his name with paintings and prints. In honor of the artist's 70th birthday this year, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents the first exhibition ever assembled dedicated to Rauschenberg's sculpture. More than 50 pieces are on display in Robert Rauschenberg: Sculpture, with the oldest dating back to 1952. The show runs through December 31 at 1309 Montgomery at Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. It's free. For more information call (817) 738-9215.
The Sequential Art Truck and Tractor Pull: There is an alternative universe that exists parallel to the one most of us inhabit. The Twilight Zone? The Outer Limits? Nope, the world of underground comics. Us mainstreamers got a taste of the level of devotion accorded the men and women who pour out their darkest fantasies with paper and ink when we saw Terry Zwigoff's Crumb. But the exquisite perversities recorded by the grand old man of the underground are nothing compared to the apocalyptic, black-humored visions of succeeding comix artists. Indeed, what with all the political bluster about dirty art, it seems remarkable that some opportunistic politician hasn't stumbled on this stuff--the mainstream still seems to think that comic books are for kids, so the kinky, violent images that often abound surely deserve at least as much righteous indignation as TV and movies. Club Dada and Stage & Screen pool their resources to present "The Sequential Art Truck and Tractor Pull," a show of more than 70 pieces of original comic art by the likes of Dan Clowes (Eightball), Peter Bagge (Hate), Sam Hurt (Eyebeam), Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man), and nationally syndicated guys Buddy Hickerson (The Quigmans) and Dan Piraro (Bizarro). The show runs November 13-December 10 at Club Dada, 2720 Elm. The opening reception happens November 16 at 8-10 pm. All artists except Bagge are scheduled to appear. For more info call 871-2466.
Miep Gies: The decades have numbed us to the horrifying film footage of the Allies exploring the concentration camps after World War II had ended, but there is one face that, for generations of readers, forever drives home the massive toll in human life. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been hailed not only for its historical context but also for its blunt, articulate presentation of female adolescence. Remarkable as it may seem, the woman who helped supply Anne Frank, her family, and others with food and shelter during the Nazi Occupation is still very much with us. The Jewish Community Center of Dallas invites Miep Gies to Dallas to speak about her experiences, which include retrieving Frank's diary after the girl was snatched from her hiding place. Ms. Gies will also autograph a new, expanded edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. She appears at 7:30 pm at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest. For admission information call 739-2737.
The MAC Members Invitational: Folks who attend a visual art show often don't realize the blood and tears that are spilt over the curatorial process, which is a fancy way of saying there are many egos bruised when it comes time to figure out what makes the cut. The McKinney Avenue Contemporary sponsors a Members Invitational to give folks a chance to play curators themselves--decide what they like and what they think is incredibly pretentious or just plain clumsy. This show was open to all MAC members in various media, and organizers have deliberately tried to eschew the sloppy "salon" style of so many open shows and present each piece respectfully. The show runs through December 31 at 3120 McKinney Avenue. Admission is free. For info call 953-1212.