Eric Gethers: A truism of the wacky, tacky world of Hollywood is that writers are the ill-respected bottom-feeders of the biz. The flip side reveals they often eat very well: A professional screenwriter who accrues the awareness of Hollywood producers can make a healthy living hawking final scripts that barely resemble an original draft or never get produced at all. The latter has been Eric Gether's experience. A recent transplant to Dallas, Gethers has a resume that includes 17 features, among them projects slated for Michael Douglas and Richard Dreyfuss--though none has reached celluloid. Gethers gives a talk to the Dallas Screenwriters Association about his career, such as it is. The presentation kicks off at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Harvey Hotel, 400 N. Olive. Admission is $8. Call 922-7829.
Joe Ely: When he's off his game, as he was for a good hunk of the '80s, Ely comes off as Bruce Springsteen's hillbilly cousin: too many guitars, too little passion. But when he keeps making three-pointers, as on his first four albums or 1994's Chippy or last year's Letter to Laredo, Ely is the consummate storyteller-songwriter--as evocative as Springsteen when it comes to describing a barren West Texas wasteland. Yet, unlike The Boss, Ely doesn't have much trouble cutting it hard or soft; Ely likes to rock without oversinging the point, and he can go acoustic without ever turning into a folkie. It's hard to say last year was a comeback for a guy who never went much farther than Austin, but the star of the Lubbock-or-leave-it crowd is in rare form these days: Letter to Laredo is a beautiful, haunting record that skips back and forth across the Tex-Mex border and occasionally stumbles into Spain (for Ely, flamenco and conjunto are two sides of the same coin). And to hear him in such an atmosphere as the Sons of Hermann Hall, hardwood and ancient from top to bottom, should prove a rare authentic experience. Joe Ely performs Thursday at the Sons of Hermann Hall, Elm and Exposition in Deep Ellum.
11th Annual Texas Storytelling Festival: Think about the number of times a week we cut short otherwise interesting anecdotes by friends and strangers because the only kind of communication our busy schedules permit is fax, e-mail, or short and sweet phone calls. Secondhand stories flourish as never before on film and television, but personal, face-to-face, unvarnished tales have been relegated to a novelty. So thank heavens for the 11th Annual Texas Storytelling Festival, which features top talkers from around the country spinning historical, regional, spiritual, and ethnic oral tapestries. Big names include Jeannine Pasini Beekman, Michael Cotter, Bobby Norfolk, and Jackie Torrence. Entertainment kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. and runs day and night through Sunday at the Civic Center Park in Denton. Several performances are free, others run $5-$10 each. For information call (817) 387-8336.
Greater Southwest Guitar Show: Everything here is in pagan honor of that most melodic of phallic symbols--the guitar in all its shapes and sizes, the worthless to the priceless. Silvertones, Fenders, Gibsons, Gretsches--you name your weapon, and organizer Mark Pollock has likely touched its neck at one time or another. The 19th Annual Greater Southwest Guitar Show will no doubt be a bonanza for collectors, fetishists, and fans, a two-day jam session masquerading as a swap meet that is, in the end, more like a Star Trek convention for rockers; even the celebs show up once in a while to prove the point, as evidenced by past appearances from the likes of James Burton (used to play with Elvis), Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, and Ted Nugent. The show happens Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., in the Automobile Building at Fair Park. Tickets are $5-$10 (kids younger than 12 get in free). Call 298-3110.
Voices From the Other Side: Seems everybody's going online these days, including your dead grandmother. The Eclectic Viewpoint--a Dallas-based forum for international speakers on topics that are either brave, interesting, or pure hooey, depending on your perspective--invites author Mark Macy to discuss "Voices From The Other Side." Conversations Beyond the Light, a book Macy co-authored, asserts that the deceased are now attempting communication worldwide through telephone, video and audio tape, and computers. He is part of a small but international community that believes the latest communications technology has been exploited so the dead can bring messages and provide helpful advice to the living. These folks theorize there is a distinguished team of dead scientists and artists called "Timestream" who've spearheaded this project from beyond. (Well, it could happen--just not in this lifetime). The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets are $15. Call 601-7687.
Six Operas By Six Artists: The Dallas Opera has chosen a very chichi event to raise funds for its educational programs, which provide cultural outreach to budding opera kings and queens across the city. Six Operas By Six Artists is a wine-and-hors d'oeuvre-festooned auction of six original paintings by six prominent North Texas artists, including college professors. Each canvas is a personal interpretation of one of the six operas presented in the just-finished 1995-96 season--Madame Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, Romeo and Juliet, Elektra, Il Travatore, and Don Giovanni. The auction will take place at 7-9 p.m. at the Dallas Visual Arts Center, 2917 Swiss Ave. Call 443-1040.
Andras Schiff: Not content with the greatest-hits approach to the classical composers, internationally celebrated pianist Andras Schiff sees meaning in the cycles of interrelated compositions by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Bartok. To put it another way, when this instrumentalist begins a love affair with one composer, he won't stop until he fondles every dark compositional crevice. Schiff, who began keyboard study in his native Hungary when he was 5 and went on to the prestigious Liszt Academy, has earned two Grammy Awards for his ambitious recordings of suites. True to form, he presents as part of The Cliburn Concert Series a recital composed entirely of Schumann. The performance happens at 2 p.m. at the Ed Landreth Auditorium on Fort Worth's Texas Christian University campus. Tickets are $10-$32. Call (817) 335-9000.
Stairway to Heaven (A Matter of Life and Death): As part of its First Monday Classics series, the USA Film Festival screens a long-lost British masterpiece that received an ecstatic 1995 revival on the coasts under Martin Scorcese's stewardship. The directing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, best known for the exquisitely photographed 1946 crazy-nun corker Black Narcissus, released another, far more romantic vision in sumptuous cinematography--A Matter of Life and Death. Renamed Stairway to Heaven for its 1947 American release, the film concerns a WWII British pilot (David Niven) who narrowly escapes death jumping from his crippled airplane without a parachute. He has fallen in love with an American WAC (Kim Hunter) whose voice he heard on his bomber radio. A bumbling French angel (Marius Goring) contributes to the screwup, which ultimately results in a celestial trial over Niven's earthbound status. (Interestingly, earth is shot in color; heaven in black and white.) Originally an attempt to heal post-war resentments between England and America, the film offers a fascinatingly elusive take on death. The festival screens the film Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway, and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Sundance 11, 304 Houston St. in downtown Fort Worth. Tickets are $6.50. For information call 821-6300.
Voices of Change: This latest concert by Voices of Change--which justifiably advertises itself as one of the world's most acclaimed 20th-century chamber-music ensembles--is much like a typical Voices show. The works of living and dead 20th-century composers from around the world are highlighted, with a performance of Florilegium II, from Australian guest artist Vincent Plush, on the program. Works by Toru Takemitsu and David Schiff will also be featured, as will P.D.Q. Bach's "Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle, and Balloons." The show happens at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $18-$20. Call 368-0800.
Funny Fanny Farkle: In an era that considers obesity some kind of character weakness, Fanny Farkle has a point to prove; after all, she could probably write a book about the inhumanity of humanity. Instead, she's taken her big show on the road to venues that traditionally uphold Barbie-inspired body standards for the women who work there. A comedienne first, an exotic dancer second, and a one-woman challenge to the peculiar notion that fat people don't have sex, the 450-pound Farkle trods the international burlesque circuit with her ferociously bawdy sense of humor. If you're puzzled, think of it as performance art: Farkle's been flattening stereotypes since that phrase was coined by a whole lot of less intriguing individuals. She performs evenings and nights Monday-Saturday at Caligula XXI, 2828 Northwest Highway. For information call 350-2664.
The Bargain: It's no wonder the Faust legend, which predates even Goethe's definitive text, has been revisited again and again by artists across the centuries. Few simple fables illustrate the basic moral dilemma faced by every man and woman--To which side of my nature will I be true?--yet allows such wide latitude for creative exploration. The Extra Virgin Performance Cooperative presents another entry in its fascination with Faustian themes. The Bargain, a new musical by Gretchen Swen and Jon Schweikhard, tells of a female sculptor and the choices she makes between independence and security. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through April 28 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $8-$12 (Wednesdays are "pay-what-you-can"). Call 871-