Fredrik Noren: You can't get much whiter than Sweden, which makes the idea of a Swedish ensemble playing jazz--a premiere African-American musical form--an easy target for snickers. So if you're a jazz fan and the idea of listening to Basie and Bird played by men with names like Magnus Broo and Torbjorn Gulz makes you wince, then move on. If, on the other hand, you want to catch a cool Swedish sound, check out The Fredrik Noren Band. This 18-year-old quintet has made it a mission to spread the music it loves to all corners of the globe, and it has succeeded in nabbing ecstatic critical notices from places like India, Singapore, and Lithuania. The concert kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Atrium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call 922-1229.
One Hundred Years of the American Newspaper Comic Strip: The world, it seems, is divided into two camps--people who find "Dilbert" funny, and those who don't want to escape the drudgery of their jobs by being confronted daily with a three-paneled sight gag that confirms the drudgery of their jobs. "Dilbert" certainly upholds an American comic strip tradition--the monotony of the workaday world--and has been awarded with a slot atop The New York Times bestseller list. You can trace the development of America's personal obsessions--those that have changed, and those that remain--in One Hundred Years of the American Newspaper Comic Strip, an exhibition at the Arlington Museum of Art. Over 100 cartoons and 30 acrylic characters representative of comic strip fashions since the form's New York inception in 1895 are included. The show runs through August 10 at the Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W. Main in Arlington. It's free. Call (817) 275-4600.
George Wallace: Just a few short weeks ago, George Wallace's name and face graced the Dallas Observer Calendar page, and the S.O.B. showed his gratitude by postponing that performance. We risk getting stung twice (and, in the process, stinging Constant Reader again) by printing a blurb about Mr. Wallace's follow-up show. It's just that we happen to believe George is one of the funniest people on the face of the earth and a ray of hope for that ailing pop cult patient known as stand-up comedy. Affectionately (and in some quarters bitterly) known among his peers as "the guy who can roll the room over if it's dead," Mr. Wallace takes that most cliche of stand-up inspirations--everyday life--and gives it the twist that reminds us the word "ordinary" fits neatly inside the description "extraordinary." Now show up! Wallace appears at 8 p.m. in the Bruton Theatre of the Dallas Convention Center. For ticket information call 373-8000.
Jennifer Pena: With LeAnn Rimes signed to the national label Curb and now Jennifer Pena touted as the hottest Tex-Mex creation since jalapeno jam, we are reminded that adolescence and aimlessness are not synonymous. The 13-year-old Pena showed a steady, soulful hand as she fired an arrow into the hearts of 32,000 Houston fans who'd gathered to remember the late Selena. That performance is well-nigh legendary in South Texas. April 1996 saw the release of her debut CD, Dulzura, and her handlers are promoting Pena hot and heavy with appearances at Tejano venues throughout the Southwest. She appears in a Dallas concert that will benefit Teatro Dallas, the city's indispensable Latino-Anglo theater. The show happens at Tejano Rodeo (formerly Cowboys), 7331 Gaston Ave. Tickets are $7-$10. Call 741-1135.
Sex & Politics '96: Dallas improv sketch troupe 4 Out of 5 Doctors has proven that sex and laughter do mix (although a sudden outburst during the dirty deed does a lot to spoil the mood). Dallas ticket buyers rewarded the recipe by busting the troupe's box-office records with last year's Three Hours of Sex show. The group is now throwing a third ingredient into the blender--political humor--and serving us Sex & Politics '96: Either Way You're Screwed. Press material is explicit about inviting campaign season targets like Bob Dole, Janet Reno, and Ross Perot, but where exactly the sex part comes in is somewhat more mysterious. We're inclined to pause here and hope that any onstage depiction of Dole, Reno, or Perot's sex life will be preceded by the distribution of vomit bags to ticket buyers. Otherwise, you go, boys and girls! The show happens Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m. through September 7 at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane. Call 821-1860.
Collector's Day: The next time a friend or significant other chastises you about the pile of soda cans and empty retail sacks at the bottom of your car, simply reply that you are a collector. If this doesn't shut 'em up, it'll at least cause some confusion and buy you a little temporary peace and quiet. Invest the time by attending Collector's Day at Dallas Museum of Natural History, a Family Festival Day dedicated to folks who gather baseball cards, Elvis dolls, seashells, and more. You'll experience displays of those collections along with a tour of the museum's own storage areas. The event happens 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Dallas Museum of Natural History in Fair Park. Admission is $2-$3. Call 421-3466.
Tim Seibles, Carlo Pezzimenti: There is no better entertainment deal around than this free performance given by two of the North Texas area's most pleasurable artists. Tim Seibles is more Texas satellite than resident, having moved northward a few years back but still orbiting the city to remind his fervent cult members why they love this raspy-voiced, jazz-influenced poet/storyteller. Pal Pezzimenti has just released his ninth CD, Aetheria, and will perform pieces from it. We dub this former Segovia disciple "Goldfingers" in honor of his remarkable classical-guitar skills. They appear at 7:30 p.m. at Borders Books & Music at Preston and Royal. It's free, but come early for a good spot. Call 363-3226.
Beyond Vanilla: Contrary to the anti-lust town criers who have crowded our public avenues more and more during the past decade, we think there's nothing more American than (consensual adult) sex. Doubters need only take a gander at America's Teammate Michael Irvin, a man whose exceptional handiwork with a pigskin was sure evidence he wields a mean dildo even if Laura Miller had never aired the juicier details of that court hearing. In light of recent media scrutiny granted to this kind of "alternative sexuality" (the Observer prefers to call it "creative lovin'"), we think there will be all kinds of unusual suspects at "Beyond Vanilla," an S&M/fetish/leather educational forum sponsored by Race Bannon, one of the country's leading advocates of corporal punishment for fun (and, in his case, profit). The question proposed: Is the Cowboys fan who paints his face blue in public man enough to submit to orders from a dominatrix (providing, of course, she wears that adorable blue and silver cheerleader outfit)? The event happens 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. A $10 donation is requested. Call 521-5342.
Spikefest '96: Football and basketball may hog the national spotlight as far as spectator sports go, but volleyball follows fast on their heels as a high-octane audience-pleaser. (In order to stay ahead of the boys at the net, maybe Daryl Johnson should consider playing a few games shirtless.) Spikefest '96 provides the perfect opportunity for the uninitiated to try their hands at volleyball spectatorship; it's the largest three-on-three volleyball tournament in the country, and this year the culmination of The Tour, a three-city Texas journey. The tournament begins at 8 a.m. August 3 and 4 at Greenhill School Sports Center, 14255 Midway Road in Addison. Admission for spectators is free, but the organizers request that everyone bring a canned/dried good or gently used clothing to donate to the Metrocrest Social Service Center. Call 526-8606.
Clive Barker: If anyone deserves to be the inspiration for the song "Devil Doll" by sometime X frontman John Doe, it's Clive Barker, the haunted house on two legs whose gentle, handsome face masks an imagination obsessed with the darkest side of our desires. But Barker's new tome, Sacrament, while certainly possessing a passport to The Other Side, marks somewhat of a departure that Barker has hinted may constitute a career detour. Sacrament doesn't take place in hell, but inside the heart of an environmental photographer whose personal traumas with AIDS and his parents send him on a mystical journey that will establish his place in the animal world. Barker signs copies of his book at 6:30 p.m. at Crossroads Market, 3930 Cedar Springs Road. Prepare for a hellacious line. Call 521-8595.
Blazing Saddles: Who knew that one day Mel Brooks' '70s classics would bring a tear to your eye at the same time they made you bust a gut? It's hard not to feel a little sad watching the rude comic mastery of a Blazing Saddles--being screened by the USA Film Festival as part of its First Monday Classics series--or Young Frankenstein and then trying to shake the memory of Dracula: Dead And Loving It or Robin Hood: Men In Tights--or, we should say, the memory of however long you managed to sit through it. Watching the decline of an American genius is never pretty, and probably always inevitable, but Brooks' place in the firmament of American cinema is firm. Screenings happen August 5, 7:30 p.m., at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway; and August 6, 7:30 p.m., at the AMC Sundance 11, 304 Houston Street in Fort Worth. Call 821-NEWS.
National Doll Festival: Look, they may be lovingly crafted playthings designed to light up the eyes of a child, but perusing the photos of dolls included in press material for the National Doll Festival, one fact is inescapable: These little buggers are scary-looking. While it may sound ridiculous to warn that this national-scale event featuring 300 tables of dolls, bears, toys, collectibles, and accessories is not for the faint of heart, we wouldn't want some of these creations staring at us from the bureau one sleepless night. It's a tribute to the makers: The eyes are haunting and full of life. The festival happens Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., in the Regency Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard. Admission is $6-$8. Call 720-2020.