Events for the week

thursday
august 15
Seven Underground Films: Press material for the traveling program "Seven Underground Films Tour 13 Cities in 13 Days in One '65 Chevy" indicates that the short films on this bill are united by "an artful lowlife sensibility." Co-sponsored by the nationally celebrated Austin Film Society, which recently lured Quentin Tarantino back to that pastoral city to screen some favorite flicks, "Seven Underground Films" is high concept realized through pocket change. The longest of the films, Angels?, is 15 minutes; the shortest, The History of Texas City, lasts a mere two minutes. This means even the guy whose attention span has undergone electroshock from 13 straight hours of the video game Doom can handle these dense excursions into personal passions. Screenings happen at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $5. Call 953-1212.

Second Annual Taste of Deep Ellum: There are 15 Deep Ellum-based restaurants participating in the Second Annual Taste of Deep Ellum, which is a self-guided tasting tour complete with beer samples at each establishment and a party to begin and end the evening. In order to get the maximum munch for your buck, however, you might consider snagging a map of Deep Ellum eateries to outline your plan of attack from most to least favorite. Keep in mind that all those Deep Ellum habitues will keep one step ahead of you; we suspect the Tex-Mex tables will look like an in-store appearance by Jesus at your local Christian bookshop, while the restaurant that serves ostrich will go unrewarded for its boldness. The event happens 6 p.m.-11 p.m. in the restaurants on Main, Commerce, and Elm streets. The first establishment on the itinerary is 2826. Tickets are $20-$25. Call 480-0011.

friday
august 16
Schoolhouse Rock Live: Those of us who watched Saturday morning cartoons as children in the early '70s may have metamorphosed into restless, drooling Xers, but we can make one proud claim:We learned the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. With the hipster jazz of "Conjunction Junction," the gutbucket moan of "I'm Just a Bill," and more, animator-writers Tom Yohe and George Newall kicked off their Emmy Award-winning series of cartoon shorts known as Schoolhouse Rock in 1973 to teach bedrock principles of government and grammar using American musical forms. Schoolhouse Rock Live, which incorporates the old songs into a new musical narrative, comes to Dallas after a hugely successful off-Broadway run. Previews happen Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and the regular run takes place Friday-Sunday, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. through September 7, at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur. Tickets are $6-$10. Call 252-7558.

Michelle Spencer: Nationally acclaimed dancer (The New York Times called her "smart, cute, and profoundly irritating"); experimental video artist working out of New York and San Francisco; musical collaborator with John Cale on his opera, Life Under Water; and Plano resident. With a resume like that, artist Michelle Spencer could surely die a happy woman even if the Big Event came tomorrow. She's not expecting it, however, as she still plans to debut her ballet-based performance-art piece, Home Wrecker, about a woman confronting her husband's favorite vice, in Dallas. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $8-$12. Call 953-1212.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: It's amazing how shifting political currents and changing attitudes toward popular culture can completely transform a film's message. Upon its release, Robert Wise's 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was lauded as a rigorous, imaginative statement against the international leaders who orchestrated the Cold War. The film generated terrific tension as it forced audiences to wait to see if the intentions of Klaatu (Michael Rennie), the brainy intergalactic braggart, were honorable. As it turns out, he was lording his superiority over earthlings just to teach them a lesson about their own fragility when dealing with stuff like atomic bombs. Since the leaders were too bullheaded to listen, Klaatu turned to "the little people," who carried an innate sense of dignity and fair play. Watch The Day The Earth Stood Still today, when conservatism is the populist philosophy of choice and Independence Day is the flag-waving sci-fi blockbuster, and you'll see a pinko agenda behind Wise's somber, manipulative film. Since when did the common folk not enjoy kicking a little commie ass? The screening happens at midnight at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. Call 821-NEWS.

saturday
august 17
1996 NPC Texas Bodybuilding Championships: Although we're tempted to write something smartass about the buff, brawny ladies who participate in the 1996 NPC Texas Bodybuilding Championships, there's no such thing as a cheap shot when life and limb are on the line: These gals could snap our spines like twigs and use the leftovers for kindling. These particular championships are qualifiers for the national round, where folks will pose, bench-press, and lift the equivalent of a Southern California fat farm in their pursuit of honors. There is open competition, as well as novice, teen-age, and something euphemistically titled "Master Over 40." (Is there a combination more fearsome than menopause and big biceps?) The prejudging show happens at 9:30 a.m. and an evening show at 6:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center; both are open to the public. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 299-6105.

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