Wallace & Gromit: The Best of Aardman Animation: Packaged together into one feature-length program are nine award-winning shorts from the British-based Aardman Animations studio, recognized throughout the world for cartoons and commercials that mix the surreal and the slapstick. Every studio has had its classic duos, and the stars of this program, an entrepreneurial master and his well-meaning trouble magnet of a pooch, get top billing in Wallace & Gromit: The Best of Aardman Animation. Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit adventure "A Close Shave" won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short this year; also included in the show is Parks' previous Oscar winner, 1991's "Creature Comforts." The film opens today in an exclusive run at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 North Central Expressway. Call 855-6286.
Tito Puente and His Latin Jazz Ensemble: To find a real American peer of Latin musical king Tito Puente, you'd really have to shoot straight up to Duke Ellington who, like Puente, accomplished amazing hybrid feats with the traditional music of his ethnic heritage. Like Ellington, Puente has used jazz almost as more of an attitude, an inspirational spirit, than a strict form to be respected. Puente combines salsa, Cuban, cha-cha, and mambo with a big-band flair that rediscovers the grand showmanship instincts of pop music. Unlike Ellington, Puente the 50-year veteran is still alive and performing his stuff. TITAS presents an evening with Puente and His Latin Jazz Ensemble, beginning at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
Dallas Public Library Annual Book Sale: There is one drive that unites avid readers with folks who rarely pick up a book--who sense that there's so much stuff out there they haven't read and probably never will. Get a jump on those Mount Fuji-sized piles of fiction and nonfiction classics:Bring a couple of boxes and load up on really cheap brain food at the Dallas Public Library's Annual Book Sale. More than 40,000 titles--true crime, mystery, travel, cooking, and more--are available at rock-bottom discount prices. The sale happens September 20 and 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the plaza of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street. Call 670-1400.
Digital Photography Now: Just like every other mass-produced art form, photography has met the digital age--although in this case it may not be another matter of technological advancement for its own sake. The dearth of silver haloid materials and chemical processing has presented a problem to photographers for a while now. Many photographic artists find that the computer is their best production source. The Friends of Photography of the Dallas Museum of Art has assembled a panel of Dallas artists and educators to discuss the impact of digital technology and the World Wide Web on imagemaking. The show happens from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood. Tickets are $3-$5. Call 922-1334.
Deception With Statistics: In what is one of the greatest public services it has ever performed, the North Texas Skeptics put exposes of roadside psychics and conspiracy theorists on the back burner in order to focus on a major destructive force in American public discourse--the confusion of statistics and poll numbers with hard evidence in arguing a particular point. Statistics in the form of polls has replaced the exercise of political character in our national government. Wonder why Bob Dole and Jack Kemp did about-faces on their previous stands on tax cuts and affirmative action, respectively? Curious as to why Bill Clinton has metamorphosed into a Republican during the past three years? Statistical numbers in the form of polls are the reason. The North Texas Skeptics reveal just how deceptive and downright inaccurate statistical data can be. The afternoon kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak Street. It's free, and everyone is invited. Call (972) 247-7886.
Voices of Change: University of Texas composition professor Dan Welcher has had a busy adult life--notching 60 compositions on his belt and earning the raves of his contemporaries, not only for his prolificness, but also for the startling range of media he has mastered, including opera, piano solos, chamber music, and symphonies. Voices of Change, Dallas' nationally celebrated contemporary classical ensemble, pays to tribute to Welcher with a free concert featuring his 1979 arrangement for voice, horn, and piano called "Abeja Blanca." Welcher is on hand to discuss the work. Music by Donald Erb and Michael Colgrass also is featured. The concert is free and happens at 3 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood. Call (972) 881-2914.
Dog Day Afternoon: The nonprofit, no-kill Carrollton shelter, Operation Kindness, raises a hind leg to all those snotty purebred dog shows with "Dog Day Afternoon," its celebration of mutts and other domestic pets that includes competitions like "Fastest Tail in Texas" and "Ears to Die For." $10 gets your pet into any of the events, although you do need to keep Fido leashed and present proof of rabies vaccination. The show happens from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Kids' Korral Park on Kelly Boulevard at Keller Springs in Carrollton. Call (972) 418-PAWS.
Round Midnight: Those of us who caught Roger Boykins two weeks ago at the African-American Museum's "Beyond Category" jazz concert were whisked away from the intense sun of late afternoon Texas by his rich mastery of the ivories. Roger and his pals return for a so-cheap-it's-mandatory evening of classic jazz with the Fabulous Monk Family, heirs to a certain bebop bigwig named Thelonious. The evening starts at 8 p.m. in the Clarence Muse Cafe Theater of the Dallas Convention Center, 650 South Griffin Street. Tickets are $5. Call 658-7147.
Gods of Ancient CentroAmerica: Before those Europeans and their peevish Christian God came and mucked up a perfectly pagan continent, the peoples of Central and South America really knew how to throw a revival. The masses would get worked up in honor of vengeful quasi-animal gods who could only be satisfied with virgins, disembodied beating hearts, and the kind of showmanship that makes Southern Baptist tent services look like a day at the department of motor vehicles. The nationally celebrated, Dallas-based folklorico company, Ollimpaxqui, celebrates that era with a night of pre-Columbian dance and music. The evening kicks off at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium, Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (972) 488-1585.
NHL Breakout '96: The blood, the fists, the profanity, the flying teeth--this is not a description of meetings between pro-choice and pro-life Republicans, but the highlights of America's favorite sanctioned free-for-all-with-puck, hockey. The National Hockey League brings its Breakout '96 to Dallas for a second year. Hockey-related competitions and activities as well as appearances by NHL superstars highlight a weekend of events. In addition to the street and roller hockey tournaments between 100 local teams, there are clinics, game competitions in passing and accuracy, a demo zone, and more. Events happen September 21 and 22, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the parking lot of Incredible Universe, 12710 Executive Drive. All events except the organized tournament play are free; that's $126 per team. Call (212) 789-2785.
Tri-Star North Texas Collectors Show: A recent 60 Minutes segment revealed the sports autograph business for what it is--a shyster's playground where sports fans are duped right and left with phony signatures. The verdict of the talking heads? The only way to be certain of an autograph's authenticity is to be present when Mr. or Ms. Legend puts pen to glossy. You can be sure that the John Hancocks of Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Hank Aaron, Ted Hendricks, and Don Maynard are for real at Tri-Star North Texas Collectors Show, because all those folks are scheduled to appear and sign for their legions of fans. The show happens September 20 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; September 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and September 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Dallas Market Hall, Market Boulevard and Stemmons Freeway. Call 655-6181 or 373-8000 for ticket information.
Montage '96: For many of us, the annual downtown Dallas arts festival, Montage '96, is more than just a celebration of visual and performing arts--it's the first time we notice the glorious cool breeze that a new fall has provided. Knock on wood that the intensity of the sun will lessen to provide the maximum pleasure potential for the two days of live music, dance, theater, storytelling, artist and craft person's booths, and the International Food Court featuring multiethnic yummies. Events happen September 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and September 22 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the downtown Dallas Arts District, along Flora Street between Artist Square and the Dallas Museum of Art. Tickets are $4-$5; kids 4 and younger get in free. Call 720-9004.
Potlach Screenwriters Reading: The Potlach Staged Reading Series switches gears a bit from the straightforward dramas and comedies highlighted earlier this year to more nontraditional, outrageous, and in some cases downright confrontational staged script readings. Kicking off its new fall program is a black comic script by local film production veteran Andy Anderson (Positive I.D.) slated for production in summer 1997. The screenplay, Detention, outlines the extreme measures taken by a very frustrated high-school teacher to get his students' attention. The reading begins at 7 p.m. at Theatre Three in The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh Street. It's free, but donations are appreciated. Call 920-2464.
The Women of the Pleasure Quarter: Japanese Paintings and Prints: Feminist historical (herstorical?) criticism has taught us that throughout the world and the centuries of human civilization, women have been fetishized as icons when they weren't branded subordinates. The glorification of the proscribed feminine role reached an Eastern apex in 18th-century Japan, where the cosmopolitan city of Edo (now Tokyo) portrayed them in elaborate paintings, woodblock prints, and ink illustrations. More than 100 examples are featured in The Women of the Pleasure Quarter: Japanese Paintings and Prints, which explores Japanese big-city life from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The exhibit runs through December 1 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth. Call (817) 332-8451.
Butterflies in the Blachly Conservatory: Butterflies are not free at Fair Park's Blachly Conservatory, but they are plentiful and representative of the species found right here in Texas. "Butterflies in the Blachly" returns for its second year with North Texas' largest live butterfly exhibit. Did you know that our fair state boasts more butterfly species than any other state in America? Do you give a rat's hiney? This fact is much more impressive when you view the more than 6,000 butterflies through the conservatory's glass walls. The exhibit runs daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through October 20 at the Dallas Horticulture Center in Fair Park. Admission is $2-$3; kids younger than 5 admitted free. Call 428-7476.