Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches: Fans of bad cinema practically declared a day of public mourning when Comedy Central announced it would cancel "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" (whose creator, by the way, will be honored at this year's Dallas Video Festival January 9-12). While some of us were happy to provide our own running commentary to favorite celluloid cheese, the absence of MST3K has clearly created a void in the marketplace. Fans who desire a fix with the patina of respectability that live theater brings with it should know that Dallas' Pocket Sandwich Theatre was encouraging you to laugh at clumsy melodrama and tacky sci-fi years before "Mystery Science Theatre" graced the tube. To start 1997 off right, check out their latest production, Dennis Millegan's Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches. The script concerns how a nuclear accident in the Florida swamps of the 1950s coincides with an ambitious moonshiner and produces...well, check out the title. As with all Pocket Sandwich shows, you're not only allowed, but encouraged to air your opinions, whether it be through catcalls or a few fistfuls of well-aimed popcorn. William Shakespeare would be proud. Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches runs Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 7 p.m. through February 15 at 5400 East Mockingbird. Tickets are $6-$12. Call (214) 821-4643.
In the Spirit of Resistance: African-American Modernists and the Mexican Muralist School: It's no coincidence that the mural and the billboard resemble each other in scale and drama--after all, when you want to make a statement, there's no more effective way than to print it big and stick it near a major public thoroughfare. The 20th century Mexican Muralist School expressed outrage at ethnic and economic inequality south of America; not surprisingly, many African-American neighbors to the north picked up on this confrontational style of visual art and began to paint their depictions of black oppression and resistance in a similar style. In the Spirit of Resistance: African-American Modernists and the Mexican Muralist School features 17 Mexican artists and 82 black American artists, including legends like Jacob Lawrence, Charles Alston, John Biggers, and Elizabeth Catlett. This national touring show is co-sponsored in Dallas by the Latino Cultural Center for the Arts and Letters, Inc. The show runs through March 2 at the African-American Museum in Fair Park. For info call (214) 565-9026.
Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble: Continuing its sixth season of the Meryl P. Levy Gallery Concert Series, one of those instances where a rich person actually does care about the quality of life among us putrid wage workers, the Dallas Museum of Art invites a toddler of a musical organization to its Horchow Auditorium for a free concert. The 11-member Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble debuted four years ago at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis with an auspicious premiere--a new string quartet by R. Murray Schafer. Ever since then, in concerts at Minnesota performances and all around the country, the ensemble has attempted to make music fans as familiar with 20th century American composers as they are with Mozart and Chopin. Their Dallas performance includes the Schafer piece Third String Quartet as well as Claptrap by Paul Siskind, Narcissus by Thea Musgrave, and Eight Lines by Steve Reich. The show happens at 3 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood. It's free. Call (214) 922-1229.
Matteo Mela and Giamaolo Bandini: The Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society continues its inaugural series with a performance by a pair of classical instrumentalists who've taken the major European cities by storm with their interpretations of German, Italian, and Spanish composers from across the centuries. Matteo Mela and Giamaolo Bandini won the coveted ARAM award five years ago for their achievements in duo musicianship. They swing into Fort Worth after an exhausting European tour schedule to perform Bach, Giuliani, and Piazzola. This Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society show kicks off at 8 p.m. in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10-$15. For more information call (817) 329-4430.
Russian Winter: You can avoid those nasty subzero Russian temperatures, not to mention those pesky little ethnic skirmishes, but still enjoy a taste of the Motherland with an evening offered by the Russian-American Cultural House and Transfiguration Orthodox Chapel. "Russian Winter" is the name of the program that celebrates some of the great Russian composers and choreographers of all time, interpreted by contemporary artists and performers. Music by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinski is interpreted by a quartet of instrumentalists, including pianist Goulnara Iliasova and baritonist Gerardo Garciacano. Nikolai Semikov, principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre, performs with students of the Svetlana Stanova Ballet Art School. The evening starts at 8 p.m. in Grand Ballroom B of the Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce St. Tickets are $15. Call (214) 943-5996.
Stephen Wilder and David Dreyer: Paintings from the Landscape: Dallas-based painters Stephen Wilder and David Dreyer became best buddies at Southern Methodist University in 1988, although it was clear to both artists that they just didn't see eye-to-eye. Both enjoyed painting landscapes, but while Wilder said to-may-to with his fiercely detailed re-creations of depth, color, and placement, Dreyer said to-mah-to by concentrating more on how the process of applied paint strokes interacted with the forms he saw. Instead of calling the whole thing off, Wilder and Dreyer decided to display their differences side by side in an exhibit titled Paintings from the Landscape. The show is a textbook example of how different artists view their relationship to the world differently. It opens with a reception January 4, 6-8 p.m. and runs through January 31 at Hickory Street Gallery, 501 2nd Ave. Call (214) 821-0254.
Class of '62: For African-Americans, 1962 was a year when it must have seemed like everything was possible. Dr. King and Malcolm X had yet to be felled by assassins' bullets, all the groundwork laid by civil rights activists had started to bear fruit through the unprecedented empathy of lawmakers at the federal level, and everyone knew the hottest new American musical form, rock 'n' roll, was the descendant of black rhythm and blues. Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre reminds us of Ruth Brown's immortal declaration "R&B become rock 'n' roll when the white kids started dancing to it" with Class of '62, an original musical review directed and choreographed by Keisha Breaker-Haliburton that features the music of Mary Wilson, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and others staged as a reunion celebration. The show runs Friday, 8:15 p.m.; Saturday, 3:15 and 8:15 p.m.; and Sunday, 3:15 p.m. through January 12 at the Jubilee Theatre in downtown Fort Worth. Tickets are $10-$16. Call (817) 338-4411.
Peace Through Humor: The new show at the Jewish Community Center entitled "Peace Through Humor" is a bit more ambitious than your average children's art exhibit. For a period of two years, at the invitation of the Israeli Ministry of Education, New York art teacher Maureen Kushner was sent to 24 international schools to teach Jewish, Ethiopian, Russian, Druze, and Bedouin kids various visual techniques. Themes of tolerance and good humor were requested. The results have toured America in 1996, make this stop at the JCC, and will eventually head to the New York City U.N. headquarters. One wonders--could there possibly have been room for a few Arab kids in the project? Peace Through Humor runs through January 30 at the Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road. Call 739-2737.
Enter the Dragon: In the world of celebrities who faked their own deaths for mysterious reasons, the absolutely not dead Bruce Lee must surely teach self-defense techniques so the next time fans see through those Groucho glasses worn on the street by Elvis, Jim Morrison, Amelia Earhart, and Tupac Shakur, the 100 percent alive and kicking stars can defend themselves (Mr. Shakur, no doubt, had to be sweet-talked out of using that Saturday Night Special). Enter the Dragon was the 1973 film that convinced fans worldwide that Bruce Lee was superhuman, agile enough to kick even the reaper back across the river Styx. As part of its First Monday Classics, the USA Film Festival screens Enter the Dragon to keep the myth alive for a younger generation. Look for a baby-faced Jim Brown, Tim Burton's two-fisted Martian foe, as one of Lee's sidekicks. The screening happens at 7:30 p.m. in the AMC Glen Lakes Theatres, 9450 North Central Expressway at Walnut Hill. Tickets are $5.50-$6.50. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Morteza Abdollahi: The iron veil that separates American and Arab sensibilities is so firmly drawn, we imagine that countries like Iran permit none of the artistic expression that makes disparate cultures part of human civilization. Islam is restrictive, to be sure, but art flowers in the Middle East. Ask Morteza Abdollahi, a 36-year-old Persian artist who became, at the age of 18, the youngest member of The Society of Iranian Calligraphers. This followed his tutelage under a series of famous Iranian art instructors. Abdollahi left his home country to travel the world and study the artistic styles of various nations. What he saw was incorporated into his one-man show of paintings on glass at the ArtCentre of Plano. The show opens with a reception January 4, 7 p.m. through February 12 at 1039 ArtCentre of Plano, 1039 East 15th Street in Plano. Call (214) 423-7809.
Elvis' 62nd Birthday Bash: Every year at this time on Elvis' birthday, as the Observer Calendar again takes up that argument about the King--schlocky entertainer or groundbreaking artist--a small cadre of office Elvis fans offer their opinions in the form of some nasty new surprise (one year, it was Elvis tunes over the P.A. system...all day long). Clearly, it doesn't matter to millions if He Who Fell on the Throne was a musician of modest talents who pulled off a blackface act that would've made Al Jolson jealous. Dick's Last Resort continues its Elvis Birthday observance for this, the King's 62nd anniversary. They offer an Elvis Karaoke contest, a performance by nationally lauded re-enactor James L. Wages, Elvis jokes in disgustingly poor taste (that's a quote from the release), and the King's favorite food and drinks. The evening kicks off around 8 p.m. at Dick's Last Resort, Ross and Record in the West End. There's no cover. Call 665-9533.
Legalline: Say you can't afford to sic Marvin Mitchelson on your neighbor, who every holiday leaves his plastic nativity scene on both sides of the property line? But you're also not prepared to hear snickers at the office after your co-workers see you on TV being bitched out by Judge Judy? Dallas residents with a law-related question on practically any issue you can name--criminal, civil, tax- and business-related, divorce, personal injury--can call Legalline every second and third Wednesday of the month. The Dallas Bar Association offers a staff of lawyers to offer you advice and referral between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Call (214) 969-7066.