The Dump Trucks: Don't dismiss the two suicide-related art exhibits at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary as just macabre, artistic shock tactics. Between the philosophies of Dr. Kevorkian and the ever-rising rate of self-destruction among young people, suicide can be used as a prism from which to examine concepts as diverse as individual liberty and the primacy of life. With the Supreme Court hearing both sides of the right-to-die issue, suicide has graduated from mortal sin to multilayered fodder for debate. A group of Dallas actors and poets who've dubbed themselves The Dump Trucks gather to perform poetry and prose from the likes of Sylvia Plath, Marsha Norman, Maxine Kumin, and Thomas Hardy entitled "When the Illusion Ends, He Must Kill Himself." Not a cheerful evening, but a thoughtful and important one. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the CineMAC Theater at McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. A $3 donation is requested. Call (214) 953-1MAC.
The Dallas Poets Community: If you'd like to hear some Dallas scribes stand up and read original work that won't echo from inside the gas oven, The Dallas Poets Community offers an informal public reading for you. The works here have no common theme tying them together, except that the poet will be reading his or her own work and--given that there's no chicken wire protection--hoping that the audience will be encouraging. The Dallas Poets Community is a workshop that strives to provide respectful but vigilant critical feedback for its members. The reading happens at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, Preston and Royal. It's free. Call (214) 373-1977.
Getting The current trend among American publishers of both fiction and non-fiction can best be summed up as "winner takes all": those unknown writers lucky enough to get a title published by one of the major houses nowadays are likely to be honored with six-figure deals and strong promotional support. This means, of course, that fewer talented new writers are getting the breaks they deserve. Anyone brave enough to venture into the field of books has to be not just eloquent, but tough, smart, and persistent. Southern Methodist University offers an eight-week course entitled "Getting Published." Lucille Enix, a published author and independent editorial consultant with 30 years of experience, guides you through. The course runs every Thursday, 7-9 p.m., through Mar 20 at Southern Methodist University. For enrollment info call (214) 768-5376.
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth: "CD/FW Dance Exchange: A Company Showcase" is an opportunity for the inmates to run the asylum. Modeled on Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth's annual choreographers' showcases, the "CD/FW Dance Exchange" features a number of original works by dancers in the troupe. Heather Hutton Coomer leads her own "Tromp," a group piece inspired by the movements of Scottish step dancing; Collette Stewart dances a solo turn to the neurotic words of playwright Christopher Durang; dancer Stacey Royce and composer Jonathan Wallis feature six dancers dramatizing the differences between Western and tribal cultures; and more. Performances happen Jan 31, 8 p.m. and Feb 1, 8 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Dr, Fort Worth. $6-$20. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Paula Poundstone: The glorious technophobic smartass named Paula Poundstone went on-line for coverage of last year's Republican National Convention, but while her head was in cyberspace, her feet were planted firmly on paper with her regular political column for Mother Jones. It's a tribute to this decidedly non-Republican woman that she refrained from outright bile-spewing and instead uncovered the quieter, quirkier contradictions that made for thoughtful analysis with an edge, otherwise known as smart comedy. At last year's show, Poundstone was curmudgeonly but conversational, incisive but agreeably confused about the general state of conservative America. Expect more of the same on January 31 at 8 p.m. and February 1 at 7 and 10 p.m. at the Arts District Theater. For ticket info call 1-800-954-6545.
SamulNori: The world-renowned, ecstatically acclaimed Korean percussionists known as SamulNori are populist entertainers in a way that America can barely recognize. The form and style of their shows are based on the 5,000 year-old tradition of namsadang, which were roving theatrical troupes who stopped at Korean villages and performed stories and music about common folk, with an eye toward letting the poor audiences cathartically get something off their chests. Namsadang has all but died out in contemporary Korea, but SamulNori keeps the faith even as they retain technologically sophisticated influences into their collection of gongs and drums. The show happens at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call (214) 528-5576.
42nd Annual Winter Boat Show: The original Dallas Boat Show, established in 1995, has grown from catering exclusively to watercraft aficionados to adopt a larger recreation scope. The yachts, speed boats, ski boats, surfers, cruisers, sliders, and water weenies are still the reason for the event, of course. But there's also a motor sports pavilion so spectator fans of watercrafts sports can dig the machines up close, as well as get a sampling of the experience through the simulators. The show, including a fish-o-rama trout tank, the Clydesdale horses performing, and a ton of other stuff, runs Jan 31-Feb 9 at Dallas Market Hall. For info call (972) 550-1052.