James Kelman and Duncan McLean: Booker Prize-winning novelist James Kelman earned all kinds of comparisons to James Joyce--not all of them favorable--when his brutal, poetic novel How Late it Was, How Late stormed the world's literary salons in 1994. His dogged pursuit of the perfect Scottish dialect makes Kelman a slow read for many native English-speakers, but it helped inspire a renaissance of Scottish writers that includes Trainspotting's Irvine Welsh and Duncan McLean. WordSpace hosts the Dallas stop on a national tour for Kelman and McLean, whose second novel, Bunker Man, is primo psychological suspense. Kelman and McLean read from their work and sign books from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Student Center, Room 207-209, of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University; then they read 7-9 p.m. in Dallas at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. The TCU appearance is free, but the DMA event costs $8. Call (214) 981-8803.
Alice in Bed: So literary wags have recently informed us that Henry James may have had an affair with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and that brother William James was a member of a secret society of nitrous-oxide sniffers at the end of his life. What can we dish out about their tragic sister Alice that hasn't stood as a feminist lesson for almost a century now? The Playwright's Voice, Dallas' free literary play-reading series, hosts a reading of Susan Sontag's only play, Alice in Bed, a historical fantasy about the severely depressed sister who retreated to bed to await her premature death at 43. The reading happens at 7 p.m. in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. It's free. Call (214) 953-1212.
Nebraska: Bruce Coleman's New Theatre Company offers a dark comic-dramatic look at the military's domestic world with Keith Reddin's Nebraska, the story of a husband and wife driven batty by the regimented conformity of life on a military base in Omaha. Hubby, an air force lieutenant, wanders a tad too far in search of thrills and winds up triggering a tragedy that involves The Button. Reddin's script attacks not so much the culture of violence as the dispiriting toll that enforced patriotism can take on the minds of individuals. In other words, it's a vehicle of perfect volatility for New Theatre Company's singular talents. Performances happen Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through May 31 at 3202 Elm St. Tickets are $8-$15 (every Wednesday is pay-what-you-can). Call (214) 871-ARTS.
For Whom the Bucket Tolls: For a peek at the glistening guts of major Dallas talent Dalton James, see "The Lonely Guy," this week's Dallas Observer feature about the actor-writer-composer. He appears in two of the three "depressing comedies" presented by Bucket Productions in an evening called "For Whom the Bucket Tolls"--Luigi Januzzi's A Bench at the Edge and Woody Allen's Death. Samuell Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape completes the program, which is rounded out by Karen Robinson's original choreography (performed to Dalton James' original score). Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through May 24 at the Swiss Avenue Theater. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (214) 528-5725.
Aircraft Pull: What, exactly, is an Aircraft Pull? It's like a tractor pull, only it involves considerably heavier, more expensive equipment. Teams of lawmen and businessmen compete to see who can pull a Boeing 727 twelve feet in the least amount of time at the Department of Public Safety Aircraft Pull, hosted by the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In addition, there will be tours of plane cockpits and emergency rescue vehicles as well as displays, a basketball shoot, a sack race, DFW's K-9 team, and a lot more to entice whole families to get high on aircraft. The event happens 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Federal Express Cargo Building, 3001 N. Airfield Dr. off of State Hwy 114. Tickets are $2 for adults, no admission for kids under 12. Call (214) 574-6701.
Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions: Do you think the history of American gospel music begins and ends with the image of African-Americans in flowing robes belting their love of Jesus to the rooftop? The African-American Museum presents a multi-media exhibition called Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions that will shine a little light into the nuances of black sacred music. Vintage photos, archival video footage, albums, maps, sheet music, and recordings of the music itself explore the differences and similarities of spirituals, hymns, brass band worship services, and Pentecostal shout-singing in sacred black music. The show opens May 10 with a Family Day, noon-5 p.m., at the African-American Museum in Fair Park. For info call (214) 565-9026.
Is Extremism Threatening Mainstream Religion? Are Christian fundamentalists, Zionists, and radical Muslims speaking in the authentic, uncompromising voice of their respective Gods, or do they wield a hateful, man-made dogma selectively honed to persecute their enemies? Danny Barnett at Richland Community College wonders this same thing when he gives a talk for the North Texas Skeptics entitled "Is Extremism Threatening Mainstream Religion?" He will riff on right-wing author David Barton's tomes Myth of Separation and Original Intent to cite examples of how history has been rewritten by some fundamentalist authors. The event happens at 2 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St. It's free. Call 972-558-1047.