Harry Wu: A lot of American political leaders, both Republican and Democrat, wish that Harry Wu would just shut up. Scheduled as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Congressional hearings on whether China's "most favored nation" status should be renewed, the 19-year gulag veteran, courageous activist, and obsessive gadfly is currently the biggest thorn in the side of free-market advocates who want to keep their hands in China's pockets even as they turn their heads away from some pretty heinous human rights abuses linked directly to that country's manufacturing industry. Wu speaks about his experiences at 7 p.m. in the Lynch Auditorium of the University of Dallas, 1845 East Northgate Drive, Irving. Call (972) 721-5194.
Hal Galper Trio: Jazz musicians might as well copyright their names, since the various projects a celebrated jazzman works on during his lifetime usually bear titles no flashier than "The Bobby Shew Quintet" and "The Hal Galper Trio." Galper made his name a brand name through his long concert and recording association with saxophonist Phil Woods; Galper's emphatic but nuanced ivory-tickling challenged and soothed Woods' noodling horn. Hal Galper brings his trio to open the 13th Annual Jazz Under the Stars series. Concerts happen every Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Ross Avenue Plaza of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Call (214) 922-1200.
Biggest Roach in Texas: Although the Dallas Museum of Natural History's actual contest to determine the "Biggest Roach in Texas" isn't until the end of June, we wanted you to keep your eyes open the next time you reach under the sink for Ajax. June 28's Bug Day Family Festival is open to Texas pest species only; no foreigners allowed. The roach doesn't have to be alive to be entered, but you can kiss the "Congeniality" ribbon goodbye if all your participant does is lie there, legs straight up in the air. If you want further information about the upcoming "Biggest Roach in Texas" contest, call (214) 421-3466.
Dog Show: Dan Day, Joe Nemmers, and the other Kitchen Dogs aren't just presenting a new production with their ambitious new "existential cabaret" called Dog Show--they're introducing a new, or at the very least expanded, company. Dog Show takes short works by the company's patron saint Samuel Beckett and mixes them with original dialogue and movement conceived by new and old Kitchen Dog Theatre members. In case you're wondering, it's OK to laugh at Beckett; a recent production by another company of the author's one-act Krapp's Last Tape, which is included in this show, elicited stifled giggles from an audience who didn't know how to take its absurd repetitions and non sequiturs. Expect to be challenged, but know that Kitchen Dog isn't too proud to entertain. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through June 22 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Tri-Star Collectors Show: The list of attendees scheduled to appear at the three-day Tri-Star Collectors Show is so famous, even we non-sports fans have heard of them: Johnny Bench, Steve Carlton, Ralph Branca, Whitey Ford, Bobby Thomson, and Jake "I'm Not DeNiro" LaMotta. Actually, we haven't heard of Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca, but those guys probably won't have problems being identified when they sit down amid the 150 national dealers of sports memorabilia, comics, and more, and grace cards, pictures, and posters with their John Hancocks. Events happen May 16, 3-8 p.m.; May 17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and May 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the North Hall of Market Hall. Call (713) 840-7827.
George Carlin: OK, so his much-touted show for the Fox Network didn't work out. Writer-actor-legendary standup George Carlin has bounced out of so many career slumps in his 37-year career as a comedian, we suspect he doesn't know what to do with himself when life treats him right. When he gets the shaft, Carlin is prepared to shout it from the rooftops--or, at least, from a stage surrounded by fans who can't get enough of his patented mix of anger and pathos. The socially conscious goofball who has concentrated more on TV and movie work over the past decade comes to Dallas for an increasingly rare appearance. The show happens at 8 p.m. at the Bronco Bowl, 2300 Fort Worth Ave. Tickets are $20-$35. Call (214) 373-8000.
Just As I Am: Confessions of a Creative Child: The Dallas performance scene loses another talent as former Less Miserable leader Paul J. Williams heads to New York City to seek his fortunes. His cabaret performances have already been praised there, so before Williams is hosting "Talk Soup!" or hobnobbing with Lily on Broadway, check out his swan song performance "Just As I Am: Confessions of a Creative Child." Williams grew up a gay Southern Baptist Texan and has not only survived the combination, but gained hilarious wisdom from it. If you thought all gay men were born in major urban areas with the ability to style hair, mix martinis, and dis closed minds, check out Williams' monologues about being "creative" in small-town South Texas. Performances run Friday and Saturday at 11:15 p.m (an additional show happens May 21, 8 p.m.) through May 24 at the Pocket Sandwich Theater, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $10. Call (214) 821-1860.
5th Annual Rhythm and Chews: Chalk it up to individual taste, but some of us lose our appetites when we hear songs by Three Dog Night. Leader Chuck Negron is there along with more palatable local talents like Joseph Vincelli and Cowboys & Indians to serenade the visitors of Addison's 5th Annual Rhythm and Chews, otherwise known as Taste of Addison. Sambuca, Sam's Club, Spring Creek Barbeque, Cantina Laredo, Cafe Gecko, Hoffbrau Steaks Brewery, and other choice establishments will provide the gustatory accompaniment to the music stage's mixed bag. Events happen May 17, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and May 18, noon-6 p.m. at Addison Road and Airport Parkway in Addison. Admission is $1. Call 1-800-ADDISON.
Ballet Folklorico Mayfest: Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company expresses in its mission statement the desire to explore "the beautiful music, dynamic dances, and extraordinary costumes of Mexico, Spain, and all Latin America," including "the Pre-Columbian rituals of the Aztecs." Ritual sacrifice and enforced slavery are presumably not on the bill when Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company performs as part of Ballet Folklorico Mayfest. It's an omission understandable but unfortunate--the best kind of multiculturalism is the kind that never blinks, that takes the good and the bloody of such a magnificent empire as South and Central American Indians. Performance times are 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. Tickets are $5. Call (214) 670-8749.
Spirit of the Plains: The two days of musical and visual art events that constitute the Spirit of the Plains Celebration are intended to invoke the pioneering of both the American Indians and the various other races who flooded into their space and forged a unique, if often fractious, identity. Edward Hummingbird, curator of the Gallery of Native American Art, joins forces with headliners Jackson and Almeda Berkey of Mannheim Streamroller fame for talks, exhibits, and an elaborate montage of original and traditional music performed with the help of Dallas Symphony Orchestra members Yuri Anshelevich and Motio Takeda. Events happen May 17, 1-4 p.m. and May 18, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Campbell Rd, Richardson. A minimum donation of $5.50 is requested. Call (972) 238-8103.
Luis Jimenez: Working Class Heroes, Images from the Popular Culture: For 30 years now, El Paso native Luis Jimenez has been recording the travails of Joe and Jane Sixpack (not to mention their Latino cousins Jose and Juanita Sixpack) through his acclaimed public sculptures. Now the Dallas Museum of Art plays host to the first touring exhibition of Jimenez's work, a retrospective called Working Class Heroes: Images From the Popular Culture. The show also includes maquettes, drawings, and lithographs created by this son of a sign painter, who acquired a taste for the transformative power of popular iconography from watching his father work. Working Class Heroes exhibits May 18-August 2 at 1717 N. Harwood. For info call (214) 922-1200.
World's Best Commercials 1996: The aforementioned non-sports fans were almost turned into football mavens by this year's extraordinarily entertaining Super Bowl. But we left to use the facilities and freshen our beers during the game, so that we could catch every minute of those big-budget, high-concept, star-studded, special effects-laden commercials. The USA Film Festival extends this appreciation with another offering in its annual World's Best Commercials, which features a hundred of the funniest, weirdest, and most un-translatable TV commercials from around the world. Screenings for this edition of the Festival's Independent Showcase series happen at 7 and 8:45 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatres, 9450 N. Central Expressway at Walnut Hill Lane. Tickets are $6.50. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Burn This: Theatre Three kicks off its 1997-'98 season with an incendiary little study of idealism vs. opportunism from Pulitzer Prize-winner Lanford Wilson. Burn This is Wilson's monster Broadway hit about three artist friends mourning the death of a colleague who're suddenly forced to deal with the dead man's charismatic but demanding and exploitative brother. His degree from the school of hard knocks clashes with their carefully maintained intellectualism, causing everybody to examine what they thought they knew. It is, in other words, a primo opportunity for T3 to use theater as a scalpel. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday, 8:15 p.m., and Sunday, 2:30 p.m., through June 15 at Theatre Three in the Quadrangle. Tickets are $12.50-$25. Call (214) 871-3300.
The Opium Kings: Khun Sa may not realize this, but his thirty year career as heroin supplier to U.S. addicts has created a ripple in the world of high-fashion photography--"heroin chic" is partially his invention. The PBS-TV documentary series Frontline broadcasts an hour-long documentary called "The Opium Kings" that takes you inside the empire of the Burmese warlord, who is believed to provide more than 60 percent of America's heroin supply from his vast poppy fields. Both Khun Sa and his opium rival, Lo Hsing Han, are profiled by producer Adrian Cowell, who has covered this field as a journalist for decades. The episode airs at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
Gregory Horndeski and John Hernandez: It's been a long time since the works of Texas artists Gregory Horndeski and John Hernandez have been exhibited en masse in Dallas--three and five years, respectively. The State Thomas Gallery breaks that dry spell with a two-man show dedicated to their explosively colorful, kinetic, cartoon-delirious paintings and wall reliefs. If you're the kind of person who strolls through galleries wondering what all the fuss is about, Horndeski and Hernandez's viewer-friendly works will grab you by the lapels and not let go. The show opens with a reception May 16, 6-8 p.m., and runs through June 30 at 2613 Thomas Avenue. Call (214) 220-2024.
Poetry of Pablo Neruda: The astoundingly beautiful verse of Pablo Neruda, introduced to many people through Miramax's hugely successful romantic drama Il Postino, is enough to make an English speaker want to learn the Spanish language--as incandescent as Neruda's stuff is in superior translations, its impact in the original language has got to be phenomenal. Southern Methodist University professor Rosa Jara-Simmons and local actors Dolores Godinez and Constance Gold will read Neruda's words in both languages and discuss the particularities of his singular vision. The event happens at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, 10720 Preston Rd. It's free. Call (214) 363-1977.