Esther Lutrell: Texas native Esther Lutrell left our fair state to become a player in the Hollywood industry. She went from Midwest documentarian and TV scriptwriter to an employee of the script department at CBS in Los Angeles, from where it was a relatively short (and possibly bloody) climb to development and production at MGM. Lutrell now operates her own production company, Mainstream Entertainment, and peddles her extensive knowledge of the script into nationally acclaimed writing seminars. This is a woman who knows where all the bodies are buried, but her talk for the Dallas Screenwriters Association will be confined to her experiences in the biz. This weekend, she's also in town along with DreamWorks development guy Mark Shulman and Viacom producer Donald Gold to offer her seminar Tools of the Screenwriting Trade. Lutrell's solo talk starts at 7 p.m. Thursday; her seminar with Shulman and Gold takes place both Saturday and Sunday. Both will be held in the Press Club of the Adams Mark Hotel. For admission info call (214) 922-7829.
Howard Stern Rally: "Calendar" can find a number of outrages more pressing than 97.1 KEGL's decision not to renew Howard's contract; we're still telling ourselves that the Brad and Gwyneth split is a misunderstanding that'll right itself once those two realize they were meant to be. Our limited doses of Stern have always revealed him to be a tad predictable and considerably less outrageous than an eighth-grade male firing on all his dirty-minded cylinders. Nonetheless, from the regular phone calls we've received, our readership includes many fans. If you worship the King of All Media and don't have anything better to do (i.e., sleep or work) shortly after dawn, a rally to protest the pulling of Stern's plug is scheduled, to be led by Stern personality "Melrose" Larry Green. The event happens 6 a.m.-9 a.m. outside the studios of 97.1 KEGL-FM in Irving. Call (214) 892-9840.
Elvis Night (20 Years and Still Dead): Although the estate of Elvis Presley would never admit it, the King's appeal (when he was young, at least) extended beyond working-class heterosexuals to gay men smitten by that rent-boy pout on a Southern baby face. The King's youthful androgyny has its Sapphic admirers as well; nationally celebrated lesbian impersonator Elvis Herselvis and her backups, The Straight White Males, are a sincere tribute that has earned official disapproval from Elvis' posthumous publicity machine. Elvis Herselvis joins The Red Elvises--three Siberian impersonators--and the headliner, Elvis fan Mojo Nixon, for an evening tribute titled "Elvis Night (20 Years and Still Dead)." Doors open at 10 p.m. at Club Clearview, 2803 Main St. Admission is $6, and you must be 21. Call (214) 939-0077.
Freak Show Banners: "Freak of the week" is a common phrase in journalism circles to describe the kind of story that focuses on an eccentric, a self-promoter, a genuine nutcase, or any hybrid of the three. These days, freaks aren't born--they're made; but earlier in this century, you had to have a physical deformity (or be able to fake one really convincingly) to earn that title and make your living on the freak-show circuit that criss-crossed America. Waxahachie's Webb Gallery presents a show called Freak Show Banners that features original painted signs by artists of the American midway like Snap Wyatt, Fred Johnson, and Jack Sigler. The show opens with a reception August 16, 6-9 p.m. and runs through September 7 at Webb Gallery, 209-211 West Franklin in Waxahachie. Call (972) 938-8085.
Anthem to Beauty: The rather unpleasant death of Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia, attributed in part to an ongoing heroin problem, would seem to puncture the psychedelic ethos that bound a legitimate American subculture for 30 years. The band's music and message had always leaned toward the sunny side of stonerism, the perpetual childhood that marijuana and other mild hallucinogens would seem to offer. Yet they weren't enough for Garcia, whose arms were heavily punctured road maps of the guitarist's desperate withdrawal from his own life. As part of its month highlighting American popular music, KERA-TV Channel 13 presents the documentary Anthem to Beauty, which traces both the band's career and the cultish faith of fans who've adapted their whole lives around the music. The show runs at 12:30 a.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
Fourth Annual Opera Karaoke Contest: Opera is one of those rare fine arts that seems more fun for the performer than the listener. The air guitar may be the favorite instrument for musical hopefuls, but who among us otherwise operaphobic amateurs wouldn't want to have a set of lungs that could crack a crystal goblet at 20 paces? The Dallas Opera has enlisted North Texas-based children's entertainer Eddie Coker (also, by the by, a trained opera singer and enthusiast) to host its Fourth Annual Opera Karaoke Contest. Participants can choose among works from Bizet, Offenbach, Verdi, and Mozart as well as a variety of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Prizes are offered for best voice, best attitude, and best costume. The event starts at 1 p.m. in Shakespeare Beethoven & Co. on the third floor of the Dallas Galleria. It's open to the public. (214) 443-1043.
Stitches in Time: American Quilts from the Permanent Collection: How To Make an American Quilt was a chick flick that failed at the box office mainly because it never really addressed the connection between quilt-making and the personal histories of the female characters. In fact, quilt-making is personal history, as anyone who peruses the Dallas Museum of Art's new show, Stitches in Time: American Quilts from the Permanent Collection, can attest. The quilts in this show were drawn from collections in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the country's top three stitch states, and include examples from both the 19th and 20th centuries. One "crazy quilt" by a Texas woman uses silk ribbons she won from the State Fair in 1885. The show runs through January 12 in the Textile Gallery of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call (214) 922-1200.
Latino Culture Bash: The Latino interdisciplinary theater company known as Cara Mia Theatre decided to turn this month's Latino Literature Night into a fundraiser. It joined forces with Reforma-Rio Trinidad, another performance organization focused on the Latino community, for the Latino Culture Bash--an evening of words, music, and visual art featuring talent from both companies. The lineup also includes Los Locos, a group of novelists and poets, and a dance with live music provided by a tropical band appropriately titled Pina Colada. The event happens 4-9:30 p.m. at the Forest Ballroom, I-45 at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Tickets are $5-$10. Call (214) 328-5068.
Scribes of Hope: At this stage in the evolution of the Christian church in America, the important split seems to be not denominational, but philosophical--between those who believe the Bible is the word of God and those who think the Bible is a sort of literary guide not meant to be interpreted literally. The Word is central to a calligraphy exhibit from the international organization CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) currently on display at the Biblical Arts Center. More than 20 artists from around the United States and Canada are represented in Scribes of Hope, a traveling exhibit where CIVA members combine Biblical quotations with photographic and illustrated imagery. This mixed-media swirl attempts to reproduce the revelatory high of God's written messages to Christians. The show runs through September 14 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane. Call (214) 691-4661.
Dr. Cornell Thomas: Trying to trace the various problems plaguing the African-American urban community is a bit like dancing around the Maypole backwards; your attempts to separate each thread keep running into knots and snarls. Racism, shattered families, a thriving but bloody inner-city economy of drugs: Some advocates claim that the only force strong enough to cut through these intertwined difficulties is public education. But how do you expect a kid to study and dodge bullets at the same time, not to mention pass up the easy money that narcotic sales make available? Dr. Cornell Thomas, a former principal and teacher with DISD who's currently an associate professor at TCU, appears at Black Images Books to discuss his books on black education, including You Can Only Be As Great As You Think You Can Be. Thomas speaks at 2 p.m. at Black Images Books, 230 Wynnewood Village. Call (214) 943-0142.
Dallas Bar Association Legalline: There's little doubt that America is one of the most litigious societies in the Western world, but what's rarely noted is how this phenomenon divides by class lines. The only experience much of America's poor have with lawyers is when they're assigned a public defender after running afoul of the law. Otherwise, lawyers, for most poor Americans, are as strange a professional species as accountants. The Dallas Bar Association's Legalline is a service open the second and third Wednesday of every month that hopes to make legal counseling by licensed attorneys available to anyone who has a telephone. Family law specialists are available during August. The line is open from 5:15 until 9 p.m. Call (214) 969-7066.