John Berendt: Author John Berendt has had a remarkable, and rocky, last three years. Starting off, his stunning non-fiction account of festering secrets, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has lingered in the top 10 of The New York Times bestseller list for at least as long, giving hope to those of us who fear that only turgid out-of-body experiences and you-can-do-it cheerleaderisms prop up the American publishing industry (it's true, but with beautiful exceptions like Berendt's, we can dream, can't we?). Then, speculation about the connections between this tale of high-socity gay life in Savannah, Georgia, and the author's personal life led to an unceremonious outing of Berendt, who finally admitted that he'd been--a bit like his real-life character The Lady Chablis--"hiding [his] candy." FinallyClint Eastwood optioned the rights to the book, confessing he wouldn't have believed even five years ago that he'd be "directing a movie about a cross-dresser." You're growing, Clint. Starring Kevin Spacey and, at her own insistence, The Lady Chablis, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of this fall's most eagerly anticipated cinematic dramas, and now its celebrated author John Berendt comes to Richardson to read from his work and answer questions about the celebrity that's been foisted on him. Berendt opens the 1997-'98 season of "In Person," sponsored by the Friends of The Richardson Public Library, at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Civic Center, 411 West Arapaho.
The Day After Roswell: Earlier in the summer, the pale sub-sect of American society known as conspiracy theorists was thrown a fastball down the middle of the plate when the U.S. Air Force announced that the "alien bodies" retrieved from Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 were crash-test dummies used in some sort of high-altitude parachuting experiment. Uh-huh. Lost in the shuffle was U.S. Army Col. (ret.) Phillip J. Corso's book, The Day After Roswell, in which he asserted that the Army derived computer microchips, fiberoptic cable, and an assortment of other "inventions" from research conducted upon the wreckage of the Roswell crash. William J. Birnes, who assisted Corso with the book, will give a talk about the book and participate in a Q & A session at Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20. For info call (972) 601-7687.
Mission To Mir: MTV has gone too far this time. Ostensibly a documentary giving viewers a tour of Russia's space station Mir, this IMAX film is really the story of what happens when cosmonauts and astronauts are picked to live together in outer space and have their lives taped. Find out what happens on "The Real World: Space Station Mir." The 40-minute film--shot in space by the astronauts--is an unprecedented opportunity to experience life aboard the first long-term space station. The film will run through spring 1998 at The Science Place in Fair Park. For info call (214) 428-5555, ext. 340.
Jack Kevorkian/Unplugged: Getting a head start on the Halloween season, local comedy troupe 4 Out of 5 Doctors presents one of its most popular shows, an irreverent series of sketches spoofing--of all things--death. The ubiquitous Doctor of Death serves as a sort of patron saint to the proceedings, which include "Dead Celebrity Jeopardy" and a hilarious meeting of a medieval executioners' union. The show runs Friday and Saturday nights through November 1 at 11 p.m. and on October 22 at 8 p.m. at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird, Suite 119. Tickets are $10. For reservations or info call (214) 821-1860.
Chasing the Dream: In their first film, Texas filmmakers Harry Lynch and Jeff Fraley explore some of the injuries and fears that face professional bull riders. Their look at the sport touches on some of its technical aspects, but mainly concentrates on what drives these men to do what they do. Shot mostly in Texas, the film features bull-riding greats Tuff Hedeman, Donny Gay, and Harry Tompkins. The film opens with a benefit screening at the Lakewood Theatre, 1825 Abrams Parkway, at 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Video Association of Dallas. Admission is $5, and Lynch and Fraley--as well as some of the riders--will be in attendance.
BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet: Much like the culture that has supported it, Cajun music--kept alive in the bayous and front porches of Louisiana for almost as long as the area has been populated--has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. For those unfamiliar with the style (heavy on fiddle and accordion), BeauSoleil is perhaps the perfect introduction. Called by Rolling Stone "the best damn dance band you'll ever hear," the Grammy nominees--whose innovative approach has done for Cajun and Zydeco music what Brave Combo has done for polka--kick off TITAS' 1997-'98 "You Gotta Have It" season at SMU's McFarlin Auditorium at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $7 to $40. Call (214) 528-5576.
DAVIDEO DIARY: A Social Calendar of Culture: Native Texans--especially Dallasites--are saddled with a certain stereotype whenever they travel outside of the state. People expect J.R. Ewing, riding a horse and drilling for oil. In reality, most Dallasites are lifelong city dwellers who get their oil from the gas station and have no idea how to mount a horse. This installation of video and video prints is a visual documentation of some often-overlooked aspects of Dallas culture, as seen through the lens of videographer David Bacon. Some of the places Bacon takes his audience include a gay pride parade, Halloween in Oak Lawn, and an Easter Sunday spent in the park. The show, which continues until October 11, opens with a reception for the artist from 5-9 p.m at Artenativo, 1431 1/2 Bennett Ave.
Searching for Ancient Egypt: Like thousands of other kids, we wanted to be an archaeologist after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark. After finding out the sad truth that Indiana Jones was not the rule, and that most archaeologists spend more time wielding a dirty toothbrush than a whip, the passion faded. But a certain fascination with history and ancient cultures remained, making this new exhibit interesting indeed. It's especially interesting because an air of mystery has always shrouded ancient Egypt, offering glimpses--but never a full view--of a once-flourishing society. More than 130 ancient Egyptian antiquities will be on display, including the 4,300-year-old funerary chamber of nobleman Kapure and major architectural elements from the Palace of King Merenptah. The exhibit runs through February 1 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and senior citizens, and $3 for children under 12. Admission includes an audio tour. Call (214) 922-1200 for more info.
Clebo Rainey: If there is one man to credit for promoting the Dallas spoken word scene beyond a narrow cult, it's Clebo Rainey. Rainey is one of the founding fathers and most tireless promoters of spoken word in the area. He has hosted or founded poetry slams at Club Clearview, the Dark Room, the Cosmic Cup, and Rock N Java. Through his efforts, poetry slams have sprung up all over town. Retaining the punk ethic he possessed as founder-owner of the innovative Metamorphosis Records, Rainey's poems are aggressive and in-your-face, more like a one-man play than a traditional poem. Poets from all over the metroplex will descend on The Dark Room, 2713 Elm, to help Rainey celebrate the release of his fourth book, The Spiral Notebook. The evening will feature performances of Rainey's poems by himself and a host of other performers, and feature music by Paul Slavens and Experimental Barbecue. Show starts at 9 p.m.
k.d. lang: The consensus in the national press was that k.d. lang's previous album, All You Can Eat, was a failure. Chalk another one up for the fallibility of consensus; except for the occasional lyrical excess (that part about "freeing the hounds of chastity" on the otherwise scintillating "Sexuality" always makes us wince), we always return to this collection of love songs. Luckily, everyone has acknowledged how great Drag, lang's newest offering, is. Her version of Steve Miller's "The Joker" is one of the great gender-bending orgies of the decade. Lang's powerful brass-section of a voice could easily lead her into bombastic displays of vocal prowess, but live, she's as low-key, intelligent, and sensuous as her best recordings. She performs at 8 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Call (214) 373-8000.
Larry McMurtry: One of the most prolific and well-respected authors of his generation, Larry McMurtry has created some of the most beloved (and ornery) literary characters in modern fiction, including the grizzled Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Gus McRae from perhaps his most popular novel, Lonesome Dove. Some of McMurtry's other well-known titles include Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show, and Horseman, Pass By. The Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author returns to his alma mater, the University of North Texas, to give a free lecture at 8 p.m. in the Auditorium Building, West Hickory Street between Avenues A and B. Following the lecture, McMurtry will be present at a free "meet the author" reception at 9:30 p.m. in the University Union Silver Eagle Suite.
Chair With a View: Art Focus XC, a loose collection of like-minded artists, continues its mission of creating brilliant art while helping others. Since the group's inception in 1992, a percentage of all sales of paintings has been donated to charity. For the third year, the Anasazi Gallery hosts the group's traveling exhibition, which this year focuses on the artists' thought processes. The exhibition kicks off with an opening reception and silent auction that benefits the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national organization fighting to cure retinal degenerative diseases. The artists have created a series of elaborately decorated chairs that will be auctioned. The reception and auction start at 4 p.m. at 12300 Inwood Road. Call (972) 386-0783.