Butterflies in the Blachly Conservatory: From Monarchs to Morphos: Those of us who were nurtured on a steady diet of monster movies and sci-fi thrillers as kids logged many hours in the company of gigantic, often radioactive bugs. Try as we might, we can't remember a single horror film in which a city is ravaged by marauding butterflies. (What about Mothra? calls the smart guy from the peanut gallery. Different genus, dude.) Butterflies are like puppies and cute, clever, well-mannered 5-year-olds--their lovely facade would enable them to get away with any amount of possible evil. Ponder the potential Satanic agenda of the more than 5,000 live butterflies, shipped in from Central and South America, at Butterflies in the Blachly Conservatory: From Monarchs to Morphos. While you're pondering the exotic, breathtakingly colorful species you won't see again unless you spring for airfare, consider that the butterflies may be pondering you as well. The show runs daily, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., through October 19. In addition to State Fair admission, you'll need to pay $2-$3 to get into the Blachly Conservatory (children under 5 get in free). Call (214) 428-7476.
Lamia: Halloween has always been one of our favorite holidays of the year, and we think the Latino community does a smashing job of returning the religious significance--the celebration of how death gives life its meaning--with its "Day of the Dead" celebration. Teatro Dallas always presents a show with a supernatural/horror theme to ring in the season. Last year's Night of the Chupacabras was more fun (and scream-filled) than many haunted houses we've visited. Dallas playwrights Christopher Nichols and Earl Bentley have come up with part-family saga, part-horror story with Lamia, the tale of a prosperous clan in 1850s San Antonio slowly decimated by an ancient curse. Performances happen Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15 p.m. through November 1 at Teatro Dallas, 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $12 ($5 on Wednesdays). Call (214) 741-1135.
Don Conoscenti: Critical blurbs can wreak all kinds of havoc in an artist's life, especially if they're either tantalizing or not well reasoned. We don't know why a critic from Performing Songwriter magazine chose to describe singer-songwriter Don Conoscenti as being "to the folk-acoustic world what Prince is to the pop-funk world." It's kinda sorta true, in the sense that Conoscenti has turned the acoustic guitar into a one-man band of percussion, bass, melody, and harmony thanks to his totally unique finger-picking approach. Conoscenti comes to Dallas to support his newest collection, My Brilliant Masterpiece, but don't expect him to strip down to purple briefs and start hip-thrusting the floor. The show happens at 8 p.m. at Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse, 9555 North Central Expressway. Call (214) 363-0044.
Paul Rodriguez: A recent appearance by funnyman-turned-filmmaker Paul Rodriguez on Politically Incorrect illustrated why that show, at its best, reveals sides of celebrities we'd otherwise never get to see. Rodriguez launched a bitterly angry attack against a Republican congressman on the panel who, while admittedly being smugly white in that way only young Anglo Republicans can be, eventually won our sympathy because of Rodriguez's ridiculously excessive contempt. Then Rodriguez did something that you just don't see many people do on TV--he apologized to the congressman at the end of the show. As anyone lucky enough to catch Richard Pryor in his prime can tell you, a dose of bitterness can be paprika to the stew of smart ethnic humor. But is Rodriguez starting to lose his comic vitality to bitterness? Find out as he performs at 8 p.m. in the Bronco Bowl, 2600 Fort Worth Ave. Tickets are $22.50-$30. Call (214) 373-8000.
Fort Worth Women's Expo: Those of us who grew up listening to KVIL as we rode to various destinations in our mom's station wagon always knew that beloved smart-ass Suzi Humphreys was the real star of the KVIL morning-show team; professional grump Ron Chapman's bitter edge always seeped through, no matter how light-hearted he tried to sound. Humphreys has parlayed her perkiness with an edge into a national, high-paying career as a motivational speaker at conventions and corporate functions. She sweeps back into her old stomping ground to address the Fort Worth Women's Expo on the topic of "Life is What Happens To You While You're Making Other Plans." Since women account for more than 85 percent of all the spending in America, according to those who keep track of such things, you can bet a big thrust of the two-day Fort Worth Women's Expo will be on women's unparalleled power as consumers. Events happen October 4 and 5, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Will Rogers Exhibit Hall, 3400 Burnett and Tandy, Fort Worth. Call (972) 964-1853.
Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces: The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation Collection of Switzerland: We understand that the history of great visual art has been, to a large extent, made possible by the generosity of rich supporters who possess no particular artistic abilities themselves. But when names such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Matisse take a backseat in an exhibit's title to some Swiss high-roller named Rudolf Staechelin, we can't help but yearn for the quiet grace of those donors who sign themselves Anonymous. Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces is all you need to know about the Kimbell Art Museum's latest international collection of man-made beauty by artists so beloved, their work finds its way onto monthly planners and coffee mugs. The show runs through January 11 at 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd in Fort Worth. Tickets are $4-$8. Call (817) 332-8451.
6th Annual Oktoberfest: We happen to dig multicultural events--not because they're expanding our consciousness about the beautiful range of humanity on this big blue marble, but because we really dig eating stuff we've been taught to throw away. Of course, white people the world over, be they German or English, tend not to bust too many cultural taboos when it comes to grub. The 6th Annual Oktoberfest features the sort of nourishment our esteemed food critic recently referred to as the coveralls of food--durable and dependable, but not particularly sexy; that is, German food. It also has beer, the intoxicant of choice for Dallasites and Berlinites alike, as well as the music of world-beat masters Brave Combo. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Gingerman, 2718 Boll. Cover is $8. Call (214) 754-8771.
Mission to MIR: A recent Atlantic Monthly article made a pretty good argument for the disposability of manned space flight. The author made a compelling case that it's more of a public-relations tool wielded by NASA to milk more money from the taxpayers: All the important discoveries about our universe have been made by robots and satellite cameras, not men and women in space. Furthermore, NASA officials will admit, if pushed, that there's a 50-50 chance of another Challenger-like accident happening in the next couple of decades. All that said, you can enjoy the beautiful images of our planet from space in Mission to MIR, the kind of footage the IMAX theater was built to broadcast. There are daily showings of the film through spring 1998 in the Science Place Museum at the State Fair of Texas. Special discounts on admission are available to State Fair ticket-holders. Call (214) 428-5555.
Playing With Fire: KERA-TV Channel 13 continues its laudable mission to create documentaries that focus on local history and culture--which is, after all, what public television was designed for; rerunning 20-year-old Britcoms is a nice diversion, but we think PBS can shoot higher. The station presents the 90-minute documentary Playing With Fire, a look at this year's 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which happened in Fort Worth from May 23 to June 8. Lest you think the classical music world is all bouquets and ovations, the creators have focused on the lives of a few international participants and, in particular, the rigorous training and enormous pressure the Cliburn Competition generates. This original production premieres at 8 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1300.