A Fine and Pleasant Misery: To find another cast of American characters as defiantly regional as Patrick McManus' Blight, Idaho, residents, you would have to travel to Joe Sears' and Jaston Williams' Greater Tuna. McManus' New York Times-best-selling short story collections chart the cranky, loony adventures of a similar town. Now actor Tim Behrens has fashioned a one-man, two-act play around McManus' not so bucolic small-town America (with McManus' blessing). A Fine and Pleasant Misery plays at 8 p.m. October 9 and 16 at the Plaza Music Theatre in Carrollton. Tickets are $8-$14. Call (800) 654-9545.
Old Coots Read Genesis 1-8, King James Version: We know one of the biggest cliches of show business is that actors have gargantuan egos, but really, Johnny Simons, did you have to cast yourself as God? Actually, the artistic director of Hip Pocket Theatre can do whatever the hell (or heaven) he wants. As usual for the writer-director-actor, his vision pretty much suffuses a Hip Pocket show from top to bottom. Old Coots Read Genesis 1-8 is Simons' latest, a 13-character cast taking stories about Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve, and the flood and recasting them through pantomime, music, and live narration. Simons presides over everything as the Lord. Performances happen at 8:15 p.m. Friday-Sunday at Oak Acres Amphitheatre, 1620 Las Vegas Trail, Fort Worth. Tickets are $5-$10. Call (817) 237-5977.
Singe: Halloween at the Wax Museum: If it's true that a haunted house is only as good as the story the operators cook up to explain why it's haunted, then "Singe: Halloween at the Wax Museum" ranks among the best out there. The title is the name of a character created by sculptor/designer Peter Carsillo, who explains that a demented sculptor fell so in love with one of his own creations--a wax version of the breathtaking Countess Katerina--that he hurled himself in a tank of boiling wax to, presumably, avoid the gossip that a marriage between a man and a wax mannequin might stir. He emerged as...Singe, a horribly disfigured (and probably randier 'n heck) tour guide through "Halloween at the Wax Museum." This haunted house opens this weekend and is open 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays through November 1 at The Palace of Wax, Belt Line at Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie. Tickets are $10. Call (972) 263-2391.
10th Annual All-Breed Cat Show: Obviously, it helps to think that cats are cool to enjoy something like the 1997 All-Breed Cat Show. Since more than 400 purebred felines are expected to compete in this year's show, you'd better at least not hate the clawed, furry little charmers. But to the eye trained in an appreciation for the follies of human nature, there's a whole other competition going on among the cats' owners, who tend to dote on their Maine coons, Scottish folds, Siamese, and Persians in a manner usually reserved for mother and child. We shudder to think what crimes against nature might be committed if a mad, cat-loving scientist ever dabbled in cross-species in vitro fertilization (kinda makes you look at the people who boast that they're "top breeders" a little differently). In addition to the beauty pageants, purebred cats as well as cat supplies are for sale. The event happens 10 a.m.-5 p.m. October 11, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. October 12 at the Ranch of Lonesome Dove in Southlake, just north of D/FW Airport. Tickets are $3-$5. Call (972) 790-6282.
The Seagull: For a long-winded but undeniably stimulating meditation on the relationship between life and art, check out Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, written while the playwright languished in prison, broken and humiliated, after a young life of great literary success. For a more focused meditation on this same intersection, hung on the framework of the relationship between a mother and her son, investigate the Undermain production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. Although Chekhov died just four years after Wilde, in 1904, the trajectory of his career was reversed--after many years of early failure, Chekhov left the earth a celebrated playwright and spinner of short stories. Whereas Wilde rejected the commonplace as artless, the very antithesis of beauty, Chekhov searched for that beauty in the mundane. After tonight's opening of The Seagull at 7:30 p.m., performances take place Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m., through November 15 at The Basement Space, 3200 Main St. Tickets are $8-$20. Call (214) 747-5515.
Literature of the Political Conscience: In his new book The More You Watch, The Less You Know, veteran lefty journalist Danny Schechter attempts (with mixed results) to revive liberal outrage with a smart critique of how the U.S. media (especially the film and TV industry) have, by monopolizing news and entertainment, squelched political opposition to the status quo in many corners of the Western World. His point is that, in places where the American media rules as it does here, people's political consciences are dictated (or deadened) by satellite broadcasts. Cara Mia Theatre reminds us that the language barrier can be a good thing when it shields a country and allows its people to determine their own fate. They bring us another Latino Literature Night, this one dubbed "Literature of the Political Conscience," that presents readings of the works of radical U.S. and Latin American writers trying to stir the pot a bit. The show happens at 8 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther. It's free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Call (214) 670-8749.
National Coming Out Day: Paul Rudnick's box-office hit In & Out has proven itself the smashing piece of propaganda that Rudnick and the producers obviously intended. Thanks to the script's disarming wit, normally conservative radio talk-show hosts and social commentators have gotten it through their thick skulls that homosexuality is (surprise!) an emotional state as ordinary as heterosexuality--so much so that even small-town high school teachers can be gay or lesbian. Nevertheless, it's true that simply saying the words "I am gay" is a political statement that changes many heterosexuals' perception of you, not to mention their perception (if they knew you before the announcement) of human sexuality in general. The State Fair of Texas hosts National Coming Out Day, an event for people who wish to be honest with the world--in a supportive setting--about a simple but fundamental part of their lives. Activities start at 1 p.m. and run through 5 p.m. near the Hall of State. Call (214) 565-9931.
Lost and Found: Although the Dallas Women's Caucus for Art has an explicit mission to support and represent the often-overlooked contributions of women to art (if you don't believe them, pick up any American or European history book and count the great female artists listed), they don't attempt to railroad their artists into making the kinds of mawkish "political" art that wallows in, yet rarely transcends, pain. Lost and Found is the DWCA's 1997 national open exhibition, and a quick glance at the images here suggests that not only is the stuff free of feminist cliche, it's not even particularly gender-specific. The sculpture, prints, paintings, and drawings here all deal loosely with the theme of relinquishing and recovery. There's a reception for the artists from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. October 16 with a performance by C.J. Critt in the Upper East Pavilion of the Trammell Crow Center, 2001 Ross Ave. Call (214) 630-3171.
Culture Shock in the Workplace: Sexual harassment is on the minds of many Dallasites these days (don't worry about any more references to that unfortunate incident between "Y.G." and "M.H."; "Calendar" has pledged to be an oasis blissfully free of references to the DISD scandal). But even many feminist commentators are conceding that some angry female workers have stopped picking their battles, acting as if overhearing a dirty joke is the same as being fondled at the watercooler. That seething cauldron of lust known as the U.S. armed forces now routinely submits soldiers to "sensitivity training" (presumably before they're trained how to kill), but the question all this leads to is: What the heck constitutes sexual harassment? Dr. Regena Farnsworth, a UTA professor and author of various books on gender and sex issues at the office, presents "Culture Shock in the Workplace." The event happens at 7:30 p.m. at Jewish Family Service, 13140 Coit Rd. Call (972) 437-9950.
Jamie Colby: Although it's true "Calendar" has a living space barely big enough to do jumping jacks in, let alone entertain friends, we confess to a crush on Television Food Network host Jamie Colby. She's brainy (she serves as an investigative reporter on food-related consumer affairs) and beautiful (watching her separate the white from the yolk leaves us with sweaty palms), but best of all, she makes you think that her preparation and presentation tricks are matters of common sense, not Martha Stewart-ish leaps of Olympian domesticity. We can't do anything she does, but we can fantasize. Colby makes a Dallas appearance to give a free 90-minute demonstration, "New Directions in the Kitchen," designed to help you short-cut your way to restaurant-quality meals. Colby demonstrates from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Dillard's in Valley View Mall, Preston and LBJ. Call (972) 386-4595