America's intellectual elite hammers us daily with how television has rotted our brains. But the explosion of popularity in staged readings, poetry slams, and spoken-word performances suggests to us that many people have reached the saturation point with electronic sounds and images; the live, one-on-one exchange of human voices is the hot new technology. And the Texas Storytelling Festival, sponsored by the Tejas Storytelling Association, is a nationally hot exposition. The likes of Judith Black and James Ford, two North American headliners, as well as local talent, spin fables, ghost tales, Bible stories, and bawdy tales. Events happen night and day March 26-29 in the Civic Center Park, 321 E. McKinney, Denton. For info call (972) 991-8871.
If you thought it created superhuman agility, endurance, and balance to be a Clinton frontman, let us tell you: Bob Bennett ain't got nothing on The Original Peking Acrobats. The members of this elite Chinese ensemble of tumblers, jugglers, and gymnasts have trained since age 5, but the discipline they've dedicated themselves to stretches back quite a bit further...to around, say, 225 B.C. They perform under the auspices of TITAS at 8 p.m. March 27 and 28 at McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call (214) 528-5576.
A symposium titled Transnational Regulation of Electronic Commerce and Finance sounds about as exciting as another local news story featuring the names Matthew Harden and Yvonne Gonzalez. But get past the sleep-inducing moniker, and you'll realize that this symposium hosted by the SMU Law School is tackling one gigantic octopus of a topic: the Internet, and how its tentacles stretching across the continents raise serious questions about whether information can (or should) be contained by national borders. SMU law professor Henry J. Lischer as well as folks from Rutgers University, University of Chicago, and Boston University trade opinions. The symposium happens 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel Campbell Centre, Central at Caruth Haven. It's free, but seating is limited. Call (214) 768-7650.
Dallas native and nationally recognized coronary expert Dr. Dean Ornish brought good news when he provided substantial evidence that the heart damage associated with years of eating Ultimate Cheeseburgers can be reversed--as long as you put down the burger and get on the treadmill right now. But the best-selling author risks charges of suffering from guru delusions with his new book Love & Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy. Does America really need Leo Buscaglia with a surgeon's knife? Actually, since doctors have long known that infants can die if denied physical attention, Ornish's contention may not be so silly. Ornish gives a 90-minute lecture at 8 p.m. at Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Call (972) 233-7106.
The most boring fact about Christopher Ullman is that he was recently named public affairs director of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We're much more enthralled with what he does off-hours with his lips and tongue. Two years ago, Ullman was named "National and International Grand Whistling Champion," a lofty title that has seen him blowing his heart out at venues as diverse as the National Symphony Orchestra, the blues club owned by B.B. King in Memphis, Tennessee, and The Today Show. He flies in to perform with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra. He performs at 8 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving. Tickets are $9-$32. Call (972) 580-1566.
If you concentrate too much on the psychological implication of an individual who spends hours creating entire miniature railroad towns, an all-American hobby starts to blur into an obsessive manifestation of a God complex. We prefer to take a '50s, "nuthin' goin' on here" approach to the beloved hobby of miniature trains. The Great American Train Show offers more than 10,000 model trains on display and for sale, in addition to free daily workshops, thousands of accessories for that "lifestyle," and five operating layouts. The event happens 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 28 and 29 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1111 Houston St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $5. Call (630) 834-0652.
Sure, any exhibition titled Women, Photography and Related Technologies would include a heavy chick influence, but the "related technologies" part plays just as big a role here. Female artists from the University of Texas-Dallas, University of Texas-Arlington, Texas Woman's University, and Southern Methodist University all combine their visions to explore not only traditional silver-based pictures vs. digital and video images but how the message--in this case, questions of female identity--shapes the medium. A panel discussion on women photographers happens 7:30 p.m. April 3. The show runs through April 25 in the gallery of the Arts Building at the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson. Call (972) 883-2001.
The elemental purity of theater means it can happen almost anytime and anywhere--in the broadest sense, a married couple forcing its private dirt on the other guests at a dinner party is staging an improvisational performance. Such performances can be among the most exciting. Local actress Susan Sargent and Wing Span Theatre Company present an event that's only slightly more premeditated--a staged reading of the little-seen Susan Sontag play Alice in Bed about the little-known sister of Henry and William James whose severe problems with depression squelched what might have been a brilliant literary career. The reading happens at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, Preston at Royal. Call (214) 363-1977.