We believe that any year that honors the monkey has got to be a good year. Then again, we also believe our horoscopes and trust our TV weatherman. So don't take our word for it. According to tradition, since today begins the year of the monkey (and more particularly the monkey combined with the element of wood), the coming months will bring an increased emphasis on politicians, may include the overthrow of rulers and increased incidents of riots and revolutions, and signal a better economy. See, the monkey knows what's up with the elections in November. So kick off a new lunar calendar with a dinner called the Year of the Monkey Chinese New Year Banquet at Tom Tom Noodle House in the West Village and on Northwest Highway at Preston Road. From today through January 28, the restaurants will offer the choice of an appetizer and a main dish, plus hot tea and a fortune cookie for $14.95 per person. Visit the Web site at www.tomtomnoodlehouse.com.
Scrapbooking may seem an unlikely hobby for someone whose motto was "Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." Maybe, "Life's a banquet; be sure to keep the menus on acid-free pages decorated with ribbons, stickers and die-cut paper." But when Greer Garson starred on Broadway as Auntie Mame, the lively, unconventional flapper who gets custody of her young nephew, she kept a detailed scrapbook with playbills, telegrams, fan letters, reviews, photos and more. It's just one of the 120 scrapbooks Garson donated to Southern Methodist University, whose theater center is named after her. The school has restored the 140-page, 700-item artifact, and it's on display as The Art of Conserving a Legacy: Greer Garson's Auntie Mame Scrapbook. The exhibit, which is in the Hamon Arts Library at 6101 Bishop Blvd. today through March 7, also documents the conservation efforts. It opens with a reception at 6 p.m. and a lecture at 7 p.m. called "Greer Garson to Those Who Knew Her." Call 214-768-2303.
We can tell you all about "the rock." Punk, New Wave, math, alt. We've got it covered. But all we can tell you about rocks, such as amethyst, topaz, aquamarine or selenite, is the color and maybe whether they're opaque or translucent. The when, where, why and how lapis lazuli became blue and pretty instead of gray and boring elude us. But the Dallas Museum of Natural History serves to enlighten us with The Duval Collection, a huge collection of stones that was assembled by the Duval Mining Corp., which was acquired by the Pennzoil Co. in 1965. The exhibit includes "one of the world's largest gem-quality turquoise nuggets" and a nearly 2,000-pound hunk of transparent quartz crystals. The exhibit opens today and runs through May 9 at the museum, 3535 Grand Ave. in Fair Park, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4 to $6.50. Children under 3 are admitted for free. Call 214-421-3466.
Whether a sandwich is something you serve only during a high tea, consume over the kitchen sink during TV commercial breaks or are handed at a soup kitchen, Cooking From the Heart: 100 Great American Chefs Share Recipes They Cherish can help. For those with $35, Sur La Table and Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger organization, host an event with recipes prepared by Joanne Bondy and Stephan Pyles, plus wine and coffee from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Sur La Table, 4527 Travis St. The fee also includes a copy of the book and a 10 percent discount to the store. That covers those tea people. The sink people can buy the book and learn to cook--just do it when your TV schedule is open. The best one is that both the event and book sales benefit Share Our Strength, which in turn helps the hungry. It's a charity hat trick. Call Sur La Table at 214-219-4404.
We like the instant gratification of digital cameras, but they'll never replace film for us. We've grown to love the things we hated the most: the smell of the chemicals, the way one sloppy impatient movement could ruin an entire piece and how being in a darkroom can suck the hours right out of a day. We love it almost as much as those old black-and-white photographs, the ones our nephew swears are "broken" because the color's missing. But you don't have to cherish concentrated fixer and stop bath to enjoy LIFE Magazine: A Selection of Historical Photographs, the exhibit running through March 13 at Afterimage Gallery in The Quadrangle at 2800 Routh St. The collection includes some of the most famous photographers to ever put film on a developing reel with well-known photos and autographs by Margaret Bourke-White, Carl Mydans and more. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 214-871-9140.
Texas grit can be a phenomenon of how one's skin feels after standing outside during a Lone Star summer, that odd combination of sweat, dirt and, we imagine, tiny, tiny bugs. But it can also mean moxie, spunk or verve. We're not sure which applies to the new exhibit at William Campbell Contemporary Art called Texas Grit: Prints From Flatbed Press. Perhaps both. Flatbed Press is a print shop in Austin, and it helps artists make prints of their works, from minuscule woodcuts to 4-foot-by-8-foot lithographs. Not a phenomenon, but still pretty nifty. The show includes works by Terry Allen, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Luis Jimenez, Dan Rizzie, Julie Speed, Frank X. Tolbert and Liz Ward and is open through February 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at 4935 Byers in Fort Worth. Call 817-737-9566