Many German fairy tales, though cute and fun, offered a stern moral for those who listened. Playwright and actor Fred Curchack's one-man show Gauguin's Shadow could be interpreted as a similar warning: Girls, don't date artists. The play, which combines acting, masks, puppets and video projections, illustrates the friendship between artists Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. It's like a tale of two jerks: Gauguin leaves his family and job behind to paint, leaves van Gogh to cut off an ear and be institutionalized, then catches syphilis in Tahiti from the island's nubile females. Learn about the ugly people behind the beautiful art from April 15 through May 8 at the Undermain Theatre, 3200 Main St. in Deep Ellum. Performances are 7:15 p.m. Thursdays and 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 214-747-5515.
Friday, April 16
Since many artists are famed for being party-down, drunk and crazy kinda guys, we think it's only fair that the museums that house their soul-bearing works and fruits of their hangovers let loose occasionally. Party like Modigliani or rock on like Pollock, but leave the drugs at home, Basquiat, when the Dallas Museum of Art hosts its Late Nights programming from 6 p.m. to midnight. Activities include a happy hour with DJ Wild in the Streets, music by Big Daddy Alright and a nightcap of tunes by Mandarin. There will also be yoga, Literary Café, an open mike with Reciprocity, the film Laws of Attraction, gallery tours each hour and bedtime stories--for the kids--with Arturo, the museum's family programs' mascot. It's free with museum admission. 1717 N. Harwood St. Call 214-922-1200.
Saturday, April 17
Any comic-book fan who's left his bat cave (a.k.a. Mom's basement) lately has heard about Dallas Comic Con Fan Day. So, we're speaking to those other fans of Hellboy and The Punisher. There are some of those, right? OK, so we're speaking to anyone who likes to buy stuff to put in plastic bags and hawk later on eBay. You're welcome, too; just don't let on that you're not one of them. Don't be conspicuous: Leave your date at home (it's a sure cover-blower), don't refer to the animation as "pretty pictures" and don't point at the guy next to you and shout, "You're just like that comic-book guy from The Simpsons." Follow these rules, and you'll reap the bounty of a real comics aficionado. Fan Day includes appearances by Miles Gunter (writer of Hellboy B.P.R.D. ), Tim Bradstreet (cover artist for The Punisher books as well as the movie poster), Alan Ruscoe from Stars Wars and many more. There also will be giveaways of Hellboy and The Punisher merchandise, a giant LEGO construction care of the Texas LEGO User Group, vendors of comics and science fiction and more. It's 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richardson Civic Center, 411 W. Arapaho Road. Admission is free. Visit www.dallascomiccon.com.
Sunday, April 18
Every year we want to splurge on the Happy New Year's kit at the party store. But what would we do with those supplies the rest of the year? We finally have our answer: We'll just pull them out and use them for each and every culture's new year. While black plastic bowlers and silver aluminum tiaras are not the standard fare at Thailand's New Year's celebration called Song Kran, we bet we could make them work. We'll just have to remember to remove them during the ritual "splashing of water," which is used to "wash away the woes of the previous year." In addition to the water, the Song Kran party at the Thai Community Center features all things Thai--food, classic music, dance and a beauty pageant in traditional costumes. It's 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Buddhist Center of Dallas, 8484 Stults Road. Call 469-951-7263 or 214-649-1153.
Monday, April 19
The most exciting thing we ever took to show-and-tell was a shed snakeskin that we found in the back yard. Actually, our brother found it, picked it up, made sure it was safe and then--after a second opinion--we took it to show-and-tell. Jim Dunlap kicks our tail when it comes to show-and-tell. This week he'll bring about a dozen friends, including one of the ugliest creatures to walk on four legs, two of the prettiest chickens ever, some snakes, a skunk, a horned frog and a millipede. Before you assume that Jim has the coolest mom ever, we should reveal that he's the curator of Plano ISD's Living Materials Center, the home to 150 animals from insects to monkeys. During Critters Galore, kids can hang out with Dunlap's creatures and learn about their lives. It's 10 a.m. at Barnes & Noble Creekwalk Village, 801 W. 15th St., Plano. Call 972-422-3372.
Tuesday, April 20
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." This message of girl power is brought to you not by the Spice Girls, Pink or even a duet of Christina Aguilera and Lil' Kim, but by Dr. Maya Angelou, the quietest, frumpiest, least-tattooed member of the girl-power team. As she accepts her honorary degree from the University of North Texas, Angelou also will discuss Inspiration and Words of Wisdom: A One Woman Show at 7 p.m. in the UNT Coliseum, at the corner of North Texas Boulevard and Avenue D in Denton. The box office opens at 6 p.m. Ticketholders from the canceled event in February will be seated beginning at 6 p.m. Everyone else will be seated at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 for floor seating, $30 for general admission and $15 for senior citizens and children under 12. Discounts are available for UNT faculty, staff and students. Call the University Union at 940-565-3805.