You don't have to love watching cars drive around and around for several dusty, stinky hours to enjoy Firestone Fan Jam. But you do have to love sitting in traffic for hours in order to get to Texas Motor Speedway, where Thursday's fan jam kicks off the Chevy 500 race weekend. The 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. event features chances to drive laps around the 1.5-mile speedway (or just do the race simulator instead), celebrate in Victory Lane just like the Chevy 500's winner will on Sunday, change a tire in the Pit Stop Challenge and meet and get autographs from drivers from the Indy Racing League and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. There's even a Kids Race Land for aspiring Jeff Gordons and Dale Jarretts. Chevy 500 race weekend continues through Sunday with qualifying laps, races and other special events. Tickets are available by calling 817-215-8500, visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or contacting Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Friday, October 15
As a little girl pining after pointe shoes, we thought ballet was only about pretty stuff like love, swans, deer, mice, elves and nutcrackers. The greatest injustice was that we had never heard of a ballet about unicorns. But dance doesn't just tell the pretty stories. There are painful ones--ugly, shameful, dirty and funny, too. Ralph Lemon's The Geography Trilogy, Part III: Come Home, Charley Patton--the title references a Delta blues singer--examines how different generations remember the same event and how narrative can change the facts. The performance isn't just dance; it combines film, robotics, music and lighting to tell the story. This third part follows performances about African connections and Buddhism. TITAS presents Come Home, Charley Patton at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the McFarlin Auditorium, Southern Methodist University, 6400 Hillcrest Ave. Tickets are $10 to $55. Call TITAS at 214-528-5576.
Saturday, October 16
The children's play places in malls are like dog parks. Bring the ankle biters, let them climb, yell, run around, sniff each other and otherwise wear themselves out so no one has to listen to them yap. They'll be too tired to wipe their snot on the only pair of gray tweed pants in our size. Every mall should have one. The Galleria Dallas' play place on the north end of the third floor near Saks Fifth Avenue opens with a party benefiting Love for Kids, a local charity that helps 10,000 disadvantaged and ill children and senior adults. Parents are admitted to the party for free, but kids' tickets are $15 when the third-floor animal-themed interactive playground opens during the 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. celebration. Children will receive goodie bags containing a $10 ticket to the Galleria's ice rink and a coupon for a McDonald's Happy Meal. If you're lucky--with tired legs and a full belly--they'll sleep until Sunday morning. Call 972-702-7100.
Sunday, October 17
An example of the power and beauty of lush, deep-hued French realism: We once stared at a painting of a farmer's dining table for 10 minutes, examining each detail, every brushstroke, showing fruit, vegetables, cheese, eggs, fish, rabbits, chickens--the last three shown in realistic postmortem states--strewn across the heavy wood table. A photo would have been too realistic, but in the thick, rich paints of some dead French guy, it was real, but not too real. Some of the icons of this style and its sister, romanticism, will be on display for the first time in the United States during Masterworks of French Painting, ¨Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!¨: The Bruyas Collection of the Muse Fabre, Montpellier, which opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. The exhibit includes paintings and sculpture from the private collection of Alfred Bruyas, who donated these 100 works to the Musée Fabre. It runs through January 2 in the J.E.R. Chilton Galleries. Call 214-922-1200.
Monday, October 18
Chemistry is one of those things we don't even notice anymore, like the smog downtown or the Trinity River's unique scent. But it's everywhere: the preservatives in your Twinkie, the fizz in your soda, how you can change your natural hair color, why your toilet smells like a rainstorm. Learn about this everyday science during National Chemistry Week, which is celebrated Monday through Saturday at Fair Park's Science Place, 1318 Second Ave. The theme this year is "Health and Wellness," so safety goggles and lab coats will be at the ready. The final day of the week is National Mole Day--that's a chemistry joke--which will be celebrated with demonstrations and samplings of ice cream made using liquid nitrogen. Call 214-428-5555.
Tuesday, October 19
When it comes to opinions and information about the presidential election, there's not a lot of spoons full of sugar to make the medicine go down. It's more like vinegar and ammonia. But the documentary There's Something About W is adding a little sugar by tempering footage of Bush and interviews with political analysts with commentary from comedians such as Molly Ivins, Bill Maher and Al Franken. We didn't say it wasn't Democratic sugar. Echo Theatre will pair it with its likewise anti-Shrub film Voices of Dissent during a free film night at 7:30 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive, at White Rock Lake. Call 214-904-0500.
Wednesday, October 20
Though Gary Oldman was a little bit scary as the vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula, he was much more seductive--considering, you know, that he was a blood sucker. But there was nothing sexy or attractive about Max Schreck when he played the lead in the Dracula knockoff Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent classic that set the tone and style for all vampire films to come. He had beaver teeth, a big bumpy forehead and bulging eyes. His character also lacked the humanity that future Draculas used to mislead their victims. Hezekiah Jones, the Hangman from Hangman's House of Horrors (a haunted house in Fort Worth), will introduce Nosferatu during Lone Star Film Society's Classics at the Modern: Celebrity Choice series. He and fellow spooks from the Halloween attraction will be on hand during October's film at 7 p.m. at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Admission is $7.50. Call 817-738-9215.