Damn Frances Mayes. As if it weren't enough to move to a farmhouse in Italy. As if it weren't enough to write a book about it. As if it weren't enough that the book exploded into a best seller and spawned two follow-ups and a successful film in which Diane Lane graces your namesake with all her fortysomething pluck and ageless beauty. Now Under the Tuscan Sun author Frances Mayes has written yet another memoir about Italy, food and the general fabulosity of her life with Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style From the Heart of Italy--or, as we like to call it, Nya-Nya-Nya: All This Could Be Yours--That Is, If You Were Me. Fortunately, Mayes will share a slice of her charmed life when she appears at the Dallas Museum of Art on Friday as part of the Arts & Letters Live series. Following a buffet dinner inspired by the recipes in her book, Mayes will give a presentation titled "A Taste of Tuscany." For some of us sadsacks, it may be the closest we get to Italy. Maybe they'll sell postcards. For reservations, call 214-922-1219. --Sarah Hepola
York, In Person
The success of a show like Inside the Actor's Studio is easily understandable. The lure of celebrity curiosity combines with the creative side of performance to produce something more substantial than the usual Mary Hart capsule interview (although too often the pairing of James Lipton's pomposity and an actor's artistic irrelevance make for unintentional laughs). Subtract the host, add a subject who's covered enough genres and media to legitimately carry the title of "thespian," and you have what the Richardson Public Library and Friends of the Richardson Library's IN PERSON AUTHOR Lecture/Series offers on Tuesday evening with Michael York. If his name's unfamiliar, his face is not; York puts the "actor" in "character actor" with more than 100 film and television roles to his credit, including Cabaret, Murder on the Orient Express and all three Austin Powers releases. Beyond that, York's a veteran of the Shakespearean stage and the author of several books, most notably an amazing autobiography called Accidentally on Purpose. The Eisemann Center is at 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson. Call 972-744-4350 for tickets. --Matt Hursh
Tea for Thee
Valentine's Day date now: dinner at Tom Tom, movie at Magnolia, gelato at Pacuigo. But if you want to kick it old-school--and not Sinatra-style, but really, really old-school--the Irving Heritage Society presents the Vintage Valentine Tea from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Irving Heritage House, 303 S. O'Connor Road. The tea re-creates the 1914 housewarming for the Charles Perry Schulze family with traditional foods and drinks, decorations and more. Admission is free. Call 972-252-3838. --Shannon SutliefLove Stories
Some might say that spending the Saturday before Valentine's Day at an oral history program is like spending Christmas at a strip club. Just sad. But, history fans, the Dallas Historical Society wants you to be its Valentine during Have a Heart for History, featuring talks and book signings with Texas authors discussing their World War II experiences, a Texas artifact exhibition, a presentation about oral history and "living history portrayals." It's 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Hall of State in Fair Park. Call 214-421-4500. --Shannon SutliefLook, Real Actors!
Inevitably and invariably, sci-fi conventions tout actors best known for being little-seen in costumes made of latex, leather and fur; look no further than Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels, Star Warsstars whose faces are revealed only when their owners are perched behind tables at suburban convention centers while they scribble their names for 10 bucks a pop on a black-and-white movie still. But Mark Walters and Ben Stevens, organizers of the Dallas Comic Con, aim their phasers a bit higher, bringing in not only the usual suspects but also awards-show talent attached to movies having nothing to do with aliens, wizards or beaming of any kind. This week's shindig offers a trio of respectability: Thomas Jane, sure to draw Punisherfans but more deserving of plaudits for his performance as a South African cop-turned-criminal in last year's underrated Stander; his fiancée, Patricia Arquette, whose filmography includes wonderful turns in movies by Michel Gondry (Human Nature), David Lynch (Lost Highway), David O. Russell (Flirting With Disaster), Tim Burton (Ed Wood) and Sean Penn (The Indian Runner); and Sean Astin, beloved amongst the cinephiles as Sam in the Lord of the Ringsmovies and among the reformed geeks as Rudy. The fanboys will have their pleasures, too: Bernie Wrightson, co-creator of Swamp Thing, is among the guests scheduled to attend. But this is a comic con my mom could get behind. The Dallas Comic Con runs noon to 6 p.m. February 12 and noon to 4 p.m. February 13 at the Richardson Civic Center, 411 W. Arapaho Road. Admission is $5; children 12 and under are admitted for free. Visit www.dallascomiccon.com. --Robert Wilonsky