You remember them. They wore the beret but shunned the authority. They spoke perfect French but refused those insipid potluck fetes. They were the French Club Dropouts. The West End Comedy Theatre has its own French Club Dropouts, and while a few may have been the high school version we've mentioned, Brandon, Angie, Victoria, John and Brad are really all about the long-form improv. The "newest and most kick-assiest" troupe in Dallas shows its wily and unruly might Thursdays at 8 p.m. during the theater's "Texas Throwdown." Laugh, point, even guffaw. Just don't ask them to sign up to bring the crème brlée for French class on Friday. The West End Comedy Theatre is located at 603 Munger Ave., Suite 100B, on the first floor of the historic West End Marketplace. Admission is $10. Call 214-880-9990.
Friday, July 1
We get so jealous every time we watch Antiques Roadshow and see someone find out that some little drawing or painting is worth a pant load of money and is really a "test sketch" by Picasso or someone else amazing. It doesn't happen a lot, and admittedly we haven't seen a Picasso show up, but you get the idea. So what if you're a widower (and a recluse to boot) and you find out from Stan Turner (you know, your legal man, the one with the series of books about him) that your late hubby had been hiding stolen pieces, née treasures, of priceless art. Nice. It would probably be less enthusiastic a discovery than on the ol' Roadshow, we're guessing. Find out for sure by reading William Manchee's latest in the Stan Turner series, Black Monday. And if you're going to pick it up, why not do so between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday? And why not make it the Barnes & Noble at 801 W. 15th St. in Plano you're picking it up from? You know, so Manchee himself can sign it at the book's first launch party. It's just a thought. Call 972-612-0999.
Saturday, July 2
With all the tangos, rumbas and quicksteps on the tube these days, we want to see a little boot-scootin', y'all. We need a little two-step--hell, maybe even some line dancing (just a little, mind you). This is Texas, right, so there's gotta be some skilled floor-stomping going on. But if this quest is truly about watching top-notch competition involving dancers who really know what they're doing, let's mosey on over to the Fairmont Hotel (1717 N. Akard St.), where Texas Twisters is hosting this year's Twelfth Annual Convention of The International Association of Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Clubs. There are various workshops and classes Thursday through Sunday, but the public can watch some serious moves during Saturday's competition from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10. Those interested in attending the conference should check out www.hoedown2005.com.
Sunday, July 3
As a photographer, we're intrigued by empty buildings and spaces. As an average person, we're totally and utterly creeped out by them. (OK, so maybe "average" isn't an apt description.) Perhaps it's a learned paranoia, but deserted areas and even little open gaps where walls don't quite meet have always held hauntings for us. Ghosts might be lurking, someone might be watching--that kind of thing. So Colleen Graves' latest exhibit, Haunted Spaces, is way up our alley. Half of us is absorbed in looking deep into the photos for "accidental figures in the backgrounds" of the burned park service facility she photographed. The other half has our hand over our eyes and is peeping through the little slits between fingers, afraid to see said figures. It's mysterious, serene and creepy all at the same time. Just the way we want it. Haunted Spaces hangs at Gray Matters Gallery, 113 N. Haskell Ave., through July 31. Gallery hours are Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. Call 214-824-7108.
Monday, July 4
Monday is a holiday, and, honestly, we really don't want to do a whole helluva lot that has anything to do with upper-90s temperatures. Participating in patriotic activities isn't out of the question, but visible sweating in direct sunlight is. Hence, we're thrilled at the idea of fully air-conditioned celebration, cool entertainment for patriots inside the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. The Dallas Wind Symphony will offer two shows (at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) of A Star-Spangled Spectacular, replete with patriotic marches as well as a few classics by Mr. Swing, Glenn Miller. Tickets are $12 to $36. Call 214-528-5576.
Tuesday, July 5
Children's literature is intense. Frankly, it's never been clear why fairy tales, children's stories and even kids' films have to be so stressful. Parents kick the bucket, witches scare kids and Nemo gets lost. Call us wimpy, but Plano Repertory Theatre's upcoming production of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Me looks a bit easier to take. After all, we're just dealing with a cute little rabbit who doesn't mind, right? Oh wait, there is that mean pitchfork-wielding Farmer McGregor working on saving his veggies and getting a little rabbit stew. But hey, if the youngsters are up to it, surely we can handle it, too. Mind if we hold your hand? Performances are at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from June 30 through July 9, with additional shows at 3 p.m. Saturdays. The ArtCentre Theatre is located at 1028 15th Place in Plano. Tickets are $10. Call 972-422-7460.