James Kelman and Duncan McLean: Booker Prize-winning novelist James Kelman earned all kinds of comparisons to James Joyce--not all of them favorable--when his brutal, poetic novel How Late it Was, How Late stormed the world's literary salons in 1994. His dogged pursuit of the perfect Scottish dialect makes Kelman a slow read for many native English-speakers, but it helped inspire a renaissance of Scottish writers that includes Trainspotting's Irvine Welsh and Duncan McLean. WordSpace hosts the Dallas stop on a national tour for Kelman and McLean, whose second novel, Bunker Man, is primo psychological suspense. Kelman and McLean read from their work and sign books from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Student Center, Room 207-209, of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University; then they read 7-9 p.m. in Dallas at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. The TCU appearance is free, but the DMA event costs $8. Call (214) 981-8803.
Alice in Bed: So literary wags have recently informed us that Henry James may have had an affair with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and that brother William James was a member of a secret society of nitrous-oxide sniffers at the end of his life. What can we dish out about their tragic sister Alice that hasn't stood as a feminist lesson for almost a century now? The Playwright's Voice, Dallas' free literary play-reading series, hosts a reading of Susan Sontag's only play, Alice in Bed, a historical fantasy about the severely depressed sister who retreated to bed to await her premature death at 43. The reading happens at 7 p.m. in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. It's free. Call (214) 953-1212.
Nebraska: Bruce Coleman's New Theatre Company offers a dark comic-dramatic look at the military's domestic world with Keith Reddin's Nebraska, the story of a husband and wife driven batty by the regimented conformity of life on a military base in Omaha. Hubby, an air force lieutenant, wanders a tad too far in search of thrills and winds up triggering a tragedy that involves The Button. Reddin's script attacks not so much the culture of violence as the dispiriting toll that enforced patriotism can take on the minds of individuals. In other words, it's a vehicle of perfect volatility for New Theatre Company's singular talents. Performances happen Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through May 31 at 3202 Elm St. Tickets are $8-$15 (every Wednesday is pay-what-you-can). Call (214) 871-ARTS.
For Whom the Bucket Tolls: For a peek at the glistening guts of major Dallas talent Dalton James, see "The Lonely Guy," this week's Dallas Observer feature about the actor-writer-composer. He appears in two of the three "depressing comedies" presented by Bucket Productions in an evening called "For Whom the Bucket Tolls"--Luigi Januzzi's A Bench at the Edge and Woody Allen's Death. Samuell Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape completes the program, which is rounded out by Karen Robinson's original choreography (performed to Dalton James' original score). Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through May 24 at the Swiss Avenue Theater. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (214) 528-5725.
Aircraft Pull: What, exactly, is an Aircraft Pull? It's like a tractor pull, only it involves considerably heavier, more expensive equipment. Teams of lawmen and businessmen compete to see who can pull a Boeing 727 twelve feet in the least amount of time at the Department of Public Safety Aircraft Pull, hosted by the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In addition, there will be tours of plane cockpits and emergency rescue vehicles as well as displays, a basketball shoot, a sack race, DFW's K-9 team, and a lot more to entice whole families to get high on aircraft. The event happens 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Federal Express Cargo Building, 3001 N. Airfield Dr. off of State Hwy 114. Tickets are $2 for adults, no admission for kids under 12. Call (214) 574-6701.
Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions: Do you think the history of American gospel music begins and ends with the image of African-Americans in flowing robes belting their love of Jesus to the rooftop? The African-American Museum presents a multi-media exhibition called Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions that will shine a little light into the nuances of black sacred music. Vintage photos, archival video footage, albums, maps, sheet music, and recordings of the music itself explore the differences and similarities of spirituals, hymns, brass band worship services, and Pentecostal shout-singing in sacred black music. The show opens May 10 with a Family Day, noon-5 p.m., at the African-American Museum in Fair Park. For info call (214) 565-9026.
Is Extremism Threatening Mainstream Religion? Are Christian fundamentalists, Zionists, and radical Muslims speaking in the authentic, uncompromising voice of their respective Gods, or do they wield a hateful, man-made dogma selectively honed to persecute their enemies? Danny Barnett at Richland Community College wonders this same thing when he gives a talk for the North Texas Skeptics entitled "Is Extremism Threatening Mainstream Religion?" He will riff on right-wing author David Barton's tomes Myth of Separation and Original Intent to cite examples of how history has been rewritten by some fundamentalist authors. The event happens at 2 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St. It's free. Call 972-558-1047.
Suzanne Westenhoefer: Now that America has witnessed Ellen's coming out and suffered no meteorological disasters of Biblical proportions, the question posed by a recent Advocate cover is this--why the hell aren't gay male performers coming out like their lesbian sisters? Could it be that the privilege of maleness is too important to risk giving up with an honest declaration about their lives? The wickedly funny standup Suzanne Westenhoefer was out while DeGeneres' character still suffered man troubles on the show, which means: a) the chances of her being offered her own network sitcom are slim, and b) her comedy flaunts an incisive edge that DeGeneres is just now catching up to. Her hilarious, accessible work has something to teach the latecomers, both girls and boys. The show happens at 8 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Dallas Grand Hotel, 1914 Commerce St. Tickets are $17-$25. Call (817) 924-3264.
Boys Life 2: To the question "Where are all the out gay male performers?" we might answer "Busy sticking their heads up their asses" if we use the navel-gazing collection of film shorts Boys Life 2 as a standard of judgment. Opening this weekend at the Inwood Theater, this devastatingly mediocre quartet of short films about gay male life and love is saved by Tom DeCerchio's remarkable Nunzio's Second Cousin, in which the brilliant Vincent D'Onofrio plays a Chicago cop who invites a gay basher to dinner. Comeuppance is served scaldingly hot in this little gem. Sadly, the other three films are exercises in choir-preaching. Boys Life 2 plays at Inwood and Lovers Lane. Call (214) 352-6040.
1997 Association of Volleyball Professionals Tour: Let's face it, folks--many fans of pro volleyball players like Kent Steffes, Karch Kiraly, and Mike Whitmarsh probably have to periodically remind themselves of the game, because Steffes, Kiraly, Whitmarsh, and company know how to work a tank top (or shorts without tank, as the case may be). Luckily, the temperature for the two-day 1997 Association of Volleyball Professionals Tour should be nice and toasty, perfect weather for a bunch of beach ball pros to show their best stuff--skills and otherwise. Competition is scheduled May 10, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and May 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on McKinney and Pearl St, adjacent to Crescent Court Hotel. Passes to see the competition are $10-$60. Call 1-800-432-7470.
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Dirty Laundry: If the story of a trio of self-righteous busybodies who set out to destroy a relationship they disapprove of sounds familiar, it might have happened in your own life. Or, you might have read Richard Brinsley Sheridan's classic comedy School for Scandal. In either case, it's a scenario full of laughs and tears that Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre has updated in Charles C. Cole's Dirty Laundry, the tale of gossip run amok in Jazz Age Harlem. The play continues in the Jubilee-ization of scripts like Macbeth (Brother Mac) and Lysistrata (Lysistrata Please!). Performances are Friday, 8:15 p.m. and Saturday, 3:15 and 8:15 p.m. at 506 Main St, downtown Fort Worth. Tickets are $8-$14. Call (817) 338-4411.
Calman Shemi: One of Israel's most prominent visual artists emigrated to that country from Argentina in 1961 to render his visual translations of the natural world onto the canvas. The semi-abstract, brilliantly colorful, eerily familiar paintings that followed would establish the career of Calman Shemi. The Jewish Community Center of Dallas honors Israel Independence Day with a major exhibition of Shemi's work, including his lithography and laser sculpture. Shortly before the late, lamented Anwar Sadat was assassinated, he received a painting by Shemi as a gesture of the then-hopeful Middle Eastern peace process. The show runs May 8-12 at the Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Rd. Call (214) 739-2737.
Selection XXX: The Best of Chris Regas: In the world of commercial art, a professional's corporate resume says everything about his reputation. Dallas-based photographer Chris Regas is included in holdings by Pepsico, Xerox, Eastman Kodak, and Merrill Lynch. But the various portraits, nudes, pictorials, and studies he's snapped in his private time over the past 30 years remain among his favorites. Regas, a founding member of the Allen Street Gallery, futzed around with infrared photography so much, his name became synonymous with the medium in the early '70s. He has continued to employ infrared techniques in his work. Regas taught college courses but currently gives private instruction to a collection of students. Photographic Archives Gallery organizes Chris Regas' second one-man show at that institution, Selection XXX: The Best of Chris Regas, which includes both traditional and conceptual imagery. The opening reception happens May 10, 10:30 a.m.; the show runs through June 7 at 5117 W. Lovers Ln. Call (214) 352-3167.
Yulin Wang: It's a shame that a painter like Yulin Wang can't launch his tart criticisms of Chinese Communism in his own land, where they're most needed, but tank tracks can be hell to get out of your clothes. So Wang settles in Texas and lets the Dallas Visual Art Center showcase his sumptuous, sometimes satirical oil canvases as part of its Mosaics series. Wang mixes Western and Eastern iconography (including sacred subjects like Mao Tse-tung) in a deliberate attempt to showcase how the two halves of human consciousness in civilization compare and contrast. His show opens with a reception May 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m., that includes a performance by the Chinese Philharmonic. The show runs through June 20 at the Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Avenue. Call (214) 821-2522.