Seven Underground Films: Press material for the traveling program "Seven Underground Films Tour 13 Cities in 13 Days in One '65 Chevy" indicates that the short films on this bill are united by "an artful lowlife sensibility." Co-sponsored by the nationally celebrated Austin Film Society, which recently lured Quentin Tarantino back to that pastoral city to screen some favorite flicks, "Seven Underground Films" is high concept realized through pocket change. The longest of the films, Angels?, is 15 minutes; the shortest, The History of Texas City, lasts a mere two minutes. This means even the guy whose attention span has undergone electroshock from 13 straight hours of the video game Doom can handle these dense excursions into personal passions. Screenings happen at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $5. Call 953-1212.
Second Annual Taste of Deep Ellum: There are 15 Deep Ellum-based restaurants participating in the Second Annual Taste of Deep Ellum, which is a self-guided tasting tour complete with beer samples at each establishment and a party to begin and end the evening. In order to get the maximum munch for your buck, however, you might consider snagging a map of Deep Ellum eateries to outline your plan of attack from most to least favorite. Keep in mind that all those Deep Ellum habitues will keep one step ahead of you; we suspect the Tex-Mex tables will look like an in-store appearance by Jesus at your local Christian bookshop, while the restaurant that serves ostrich will go unrewarded for its boldness. The event happens 6 p.m.-11 p.m. in the restaurants on Main, Commerce, and Elm streets. The first establishment on the itinerary is 2826. Tickets are $20-$25. Call 480-0011.
Schoolhouse Rock Live: Those of us who watched Saturday morning cartoons as children in the early '70s may have metamorphosed into restless, drooling Xers, but we can make one proud claim:We learned the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. With the hipster jazz of "Conjunction Junction," the gutbucket moan of "I'm Just a Bill," and more, animator-writers Tom Yohe and George Newall kicked off their Emmy Award-winning series of cartoon shorts known as Schoolhouse Rock in 1973 to teach bedrock principles of government and grammar using American musical forms. Schoolhouse Rock Live, which incorporates the old songs into a new musical narrative, comes to Dallas after a hugely successful off-Broadway run. Previews happen Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and the regular run takes place Friday-Sunday, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. through September 7, at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur. Tickets are $6-$10. Call 252-7558.
Michelle Spencer: Nationally acclaimed dancer (The New York Times called her "smart, cute, and profoundly irritating"); experimental video artist working out of New York and San Francisco; musical collaborator with John Cale on his opera, Life Under Water; and Plano resident. With a resume like that, artist Michelle Spencer could surely die a happy woman even if the Big Event came tomorrow. She's not expecting it, however, as she still plans to debut her ballet-based performance-art piece, Home Wrecker, about a woman confronting her husband's favorite vice, in Dallas. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $8-$12. Call 953-1212.
The Day the Earth Stood Still: It's amazing how shifting political currents and changing attitudes toward popular culture can completely transform a film's message. Upon its release, Robert Wise's 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was lauded as a rigorous, imaginative statement against the international leaders who orchestrated the Cold War. The film generated terrific tension as it forced audiences to wait to see if the intentions of Klaatu (Michael Rennie), the brainy intergalactic braggart, were honorable. As it turns out, he was lording his superiority over earthlings just to teach them a lesson about their own fragility when dealing with stuff like atomic bombs. Since the leaders were too bullheaded to listen, Klaatu turned to "the little people," who carried an innate sense of dignity and fair play. Watch The Day The Earth Stood Still today, when conservatism is the populist philosophy of choice and Independence Day is the flag-waving sci-fi blockbuster, and you'll see a pinko agenda behind Wise's somber, manipulative film. Since when did the common folk not enjoy kicking a little commie ass? The screening happens at midnight at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. Call 821-NEWS.
1996 NPC Texas Bodybuilding Championships: Although we're tempted to write something smartass about the buff, brawny ladies who participate in the 1996 NPC Texas Bodybuilding Championships, there's no such thing as a cheap shot when life and limb are on the line: These gals could snap our spines like twigs and use the leftovers for kindling. These particular championships are qualifiers for the national round, where folks will pose, bench-press, and lift the equivalent of a Southern California fat farm in their pursuit of honors. There is open competition, as well as novice, teen-age, and something euphemistically titled "Master Over 40." (Is there a combination more fearsome than menopause and big biceps?) The prejudging show happens at 9:30 a.m. and an evening show at 6:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center; both are open to the public. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 299-6105.
A Night in Liverpool: Should you happen to possess the $15-$30 admission fee and you give a rat's hiney about the Dallas professional dance scene, there's a simple reason why the Dancers Unlimited benefit would make an excellent Saturday night on the town: Dancers Unlimited is one of only two Dallas-based professional dance organizations that have managed to roll with the punches of fickle Dallas audiences. Currently celebrating its 16th year, the troupe presents original works as well new masterpieces imported from dance capitals throughout the world. "A Night in Liverpool" is the theme of its gala night, which features eerie Beatles cover band Hard Night's Day. The evening kicks off at 7 p.m. at Deep Ellum Live, 2727 Canton at Crowdus. Tickets are $15-$30. Call 522-8988.
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Gordon Parks: The Thornton Foundation, a nonprofit arts project conceived by Artist and Elaine Thornton to spark the creative impulse of inner-city youth, was profiled a few Observer issues back by Rebecca Sherman for its South Dallas photography project. The organization now is responsible for bringing a multitalented artist who rose to international prominence without their help, and from the roots of poverty. Gordon Parks was born 83 years ago in a family of 15 kids, but has only in the past few years earned the media attention to match his impressive resume of grants, awards, and honorary degrees. A reception and informal dialogue with Gordon Parks happens 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. It's free. Call 670-8749.
The Wedding Show: If it's true that Dallas/Fort Worth sustained the highest divorce rate of any American city, as was widely reported last year, then the appearance of The Wedding Show is either desperately needed or a sad waste of time. Coming hot on the heels of a recent gay and lesbian wedding expo held almost a month ago in Dallas, those lollygagging heterosexuals finally approach the altar with an afternoon of talks, demonstrations, free consultations, and, of course, professional booths staffed by wedding professionals. Perhaps the biggest draw is the Ralph Nader of Weddings:Best-selling author and TV personality Diane Warner is so serious about your "having a big wedding on a small budget," she's about ready to organize the damned thing herself. The event happens noon-5 p.m. at the DFW Hyatt Regency East Tower. Tickets are $5. Call 335-6556.
Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the "Win or Else" Cowboys: If you thought Observer writers like Laura Miller and Jennifer Briggs were prime targets for some beer-guzzling, face-painted, amoeba-brained Cowboys fan, you can bet sports gadfly Skip Bayless has investigated the price of personal bodyguards. Unlike many of the overhyped tell-alls produced every year by the American publishing industry, Bayless' Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the "Win or Else" Cowboys really is as juicy as the jacket notes promise. The confederacy of dunces that stepped in after Tom Landry was forced out is the specimen under Bayless' witty knife. Yet, to the author's credit, he only uses the more sensationalistic aspects of the book to explore the characters of the principals involved. For instance, although he spends about 10 pages examining the rumors that surround Troy Aikman's sexual orientation, that topic really tells us more about Barry Switzer, who, Bayless claims, subtly encouraged the chatter that Troy the Boy Toy is gay. Skip Bayless discusses and signs Hell-Bent at 7:30 p.m. at Borders Books, 5500 Greenville Ave. Call 739-1166.
The Light With Us and New Testament Images: Minneapolis-based self-taught artist Anne Brink, a mother of two, creates art that's a kind of native guide to what she regards as a new kingdom currently under construction--a just, civil, and respectful society where inclusion of all people is based on Christian principles. She envisions this kingdom through bright colors and geometric shapes in an exhibition of her hand-painted wall-hangings, quilts, and tapestries entitled The Light With Us. Also at the Biblical Arts Center is a show by another Minneapolis artist, Kirsten Malcom Berry, who grew up the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries in the Philippines. New Testament Images includes scenes created on a foundation of southeast Asian influences. Both shows run through October 13 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane. It's free. Call 691-4661.