Phyllis Schlafly vs. Sarah Weddington: What causes a democracy's national mood to shift from left to right, liberal to conservative? While many politicians on both sides like to appear accessible by defining themselves as moderates resting squarely in the center, the moderate voting bloc doesn't change the American political landscape. Instead, it follows the lead taken by the extremists, the angry storm troopers of morality who can scream the loudest with newspaper headlines and CNN headshots. Think of America as a table of constantly bickering fringe activist stereotypes--hateful, narrow-minded Christian fundamentalists; puritanical, dogma-spouting feminists, etc.--and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of the Mount Olympus of U.S. culture. We are the soldiers who cast our weapons (votes) in the battles which they stir up. The University of Texas at Arlington hosts a debate about women's issues between two extremely high-ranking officers from both camps. Phyllis Schlafly is the uber-den mother, forever barging in, robe flying and cold cream gleaming, when those naughty girls start playing feminist games. Schlafly was an early opponent of ERA and the gay rights movement, but some of the wind was taken out of her sails when her grown son was outed two years ago. Sarah Weddington was Norma McCorvey's attorney in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, and has since come to devote most of her time to lecturing on women's rights, particularly reproductive issues. She and McCorvey are probably the two people most despised today by radical anti-abortion groups--a few of whom could be considered dangerous--for her insistence on a woman's unconditional control of her own body. Schlafly and Weddington duke it out at 7:30 pm in the Bluebonnet Ballroom of the E.H. Hereford University Center of the University of Texas at Arlington. Tickets are $3-$5. For information call (817) 273-2963.
Ray Bradbury: What other tribute can you offer Ray Bradbury except to say his children's books are indistinguishable from his serious fiction? In other words, Bradbury has contributed the single most ageless voice to the canon of great 20th century American literature. His prose leaps from fanciful daydreams to serious meditations on the interconnected cycles of life and death, often in the same novel or short story, and always remains sweetly fascinated with what he sees. For the last decade he's downshifted to a lower speed, working on adapting his works for the musical stage, animated film, and his USA Cable Network show The Ray Bradbury Television Theater. You get the sense, in recent interviews with the author, that he's finally letting himself fall back into his enormous body of work like it was a warm bath. Having written a sophisticated book for the grade-school set about the death rituals of ancient cultures (The Halloween Tree) and a fairy tale for adults about the horrors of aging (Something Wicked This Way Comes), Bradbury needs the relaxation. He'll be emphasizing his science fiction side when he gives a presentation entitled "The Great Years Ahead" at 7:30 pm in the Fine Arts Auditorium of Texas Wesleyan University, East Rosedale Ave & Wesleyan in Fort Worth. The presentation is free, but you must have a ticket to be admitted. For information call (817) 531-8500.
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth Fall Repertory Concert: Fighting to share the same narrow dance slice from the Dallas-Fort Worth arts patron pie with the newly expanded Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth fights valiantly in its fifth year to stay afloat and still attract top dance artists from all over the country, with a particular emphasis on the Southwest. They perform their Fall Repertory Concert with two guests--Sharir Dance Co. from Austin and solo performer Gus Solomons, Jr. They'll perform a total of seven works, including two world premieres--Sine--To Wood For Your Courage is dedicated to a Sharir company member who died of AIDS in 1994 and is performed both by the Austin troupe and CD/FW; Jazz Cafe, an original work by Eric Salisbury, Andrea Beckham, and co-artistic directors of CD/FW set to the music of jazz composer Bill Evans. Also performed is the CD/FW favorite Echoes and Dervishes, a piece by Sharir Associate Artistic Director Jose Luis Bustamente based on the movements of the Melevi order of dervishes. Performances happen November 18, 8 pm & November 19, 2 & 8 pm in the Ed Landreth auditorium of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$20. For more information call (817) 335-9000.
The Dallas Video Festival: Turn to the Observer film section for an in-depth preview of the offerings at this year's Dallas Video Festival, but before you do that, consider what you'll be missing if you don't attend--the chance to see new documentary, narrative, and multi-form video work by national artists which is too smart for most commercial TV networks and too controversial for the Public Broadcasting System. Indeed, PBS would seem to be the natural place for this type of provocative fare, at least if you go back and read the statement of purpose from its inception in the '60s. But that broadcast venue, along with other public entities like the National Endowment for the Arts, knows who enjoys legislative muscle in Congress these days--hard-core right-wingers who shave arts funding by three percent here and six percent there, all the while waiting for the right moment of voter apathy to kill taxpayer support for the arts outright. Sound like so much liberal paranoia? Just consider that Congress is currently controlled by the party whose most powerful wing counts the two Pats (Buchanan and Robertson) among its leaders. Also remember that the Dallas Video Festival couldn't happen without support from the NEA, the city, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Now, pick yourself up off the floor and hurry with all godspeed to Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood, which hosts the Festival on November 17, 7-10 pm; Fri, 7-11 pm; Sat, noon-11 pm; Sun, noon-9:30 pm. Tickets are $6-$22. Call 651-8888.
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Who Really Runs America? The Hidden History of the United States: The Eclectic Viewpoint, Dallas' Forum of Extraordinary Science, Unusual Phenomena & Diverse Perspectives, presents a lecture by researcher, journalist, and historian John Judge, who could definitely be called a revisionist in his approach to recent world history. For 26 years now Judge has been studying (and commenting on) the relationships among various U.S. intelligence agencies, their tactics during the Cold War, and their ties to international fascist regimes. Basically, what Judge proposes is a multi-national conspiracy pulling the puppet strings of world affairs, the possibility of which is frequently laughed at or ignored. But the fact remains that history is written by the few for the many, who must rely on those accounts--written, photographed, and broadcast--to piece together their understanding of the globe. How much can you personally verify about the major tragedies and moments of the last 25 years? Judge claims he has hard evidence linking the Guyana mass suicide to the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the relationships between the murders of JFK, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. To those who are already scoffing, we offer four little words--how do you know? Judge speaks at 8 pm in the Richardson Civic Center, 411 W Arapaho in Richardson. Tickets are $15. Call 601-7687.
A Christmas Carol: Are you a shy person who sat down for what seemed like some perfectly innocent performance, only to discover this production features one or more performers who attempt to involve the audience? If so, then don't repeat the horror by attending the Addison Centre Theatre's presentation of Dickens' hard-candy-coated classic A Christmas Carol. This show is a revamped version of their 1990 revamping, co-produced with the Callier Theater of the Deaf. Both versions have been penned by Addison Centre Theatre artistic director Kelly Cotten, who also wrote and designed them. He takes full advantage, for the first time, of his new "state-of-the-art flexible environmental space" to stage this year's adaptation in promenade-style, which necessitates that the audience mingle with the production in progress. People can, in fact, walk across the stage or view the action from almost any angle in the theater. For the lazy they provide fixed seats on the balconies, but not everything can be seen from there. It's important to note that children under the age of six are not allowed, and the ACT asks that parents keep their young children nearby so they won't get bulldozed. Performances are Thursday-Saturday, 8:15 pm; and Sunday, 2:30 & 7:30 pm through December 11 at the Addison Centre Theatre, 15650 Addison Rd in Addison. Tickets are $7.50-$20. For ticket information call 788-3200.
Manuel Barrueco and Nancy Allen: Although Manuel Barrueco turned heads in 1974 at the age of 22 when he became the first guitarist ever to win the Concert Artists Guild Award (the instrument had been in disrepute ever since the strings started getting dirtied by blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll), he'd been reproducing Latin-American pop tunes by ear ever since he was eight in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba. He received formal training with legends Juana Mercadal in Miami and Ray De La Torre in New York, well before he became the first guitarist ever to win a full scholarship at the Peabody Conservatory. The pattern which emerges from an overview of Barrueco's legendary career is obvious--he has consistently surprised and bedazzled tutors, judges, critics, and audiences with the new possibilities of his favorite instrument. Barrueco turns 42 this year, more popular than ever, with a string of best-selling titles on the illustrious EMI/Angel label. Over the last few years he's concentrated on the folk compositions of various countries, including Great Britain and Spain. Also on the bill is New York-born, Juilliard-bred Nancy Allen (not to be confused with the Brian DePalma-born, B-movie-bred actress of the same name), who is the most recorded American harpist in the world. The Dallas Classic Guitar Society invites her and Barrueco to perform a dual recital at 8 pm in the Morton H. Meyerson Center, 2301 Flora. Tickets are $8-$30. For info call 1-800-654-9545.
Tomb Treasures From China: You have to sift long through the dim memories of ultra-hyped touring exhibits that have made a stop in either Dallas or Fort Worth during the last 15 years--Pompeii, that tall Egyptian prince with too much eyeliner, The Barnes Collection--to find Great Bronze Age of China, a show which packed 'em in to Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum for several months in 1980 and 1981. That venerable institution plays host to a sequel of sorts--Tomb Treasures From China, which will play in three museums outside of China (its first U.S. appearance already happened at The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco). It's impossible to underestimate the importance that a sense of history plays in the daily lives of most Chinese, especially government officials, so the fact that they released these 62 pieces is a measure of how badly they want to get in good with the United States. Tomb Treasures From China: The Buried Art of Ancient Xi'an picks up where The Great Bronze Age of China left us dangling 13 years ago, with the terra cotta soldier figures from the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.) returning to carry us through the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD), long considered by historians to be the most fruitful cultural period of China's ancient dynasties. The show opens November 20 and runs through February 12 at the Kimbell, 3333 Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. Tickets are $2-$8. For more info call (817) 332-8451.