Barbie Appraisals: In one of her last essays before she resigned as New York Times columnist to pursue fiction and motherhood, Anna Quindlen admitted she might be an old stick-in-the-mud, but she hated Barbie--or, more accurately, the "feminine" values of appearance, acquisitiveness, and artifice Barbie symbolizes. Although the manufacturers of Barbie feign displeasure at having their virtuous blond beauty defiled for political and countercultural purposes, secretly they must love it. Sales of Barbie and her lifestyle accessories, always huge, have exploded in the last few years, largely because of the shots being fired over her little detachable head. In an era of "Take Our Daughters To Work" day and studies which suggest girls are overlooked in the public education classroom, Barbie has become a wanton temptress, luring little girls (and, it must be said, not a few little boys) away from the deprogramming attempts of their progressive mothers into a decadent fantasy world where preadolescent sexuality is rerouted into consumerist frenzy. Rather than making the doll a piece of forbidden fruit, parents might encourage their kids (when old enough, of course) to look beneath Barbie's poised surface to the volcano of unconsummated passion which boils there. Hasn't anyone yet made the connection between Barbie's obsessive shopping and her lack of a vagina? Professional Barbie dealer Krissa Brown stops in at the Inwood Village Bookstop to give free appraisals and advice on starting and keeping a good collection. Bring your Barbies and start a conversation by dropping a provocative, open-ended comment like "I suspect there are some childhood issues Barbie has yet to resolve. What do you think?" Brown appears at 7 pm at 5550 W Lovers Lane. Call 357-2697.
Zastrossi: Kitchen Dog Theater chose to kick off its fifth season with a challenge--mounting a period epic filled with arduous physical sequences. If live theater is good, the physical part of it looks like just so much walking and talking, but any actor will tell you that even the simplest drawing-room drama requires considerable reserves of stamina in terms of maintaining control of the pace and direction of the play. Well, multiply that demand a hundredfold and you have Zastrossi, Canadian playwright George F. Walker's kinky, violent comedy set in Europe at the close of the 19th century. The six actors in the production, which include the talented Kitchen Dog co-founders Joe Nemmers and Dan Day, have been training for almost five months now, four hours a day and five days a week, to bring the script, with its elaborate eruptions of combat, to fruition. If, as someone once said, the actor is a spiritual musician who uses his/her body as the primary instrument, then the cast of Zastrossi is a punk band abusing the hell out of its equipment--for the pleasure of earning your thrills, of course. The play runs Wednesday-Saturday at 8 pm through November 26 in the 90-seat theater space of the new McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $8-$12, with pay-what-you-can performances every Wednesday. For information call 520-ARTS.
STOMP: Do you know a drummer or a music fanatic who's got a case of rhythm like a nerve disorder, using everything in sight or his/her own body parts to create a beat? Everyone does. Do your percussion-obsessed pals a favor and round them up to see STOMP, the British rhythmic ensemble imported to Dallas by TITAS (The International Theatrical Arts Society). STOMP has been making noise, literally and figuratively, since they debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After sweeping Europe, they've prevailed in one titanic test of American celebrity after another--Letterman, commercial endorsements, off-Broadway, L.A. The six men and two women who comprise STOMP are rigorously trained musicians; their goal is to combine sophisticated rhythmic techniques from all over the world with humor, look-at-me showmanship, and a working-class fondness for everyday objects. These folks make anything and everything a percussion instrument--brooms, trash cans, cigarette lighters, your basic junk drawer contents. Think of them as a sort of Liverpudlian version of the Kodo drummers. Actually, don't think about them, just go see them, and just try to keep your hands and feet still. STOMP gives three performances, Nov 3-5 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
Claytie & The Lady: With the November 8 elections now on the horizon, Jeanie Stanley, co-author of the terrific political analysis tome Claytie & The Lady: Ann Richards, Gender & Politics in Texas, discusses the similarities and differences between this year's bland gubernatorial race and the meaner, more engrossing contest between Ann Richards and Clayton Williams. If you think the impact of Claytie's now legendary rape joke (stolen, it must be noted, from Dorothy Parker) was overblown by a press which likes to start fights, consider that Richards won the election by a narrow margin--so narrow it's not a far stretch to surmise the outrage of a relatively small group swung the outcome in her favor. Stanley covers a lot of turf in her discussion at 4 pm at Barnes & Noble, 8525 Airport Freeway. Heads could get hot so close to election time, so come ready to joust. Call 988-7257.
Mind, Body, and Spirit: A Holistic Approach to Health: Clinton's botched health care plans stirred up a debate which allowed many folks to get mad about a reality which has been, for a long time, filed in the "Oh, Well, That's The Way Life Is" folder--the more money you make, the healthier you are. Poverty and debt don't tend to encourage folks to care enough about their lives to maintain healthful personal habits, but that's not the whole story. Our hard-working community hospitals are overburdened, and large pockets of poor people, especially in rural areas, simply have no access to health care at all. As usual, the same groups get it in the teeth--single mothers, the elderly, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans. In the African-American community in particular, citizens of the wealthiest country in the world are dying at alarming rates of diseases which are perfectly preventable. The question becomes--until we vastly improve the quality and availability of health services for the poor, is it possible to untangle an individual's personal habits from his/her economic and political situation? The Third Eye, a combination think-tank and community service organization dedicated to making certain African philosophies and principles active in the lives of African-Americans, believes so. Their 10th Annual African Awakening Conference is called "Mind, Body, and Spirit: A Holistic Approach to Health." It features eight prominent national health care professionals conducting workshops, giving lectures, and consulting folks on prevention and maintenance using African principles. The event kicks off Nov 5 at 9 am & Nov 6 at 10 am at the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters in the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S Griffin. Tickets are $15-$35. Call 943-0142 or823-6030.
Southern Methodist University's Program Council Literary Festival: SMU's 20th annual literary festival is, as usual, solid but unexciting. It's free, though, and Dallasites who need regular cerebral nourishment aren't exactly living amidst a lavish intellectual banquet. We need to take what we can where we can. This year's big star is Schindler's List author Thomas Keneally, who'll be reading November 6 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium. The rest of the lineup consists of Austin Wright (Tony and Susan), Nov 7 at 3:30 pm; W.P. Kinsella (Shoeless Joe), Nov 7 at 8 pm; Sarah Bird (Virgin of the Rodeo), Nov 8 at 3:30 pm; Lucilee Clifton (Two-Headed Woman), Nov 8 at 8 pm; Dagoberto Gilb (Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna), Nov 9 at 3:30 pm; Edward Hirsch (Earthly Measures), Nov 9 at 8 pm; Martin Espada (City of Coughing and Dead Radiators), Nov 10 at 3:30 pm; Sharon Olds (The Father), Nov 10 at 8 pm; and Joyce Carol Oates Nov 11 at 8 pm. In addition, there's a student literary reading Nov 11 at 3:30 pm. All afternoon readings are in McCord Auditorium; evenings happen in the theater of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.
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Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor: The Dallas Museum of Art opens the exhibit Silver in America as a kind of tribute to the quality and craftsmanship of the American silver industry, here documenting a period of a century and some of its most elaborate designs. The show features more than 150 pieces of silver, some never before seen in public, and offers a multiple view of the industry which created them, including the production, design, and marketing of their wares. The show opens Nov 6 and runs through Jan 29 at 1717 N Harwood. Tickets are $2-$6. Call 922-1200.
The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back and The Visual Diary: Folks who think feminism has no sense of humor have been listening to the wrong feminists. From Nora Ephron's early '70s Esquire columns to our own Molly Ivins to the original Riot Grrrl bands from Washington, women have been storming bastions of the good-ol'-boy mentality using savage wit, not claims of victimhood, as their weapon. In the finest tradition of sharp minds over oppressed mentality, The Guerrilla Girls have been raising hell in the sexist intellectual circles of the New York art community for 10 years now, starting with that fabled 1984 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Purporting to be an international survey of painting and sculpture, the 169 artists represented included only 19 women. Thus were born the Guerrilla Girls, an amorphous group of female artists and art insiders who engaged in public protests, disseminated literature, and created a widely hailed series of posters comparing the impact and value of women in the arts (relatively low) vs. their numbers (relatively high). Whenever in public, they wear their trademark gorilla masks, both to prevent personalities from overtaking issues and, let's face it, still be able to work in the community they want to change, not destroy (like I said, these women are smart). The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: A Retrospective 1985-1990 is a display of 40 posters and 12 banners created by the women over a five-year period. It opens Nov 7 at the East Fine Arts Gallery of Texas Woman's University in Denton. Two Guerrilla Girls lecture Nov 6 at 5 pm. in the MCL building of the university. In addition to their show, TWU hosts The Visual Diary, a retrospective of the works of 15 national women artists all related to the concept of the diary as personal record in a public world. Both shows are on display through Nov 23. Call (817) 898-2530.
Election Day: A plea for sanity from conservative Observer readers with voter registration cards--no matter how much you may hate Ann Richards' policies, doesn't handing the governorship of Texas to a coddled, not-so-bright investor whose half-acknowledged chief reason for running is to vindicate his father's two-year-old presidential defeat scare the hell out of you? Partisan politics are almost beside the point. If you can't bring yourself to reinstate Richards, take the day off. Kick back and turn the soaps on, or lounge in bed with a good book. You deserve it.
Dia De Los Muertos: Art celebrating Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is among the most popular for collectors of Mexican work. Much of it blends folksy, home-and-hearth kind of subjects with what may seem to Anglos like the macabre. Here the cultural divide widens, for if the average Mexican citizen's state of health is poorer than the average American's, his or her attitude towards death is generally much more sound. Day of the Dead art depicts the inextricable relationship between life and death by showcasing the skullface in revelry, in repose, and, above all, in tribute to ancestors. The Dallas Public Library and the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas present an exhibit marking Dia De Los Muertos, the holiday in which those who've passed over but remain restless are honored by altars full of offerings and a candle to show them the way. In addition to art work, there is a traditional altar set up in the lobby of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young, throughout the month of November. It's free, of course. For information call 670-7838.