He was the first-born son of Ewell and Lena Holston Pope, small and imaginative but racked from an early age with diphtheria that spread from his skin to his throat. And as he lay dying, Lena asked her son Conrad what she would do without him. Conrad took a hammer from his tool set--his favorite toy, a gift from Santa Claus--and said he saw, as legend has it, "a big mansion out beyond the blue." And it was Lena's job to fill it with children. After Conrad's death, Lena Pope took to the streets of Fort Worth, and with the help of a Baptist church she did build many homes out beyond the blue. She even built a mansion on a hill in west Fort Worth--or, at least, a mansion by the standards of the church's budget. In any case, children poor or without parents or somehow similarly disadvantaged filled the homes that Lena built in 1930. And they fill them still. From August 16 through August 22, 90 restaurants in Dallas and Fort Worth (including Steel, Abacus, Reata, Texas de Brazil, Nana, Jeroboam, The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Beau Nash) will offer a three-course dinner for $30 per person with $6 from every meal benefiting the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home. Today the home offers counseling for children, alternative education, foster care and family preservation. Last year, the food bank distributed 28 million pounds of food to more than 400 agencies in 13 North Texas counties. Some of the restaurants' owners have already extended the $30 meal for another week. For the complete list of restaurants involved, go to www.KRLD.com, www.ntxfoodbank.org or www.lenapopehome.org. --Paul Kix
Grand Old Days
We remember 1984 like it was yesterday, probably because it seems eerily like today. Girls wore blue eye shadow, Prince had a hot new CD and everyone chose sides in the battle between Transformers and GoBots--as they do still. And 220 million people worldwide ventured into nearby IMAX theaters to see Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. To make aught-four seem even more like its '80s counterpart, this IMAX stalwart is being re-released. Sure, you could buy the DVD and see the Colorado rapids, stories of ancient explorers and vistas of incredible grandeur. But it's 1984; DVDs haven't even been invented. Duh. It's at the Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark 17, 11819 Webb Chapel Road. Call 972-888-2629 for show times. --Eric Celeste
The smoldering, flinty tone that suffuses Walter Mosley's new Easy Rawlins mystery, Little Scarlet, has a rather literal inspiration: the burned-out remnants of L.A.'s Watts neighborhood immediately after the riots of 1965. Amid all the smoke and looting, an LAPD detective asks Rawlins to investigate on the sly the murder of a woman named Little Scarlet. The only suspect is a white man who had been dragged from his car by a mob and escaped into Little Scarlet's building--not exactly the kind of situation a white detective in Watts at that time could have solved. Black Images Book Bazaar will host Mosley on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at The Gallery at the South Side on Lamar, 1409 S. Lamar St. Mosley also will be at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park at 7:30 p.m. Monday. --Claiborne Smith
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TLC's Edward Walker helps out
Remember when "home design" involved posters of the Brat Pack and a lava lamp you bought at Spencer's? Well, decorating your house has become a far subtler beast. These days you have to fluff your pillows, scrunch your curtains, sponge your walls and feng your shui. Middle America's sudden sophistication and unquenchable curiosity about all things interior can be blamed on shows such as Trading Spaces and men like Edward Walker, a true aesthete who counsels design-addled participants on the popular TLC show as they redecorate their neighbors' homes. On Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Walker will offer a demonstration on how to build a plant pedestal--much nicer than any plant pedestal you could come up with on your lonesome--at the Home Depot in Rowlett, 2201 Lakeview Parkway. He'll also answer questions from the audience. For instance, "Which poster of Rob Lowe goes with that plant pedestal?" Maybe we'll just observe. Call the store at 972-463-7924. --Sarah Hepola
Something's fishy at Dick's Last Resort
In Elvis Presley's final years of touring, he took a PR nosedive, and not only because he began to resemble the "old Elvis" stamp. During a show in 1975, Presley remarked that his backup singers' breath smelled like catfish, which prompted the singers to storm off the stage. Some called his quip racist and hostile, while Presley once said that the comment was a harmless joke. Either way, we find it amusing that catfish will be on the menu for the Elvis Presley Memorial at Dick's Last Resort, 1701 N. Market St., on Monday beginning at 5 p.m. Luckily, Dick's will serve plenty of other Elvis-ready fried fare, and devout fans can participate in either the fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich-eating contest or the safer karaoke contest. Cover band Elvis and the King Pins will play, too, but if you order the catfish, we suggest sitting far from the singer. Call 214-747-0001. --Sam Machkovech