Only the Mafia can fix contests better than the organizers of the Lilith Fair. In fact, we already know the winner of the Lilith Fair talent search to be held at Trees on Thursday: She's white, vaguely pretty in a hippie-chick way, and performs many of her songs on acoustic guitar. OK, we don't know exactly who will win the talent search. And because that description fits many of the competitors in the contest (except for Captain Audio's Regina Chellew, performing as Cia), figuring out the identity of the winner will be like finding a needle in a stack of needles. Like it matters who wins the talent show anyway, because the prize amounts to little more than free admission to the Dallas stop of the tour on July 22 at Starplex Amphitheatre. After all, when the winning performer takes the stage, most of the crowd will be in the parking lot buying "Chicks Rule!" T-shirts. Besides, opening up for a long Sarah McLachlan concert hardly seems like much of a reward to us. But, hey, good luck! The Lilith Fair talent search happens Thursday at Trees, 2709 Elm. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $6. Call (214) 748-5009.
A few decades ago, men like Michael Cremo were locked away in sanitariums, spending their days muttering about global conspiracies and alien civilizations in between shock treatment. Now, they're on the writing staff for The X-Files and revered as gods on the Internet. To the geeks lurking in conspiracy chat rooms on the Internet, they're the heroes fighting the good fight, letting everyone in on the secrets that the government doesn't want anyone to know about. The truth is out there, or something like that. Maybe it's just us, but most of the theories still seem a little, well, crazy. Cremo's version of the truth revolves around Forbidden Archaeology, which, he says, reveals that ancient astronauts visited the earth tens of millions of years ago and created, among other things, the Egyptian pyramids. He relates all of this in excruciating detail (more than 900 pages) in his books Forbidden Archaeology and The Hidden History of the Human Race (a slightly more manageable version of Forbidden). Cremo appears in Dallas on Friday to present an even more abridged version of his work at the Clarion Hotel, located at Central Expressway and Campbell Road in Richardson, in a lecture sponsored by The Eclectic Viewpoint. For all we know, Cremo could be right. But then again, we don't know much. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $20. Call (972) 422-9840.
When we were growing up, we'd watch cartoons every Saturday morning, and every Saturday morning, ABC would throw a roadblock into our weekend with a show featuring Menudo--teen superstars in Mexico, marginally talented smiley faces in America. One of those empty smiles was Ricky Martin, now riding the top of the charts with his irritating song "Livin' La Vida Loca." Every time we turn on MTV, there is Martin, shouting at us about how much he enjoys the crazy life of his girlfriend, or maybe just some chick he picked up in a bar. The song has maybe five words in it other than those in the title, and a melody a toddler could have come up with...and people can't get enough of it. Which only proves how important leather pants are to the music industry. Has the entire world forgotten how much they hated Menudo? Apparently. Martin will appear at 5 p.m. at Record Town in NorthPark Mall, Central Expressway and Park Lane, signing and autographs and acting sassy. And, obviously, livin' la vida loca. Bring earplugs if you ever want to hear again, and leave any faith in mankind at home. Call (214) 692-9844.
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At this point, it's hard to tell whether Jake Lloyd, the cute towheaded kid who plays Anakin Skywalker in Stars Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, will ever outlive his appearance as the boy who would later become Darth Vader. Will he have a career that includes such triumphs as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Blade Runner or flops like Corvette Summer and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia? It's too close to call now--there is some truth to the Mannequin Skywalker jokes--but the smart money is on the latter. It's the difference between having more money than he knows what to do with and signing his name under "May the Force be with you" for $15 at places like the Sci-Fi Trilogy Celebration in Plano for the rest of his life. Referred to as "the Imperial cruiser of Star Wars conventions," the Trilogy Celebration features hundreds of booths featuring Star Wars action figures and memorabilia. More important is that it also hosts many of the people who inspired the toys, including Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Maria de Aragon (Greedo). Obsessed fans only, as if that needed to be said. The Sci-Fi Trilogy Celebration happens Friday through Sunday at the Plano Convention Center, Spring Valley and Central Expressway. Tickets are $5 to $25, and autographs range from $5 to $15. Call (972) 578-0213.
Apparently, the new trend in approaching the work of Pablo Picasso is to humanize the artist, make him more of a man than an icon, not unlike the way Wrestling with Shadows treated Bret "The Hitman" Hart as a husband and father, not just a wrestler. The recent exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum, Gentle Rivalry: Matisse and Picasso, did this, and so does The Meadows Museum's latest, The Intimate Picasso. The exhibit focuses on Picasso's small-scale works, his prints, drawings, and sketches. Some of it amounts to little more than idle doodling, which is both interesting and scary: Who wants something they scribbled on a bar napkin in a drunken haze to show up in a gallery decades later? We have a few designs we made detailing a plot to form a new Republic of Texas that we wouldn't want anyone getting their hands on. The Intimate Picasso continues at The Meadows Museum, located at the corner of Bishop Boulevard and Binkley Avenue on the SMU campus, through August 29. Call (214) 768-2516.
A few months ago, a friend made fun of us for attending swing dance lessons at the Groovy Mule in Denton. Now, he's sheepishly asking to go with us. Something about watching Swingers for the hundredth time and wanting to go out and find some "beautiful babies." Well, Denton on a Tuesday night isn't exactly the best place to start your search for cute girls in poodle skirts, but if you're looking to learn how to swing dance, you could do much worse. The instructors aren't patronizing, and the music--occasionally provided by Rob G & The Latin Pimps--is loud enough that a dead man could find the beat. The best part is, most of the people there are still learning, so there aren't too many Freds and Gingers knocking your skill level. Swing dance lessons at The Groovy Mule, 1131 Fort Worth in Denton, start every Tuesday at 9 p.m. Call (940) 387-7781.
The image of many comedians is that they're hilarious onstage, angry and brooding offstage. Which makes sense, because not many people like to bring their work home with them, unless they deal drugs or sell Amway products. Jake Johannsen is one of those comedians, a blue-collar type who is about as high on the ladder as he's going to get. He'll never do any better than getting some couch time with Lettermen or Leno, maybe a few extra minutes to finish his set. Johannsen is funny, sure, but he doesn't really have a shtick. He just tells jokes, switching them out every few years so he has a new routine to take out on the road. Once or twice a year, he tours clubs like the Improv in Addison, maybe gearing up for a special on HBO or Showtime, more likely looking for some extra money. It may be just a job to him, but at least he's good at it. Johannsen appears at the Improv, 4980 Belt Line in Addison, May 26-30. Shows happen Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 8:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; and Saturday at 7 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. Call (972) 404-8501.