A recent viewing of Disney's Rocket Man--starring the seemingly chinless Harland Williams--brought a few questions to mind. First, was it worth the 10 to 20 IQ points we lost in the process of watching the entire dreadful thing? And second, why hasn't Hollywood shipped Williams back to Indiana or Ohio or wherever cornball comedy like his is appreciated? Williams' shtick, what there is of it, mainly involves his accidentally breaking things. He may be a born physical comedian--Dumbo had smaller ears, and his face just kind of collapses after his nose--but looking funny isn't the same as being funny, not counting the late Chris Farley. We're not sure how Williams' routine will translate into a comedy club; there's not much to break inside the Improv save for the audience's extremities. Williams performs at the Improv, 4980 Belt Line in Addison, April 22-25. Performances happen at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Sunday; 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday; and 7 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12-$15. Call (972) 404-8501.
It may be another decade before Hollywood makes another big-budget X-rated film after 1995's Showgirls, a fiasco that was so bad, you'd have thought the producers would have taken Elizabeth Berkeley out back and put her out of her misery. Or maybe we were the ones who deserved the bullet in the head for enduring it. Berkeley, as wannabe dancer Nomi Malone, made bad dialogue even worse, making you wonder why--other than her willingness to drop her clothes whenever prompted--anyone would have hired an actress who couldn't even pull her own weight on Saved by the Bell. For now, the X rating remains the province of the adult-film industry, which doesn't even pretend to have a plot or real acting, apart from some its actresses', uh, climactic scenes. On Friday, Dr. Justin Wyatt, associate professor of media arts at the University of Arizona, will give a lecture on The Stigma of X: Adult Cinema and the Establishment of the MPAA Ratings System. The lecture is free and includes a screening of 1973's Last Tango in Paris. Fortunately, the film was shot while its star, Marlon Brando, could still move around under his own power. A fat, naked Brando? Now that's offensive. The lecture begins at 1 p.m. in the University of North Texas' Speech/Drama Building, located one block west of Welch and Chestnut streets in Denton. Call (940) 565-2537.
All you really need to know about Dr. Glenn Kimball is that he is one of the most popular guests on paranoid talk-show host Art Bell's radio program. After that, it gets a little confusing. For example, Kimball believes that Jesus was really born in 7 B.C., which would mean we are really living in the year 2006. But since B.C. means "before Christ" we're a little sketchy on the whole thing. And apparently, or at least according to Kimball, Jesus' family was very wealthy, a theory that pokes holes in that whole "son of a carpenter" thing. Uh, what? Kimball explains it all in his books Hidden Stories of the Childhood of Jesus and Hidden Politics of the Crucifixion, and he'll do it in person on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel, Interstate 75 and Campbell in Richardson, in a lecture sponsored by The Eclectic Viewpoint. Tickets are $20. Call (972) 422-9840.
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Now that the USA Film Festival has turned into a cable-television showcase (see sidebar), the International Public Television Screening Conference may be a better bet. Well, probably not, because traditionally, public television is only entertaining if you're old. But at this year's conference, primarily a meet-and-greet among public television professionals, the four films being screened are actually pretty enjoyable, especially Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows. You may scoff, but we'll tell you this: Watching Stu Hart, the decrepit octogenarian father of WCW wrestler Bret Hart, wrestling in his basement and putting some poor bastard in a submission hold that makes your arms hurt just seeing it on television is riveting, especially since Stu looks like he couldn't lift a piece of paper without a spotter. Fort Worth Star-Telegram television and film critic Ken Parish Perkins will introduce each screening and moderate a discussion after each film. The public screenings are free and happen through April 30 at Caravan of Dreams, 312 Houston, and TCU's J.M. Moudy building, 2800 S. University, both in Fort Worth. Call (817) 921-7808.
Those who remember John Bloom's days at the Dallas Times-Herald have always marveled at his writing, which showed so much more talent than he displayed with his alter ego Joe Bob Briggs. On Monday, you can see for yourself when one of Bloom's stories is read--along with works by Betty Adcock, Daniel L. Garza, and Rick DeMarinis--as part of the Arts & Letters Live program Texas Bound. Actors Rene Moreno, Laurel Hoitsma, James Black, and G.W. Bailey will do the reading. And on Wednesday, Arts & Letters Live closes out the Literary Cafe portion of its series with Hot Newcomers: Texas Writers Under 30, dedicated to creative writing students at SMU, the University of North Texas, and the University of Texas at Dallas. Texas Bound happens on Monday at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium, 1717 N. Harwood. Both shows are sold-out, but released tickets may be available 45 minutes before the show for $13-$15. Literary Cafe happens on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm, and is free. Call (214) 922-1219.
The Texas Rangers can beat the New York Yankees on Tuesday. They can beat them the next day, and the day after that too. But will they beat 'em in the post-season? Not freak ing likely. Last year, the world-champion Yanks handed the Rangers their polyester-clad asses. This year? The Rangers will be lucky to get that far. But here's hoping! Wait, who are we kidding? Texas still couldn't pitch a fit, and they couldn't hit Yankee pitching last year, before they added Roger Clemens. Well, there's always next year, unless that whole Y2K thing isn't just some sort of sporting goods store conspiracy. Support a losing cause at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday when the Rangers take on the New York Yankees at the Ballpark in Arlington, 1000 Ballpark Way in, uh, Arlington. Tickets are $5-$30. Call (817) 273-5100.
Steve Martin may be better known for his acting--well, maybe not after The Out-of-Towners--but he's a much better writer. His comic essays for The New Yorker are hysterical, and his book, Pure Drivel, is even funnier. But it's as a playwright where his talent really shines. See for yourself when The University of Texas at Arlington Theatre Arts Program presents Martin's award-winning Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which imagines Picasso and Albert Einstein meeting in their mid-20s, on the verge of changing the world. Picasso at the Lapin Agile runs April 28-May 2 at the Studio Theatre, located inside the Fine Arts Building at UTA. Performances happen at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $3-$6. Call (817) 272-2650.