During his 25-year career with the FBI, John Douglas exhibited an uncanny ability to get inside a criminal's mind. Based on a minimum amount of evidence, he could tell you almost everything you needed to know about the perpetrator: his age, height, weight, where he lived, his profession. Douglas could even predict the most microscopic detail, such as whether the suspect had a speech impediment or a limp. Every prediction he made was based on the patterns he observed during hundreds of interviews conducted with some of the most nefarious serial killers of the three decades, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and David Berkowitz. While with the FBI, Douglas helped develop the Investigative Support Unit, a special branch of the agency that proved invaluable in helping law-enforcement departments across the country crack difficult cases. He has proved invaluable in Hollywood as well; Special Agent Jack Crawford, Scott Glenn's character in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, was modeled after him. Since retiring from active duty, Douglas has written three books, including 1996's fascinating Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Serial Crime Unit, a retelling of some of his exploits with the FBI. Trust us, he's a genius--even if he thinks like a killer. On Thursday, Douglas and noted journalist Bernard Lefkowitz will give a presentation on Behind the Violence: Perspectives on Crime. The event happens at 7:30 p.m. at the Bluebonnet Ballroom in the University of Texas at Arlington's E.H. Hereford University Center, 301 W 2nd St. in Arlington. Admission is $3-$7. Call (817) 272-2963.
The Good/Bad Art Collective's annual screenings of local and national video artworks is one of the most conventional events the group puts on, yet it's also one of the most entertaining, featuring a mixture of experimental shorts, bizarre animation, unusual documentaries, and just about anything else that can be produced by a video camera. The highlight of this year's event, Video Night 5, is a screening of California filmmaker Sam Green's 1997 documentary The Rainbow Man--John 3:16. The subject of the film is Rollen Stewart (a.k.a. The Rainbow Man), well-known for his appearance at several Super Bowls and various other sporting events in the 1970s wearing leisure suits and a rainbow Afro wig. The film follows Stewart's descent into madness as his born-again Christian beliefs gradually gave way to a messiah complex, eventually landing him in jail for, among other things, attempted murder (apparently, an extremely bad hair day is not a prosecutable offense). Sounds like the disco version of the David Koresh story. Video Night 5 happens at 9 p.m. at the Good/Bad Art Collective, 120 Exposition in Denton. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Call (940) 591-1725.
Some may remember Paul Slavens from his days fronting Denton's jazz-rock heroes Ten Hands, one of the most popular bands in the area in the late '80s. Since the demise of Ten Hands, Slavens has held down a weekly slot at Club Dada (Dr. Paul Slavens' Freak Show), as well as a spot in ousted Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese's new project, Green Romance Orchestra. Lately, he has also appeared as the musical director for the Fort Worth improvisational comedy troupe Four Day Weekend. His latest project, Paul Slavens' Texclectic Radio Hour and a Half, combines everything he has done since Ten Hands and takes it a step further. The show is ostensibly a simulated radio broadcast, with Slavens and his band creating improvised songs based on song titles suggested by the audience. You can also bet that at least a few members of Four Day Weekend will pop up from time to time. Should be entertaining. Well, at least more entertaining than listening to Ten Hands again. Texclectic Radio Hour and a Half happens on Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. at The Four Day Weekend Theater (inside Caravan of Dreams), 312 Houston St. in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10. Call (817) 226-4DAY.
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After this week, we promise not to mention the Kennedy assassination ever again, or at least for another five years. Hey, since the Dallas Mavericks aren't playing for a while and Jerry Jones' wallet is keeping the Dallas Cowboys out of court (for the time being), something has to give this city a black eye. To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the murder, The Coalition of Political Assassinations--a national organization of forensic and ballistics experts, academics, authors, investigators, and researchers--will hold its fifth annual national conference in Dallas. At this year's convention, titled Open Questions: JFK, MLK, RFK, speakers will present the latest evidence from newly released files concerning medical and historical aspects of the murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The Coalition will also host a memorial ceremony on the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza, from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Join them in a search for truth. Or something. The conference happens Friday through Sunday on the second floor of Amtrak's Union Station, 400 S. Houston. For registration and other information, call (214) 394-8246.
Not to be outdone, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will formally unveil its special oral history exhibit, JFK: Remembering the Story, this week, as well as display several recently acquired items, including the United States flag that flew over the Capitol during the mourning period for President Kennedy. If you believe in a conspiracy, this probably isn't the place for you. After all, if Lee Harvey Oswald didn't fire three shots from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository, the museum would be obsolete. If you haven't made up your mind, this is probably the best place to start. The Sixth Floor Museum, located at 411 Elm, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (214) 747-6660.
Carl Anderson has been playing Santa Claus at NorthPark Center for so long, many people probably think he really is jolly old St. Nick. Thousands of kids have sat on his lap during his nearly two-decade tenure as Santa, telling him--sometimes demanding--what they want for Christmas. Since 1983, he has kept a journal of his experiences on the job, and now he has collected them in a book, All I Want for Christmas Is... Anderson, a licensed psychologist, will discuss some of his favorite moments in the red suit and sign copies of his book at Barnes & Noble, Preston and Park in Plano, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Call (972) 612-4028.
On Wednesday, Fair Park will officially signal the beginning of the Christmas season with the flick of a switch, when the park's annual Holiday Lights display begins. It really doesn't feel like Christmas without at least one trip to Fair Park, creeping past the various light displays like a convoy of senior citizens. Since it doesn't snow that much in Texas, the Holiday Lights at Fair Park are practically the only things that do make it feel like Christmas in Dallas (except for the cutthroat parking-lot maneuvering at the Galleria). Sure, there is an entire month to witness this parade of lights, but just like Christmas shopping, we know everyone will wait until the last minute. Take our advice: Go early, while most people are sleeping off their Thanksgiving dinners. Holiday Lights are on display every day after dark at Fair Park, from November 25 through January 2. Call (214) 748-5535.