Getting weary of romances, serial-killer whodunits and Stephen You Know Who's things-that-go-bump-in-the-night novels? For a real jump start to your summer reading, the Literary Café is set to introduce you to a host of talented new writers. Created 11 years ago as part of Arts & Letters Live, the popular literary series at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Café will wrap up its season with its Hot Newcomers program at 7:30 p.m. May 7 at Club Dada. Stop in for a free evening at 2720 Elm St. in Deep Ellum, and you'll be treated to readings by the likes of Craig Clevenger, whose The Contortionist's Handbook has been labeled "riveting" by Kirkus Reviews; Pushcart Prize-nominated Sophia Dembling, author of The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas; Iran-born Franoosh Moshiri (The Bathhouse); best seller Camika Spencer (When All Hell Breaks Loose); and Dao Strom (Grass Roof, Tin Roof), who Texas Monthly has called "an intriguing new voice." Following the readings, the authors will sign copies of their books. Call 214-922-1220. --Carlton Stowers
Brown Baggin' It
Downtown work drones in need of fresh air and an alternative to the underground mini-mall food options should pack their lunches and check out the free Out to Lunch series. Live music at a different outdoor plaza each Friday in May and June provides an escape from all the glowing computer screens and sterile cubicles among Dallas' skyscrapers. The series kicks off with the big-band Latin sounds of Vicho Vicencio at the SBC Plaza. Other acts in the eclectic series include the Celtic sounds of The Killdares (May 16), the jazz stylings of Sandra Kaye (May 23) and the fun polka grooves of Brave Combo (June 13). The live music takes a break in the hot months of July and August, but returns in September and October for more workday distraction courtesy of the Downtown Improvement District. Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at SBC Plaza, Commerce and Akard. Call 214-744-4819. --Jay Webb
Just Play Along
Following are possible uses for that $25 burning a hole in your pocket: Pay Blockbuster late fee. Invest in Nintendo Co., Ltd. Mail it to 2130 Commerce St., Dallas, TX 75201. Or buy a pass to six days of theatrical entertainment at the Flower Mound Performing Arts Theatre's New Plays Festival. The festival presents full-length and one-act plays by Rover Dramawerks, Audacity Productions and others. Would you really want to miss a play called I Left the Dead Man in the Bathtub in England? The festival runs Fridays and Saturdays through May 11 at Barn Door Theatre, 1800 Gerault Road. Individual tickets are $12 or $25 for a pass. Call 972-724-2147. --Michelle Martinez
Just Spank It
Comedian spreads his theory of mankind
his is not a misprint from the back of our fine publication. Though the entertainer in question calls himself Spanky, he doesn't seem to offer any backrubs or "actual photos." What he does offer is stand-up comedy, and his act has won many an award, including "Funniest Man in Texas" and "2002 Campus Performer of the Year." If you want to believe the accolades, though, make sure not to visit Spanky's Web site. The "humor" posted there includes such gems as, "I believe there are only two types of men: men that want to have sex all the time, and men that are dead," and, "Males are creatures that can be aroused by reading about the hole in the ozone layer." I looked for the "Captain Obvious" award in his press notes, but surprisingly, I had no luck. Still, the Observer has previously called him "a smash," so if you get a kick out of inconsistent reviews, head to Denton's Hole in the Head Comedy Club on May 2 and May 3. Call 940-566-1419. --Sam Machkovech
Fleck, pickin' and borin'
Doesn't matter what I say, because Bela Fleck and the Flecktones attract acolytes and admirers and NPR and dopers the way Phish, Dave Matthews and, oh, Jimmy Buffett do: by making slick sound "authentic," by turning songs into "jams" that never seem to end (it's all one long encore, dude), by venturing into the outer (or is that outre? genres such as "classical" and "bluegrass" and "world music") when that "fusion" thing gets old, and it always does. Or maybe some of us can't get past the banjo thing; Steve Martin broke us of that habit years back, and he could friggin' play. So can Fleck, if only he'd stop making albums to remind you of it. 8 p.m. Friday at Bass Hall, 330 E. Fourth St. Call 817-212-4280. --Robert Wilonsky
Rock the Mike
From How High, to Next Friday, to the cunningly titled Friday After Next, actor Mike Epps has carved out a niche in "the biz" as a sidekick to (usually) rappers, but a slash is also necessary on his résumé. Epps first cut his teeth as a comedian on Def Comedy Jam, so he won't be alarmed if you stomp your feet dramatically amid fits of laughter and applause at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth this Saturday. The show's called Monkey, which is a dazzling creative leap from the previous moniker: The Mike Epps Comedy Tour. Can't argue with the eponymous show's accuracy, at least. There's no indication as to whether "blue" is more than just a color to Mike, but one thing's certain: Epps is no Chris Tucker. We'll leave it up to you to decide if that's a bad thing. The Bass Performance Hall is located at 330 E. Fourth St. Call 817-212-4280. --Matt Hursh
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