Residents of Lower Greenville may already know that there is a line of cottonwood trees coursing through their neighborhood that leads directly to a series of underground springs, which gurgle up through the earth during excessive rains. I, however, a New York transplant who lives in an apartment in the sky, did not know that. I was informed of this pastoral fact by Patricia Carr, a board member of the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association, as we drove through Lower Greenville with Kathryn Willison, the president of LGNA. I was trying to learn how the neighborhood's first participation in National Night Out would help deter crime in the Lower Greenville area, but crime is a touchy subject in Lower Greenville. A nasty spate of muggings beginning late last year had attracted reporters to the area and brought attention to the neighborhood that Willison and Carr feel was excessive. The muggings have abated, the women point out, and they say that Lower Greenville's positive elements were buried in all the crime coverage. Certainly no one wrote about those curious cottonwood trees. National Night Out has been taking place the first Tuesday in August for 20 years in neighborhoods across the nation keen on preventing crime. "It's like a big block party," Carr says, but as she ticked off the various city agencies and nonprofits that will be on hand, it became clear that it's a party with a purpose: Organizers want to foster an informal venue for neighbors to meet one another as the Dallas police, pest control and the American Heart Association, among others, educate them about their services. "We're doing this to be proactive," Willison says, "not as a reaction to crime." To boot, Lower Greenville's National Night Out boasts free chair massages, Boopsie the Clown and Sparky the Fire Dog. It takes place 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. August 3 at Tietze Park on Skillman Street between Llano and Vanderbilt avenues. See www.lgnadallas.org. --Claiborne Smith
Here Comes the Bride
The Princess Bride has been called "the Shrek of the '80s." Inconceivable! Shrek used the fairy-tale motif as a vehicle for pop-culture gags. It's clever but already dated. The Princess Bride takes an arched-brow look at the traditional fairy tale but still revels in childlike purity, not in ironic detachment. Its oddball, pitch-perfect cast--Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane--turns the storybook tale inside out but never betrays its central, simple tenet that love conquers all. (And its sub-tenets, including but not limited to the fact that heroes are always "only mostly dead.") It's the Shrek 2 of the '80s. It's midnight Friday and Saturday at the Inwood Theatre, 5458 W. Lovers Lane. Call 214-674-9106. --Eric Celeste
Dating can suck. This is the premise of Michelle Stimpson's debut novel, Boaz Brown. Stimpson's a Dallas native, but more important, a Christian, and her heroine, LaShondra Smith, is one as well. The novel follows LaShondra as she tries and fails and tries again to find that tall, black, church-going, mother-loving, Mercedes-owning man of her dreams. Well, LaShondra eventually finds this man, but he may or may not be tall, black, church-going, mother-loving and Mercedes-owning. Stimpson signs copies of Boaz Brown on Sunday during the third annual Black Book Expo at Jokae's Bookstore, 3917 W. Camp Wisdom Blvd. Stimpson will be there 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call 972-283-0558. --Paul Kix
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Learn the art of rubber
We best know rubber stamps as those things used by nightclub bouncers to separate the beer buyers from the soda drinkers. Those almost indelible marks of the barfly aren't seen as art by the person trying in vain to scrub the giant X/irreverent cartoon character/clever phrase off his hand before the big work meeting. But the Art and Rubber Stamp Festival will expose stampers and crafters to artistic demonstrations, vendor booths and new techniques in ink and rubber. After a weekend at the stamp festival, you won't just appreciate the rubber stamp as art, you'll be criticizing the bouncers' technique and making suggestions for designs with a little more oomph. The festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 31 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. August 1 at the Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 S. Main St., Grapevine. Admission is $6 to $8. Call 541-574-8000 or visit www.heirloompro.com. --Stephanie Durham
Cooking with Sur La Table's king of the bayou
The tastemakers at Sur La Table call instructor Jake Dupliantis "The King of Roux," which, as culinary honorifics go, sounds like the most dubious of fiefdoms. But when the Louisiana native and Lone Star Park executive chef teaches his Summer Entertaining From the Bayou class at the store on August 2, his students will learn the almost alchemical ins and outs of transforming flour and butter into that complex substance called roux, the alternately blond, dark or peanut butter-colored soul of étouffées, gumbos and stews. Dupliantis will focus on seasonal dishes, with "seasonal" meaning in North Texas "at this time of year," those that are prepared ahead and served at room temperature. Fifty bucks teaches you how to concoct marinated blackened scallops; carrot, raisin and pineapple salad; chicken Italian; flounder in a bag and cherries jubilee with ice cream. It starts at 6:30 p.m. 4527 Travis St. Call 214-219-4404. --Claiborne Smith