The Dump Trucks: Don't dismiss the two suicide-related art exhibits at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary as just macabre, artistic shock tactics. Between the philosophies of Dr. Kevorkian and the ever-rising rate of self-destruction among young people, suicide can be used as a prism from which to examine concepts as diverse as individual liberty and the primacy of life. With the Supreme Court hearing both sides of the right-to-die issue, suicide has graduated from mortal sin to multilayered fodder for debate. A group of Dallas actors and poets who've dubbed themselves The Dump Trucks gather to perform poetry and prose from the likes of Sylvia Plath, Marsha Norman, Maxine Kumin, and Thomas Hardy entitled "When the Illusion Ends, He Must Kill Himself." Not a cheerful evening, but a thoughtful and important one. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the CineMAC Theater at McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. A $3 donation is requested. Call (214) 953-1MAC.
The Dallas Poets Community: If you'd like to hear some Dallas scribes stand up and read original work that won't echo from inside the gas oven, The Dallas Poets Community offers an informal public reading for you. The works here have no common theme tying them together, except that the poet will be reading his or her own work and--given that there's no chicken wire protection--hoping that the audience will be encouraging. The Dallas Poets Community is a workshop that strives to provide respectful but vigilant critical feedback for its members. The reading happens at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, Preston and Royal. It's free. Call (214) 373-1977.
Getting The current trend among American publishers of both fiction and non-fiction can best be summed up as "winner takes all": those unknown writers lucky enough to get a title published by one of the major houses nowadays are likely to be honored with six-figure deals and strong promotional support. This means, of course, that fewer talented new writers are getting the breaks they deserve. Anyone brave enough to venture into the field of books has to be not just eloquent, but tough, smart, and persistent. Southern Methodist University offers an eight-week course entitled "Getting Published." Lucille Enix, a published author and independent editorial consultant with 30 years of experience, guides you through. The course runs every Thursday, 7-9 p.m., through Mar 20 at Southern Methodist University. For enrollment info call (214) 768-5376.
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth: "CD/FW Dance Exchange: A Company Showcase" is an opportunity for the inmates to run the asylum. Modeled on Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth's annual choreographers' showcases, the "CD/FW Dance Exchange" features a number of original works by dancers in the troupe. Heather Hutton Coomer leads her own "Tromp," a group piece inspired by the movements of Scottish step dancing; Collette Stewart dances a solo turn to the neurotic words of playwright Christopher Durang; dancer Stacey Royce and composer Jonathan Wallis feature six dancers dramatizing the differences between Western and tribal cultures; and more. Performances happen Jan 31, 8 p.m. and Feb 1, 8 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Dr, Fort Worth. $6-$20. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Paula Poundstone: The glorious technophobic smartass named Paula Poundstone went on-line for coverage of last year's Republican National Convention, but while her head was in cyberspace, her feet were planted firmly on paper with her regular political column for Mother Jones. It's a tribute to this decidedly non-Republican woman that she refrained from outright bile-spewing and instead uncovered the quieter, quirkier contradictions that made for thoughtful analysis with an edge, otherwise known as smart comedy. At last year's show, Poundstone was curmudgeonly but conversational, incisive but agreeably confused about the general state of conservative America. Expect more of the same on January 31 at 8 p.m. and February 1 at 7 and 10 p.m. at the Arts District Theater. For ticket info call 1-800-954-6545.
SamulNori: The world-renowned, ecstatically acclaimed Korean percussionists known as SamulNori are populist entertainers in a way that America can barely recognize. The form and style of their shows are based on the 5,000 year-old tradition of namsadang, which were roving theatrical troupes who stopped at Korean villages and performed stories and music about common folk, with an eye toward letting the poor audiences cathartically get something off their chests. Namsadang has all but died out in contemporary Korea, but SamulNori keeps the faith even as they retain technologically sophisticated influences into their collection of gongs and drums. The show happens at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call (214) 528-5576.
42nd Annual Winter Boat Show: The original Dallas Boat Show, established in 1995, has grown from catering exclusively to watercraft aficionados to adopt a larger recreation scope. The yachts, speed boats, ski boats, surfers, cruisers, sliders, and water weenies are still the reason for the event, of course. But there's also a motor sports pavilion so spectator fans of watercrafts sports can dig the machines up close, as well as get a sampling of the experience through the simulators. The show, including a fish-o-rama trout tank, the Clydesdale horses performing, and a ton of other stuff, runs Jan 31-Feb 9 at Dallas Market Hall. For info call (972) 550-1052.
Arthur Hull: Arthur Hull is the countercultural king of rhythm who has managed to make some decent bucks from the likes of Motorola and Apple while keeping his percussion skills accessible to anybody and everybody who's interested in learning. The huge corporations pay the University of California at Santa Cruz instructor big bucks to help build team spirit in their ranks using his internationally known drumming circles. At the same time, Hull travels the national drumming circuit, often receiving a nominal fee or none at all, to spread the gospel of rhythm and its healing powers. He stops in Dallas to conduct playshops and a community drum circle. The playshops are scheduled throughout the day beginning at 1 p.m., and the community drum circle kicks off at 7 p.m. at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm near Exposition. The playshops are $10 apiece; the community circles are free and open to everyone. Call (214) 503-1065.
S.Mutt 1997: Musings on the Pornographic: Pornography is the $6 billion-a-year industry that, mysteriously, has no customers. It's a business surrounded by contradictory questions: Does it exploit women or allow them to make a decent, sometimes lavish, career celebrating sexuality? Is it a reflection of natural urges or a perversion of them? In the age of AIDS, does it encourage promiscuity or curtail it? The Angstrom Gallery presents an art show entitled "S.Mutt 1997: Musings on the Pornographic" that stakes a bold but not irrational position--as long as porn continues to be a favorite entertainment of millions of American consumers, we might as well try to find out what it tells us about ourselves. Artists represented in "S.Mutt 1997" include various members of Denton's Good/Bad Art Collective and sexual fetishist/peach of a guy Jason Cohen, owner of Forbidden Books. The show opens February 1, 7-11 p.m. and runs through March 16 at Angstrom Gallery, 3609 Parry Ave. (214) 823-6456.
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Tom Kubinek: Promotional information describes performer Tom Kubinek as a "certified lunatic," "master of whimsy," and "hilarious, charming, amazing, disarming, irreverent, enchant-ing." OK, already, we're in line for our tickets, but what is it that Tom Kubinek actually does? He apparently combines acting, clowning, magic, and acrobatics to create a one-man vaudevillian renaissance. Kubinek has opened for Linda Ronstadt and Smokey Robinson and regularly plays sold-out solo performances in large concert halls across the country. Performing in Dallas at the Jewish Community Center, he is highly touted as a family entertainer who won't bore the parents or the kids. He performs February 2 at 5 p.m. and February 3 at 10 a.m. in the Zale Auditorium of the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven Rd. Tickets are $7. Call (214) 739-2737.
North By Northwest: Until Tippi Hedren publishes her biography on the making of The Birds and Marnie, in which she will reportedly elaborate on some of the allegations of psychosexual persecution by Alfred Hitchcock that first surfaced in Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius, we must enjoy the master's misanthropic masterpieces free of insight into his worst inclinations. Actually, North By Northwest, being screened by the USA Film Festival as part of its First Monday Classics, is Hitch's last purely escapist romp before he careened into the artful cynicism of Psycho. People often comment on the charisma of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, but some of us think James Mason and Martin Landau make a more debonair couple. The screening happens at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous: African scholars might say it's insulting to compare the elaborate, finely detailed animal masks featured in Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous with Bugs, Daffy, Porky, and Sylvester, the personified animal heroes of American pop culture. And yet, the social, cultural, and psychological ramifications of projecting human foibles onto the animal world--a universal feature of human civilization--make these two very separate phenomena very parallel. Of course, there was a more deliberate effort to connect spiritually with the universe when African mask-wearers performed rituals than when we sat down for an hour of Looney Tunes on Saturday morning. But while touring Animals in African Art, keep your mind open. The show runs through April 27 at Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood. Tickets are $1-$5. Call (214) 922-1200.
Georges de La Tour and His World: It takes some people a while to hit their stride. In the case of the renowned French painter Georges de La Tour, more than 250 years were required for international patrons to realize that this man knew his way around a canvas. Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum presents Georges de La Tour and His World. Dead in 1652, rediscovered in the early 20th century, the painter's last major solo exhibition this century was 25 years ago in Paris. Over the years, unexpected discoveries of works and reappraisals have led to an even greater appreciation for his gentle but intense portraits, like china dolls with transfusions of rich human blood. The show runs through May 11 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd. Tickets are $6-$10. Call (817) 332-8451.