Big D Festival of the Unexpected: As is the case every year at its Big D Festival of the Unexpected, the Dallas Theater Center gives mucho push to the national performers and playwrights who appear for the company's grab-bag of cabaret, spoken word, comedy, performance art, and full-length plays. This year's festival includes the kamikaze Latino comedy trio Culture Clash, commissioned works by Octavio Solis and Chiori Miyagawa, and Broadway songstress Kathy Morath. But keep an eye out for the top-shelf Dallas actors who'll perform, including Ted Davey and Sally Nystuen Vahle performing monologues by Connie Nelson; Davey delivering a cheeky tribute to Capitol Records artists; and Raphael Parry offering his R-rated monologue on the time he spent as a horse breeder. Performances are scheduled weekend nights and weeknights and weekend afternoons at the Arts District Theater and the Kalita Humphreys Theater in Turtle Creek through January 26. For ticket information call (214) 522-TIXX.
Larry Flynt: While Courtney Love pursues an Oscar nomination by looking like a Junior League mom for a Today interview (which she cut short when the questions turned to heroin and strippers), Larry Flynt refuses to prettify himself for publicity surrounding The People vs. Larry Flynt and the release of his new book An Unseemly Man. Like Love, the tawdrier elements of his life have been too long under scrutiny to deny; unlike her, Flynt has the ruthless smarts to know how to market his dirty laundry. He appears to sign his new book at 7 p.m. at Borders Books and Music, 5500 Greenville Ave. Call (214) 739-1166.
Dallas Dance Gathering: Like the Dallas Morning News Dance Festival in autumn, the Dallas Dance Gathering is a cornucopia of diverse dance styles on one stage. Unlike the Morning News festival, the Gathering doesn't depend on artists from already established companies. Indeed, the glory of this 10-year-old dance event is that the choreographers and dancers are freelance, working outside the safety net of an ensemble. A mix of local and national performers cooks up jazz, contemporary, ballet, and ethnic dance styles. The show happens January 18-20 at 8 p.m. in the Dance Studio Theater of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, 2501 Flora. Tickets are $5-$8. Call (214) 720-7313.
The Recliners: If you haven't been wallowing in the velvet luxury of the Cocktail Nation, you might not realize that cigar-smoked, martini-cured cheese is the favorite snack of nightcrawlers everywhere in town. But the members of The Recliners, an Austin-based "post-modern power lounge act," want to take cocktail music to the next level, applying the aesthetic not just to Burt Bacharach and Tom Jones covers but to rock 'n' roll standards. And so their shows contain versions of the Beastie Boys, AC/DC, and the Ramones. They head north for shows January 17 and 18, 9:30 p.m. at The Velvet E, 1906 McKinney. Cover is $5. Call (214) 969-5568.
Once On This Island: Theatre Three continues its string of musicals with a production of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Once On This Island. The show is, more or less, a Caribbean-flavored telling of The Little Mermaid, related by peasant villagers to a child frightened of a storm, about a young island woman who saves the life of a rich boy. Not unlike The Wizard of Oz, the family and friends of the frightened girl become the characters in Once On This Island. Performances are every evening except Monday with Saturday and Sunday matinees through February 9 at Theatre Three in the Quadrangle. Tickets are $12.50-$17.50. Call (214) 871-2933.
Order and Disorder: During the last four years, Texas artist Ken Dixon has concentrated his efforts on the creation of two separate exhibitions--one covers myth vs. reality as far as the history of the horse in the Americas, and the other is being hung by Fort Worth's William Campbell Contemporary Art, Inc. Order and Disorder is a series of Dixon's puzzle-like paintings that include text about science and sociology with acrylic and engraved wood. The artist wants the viewer to get a sense of changing, even arbitrary nature of these so-called stable disciplines. The show opens with a reception 6-9 p.m. and runs through February 22 at 4935 Byers Avenue, Fort Worth. (817) 737-9566.
The Cosmic Conspiracy: As UFO expert, alleged mind-control survivor, and scientific predictor of natural disasters, author and speaker Stan Deyo is the kind of guy whose resume is enough to make most people tune him out before he's even opened his mouth. This is one of the reasons why the Eclectic Viewpoint, Dallas' forum for "extraordinary science, unusual phenomena, and diverse perspectives" has enlisted him as a speaker: His articulateness belies the strangeness of his claims. He insists that while he was an Air Force Academy cadet, he and 186 of his fellow students were submitted to mind-control experimentation designed to familiarize them with UFO propulsion systems. He has been an Australian resident for 17 years, but has been tireless in his research into the subject. Mr. Deyo speaks at 7:30 p.m. at Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets are $20. Call (972) 601-7687.
Suicide Series and Scarborough Industries: The subject of suicide isn't generally considered a wellspring for humorous observation, but two national artists open at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary with shows that score satirical points off the subject. William Scarborough presents five sleek, functional suicide machines backed up with a slick advertising campaign to sell them to status-conscious consumers. Bill Thomas offers 20 "self-portraits" that feature the artist in various macabre suicide setups. Scarborough appears to perform a multi-media piece January 18 at 8 p.m. and January 19 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets to the live show are $7. Both shows run through February 23 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Call (214) 922-1220.
Macdara Mac Uibh Aille: You should know that the pronunciation of award-winning Irish artist Macdara Mac Uibh Aille's name isn't nearly as scary as the spelling (his last three names are, phonetically, "mack-of-alley"). He comes to Dallas to perform his one-man show, The Voice of the Sea, at two different events. A musician as well as an actor and writer, Mr. Mac Uibh Aille has performed this semi-musical tale of life on a 19th century Irish island at festivals all over Europe. He performs January 17, 8 p.m at the Artcentre of Plano, 1039 East 15th St., Plano. Tickets are $8. Call (214) 424-0745. He also performs during the latter half of "A Taste of Irish Culture" January 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St. Tickets for this workshop are $12. Call (214) 821-4174.
Judy Carter: Judy Carter was already a groundbreaking female standup comic, having written what is considered the handbook on the form (entitled Standup Comedy), when she broke yet another barrier and announced she was a lesbian. More than that, she began to incorporate stuff about her personal life into her act (the way every other standup on the planet does) and discovered, to her shock and amazement, that her career didn't end. For a brief introduction to her hilarious work, check out her monologue reprinted in the new anthology A Funny Time to Be Gay. Better yet, pick up a copy of her second tome, The Homo Handbook. Carter signs books and gives one performance at 10:30 p.m. at Spankee's Club, 6750 Shadybrook Lane. Tickets are $10-$12. Call (214) 739-4760.
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Insignificance: For those who've never seen Nicolas Roeg's marvelous little 1985 comedy Insignificance (and that's a good portion of the population), you'll want to rent it after you check out Stage West's new production of the play on which it was based. Terry Johnson's original script was a good deal less...well, creepy than Roeg's vision of it, but then it wouldn't be Roeg without a touch of the macabre. Johnson explored more straightforwardly the tension of public and private in this fictionalized account of a true-life meeting between Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein. Performances happen Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. at 3055 South University Drive, Fort Worth. Tickets are $13-$16. (817) STG-WEST.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: More an opera than a musical, but not quite either, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was clearly not earmarked for nationwide re-release because it is unclassifiable. But outlets like The USA Film Festival exist to catch those critically acclaimed curiosities that pass through the nets of the other film institutions. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is Jacques Demy's tragedy about a young Catherine Deneuve, who plays a shopgirl, falling for an auto mechanic. When those doomed lower classes not only fall in love, but sing their laments to a Michel Legrand score, only the two-ply Kleenex will do. The screening happens at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes, 9450 North Central Expressway. Tickets are $5.50-$6.50. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
L Dor V Dor: From Generation to Generation: Garland resident Aliza Smith, a native New Yorker, studied art at Hunter College and Columbia University Graduate School, taught art for many years, then went back to TWU to earn a master's in both painting and sculpture. Throughout this journey, her work has been preoccupied with the moral lessons of her Jewish ethnicity. The Biblical Arts Center opens a one-woman collection of her two- and three-dimensional artwork entitled L Dor V Dor: From Generation to Generation. The show runs through March 2 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane. It's free. Call (214) 691-4661.
Michelangelo and His Influence: Drawings from the Windsor Castle: Michelangelo's art work is rarer than gold in the United States--estimates suggest the number runs to ten, including museums and private collections--so any appearance by the Italian master on these shores is an event. Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum hosts a traveling exhibit entitled Michelangelo and His Influence: Drawings from the Windsor Castle to illustrate the influence the man had on both contemporaries and those who followed him. Twenty-two drawings--sketches, really--by Michelangelo accompanies 51 drawings by other painters in Florence and Rome. The show runs through March 30 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$10. Call (817) 332-8451.