South America is the neglected continent. North America has its excessive appetites; Europe, its art. Africa is the land of the troubling headlines. Asia is huge. But South America? Nobody knows South America. We certainly don't. There's the Amazon River and...those mountains--the Andes Mountains...and...and...does Colombia still have drug traffickers? Pretty sad, huh? Not only is it difficult to name Peru's capital (Lima), it's difficult to find Peru on a map (Brazil's the big one; from there go west--if you hit the Pacific Ocean, you've gone too far). And what about Central America? Is that ours or South America's? Sad, indeed. But Dallas' Latino Cultural Center is here to help. On May 15 and May 16, the center's throwing a street party, Festival Dallas. You can watch Argentineans tango. Or critique the artwork of Brazil. Or try the salsa, both the food and the dance. None of it's limited to South America, though. That's the beauty of it. The Latino Cultural Center made sure to include all things Latino. So there's not only stuff from south of the equator, but also from south of the border, down Mexico way, as Frank Sinatra was fond of saying. And what stuff: two stages of music, an art show, a children's pavilion and more food than a buffet line at the United Nations. And it's free. Just show up at 11:30 a.m. either Saturday or Sunday at the 2600 block of Live Oak. From there, enjoy. The party should last for most of both days, says Minerva Rodriguez, one of the festival's organizers. She's expecting big crowds, great music, "an old-fashioned street festival," she says. Call 214-824-7495 or visit www.festivaldallas.com. --Paul Kix
Did you know that animated cartoons were never meant for children? They were originally played before movies to attract adults to each studio's features, but once TV networks started pumping out cheap toons as children's shows for morning lineups, the kiddie reputation stuck. Thanks to the growing popularity of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, though, cartoons are getting adult respect again, and perhaps the long-running Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Animation Festival, which opens May 14 at the Angelika Film Center and Café, can take advantage of the craze and hit the mainstream. Granted, cartoon titles like "My First Boner," "Hut Sluts" and "Ninjews" might keep the fest off the public radar a while longer, but fans of Adult Swim and other oddities shouldn't miss out. Call 214-841-4700. --Sam Machkovech
Babies: so cute, so cuddly, so delicious with ketchup. Just kidding. We don't eat babies, although we often threaten to, which is why we'll keep our distance at this weekend's American Baby Faire Expo, May 15 and May 16 at Dallas Market Hall. The event, catering to young parents and parents-to-be, includes more than 100 vendors such as Babies R Us, Gerber and Graco. They'll have answers to your questions, such as "How to soothe a colicky baby?", "How long to breast-feed?" and "What sort of baby goes with tartar sauce?" It's a joke. We don't eat babies; they're just so adorable and squishy we want to eat them with a spoon. Cost is $8 for adults and $3 for grandparents and children under 3. Yum. Call 1-877-959-BABY. --Sarah Hepola
They Want You
Volunteers and fun-seekers needed
Heard it through the grapevine: Brawny guys and burly girls are still needed to volunteer as setter-uppers, hanger-uppers, helper-outers, tearer-downers and cleaner-uppers at the annual Main Street Days festival on Main Street in Grapevine from May 14 through May 16. It's not too late to sign up. In fact, put down the paper now. Call 817-410-3544 or go to www.grapevinetexasusa.com and fill out the volunteer application. Go on, we'll wait. More than 100,000 people enjoyed music, performances, arts and crafts, festival food and special events at Main Street Days last year, says Clydene Johnson, festival chairman. "We need help with setup and cleanup, but many people are needed to work the fun events such as the hand car races or jazz band competition," Johnson says. Volunteers get all-weekend access, a T-shirt and a thank-you party at 6:30 p.m. May 20. Spectators are welcome, too, of course. --Annabelle Massey Helber
A killer weekend
Making your way through the labyrinthine room, stacks and shelves impair your vision. The familiar scent of pulp and print tickles your nostrils. There are others here, a taciturn assortment seemingly connected only by general convenience. You know this place, but you're still anxious. Something is missing. There should be music. Voices cut through the silence, with an anticipatory, collective intake palpable underneath the utterances. Rounding a corner the scene becomes apparent; the voices become an official panel and the intake a gathering of folded hands and open ears. Talk is of China Bayles, Irene Adler, a cat named Louie and a theme called "Death Warmed Over." It's then that you realize...that...it's Mystery Week at Barnes & Noble, with real writers Susan Witing Albert, Carole Nelson Douglas and Cindy Daniel speaking and signing their work on Friday evening. Best-selling author Michael Connelly follows on Saturday afternoon. Both events take place at Barnes & Noble, 1612 S. University Drive in Fort Worth. Call 817-335-2791. --Matt Hursh
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