A living guide to music greets fans
Considering how fractured popular music has become (don't mix your BET with my FUSE), it's a wonder to find a talented writer exploring how vastly different artists can share a romantic yearning for something more. In his well-received book I'll Take You There: Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence, Nashville Scene music editor Bill Friskics-Warren explores a spiritual bond that links U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" to Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" to Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone." (Not surprisingly, INXS' "Devil Inside" did not make the cut.) Friskics-Warren tackles a disparate set list of artists in search of deliverance, including the Sex Pistols, Eminem and Johnny Cash. A former colleague of mine, Friskics-Warren is a something of an institution in Nashville, respected for his ability to write intelligently about all genres of music without ever falling into the well-worn critic's trap of sounding shrill and mean-spirited. He has also penned stories on pop music for The New York Times, the Village Voice and No Depression. Friskics-Warren's writing is equal to the music he covers, as it creates a fresh and attractive backdrop for each song it evokes. For example, in Chapter 1 of I'll Take You There, Friskics-Warren reflects on Van Morrison: "Words, however, take Van Morrison only so far in his pursuit of transcendence. 'My t-tongue gets ti-ed/Ee-ee-every-every-every time I try to speak,' he stutters on 'Cypress Avenue.' He repeats these lines, which are sprung by a flurry of notes traded by flute and violin, before adding, 'And my insides shake just like a leaf on a tree.' On those occasions when Morrison exhausts a lyric, he avails himself of a more elemental brogue, a glossolalia through which he moans, stammers and wrestles wordlessly, locked in a groove until he finds and awakens what in one staggering track he refers to as the lion inside him." Meet Friskics-Warren 7 p.m. Thursday at the SMU Barnes & Noble, 3060 Mockingbird Lane. Call 214-768-2435. On Saturday at 7 p.m., you can catch him at Barnes & Noble in Denton, 2201 S. Interstate 35 E. Call 940-383-9261. --Matt Pulle
Bill Friskics-Warren book signing
Odd Men Out
"Two men--one divorced and one estranged and neither quite sure why their marriages fell apart--move in together to save money for alimony and suddenly discover they're having the same conflicts and fights they had in their marriages." No, this isn't the premise of Dr. Phil's next show, it's Neil Simon's proposal to Paramount for The Odd Couple, America's sweethearts in syndication with the oh-so-memorable theme music. Jack Klugman as the unkempt sports writer (Oscar Madison) and Tony Randall as the anal-retentive commercial photographer (Felix Unger), captured the short attention span of the nation--but not until after the show had been canceled. Klugman's brief memoir, Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship, pays tribute to his relationship with Randall, who helped Klugman regain his voice and career after a bout with throat cancer. Though the writing lacks polish at times, Klugman stays true to his aim, recounting plenty of amusing and poignant moments while sweetening the package with a hilarious outtakes DVD that comes with the book. The TV legend gives a talk and signs copies of his memoir at Barnes & Noble, 7700 W. Northwest Highway, 7:30 p.m. Friday. Call 214-739-1124. --Emily Jacobs
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Alas, poor fruitcake, dense with oddly durable candied bits, you are shunned amongst the holiday foods. Eggnog, you also are an abomination, foamy and phlegm-like. But cheese ball, oh, cheese ball--though visually repellent, you seduce with the delicious mingled flavors of sharp cheddar and mellow nuts. To slice and spread you on a cracker is transcendent. Who's with me? Can I get some cheese ball love here? No takers? Well, then you're probably ripe for 62 Main's Not Your Mother's Cheese Ball--Holiday Entertaining Made Easy event, which they describe as "part culinary class, part holiday party." The affair promises samples of tasty appetizers and wines while you learn how to dazzle holiday guests with attractive, contemporary treats and décor. Want to know the real secret to holiday entertaining made easy? Spike the cider. For more helpful hints, visit 62 Main Restaurant, 62 Main St. in Colleyville, Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $35 and reservations are required. Call 817-605-0858. --Michelle Mathews
On-screen, On Color
The politically correct song-and-dance of "In a perfect world, there would be no color" is bandied about constantly as the U.S. struggles to perfect--or at least adjust to--modern multiculturalism. The issue of race is still our nation's best-known dirty little secret, and if we do indeed live in a colorless melting pot, it's hard to see without a pair of very rosy sunglasses. One healthy way to address the cultural differences and subsequent tension we face every day is through art, and a new documentary titled Race is the Place (premiering at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lakewood Theater) takes a multimedia approach to the topic. You'll see poets, comics and performance artists challenge and expose usually whispered--or ignored--truths (such as the obstacles of traveling as an Arab-American, etc.) with their expression ranging from funny to furious. This isn't exactly a popcorn-and-soda affair, but then again, films of very real importance rarely are. NPR Senior Correspondent Juan Williams will be part of a panel discussion after the feature at this first-come, first-served event presented by KERA and Paradigm Productions. The Lakewood Theater is located at 1825 Abrams Parkway. Call 214-821-7469. --Matt Hursh