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Lick an envelope. Savor the putrid flavors, the lack of texture, the sharp tongue pain followed by the clean metallic taste of blood. Now consider this: The first "envelope" was a clay wrapper used by the Babylonians in 2000 B.C. to protect important documents. Clay was folded over the original message, crimped together and baked. It was a foolproof system because the outside wrapper had to be completely destroyed to gain access to the message within. The use of manufactured envelopes for standard mail is relatively new. Before that (and well after baking letters in clay) it was standard to simply fold the letter to make it suitable for posting. Before There Were Envelopes: The Art of Letter Writing in the Eighteenth Century is a lecture/workshop that explores handwriting, epistolary styles, letter folding, the problems of delivery and the development of postal services. The workshop will offer the opportunity to use the technology available to 18th-century correspondents by supplying quills, ink, paper and sealing wax. (Clay, kilns and hammers optional.) Call 214-768-3483 to be placed on the waiting list for the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday class at the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, 6005 Bishop Blvd. --Mark Stuertz

Energy Crisis

The rich and the naïve will pee their pants: Billy Yamaguchi--a pioneer of feng shui, specifically the practice of feng shui beauty--is coming to the Benu Spa and Salon for a book signing on January 15 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Perhaps you've heard of and been very intrigued with the concepts of feng shui. It is--according to Yamaguchi's announcement--"an ancient and proven system for balance and harmony based on chi (energy) and the five elements--earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Yamaguchi applies this theory to beauty, hence the name of his new book, Feng Shui Beauty. We'll bet that using those ancient techniques to properly get your hair-vs.-chi problem under control will cost quite the pretty penny. But if you're down with the shui, hair appointments with Billy and the experienced Benu team may be reserved by calling 214-827-4200. So remember to put some money aside. Maybe you'll really like your hair afterward. Maybe January 15 will be the first day of your new life. Or maybe you're just really good at throwing away money. --Jonathan Freeman

Chef Manners

So chef Dean Fearing of The Mansion on Turtle Creek, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., is offering a children's etiquette class for 5- to 12-year-olds on Saturday. Makes sense. Kitchens and manners are indelibly linked in my mind, thanks to a mother whose favorite tool for teaching manners was a long-handled wooden spoon, perfect for a quick shot to the head. It's doubtful Fearing will be that direct, but he promises a tasty lunch. It's $50 per person, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Call 214-559-2100. --Patrick Williams

Great Escape

If you ever need to stave off a prison escape, we recommend doing it Duke-style and enlisting the help of a cripple, a drunk and a gunfighter nonpareil. That's the premise of Rio Bravo, one of John Wayne's better films. It's showing Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., during the Lone Star Film series. The movie's not without its faults, but Dean Martin is exemplary in his role as--what else?--the town drunk. Tickets are $5.50 to $7.50. Call 1-866-824-5566. --Paul Kix

Saddle Up

For 109 years, the Fort Worth Rodeo and Stock Show has been presenting and rewarding the three R's: ropin', ridin' and rearin'. It's reassuring to know that some things never change, that not everything is scripted or contrived, that there's old-fashioned entertainment more heart-pounding than a marathon of Fear Factor. When the Fort Worth Rodeo and Stock Show rides into town January 14 through February 6 as a thriving and surviving image of the past, visitors from across the globe will flock to Cowtown for 24 days of the show that includes something for every cowboy and city slicker. Weekends will be dedicated to "Best of the West," "Best of Mexico," extreme bull riding and other rodeo events. Some of the finest livestock, including horses, poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas and rabbits, will be exhibited. There will be high-stakes live auctions and more than 200 vendors displaying items from western wear to the latest in high-tech farm equipment. The FFA Children's Barnyard is geared toward the kids, allowing them to get a behind-the-scenes look at dairy farming and plant agriculture. Everyone can indulge in the same hand-dipped corn dogs, barbecue, fried Oreos and daredevil rides at the stock show's Carnival Midway that makes the State Fair famous (at the same inflated prices, too). Admission, on the other hand, is still affordable at $8 for adults, $4 for children 6 to 16 and free for children under 5, plus $4 for seniors on January 21, January 28 and February 4. Still that doesn't compare to the 25-cent entry fee for the first stock show. For a complete schedule and rodeo tickets, call 817-877-2420 or visit --Danna Berger

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