Events for the week

march 3
North Texas Irish Festival: It's been said that the unhappiest people throw the most elaborate parties. This might go a long way toward explaining the centuries-old reputation the Irish have for celebrating life with raucous music, merry dance, and prodigious drink--when they haven't been treated like a mongrel race in everyday exchanges with their European neighbors, they've been starved into submission, brutally occupied, and imprisoned without cause. The North Texas Irish Festival--the largest annual musical event in Dallas, one of the largest in the state, and the single largest gathering of Irish in the Southwest--has always maintained a policy of strict neutrality about the Catholic and Protestant conflict, mostly because that tragedy raises emotions which generally sour any celebration, if not encourage fisticuffs or worse. But given the cease-fire flag that still dangles tentatively in the Belfast wind, the sponsors are taking a stand in the name of peace--they're collecting signatures and messages of hope on a long scroll to send to the embattled Irish. On a cheerier note, the event includes a state championship of Irish dancing, a celtic dog parade and exhibition, song and dance workshops, plenty of Irish food and drink, and a dizzying array of local, regional, national, and international musicians and performers who specialize in the old traditions and the new variations. The North Texas Irish Festival happens March 3, 5-11 pm; March 4, noon-midnight; and March 5, noon-9 pm. Various activities happen in six different buildings behind the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Tickets are $10-$15. For more information call 821-4174.

World Viral Plague Predicted: As if AIDS, viral meningitis, and last year's celebrity germ streptococcus A weren't enough to keep us rushing for our thermometers, immunologists and bio-researchers have reached a quiet consensus about a strange new development--the return of deadly viral diseases once thought conquered, such as tuberculosis, that are newly resistant to antibiotic treatments. Then there's the best-selling hair-raiser The Hot Zone, which dramatized the real efforts of scientists in Virginia to contain the Ebola Zaire virus, an intrusive little bugger that, once contracted, causes you to swell up, turn blue, and vomit black stuff until you die. If you're the kind of person who gets off on microbiological panic tales, then see the latest presentation of The Eclectic Viewpoint--which hosts author and award-winning Orange Coast College professor Barbara Bullard on "World Viral Plague Predicted--And What You Can Do About It." She'll offer the latest in tantalizing horror stories and then offer some practical steps on how to keep your own immune system strong. The Eclectic Viewpoint sponsors Bullard's presentation at 8 pm in the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets are $15. Call 601-7687.

march 4
John Graves Day: Even as Russian writers examined incontrovertible destiny and French writers pondered the crushing weight of the universe and German writers culled the spiritual and moral significance of national heritage, American writers have maintained a strict love affair with the earth, its generous gifts, and sudden, cruel acts. The traditional American mythic hero is one who has the arrogance to try to tame nature. Margaret Atwood once suggested a country's writing can be summed up in its literary treatment of animals--the English turn animals into furry, four-footed versions of themselves; the Canadians attempt to adopt the viewpoint of the other creature; and the Americans either commune with or kill animals as a test of their own power. Writers Cormac McCarthy, Annie Dillard, and Jim Harrison delve into this eternal power struggle, and all of the above consider themselves fans of John Graves, the Texas-born author of Goodbye to a River and Limestone Ledge. While urban scribes like Mailer and Capote were squabbling over who blurred the lines between what genres, Graves offered a mix of fiction and nonfiction, plain-faced observation and poetic imagery, that came from his gut. As part of the Arts & Letters Live series, John Graves is honored with a day-long series of readings, talks, panel discussions, and video presentations by folks like Bill Moyers, Lawrence Wright, Beverly Lowry, Larry L. King, Sarah Bird, and Elmer Kelton. Arts & Letters Live hosts this tribute to Graves beginning at 1 pm and lasting until 10:30 pm at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. The event is free until readings begin after 6:30 pm. At that point, tickets cost $8-$10. Call 922-1219.

march 5
Ballet Dallas: There are a host of independent choreographers and a handful of companies that specialize in contemporary dance, but if you--like most of us--don't know pirouette from arabesque, then the experience of watching the new stuff can be frustrating, if not downright disheartening. It's helpful to know where these dancers have been to understand where they're going, and with that in mind, we turn to Ballet Dallas, a city company that specializes in staging traditional works by well-known choreographers. What's the seal of authenticity on their repertory? Many of the artists whose work they stage have been dead for a long, long time. Hence, you know you're witnessing la creme! The latest offering by Ballet Dallas is a program that pairs two Russian classics, the second acts from Swan Lake and Firebird, with a recent work by John Clifford, founding director of the Los Angeles Ballet, titled Caprice Viennois. March 3 & 4 at 8 pm and March 5 at 2 pm in the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm. Tickets are $5-$33. Call 373-8000.

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Jimmy Fowler