Even people who haven't been to the State Fair of Texas know what Big Tex looks like, standing tall and proud and jug-eared at the gates of the fair, greeting visitors with a booming "Howdy folks!" Some would say that he is cornier than the corn dogs that are a fair staple, his glassy-eyed grin and 10-gallon hat representing a Texas that hasn't been seen outside of a Larry McMurtry novel. On Thursday, a group of young, up-and-coming artists pay homage to the legendary jar-headed one with an exhibit at the Art Bar, the 4th Annual Tribute to Big Tex. This year, the exhibit features works by Clay Austin, Frank Campagna, Chris Doucet, Heather Gorman, Doug Camp, Becky Holland, Greg Landis, Sasso, and Cabe Booth. The tribute may be fun, but don't forget to check out the real thing as well. The 4th Annual Tribute to Big Tex opens on Thursday at the Art Bar, 2803 Main St. Call (214) 939-0077.
There are no barriers that separate us from public figures anymore. In this Jerry Springer-Inside Edition world, public figures aren't revered anymore. No, that would be bad for ratings. We want all celebrities and politicians to go down in a blaze of tabloid headlines and Hard Copy stories. When Paul McCartney's wife died after a bout with breast cancer, the former Beatle was reprimanded by the media because he intentionally misled the press as to where her funeral would be held. Even President Clinton isn't immune, as people can quote entire passages of the Starr report as if it were Scripture, and Clinton jokes have surpassed blond jokes in terms of prevalence. All of which makes for a perfect climate for Casa Manana's latest production, The Complete History of America (abridged). The play recreates the entire history of American civilization with as much political incorrectness as possible, dishing dirt on everything from Lewis and Clark to the national anthem to, yes, President Clinton. Think Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I and stop thinking. The Complete History of America (abridged) opens on October 8, and continues every Thursday and Friday through November 29. All performances happen at Casa Manana's Theatre on the Square, 109 E. 3rd St in Sundance Square, Fort Worth. Tickets are $16-$24. Call (817) 332-CASA.
The annual football game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners stopped meaning very much a while back. Used to be, the winner of the game was on the fast track to a lofty finish in the end-of-the-year rankings, maybe even on the way to a national championship. Now, the game is just another early season contest between two teams that are just trying to stay afloat. The game is now more about the partying before and after, as students from both universities make the trip to Dallas to drink their respective body weights in Shiner Bock. Club Clearview welcomes these students with open arms on Friday and Saturday with a Texas-OU Street Party, featuring old and new dance music provided by DJ Fletch's Eclectic Jukebox. If you don't like skipping over puddles of "school spirit," it would probably be a good idea to skip over this event instead. And if you actually want to watch the game, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery hosts a game-watching party on Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m. Club Clearview, 2803 Main. Call (214) 939-0077. Rock Bottom, 4050 Belt Line in Addison. Call (972) 404-7456.
It doesn't matter that Jerry Lee Lewis has become just another nostalgia act. Who cares if he hasn't put out a record worth a damn in decades, yet he still has the ego of a top-of-the-pops star? What matters is that Lewis is a legend, a larger-than-life icon who'll die with his boots on, banging on his piano. He may not be as good as he once was, but he's still better than most. In fact, he might be the only man making the golden oldies circuit worth going to see, even if it's just to say that you saw him one time in your life. Jerry Lee Lewis performs on Saturday at Billy Bob's, 2520 Rodeo Plaza in Fort Worth. Call (817) 624-7117.
We tried to be a vegetarian once, until we realized how little we actually liked vegetables. A vegetarian diet only goes so far on carrots and potatoes. In this case, it went about one month. However, that doesn't mean that people can't create some tasty dishes using only food without a face. More than a few of these people will be in attendance at the Fort Worth Vegetarian Society's 10th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. The cook-off is open to anyone interested in competing for a first prize of $250. Entrants must cook a five-gallon container of chili using neither animal nor dairy products. All competitors will receive gift certificates for free Big Macs at McDonald's just for entering. Just kidding. The cook-off will be held from noon till 5 p.m. at the Trinity Park Arts Shelter, 1500 W. 7th St. in Fort Worth. There is a $5 charge to sample all the chilis. Call (817) 924-9445 to enter.
On Monday night, Dallas Cowboys fans can ponder how things could have been different as they watch former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and his Miami Dolphins battle the Jacksonville Jaguars. Would the Cowboys have sunk so low if Johnson had never left? How many more Super Bowls would the team have won? And most important, will hair spray sales ever recover now that the rigidly coiffed Johnson calls Miami home? Routh Street Brewery offers a great place to watch the game if your living room isn't good enough, featuring a Hill Country buffet, plenty of fine beers, and one very big screen. The game begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $20. Routh Street Brewery, 3011 Routh St. Call (214) 922-8835.
There's nothing better than an afternoon of slacking off disguised as learning. That's why we're so excited about the latest exhibit at The Science Place, Videotopia. The exhibit explores humanity's first leap into interactive electronic media and one of the biggest time-wasters of all time, the video game. Videotopia places games like Pong and Centipede and Galaga into historical context, showing what kind of impact each game had. It's a greatest hits of classic arcade games, and it's worth sitting through the educational aspects of the exhibit just for a chance to top our high score on Pac-Man. Videotopia is free to visitors to the State Fair of Texas, and $3-$6 for everyone else. The exhibit runs through January 5. The Science Place is located in Fair Park. Call (214) 428-5555.
Dan Jenkins has long been one of the best sports writers in the country, whether he was writing an article for Sports Illustrated or capturing the real-life feel of the games men play in novels such as Semi-Tough or the brilliant Dead Solid Perfect. His latest book, Rude Behavior, is the sequel to Semi-Tough and Life Its Ownself, following Jenkins' hero Billy Clyde Puckett as he tries to win a brand new NFL franchise. It includes many of Jenkins' usual suspects, including Shake Tiller, Billy Clyde's partner in crime. Another winner from a man who seems to write nothing but. Jenkins will sign copies of Rude Behavior at Barnes & Noble, 7700 W. Northwest Highway, on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Call (214) 739-3643.