This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

Thursday, December 11

It's a Wonderful Life's famous quote, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings," should give you a pretty good example of the kind of sound effects the Ameristage Players will be using during the group's 1940s-style live radio performance of the holiday classic. We also imagine water splashing for when George Bailey jumps into the icy water to save his brother's life and a cash register ringing when George and his guardian angel Clarence go to a bar. But we bet the Lux Radio script has more suggestions for sounds to help the actors tell the story of how George, faced with financial ruin and humiliation, wishes he had never been born and how Clarence shows him the bleak world there would be if he hadn't been. The Ameristage Players perform It's a Wonderful Life at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Plaza Theatre, 521 W. State St. in Garland. Tickets are $10. Call 469-223-6409.

Friday, December 12

No matter how Grinch-y or Bah Humbug-y we feel when throwing elbows in the Christmas aisle of Container Store in order to grab the last pack of tags that match our wrapping paper, we never fall anywhere near Frank Cross on the tiny-black-heart scale of holiday spirit. After all, we've never tried to glue small antlers on live mice or fired an entire staff the week of the holidays. Put down the torches and noose, mistletoed lynch mob; this isn't a real person. Frank is the star of Scrooged, the story of a TV producer (played by Bill Murray) whose live version of A Christmas Carol fails and then, like his program's subject, is visited by three ghosts determined to reform him. But these aren't the ethereal, well-intentioned ghosts of A Christmas Carols past. Carol Kane as Christmas Present is violent and foul, making this version funny and less sappy. The 1988 film will be shown at midnight Friday and Saturday at the Inwood Theatre, 5458 W. Lovers Lane. Tickets are $7.50. Call 214-674-9106.

Saturday, December 13

If you can't make it there, maybe you can make it to Irving, where you can get a taste of the Big Apple with New York! New York!, a collection of photos from Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery presented at the Irving Arts Center in conjunction with its seasonal programming The Bright Lights of Broadway. You'll see Broadway, plus other obligatory monuments such as Central Park and Times Square, but these pictures aren't the kind fit for postcards. The featured artist is John Albok, who's known for an iconic image of Central Park on a sunny day, and the list of other artists includes Morris Engel, Neil Slavin, Paul Greenberg and Ruth Orkin, who is remembered for her photos taken in Times Square filled with soldiers and other celebrants on VE Day. The exhibit opens to the public Friday in the Focus Gallery, but the proper unveiling will be Saturday during a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. that includes a talk by PDNB's Burt Finger, who curated the exhibit and will discuss it. Admission to the exhibit and the reception are both free. Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Call 972-252-7558.

Sunday, December 14

Despite the endless march of Nutcrackers this time of year, we've never heard exactly which type of wood the Nutcracker soldier was carved from. We're casting a vote for cedar because then we can say our cedar allergy keeps us from seeing it one more stinkin' time. Or maybe we'll mysteriously develop an allergy to pine or maple, whatever the case. The exception, of course, is The Ebony Nutcracker. This particular soldier is carved from the dark wood from Africa, and when Emma--after helping the nutcracker defeat the mice army--is transported to Africa, the homeland of her family, she learns about her ancestry instead of playing around with sugarplum fairies. Etta's Dance Expression performs The Ebony Nutcracker at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Lone Star Auditorium at the University of Texas at Arlington, 701 S. Nedderman Drive. Tickets are $12 in advance or $18 at the door. Call 214-943-3934.

Monday, December 15

Fresh ink has a bad rep with us. As wet liquid on writing paper, we smear it, and our handwriting is illegible enough. When fresh ink refers to the Hallmark line of "wacky" cards, we're just annoyed. If you want an alternative to mushy, sentimental greeting cards, don't go to a chain store. But here's the exception: Fresh Ink, the five-play staged reading series produced by the Dallas Theater Center with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The series, which runs through April, continues with the second play, Water Stories From the Mojave Desert, which covers death on several levels: financial, extinction and lifestyle, told through the interactions of the oldest living former showgirl, an ornithologist and financial consultant who meet in Las Vegas. Future productions include Sonny's Last Show, a play based on a 3-year-old screenplay about Texas Democrats hiding out in the Alamo to avoid a quorum that was rejected for not being "real" enough. Here's to young blood and fresh ink in the theater. The next reading is 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Admission is free. Call 214-522-8499.

Tuesday, December 16

We wonder how many times artist Julie Bozzi has been mistaken for a stalker. She sits in her car, staring through the windshield at a patch of land many would find desirable, pulling out her paint kit and creating en plein air what's in plain sight. The landscapes she captures fall into two categories: small patches of foliage in an otherwise concrete, urban setting and "natural growth" intent to reclaim the land by creeping up and over the man-made landscape. Many pieces in her retrospective, Julie Bozzi: Landscapes 1975-2003, are from Fort Worth and Dallas. Discover some of our home's hidden secrets as only a real stalker can. The exhibit runs Tuesdays through Sundays through February 22 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Admission is $4 to $6. Call 1-866-824-5566.

Wednesday, December 17

We don't remember Jill Clark's name from the black and white newspaper print when she died in Iraq in August in the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. She's another fatality in a war really, really far away that seems from the network TV footage about as real as The Simple Life or Average Joe. But some won't forget what she did, and to that purpose is Jill's War: Waging Peace for Iraq's Children. Clark was in Iraq investigating the increasingly poor conditions for the country's women and children on behalf of the Christian Children's Fund when she died, and the production of this multimedia play benefits organizations working in the spirit of her research. ArtSpirit presents the play at 7 p.m. December 17 and December 18 at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $15, and additional donations will be accepted. Call 214-228-3571.

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Shannon Sutlief

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