Old Souls

Dallas' Old City Park is offering a ghostly night Friday with tours of historical homes haunted by spirits. Palm and tarot readings, games, pioneer-era ghost stories and tales from Edgar Allan Poe are on the schedule for the Dark Night Halloween party.Ooo, scary stuff, right? Hah, we say, with more than a little bitter envy. Hah.

See, we once truly enjoyed a good creepy thrill until one tragic summer long ago. We were 15, and it was our first summer spent away from home, working in upper Michigan and living alone in a tiny apartment above a barn. Next door in the hayloft lived our neighbors: 35 million bats. Michigan has lots of bats. Lots. At night, we'd fall asleep to the sound of little bat voices. "Eeep, eeep," they'd say. "Eeep, eeep."

That alone would have been creepy enough, but thanks to advice from an evil older brother, we decided that summer would be a good time to read Stephen King's vampire novel Salem's Lot, possibly the scariest book ever (never said we were smart). We were about halfway finished when one of the neighbors paid a visit while we slept. Got it? Age 15. Salem's Lot. Waking alone to the gentle flap, flap, flap of bat wings. Somewhere in our brain, tiny switches flipped. The spookable circuits in our nervous system were forever fried. No story has frightened us since. Bats in the bedroom and Mr. King did that to us.

But you go ahead. Pay the $10 admission for Dark Night, which runs 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. And if you get scared, please write in to this paper and tell us what it was like. --Patrick Williams

Oh, the Horror!

Need a little pre-Halloween chill? If so, be aware that a host of Texas authors of the macabre will be on hand October 25 at Dallas' Borders (5500 Greenville Ave.) and in Lewisville at Vista Ridge Mall (2403 Stemmons Freeway) the following day for a Halloween Nightmare BookFest. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., authors will talk about all kinds of scary stuff and sign a new horror anthology titled The Black Spiral: Twisted Tales of Terror. And as if that weren't enough, local fright-masters including Charlee Jacobs, Angeline Hawkes Craig, Steven Wedel, Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, Elaine Lanmon, John Paul Allen and Sara Merlene also will be signing their books. --Carlton Stowers

Native Fun

We all know the American Indians received the raw end of the deal when this country was morphing into our present-day, sea-to-shining-sea land of democratic freedom. Their buffalo were stripped from their dirt. Their dirt blatantly stripped from their feet. But one thing is for certain. The art and dance of these people have acted as a savior in keeping the various cultures, tribes and traditions thriving. On Saturday and Sunday, more than 150 American Indian artists from all over the country will showcase visual and performing arts during the 14th Annual American Indian Art Festival and Market in the Annette Strauss Artist Square, 1800 Leonard St. in the downtown Dallas Arts District. Prices are $8 for adults and $3 for children and senior citizens. Call 214-891-9640. --Desirée Henry

Freeze Frame
Photo book project captures American life

Professional photographers, amateur clickers and camera wielders of all skill levels, take note: The America 24/7 project is coming to Plano to encourage you to take off your lens caps and start snapping photos. America 24/7 is a 320-page, large-format hardcover book that collects pictures from photographers all across the United States. It's the first in a series of 53 books that will capture the images of life in America. The other 52 books will focus on the 50 states, Washington, D.C. and New York City and are scheduled to be released simultaneously in September 2004. It's a Herculean project, but if enough shutterbugs participate, it can be a success. Featured photographer Barbara Davidson will be on hand for a discussion and to sign her contribution to America 24/7 on Monday at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 801 W. 15th St., Plano. Call 972-422-3372. --Jay Webb

Scary Tails
Fetch some treats

Nowadays dogs aren't just your family friend or companion. They're fashionable. You can buy designer bags to carry your canines in and elaborate clothing for doggies to wear as you show them off--I mean walk them in your neighborhood. And now you can even let them party like rock stars for Halloween. The Velvet Snout, which offers doggy day care in Garland, is throwing a Howl-ing Halloween party on October 25. Festivities begin at noon with free photos of doggies dressed in their best costumes. Judging begins at 3 p.m., and prizes will be awarded for categories such as most original, funniest, scariest and best owner/dog duo. Proof of vaccination, either a paper certification or a valid rabies tag, is required. All pooches will receive a trick-or-treat bag of goodies. The Velvet Snout is located at 3443 W. Campbell in Garland. Call 972-675-3647. --Jenice Johnson