Few things swell our sense of state pride like the Texas Rangers, legendary lawmen of the wild frontier. They're immortalized around the world by the Lone Ranger, the fictional hero who, as the story goes, is ambushed along with fellow Rangers and left for dead. As the sole survivor, he goes on to deliver justice in the Wild West. It may be shocking to some, then, that our beloved Rangers would shoot unarmed men and leave them to die. But thanks to Border Bandits, a new film by Kirby Warnock, the true story of a series of bloody skirmishes between the Texas Rangers and Mexican "bandits," revolutionaries and innocents in the Rio Grande Valley is being told. In 1915, Warnock's grandfather Roland came upon two unarmed Mexican men who'd been shot in the back by the Rangers. Horrified, he buried them. Years later, he finally shared the story with his grandson.
Since its release, Warnock's frank documentary has inspired hundreds of other Mexican families to share similar tales. Sadly, the film proves that in Texas's frontier days, the ones with the badges weren't always the good guys. 7 p.m. Thursday, January 13. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, West Oaks Mall, Westheimer at Highway 6. For information, call 281-556-0204 or visit www.alamodrafthouse.com. $6 to $7.50. - Steven Devadanam
Whacks and Knickknacks
Author Sharon Fiffer delivers a funny, junky murder mystery
If you're a middle-aged woman who collects trinkets, argues with her husband and solves the occasional homicide, then you've found a fictional soul mate in Jane Wheel. In Sharon Fiffer's latest book, Buried Stuff, Wheel interrupts her own garage sale to visit Kankakee, Illinois, where her parents' neighbor has discovered bone fragments in his backyard, and quickly becomes involved in an unraveling mystery. Buried Stuff is the follow-up to Killer Stuff, Wrong Stuff and Dead Guy's Stuff (we're waiting for the solemn, jazz-rock follow-up, Busted Stuff). It's light fare, as mystery novels go: Fiffer writes suspensefully but cracks jokes liberally. Chat with Fiffer about both murder and knickknacks at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, January 15. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free. - Julia Ramey
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Bride and Prejudice
I thought I looked pretty sharp. My plan: Crash the gargantuan Bridal Extravaganza at the George R. Brown Convention Center as Single Guy. Ten thousand frenzied visitors flooded the main hall -- almost all women, save a few bored guys. Gorgeous ladies traveled in groups. I liked my odds.
There were sky-high ice sculptures and swirling chocolate fountains. I swear I heard banjos playing as I passed by the NASCAR Grand Prix limousine. I met ministers who'd marry you anywhere, anytime. I checked out the string bikinis with "Just Married" sequined on the butt. Nearby, a stunning model posed in the porta-potty of the future, adorned with sink, flushing capability and even a handy vanity kit.
The action was dizzying. Women shrieked and elbowed each other at fashion shows as models tossed bouquets into the crowd. But my attempts at eye contact fell flat. Vendors called to people like strip-club peddlers on Bourbon Street. But even they ignored me. "Is there a discount if you have multiple brides?" I asked a dressmaker, trying to elicit a response. Nothing. What was the deal?
People kept staring at my chest. At one of the booths, an attendant said, "You don't have a sticker on. You scopin' for chicks?" She was referring to the "Ready to Say I Do" and "World's Best Bridesdmaid" stickers that everyone was wearing. And there it was. No sticker, no love. Without a goofy tag on my chest, I was a nobody. I needed a new angle.
I joined some eager couples and their parents as they tested out Tempur-Pedic mattresses. All the bed talk with parents was making me shudder.
"You getttin' married?" one of the bridesmaids asked me.
"Nah," I said, stretching out on the Tempur-Pedic. "I'm a divorce attorney." - Steven Devadanam
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Here's something America's mountain ranges, beaches, flatlands and cities have in common: the horizon. That fine, subtle space between land and air is a reminder that all this disjointed terrain sits on the same globe. Traveling across the country, artist Kiriko Shirobayashi illustrated this idea when she captured a multitude of landscapes -- almost completely devoid of any human or animal presence -- for a new show, appropriately titled "Lines." You can see the lines form at Shirobayashi's exhibit at 6 p.m. (artist's talk at 6:30 p.m.) on Saturday, January 15. Show runs through February 19. De Santos Gallery, 1724-A Richmond. For information, call 713-520-1200 or visit www.desantosgallery.com. Free. - Steven Devadanam
Celebrate MLK's dream of equality today at the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Grande Parade. More than 300,000 people are expected to attend this year's event -- dubbed "A Celebration of Brotherhood" -- to watch 37 floats and 62 marching bands. After the parade, hop on the rail to the Astrodome for the annual U.S. All-American Battle of the Marching Bands, which features some of the hottest talent from around the country duking it out Drumline-style. Parade starts at 10 a.m. Monday, January 17, at Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. Battle of the Marching Bands begins at 3 p.m. at the Astrodome, 8400 Kirby. For information, call 713-953-1633 or visit www.visithoustontexas.com. Free. - Steven Devadanam