Houston may not be known for its film industry, but it's here all right, and we've got the Houston Stuntmen's Association to prove it. Need someone to jump through glass? Oscar Carles, the association's president, is your man. He's never been seriously hurt performing a stunt, but, says Carles, "if you go through a big pane of glass, you get little cuts and scratches."Carles, 46, has appeared in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4 and Robocop 2, as well as lesser-known titles like The Dark Dancer and The Face of the Serpent. Even before he became a stuntman more than 20 years ago, Carles dabbled in danger. "I've always liked driving fast and spinning cars around and stuff like that," he says.
Business has taken a dip since the economy tanked, but the association still gets calls. A couple of members were recently in Austin doing stunts for The Alamo, and they're expecting that film's final fight scene to generate more work. Even so, in Houston most stuntmen have to take part-time day jobs. Carles also works with Side Effects, a company that "can do rain and snow" and supplies weapons to the movie industry. But his real talents include falling down stairs, lighting himself on fire, jumping off buildings and crashing cars. For more information about the Houston Stuntmen's Association, call 713-721-6295. -- Cathy Matusow
Line One for the President
As a statement against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, DiverseWorks is hosting an evening of live telephone readings by antiwar writers and activists from Palestine, Pakistan and the United States. In "Calls for Peace," writers will give live readings over a speakerphone and respond to questions from the audience. A backdrop of projected images, sent by each performer, will accompany each reading." 'Calls for Peace' is a necessary event in these scary times," says Sebha Sarwar, DiverseWorks' literary curator. "Our Houston audience will understand the growing urgency to organize similar events to break past global divisions." 8 p.m. Saturday, April 5. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-335-3445. $5. -- Troy Schulze
Crawdads at the Cajun Fest
The mass murder of mudbugs has begun. Traders Village kicks off the crawfish carnage with its annual Bayou City Cajun Fest. Live zydeco music will provide a spicy soundtrack for shoppers strolling the festival's flea market and gorging on inexpensive gumbo, étouffée, boiled crawfish, boudin balls and other Cajun creations served by the French Quarter Market and Grill. Since a portion of the event's proceeds benefits the Houston Heritage Cajun French Music Association of Louisiana, festivalgoers can feel a sense of pride, knowing they're helping to preserve a colorful culture. Warning: Shoppers simply toss used shell parts as they mill about. Even worse, live crawdads have been known to escape. Inspect the toilets carefully. 8 a.m. to dusk, Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6. Traders Village, 7979 North Eldridge Road. $2 per car. -- Troy Schulze
Express What You've Got
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A tribal elder once said, "Express yourself, so you can respect yourself." Okay, it was Madonna -- who may take the concept a little too far -- but still, speaking your mind is important. And local poets from across the city will get the chance to do just that at this year's Houston International Poetry event. While organizers are asking applicants to submit their work ahead of time, the selection process isn't rigorous. "We're pretty open-minded," says HIP's Lisa Grable, "and we like a lot of variety." 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Kaveh Kanes Coffee, 912 Prairie. 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Inprint House's First Friday reading, 1524 Sul Ross. 6 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Café Artiste, 1601 West Main. 6 p.m. Monday, April 7, at the Red Cat Jazz Café, 924 Congress. For information or to participate, call 281-538-1687 or visit www.geocities.com/hip3poets. -- Cathy Matusow
Back in the Black
Debt counseling from a debtor
Do you think a guy who squandered $4 million in four years is the best person to offer advice on getting out of debt? By age 26, Dave Ramsey possessed a real estate portfolio worth $4 mil. By the time he'd turned 30, he'd lost it all. Where'd the money go? On an Internet message board, one fan explained Ramsey's downfall this way: He was "way overextended and playing the leverage game." Huh? Anyway, one thing's certain: The self-help circuit put him back in the black. Ramsey's book, Financial Peace, landed on the New York Times best-seller list, and his radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, is nationally syndicated. The guru's upcoming counseling seminar, Financial Peace LIVE, offers step-by-step money management instructions laced with biblical wisdom (Ramsey taught Sunday school) to help folks dodge bankruptcy. Still skeptical, we tried to contact Ramsey for some insight into his youthful decadence (whoops, declination), but he was too busy enjoying a vacation in the Bahamas. 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 5. Houston's First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway. To register, call 1-888-227-3223 or visit www.daveramsey.com. $19 to $35. One registrant will win $3,000 toward debt reduction. -- Troy Schulze