Usually when the end of the year rolls around and we try to sum up its most significant moments, our minds usually go toward the negative. Can you blame us? For starters, we're writers, so it's our job and nature to be cynical and cautionary because we've made huge mistakes like becoming writers. It's also one of those times in history when it feels like every day is a never-ending cycle of bad news from worlds like politics, global unrest, sports and the Cats movie.
This year, we're not going to do that, though we're not going to sugarcoat the past either. We went through the archives and found that while there was far too much bad news to recap, there were also 10 moments that everyone can look at and smile. This makes us realize that maybe 2019 wasn't so bad after all, but if these great moments from 2019 don't seem happy, then you need a geologist, not cardiologist, to check out that heart of stone.
1. A Giant, Inflatable Poop Appears in Klyde Warren Park
News about a giant pile of excrement may not sound like something that would merit a smile but this one erected in Klyde Warren Park is the exception. The people at Poo-pourri came up with an ad campaign for their bathroom air fresheners on Mental Health Awareness Day called "#LetYourShitGo." The giant, inflatable dookie housed a multimedia experience to help visitors let go of whatever was plaguing their minds and attracted a long line of interested people. After this year, can you blame them?
2. John Cleese Reunites with the Dallas Man Who Brought Monty Python to America
Every year, the Dallas VideoFest brings a beloved TV and film icon to Dallas to honor their work in the medium with its annual Ernie Kovacs Award, named for the famed and innovative TV comedian. This year's award was extra special because the celebrity in question only got famous in America because of Dallas' influence. Monty Python's John Cleese was this year's recipient, and VideoFest reunited him with former KERA program manager Ron Devillier, the television executive who first aired and introduced Monty Python's Flying Circus to America. The two were all smiles and laughs as they reminisced about the troupe's breakout success among America's comedy nerds that helped Cleese and his crew make more hilarious films, records and TV specials that never would have become comedy standards if Devillier didn't have the guts to air the show in Dallas.
3. The Exotic Dancer Who Performed in a Dinosaur Suit
Whoever invented the inflatable T-Rex costume needs to be honored with some kind of award like the Nobel Prize for Whimsy. There isn't a single situation that a blow-up costume can't make happier. You could have a guy in a bouncy dinosaur costume running across a field of landmines and it would be the happiest shouts of caution you'd ever hear. So when an unidentified exotic dancer decided to take a twirl around the pole for her set at Bucks Cabaret, club owner Carlos Sosa filmed it and shared it with the internet, where it obviously went viral because even though it's a little NSFW, it's just such a happy, beautiful thing to witness no matter your sexual preference. It's also the nicest story ever involving the words "exotic dancer" and "viral."
4. Selena Gomez Surprises Students at Her Old Middle School
This may or may not still be a thing, but every year when I was growing up, it seemed like the most popular students who graduated from my school the previous year would show up unannounced for some reason to say hi to their old teachers, right in the middle of class. The teachers may be nice about it, but they've still got to stop whatever they're doing to visit with them, and if you're a student in that class, you have to sit there and be jealous of their freedom after they escaped the chains of centralized education and their ability to squander their time by visiting the prisons that held them. The only time this is acceptable is if you're Selena Gomez. The Grand Prairie native and pop legend made a surprise visit for the students at her alma mater Danny Jones Middle School in Mansfield. It wasn't a pre-planned media event or part of some promotional shill. She came across her old school during a Starbucks run and decided to give some of her time to the students and staff. She's so beloved and admired — especially in Dallas — that it's worth interrupting anyone's formative education to have her visit with them.
5. Singer Maelyn Jarmon Wins The Voice
When a native becomes a reality star, it's usually either because they act like a huge prick or a giant asshole. There are variations of the two, depending on what gets thrown, who gets injured and how petty they can be. Maelyn Jarmon of Frisco finally broke that depressing mold with her decisive victory on the most recent season of NBC's reality singing competition The Voice — which also gave singer John Legend his first win during his first season as a judge. That's two nice people celebrating a beautiful moment in front of the whole nation. The only way it could be nicer is if Tom Hanks showed up at the finale dressed as Mister Rogers in (wait for it) an inflatable dinosaur costume.
6. Joe Bob Briggs Gets Another Season on Shudder
Speaking of local comebacks, the resurrection of drive-in movie critic and Grapevine's favorite son Joe Bob Briggs has been a glorious sight to behold. The breakout season of his movie showcase show The Last Drive-In literally broke the servers for the streaming horror channel Shudder because so many people were tuning in simultaneously. News of a second season wouldn't be a big surprise, including a Halloween and Christmas special. Even though we saw it coming, it was still nice to hear that Briggs would be back on TV sucking down cheap beer and counting the decapitation tolls of our favorite grindhouse classics in front of his iconic home on wheels.
7. The Dallas Zoo's Baby Gorilla Saambili Turns 1
News stories about the birth of a baby animal at a local zoo may be a cliché for TV news. But only the most heartless and cynical bastard in the world could call the adorable face of Saambili, the first baby gorilla born at the Dallas Zoo in more than 20 years, a sign of journalistic doom. The Dallas Zoo found a way to make such a cute, critically endangered creature even cuter when they threw a birthday party for Saambili when she turned 1 — complete with her own birthday cake. It was so cute that the squinched-up face I made almost made my skull cave in on itself.
8. The Real Tenacious D Join Tenacious NR/CD Onstage at Three Links
This year was already shaping up to be a good one for the members of Tenacious NR/CD, the local Tenacious D tribute band fronted by Casey Dennington and Nick Russo, with Russo's win at the Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Drummer with his other band Duell, and the duo's growing popularity. Then an awesome force moved into town and created a musical power surge from which Dallas' music community has yet to recover: Jack Black and Kyle Gass, better known as the real Tenacious Fuckin' D, took time out of their schedule before their gig at the Bomb Factory to join Dennington and Russo onstage at a pre-Tenacious D show at Three Links, and the combined wattage of hotness created an almighty surge of rock lightning. Black and Gass emerged onstage to the surprise of Dennington, Russo and pretty much everyone in the room except owner Scott Beggs, who brought the D to his Deep Ellum joint. The duo appeared right in the middle of a song, and Dennington and Russo stopped it so they could sing "39" with Black and Gass, a song from Rize of the Fenix that Russo set aside in case they made it. Black even recorded part of their Three Links session in his weekly Jablinski Games vlog on YouTube.
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9. We Met Jeff Goldblum
The nicest, quirkiest man and he who brightens every room he enters, made several appearances in Dallas over the last year and some months, including last year's appearance at the Fan Expo Dallas and the surprise appearance he made at the DreamHack esports tournament last summer to shoot scenes for his Disney+ series The World According to Jeff Goldblum. Then he went above and beyond for his regional, national and global fan base by performing with his jazz band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Winspear Opera House, where he gave way more personal time to his fans than any celebrity we've ever seen. And if that wasn't nice enough, he sat down WITH ME for an extended, one-on-one interview. I know we're supposed to be objective and separative from the situations we cover, but I get to say the phrase "I talked with Jeff Goldblum" and this time, I have proof to confirm to my date.
10. Everything Erykah Badu Did in 2019
Every year, Dallas' most beloved musical icon and figure goes above and beyond for her hometown and not just by staging concerts or shows. She celebrates, uplifts and shows off her hometown to the world and tries to make it better for all of us. This past year alone, she made a surprise appearance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she was once a student and she brought Common as her own special guest, and they both held a lengthy, insightful and in-depth Q&A session with the kids. She performed soulful gorgeous sounds with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in one of the year's best concerts in any category. Then, she capped the year with a humbling, memorable appearance during her Lifetime Achievement award acceptance speech at this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards.