Cinemark 17 with IMAX
The other day, we were reminded of how little this title really means: We were driving past NorthPark and passed all that remains of the NorthPark I & II, which has been rendered a shell of its former glorious self. Soon enough, the building will be torn down and replaced by a department store, which is the last thing this town needs more of (Dallas is French for "mall"). Ours was a happy childhood spent waiting in line at the NorthPark I & II; it was where we saw Star Wars and Superman for the first time, spread out from wall to wall in a theater where space was the final frontier. But in the city that spawned the googaplex (the AMC Grand, with its 24 screens, was once the largest theater in the country), the NorthPark I & II was deemed a dinosaur, and all that remains are the bones. Until the Angelika and the new Landmark art-house multiplex open up at the end of the year, we're left only with decaying vestiges of grandeur (the Inwood, which we'll always treasure), the last gasps of intimacy (the AMC Highland Park, where every theater feels like your own screening room--or TV screen), low-frills gourmet movie-going (the Granada and its dine-out spawn), and the megaplexes, with their stadium seating and chicken-strip cuisine. The Cinemark 17, with its new IMAX add-on, is the best of the lot. Every seat's a winner, the "coffee shop" in front serves up a tasty movie-food alternative, the arcade makes for a great time- and dollar-waster, and, oh yeah, you can see some movies if you're up to it.

OK, we hesitated about this one. Sometimes the only listener we'll concede that Mitchell deserves during one of his more lackluster afternoons is Dan from Tyler, a regular caller to various public radio shows. Then again, finding five scintillating topics a week (and exciting speakers to discuss those topics) is no small undertaking. At least once or twice a week, Mitchell hits his stride, and he invites a well-informed guest and asks him well-informed questions. We favor the times he reads something in a mildly erudite periodical (The Nation, The National Review) and invites the author to discuss the subject.
We must admit a certain bias toward neurotically flamboyant actors--not the Sarah Bernhardts and John Barrymores of yore, who took theatrical polish and scrubbed themselves till they bled with the effort of universalizing tragedy in ridiculous booming voices. We speak of those who have taken the so-called Stanislavskian Method of psychological detail and self-exploration and turned it into a parade of confessional tics and alienated affectations. But then we watch a consummate professional who needn't gesticulate eccentrically or break the dialogue into chewable staccato chunks, someone who can create wholly different characters without the birth pains that plague more stylized performers, and we are reminded that minimalism has its rewards too. Beverly May, an Obie-winning veteran of many Broadway and off-Broadway productions and a former member of Adrian Hall's ensemble at the Dallas Theater Center, seems at once calmer and more passionate than virtually everyone else with whom she shares a stage. She would have been an easy choice for the title role of Mrs. Klein, the story of imperious Austrian psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, who fought private and professional wars with her degreed daughter and who may have driven her son to suicide. This Melanie Klein manqu disturbed, disgusted, and touched us without Beverly May once revealing the actor's agenda. That's the most sublime illusion theater can create. If you're thinking that our selection of Susan Sargeant's Wingspan Theatre is exclusively because of May's performance in Mrs. Klein and in Grace & Glorie (when she played an illiterate Appalachian woman), you are partially right--except that Sargeant is no slouch as an artist herself. The best show at the Festival of Independent Theatres, Only Me, was Wingspan's. Sargeant has a knack for picking material for all-female shows whose shelf life isn't limited by its own doctrinaire concerns, such as The Last Flapper, her smashing one-woman show about Zelda Fitzgerald. Political art can be powerful, as the poet James Merrill once observed, but once another cause comes along, the words begin to smell like they're rotting. We hope Sargeant and May continue their association in the future.

Before besting a miserable field in District 8, James Fantroy told constituents at a debate this spring at Singing Hills Recreation Center that people in his district are worried about being poisoned by water siphoned specifically to South Oak Cliff from the spill-infested Lake Tawakoni. Paranoia is always one of our favorite traits in an elected official. It's even more fun when it's spiked with racial overtones. No wonder nobody votes in this town. It's kind of a logical choice to simply bag it and go to a movie.

Dallas Museum of Art

The DMA does not win by default. Dallas' one and only combines the best aspects of art museums from across the metroplex. It has the regional art and historical objects of the Amon Carter and Kimbell. It showcases new talent and cutting-edge, contemporary works as do the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Arlington Museum of Art. Its large, continuously displayed permanent collection puts it over the top, allowing it to highlight acquisitions in special-themed exhibits and retrospectives. Plus it looks ahead with community-centered exhibits (Dallas Perspectives on Art and Religion, its home companion to Seeing God: Art and Ritual Around the World) and its Concentrations series, which has focused on young artists such as Annette Lawrence, Shirin Neshat, and Richard Patterson.

If you had bought Theatre de Marionette season tickets for the little ones this year, you could have assured them of seeing fun, professionally done, European-style puppet performances of such kiddie classics as Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin & His Lamp, Peter Pan, and The Littlest Angel. This is not Freddie the Clown or Howdy Doody stuff. Russian puppetry artist Tina Gromova, who toured Eastern Europe and Asia with the renowned Moscow Puppet Theater, is this year's headliner. Recommended for kids 3-4 years old and up. Individual tickets are still available: $8 for adults, $7 for children.

Undermain Theatre stalwart Bruce DuBose excels at roles in which self-absorption can be easily confused for intensity. Onstage, he's often as serenely soporific as one of his voiceovers for KERA Channel 13 or a truck company, and veteran theatergoers have grown so accustomed to his rich-throated narcotic stylings, they forget that the role can be played in a way not dependent on Nyquil chic. Imagine our surprise when we discovered what has been a widely known phenomenon in the Dallas theater scene for quite a while--DuBose's tendency to pitch major, lung-blasting hissy fits with little provocation. Late last year, we called DuBose at home--he'd given us the number a couple years ago--to invite him to lunch, with the expressed intent to nail down those rumors about the Undermain Theatre's uncertain future. Straight out of the gate, DuBose's voice was a self-righteous sneer ("We're not interested in addressing rumors"), but it quickly gathered into a thunderhead tantrum of adolescent bohemian outrage. Why, he wanted to know, were we calling people at home? Because messages left at the Undermain office are not returned. We, in turn, asked why calls weren't answered, and why press releases weren't sent out to help us inform the public of the Undermain's status. "I don't consider the Observer press!" (get in line on that one, Bruce) was not the corker of the short conversation. That would have to be: "Why should we conform?!" The yelling made his sentences incomprehensible, so we had to hang up on him. The Undermain's imminent displacement after 16 years of excellence is truly tragic, but to have one of its founders represent the company's legacy with such petulance is confounding.

Best Place to Attend a non-stuffy book-signing

Dick's Last Resort

Dick's Last Resort

For several years now, Dick's has been doing its part to promote local authors with book-signing parties that are really parties. No boring "readings," no scholarly lectures allowed upstairs where the highly successful gatherings are held. Just lots of friendly mingling, munchies, cash bar, the opportunity to purchase the latest by a local writer and, most important, a good time.

Recycled is more like a library than a bookstore these days. There's no high-priced coffee bar or a section to purchase book accessories such as the Itty Bitty Booklight or stainless steel bookmarks. Instead, it smells like old books. That's because every room, level, nook, cranny, and minute space is filled with tomes, novels, and volumes. Size and quantity, however, don't make Recycled great. It's the selection. This oasis on the Denton courthouse square is the main selling spot for students and professors at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University. (Denton's other bookstores concentrate on the more lucrative business of college texts.) This gives the selection more diverse and worldly flair than most used bookstores and makes it well worth the drive and an afternoon of browsing.

Best evidence that the local music scene is better than Austin's (Despite what Texas Monthly says)

The Adventures of Jet, Baboon, The Baptist Generals, Budapest One, Captain Audio, Centro-matic, Chomsky, Corn Mo, Darlington, [DARYL], Todd Deatherage, The Deathray Davies, Dixie Witch, 41 Gorgeous Blocks, every band John Freeman is in, Fury III, The Hundred Inevitables, Last Beat Records, Legendary Crystal Chandelier, Lewis, Lift to Experience, Little Grizzly, Lo-Fi Chorus, The Lucky Pierres, Lucy Loves Schroeder, Mandarin, The New Year, The Paper Chase, Pleasant Grove, Pinkston, The Polyphonic Spree, Quality Park Records, Red Animal War, The Riverboat Gamblers, The Rocket Summer, Shells, Slobberbone, Stumptone, Sub Oslo, The Toadies, Union Camp, Vibrolux, When Babies Eat Pennies, Wiring Prank, Yeti. And there's more where these came from.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of