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All right, you caught us. There are only two IMAX theaters in Dallas, but each one has its advantages, its charm, its je ne sais quoi. While The Science Place generally sticks to more, uh, duh, scientific films, the Cinemark goes for the flash and hype. It's The Magic of Flight vs. Cirque du Soleil's Journey of Man, or Wolves vs. Siegfried and Roy. (If only that last match-up were real.) The Science Place has the huge, domed screen whereas Cinemark has a flat, rectangular screen like regular theaters, only with 3-D capabilities. The Science Place has that neat film of a helicopter tour of Dallas. Cinemark has traditional movie theater snacks. Both will end the year with a second run of Fantasia 2000.
We can quibble with Magic 102's haphazard sense of history in its programming choices--does '80s Madonna, however much a dance-floor mainstay she was then, really deserve so much airplay alongside Donna Summer, one of the greatest pop singers of the past 25 years and one of the canniest, a woman whose endless string of Giorgio Moroder-produced hits enjoys much-deserved new life among the station's "Jammin' Oldies"? We're also sick of hearing Rick James' "Super Freak," among the most repeated oldies offered here. But overall, this expansive menu of '60s, '70s, and '80s soul, disco, and R&B comes up a winner every couple songs. You can't hear the Rev. Al Green's majestic love sermons with such frequency anywhere else on Dallas radio, nor the sweaty efforts of James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin (less "Respect," please, and more "Rock Steady"), Sly and the Family Stone, and Martha and the Vandellas. Although the corporate radio format forbids experimentation, we think Magic 102 FM would only gain listeners if its list expanded to fill the genre's under-respected genius outsiders--Etta James, Labelle (anything besides "Lady Marmalade"), Irma Thomas, Little Milton, Parliament Funkadelic, and Ann Peebles, to name just a few.
She might look like your benevolent aunt, but Anne Carlson is a pit bull. Her quiet but determined approach to uncovering the sleaze of City Hall politics is a refreshing change from the E-histrionics of Sharon Boyd or the eco-tinged good government babble of the Green Party types. They are her allies, but she puts the best foot forward with a more professional approach. She knows the fight isn't about herself but her issues, and she sticks to them tenaciously. As a champion of electoral reform and government ethics, she seldom misses an important meeting and always has coherent material to back her positions. Combine that efficiency with her smarts and even temper (even when goaded), and you have a badass gadfly who could possibly drive real change in Dallas politics. The odds are stacked against her, but hell, we can dream, can't we?
Hmmm...This category was impossible to nail, because we had to choose between the four-screen Inwood Theatre and the two-screen Cine. Both bring the latest in independent and foreign cinema to Dallas and are much appreciated by their patrons. Aesthetically, however, Inwood is tops. You have to give props to Landmark Cinema for keeping a beautiful vintage theater like Inwood in good working shape. But Inwood suffers in the comfort factor. The legroom upstairs leaves much to be desired. The Cine has more than enough legroom, and bless them for it, but lacks the architectural heritage (and full bar). Regardless, we're willing to deal with missing legroom to see our favorite films, and there is always something good at one of the two theaters. Until Landmark builds its proposed new mega-art house on McKinney, or the Lakewood dips full-tilt into the huge pool of edgier fare that never makes it to Dallas, these will be our haunts.
This was a tough category. Exactly how, we asked ourselves, should we judge Dallas' top news anchor? We finally nailed down our criterion: Whoever doesn't put us to sleep on the couch. Gloria Campos, practically a Dallas institution, has been around for a while, but she still fronts the most smoothly professional newscast in Dallas, even if it has gone softer in recent years by switching to a fuzzy, "Family First" focus. We're not going to chirp about how much we like her hair, make-up, or voice, but we think she's an engaging pro who has a genuine bond with her audience. While her handsome henchmen John McCaa and Scott Sams are both able TelePrompter readers (the three switch during the week), watch out when McCaa and Sams anchor the news together sans Campos! The Hunter-Brinkley thing just isn't working. We're catching Zs before weatherman Troy Duncan makes it onscreen.
Get real. Unless you're 12-going-on-13, the only place that promises around-the-clock cool is a seat that faces the window unit. But for those who insist on getting out into the summer sun without baking, Arlington's newest water park is hard to beat. Think a day at the beach with a little Disneyland thrown in--or as one comedian put it, you can think of it as a ride on the enema express.
No other jazz joint touches Sambuca in terms of atmosphere (which is pretty much what a jazz club is all about) and talent (which is everything else). It's dark, moody, and subtly lit, as if a fire were flickering somewhere underneath the floor; stepping into Sambuca is like walking into an underground jazz club in Paris in the 1940s, we imagine. While the "jazz" in some places is from the school of Kenny G, the lineup at Sambuca is the closest Dallas can get to Harlem in the '50s. OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But in comparison with everywhere else, Sambuca deserves the highest praise possible.