Dallas' independent source of
local news and culture
Lone Star Park's live Thoroughbred racing season is painfully short, but you can always get a horse-racing fix or just blow many hours and many dollars at the track's simulcast racing restaurant and bar. With two giant video screens and 175 small tabletop televisions, the place looks a bit like a Las Vegas-style sports book. It's open just about all year, and you can bet on tracks across the United States, depending on which ones are open. Racing form sheets from the various tracks are for sale, so besides the smell of horse shit, it's almost as good as being at a real live track during racing season. The restaurant offers passable food, so entertainment during a late lunch is a good and legitimate excuse to go. Plus, gambling is fun. And always profitable. Trust us.
Most of the stars from the Super Bowl glory days have retired or faded, leaving but one player at Valley Ranch who plays the game at a level few attain. Offensive lineman Larry Allen, all 6-foot-3, 335 pounds of him, continues to dominate the opposition like no one else in the league. And he's living, breathing proof that it isn't just the big-name colleges that provide NFL talent. All-Pro Allen came to the Cowboys via Oroville, California's, Butte Junior College and Division II Sonoma State. Besides all that, he's got some sort of Fu Manchu facial-hair thing working this year. Which is sweet.
Once again, Mike Modano was the biggest star on the Stars, a team that woefully underachieved. He played great two-way hockey (offense and defense, for those who don't follow this great game, and woe is you) and could still dominate a game with his speed and strength. But to our minds, the man who played the best hockey--when he was on the ice--was backup goalie Marty Turco. Sure, being the backup goalie is like being the backup quarterback; everyone loves you until you become No. 1. But Turco didn't just put up great numbers (15-6-2, with a save percentage at .920 and a goals-against-average of 2.09) against bad teams, like so many backups do. He had wins against Colorado, San Jose, Chicago, Phoenix and other playoff teams. He gave the franchise hope for the future. And when Tom Hicks "suggested" that Eddie Belfour be played down the stretch so that the team could make the playoffs and make more money (oh, it must be true, you know in your heart it must be true), Turco didn't bitch. He just bided his time until the team told Belfour to puck off. The mark of a classy guy, one who should help this team for years to come.
OK, their team logos do resemble each other, but is this the sort of nonsense our court systems are supposed to waste time with? The soccer team, the Dallas Sidekicks, has long had this cute little soccer ball wearing a cowboy hat and a bandanna that looks like something the old B-Western bad guys wore to hide their faces. The arena football team, the Dallas Desperados, has a guy on the logo who also has his face covered by a bandanna. So, natch, the Sidekicks called the lawyers. Not the sort of stuff that's likely to be aired on Court TV, but a good example of the competitive nature of Dallas' pro franchises.
When we were young, we swore we would never golf. We saw the sport as Mark Twain did, "a good walk spoiled." Of course, we also thought our metabolism would keep us at 175 pounds, no matter what we ate. Age changed both of these ideas. So when we decided to take up golf this year, we were--and are--forever thankful we found the Golf Academy of Dallas, located at The Range at Tenison Park. Director of Instruction Scott Robbins and his crew (we also worked with former LPGA player Kelly Holland, who was wonderful) make even the most uncoordinated golf beginner feel comfortable. They specialize in the beginner but also have classes for intermediate level and private lessons for whomever needs his or her swing tinkered. If you ask nicely, Robbins will also teach you the lingo you'll need to appear cool on the course (for example, they're not golf clubs, they're sticks). All the info you need on The Range is online at www.rangeattenisonpark.com. Nothing for you to do now but golf it.
Nobody, but nobody, tries to "buy a game" the way golfers do. You say this Fred Flintstone-sized titanium driver is longer, straighter, truer and it's played by the guy who won on the Tour last week? I'm down. Wrap it up. You say these new $39-a-dozen balls will keep me on the short grass? I'll take two dozen. With the prices club makers want these days, it doesn't hurt to save a few bucks on this kind of habit. An even bigger plus at Wally's is having sales guys who are knowledgeable enough to help you pick the right stuff. We found them at the branch we frequent on Stemmons Freeway. This is a locally owned outfit, in business since owner Wally Arbuckle began selling clubs out of his garage in the 1960s. The trade here is pro-line clubs, meaning the kind used by good players and countless hackers who think a sweet shot is only a $400 driver away.
This popular sports bar has seven coin-operated tables and free pool before 7 p.m. It might not be for purists, but the place is usually jumping. There's a regular Saturday tournament and plenty of non-pool diversions, including Foosball, darts and shuffleboard. Bar food ranging from sandwiches to sandwiches--pastrami, roast beef, turkey and ham--complements the main course at the bar.