As the promise of the Morning News' "revolution" fades, it becomes more and more apparent that you can't change a corporate culture unless you (warning: bizspeak coming) hire peak performers and empower them. When the paper hired Keven Ann Willey to be its editorial page editor, it did just that. The editorials under Willey continue to be sharp and sensible. Even when we disagree with their conclusion, at least we know what the conclusion is--a marked improvement from the past 85 years or so. She has a vibrant, ideologically diverse staff that she allows to take the page in many different directions. It means that for the first time perhaps ever, you can open the editorial and op-ed pages of the DMN and be surprised.

Best Site To Catch Journalists Jerking Off--Mentally, That Is

FrontBurner

Anybody really care what D magazine's writers think about Jessica Simpson, Alexa Conomos, Fireside Pies or other key issues of the day? Well, FrontBurner--a blog service of the publication's Web site--is the place to go if you do, indeed, care that much. On the other hand, if you prefer to catch up on inside jokes and office politics, they sometimes discuss cubicle size and trade sophomoric insults. Occasionally, they actually break some worthy news item, but that just detracts from their real purpose. The site apparently exists to allow the group (Adam McGill, Tim Rogers, Wick Allison, et. al.) to critique news coverage by other publications, particularly The Dallas Morning News. D's staff regularly calls out other writers in an online version of a Wild West challenge between two gunslingers. Downsides: Many people rightly or wrongly consider D a bastion of boosterism itself. Pluses: FrontBurner is great fun, sparked by occasional cattiness and a useful tidbit or two.

Best Place to Find a City That Works (Eventually)

Frisco Square

Situated just past the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and Highway 121, Frisco Square is a 4 million-square-foot community built around the idea that the past is the future, that Norman Rockwell was right, that people want to walk to work (and to eat, and to shop), that real towns are built around plush parks and pedestrian-friendly streets. The people who came up with this idea (developer Cole McDowell and his company, Five Star Development; city planning director John Lettelleir; City Manager George Purefoy; architect David M. Schwarz; and former Frisco Mayor Kathy Seei) just might be right about all of that. Except there's not much there right now, other than townhomes, Frisco's new senior center and a few other buildings. But check back in five years. Then you can see how they did. Or didn't.

Book clubs are powerful tools. For example, any tome Oprah Winfrey features on hers instantly becomes a best seller. Same goes (to a lesser extent) for the books featured on other chat-show book clubs. Larry James and Central Dallas Ministries have the same goal, except for one important wrinkle. They don't want people who come to their Urban Engagement Book Club to buy the books. They want them to buy the ideas contained inside, thoughts about charity and its effects, politics and its soul, creativity and its importance. Every book leads to a lively debate and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, problems are about to be solved. You can see CDM is building up to something and, with the Urban Engagement Book Club, building a like-minded army to help them get there. Wish them well.

It's still early, but give Jack Matthews (the developer who brought the South Side on Lamar complex to life and owns much of the neighboring property) and the others brave enough to join him time. South Side itself is already home to the best artists-in-residence program in the area (and one of the best, period), as well as tenants such as Erykah Badu and The D.O.C. And sooner rather than later, Raphael Parry's new theater company, Project X, will have a home in the basement in the former confines of the building's boiler room. But it doesn't begin and end there. Gilley's opened a Dallas location in one of Matthews' buildings on the street, and David Card moved his Lower Greenville fixture, Poor David's Pub, to the area this summer. Plus, there's the up-and-coming, down-and-dirty dive Lee Harvey's to keep the locals well-lubricated on Pabst Blue Ribbon. Best part is, Matthews donated $1 million worth of real estate to the city so it could build the Dallas Police Department's headquarters directly across from South Side. So you don't need to worry about any Milk-Eyed Bandits going bump in the night.

As Chris Cree says, you don't have to know "antidisestablishmentarianism" to play Scrabble. Just plenty of two- to eight-letter words. Cree speaks from experience, because his knowledge of those words has made the local businessman the highest-ranked Scrabble player in Texas. He finished fourth at this year's National Scrabble Championship in New Orleans, losing a heartbreaking game in Round 30 to eventual champion Trey Wright. But it's still been a good year for Cree. A few months ago, he set an unofficial world record for most points scored on a single turn, when he played "blowzier" through two triple-word squares for 329 points, more than even many advanced players score in an entire game. Too bad it didn't happen in New Orleans.

You can get in free at any Dallas Mavericks game. Yes, you. It's simple. Here's the deal: Paint your face. Your body, too, if you feel up to it. Show up two hours before tip-off at the American Airlines Center. Find something called the "Mavs Urban Excursion." Don't worry, it shouldn't be hard to miss, since there will be more than a few people who look just like you. When prompted, scream and cheer and show just how much of a fan you are, even if you're the quiet type who'd rather just watch the game in peace. It's free, remember, so don't be shy. If you're lucky, and not too many had the same idea, the Mavs Street Team will hook you up with a ticket. And it's pretty close to the court, if you're still on the fence about the whole face-painting, whooping-it-up thing. By the time the final buzzer sounds, you'll be ready to do it all again next game.

Besides coming up with an undeniably sweet name, Art Prostitute founders Brian Gibb and Mark Searcy have come up with undeniably sweet things to go along with it. Like Art Prostitute, the most stylish art and design magazine around, geared toward building a new generation of art collectors. (It's a touch pricey at $20 but worth every cent because of the art prints--from Shepard Fairey, among others--that come with each issue.) There's also Art Prostitute, the duo's gallery that could one day be the epicenter of the North Texas arts scene the way the sainted Good/Bad Art Collective used to be, and it's already bringing in artists from all over, the kind of people you need to know about. Not to mention www.artprostitute.com, their Web site that acts as a tip sheet for everything that's worth checking out, be it music, art or whatever.

You might not have heard of Denton group Midlake, but Jason Lee has. Then again, you might not have heard of Jason Lee either, but that's a topic for another time. The actor-skater (you may remember him from such films as Chasing Amy, Mumford, Vanilla Sky and, yes, Almost Famous) swears it's one of the only bands he listens to. If you don't believe him, think of it this way: He came to town this summer on his own dime and spent a week shooting a video for their song "Balloon Maker." Before that, in May he hosted a Midlake show in London as part of an art opening sponsored by his skateboard company Stereo. So, if you were wondering, his money is, in fact, where his mouth is.

This is a tough one, because WFAA-Channel 8 still has Byron Harris and Brett Shipp, two of the consistently best investigative reporters in the market. But Channel 11's news team just seems to work harder and dig deeper day in and day out. Politicos and public relations types keep a close eye on Sarah Dodd's City Hall coverage to know what's up and what's coming. Steve Pickett provides smart, sharp coverage of the city's Byzantine public school system. Robert Riggs is a top investigative reporter. J.D. Miles is one of the city's most versatile general assignment reporters. Newcomer Jack Fink has hit homers on the police and terrorism beats. They've taken on top-flight journalists as their behind-the-scenes producers. And Tracy Rowlett, co-anchor and managing editor, always pushes his staff for that extra edge that makes them, we think, the best news show in town.

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