You don't exactly head to Ye Olde Cineplex for the eye candy, do you? Sure, the popcorn vendor kid isn't bad-looking, except for that weird lip piercing, but all in all, there's just not much to look at. Not so at the Belmont Hotel's "B-Reel at the Belmont" movie night out by the pool. The Oak Cliff hotel's got a swingin' retro style happening, and the rectangular pool is the very definition of "too cool for school." But the best part is the long-range view of downtown Dallas from your lawn chair. Sure, the movie's probably pretty interesting, since B-Reel plays only the finest in B-movie gems, but you just might find yourself following the skyline more than the plot line.
Many a single gal in Texas between the ages of 15 and 50 might find comfort for the lovelorn heart in spot-on Mexican food with the girls. And copious amounts of sangria. Of course, nursing loneliness with alcohol and delicious tacos Pacifico is fine, but how 'bout some preventive measures? Say, for instance, a trip to Caf San Miguel's ladies room (stick with us here). The super-clean lavatory is painted with giant rose petals and tiled in a beautiful red. But the real kicker is the shrine to St. Anthony (Antonio in Latin cultures) above the sink. You know, St. Anthony, often recognized as the marriage saint--patron saint of "find me a husband!" Along with a statue of the holy matchmaker (appropriately standing on his head until he delivers) are tin-framed illustrations and prayers for mates to come. Of course, our secret is now blown. Our friends just thought the caf's pomeritas (pomegranate margaritas) went right through us--they didn't know we've actually been praying over the porcelain god.
Normally, we'd log onto MySpace.com before we'd pick up our PlayStation 2 controller, but that's just because we're bored with our games. We've played them a hundred times over, and we're typically too lazy to pull out the DDR mat. But we've discovered something that tops surfing bulletins and hoping you have a "New Messages!" alert: Kewlbox.com. Blockdot, the Dallas-based "advergaming" firm, has provided us, the bored and technologically obsessed, with something to do that isn't quite so self-involved. We'd even go so far as to say the 100 or so free games (most available for online play with an option to download, and covering action/adventure, puzzle/strategy and arcade/fun) might be a healthy alternative to MySpace. Topsy Turvy keeps the eyes active, Fowl Words works the vocab and even advergames such as summer's Luck of the Straw for Sonic make brainwashing terribly fun and stress-free.
Sunday nights aren't for Desperate Housewives and a reasonable bedtime. Granted, you probably think the good music ends when Josh Venable signs off from the Adventure Club on KDGE at 9 p.m. Not so. There are pints and Brit pop to be had with Mr. Adventure himself downtown at the Stone Street walkway-accessible Thomas & Leggitt Tavern from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. There's no cover, and the crowd varies week to week. The outdoor patio might be packed with canines and their companions kicking back, or inside it may be a full-on sing-along if the timing is right and Venable busts out something along the lines of Pulp's "Common People," an old Chomsky favorite or an Elvis Costello classic. If the audience is five or 50, Venable never disappoints, so reclaim Sunday night and choose your own adventure.
Stone Street Theatre
A night out at this new downtown theater might find you in the middle of an adult clown act or an evening of Cole Porter. Comedy and cabaret rule at this small, elegant theater tucked between Campisi's and the Thomas and Leggitt Tavern on Main and Stone Streets. While Stone is more of an alley than street, you walk in as if you've discovered something no one else knows about, despite the crowded dinner patio next door. But that's just it. With a minimal advertising budget, Stone Street is struggling to find an audience. And while it wants to cater to the downtown denizens, most of the patrons come from elsewhere, according to artistic co-director John Davies. Discover this performance space now, before a small jewel in the big city is lost. And take a friend. In fact, take several.
For three months every summer, stingy but smart 20- and 30-something couples pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and head to White Rock Lake for the free concert series, Cool Thursdays. Actually, the series is not exactly free and it takes place at the Dallas Arboretum, but you can hear the bands just fine on the freeloading side of the fence right next to White Rock Lake. Typically, it's quite the scene. Perhaps there's some sort of honor-among-thieves camaraderie going on, but the moochers seem more eager to strike up a friendly conversation with complete strangers than the stuffy customers who see nothing wrong with spending the $14 ticket price on an Eagles cover band and other like-minded acts. Adding to the festive atmosphere of the free concert seats, sailboats from the nearby marina drop by to hear a song or two before floating away into the sunset.
Cruise down Lower Greenville any given Sunday and you'll hear the distinctive brrruub-brrruub-brrrrrrrruub of big bad motorcycles. And they're all headed one place: The Blue Goose. For hours, the bikes--choppers, hogs, you name it--are lined up outside the Tex-Mex restaurant as their riders carouse over tacos, enchiladas and festive libations. But these often leather-clad folk aren't the only two-wheelers looking for a little Sunday afternoon camaraderie. Around 2 or 3 p.m., another distinctive sound can be heard. It's the higher-pitched whirrr indicative of a scooter--a Vespa, a Honda Metropolitan, you name it. The mod squad begins to show up, stylishly dressed, in numbers not quite as large as their meatier opponents, for pints and the occasional Welsh rarebit at The Dubliner. Even with rarely a shout lobbed between the opposing motor squads, Sunday is all geared up (ba-dum-dum) at the Greenville cantina and the Irish pub.
Bark Park Central
All the time, we hear "White Rock Lake Dog Park this" and "White Rock Lake Dog Park that," but we never hear much about Bark Park Central. And we should. The off-leash dog park, which sits just under Central Expressway at the edge of Deep Ellum, is open 5 a.m. to midnight Tuesdays through Sundays and has lush, well-maintained grass and numerous places for humans to hang while the doggers have a ball or two. The water fountains are unusually clean and most important, the park has an exceptional amount of shaded area. Many patrons of Bark Park Central live in the nearby lofts and apartments and, in our experience, are friendly and helpful to new urban pups. Park patrons also get top scores for responsible poop scooping.
South Side On Lamar
For the thousands of harried night commuters glancing at the illuminated signage of the stately South Side on Lamar apartment building, urban living has to seem awfully tempting. Instead of living in a garden-variety gated apartment or soulless McMansion, you could hang your hat in a stylish-looking set of rooms that is almost universally described as cool. Despite its massive brick faade, the South Side manages to look friendly and engaging, cutting a distinctive figure in a city where just about every other apartment looks like it came off an old Soviet assembly line. Every city has a short list of buildings that define its character. The towering South Side stands out amid the nighttime sheen of Dallas' empty glass towers.
With a $1 million grant from the Embrey Family Foundation, human rights activist and educator Dr. Rick Halperin fulfills his longtime dream to bring more attention and more students to the study of human rights. With this four-year grant, Halperin, recently elected to his third term as chair of Amnesty International USA, will offer new classes on the topic in SMU's Dedman College, invite human rights scholars to campus and take students abroad to see up-close where historic genocides were committed (he recently guided a group to Rwanda and will return to Poland in December for an annual pilgrimage to the sites of Nazi death camps). This year's winner of SMU's top teaching award, Halperin has a reputation as a tough but fair professor whose classes change hearts and minds (not an easy task in W-loving environs). "If students want a world without torture, terrorism, genocide and other human rights violations, they must be prepared to become both better-educated and active in the struggle for social justice and human decency," Halperin says. At a school expected to erect a multimillion-dollar library for a war-starting prez, it's good to see some bucks being used to teach peace.

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