In the last year or so, the city's best long-form magazine scribe has given us tales about: the Bandidos motorcycle gang; some seriously scary cholos down in Houston; a killer nurse named Vicki in Nocona; and most recently, the story of four West Texas high school football stars who clubbed two deer to death for sport. His stories are better than the wildest fiction, and that's the best part—they're all true. Somehow, month after month, Hollandsworth, who lives in Dallas, finds quirky, offbeat stories that go a long way toward explaining why Texas is such a totally wacked-out place to live. It's a treat opening up Texas Monthly when he's got something inside it.

The renovations have done the old girl so proud, we just have to toss another Best of Dallas to the Inwood, where they recently replaced the standard movie theater seats with cushy sofas, loveseats, ottomans, throw pillows and blankies. Can't afford a 60-inch plasma for your den? Ten bucks gets you the comfort of home and a really wide screen. Truth be told, your standard stadium-style movie seats actually match the Inwood's new furniture for function, if you're there to watch the movie rather than snuggle. Still, we were able to settle in so well during a recent showing of Pineapple Express that we nodded out. Wait...did we just say "out"? We meant "off." Nodded off.

OK, so maybe we made up the part about the shooting. You can't blame a financially challenged Observer staff for trying to knock down property values in the city's coolest residential neighborhood. For those of you with money, Little Forest Hills still represents one of our area's best steals—a quirky, artist-friendly utopia plopped down minutes from downtown and mere blocks from White Rock Lake. Sure, there's a McMansion or five looming over the cottages and bungalows, but there's also an organized resistance to them, complete with protest art (one neighborhood home features a mock graveyard out front with tombstones emblazoned with the addresses of houses razed in favor of red brick monstrosities). Need a fun afternoon activity? Head up to TC Shaved Ice on Garland Road and loop back down to cruise the neighborhood streets—it's almost like being in South Austin, except these houses are half the price of those.

At last, a kid-friendly place at NorthPark that isn't trying to sell them something. Bookmarks is the new children's library tucked into the largest, glitziest shopping center in North Texas. With 5,000 items for kiddos from baby to tween-age, there are books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs and laptops for public use. Free WiFi means you can check e-mail while the little 'uns are enjoying storytellers, puppets, magic shows or other special programs. Open every day but Tuesday.

Sue Ellen's

Sure, the old place had its charm: Nothing says "lesbian club" like indoor/outdoor carpet, after all, and Sue Ellen's old locale had that in spades. But the old gal just grew too big for her khakis. The last few times we went there, it was wall-to-wall ladies, and not in a good way. There was no room to play pool, no room to mingle, no room to dance. So Sue Ellen's up and moved around the corner, and she moved into the 21st century while she was at it. The new Sue Ellen's is state-of-the-art, a glass-and-neon interior with separate rooms and levels. Stairs, plenty of seating, tons of pool tables, bars everywhere you turn...the place is like the Billy Bob's of dyke bars. Oh, and the place is an epicenter for a variety of entertainment: The large concert area upstairs provides ample space for local—and sometimes national—acts to perform, but downstairs you can still shake it on the soundproofed dance floor. How cool is that?

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When Kevin Moriarty stood up to announce the 50th season lineup for Dallas Theater Center, no one knew what to expect. Then came his stunning news. His first directorial work would be the vintage rock musical The Who's Tommy, about as un-DTC as you can get. Also, he was hiring a nine-member resident company of local actors, something DTC hasn't had in more than two decades. And most shocking of all, he dared to utter the name of DTC's revered but oft unmentioned founder, Paul Baker. This wasn't just lip service to Baker, who was deposed from DTC in 1983. Moriarty had spent time with the legendary director and teacher, now 97, to help define his theater's past, present and future. In his first year on the job, Moriarty has earned goodwill by making his presence known at nearly every theater in town, seeing shows and meeting actors. Giving support to the city's theater artists has given them the respect they deserve and provided a new goal. After feeling shut out for far too long, Dallas actors, thanks to Moriarty, once again have a shot at the Dallas Theater Center spotlight.

Valley House Gallery

Head east on Spring Valley Road between Preston and Hillcrest, but not too fast. Drive quickly and you'll miss one of the most amazing outdoor art displays in Dallas. There on the right, turn into Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden, park your car and walk along a pebble path that allows you to look and linger on the lush grounds of the home of Kevin and Cheryl Vogel. Currently situated among the reeds, vines, flowers, trees and ponds on their 4.5-acre wooded estate are abstract metal sculptures as well as sculptures of people in various states of repose and play, works by Charles Umlauf, Mike Cunningham, Charles Williams, Nat Newlean, David Hayes and Frederich Sotebier. And there is no such thing as a trespasser at the Vogels' garden—not Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and not if you stay away from the Vogels' private residence, which is also on the grounds. These works of art set among the garden are available for public viewing, free of charge. Of course, if you want to take home any of these sculptures, or any works of art inside the gallery, which is also nestled onto the grounds, that will cost you.

Museum of Nature & Science

In 2006, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum merged, forming the Museum of Nature and Science, the sort of place you could get lost in for days. For the kiddos, you can't beat the new Children's Museum. Check out the Little Urban Farm, where kids can play farmer for a day—milking a cow, gathering eggs or driving a tractor. At the Fire Department section of the museum they can practice being an EMT or a firefighter while dressing up in child-sized gear. This is one merger that really made sense.

Trinity Hall is easily one of the most welcoming bars in Dallas, thanks largely to its progressive, non-smoking environment. (Guess what, naysayer, you know where else you can't smoke in pubs? That's right, Ireland.) This pub boasts a handsomely designed interior in a choice piece of Mockingbird Station real estate, not to mention its tasty menu and incredible whiskey selection. Sunday nights the bar hosts the decidedly old-school Sunday Night Pub Quiz, complete with pencils, paper and a real life, flesh-and-blood dude calling out questions. Generic, piped-in satellite trivia this isn't. And since most of the questions aren't multiple choice, it's not exactly easy either. The drinking part's a breeze though.
Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Not a first date, unless you're the type who thinks a burlesque re-enactment of a Battlestar Galactica scene is the kind of first impression you want to make. But if you're not in the mood to impress and don't mind slumming it a bit, Pocket Sandwich Theater is, if nothing else, fun. They specialize in what they call "popcorn-throwing" comedies, stuff like Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches, in which audience participation (especially the throwing of popcorn) is encouraged. The food isn't great, but drinks are cheap, and hey, where else can you see a woman strip down to a G-string and re-enact the Napoleon Dynamite dance?

Best Of Dallas®

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