There's not much to it, really. In fact, NTXshowlist is solely what its name makes it out to be: a Web site that does nothing but display each day's concert listings, offering up gigs from touring and local acts alike. But, in today's convoluted, Flash-driven and commenter-ruined Internet age, the site, run by Gutterth Productions' Michael Briggs and Brent Frishman (who are also maybe the two biggest music fans in the entire region), the site's biggest strength is its simplicity. There are no pictures, no descriptions of the shows, and no critiques of the bands playing. Again: It's. Just. A. List. Here's how it works: Briggs and Frishman, ever-attentive watchers of the local scene, keep an eye on each venue's upcoming calendars, compile them into one place and add in the shows that their readers send their way. And that, an incredibly simple but undeniably useful tool, is all it needs to be.

Director Billy Fountain has gained the reputation of doing a lot on a stage with very little money. The Pleasant Grove native has been teaching for 20 years, but he's slowly been building an impressive résumé of shows in community theaters during the past three seasons. This year he staged a critically acclaimed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Onstage in Bedford, then re-created some of Monty Python's best bits for a small theater in Grapevine. He wet down his actors for The Tempest at The Dallas Hub and directed singing zombies for Evil Dead: The Musical. For his new Level Ground Arts company, he'll direct a series of Edgar Allan Poe stories this fall and do a play he wrote about Lee Harvey Oswald called Crushing Grain (opening November 22), then mount a stage adaptation of Plan 9 from Outer Space (December). What would he direct with an unlimited budget? "The musical Chess," he says. "I'd kill to put that onstage."

Baby Dolls Saloon

Designing a topless bar is like cooking a bowl of porridge for Goldilocks. Dim the house lights, flood it with too much black light and pump up the DJ's volume, and the environment is just too distracting, making it hard to see what you came there to see. On the other hand, boost the lighting too much, and sometimes you can see things you'd really rather not (cellulite, dudes, Dad). Burch Management Co.'s nationally celebrated club Baby Dolls gets it just right, with a huge rectangular bar overlooking a gigantic turntable stage lit by an array of lights that strike the perfect balance, letting you see what you came there for—the free lunch buffet. OK, maybe not the buffet, but certainly a feast of tanned, beautiful women. Six mini-stages scattered about the massive, well-lit room add to the variety, and a dim upstairs area is the perfect little hideaway for a private dance. Tired of looking at fit and fantastic women? Then check out the more-than-50 widescreen televisions tuned to sports. (What's wrong with you?) The whole club has a friendly vibe, like the lobby of a Vegas hotel but with none of the aggressive pushiness that makes a club-goer feel like a mark. It's the perfect strip club for tasteful shy folk who appreciate the aesthetics of a well-toned body. Yeah, that's it...

The revitalization of Oak Cliff couldn't happen without the efforts of selfless, community-minded volunteers like Jason Roberts. He's an IT consultant, a husband and a father, but his volunteer efforts alone would be enough to drive a lesser man mad. He co-founded the nonprofit Art Conspiracy, which raises money for art and music charities; in fact, his band, Happy Bullets, often plays Art Conspiracy fund-raisers. Roberts is also spearheading the effort to rehab the historic Texas Theater for community use and helped found two transportation-related neighborhood groups, Bike Friendly Oak Cliff and the Oak Cliff Transportation Authority. The OCTA is working to secure $96 million in federal funds to build new streetcar lines in Oak Cliff. BFOC, meanwhile, is planning a 10-day bike festival for October as well as a Safe Routes To School initiative. It's this kind of effort that earned him the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year award in 2008. Now if only he'd get cracking on the next Happy Bullets album.

By "new," we mean Democratic, since they came in droves—all 42 of them during the 2006 election. And just because they are Democrats and different from what we had before (read: Republicans) doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to the same judicial foibles as their predecessors—arrogance, ignorance of the law, fear of making a decision, bad taste in robes. But Judge Marty Lowy has none of these, and any judge who attended the original Woodstock—all three days—is bound to be able to keep an open mind. He is not afraid to criticize the Dallas Bar Association when he thinks they act too politically. Yet he did well in the DBA bar poll and is liked by lawyers for his fairness and competence. Judge Craig Smith runs a close second on our list, but Lowy plays a mean guitar in a lawyer boy-band and that put him ahead by a chord.


Back in August, when Clint and Whitney Barlow reopened the much-loved space that once saw Kurt Cobain get his ass kicked by a security guard, they had to deal with the pressure of living up to the hype of the club of the same name, which had closed four and a half years earlier. And because it wasn't exactly the same Trees—most notably, it's nicer, thanks to the improvements the Barlows made to the room's sound system, bar, green room, bathrooms and other amenities—the old "I remember back when Deep Ellum was cool in the late '80s!" set that had previous begged for the venue to reopen complained because the same types of bands weren't being booked. Well, we hate to break it to ya, folks, but Funland's not reuniting anytime soon. And, well, neither is Nirvana. Sure, we too have our issues with some of the bands getting added to the calendar, but let's not lose sight of the big picture here: We all wanted the place to open, but didn't think it ever would. Then the Barlows came in and did the unthinkable. Let's not forget that. Rather, let's cheer it on, lest we see it die before our eyes again.

Feeling strung out? At regular "lace-ins," the ladies of the Dallas Lace Society meet to teach and practice the old-fashioned, very relaxing arts of bobbin lace and tatting—methods of creating intricately woven patterns using only fingers, simple tools and threads and yarns. Workshops focusing on various projects and advanced techniques are held throughout the year. Guests are welcome. Membership is $15 per year.


Sure, the great food and wine selection keeps the clientele at Bolsa satisfied despite the long waits and occasionally lazy service. It's the décor that really sells it, however—anyone who knew it in its former incarnation as Settles Auto Garage would be amazed with the clean, airy feel of Bolsa's interior now. The patio is even better, sharing an indoor/outdoor bar with the building and using the auto garage's reclaimed cement to approximate a limestone floor. The modern wooden slats overhead let in just the right amount of light, while the xeriscaped exterior contributes to the funky Oak Cliff feel that keeps the joint busy with a hip, diverse clientele night after night. Now that the stifling heat of summer is finally behind us, it's the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.

Dallas World Aquarium

It started off as an old warehouse used for numerous businesses like Mohawk Rubber Co. and Tejano Rodeo. Now you know it as the Dallas World Aquarium, home to various underwater species. For only $18 (plus some tax) you get to feel like you are standing in the middle of a rain forest or getting the secret skinny about what really happens under the ocean's surface. Throughout the day they have feeding and performance times scheduled for almost everything from penguins to Orinoco crocodiles. Dallas World Aquarium also has a gift shop, bookstore and a few restaurants, if you feel like you need to take a break from the oceanic adventure. The best thing about this aquarium is that they're closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. So you can pick up and go whenever, except at night, because the animals need their rest too.

The Mercury

It's happened at least once. We have a personal account from a trusted source and read that saucy little blurb from The Dallas Morning News' Alan Peppard: In April, Preston Hollow residents George W. and Lady Laura arrived fully backed by black SUVs and Secret Service to dine at the Mercury Grill. Before they even received the menu, the former first couple was met with a standing ovation from fellow diners. Should we be surprised? Probably not given the old money and silver hair that is known to populate the bar and dining floor of the Mercury, but then maybe we have it all wrong. Perhaps the applause was meant as a "Glad you're back here, and not in the White House! Woo hoo!"

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