Best Staycation 2009 | Dallas International Film Festival, née AFI Dallas | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Don't book a hotel or buy airfare. Why waste money? Come spring, Dallas becomes another place entirely. For more than a week, you can escape, in your own city, into chilly theaters with tickets and badges as your boarding passes to a fantasy land, a nightmare, a place for romance, a realistic place in someone else's life—you call the shots. Thanks to Leiner Temerlin (founder, chairman emeritus) and Michael Cain (CEO, artistic director), for three years we Dallas film fanatics got to know the AFI Dallas International Film Festival and the joy of navigating a massive film schedule (attempting from one to seven screenings in a day), meeting high-profile celebrities (and likewise geeking out on character actors) and asking filmmakers direct questions about their creative process. It's been exhausting and exhilarating. Henceforth, Dallas will celebrate film with the Dallas International Film Festival as AFI Dallas is no longer, but this is exciting. As Cain told the Dallas Observer after the news broke in June, "This allows us to reinvest in Dallas...Each year we brought fewer and fewer people from out of state to work the festival, and we programmed 95 percent of the festival on our own. AFI gave us an amazing base of knowledge to lift ourselves up, [but] we're confident we can continue on our own."

So, you've finally given in. Maybe the peer pressure finally got to you. Or maybe you've resolved your issues with Mother and are looking to devote a patch of skin to honor her (or maybe you have really big mommy issues, so you're ready to have a death's head inked into your flesh). Now comes the hard part: finding an artist who can best translate your complicated emotional state into a long-lasting statement. Oliver Peck and his fellow inkers at Deep Ellum's Elm Street Tattoo are guaranteed to have just the image for you, whether your feelings for Mom are of the traditional red-heart variety or something darker. (Peck's winged hand-grenade design would work perfectly for us, but that's between us and our therapist.) From simpler ankle and forearm designs to elaborate shirt-sleeve and torso murals, Elm Street's artists will turn your skin into a window into what lies beneath. It's cheaper than therapy. Trust us.

Big things are happening this season for Uptown Players, the gay-centric company known for edgy musicals, body-baring dramas and drag comedies. For two shows in 2010—the drama Equus and the raucous musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels—Uptown will take over the stage at the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek. This is an important step in the evolution of Uptown, which now boasts more than 12,000 patrons per season. Founders Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch have improved Uptown Players year after year, hiring better directors, designers and actors. The move to the main stage at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater will make new demands on the troupe, but will also introduce Dallas' most ambitious company of artists to a wider audience.

Every spring brings another three-week onslaught of new plays, one-person shows, music, dance and other entertainments to the theater complex under the water tower in Addison. Performers fill the three acting spaces and sometimes spill out into the lobby for bursts of song and comedy. This year's biggest draw was the One Man Star Wars—all the movies, all the characters in just more than an hour—performed to sell-out family crowds by Canadian actor Charlie Ross. Unusual acts like that make Out of the Loop a fresh, fun celebration of non-traditional stage performances.

When people come to Dallas, they usually go to a strip club, see where JFK was shot, eat atop Reunion Tower or visit a sports venue (two of which are 20 miles away in Arlington). Some choose more than one, and others may add Deep Ellum or White Rock Lake to their lists, but those leaving town without a stay in the Arts District are missing the best of what the city has to offer. With the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts opening October 12 and the Woodall Rodgers Park on its way, Dallas has quickly established itself among the art hotspots in the county, and it's also making noise worldwide.

She sure doesn't look like a dean, but with Tracy Rowlett now out of the local television news business, Clarice Tinsley, who started at Channel 4 in 1978, is now the longest-running news anchor in the market. She was 24 years old when she took the job. During her tenure Tinsley has done lots of solid journalistic work, including a series she co-wrote with investigative reporter Fred Mays in 1984 called, "A Call for Help." Larry Boff, a Dallas man, had called 911 three times begging for help for his dying stepmother. Twice 911 personnel argued with him and hung up. When an ambulance finally got there, his mother was dead. By the time Tinsley and Mays were done with the story, people were fired and major reforms instituted. The series won a Peabody Award. Tinsley's solid reporting experience and familiarity with the city are all there when she reports the news every afternoon at 5 p.m. and evening at 10 p.m. It doesn't get any better than Clarice.

On the one hand, maybe it's not fair to pit Good Day against the full-bore 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts. On the other hand, half the world thinks Jon Stewart's Daily Show is a newscast, so what are the rules anymore anyway? Good Day is a blend of local street reporting, weather, headlines and talk, delivered in a zeitgeist somewhere between morning drive, Letterman and AC 360. The departure last winter of co-host Megan Henderson, who was witty and easy on the eyes, hurt us a bit, but the real backbone continues to be host Tim Ryan. Perhaps the best description of Ryan is in the station's promo piece: "He's had the same coffee mug for 12 years...doesn't Twitter...his MySpace is wherever he's standing. He's the crankiest anchor on TV, and more North Texans wake up to him than anyone else." Good Day's ratings regularly beat the national morning shows it's up against. It survives by telling an audience of people who have to get up at 5 in the morning what they need to know for the day and then getting them to laugh on their way out the door. No easy trick.

Dallas Children's Theater's Young Adult Relevant Drama series (nicknamed "y.a.r.d.") presents plays that entertain the "tween" generation and explores topics important to that age group. This past year's lineup—the B-movie spoof The Mummy's Claw, the new play dont u luv me? about obsessive teen relationships, and the Anne Frank drama And Then They Came for Me—were beautifully produced, directed and acted by casts that featured some of Dallas' best adult actors alongside young performers getting their first roles in a professional setting. This series is sensitive to the issues faced by tweens, but finds fresh ways to address them while stimulating a love of live theater.

It's tough to say who's behind this Twitter account that hates on all things little d, calling out people by name and doing so without remorse. And, actually, it can get pretty harsh at times. Like when a certain musician got called out for looking like "one of Prince's illegitimate children" and for having a questionable fashion sense. Or when another musician got called out as being ugly. Or when DJs get called out for not being able to mix well, despite computers. Or when the account called out the people who run a house venue in the college town, calling them "dumb bitches." OK, so WhyDentonSucks is pretty harsh all the time. But it's also a pretty fascinating look at the at-times petty inner workings of a close-knit musical hotbed, serving as proof that, despite all the praise the town earns in even the national media, it's just as insecure and fucked up as the rest of us. Oh, and, well, the rest of us aren't exactly out of range either. In only the seventh tweet ever sent by the account, WhyDentonSucks took aim at Dallas, proclaiming that the reason Denton sucks is "because Dallas is only 38 miles away." Thank goodness for the rest of us, then, that it feels so much farther than that.

Art shouldn't be scary. Even if a person hasn't been creative since preschool finger-painting, making art (granted, not necessarily good art) can be as easy as making a beautiful piece of paper or printing a simple design. The owners and proprietors of The Center for Art Conservation, Shannon Driscoll Phillips and Tish Brewer, want to share the joy of creation, one fun workshop at a time. Through their Paper Works by Paper Nerds series, the paper conservators and paper artists aim to "promote the exploration of paper art and craft" through hands-on lessons on cyanotypes, fold books, long-stitch binding, collage, paper ornaments, paste paper and marbling, silk-screen printing and more. Prices range from $30 to $95 for a four-hour class, and the proof that anyone can be an artist is in the pretty paper.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of