In a town flush with quality sports TV types, nobody cooks a vocabulary stew quite like Daryl "Razor" Reaugh. Using words like "mastadonic" and "pulchritudinous" as effortlessly as "skate" or "puck," Reaugh brings an auditory flavor to the local hockey broadcast that can't be matched. Alongside excellent play-by-play man Ralph Strangis, Razor has been in the booth for the Stars for 16 seasons. The secret of HIS greatness isn't lost on the broader audience, as last season he made multiple guest appearances on Canada's popular Hockey Night in Canada. This fall, whip out your dictionary and be by the channel, as Razor will surely be slinging many more of his trademark "mind vitamins."

As one of the creative troupe of actors, artists and musicians known as "The Ochre House Boys," Elizabeth Evans has proven she's able to mix it up in company founder Matthew Posey's avant garde comedies and dramas. As the bedridden Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in Posey's biographical play Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo, she gave her best performance yet, memorable for the fire in her eyes and her willingness to bare her soul (and everything else) to express the artist's passions and fears. That Evans could then turn around and play the comedy relief character in Posey's dark musical about Charlie Manson, Mean, is just more evidence of how many colors this actress paints with.

His appearances in recent years at African American Repertory Theatre, WaterTower, Upstart and Undermain now seem like mere warm-ups for Christopher Dontrell Piper's explosive performance this season in Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts at Theatre Too. As a young man full of ideas about how to boost business at a failing Chicago bakery, Piper formed a perfectly balanced acting partnership with co-star Van Quattro. The most natural actor on any Dallas stage — he wears every character as if he were born to play him — Piper has only just begun to show directors and audiences what he's capable of.

With her stunning two-act drama Ruth, Dallas playwright Vicki Caroline Cheatwood put something truly important on the stage at Kitchen Dog Theater. Based on the Old Testament story of Ruth and Naomi, the play featured parallel sagas of women in the 1930s Dust Bowl and in present-day Oklahoma. In each time period, newly widowed friends must deal with being displaced, always haunted by the ghosts of their dead husbands. Dreamlike, emotionally charged and at times sexy and funny, Kitchen Dog's beautifully cast world premiere production, directed by Tim Johnson for the New Works Festival, was this company's best of the season. With Ruth, Cheatwood should get national attention as a strong voice in American theater.

Irving Convention Center

First of all, this festival is batshit. Every year, the Irving Convention center is sardine-packed with vendors selling slivers of the most magma-spicy, butt-churning peppers on the planet. At ZestFest, you'll find "foods" like extract of the ghost pepper, "Volcano Dust," habanero wings and the Trinidad Scorpion (OMG, beware). So, we come to our new favorite pastime. Watching other humans' faces as they "experience" the hottest peppers in the world is something deeply special and American. Imagine watching someone be stabbed all over with invisible needles. ZestFest 2013 is January 25 through January 27. Go and watch humans wince and squirm as their insides sublimate. You won't regret it.

On Friday, June 1, at Gexa Energy, local station KKXT-FM 91.7 brought out the big guns for their first festival: St. Vincent, Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and more. It was an exuberant and bright summer festival with both national and local hooks. It was also a clarion trumpet blast against KXT's growing naysayers. Dallas, with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, is not bereft of damn good music festivals. Look for this one to grow, but KXT's kickoff music festival was a doozy.

You have to hand it to 35 Denton. Following artist payment controversy, name changes, cancelations and droves of mustachioed artists, the festival continues without missing a beat. Hell, the Jesus and Mary Chain outright couldn't make it to this year's fest (they rescheduled for later that week). Then there was the rain. The Friday of 2012's 35 fest was rainy, cold and ash gray. The festival marched on. Local restaurants offered hot coffee. There were plenty of tacos and beer. A cameraman hunkered under a massive poncho and shot on. To put it simply, the festival was a bigger force of nature than the weather. Updates on next year's fest, and coverage from last year's are right here: 35denton.com

It happens the same time every year. On the last day of SXSW — when feet are blood balloons and brain is mush, when you're hovering between death and exhilaration — comes the lifesaving hair of the dog. It's Bro Fest. Parade of Flesh's John Iskander grabs a handful of bands coming through Austin, shakes them in a bag and dumps them madly upon Dallas. It's messy, loud and fantastic. It's raw fun, whether you go to SXSW or not. If you are on the way up from Austin, however, it's the musical equivalent of a bloody mary. Last year's event was at Club Dada, so head over to paradeofflesh.com/brofest/ and let them know we want our SXSW hangover cure again in 2013.

JCPenney is the somewhere you associate with toxic concentrations of toxic perfume or your grandmother's 90th birthday sweater, not progressive social causes. In June, however, the Plano-based department store chain waded neck-deep into the culture war, running a touching Father's Day ad featuring all-American dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch, who love their kids. And each other. The gay-dad ad sparked a predictable outcry from social conservatives and bewildered applause from proponents of marriage equality. It convinced few on either side to open their wallets. In August, the company announced its same store sales were down nearly a quarter over the previous year. Not that JCPenney's death spiral is the fault of two gay dads. That, at least, shows evidence of forward thinking.

Brandy Simington has never had trouble expressing herself. Through poetry or music, the words have always been there. But as Lady BSmoove, she's onto something. Her delivery is a mixture of poetry and hip-hop that melds anger, pain and hope into something primal, original and moving. At this year's LGBT Pride kickoff at City Hall, she stole the spotlight from Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Turtle Creek Chorale. Getting people to open their ears isn't always easy, but once they do, they understand (sometimes, anyway). Don't let the "lesbian slam poet" fool you. Lady B Smoove is an artist.

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