Addison Improv Comedy Club
Paul Mooney is as much a yarn-spinner as he is a comic. Attend one of his live shows and you’ll understand: It feels more like sitting around the living room with a ridiculously funny father figure than a traditional stand-up set with lead-ins and punch lines. Mooney doesn’t need those formalities; he’s earned the right to go freestyle. He created time-enduring prose for Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Redd Fox and was head writer for In Living Color’s first season. (Remember Homey The Clown? All Mooney, baby.) Even with the longevity in the comedic writing circuit, Mooney might have gone relatively unknown to the next generation of comedy-goers had it not been for Dave Chapelle’s Mooney-centric sketch “Ask a Black Dude,” where Paul drops wisdom bombs that detonate in a multiracial question/answer confetti explosion. (Side note of advice: If you’re pressed for time, maybe check out the early show. If you can’t get enough of Mooney’s awesomeness, go for the later adventure. Last time he performed in Austin he stayed on stage for nearly two hours.) Paul Mooney keeps it real this Thursday, February 9 through Sunday, February 12 at the Addison Improv. Tickets cost $20. Get them at symfonee.com/improv/addison/home/index.aspx.
Thu., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 10, 8 & 10:30 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 11, 6:30, 9 & 11:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m., 2012
Addison Improv Comedy Club
Paul Mooney is as much a yarn-spinner as he is a comic. Attend one of his live shows and you'll understand: it feels more like sitting around the living room with a ridiculously funny father-figure than a traditional stand-up set with lead-ins and punchlines. Mooney doesn't need all of those formalities; he's earned the right to go freestyle. He created the time-enduring prose for Richard Pryer, Eddie Murphy, and Redd Foxx and was head writer for In Living Color's first season. (Remember Homey The Clown? All Mooney, baby.) Even with the longevity in the comedic writing circuit, Mooney might have gone relatively unknown to the next generation of comedy-goers had it not been for Dave Chapelle's Mooney-centric sketch “Ask a Black Dude,” where Paul drops wisdom bombs that detonate in a multiracial question/answer confetti explosion. (Side note of advice: If you're pressed for time, maybe check out the early show. If you can't get enough of Mooney's awesomness, go for the later adventure. Last time he performed in Austin he stayed on stage for nearly two hours.) Paul Mooney keeps it real this Thursday, February 9 through Sunday, February 12 at the Addison Improv. Tickets cost $20. Get them at http://www.symfonee.com/improv/addison/home/index.aspx.
Feb. 9-12, 2012
Magnolia Gallery
It was Keats who wrote, “Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud,” but Dallas painter Aralyn McGregor had to make no such request. For the oil, acrylic, watercolor and dry media artist, the inspiration for her new solo exhibition, Muse, resounded from the words of “Lady Lazarus” herself, the inimitable Sylvia Plath, who indelibly rises “out of the ash” of yellowed pages with her red hair. On exhibition at the Magnolia Gallery within the Magnolia in West Village at 3699 McKinney Ave., each of McGregor’s paintings expresses stark and chilling femininity, displayed with the poem serving as its catalyst. With an opening reception from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Muse runs through September 19 and is available for viewing during regular theater hours. Call 214-683-9134 or visit magnoliagallerydallas.com for more details.
Thu., June 21, 2012

“Gigolo” Was More Of A Hobby

Addison Improv Comedy Club
Rob Schneider has been busy, what more can you say? Outside of his own films, he’s acted alongside buddy Adam Sandler, been a part of the Saturday Night Live cast, as well as writing and directing his own side projects. Not bad for a guy who moonlights as a gigolo (at least on the silver screen). Schneider will be taking time away from his busy schedule to appear at Addison Improv over the weekend, and bring a couple laughs to Dallas with his special blend of comedy. Schneider performs at 8 and 10 p.m. on Friday, with additional shows all weekend. Tickets range from $35 to $45. Addison Improv is located at 4980 Beltline Road. Visit improv.com or call 972-404-8501
Sept. 7-9, 2012

’Tis the Season for Do-gooding

When you get pit stains just from looking out your window, it’s not easy to think about Christmas. But when you realize there are people living out there and there’s something you can do to help, it’s time to put on the ol’ elf hat (preferably a ventilated one) and get to it. The people over at Austin Street Center are making it really, really easy on you, too. They’ve themed the event Christmas in July, there are donation stations at Tootsie’s and Culwell & Sons and there’s a big drop-off from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Most of the donations and contributions will be delivered that day and the center will celebrate with a Christmas tree, decorations, barbecue, games and, of course, Santa. Now here’s hoping those furry red pants are of the zip-off-at-the-knee variety. Everyone’s invited, so visit austinstreet.org for details and a complete list of needs. Austin Street Center is located at 2929 Hickory St.
Wed., July 25, 3 p.m., 2012

'Cause Moscow Loves You, Baby

Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery
Photographs Do Not Bend has a new show opening Saturday. It's a stunning pictorial titled "Big Bend," and it documents the region through the mind and lens of photographer Jack Ridley. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, you can explore this gallery prior to the opening melee and spend a little private time with an ongoing true treasure of show, "From Moscow With Love." Here through July 28, this series features the work of seven hand-picked Russian artists, including experimental photographer Gregori Maiofis. You'll see his more delicate side in this series, where large animals such as bears are posed humorously in bedrooms and at pianos. His style winks at turn-of-the-century images while gaining contemporary strides, and most of all it's really fun to look at. Don't miss the series of metal playground rocket ships by Ivan Mikhailov; they're everything you wish had existed in your neighborhood park. Mikhailov's gift for lighting might be what makes his photos so alarmingly interesting - the rusting paint and pigment of the metal cylinders pop against the colors of the skyline. This exhibition is worth its own trip to PDNB, so see it now and then again tomorrow night. PDNB Gallery is at 1202 Dragon St. Visit pdnbgallery.com.
Fri., June 22, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; June 22-Sept. 1, 6-8 p.m., 2012
The Public Trust
If you were lucky, you were allowed to be a mild hoarder as a child. Back then, everything felt as though it had value. Wrappers off of lollipops, seashells and baseball cards acted as currency in that Fort Knox you called a bedroom. The cards you kept in either a shoebox (“extras, or lesser cards”) or a photo album (“worth something someday”). They seemed so important then, as though your entire future revolved their appreciating, like a dreamer's trust fund. Now, you know better. Or do you? That’s the question Dallas artist Taro-Kun addresses in his new exhibition, It’ll Be Worth Something Someday, at The Public Trust, 2919-C Commerce St. Visit the gallery’s small room this evening during the opening reception (6 to 9 p.m.) and you’ll walk into a makeshift trading card shop where more than 200 of these throwback collectables have been defaced. Browse the collection and you’ll find that these once-treasured items have taken on a new form of value, but now rather than collecting Mickey Mantle or Hulk Hogan, you might lean toward a cigarette-smoking cat or a cartoon, three-eyed linebacker. Get an eyeful of grown-up treasure tonight. Visit trustthepublic.com.
Sat., May 5, 2012

3,000 Miles, 10 Days, 2 Wheels

Studio Movie Grill - Dallas / Royal
After watching Dallas cyclists fight for their city to catch up with the pack regarding bike lanes and general regard from fellow travelers, the idea of riding from coast to coast on a bicycle seems utterly insane and totally compelling. Completing the task — through the Mojave, Rockies, Appalachians and the works — in less than 10 days is the main goal of those competing in the Race Across America (RAAM). Filmmaker Stephen Auerbach and his team documented the race for 2009’s Bicycle Dreams. They road in support crew vehicles, slept as little as the racers and edited hours of footage into an incredibly inspiring film, made all the more accessible, emotional and human by an unexpected (but, sadly, not all that surprising) race-related tragedy. Clip into a special screening of Bicycle Dreams 7 p.m. Wednesday at Studio Movie Grill Royal Lane, 11170 North Central Expressway. Tickets are $11 in advance online at studiomoviegrill.com/theaters/royal.php. Visit bicycledreamsmovie.com.
Wed., Feb. 1, 7 p.m., 2012
303 Bar and Grill

While the big restaurant money continues to flow north toward Highland Park, Preston Hollow and Uptown, Dallas' most interesting restaurant scene continues to slowly grow and diversify on the other side of the river. Lucia brings five-star Italian and Campo offers ravioli stuffed with brains. Hattie's updates Southern comfort, giving shrimp and grits new life, and Oddfellows sexes up fried chicken in a quiet cafe filled with the smell of expensive coffee. Mesa shows diners the other side of Mexican cuisine, and B.E.E. takes enchiladas where they've never been before.

Oak Cliff is as diverse as it is refined, offering up $35 Italian veal chops alongside $2 cups of elotes in an elegant display of socioeconomic and culinary diversity. These aren't Top Chef pantheons to expensive meat; they're humble neighborhood restaurants, and they've been quietly pushing the boundaries of local cuisine, expanding palates and expectations, and illuminating what possibly lies ahead for Dallas' dining culture.

This outer fringe is often odd. Quirky, young restaurateurs bend some rules to make their marks. Sometimes it works and some times it doesn't. Oak Cliff's latest, a casual affair billed as a beer and burger joint, bends things really far. It seems to hail from another planet.

303 Bar & Grill opened on a balmy January evening, under the glow of a neon sign tricked out with multi-colored light bulbs. A band stuffed in the corner filled the old house with deafening music, and Adam Bazaldua, a young chef out of Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen, manned the stove. The menu claimed he would turn out burgers made from beef, ground on site, and he'd serve them with duck-fat french fries — all in Oak Cliff's quirkiest dining room.

Black-and-white mug shots line one wall, with dark, criminal eyes casting a downward gaze. A pair of baskets, a crate of bottles, a stuffed goose with its wings splayed, a horse from a merry-go-round impaled on a pole and other random objects fill the space with an air of absolute madness. Half of the relics are inverted for whatever reason. It's as eclectic as it is disturbing.

Outside, the bones of dead animals litter the landscaping, and the remains spill inside too. A spine decorated with papery wasp nests greets you at the door, along with a child's artwork, some books and a retro telephone. If one were to storm into the bathroom and find Norman Bates washing his hands, they should be no more surprised than if they saw a horse smoking a cigarette out in the parking lot.

Two months later, a handful of light bulbs in Bar 303's carnival sign have blown out. Bazaldua left, citing creative differences with management, and Chad Starling took over after a short stint at Saint Ann Restaurant and Bar downtown. Before that he spent time in Chicago's fine-dining circuit, something his new staff is happy to brag about. It's a shame the food coming out of the kitchen doesn't align with the bartender's gushing praise.

The Buffalo rock shrimp is unlike any upstate New York plate. Fried, tiny shrimps, encased in a coating that sometimes stays on and sometimes sloughs off, meet blue cheese and the misplaced tang of honey mustard. The chicken wings are goofy, too, presenting salty and smoky drumsticks with a ranch-like dipper. The kitchen removes the knuckle from the narrow end to jazz up the presentation, but the move only makes the snacks harder to pick up and eat.

Sandwiches are cheap and generous but uninspiring. The pulled pork sops with sauce but the meat is dry and can be stringy. A cheesesteak pairs rib-eye with oozing dairy, but the flavors never come together.

A burger reads well on the menu, and pickled red onions and crisp bacon present just as they should. But the cook broke the yolk while cooking my egg, robbing my burger of that primordial ooze. My waiter never asked how I wanted the patty cooked, either (it came brownish-gray), and if the kitchen used to grind the meat in-house each morning, they're most certainly not doing it now. Wasn't this supposed to be a burger house?

The menu is taking a different tack now, offering four entrees all for the impossibly low price of $12.75. You get what you pay for. The bangers paired with mash are really andouille sausage perched on flat whipped potatoes. And while a gnocchi dish serves up fine enough dumplings, with fava beans that harken spring, the whole dish swims in a heavy, muddy sauce.

It would be nice to spin this Bar & Grill as a great place to get a drink, but it's not really that either. The beer list is small and unimaginative, and a $4 martini special instills little faith in the resident mixology. The music is even worse: During my first meal, I endured Survivor's "Burning Heart," followed by Sting's "Set Them Free," and then wiped barbecue sauce and tears from my face to Ton Loc's "Wild Thing."

Despite the train wreck, I desperately want to love this little green house on Davis Street, if only for its quirkiness. I think it's that uniqueness they need to embrace if they want to succeed; they're surrounded by much more compelling dining experiences.

The kitchen should get back to grinding beef in-house, fresh each morning, the way the original menu claimed. The practice makes a difference, and the burgers would provide a clear differentiation for a restaurant located in a neighborhood that's saturated with cheap eats. The menu could use a trim, too, allowing stronger dishes to shine.

With a smaller menu, Starling could focus on some one-off specials as wacky as the décor that invokes a months-long peyote binge. Fun riffs on bar-food classics that would court a late-night crowd would make a worthy addition to Dallas' best restaurant neighborhood. But for now, 303 Bar & Grill feels totally rudderless. It's a great place to eat some psychedelics and watch the walls move, but not a great place to eat.

35 Denton Cleans Up its Block and Rebrands Itself

Gayngs

Yes, there's a certain nostalgia in the air at 35 Denton this year, in the form of headliners the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Raincoats and Built to Spill. And yet, in its fourth year — and first as 35 Denton — it's finally found an identity and stepped up to become more than just a pit stop before SXSW. This year, they've taken that homespun charm and branded the fest as a destination, teasing several of their acts with covers by Denton and Dallas artists, using the town as a backdrop for many promo videos, and giving the local music scene a platform among the bigger national names. For one weekend, at least, Denton is center of the universe, and it's well deserved. Hit DC9 at Night for our comprehensive, completely serious fest "rules" and much more. See you out there.

Read more: Baptist General Chris Flemmons on Learning to Let Go

Our 34 Picks for 35 Denton

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