We weren't expecting it either. Snug against the wall of Uptown-adjacent barbecue spot sits the most fascinating jukebox in Dallas. It's big, Tron-like front is loaded with typewritery slips of paper that have perfect songs from Elvis, Billy Joel and B.B. King. It's one of the oldest working jukeboxes in Dallas, has about 100 albums in it, and it still plays 45s. Also? It's a quarter per song. Take that, digital jukeboxes.

DFW is home to the largest country radio market in the country. Flip through your FM dial and you'll hear plenty of twang, but it's all been polished to shapeless oblivion in Nashville. Well, almost all of it. There is one strange holdout, a rare independently owned commercial radio station, at 95.3 FM The Range. There, you'll hear country outlaws and Texas legends and bleeding-heart Americana hipsters and whatever the hell else the eclectic DJs feel like playing. After commercial breaks, the voice of Burton Gilliam (Lyle in Blazing Saddles) will tell you what you're listening to, cackling mischievously. Clear Channel would never abide something this ramshackle — no, this is the work of real, actual music fans.

The third album from Denton's The Baptist Generals came 10 years after the second and right on time. Frontman Chris Flemmons relinquished some control of the band's sound to his ridiculously talented bandmates, and the result is a collection of songs that takes his meticulously ramshackle ideas and expands on them beautifully, loudly and strangely. Jackleg Devotional to the Heart is a record full of pointed nonsense and unforgettable melody, and no one released anything quite like it this year, in Dallas or anywhere else.

If you attended nothing but shows booked by Spune, you'd still manage an impressive survey of North Texas music. You'd also be busy — the Dallas-based operation, now in its 16th year, books roughly 10 shows every month. You'd split your time pretty evenly between Fort Worth, Denton and Dallas, and you'd see everything from local weirdos like Warren Jackson Hearne & Le Leek Electrique to arena indie like She & Him. Stick with it long enough and you'd find yourself at dark little clubs and in big open fields (Spune's festival itinerary has expanded impressively in the last couple years). The company is also probably the most restless contributor to music in the area, operating a label, marketing shows and bands and generally finding more and more ways to get people to go to concerts.


Shane Carruth

You gotta hand it to Shane Carruth. The former-Dallasite filmmaker behind Primer and Sundance-buzz-a-thon Upstream Color has stuck to his game: sticking it to Hollywood's movie-making system. Primer was a grainy and raw film about time travel on a $7,000 budget, and his critically acclaimed second film, Upstream Color, has an ending that you may find unsatisfying. He's not afraid to punch. He's not afraid to make a three-hour, rip-roaring sci-fi think piece. He's making smart, thoughtful films with a careful hand. It's a touch that's lacking in Hollywood, and one whose Dallas origins are worth celebrating.

Ohhhhh, how the holidays in Dallas are soooo lovelllllyy. There are Santas on parade, Macy's day sales, tree lightings, ornaments ... and Justin Terveen's shot of Reunion tower looking like the largest phallus in the Milky Way. This past Christmas, Terveen grabbed a shot of two huge Christmas-ornament nards resting gently under the shaft of Reunion Tower. It was shot all over the Internet, and even bothered a few Observer readers. Way to troll, Justin. The shot itself was beautiful, of course.

For a time, Dallas' collective consternation was leveled at a Facebook page with some 60,000 likes called "Oak Cliff Dallas Fights." It showcased fisticuffs predominantly between young Latino men, slugging it out in gas stations, locker rooms and school yards. City Council member Dwaine Caraway said it was bad for Oak Cliff's image, presuming these fights actually took place in Oak Cliff. Eventually, perhaps fearing prosecution, the page's anonymous creator took the site down. But, on a recent search, it appears to have re-emerged. So, if videos of boys who watch too much UFC throwing flailing haymakers are your thing, settle in for an occasionally funny ride. It won't take long. These kids are too bad at fighting to hurt each other much. They're gassed within minutes.



It's late Saturday morning. Your child is bouncing off the walls. Every possible diversion in or near the house has been exhausted. It's time for Legoland, which is one of a very few legal ways to guarantee your own sanity. There are Lego games, Lego rides, Lego movie theaters and Lego pits. It's basically an amusement park made entirely from the colorful plastic blocks. No child can resist.

This isn't one of those art festivals you stumble upon with Grandma in some faux-experimental neighborhood. There are no illuminated dolphins or Manet rip-offs. There's real art, shockingly good photographs and other knick-knacks. Every year, Deep Ellum closes Main Street for music, live art and loads of paintings. The art ranges from experimental to wildly local, and it never sucks. Grab your significant other's hand and take the stroll from Hall Street to Good Latimer. And stop for a corny dog.

With the line "Kool-Aid is for closers," Jeff Swearingen and Bren Rapp dramatically changed the status of children's theater in North Texas. Swearingen wrote and directed Daffodil Girls: Based on David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, a two-act play about the ruthless world of scout troop cookie sales. Cast with a dozen talented young local actresses (ages 7 to 14), the show was deeply satirical, boldly funny, with moments of heartbreaking pathos. It was also a game-changer for the tiny, low-budget Fun House Theatre. Not only was the material great (other theaters are now interested in doing the script), the girls onstage gave polished, nuanced performances. Buzz quickly grew for the show, local critics swarmed all over it and Fun House held it over to sold-out houses. What else did Fun House do this year? Only a full-fledged, solid and thoughtful Hamlet with an all-youth cast. Children's theater that takes its actors and audiences seriously makes us all live happily ever after.

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