They say questions such as "Do you like scary movies?" can be high predictors of compatibility. We just skip the cutesy small-talk and take dates to Voodoo Chile, a record/art/vintage clothing/glass pipe/gift shop in a red one-story house off Lower Greenville. It's a bastion of character and weirdness. And Voodoo Chile has plenty in common with scary movies anyway. Art by mysterious owner Jimi Fukushita is laden with creepy, provocative imagery and the shop stocks a bunch of books about the Third Reich. You can learn a lot about a date just by asking, "Have you read Mein Kampf?"

The Toy Maven

Whether you have a kid or just know one who needs bribing, Toy Maven has the goods. Say you're rushing to a 4-year-old's birthday party and have no clue what a fun or age-appropriate gift looks like. The staff here can quickly guide you to the perfect plaything based on the interests of the small human in question. You might even be surprised at what you're tempted to buy for yourself. How about some glitter pens for your office? Or a LEGO model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water? Play on!

There are car washes all over the city, but where do you go when there's 6-month-old Slurpee muck lining the bottom of your cup holders ... with pennies stuck in it? In times of auto-interior distress, Forest Car Wash & Detail has all kinds of wash and wax packages, but the most thorough will run you only about $100 and have your car looking like it just came off the lot.

Some stains just can't be washed out at home. If you need dry cleaning, special laundering or help with damaged garments, Sunshine Laundry and Dry Cleaning has about 75 years' experience. They've been on Maple Avenue this whole time (their current location is across the street from their original home), with the same iconic sign and expert service. The staff knows at a glance how to handle fancy fabrics. Turnaround time is quick, if you need it. They also have a (very affordable) tailor on site.

Everybody in East Dallas living in an old house or apartment building held their breath when Lakewood's Ace Hardware got kicked out of its longtime location in the Lakewood Shopping Center across from Whole Foods. Sure, other places have hardware. But nobody has the experienced, knowledgeable staff that proprietor Khandoo Nagar had assembled over the years at Lakewood Ace. For a year or so, the store was in semi-sketchy quarters while a brand-new building was being constructed. But now they are at home in a slick, conveniently located new space at Gaston and East Grand avenues. And they still know what you mean when you say you need one of those "prongy-type deals" to hold the lampshade up.

Figure anybody can sell you some shiny gewgaws. But what do you do if the jeweled piece you thought was perfect for your sweetie turns out to get shrugs and winces when you hand it to the recipient? No need for psychodrama over whose taste is better. Take it for a makeover to Ralph Austin Jewelers, an unprepossessing little shop in the Skillman Shopping Center in East Dallas. They'll take that ring (or bracelet or necklace) and modify it, or melt it down, make a new design, 3-D print a model, create a mold, cast it anew and, using your gold and stones, give your sweet thang the hunk of jewelry of his or her dreams. Prices are reasonable. Service is 24-karat friendly. Yep, this place is a gem.

A "cookie" by any reasonable definition, is not an amorphous slab of pseudo-meat. It is an unattainable morsel of baked goodness that the laws of nature dictate becomes available only via the benevolence of an incautious 2-year-old or unrelated catastrophe. But when Dr. Candace Major, veterinarian extraordinaire at Plano-Arapaho veterinary clinic in Richardson, scoops two fingers into her ever-handy canister and calls the globule of protein that emerges a "cookie," who are you to argue? It is delicious, and you will eat it, and you will be oblivious to the poking and prodding that non-cookie-appreciating humans swear ensures your longevity as a dog.

Say your kid is a bit hyperactive. Or maybe he or she is just perpetually distracted. Getting a kid's teeth cleaned might seem like a potential nightmare, and it can be if you choose the wrong dentist. Dr. Lara Kirstin Holly of Children's Dentistry of North Dallas is the right dentist. Not only will she effectively clean and examine your child's teeth, she also has the uncanny ability to entertain her young patients in the process and keep them from whining or wriggling out of the chair. Everybody leaves smiling.

In a perfect world, no one would travel to Houston from Dallas. Ever. But now and then, Dallasites must descend into the murky depths of Harris County and, conversely, Houston residents, sad creatures from said murky depths that they are, must visit here. Right now you can drive or fly. But soon(ish), given that the projected launch date is 2021, Texas Central Railway could offer a new option. The company's proposed Dallas-to-Houston bullet train will whisk passengers from one city to the other in a mere 90 minutes. Barely enough time to gird yourself for Houston's brain-frazzling humidity. But at least it will be a quick trip back.

texascentral.com

In the Solomonic tradition, Dallas and Fort Worth split their differences and built their massive international air hub in the no-man's-land between the two cities. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is equally close to each of the region's two economic hubs, but so far away from each that it's a pain to get there. Getting to DFW Airport is still a chore, but, thanks to DART's extension of its Orange Line, it's a little easier and now much cheaper. For a $2.50 one-way ticket, you can ride from Plano's Parker Road station to DFW by light rail train. Stops in between include Arapaho, Park Lane, Mockingbird Station and the Arts District. OK, it takes 92 minutes. But you don't have to sit in traffic. Take something to read.

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