Best Director 2019 | Augustine Frizzell | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Danny Gallagher
Augustine Frizzell directed Never Goin' Back.

Filmmaker Augustine Frizzell got her start as a costume designer and actress, frequently collaborating with now husband David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete's Dragon). But in only two years since she broke out with her debut film, Never Goin' Back, an honest (albeit exaggeratedly comedic) depiction of suburban broke female teenage-hood, Frizzell seems to have actually never gone back. Her technical and expert eye for nuance skyrocketed her into a nonstop level of high demand; Frizzell has since directed episodes for HBO's hit show Euphoria and Starz' Sweetbitter as she continues to line up big-name projects. The Garland native and Lakewood resident also employs many locals, carving a place into silver-screened history for her Dallas crew.

Times are so tense. We wear our politics on our sleeves like badges. It's become an us vs. them culture where any sense of a middle ground has exploded into a fine powder and blown away with a hard, hot wind. This not only ensures that we won't get much of anything done, but it's perfect for people who aim to make us look foolish. Enter street artist Eric Mancini of Denton, who's been publicly expressing our collective disdain with public works of art like his "Trump dumpsters," in which he posted our president's mug on the entire front of garbage dumpsters; witty Facebook responses to critics placed in frames; and his signature spray-paint squiggle rendered on canvases, walls and an entire home in Bishop Arts. His public presentations took a satirical turn on April 1 with a gutsy installation in which the people who saw it became his muse and medium. Mancini made up two banners announcing the opening for a Trump-brand hotel, and in the middle of the night, he hung them to the chain-link fence surrounding an empty plot of land on Lamar Avenue that he later learned was owned by Mavs owner Mark Cuban. The sign actually stayed up for a few weeks and was taken down just after someone made their own artistic mark on it that made it look, shall we say, more profane than the idea of Trump opening a hotel in Dallas, before Mancini took credit for it on his Facebook page. Sadly, Mancini has since moved out of state, but we hope he's wreaking havoc in another city.

Located in a clandestine spot near Lower Greenville, Can You Rob the Bank is one of Dallas' most exciting indoor thrills. Up to 10 participants at a time can rob a fictional bank in a Wild West, space alien or superhero setting. Each team is given an hour to "rob the bank" and escape without getting caught and arrested. Members of each team will be given clues and riddles to solve, and with each correct answer, they unlock a door that leads them closer to their escape. Plus, Can You Rob the Bank is owned by bad-ass single mother Jill Brandenburg, who is also a breast cancer survivor.

Kathy Tran
Quake Con

QuakeCon is one of the video game industry's oldest game gatherings. The first QuakeCon, the now-annual gaming convention that celebrates game franchises like "Wolfenstein," "Quake" and "Rage" — made by local studios such as id Software and Bethesda Softworks — happened in Garland in a hotel meeting room with only 50 people in attendance. This year's gathering at the much larger Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Grapevine had a special reason to celebrate. It marked the 25th anniversary of "DOOM," the bloody, highly stylized first-person shooter that became a gaming phenomenon and made id Software a major player in the video game industry. Naturally, QuakeCon 2019 was also dubbed "DOOMCon," featuring the first playable preview of the next game in the franchise, "DOOM Eternal," and other new games that players could try by making a demo reservation instead of waiting in ludicrously long lines. The weekend also featured a record-setting speed run that completed every "DOOM" game from every era, including "DOOM 64" for the Nintendo 64 console and the upcoming "Eternal."

So you think you have "it" but you're not sure what "it" is? Learn acting for stage, screen and TV (at affordable prices) at S.T.A.G.E. (Society for Theatrical Artists' Guidance and Enhancement). With the help of local showbiz pros, including longtime director and education coordinator LisaAnne Haram, prepare for call-backs, learn to do make-up, get the secrets of voiceovers and more. The organization also supports local playwrights with readings and rehearsal space, plus there's a big library of plays to dip into. Founded in 1982, S.T.A.G.E. has put lots of working actors on the stage.

Kathy Tran
NorthBark Dog Park

One of the few problems with most dog parks is the fact that dogs of all sizes are fenced in together, leaving terriers and Dachshunds to cower in a corner while mastiffs and great danes lope around the pen as they please. NorthBark Dog Park solves this problem by having two separate play areas — one for big dogs and another for smaller ones. Your Pomeranian can run, chase and snuffle around without having to worry about getting stomped on by a German Shepherd. The park also has a swimming hole where dogs can wade and paddle and a cleaning area where you can hose down your pup before you head home.

Dallas Flamenco Festival has become an annual celebration of the fiery Spanish dance, enhanced by a narrative "play" written around the original choreography and percussive dancing of Dallas husband-wife team Delilah Buitron Arrebola and Antonio Arrebola. Presented at the Ochre House Theater next to Fair Park, this year's passionate production of La Muerte de Don Quixote, written by Ochre House founder Matthew Posey and featuring professional flamenco musicians, provided a hot-stomping revisit of the classic tale.

Why yes, we do think you should have an unquenchable desire to immerse yourself in the a cappella (that's un-accompanied, for dorks like us who don't speak Italian) vocal music of the 16th century. The deeper implication of this selection is "best resonance," and of course, different types of music respond better to different levels of resonance. Perhaps the most demanding is music from the Renaissance, because it sounds best in an acoustically "wet" room, where notes continue to resonate for seconds after actual sound production has ceased, and acoustically wet rooms are usually big and made of stone. Because of these uncommon requirements, Church of the Incarnation in Uptown shines forth as the place to hear this music. Further, the church offers a tantalizing sacred music program that can help satisfy the cravings of those who appreciate early music.

Did your education terminate after earning a degree? Enter the Dallas Institute of Humanities & Culture. In a city known for its business, real estate and technology industries, we need a nursery for the intellectual life that is safe from the rapacious profit motive. With a campus in Uptown, the public can discover truth, beauty and goodness by listening to a dramatic reading of Goethe's Faust; attending a program with music, dance and cuisine based on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights; enrolling in a class on political thought; or joining the spirited conversation at a Friday Night Salon. The Institute reminds us that the humanities are not only crucial for the health of our democracy but for our wisdom too.

Mark Kitaoka

Nowadays, ensembles with a program worth mentioning are hard to come by. It's always the same hundred or so classical pieces: Beethoven 5, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Handel's Messiah, Dvorak's New World Symphony, blah, blah. Often, the worst offenders when it comes to boring programs are large orchestras and opera companies. Dallas Symphony Orchestra, however, has prepared a program with plenty of promise, boasting underplayed works such as Prokofiev's Symphony 6 and the Bruch Violin Concerto; classics like Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 "Italian"; and even new works by Steven Mackey and Salina Fisher. DSO is also bringing in celebrated violinist Joshua Bell, and has arranged for a performance with the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir. A surprisingly wide range of musical adventures await us, so get your tickets now for the rich and resonant Morton H. Meyerson space, where there are no bad seats.

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