Tasting notes

Photo-2---Murray's-in-Kroger-Shot
SAY CHEESE | Murray’s Cheese Shop just opened at the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station with a delectable selection.
Murray’s: What a friend we have in cheeses; White Rock holds a picnic

What a friend we have in cheeses, now that Murray’s Cheese Shop has moved out of the ghetto of Greenwich Village in New York City and hit the real center of the cheese world, the hometown of Paula Lambert: Dallas.

At least, that’s how I approach it at my house, where a day without cheese is like a day without sunlight. So to have the celebrated fromagerie inside the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station is a coup for local cheese lovers.

The shop groups its cheeses by use more than style: Melting cheeses, stinky cheeses, spreadable, etc. Even better, there’s a section for this month’s specials, where you can get great deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples, or go outside your comfort zone, such as a deliciously crunchy version of two-year gouda called Reypanaer, or the veiny, pungent Smokehaus blue.

White Rock Lake celebrates its centennial with several culinary events this weekend. On Saturday, the beach turns into the Veranda Lounge, with a day-long choice of meals. Culinary couple Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare of Good 2 Go Tacos serve brunch from 10 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and wine at noon, afternoon tea at 2, cocktails at 4:30 and dinner with chef Marc Cassel starting at 7 p.m., followed by music and fireworks.

Then on Sunday, Brian C. Luscher, chef/owner of The Grape, hosts Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, starting at noon at the Bath House Cultural Center. Cassel will be back, along with Jeff Harris of RedFork, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and others. Visit HighlandParkCafeteria.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck recently adopted a dog, which motivated her to hold a benefit for Operation Kindness. (It’s also a mission close to our hearts — Dallas Voice profiles a shelter pet for adoption every week.) On June 30, the restaurant at the Hotel Palomar will hold a VIP Party — that’s Very Important Pet — on the patio, with drink special and all-you-can-eat bites for just $10. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dish is back with its drag brunch this Sunday, and will do them twice a month from now on, with bottomless mimosas and a special brunch menu.

Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park, Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10. The annual festival of food features live music, contests and lots of tastings. Among the chefs on-hand are gay restaurateur Scott Jones of Macho Nacho and Cowtown Diner and Jason Boso of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Cowboy Chow. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. See the full lineup at TasteofDallas.org.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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NUP_141681_0107TRAVEL DIARY

Josh Flagg, pictured, a star of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing who came out earlier this year, is letting his Pride flag wave. Flagg will host a four-day dance party in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica next month. It takes place July 21–25 in a gated community on the Latin American nation’s South Coast. To learn more, visit HMCRPride.com/party.

GayTravel.com is reaching out to the queer artistic community to highlight the local arts scenes in destinations for its readers.
LGBT artists and allies who work in any media are invited to submit pieces that would be of interests to gay travelers — pieces promoting events, trends or just themselves that can add to the experience of visiting new locales. You can read more about it on the website, or email sophie.needelman@gaytravel.com for details.
— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Egg-cellent

GRAVITY BE DAMNED | The slack-wire act, left, and the spider contortionist are some of the feats of physical skill in ‘Ovo,’ a thrilling big-top circus extravaganza.

Ovo, Cirque du Soleil’s new insect-themed cavalcade of jaw-dropping wonders, is reason to drive to Frisco

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The opening of Ovo, the new Cirque du Soleil touring production, sounds like an attack of locusts, which is sort of the point. The concept of the show is A Bug’s Life, set to abstract music and eye-popping feats of physicality.

As a concept, it works terrifically. Cirque shows traditionally have themes that establish the look, but don’t really tell a story. None of it matters — it’s just a pretext for the juggling and high-wire acts. But here, there really is a romance between a ladybug and a housefly, played out with clownish bravado. And even better, the acts seem to tie into their characters.

That’s due in large, large part to the gorgeous costumes, which are as colorful and varied as the microcosmos of the insect world itself. (And, let’s say it, sexy.) The design mirrors what the acts are supposed to do: Crickets with extended haunches bounce off walks faster than a meadow on a warm summer night; a spider — the slack-wire gymnast, all of 95 pounds, clad in a skin-tight exoskeleton — scurries across a strand of his web, doing handstands and rolling on a unicycle; fleas flick their bodies nimbly through the air as if the dog show just got to town.

All in all, there are about 10 acts in the two-and-a-half hour production under la grand chapiteau in the parking lot of the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. It’s been a long time since Cirque came to North Texas; it’s worth the drive to check it out.

The awesomeness is difficult to describe — or to put in context. After the parade of characters, the main event kicks off with a small display: A firefly who contorts while balanced on his h

and. It sounds simple, even ordinary, but the skill involved astonishes you. Then out come a crew of waif Asian girls who juggle — balls, ottomans, each other — on their feet, passing human bodies around as effortlessly as a salt shaker at the family dinner. It takes the spool juggler — basically, a yo-yo artist extraordinaire — to drop a few to realize these are, in fact, humans who make mistakes. The illusion is that effective.

There’s something for almost every taste, from the elegant aerial ribbon flight of the butterflies to the oh-my muscularity of the trapeze-swinging beetles to the silly, wild dancing of the inchworm. I don’t remember the circus being this fun — or this sexy — when I was a kid. Here’s to progress.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.


—  John Wright

Weekly Best Bets

Saturday 01.29

Guess that’s why they call it the blues
While KERA is holding their pledge drive, KNON is trying to raise money of their own. The station, home to Lambda Weekly and The Jesse Garcia Show, hosts its 12th Annual Bluesfest with a hefty lineup. But really, you haven’t lived until you see R&B legend and Dallas native Bobby Patterson throw it down old school style. That’ll change your life.
DEETS: Poor David’s Pub, 1313 S. Lamar St. Through Sunday. 3 p.m. $10. KNON.org.

Sunday 01.30

Talk about ‘Ovo’ the top
In Cirque du Soleil’s new show Ovo, they create a colorful ecosystem of insects. Only these bugs do crazy acrobatics and contortions. Only Cirque can think so out of the box to make a “world of biodiversity” centered around a mysterious egg and a love story between a ladybug and neighborhood bug.
DEETS: Dr. Pepper Arena, 2601 Avenue of the Stars, Frisco. Through Feb. 27. $45-$250. CirqueDuSoleil.com

Tuesday 02.01

‘Faces’ in the crowd
Photographer Jorge Rivas’ Faces of Life was such a hit at last year’s Pride that the campaign is being relaunched during ilume Gallerie’s Super Week. With new photos and an exclusive jewelry line, the gallery extends its hours so everyone can take a peek and sign up for their own photo session.
DEETS: ilume Gallerie, 4123 Cedar Springs Road. Through Saturday. FacesofLifeProject.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Beloved, gay UT professor retires after 39 years

Guy Howard Miller

Guy Howard Miller taught history and religious studies since 1971

JOSHUNDA SANDERS  |  Austin American-Statesman
(via the Associated Press)

AUSTIN — Anyone looking for “an exhibit of Jesus pop culture gloriousness” has to look no further than Guy Howard Miller’s office, says Lindsey Carmichael, one of his estimated 10,000 former students.

The University of Texas professor who taught history and religious studies there since 1971 typically sipped a Diet Dr Pepper in his Garrison Hall digs after class amid an abundance of Jesus-themed refrigerator magnets, mouse pads and framed pictures.

“My ex-wife said it was Jesus-infested,” Miller said matter-of-factly.

Now that Miller, 69, has retired — his last class was Dec. 3 — he will have to find a place for his turn-of-the-century Jesus pictures and growing collection of Ben-Hur artifacts. For his former students, the bigger problem will be finding someone as colorful and as engaged in his profession.

Carmichael, 25, is among those who refer to themselves as “Millerites,” and she said she considers Miller more of a friend than a former professor.

Like others who have had a class with him, Carmichael says she still remembers what he said to her class during their first meeting: “Now kids, Dr. Miller is gay. Now, Dr. Miller also loves Jesus. And if you happen to have a problem with that, there’s the door.”’

“Religion for him is not a cultural assumption; it’s fluid and constantly evolving,” she said. “I’m going to be grateful to him for the rest of my life. Now that he’s retired, the university will never be quite as bright a place.”

Miller’s attentiveness is legendary. At the beginning of each semester, he would tell his students that he really wanted to meet them and would hold frequent office hours to get to know them, he said.

“I will have seen about 60 to 70 percent of the class by the end of the term,” Miller said.

He also held a number of administrative roles at the school, and his vision helped shape the Department of Religious Studies, which in 2011 will enroll its first graduate students. He created one of his most innovative classes, “Jesus in American Culture” — a multimedia course he started with a grant from UT’s Tech Services in 2005, complete with full-length video, audio recordings and transcripts available online.

He wrote “The Revolutionary College: American Presbyterian Higher Education, 1707-1837 ” and has contributed to several other books.

Miller is small in stature, but his voice and presence loom large. He has a mischievous twinkle in his eye even when he’s talking about potentially dry topics like the differences between Protestants and Catholics. He favors tweed jackets with button-down shirts in blue or canary yellow.

Miller was raised Southern Baptist in Graham with five sisters.

“I was the first to go to college,” he said. “I thought I’d be a laborer or a butcher like my father was.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1964 and a master’s in history in 1966 from what is now the University of North Texas. After earning a doctorate in American intellectual history from the University of Michigan in 1970, he taught for a year at Hope College in Michigan before moving to UT.

The Rev. Marcus McFaul, who leads Highland Park Baptist Church, took three courses with Miller from 1980 to 1984.

“The greatest gift I got as a student of Dr. Miller’s is the appreciation of critical thought, and his animated description of religious thought made history come alive. Howard Miller is what put me on to the love of American religious thought. It allowed me to get the larger picture and still retain an affinity to a particular tradition, ” McFaul said.

Overhearing this, Miller said, “Marcus has done what I wish I could have done — which is remain a Baptist.”

Miller said the Southern Baptist church that he grew up in was “a very different denomination than the very conservative denomination that emerged after the conservatives purged liberals and moderates in the ’80s and ’90s.” He left the church in the 1960s because he disagreed with some aspects of Baptist theology and “more important, with its opposition to the civil rights movement.”

In Austin, he joined an Episcopal church for a few years but stopped attending because he grew tired of his sexual orientation being a problem, he said. He said he no longer attends a church, but if he returned to one, it would be a moderate Baptist church like McFaul’s.

Miller has received most of the university-wide and College of Liberal Arts teaching awards, including the largest undergraduate teaching award at the school, the $15,000 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship.

“If I do have a calling, it’s to teach the gospel of liberal arts, not the Gospel of Jesus,” Miller said.

—  John Wright