Valentine’s Comedy Show at Backdoor Comedy

Your funny Valentine

If chocolates and flowers aren’t your kinda thing, maybe a good laugh is. Spice up Valentine’s Day with comedy. Paul Varghese was named the Funniest Comic in Dallas and headlines this Valentine’s show taking the pressure out of romantic expectations, and going for a laugh. But candy and champagne are included just to seal the deal.

DEETS: Backdoor Comedy, 8250 N. Central Expressway (in the Doubletree Hotel). 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $28. BackDoorComedy.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Teen love in Texas

Don't-Let-Me-GoDon’t Let Me Go
by J.H. Trumble (2012, Kensington). $15; 352 pp.

Nate Schaper was in love with Adam Jefferies from the moment Adam had rushed over to Nate’s locker to help another student who’d been bullied. Adam was like that: compassionate and smart, gentle and caring — not to mention so beautiful, Nate could barely stand it. They were an “us” not long after that morning by the lockers, and within weeks, they’d decided to come out together.

Adam was a senior then — a budding actor, a lover of the stage, and about to graduate. Nate was a junior and he never wanted to let Adam go.

But the following summer, he had to do it: Houston and New York City are 1,600 miles apart, and Adam had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to appear off-off-Broadway. Nate wasn’t about to hold him back.

Once in New York, though, Adam seemed not to miss Nate as much as the other way around. Adam had a new life complete with hottie roommate. He never seemed to have time for Nate anymore. Things had changed.

But Nate had changed, too. Angry with the way his life was going, he’d become a silent activist at school. He made a new friend, a straight guy who wouldn’t take any trouble from bullies. And when it seemed like Adam was so yesterday, Nate found another boyfriend.

But can you truly forget the love you lost?  Stuffing aside memories of Adam and the things they shared, Nate wondered when he ever would…

Looking to spend some time with a wonderfully satisfying love story?  You can stop your search right here, because Don’t Let Me Go will do just right.

With some not-quite-chaste bedroom scenes and a host of characters to embrace, author J.H. Trumble adds sass and spice to a tale of romance found and lost.

But love isn’t the only focus of this story: teenage Nate encounters homophobia in various forms and though it lends a certain squirmy realism, those parts of this book aren’t easy to read. Fortunately, Trumble’s supporting (and supportive) cast offsets the hate, which gives this novel meaning.

This is a great book for teens and adults alike, and it has an ending that … well, I don’t want to ruin it for you, so let’s just say it works. If you’re up for a nice boy-meets-boy story, Don’t Let Me Go is a book to get lost in.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Top 10 tables

North Texas’ best new restaurants of 2011 provided a lesson in substance over style

MEXICAN, REINVENTED  |  The Mayan calendar may end in 2012, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the cuisine from MesoMaya, the top table of 2011.

MEXICAN, REINVENTED | The Mayan calendar may end in 2012, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the cuisine from MesoMaya, the top table of 2011.

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

2011 was the year great dining found a way to avoid being fine dining.

There are all kinds of restaurants for all tastes and pocketbooks. Truth is, fancy usually takes you further because when you evaluate an overall dining experience, atmosphere and service come into play; standing in line to eat a burger out of a napkin while standing at a counter costs some points.

Or rather, it used to.

It’s probably a combination of things — the economy, the rise of the food truck, an emphasis on the taste of food above the flash of atmosphere — that led to an emphasis of substance over style in 2011. In 2010, we happily tagged Nosh as our top eatery: Elegant and pretty, but also an easy, sociable dining experience. Still, back then, there were slim pickin’s overall: I went with a Top 5 instead of 10, because that’s all that felt warranted.

Not so this year. At least 17 restos were legitimately in play as I was whittling it down to a Top 10, and several more — Campo, Chesterfield, Texas Spice, Oak — opened too late in the season for me to give full shrift. They’ll be up for consideration next time.

Some others almost made the list. Il Cane Rosso gave Deep Ellum another great, authentic eatery — this time, a Neapolitan pizzeria that’s no fuss, all must-have. Meddlesome Moth has some strong points (terrific hummus, the best dessert — chess pie — in town) but couldn’t consistently impress me.

Oddly, many of the restaurants that impressed me most had quirky things in common that helped define them as the anti-fine-dining Class of ’11: Brushed concrete floors (at least three of them), prosaic strip-mall locations (most of them), TV celebrichefs-done-good (Nos. 7 and 8).

Also, by and large, the restaurants that stood out also tended to group around themes: Sophisticated Tex-Mex, Eastern fusion, classy retro-joints and ravenously good tacos. I’m gonna keep with those trends as well, so here are the Top Tables of 2011. (Look for reviews of some of them in the coming weeks.)

The Top 3 —Mexivention: MesoMaya, Mesa, Komali

Never tell a German how to drink beer, a New Yorker how to eat pizza or a Texan how to do anything.

But especially don’t tell him about Tex-Mex. (Or tacos, though that’ll come later.)

We Texans know what we like when it comes to Southwestern-style cuisine, and Dallasites are especially arrogant about it. After all, we claim Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing and Avner Samuel, who basically invented it for gourmet palates.

But even we can be surprised. The menu at MesoMaya Comida y Copas has a lot of familiar elements (posole, enchiladas, tacos), but this isn’t Tex-Mex: It’s central Mexican cuisine, resplendent with Mayan influence — Latin-Mesoamerican fusion par example. (1190 Preston Road, MesoMaya.com)

If MesoMaya is fiercely flavorful peasant food, then Mesa in Oak Cliff and Komali in Uptown are its sophisticated cousins. Komali, the companion restaurant to Mex-born chef Abraham Salum’s eponymous eatery, exudes an easy polish with soft features that don’t distract from the modern, urban-Mexican dishes, full of moles and wonderful salsas. (4152 Cole Ave., KomaliRestaurant.com)
Mesa, south of the Trinity, is less slick-looking that Komali (the exterior looks like a wig shop) but the food boasts soaring flavors from the Veracruzana region, with deft technique. And both have bar programs worthy of a cocktail hour. (118 W. Jefferson Ave., MesaDallas.com)

4 through 6 — Eastern artistry: Baboush, Malai Kitchen, Pho Colonial (Downtown)
Whether you’re talking the Far East or the Middle East, exotic cuisine gained a foothold in Dallas. Baboush claims the closest inspiration — a North African-influenced restaurant that brings a touch of the Mediterranean to the West Village. Forward flavors dominate even though the lush, genie-in-a-bottle atmosphere has its appeal. (3636 McKinney Ave., BaboushDallas.com)

Go to the Far East for two inventive restos. Across the street from Baboush is Malai Kitchen, one of the few eateries on this year’s list that takes décor seriously, but not as seriously as its food (especially its curries and a fantastic brunch). (3699 McKinney Ave., MalaiKitchen. com). Downtown’s Pho Colonial (there’s another in Far North Dallas) takes counter-service that should feel like Vietnamese comfort food and turns it into haute cuisine with expertly cooked meats, big portions and a wallop on the tongue. (164 N. Ervay St., PhoColonial.com)

7 and 8 — Traditional Fine-Dine: Private | Social, Marquee Grill
Two Dallas chefs who gained national fame as fan favorites on Top Chef — Tiffany Derry and Tre Wilcox — ventured out on their own with favorable results. Derry’s Private | Social, with its seafood-heavy menu, interesting concept and sparkly interior, has the edge over Wilcox’s old-school eclectic New American cuisine at Marquee Grill, but both harken to event restaurants that were common before the New Casual took over. 3232 McKinney Ave., PrivateSocial.com; 32 Highland Park Village, MarqueeGrill.com)

9 and 10 — Street Food Goes Big: Taco Ocho, Good 2 Go Tacos
Food anthropologists 100 years from now will probably note a straight line from waist girth, the legitimization of food trucks and the indulgent taco stand in 2011. As gourmet taquerias proliferated, these two — Taco Ocho, a slick, likeable, well-lit suburban place and the woman-owned Good 2 Go Tacos, a glorified lunch counter in East Dallas — made the most significant impact on us, forever and finally making the Old El Paso paradigm on thing of the past. (930 E. Campbell Road, Richardson, TacoOcho.com; 1146 Peavy Road, Good2GoTaco.com)
For a review of Good to Go Tacos, see sidebar on Page 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

News: Phytoplankton, OED, Olly Murs, South Africa, Spice Girls

RoadHurricane Earl heads for East Coast.

RoadPolice find "no evidence" that slain British spy Gareth Williams was gay.

Phytoplankton RoadThe summer's most important news story? "Since 1950, the study found, the oceans have lost 40 percent of their phytoplankton. As these organisms account for the production of half the earth’s organic matter, this is not good. It’s like finding out that there’s half as much money in all the earth’s banks as we thought there was."

RoadSnooki gets a greased-up Guido marriage proposal.

RoadStudy: Heavy drinkers outlive nondrinkers.

RoadImages from Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally.

RoadLGBT refugees face xenophobia in South Africa: "I feel that people like us who stay in urban areas do no face half the issues of xenophobia and homophobia like our brothers and sisters who stay in townships. But you never know who you may piss off just by speaking your home language.”

RoadLeading poppers company goes out of business.

RoadAussiebum CEO Sean Ashby goes undercover on Australian TV.

RoadKylie Minogue to tour U.S. again.

Olly RoadX-Factor runner-up and spray tan enthusiast Olly Murs models a fan's boxers at London's G-A-Y.

RoadOmaha World Herald rejects same-sex wedding announcement: "Our daughter Kristin Wilke will wed Jessica Kitzman August 20, 2011, in Northern Minnesota. We are so proud we asked to buy an announcement ad in the Omaha World Herald to share our glorious news with our friends. I am disgusted to say that the publisher himself, Terry Kroeger, called me personally to say same-gender couples are not allowed to buy announcements in the Omaha World Herald. Please call 402-444-1328 or write pulse@owh.com if this action disgusts you as it does us. Over 1500 papers sell such ads in the US. Including the NYT."

RoadSocial networking site for gay and lesbian Mormons set to launch? "The site is called Cor Invictus, which loosely translates to, 'Unconquered Heart,' from Latin. It differs from other online communities for Gays and Lesbians of the Mormon faith by being open to all, no matter the individual’s current standing in the LDS church."

RoadBradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds teaming up as cops.

Bearded_gyllenhaal RoadIf you can't get enough bearded Jake.

RoadVeritas, play about Harvard gay witch hunt, wins Overall Excellence Award for Best Ensemble at NY International Fringe Festival.

RoadMale model fix: Ryan Koning.

RoadAbFab's Jennifer Saunders writing Spice Girls musical?

RoadThe internet kills the Oxford English Dictionary: "A team of 80 lexicographers has been working on the third edition of the OED – known as OED3 – for the past 21 years. The dictionary’s owner, Oxford University Press (OUP), said the impact of the internet means OED3 will probably appear only in electronic form. The most recent OED has existed online for more than a decade, where it receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay an annual fee of £240."

RoadModern Family's Cameron has a bike short fetish.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

News: Britney Spears, Savannah, Spice Girls, Titanic

 road I've lost count how many times the police have busted Paris Hilton. It's happened again, this time in Vegas.

Brit  road Britney Spears dons a cheap wedding dress to tell Pop Magazine about a possible collaboration in the future with Lady Gaga? Could be very interesting.

 road Savannah gay bashing downgraded from a hate crime: "The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and the DA’s office reviewed Daly's medical records and conducted further investigation, they determined this case had 'no merit' to be considered a hate crime. Police spokesperson: 'I can’t speak on the specifics because this is pending litigation, but for a crime to be considered a felony [which a hate crime is considered to be] there has to be proof of a sustained injury. It’s my understanding Daly suffered only a punch. Based on his medical records we could not upgrade the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.'

 road UNICEF spokesperson Clay Aiken wants you to help with the flooding in Pakistan.

 road Brian Williams tried on a pair of flat-front khakis while hanging out with Brad Pitt.

 road Jennifer Saunders penning a musical around the songs of the Spice Girls sounds like gold.

 road Glee season 2 promo pics.

 road ,740 for a toilet, even John Lennon's, seems like a bit much.

 road I hope George Michael finally finds the help he needs in rehab.

Titanic  road New sonar image of The Titanic: "What you will see is A bird's eye view sonar image looking down at Titanic's bow taken by the Waitt Institutes AUV, "Mary Ann," operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in an expedition lead by Premier Exhibitions, Inc. Visible are the mast, superstructure, openings for the one and two funnels, as well as the Grand Staircase.

 road This might make you never want to eat at McDonald's ever again.

 road African Bishop attending Church of Uganda and the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa conference denounces gays: "Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon in the society but the only trouble is that the issues dividing us (church) now are very difficult to handle. They are threatening the unity of the church because they disobey the authority of the scriptures."

 road Katy's Perry's music video for her "Teenage Dream," the director's cut.

 road Hearing this announcement play over the speakers mid-flight would give anyone a heart attack.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Old Spice Guy Wants To Do More Than Just Smell Nice

Cage
You know Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice Guy. But he wants you to know him as Marvel Comics strongman Luke Cage. Mustafa has made no secret of his desire to portray the superhero on the big screen. He's gone so far as to create a Facebook page devoted to a campaign that serves to get Hollywood's attention as well as have a professional photo taken of him in action as Cage. That's the pic above. He's got me sold.

See Mustafa transform into his dream role, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright