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Photo courtesy of The Joule

There’s no better cure for the unbearable summer heat than a dip into the chilly waters of some of Dallas' best pools. And you can’t forget to snap a cute photo for your TikTok and Instagram feeds. The place to be this summer? The pool at The Joule.

The distinctive cantilevered pool, which sits on the 10th-floor of the hotel overlooking downtown Dallas, is the third most popular U.S. pool on TikTok, according to a new report.

The study by BonusFinder.com analyzed data from TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube to find the most mentioned, photographed, and viewed pools from around America. The Joule finished 14th in the overall rankings for "most picturesque U.S. pool," which included pools from across the country, earning a score of 8.82 out of 10.

But it came in third among TikTok users alone, garnering over 122 million views.

First place went to Mirage Pool at the Mirage, Las Vegas (over 754 million TikTok views), and second place went to the historic Neptune Pool at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California (over 350 million TikTok views). Right behind the Joule, two Vegas pools, The Backyard at the Red Rock Casino and the pool at Resorts World, rounded out TikTok's top 5.

"The Joule's unique 8-foot cantilevered pool provides guests the sensation of swimming out beyond the hotel's edge - equally voyeuristic for those swimming or those standing on the street below," touts the Joule's website. "With 360 degree views of historic Downtown Dallas, The Joule gives 'hanging out by the pool' a whole new meaning."

Lucky for Dallasites, you don't have to be a hotel guest to visit the pool. Limited day passes can be booked, Sundays through Thursdays.

When it comes to over rankings for "most picturesque," a popular Austin swimming hole made a splash. Austin's Barton Springs was named fourth most picturesque overall, and was actually the most Instagrammed pool in the U.S., the study says.

The study revealed that videos of Barton Springs had been viewed over 28.5 million times on TikTok and hashtagged over 15,000 times on Instagram.

In total, Las Vegas hosts six of the top 10 most photogenic pools on BonusFinder’s list. Mandalay Bay Beach and The Mirage in Las Vegas were deemed the No. 1 and No. 2 most photogenic pools, and just above Barton Springs in the third place rank was The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Other pools on the list were found in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (No. 6) and Atlantic City, New Jersey (No. 10).

The top 10 most photogenic pools in the United States are:

  • No. 1 – Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
  • No. 2 – The Mirage in Las Vegas
  • No. 3 – The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California
  • No. 4 – Barton Springs in Austin
  • No. 5 – The Tank at Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
  • No. 6 – Glenwood Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • No. 7 – The Backyard at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas
  • No. 8 – Stadium Swim at Circa Resort and Casino in Las Vegas
  • No. 9 – Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas
  • No. 10 – The Water Club at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey

One other Texas pool earned ranks outside the top 10: the Marriott Marquis Houston (No. 18).

Fintan Costello, the managing director at BonusFinder.com, said Americans are “turning their attention to where they can kick back and enjoy catching some rays by the poolside” with their spring break and upcoming summer holidays.

“Luckily, the study shows that the U.S. is blessed with some of the best and most picturesque pools in the world and there are plenty of idyllic escapes that can be found across America, without ever having to leave the country,” he explained in a statement.

The full study can be found on bonusfinder.com.

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Stephanie Allmon Merry contributed to this report.

The Joule hotel pool
Photo courtesy of The Joule
The Joule's pool is cantilevered out over downtown.
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These are the 7 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

On the tails of the holiday weekend, several events return by this week’s end. A gourmet Italian grocer will celebrate an Italian holiday; one of the longest running food festivals in town kicks off on Friday; and a wine tasting event themed after a hit movie takes place on Saturday. Get outdoors and pair a craft pint with a leisurely paddleboard tour. Or sip margaritas poolside after a refreshing yoga class at a top Dallas hotel.

Friday, June 2

Sunset Paddle & A Pint
DFW Surf Frisco kicks off its Friday night guided standup paddle tour of Hidden Cove Park and Marina with an extra incentive: beer. At the halfway point of the two-mile trek, participants stop for a sunset beer toast provided by 3 Nations Brewing. Board lamps, head lamps, and glow sticks provide light for the evening paddle back to shore. Tickets are $60 and the tour will run from 7:30- 9 pm.

All You Can Eataly
The Italian marketplace at NorthPark will close to the public and open to ticketholders for a Festa della Repubblica party featuring more than two dozen food stations, 50-plus Italian wines, 25-plus beers, and multiple cocktails bars featuring Italian libations. There’ll also be chef demos, DJ sets, photo booths, and live music with a dance band. Tickets start at $125, or pay $195 for VIP and get early entry, premium tastings, and a dedicated lounge. The party will run from 7-10 pm, with VIP early entry at 6 pm.

Taste AddisonThe popular family-friendly festival kicks off Friday night at Addison Circle Park for two days of local restaurant dishes, wine and spirit tastings, music acts, and more. Participating restaurants include Asian Mint, Taqueria La Ventana, Thai Orchid, Ron’s Place, Lupe Tortilla, and at least two dozen others. General admission is $15, or $5 for kids 6-12. Or go VIP and pay $60 for two beverage tokens, two Taste Bite vouchers, and access to the main stage viewing deck and private VIP lounge. Taste Addison runs from 6 pm -midnight on Friday and 2 pm-midnight on Saturday.

Saturday, June 3

Catalina Canned Wine Mixer at Truck Yard Dallas
The Truck Yard hosts a “bro-down” party themed after the 2008 hit movie Step Brothers. Wear your best tuxedo t-shirt and enjoy a wine tasting, photo ops, food trucks, and a Step Brothers cover band. Admission is free, but a $15 wine tasting from 7-9 pm offers six wine samples and a souvenir glass filled with frose. Costume contests will be held at 5 pm and 10 pm.

Sunday, June 4

Yogarita at The Stoneleigh
Move over, beer yoga. The Stoneleigh is leveling up boozy yoga classes with the launch of Yogarita, a Sunday morning yoga session paired with a margarita. The one-hour class includes a Casamigos margaritas and a fish taco from the hotel’s Perle on Maple restaurant. Bonus: participants also get a lounge chair for the day at The Stoneleigh pool. Tickets are $40 and yoga mats are provided. Class begins at 10:30 am.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Class at Dallas Arboretum
This seated class will take participants through the art of pairing wine with artisanal cheeses and will be led by a cheese expert from the Mozzarella Company and wine expert from Two Wine Guys. The class is $89 (or $79 for Arboretum members) and will run from 1-3 pm.

Monday, June 5

Lakewood Brewery Dinner at Urban Crust
The Plano wood-fired pizza kitchen hosts a four-course beer pairing featuring local Lakewood Brewery. The dinner will come with four different Lakewood brews. The event is $49.99, plus tax and gratuity, and will begin at 6:30 pm.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus navigates marriage pitfalls in You Hurt My Feelings

Movie Review

Anybody who’s been married or in a long-term relationship knows that it’s almost impossible to be completely honest with his or her partner. There are always going to be moments – whether for the sake of expediency, in a show of support, or other reasons – when one person withholds their true opinion so as not to hurt the other person’s feelings.

That idea is the central tension point of You Hurt My Feelings, which follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a writer/teacher, and her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), a therapist. Beth is in the middle of trying to get her first fiction book published, a process that is causing her unceasing anxiety. Don sees a series of patients, including a constantly-bickering couple (played by real-life husband and wife David Cross and Amber Tamblyn), and a few lapses cause him to question his commitment to the profession.

When Beth and her sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), accidentally overhear Don telling his brother-in-law, Mark (Arian Moayed), that he doesn’t like Sarah’s new book and is exhausted having to tell her otherwise, it sends Beth into an emotional spiral. The aftermath winds up pulling in not just the two couples, but also Beth and Don’s son, Eliot (Owen Teague), dredging up feelings that all of them normally try to keep hidden.

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, the film is a funny and genuine look at how even the best couples can run into pitfalls. By most measures, Beth and Don get along fantastically well, supporting each other unwaveringly and showing their love in a variety of ways. When the story puts them at odds with each other, there’s never a question that they belong together, as even their arguments are tinged with exasperation instead of anger.

Holofcener complements the story of Beth and Don with a nice variety of side plots, including Eliot trying to start his own writing career while working at a weed store; Beth and Sarah’s mom, Georgia (Jeannie Berlin), offering up support and criticism in equal measures; and more. Don’s patients and Beth’s students offer an opportunity to expand the two characters’ personalities outside of their marriage while also adding a few other funny roles.

While perhaps not the most insightful film about marriage that’s ever been made, it is still highly enjoyable thanks to Holofcener’s writing and the strong performances. Filmed in New York City, the particular feel of that urban landscape and the way it affects the lives of the characters also plays a big part in the success of the film.

Louis-Dreyfus, as always, is a delight to watch. A kind of spiritual sequel to her previous collaboration with Holofcener, 2013’s Enough Said, the film gives her plenty of room to show off both her comedic and dramatic skills. Menzies makes for a steady presence, showing good chemistry with Louis-Dreyfus and a preternatural calm in therapy sessions. Watkins, Moayed, Teague, and Berlin all fit in seamlessly.

You Hurt My Feelings is not a world-changing kind of movie, but rather a solidly-told story about how relationships can be complicated. With actors who are easy to like and Holofcener’s reliably great filmmaking, it’s a movie for adults that’s nice counter-programming to the glut of summer blockbusters.

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You Hurt My Feelings is now playing in theaters.

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings

Photo courtesy of A24

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”