Courtesy of Whataburger

The holiday season is upon us. And you know what that means in the Lone Star State: decking the halls, visits with Santa, dashing through no snow, and — oh, yeah — the annual release of some of the cheesiest Christmas garb in all of Texas.

That’s right, it’s time to “sleigh” the season by beefing up your wardrobe with some Whataburger finery. The San Antonio-based burger chain has plenty of new and classic holiday offerings Whataburger fans will relish this year and for Yuletides to come.

If it’s an ugly holiday sweater you’re craving, the fast-food company’s new design — featuring a snowy Christmas Eve scene at Whataburger, complete with Santa and his reindeer — is sure to jingle your bells. Make it a combo by adding the matching beanie and new holiday socks to stay cozy during the most wonderful time of the year.

Also new this season: pajama sets in sizes for the whole family and bedecked with a diamond flying W design. After all, as Whataburger notes, “the jolly man on Christmas night loves families in orange and white.”

And the 2021 collectible ornament, a signature orange vintage pickup truck hauling — what else? — Whataburger fries will help make the season bright and perhaps a little salty.

The company will also gift fans with additional product drops throughout the season, including more pajama sets and beanies, though the online Whatastore, where all seasonal items can be purchased, already boasts an abundance of holiday wares, from the clever “All I want for Christmas is Whataburger” T-shirt and the classic Whataburger A-frame snow globe to 7-foot inflatable Santa and snowman yard decorations, and even Christmas-themed Whataburger table tents.

Of course, Whataburger-branded apparel and gifts are nothing new for the brand, which has long offered a meaty line for the fashion-forward fan, including a flurry of strangely appealing holiday wear.

Visit the Whatastore to get more info and to check out the full line of holiday offerings.

The new holiday sweater will have you dreaming of a Whataburger Christmas.

holiday sweater
Courtesy of Whataburger
The new holiday sweater will have you dreaming of a Whataburger Christmas.

The Masked Singer reveals Dallas-Fort Worth show as part of epic national tour

Costume drama

Dallas-Fort Worth will soon play host to a touring version of America’s favorite song-and-dance reality show.

The Masked Singer, the Fox series guessing-game competition that features costumed celebrities belting out their best (and sometimes worst) renditions of popular songs, will take to the stage of Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie on July 15, 2022 as part of a national tour.

Tickets for the DFW show ($39.75-$89.75) go on sale to the public Wednesday, November 3 at 7 pm at AXS.com. VIP packages are available now through VIPNation.com and include meet-and-greet opportunities with the cast, exclusive merch, and photo opportunities.

Fans of the TV show can expect much of the same zaniness during the live performance, which will include some recognizable characters from the TV series brought to life onstage alongside “surprise celebrity guests,” according to a release.

Celebrity guest hosts from the TV show, who will be announced closer to performance dates, will join one “local celebrity” at every show, with that VIP performing in a top-secret disguise.

The Grand Prairie audience will then try to decipher clues to guess the local celebrity’s identity until the he or she is unmasked at the end of the night’s festivities, with producers promising “an incredible production of song, dance, and craziness that only The Masked Singer could deliver.”

The tour is presented by Right Angle Entertainment — which has made a killing touring with live versions of popular TV series, including Price is Right Live — and producers Guy Phillips and Mark Swanhart, the minds behind Dancing with the Stars: Live!, The Bachelor Live on Stage, and the Simone Biles-led Gold Over America Tour, which stopped at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena last month.

With the following The Masked Singer showhas amassed (it’s currently the No. 1 primetime series, averaging 7.9 million viewers across multiple platforms), it was likely only a matter of time before these producers took the show on the road.

The Masked Singer national tour kicks off in St. Louis on May 28, 2022. In addition to the DFW engagement on July 15, the tour will also make Texas stops in San Antonio on July 12, Austin on July 13, and Sugar Land on July 14.

Texas billionaire Elon Musk’s upcoming Saturday Night Live hosting gig drives entertaining reaction

This is no joke

The internet retorts arising from the jaw-dropping news that Elon Musk will host Saturday Night Live may be more entertaining than the Texas billionaire ever could hope to be.

SNLannounced April 24 on its Twitter account that Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, will helm the show’s May 8 episode. The non-actor, non-comedian, non-musician will be paired with musical guest Miley Cyrus (who happens to be a double threat as an actress and singer).

Earlier this month, Musk officially knocked Walmart heiress Alice Walton of Fort Worth off her longtime perch as Forbes' richest person in Texas. Forbes listed Musk’s place of residence as Austin, although he hasn’t confirmed where in Texas he settled last year.

Although Musk has been known to crack jokes on Twitter and hang with some of the comedy world's best, the swift and voluminous reaction to his SNL hosting gig has been largely unsparing. Here’s a sampling from Facebook and Twitter:

I’m really hoping that Miley is hosting, and Musk is the musical guest.

Why is Elon hosting? He can’t act. Miley could host, act, and be the musical guest!!!!

Elon Musk?!?! Why can’t SNL go back to hiring hosts KNOWN for their comedic skills like Peyton Manning and Justin Bieber?????

I’ve watched Saturday Night Live since 1975 and I think this finally did me in. I’m done. Nope.

I’d rather have a root canal with no anesthesia than watch Elon Musk pretend to be human.

Elon Musk is incapable of poking fun at himself and can’t take a joke at his expense. Who thought this would be a good idea?

I did not have Elon Musk hosting SNL on my 2021 bingo card.

Musk has posted just two tweets about his SNL appearance. One tweet simply revealed that he’s hosting the May 8 episode. The other alludes to the possibility that Musk might some drop some colorful language: “Let’s find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is.”

Watch out, NBC censors. You might have your hands full May 8.

To be fair, Musk isn’t the first rich business exec to host SNL, the long-running sketch-comedy show. Musk’s predecessors in that category include Donald Trump, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and magazine publisher Steve Forbes. And Musk’s partner is Canadian musician Grimes, so maybe he’ll get some at-home entertainment pointers.

Still, you’ve got to wonder what will be more fascinating to watch: an unexpectedly deft performance by Musk or a flameout almost as horrifying as an exploding SpaceX rocket or Tesla battery.

Photo by Midway Companies

Visitor's guide to the best family-friendly fun in Houston this summer

Summer vacay

Summer means it's time for vacation. With long, scorching days full of complaints of, "I'm bored," parents yearn for events and distractions to keep young minds stimulated.

For those looking for a little more than pool, water park, or theme park entertainment, consider heading to Houston, a city full of fun (and often free) summer activities. What better way to combat all that boredom than with some art, music, story time, and a good old-fashioned road trip?

Artful days
The Art Car Museum
Houston's car valhallacontinues to be a free spot for those who love seeing the souped-up, blinged-out automobiles that roll around the city when the Houston Art Car Parade happens every April. Currently, a decades-spanning exhibit called THEN and NOW is on display. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.

The Houston Museum District
Here, myriad museums square away free days and times during these summer months. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Children's Museum of Houston; and the Health Museum always have free hours on Thursdays. Check site for dates and times.

The Orange Show
The colorful show has several on-the-cheap spots that are worth checking out, like the Beer Can House (made of more than 50,000 used beer cans) and the Orange Show Monument. Admission for both is $5 (free for children under 12), but the creative urban space Smither Park is always free. Open from dawn until dusk.

Musical merriment
Cactus Music
The legendary record store continues to be a spot where young music lovers can learn about the coolest vinyl. Families can also catch indie performers, either local or national, do small live shows right there in the store. Added value for parents: The fine folks at Saint Arnold hooks the place up with free beer. Check site for dates and times.

The Houston Symphony
The symphony keeps the summer properly classy with its 2019 Summer Sounds at Jones Hall. End the season with a family-friendly screening of The Little Mermaid, with the Oscar-winning score performed live by the Houston Symphony. Check site for information.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The MFAH will host its Music on the Plaza summer series over at the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza. On August 30, poet Zachary Caballero and Handsomebeast will perform. 6-9 pm.

The great outdoors
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
The charming green space has plenty of events geared for the summer (we're most curious about this Arboretum at Night: Bats event). It's also home to a 155-acre, urban nature preserve, featuring five miles of trails — a must for those who like hiking, walking, or just exploring. 7 am to 7 pm.

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
This park is where you can enjoy bicycling, T'ai Chi, bug walks, canoe trips, and more. Also, every second Saturday finds Second Saturday Settlers, where staff and volunteers demonstrate the various activities of early Texas settlers at Redbud Hill Homestead. Open from dawn to dusk.

Midtown Park
The local park has a bevy of free, outdoor fun: Zumba classes, samba classes, a weekly, pet-friendly happy hour called Yappy Hour, and more. A favorite is the weekly farmers market on Saturdays. Open from dawn to dusk.

Story time
Blue Willow Bookshop

Thursday mornings are for story time. Toddlers and preschoolers will be able to check out stories, sing songs, and enjoy an art activity. The themes change weekly, and special-guest authors might come by to read for the kiddies. 10 am.

Houston Public Library
HPL offers a summer reading program, complete with various story times going on at branches all over the city. Also look for the summer reading programs and story times over at Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Harris County, and Montgomery County. Check sites for dates and times.

Levy Park
Along with having great outdoor activities, Levy Park also has Thursday mornings open for literature-loving families, with its one-hour Family Storytime. Held in the Children’s Pavilion, this cross-generational literacy experience is followed by a facilitated activity or craft for the whole family to enjoy. 10-11 am.

The Nature Discovery Center
Nature Story Time here happens every Wednesday afternoon. Each week, a book on a different nature topic is featured. Then, kids are invited to dabble in a fun craft or go on a nature walk. There are also live animal demonstrations, specimens to observe and touch, and more. 4 pm.

Family fun abounds at Levy Park.

Levy Park Houston oak tree park child
Photo by Midway Companies
Family fun abounds at Levy Park.
Photo courtesy of Mardi Gras Galveston

Follow the beads to these Mardi Gras beats, bashes, and balcony parties in Galveston

Let the good times roll

It's that time of year when tourists descend upon Galveston — no, not for spring break yet — but to go crazy during the two weekends that make up Mardi Gras Galveston. While some gatherings are private, there will be plenty of events where bead-bearing folk can respectfully get their party on.

If you'd rather forego the Mardi Gras crowds in New Orleans this year but still want to take part in parties and parades, point your car toward the popular Texas beach town. In a few hours, the good times will be rolling.

The parades
Expect myriad Mardi Gras parades, mostly going down in the Strand District. The weekend of February 22-24, there will be the George P. Mitchell Mardi Gras Award Parade (7 pm February 22), the 8th Annual Zaniest Golf Cart Parade (1 pm February 23), the Krewe D'iHeartMedia Art Car Parade (3 pm February 23) and the Fiesta Gras Parade (1 pm February 24).

The following weekend, there's the Danny Weber Memorial Fire Truck Parade (7 pm March 1), the Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler Parade (3:30 pm March 2), and the Krewe d'Esprit Rosaire Parade (11 am March 2) on Seawall Boulevard.

The entertainment
This weekend's Main Stage headliners are Texas country artist Pat Green (6 pm February 23) and Baton Rouge funk band Zaemon (10 pm February 23). Coming from Roma, Texas, Norteno band Duelo (2:30 pm February 24) will handle the music for Fiesta Gras.

Next weekend, Lone Star country stars Jason Cassidy (10:30 pm March 1) and Drew Womack (8:30 pm, March 1) will headline a "Salute to Texas" show.

And, for the EDM-loving kids, there's also Electric Mardi Gras, where DJs will be keeping things loud on the Electric Stage at the intersection of 21st and Mechanic. The two big draws this year are Phoenix's Grey the Mute (9 pm February 23) and Austin's Buck Rodgers (11 pm February 23).

The balcony parties
Savvy locals know that half the fun is observing the events from the numerous balcony parties that'll also be going down. The Mardi Gras! Headquarters Balcony Party will be happening all through Mardi Gras at the Dargan & Tobyn Building. A Mardi Gras Mask-Making Party (5:30 pm February 21) will kick things off at the Galveston Arts Center.

The King's Court Balcony Party will be on both weekends at Trolley Station, while the Queen's Court Balcony Party will also be happening at the Trumpets Building. And fans of '80s junk might want to check out the 2019 Krewe of Thalasar '80s Mardi Gras Ball (5 pm February 22) at the Trumpets Building.


For more information on Mardi Gras Galveston parties, visit the official site.


This is how fun Dallas is, according to a new national report

We're having a blast

As that bridal party sipping cocktails in Uptown will tell you, Dallas knows how to have a good time. As the families who make yearly pilgrimages to the State Fair can attest, Dallas sure is fun. In fact, the authors of a new national study should pay the city a visit to see just how fun it is.

Personal finance site WalletHub just released the results of its new report, an investigation to uncover the 2018 Most Fun Cities in America because, as they explain, "everyone likes to have fun." In order to quantify fun, a process which seems inherently not fun, thus negating the fun study, the researchers looked at 80 U.S. cities based on 65 relevant metrics.

Dallas ranks 27th out of 80 cities. As far as Texas cities, that's somewhere between No. 14 Austin and No. 56 Fort Worth. Houston and San Antonio, apparently, are bigger barrels of laughs than Dallas, clocking in at No. 18 and 22, respectively.

According to WalletHub, Americans spend nearly $3,000 on entertainment each year, so this fun study is actually about money. At No. 14, Austin took the No. 1 spot among Texas cities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Live Music Capital of the World scored its highest marks in the "Nightlife & Parties" (13) and "Entertainment & Recreation" (19) categories. Austin didn't do as well in the "Costs" column, earning a paltry 54. (Strangely, Austin did not land among the top five cities for festivals. Instead, that honor went to Honolulu. No disrespect to Honolulu, but seriously? Austin hosted a festival entirely for cats, and they didn't even get an honorable mention? That's just ridiculous.)

How did Dallas compare? In "Entertainment & Recreation," 44; "Nightlife & Parties," 20; and "Costs," 56. Its total average score of 40.06 sandwiches it between sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida (No. 26) and hot Tucson, Arizona (No. 28).

Elsewhere in Texas and DFW, El Paso and Arlington rank at Nos. 73, and 86, respectively. Plano is at 121. Irving comes in at a pretty boring 148, Grand Prairie at 151, and Garland at 152. And sadly, at No. 170, Brownsville wears the tiny sad crown as the least fun place in Texas.

So where is the ultimate fun city in the U.S.? That precious honor was bestowed upon Las Vegas. Orlando, Florida, and New York City round out the top three spots.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Whiskers and Soda is the new cat cafe that cats in Dallas needed

Cat News

A much-anticipated cat cafe is opening its doors: Called Whiskers and Soda Cat Café, it'll be a sanctuary in East Dallas for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and it's celebrating its grand opening on March 25, at 10320 Garland Rd.

The location also includes Griffin Rock Cat Retreat, a luxurious cat boarding facility open for up to 12 cats/cat families.

Both are owned by Lake Highlands residents Caroline and Rob Stovall, as a way to support their work in cat rescue with A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), a nonprofit cat rescue organization.

According to a release, their goal with Whiskers and Soda Cat Café is to provide a place for potential adopters to connect with cats. The cats will also be provided with veterinary care.

The café will feature the following amenities:

  • visiting area with beverages and pastries by local Leila Bakery
  • a one-of-a-kind sofa just for cats
  • shelves for cats to wander
  • more cat related areas
  • a kitten room for people specifically focused on kittens
  • a visiting room for those wanting to spend time with cats before adoption

You have to pay to visit the Cat Café - this is a charitable endeavor - with choice of a monthly membership or payment for a single visit, subject to availability. They're offering an opening promotion of $10-$12.50 a month.

Anyone who adopts a cat gets the hourly fee deducted, and other benefits will be provided.

Adjoining the cafe is the Griffin Rock Cat Retreat, the boarding facility which offers each cat or cat family its own private room, with space to run, toys, ramps, TV, and interactive camera/audio device.

As the release notes, Stovall is originally from the UK, and was shocked at the horrendous animal welfare laws in Texas.

"I've worked in a number of rescues in Dallas, but I finally decided that it was time to take the next step," she says. "Our team, along with volunteers, will run the cat café, cat retreat and adoption center. We will run it like a business with a coffee shop where people can work. We see these businesses as a means of funding our non-for-profit organization, too.”

When cats are found and don’t have homes, A Voice for All Paws covers spay/neuter, microchipped, deworming, medications, baths, vet exams, shots, and check for parasites. Getting kittens and cats socialized around people and other animals eases adoptions.

"Having a place where people can visit cats ready for adoption will be a huge benefit to AVAP," Stovall says.

Country music bad boy Morgan Wallen headlines ACM Awards benefit show in Dallas-Fort Worth

Country concert news

Dallas-Fort Worth will be the center of the country music universe on May 11, when the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards are broadcast from The Star in Frisco. As with any worldwide, Super Bowl-level event, there'll be many happenings leading up to it. First up: a benefit concert headlined by Morgan Wallen.

The country music bad boy (and current superstar and reigning ACM Album of the Year winner) takes top billing on "ACM Lifting Lives LIVE: Morgan Wallen & Friends," a fundraiser for Lifting Lives, the philanthropic partner of the Academy of Country Music. The "friends" taking the stage with him include reigning ACM Songwriter of the Year HARDY, reigning ACM New Female Artist and Song of the Year winner Lainey Wilson, ERNEST, Bailey Zimmerman, and DJ 13lackbeard.

The show will be held at 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 10 on the golfing green at Topgolf in The Colony. It will follow the Topgolf Tee-Off and Rock On Fundraiser, presented by VGT by Aristocrat Gaming, taking place earlier that day; the concert is ticketed separately from the golf tournament.

Just what does Lifting Lives do? According to a release, "in addition to distributing more than $4 million to date through its Covid Relief Fund, ACM Lifting Lives provides critical support through the Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund, significant annual commitments to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Music Health Alliance, and the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, and individual grants to organizations that reach communities all across America."

Now in its fourth year (and first in Texas), the golf tournament brings together artists, industry members, and fans for a golf skills competition and an extended day of live entertainment.

"ACM Lifting Lives does great work providing aid in times of need to folks inside and outside of the music industry,” Wallen says in the release. “My band and I are excited to help them raise funds to continue doing this amazing work.”

Now, for the ticket details, per the release:

  • General Admission tickets to the concert became available to ACM Members, ACM A-List subscribers, 58th ACM Awards ticket holders, and Topgolf Friends and Family through an exclusive presale that started at 12 pm Thursday, March 23.
  • Remaining tickets will be available for a general public onsale beginning Friday, March 24 at 10 am through AXS.
  • Tickets to the benefit concert only are $350 plus service fees.
  • Those who have purchased bays for golf will be able to remain in their bay for the concert, with the bay serving as a suite to watch the show. A limited amount of VIP fan golf bays for the Topgolf Tee-Off and Rock On are available for purchase; email rockon@acmcountry.com.

Crane flies have landed ever so lightly in Dallas, which means one thing

Insect News

The crane flies have arrived in Dallas, and this year, they're here in droves.

Fragile, leggy, and whisper-light, crane flies are most often found around streams and lakes. But at certain times of year, they show up in urban areas, hovering and bobbing around houses and doorways.

If you live in certain areas — green, suburban areas — you've surely encountered them or seen complaints on your cranky Facebook neighborhood page. This, even though they don't bite or want to bother you in any way.

To bug experts like Janet Hurley, an Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, their arrival means one thing: Spring is officially here.

If they seem to be in larger numbers, it's, as usual, related to weather.

"The weather has been warmer, and we've had a number of damp days," Hurley says. "We've also had an unusual 2023, with spring bouncing in and out for a couple months. They usually show up during or right before spring break. But we all joke that if you see the crane fly, you won’t be seeing freezing temperatures again."

Of all the pests Texas must endure, crane flies have to be the most innocuous. Now-retired Texas A&M entomologist Mike Merchant called them "among the gentlest of insects."

It's a myth that they prey on or are related to mosquitoes. Crane flies are larger, and unlike mosquitos, their wings do not have scales. They also don't want your blood. They live on fat reserves built up during their larval stage.

They live short but amorous lives. Their sole purpose is to mate and make more crane flies for next spring.

Hurley says that they might be a nuisance but to consider the alternatives.

"Once they're gone, the mosquitoes come in," she says.