Photo courtesy of Perot Museum of Nature and Science/Pixar

Ever wonder what goes into the making of a Pixar film, particularly how character favorites like Buzz Lightyear, Mike, Sulley, and Dory are created and brought to life? Making its Texas debut at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, “The Science Behind Pixar” offers a unique look into the Pixar process.

Exploring the almost 10,000-square-foot exhibition, visitors will learn about the science and technology needed to create their most beloved animated films and characters. “The Science Behind Pixar” embodies the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) thinking skills needed to create compelling films.

Presented in English and digitally in Spanish, guests can engage in dozens of hands-on activities, listen to firsthand accounts from members of the studios’ production teams and come face-to-face with life-size recreations of cherished Pixar characters such as Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Ian Lightfoot, Edna Mode, and WALL•E.


James Beard Award-winning forager plucks Texan plants for how-to talk at SXSW

instagram goes wild

To urban Texans, foraging may sound like an ancient, lost art or a complicated excursion, but it could be as simple as picking a backyard weed and eating it raw.

James Beard Award winner Alexis Nikole Nelson goes by BlackForager on social media, seeking out wild, edible plants, sharing recipes, and shouting into the camera. Her usual send-off: “Happy snacking, don’t die!”

On March 10, the first day of South by Southwest (SXSW), Nelson gave a presentation on foraging in urban areas, well-suited for complete beginners.

“But, loud lady,” Nelson says, imitating disempowered city folk, “I don’t live in the middle of the woods like it seems like you do.” Rest assured, there is no minimum rusticness required for foragers to ride this ride. She points out that she spotted some edible plants right across the street from the Austin convention center that went completely unnoticed by passersby.

Texans are unlucky to live in a state where collecting plants on public lands is generally illegal — not that police offers know that law, Nelson suggests. In fact, it's difficult to find those laws at all, even with a detailed online search. A debate circulates the Hill Country yearly during wildflower season, when rumors claim bluebonnets are illegal to pick, but news sources and blogs generally agree the activity is permitted in certain circumstances.

Nelson and many others (take fashion designer Ron Finley, who was legally threatened for planting a garden in a public area), have argued that restrictive laws around food sources were often — and still remain — a tool for curtailing self-sufficiency for non-landowners (including, but not limited to enslaved people). Even in her own yard, Nelson says she faced homeowners association fines for allowing it to grow naturally.

"It is an act of justice to put our hands to the earth to support ourselves," Nelson asserts in a video about why she chose the moniker BlackForager.

The SXSW talk also addressed other reasons to support foraging in marginalized communities and beyond: it provides nutritionally dense foods compared to the grocery store items that are selectively grown for taste and prolonged storage, gets people involved in their surroundings and land stewardship, and exposes a "new inherent value" even in seemingly less fruitful environments.

It’s possible to find snacks and seasonings in backyards, trees that were planted as decoration, and nature hikes — basically anywhere that it's not dangerous to consume plants. Nelson recommends staying away from the edges of sidewalks, houses that may contain lead paint, railroad tracks, golf courses, and other sites that are heavily fertilized. She also pointed out poison ivy along a creek trail.

Some plants Texans can forage, from Nelson's presentation (which covered a much wider geographic range), include:

  • Cherries: Some cherry trees are native to Texas, with edible blossoms and fruits (minus the pits). The blossoms can be used as a garnish or made into a fruity, almond-like syrup.
  • Serviceberries: The small fruits are delicious and come out earlier in the season than many. Their leaves are also edible. These are delicious fresh off the plant, but Nelson also likes making serviceberry jelly.
  • Magnolias: These trees are beautiful, and easy to find in many Texas neighborhoods. Nelson describes the flavor of the native varieties' flowers as "floral citrus with a little spice at the end," and uses the leaves as a bay leaf substitute.
  • Oak trees: One of the most ubiquitous symbols of Texas and the South produces acorns, which must be processed for snacking, but can also be made into a flour for baking.
  • Texas persimmon: Asian cultures value this fruit more than most, but Texans have their own native varietal. Fruits should be eaten only when ripe, when they will look black and taste sweet.
  • Yaupon: This holly tree is native to Texas and commonly thought to be toxic, although that's not the whole story. Although the berries are toxic when eaten in too high a quantity, the leaves have long been made into tea.
  • Dandelions: These weeds are not native to Texas, but grow basically everywhere, anyway. They are entirely edible including their roots. Dandelion greens, especially, can be found in grocery stores and even restaurants.
  • Horseweed: one of the most annoying lawn invaders is actually delicious, and even rumored to be used in a very popular soda. This is the plant Nelson saw across from the Convention Center. It tastes sweeter dried.
  • Thistles: These like dry soil (a Texas hallmark), and can be eaten as long as the spikes are not in the way. Artichokes are a type of thistle. The stems taste like celery.

Nelson shares recipes on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, along with general tips for foraging. There are many blogs and even some semi-official resources for foraging in Texas. Take a friend, and be completely sure of identification before tasting something.

Photo by Jordan Fraker

These are the 8 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

As we inch closer to the big holiday of the season, there are plenty of events taking place, but fewer and fewer new ones. This weekend around Dallas will feature a trio of concerts, a national tour of Broadway musical, a holiday festival, versions of both A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, and a visit from a Food Network star.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events. Looking for the best Christmas lights in town? That list is here.

Thursday, December 8

Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart
Two mainstays in the bluegrass music genre, the Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck, will team up for this special concert. Punch Brothers have been at the top of the bluegrass charts since their debut in 2008, which each of their eight albums or EPs landing at No. 1 or 2. Fleck has boldly gone where no banjo player has gone before, a musical journey that has earned him 15 Grammys in nine different genres. My Bluegrass Heart is his first bluegrass tour in 24 years. They'll play at Majestic Theatre.

Broadway Dallas presents Six
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix 50 years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power. The national tour of the Broadway musicalSix runs through December 25 at Winspear Opera House.

Friday, December 9

Old City Park presents 50th Annual Candlelight
Old City Park will present its 50th Candlelight, the longest running holiday event in Texas. There will be over 13 acres of decorated buildings, strolling carolers, craft vendors, food trucks, and crafts for kids on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend kicks off with Cocktails by Candlelight on Friday. At the 21+ event, guests can enjoy drinks at the park while they see a sneak peek of Candlelight. There will be vendors, Victorian Carolers, drinks, snacks, music, and more.

Company of Rowlett Performers presents A Christmas Carol
Company of Rowlett Performers will present their version of A Christmas Carol, which recounts the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The production runs through December 17 at Plaza Theater in Garland.

Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Avant Chamber Ballet will present its production of Paul Mejia’s The Nutcracker with live orchestra. The production features Tchaikovsky’s timeless score conducted by Brad Cawyer, ACB’s professional dancers, bright young stars chosen from schools across Dallas, unique sets and costumes, and the Arts District decked out with the season’s best. There will be five performances through Sunday at Moody Performance Hall.

Zoé in concert
Mexican rock band Zoé has made waves in both their native country and the United States over the past 20 years. Since 2001, they've released seven albums - most recently 2021's Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia - with three of them being nominated for Best Latin Rock Album at the Grammys, nabbing one award. They'll play at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Saturday, December 10

Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats– The Holiday Variant
Television personality, author, and Food Network and Netflix star Alton Brown comes to Dallas as part of his Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats – The Holiday Variant tour. His latest production mixes together science, music, food, and festive fun into two hours of pure entertainment. The event will be at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Kings Return in concert
Kings Return is a vocal band of brothers made up of Gabe Kunda, Vaughn Faison, J.E. McKissic, and Jamall Williams. At this concert at Lewisville Grand Theater, they'll perform fan favorites, alongside tracks from their Merry Little Christmas EP and their debut album, Rove. They will also be sharing stories behind their favorite Christmas songs.

Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker

Photo by Jordan Fraker

Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker with a live orchestra at Moody Performance Hall, December 9-11.

Photo by Chris Cassidy

Neil deGrasse Tyson - An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies: The Sequel

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astronomy Bizarre

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will present an entertaining and enlightening review of all the science that our favorite movies got wrong, combined with some of the stuff they got right. The event incorporates the latest films as well as some classics that you may not have known had any science in them at all.

Photo courtesy of Speak As One

New Texas-based mental health subscription box plans national launch at SXSW 2023

Speak Now and Hold Your Peace

Mental health apps are so alluring, but once you’ve recorded your two-week streak and things are feeling a little more organized, it can be hard to keep going. It’s hard enough to keep up with journaling and a great bedtime routine, and many lovely self-help tools also lose their effectiveness when the novelty wears off.

A smart company might harness that novelty as its hook — and an easily distracted self-helper won’t fall off the wagon. Like many other companies in the mental health space, Speak As One will work on a subscription model, but this one won’t languish, unused on a credit card statement. The service, which plans to launch during SXSW 2023, delivers boxes of tangible mental health tools, inspiration, games, and even sensory objects that act as a monthly nudge to try something new, and curiosity takes care of the rest.

A sample box included:

  • Stress balls with short inspirational phrases by MindPanda
  • An Emotional First Aid Kit containing advice for situations as they come up, like sleeplessness and feelings of inadequacy
  • Tiny colorful putties at different resistances by Flint Rehab
  • A notebook, and two books: Athlete Mental Health Playbook and 1000 Unique Questions About Me
  • Other small items

It’s more than packing and shipping out a few toys each month. The boxes are curated with help from a licensed therapist, who leaves a personal note along with tips on how to use the items inside and additional resources. There is one type of box right now that aims to “reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness, and promote peace and balance,” but for further customization (for $10 more), the team is working on boxes tailored to first responders, veterans, athletes, and people in “recovery.”

Speak As One emphasizes community stories in its branding outside the delivery box, and uses inspiration from “influencers” (less content creators and more so people who can embody a relatable story) to build the specialty boxes. The company’s YouTube channel shares dozens of interviews with founder Julie Korioth, a former board member for Austin’s SIMS Foundation, a well-respected mental health resource for members of the local music industry.

“With hundreds of millions of people struggling with mental health, and COVID making the issue much worse, society continues to ostracize those who openly discuss mental health issues,” said Korioth in a release. “I founded this company so we can change the way the world sees, discusses, and supports mental health. Our goal is to promote empathy, connectedness, acceptance, and thoughtfulness with an innovative toolkit that caters to specific needs."

In addition to offering a nudge, these boxes could make great care packages for a loved one who is feeling introspective or going through a significant life event. It is possible to buy gift boxes, if presentation is your thing, but it’d be just as easy to repackage a box that comes before the receiver ready to appreciate the items at home.

The cost of one box is manageable at $49.99 (especially considering the retail value of products included, which the sample box far exceed), but for many subscribers this adds up fast. Luckily, there is no pressure to continue a lengthy commitment — subscriptions last between one and six months, so users have plenty of time to reconsider and sit with the items that have already been delivered.“

The goal is to meet our audience at any phase of their mental health journey,” said Korioth. “We’re creating change and a global life-long support system for children and adults dealing with mental health challenges. We simultaneously highlight businesses, the tech community, athletes, and artists doing wonderful work in this space.”

The company plans to partner with corporations to connect with employees and provide boxes to individuals the company chooses, and will turn some content into session albums with sales proceeds dedicated to mental health research.

More information and links to preorder are available at speakasone.com.

Dallas Arboretum Children’s Garden presents IF/THEN Ambassador Meet & Greet - Women in STEM Live

Thirtteen of the AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors will visit their life size 3D printed statues on display at the Dallas Arboretum’s Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. The Ambassadors will greet guests, talk about their STEM careers, and facilitate activities for all ages.

Guests can enjoy cookies, activities including a scavenger hunt, and demonstrations from these women leaders in STEM representing a variety of careers from robotics engineering, to cosmetic chemistry, to wildlife conservation, to aerospace engineering, and more.

A total of 50 statues from #IfThenSheCan - The Exhibit are on display at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden through December 31.

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Butcher opens at foot of Dallas' Park Cities with meats & deli sandwiches to-go

Meat News

A boutique butcher in Dallas has opened with a case full of meat and a little something extra.

Called Evan's Meat Market, it opened in the spring at the Shops of Highland Park at 4266 Oak Lawn Ave., next-door to upscale restaurant Sachet, where it's selling locally sourced meats as well as meal solutions to go.

"Evan" is owner Evan Meagher, a native of Louisiana who grew up in butcher shops, and for whom owning his own shop was a lifelong dream.

He's joined by Mike Lawson, head butcher and general manager, who previously worked at Georgie’s By Curtis Stone, Gemma, Sachet, and Macellaio; and manager Brer Wyant, who also worked at Georgie's, as well as Bouillon and The Village.

The shop offers beef, pork, lamb, pig, and chicken, sourced from Texas and Oklahoma, including a customer-friendly category of meats ready to be cooked sous vide and transformed into a meal, such as Cajun chicken breast, smoked pork tenderloin, chicken wings, and short ribs.

They also have a number of items pre-cooked and ready to be heated, including

  • Cajun gumbo
  • Andouille sausage made in house
  • Twice baked potatoes
  • Buttermilk biscuits $15/dozen
  • Bolognese sauce

There are also sides ready to heat, including mac & cheese, green beans with smoked onions, and sweet potatoes, $12-$15 for a medium-sized tray - designed to provide a quick restaurant-quality meal in 30 minutes.

They're very into their deli counter, and offer a menu of sandwiches and po'boys starring turkey, chicken salad, ham, roast beef, and pastrami. Their bread is from Langlinais Baking Company, a classic New Orleans-style French bread baker from Evan’s hometown of Lafayette, which he frequented growing up.

“Deli meat is very approachable," Lawson says. "Customers taste it and next time they're willing to try something different."

The staff’s background in service and hospitality is a big part of their success. And the education aspect is key, as customers come in to learn about the variety of products offered.

"This neighborhood is great," Wyant says. "Everybody that comes here wants to cook something, they are excited about food and share experiences later. They sometimes bring their food for us to try what they did."

The shop is open Monday-Saturday 11 am-6 pm, and Sunday 11 am-3 pm.

Nicole Kidman turns up star power to raise $1.1 million at Dallas' Genesis Luncheon

Oscar-worthy event

The morning after watching her husband, Keith Urban, open the ACM Awards show in Frisco with an electrifying performance, Nicole Kidman turned up her own star power as the keynote speaker for Genesis Women's Shelter & Support's 30th annual Luncheon.

About 1,500 guests gathered at Dallas' Hilton Anatole on Friday, May 12 for the beloved spring fundraiser.

It was "take two" for Genesis and Kidman. She had been scheduled to headline the organization's 2020 luncheon, which got canceled due to COVID and pivoted to a virtual conversation with the Oscar-winning actress. Luckily, she could come back in person.

Kidman first posed for photos with VIPs at a reception before the ballroom opened for lunch.

After guests took their seats, the DeSoto High School Choir - under the direction of Grammy Award-winning choir director Pamela Dawson - kicked things off with a rousing performance of “Revolution.”

Genesis chief development officer Amy Norton and luncheon co-chairs Monica and Brent Christopher welcomed visitors and acknowledged special guests, and the Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson gave an invocation before the three-course meal was served.

The highlight of the afternoon was an on-stage conversation between Genesis CEO Jan Langbein and Kidman. Besides being an award-winning actress and global superstar, Kidman has been a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Fund for Women for 17 years.

They discussed a variety of topics including Kidman's involvement with the UN and her desire to fight for women’s rights globally; how her parents shaped her perspective on life; notable roles she has portrayed that show the complexities of womanhood; and how she balances her professional life with her home life.

Some highlights of Kidman's interview:

On how to help each other in the fight against domestic violence: “Reach out for help…because a lot of times I think the loneliness and the isolation [can feel like] ‘where do I go for help?’ There are helplines and there is solid available help, so reach out. And even reaching out to a friend, and then as a friend going, ‘I know what to recommend for you to do right now.’”

On why she selects some of the more intense roles she’s portrayed: “Half the time people don’t want to see those stories, but if they actually go through [the story] and see it, then they build compassion and they build understanding, and somehow I do believe that helps the world. So I seek out these roles not so you go and torture people, but so you create a connection and go, ‘How do we move in closer to each other and understand each other and what we’re all going through?’ Because we’re all going through things – very different things, but there’s enormous tragedy in life, as we all know, there’s enormous joy, and we’re on the journey together. We can help each other.”

On how she approached her character Celeste’s mindset toward abuse in Big Little Lies: “I think the thing with so much abuse is even acknowledging it, the awareness that it is abuse. I think for Celeste, and this is something that I learned, is that there is so much self-blame and a lot of times disassociation where ‘it’s not me that’s in an abusive relationship – it may be that person or that person is, but I’m not.’”

All told, the 30th annual event raised $1.1 million for Genesis, which annually serves thousands of women and children at its emergency shelter, transitional housing apartments, and nonresidential counseling office.

Notable attendees included Boots Nolan, Nancy Best, Sheila Grant Kenneth Aboussie, Kamela Aboussie, Barbara Smith, Sheree J. Wilson, Sheree J. Wilson, Mary Bowman Campbell, Sally Dutter, Yvette Martinez, Leigh Anne Haugh, Michael Horne, Marissa Horne, Justyna Oymerska, and more than 1,400 more patrons, supporters, and guests.

Genesis Luncheon 2023, Nicole Kidman

Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Jan Langbein, Nicole Kidman

For more information about Genesis Women's Shelter & Support, visit the organization's website.

American Airlines adds travel perks for summer including new vegan entree

Airline Food News

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has made some additions to its in-flight lineup for summer 2023, including new meals and foodie snacks, Wi-Fi updates, and new movie options to stream. That includes a special selection of films celebrating Pride Month in June.

Food first!

The new food options include chef-curated menu options in premium cabins and choices for the indulgent or health-conscious traveler in the main cabin.

Plant-based: Customers flying on transcontinental American Flagship service flights have a new premium entrée and it's plant-based, woo-hoo: The new Plant-Based Bulgogi Noodle Bowl entrée comes with yakisoba noodles, stir-fry vegetables, and plant-based beef crumbles — offering a new meal option that is both nourishing and delicious.

Avli on the Park: Customers flying in premium cabins to Europe from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this summer can enjoy dishes from Avli on the Park, a Greek restaurant in Chicago and a Michelin 2023 honoree. Options include a Greek Beef Orzo Stew and a Kagiana Egg Scramble for breakfast. These items from Avli on the Park are available on six nonstop flights to Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Paris, and Rome.

Wi-Fi updates
Wi-Fi enhancements for the summer months include:

Complimentary Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers: By July, 100 percent of American's Wi-Fi-equipped regional and narrowbody aircrafts will offer T-Mobile In-Flight Connection On Us, allowing eligible T-Mobile customers to enjoy complimentary connectivity with streaming on domestic flights.

Summer streaming: Travelers to international destinations should be able to enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds and a more reliable service for all their connectivity needs thanks to increased bandwidth planned for American's widebody aircraft, offering 100 percent mainline aircraft with video streaming capabilities.

New film and viewing options include:

Monthly exclusives: New movies will be offered monthly which customers can watch exclusively inflight such as the new AppleTV+ movie Ghosted.

Pride Month: American is offering an entertainment channel featuring top LGBTQ+ talent; customers can choose from a list of movies and series.

American Black Film Festival channel: This summer, American is bringing new content to the American Black Film Festival channel, elevating the unique voices and power stories of the Black community to offer a deeper understanding of the Black experience.

"Our customers are the inspiration behind everything we do, and American is committed to consistently deliver a world-class experience for them,” said Kim Cisek, Vice President of Customer Experience. “We know customers want a convenient travel experience throughout their journey on American and to arrive at their destination satisfied and ready to explore — a focus we keep in mind when refreshing and creating new experiences for them to enjoy on the ground and in the skies."