The Quirky in Dallas: The Uglier, The Better

uglysweater3The journey of the ugly Christmas sweater has been an interesting one. What started out as the endearing holiday wear of kindergarten teachers and grandmothers everywhere somehow morphed into a hipster trend and ultimately a mainstream obsession. From office holiday parties to family gatherings, the ugly Christmas sweater has become a seasonal staple. Fans of tinsel and pompoms once had to scrounge through the racks of thrift stores and Buffalo Exchange hoping to find that one perfect Rudolph sweater. But all that has changed, with the mass production of the ugly Christmas sweater (I’m looking at you, Wal-Mart and Forever 21) the festive outerwear has become incredibly common.

I think there is still something so much more charming about purchasing a pre-owned sweater that no one else is going to have. Evidently, I’m not alone because a store has popped up on Lovers Lane right next to the Inwood Village movie theater that exclusively sells ugly Christmas sweaters—appropriately named “That Ugly Christmas Sweater Store.”

Even if you wouldn’t be caught dead in anything with Santa’s face on it, you might still want to visit the shop as you scramble to buy gifts. You know those people in your family who are particularly difficult to shop for? Well, fear not. This place has something for all of them.

For the family member who can’t make it through the day without telling a dirty joke:

This bright red one features a picture of Betty Boop and the words “Santa Baby xoxo” (except the o’s are hearts). It’s cartoonish, and it’s creepy.

For the family member who has a “Don’t Mess with Texas” bumper sticker:

This one isn’t a sweater technically, but rather a sweatshirt (which might be more practical for your duck-hunting, pickup-driving uncle anyway.) It features a snowy scene with an adorable snowman dressed like a cowboy. So go ahead, buy it for your loved one who knows all the verses of “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

For the family member who is just a little… off:

uglysweater1You know that classic holiday tradition of peeking in your neighbors' windows to see what they’re up to? Well, this sweater celebrates your nosy family member’s urge to creep without the risk of unsettling the neighbors. This bright blue piece is adorned with numerous windows framing different scenes: a Christmas tree with gifts, a curled up kitten, some stockings hanging, and more. They can peek away and no one will call the police.

For the family member who hates the holidays:

uglysweater2Shopping for the Grinch? You’re in luck. This one is unique for numerous reasons: first, it’s short sleeved. I’m a little confused as to what kind of weather this item is intended for. When is it cold enough to merit a sweater but warm enough for short sleeves to be acceptable? Regardless, this sweater lacks anything holiday themed. Instead, it depicts a lighthouse, some sailboats, and an American flag. Why is this in a Christmas store? What climate-confused person is going to purchase it? These are all questions that I’ll be pondering throughout the season.

For the family member who REALLY loves the holidays:

uglysweater4This sweater vest practically screams “SANTA!?!!!? I KNOW HIM!!” It’s got everything the reindeer-loving, carol-singing, hot cocoa-chugging Christmas-obsessed person could ever want. I’ll be more specific: Tiny ornaments? Check! Christmas stockings? Check! Red and green festive fur-lined sleeves? Check!

The store is open through December 27, but I suggest you hurry before the ugliest sweaters are gone.

Hayley Waring is a level 5 improv student at the Dallas Comedy House training center. If the world was a perfect place she would spend her days writing poetry with Alexander Hamilton while sharing an ahi tuna tower.

What We're Loving: Archive Obsession, Target Exclusives, Winter Weather, Fake Real News

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison thinks he's better than you, Jonda Robinson has her spandex ready, Rachel Hall drops some truth for men , and Ryan Callahan steps in a pile of Sorkin. Original_New_Yorker_coverThis week I’m loving something that I’m embarrassed to share. Embarrassment is a very difficult emotion for me to feel, because I unabashedly love most pieces of pop culture for which others hide their adoration. The inspiration for this feeling comes from the fear of coming off like an elitist asshole, so before you continue, please remember that I am one of you and not a snob. Do you forgive me? I need to know that you do and that you won’t judge me before I share it. Promise? Promise me! OK. This week I’ve spent a lot of time reading the archives of The New Yorker. The reason I’ve waded through the backlogs of such a fancy publication isn’t to find black-and-white pictures of interpretive dance, instead the goal of the dig was to find every single thing that my new favorite writer, Simon Rich, has ever created. And it was worth the effort because he is phenomenal humorist.

Simon Rich has the cliche resume for a great comedic writer: he once worked at Saturday Night Live and was president of the Harvard Lampoon. You can check out the archive of his creative writing for the New Yorker here, but before you click the link, prepare to lose the rest of your afternoon. Rich does an amazing job of creating realistic outcomes from an absurd premise. The best example of this talent is seen in "Guy Walks Into A Bar," which is an amazing continuation to what happens after a standard guy-walks-into-a-bar joke comes to an end.

So do yourself a favor and check out the writing of Simon Rich, partially so you can enjoy his work, but mostly because I don’t want to be the only one obsessively searching through The New Yorker’s website. - David Allison

taylor-swift-1989-deluxe-album-coverYes, I do own Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989. Yes, I did buy it the day it came out. Yes, I did go to Target so I could get the deluxe album with bonus tracks. So what? Listening to T-Swift bumpin’ and blarin’ through the Bose system in my sweet sedan makes me feel like I’m hanging out at a super wholesome club—which, if you know me at all, if “wholesome nightclubs” were a thing, I’d be there, sporting a cardigan and dancing awkwardly to “Blank Space” while it plays at a level that is both respectful and responsible.

Don’t worry—1989 is not what I’m here to talk about this week. The thing I want to present to you, in case you haven’t enjoyed it yet, is the aerobics video that pairs perfectly with the first single off the album, “Shake It Off.” If you’re in a bad mood, watch this. The outfits! The moves! The happy, fit people! They’ll get your endorphins going by just watching them shake it off.

If anyone wants to collect enough people and spandex to re-enact this, I’m in. All in. -  Jonda Robinson

wintersocksThe temperature today and for the rest of week is set to be in the mid 40s. Nothing to rejoice over for northerners, but here in Texas it means two extremely important things: 1) Finally a season other than summer has begun, and 2) ladies can stop shaving their legs.

That’s right, it is officially the most wonderful time of year. Sorry to break it to you guys, but us woman folk look forward to this all year long. The summer months are very unforgiving, and as women, we are constantly reminded to look beach ready. That means sun-kissed skin, fresh out the water hair, and shaved legs. But who needs those things when it’s 50 degrees outside? NOT I SAID THE FLY. The fall and winter months bring so many options for the unshaved leg. Boots of all heights, tall schoolgirl socks, maxi skirts and dresses, and oversized everything are all on trend for the upcoming months. Fashion camouflage for those who may be scared of looking frumpy is a thing so go out and explore your favorite stores because you have options.

This is our time. Whether you are single, dating, or married, know that you’ve worked hard this year making sure your legs were looking great and now nature is telling us to take a shave-cation. Retire that razor, because that’s why God invented tights! No more need in feeling self conscious because you forgot to shave one day; take solace in the fact that the only thing you have to maintain are your eyebrows. You deserve this. TREAT YO’ SELF! - Rachel Hall

newsroom3Two years ago I gave The Newsroom a chance, mostly due to my undying love for The West Wing. I did not like what I saw. The show was the worst of Sorkin: excessive pratfalls, smugness, and the belief that smart people show their smarts by speaking in lists. One scene in particular, which featured Jeff Daniels and his news team discussing the jersey scene in Rudy, so irked me that I took to Twitter to ask if Aaron Sorkin has ever spoken to real people or been in a room with real people or watched real people from across the street. You could say this particular scene struck me as phony.

Then the other day a TV blog I read praised the first episode of the new season. I'm nothing if not suggestible, so I gave the show another shot. The third season premiere was quite good. Good enough that I decided to go back to the beginning and give the show a chance. I watched the first season over the past two nights and have already finished the first two episodes of the second season.

Either time has been kind to the show or I have mellowed over the past two years. I found the show fun, witty, and full of all kinds of good Sorkin bits, like people being really sarcastic and people being really honest about their flaws. And it has Sam Waterston, and Sam Waterston is probably the best person ever. Sure, there's still all kinds of bad Sorkin, like the casual misogyny, the romantic subplots that no one could possibly care about, and the sudden tonal shifts. But when the show is good, it is very good, in a very West Wing kind of way. The Osama Bin Laden episode and the Gabrielle Giffords episode in particular got me all choked up. And the Rudy scene wasn't as bad as I remembered either. - Ryan Callahan