Historical drama exposes one of history’s greatest monsters
By Devin D. O’Leary
Like 2006’s other great Oscar contender The Queen, The Last King of Scotland is a magnificent two-person display of acting talent. In The Queen, Helen Mirren shows off her mad acting skills as the imperious Queen Elizabeth, frighteningly stoic in the wake of Princess Diana’s death. She’s the odds-on fave to win an Academy Award for Best Actress. But it’s the work of Michael Sheen as the empathetic man of the people Tony Blair which gives The Queen its spark of life. Rubbing against each other like flint and steel, Mirren and Sheen form a slow-building, ultimately incandescent partnership.
Actors Wanted--Open auditions are being held this week for a local feature film based on the idea that New Mexico truly is the “Land of Entrapment.” The feature film is described as a redemption story that follows one young man's fight to escape Albuquerque. Producers are seeking local actors, union and nonunion, aged 18-45, of all races. Auditions will be held at Marcello’s Chophouse in the new ABQ Uptown shopping center (corner of Louisiana and Indian School) on Jan. 19, 20 and 21 from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Interested parties are advised to prepare a two- to three-minute monologue. For more information, contact Preacher Overton at 352-7521.
Humble drama sends father on a journey of emotional discovery
By Devin D. O’Leary
Gouichi Takata is a stoic fisherman of few words. When he finds out his estranged son, Kenichi, is dying of cancer in a Tokyo hospital, however, he accepts his daughter-in-law’s invitation as the best excuse for a reunion. Unfortunately, Kenichi refuses to see his father. Sometime in the past, the two had an unspoken falling out, and Kenichi is still not ready to forgive his father. Kenichi’s wife Rei tries to broker some kind of peace, giving Mr. Takata a videotape of a documentary his son worked on. Kenichi is a professor of Oriental Studies at Tokyo University. He has a special love for traditional Chinese folk opera, and has taken many trips to the mainland to record famed performances. On his last trip, Kenichi tried and failed to record “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles,” a snippet from the Chinese national epic The Romance of the Three Kingdoms performed by Li Jiamin, considered one of the greatest living practitioners of the art. After seeing his son’s incomplete film, Mr. Takata decides it’s now his mission to travel to China, find Li Jiamin and record the one performance his dying son was unable to capture.
There’s been so much talk about war in the Middle East these days that many Americans have forgotten the troubles that plague our homeland. Like, for example, the growing war between talk show host Rosie O’Donnell and real estate mogul Donald Trump. What hope is there for lasting peace between Muslims and Jews if we can’t get a couple of spotlight-hogging celebrities to play nice?
The New Strawberry Zots--Back in school, when this burgeoningly menstrual girl got in my grill for not burning a Nirvana face onto my arm with a BIC lighter (the height of teen fashion at the time), I was at a total loss. Of course, I was familiar with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and heroin-chic "alternative" music of the day. But the only radio I ever cared to listen to was AM and the Edge on Sunday nights, when the competent DJs could still get away with a few hours of local programming. So I shot back with all the reigning local bands I could think of. "So what? Ever hear of Apricot Jam? Word Salad? The Strawberry Zots?" She looked at me like I was diseased. "What's with the fruit, man?" she spat.
It’s finally dawning on you that of Montreal is your favorite band. I’ll spare you the superlative laudation of The Elephant Six recording collective from which of Montreal emerged bright-eyed and full of promise more than a decade ago. You already know all about it. You’re their biggest fan.
Driving force James LaValle isn’t afraid to switch things up
By Lash Bower
Classically trained multi-instrumentalist James LaValle is on the road with his massive electronic-orchestral endeavor, The Album Leaf. We found LaValle making his way toward Albuquerque in support of his new album, Into the Blue Again, when we spoke with him in an exclusive phone interview.
Helen Fox helps Albuquerque's homeless kids find their way around our public schools
By Marisa Demarco
Fourteen years ago, Albuquerque Public Schools called Helen Fox and asked her to figure out what to do with a small grant they were receiving for homeless students. "Not a lot was going on with it," she says. "Basically, the reason why was that it was not a lot of money."
Albuquerque resident and Apollo astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt may have inspired an international race to unlock the possible power of lunar helium-3
By John Lasker
An Albuquerque resident for more than 20 years, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt has one connection to the Moon that is his and only his. As an Apollo 17 astronaut, Schmitt was the last person to touch the lunar surface.
The single scariest thing I’ve read all year was the cover article in the January 2007 issue of Harper’s, "Moby Duck," by Donovan Hohn. What it lacks in gore and mayhem it more than makes up for with a breath-stealing, authentically weird scenario--one made more frightening by the realization that this is not fantasy, it is true. There will be no waking up from this nightmare.
Dateline: China--The People’s Republic of China is celebrating the Year of the Pig by releasing a stamp that tastes like sweet and sour pork. The stamps went on sale recently to mark the start of the New Year, designated by Chinese astrology as the Year of the Pig. When scratched, the stamps smell like the popular dish, and when licked, the back of the stamps taste like it as well. Chinese New Year officially begins Feb. 18.
Look Inside—Here's an odd one for you. This weekend, the Albuquerque Museum will open a new exhibit of work from the Mütter Museum, Philadelphia's famed museum of medical science. The exhibit consists entirely of historical medical photographs. Curator Laura Lindgren will present an opening day lecture at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21. For details, call 243-7255.
The Tricklock Company unleashes its 2007 Revolutions International Theatre Festival
By Steven Robert Allen
It's hard to believe this thing has already been around for seven years. As in past installments, expect this year's Revolutions International Theatre Festival to unearth some of the planet's most inventive contemporary theater—and when I say “theater,” I mean this in the broadest sense of the term.
It's cold and dark out, perhaps even snowing. “The Sopranos” reruns on A&E might beckon, and you'll probably be tempted to watch, even though you already have the entire DVD set. Because really, has there been a novel in the last few years as entertaining, profound and nasty as that series?
Berry patch booze, sour grain punch, dank bud hay fever like a disturbingly good cat piss Kool-Aid. Strawberry fields forever.
By Alex Brown and Evan George
“Garlicky” just may be the most overused word in the food writer’s lexicon. Why? Because there are few dishes that shouldn’t come with a little garlic in ‘em. It’s like saying something tastes “good.” The beer equivalent is “hoppy.” Show us a brew that doesn’t have some level of hoppiness to it, and we’ll tell you to dump it out. So, saying something’s hoppy is about as much description as burping. C’mon hopheads, we need to develop a language that surpasses grunts and clicks!
There are many things in life that are fine at first but quickly go downhill. Things like buying a Dodge Neon. Shaving my head for a $100 bet and then running into my dad. Entering a wet T-shirt contest, then realizing what I actually had to do to win. And then there was the time I went out with that hottie from the bar who told me he was in the witness protection program. Having lunch with my fiancé and child at Ay Caramba Restaurant was one of those things.
Roadrunner Food Bank's Souper Bowl fills stomachs and hearts for its ninth year
By Laura Marrich
Winter nights and bowls of soup are as natural together as clam chowder and oyster crackers. (Or, here in the Land of Enchantment, red chile and posole.) Nothing shakes the chill from your bones or sets the world right quite like it. Ask your parents. Soup maintains a place of honor in almost every family's arsenal of magic potions: It is transformative in its ability to comfort.
I’m slowly getting into the “buying local” thing, but I’m wondering where I’m going to get ginger for stir-fry, cookies, ginger ale, medicine, etc.
Seems it usually comes from Hawaii or Thailand. Is there a way to grow it here?
—Missing My Snap
A: Dear Snapless,
Don’t forget, the buy local thing is not about self-inflicted hardship. Sure, you could plant some ginger root in a pot and probably get it to grow. But you would need a very large pot to grow enough ginger to satisfy your apparently large appetite for the spicy tuber. Is it worth it?
The wolf is back in the Wild West, and ranchers want him banished. After eight years of a failing federal program to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf, ranchers might get their wish.
By Kate Trainor
The legend of the big, bad wolf is alive in the Southwest. In the remote wilderness of the Gila and Apache national forests, the wolf is still making mischief, raiding calving sheds and chicken coops, and lurking in wait for tasty, tender-limbed little girls. But in this version of the classic tale, it’s not Little Red Riding Hood that’s in peril. It’s the wolf.
Defective Auditions--Defective Man, a new comedy feature by Albuquerque writer/director D. Ryan Mowry, will be shooting in and around Albuquerque in May. SB-Films, the company behind the campy superhero parody, is holding a one-day audition for the film at the Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE) on Thursday, Jan. 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The film is a low-budget independent production, so there will be no pay involved. Interested actors will, however, receive credit for their work and a copy of the completed film. For more info, or for a page of dialogue to prepare for the audition, e-mail email@example.com.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most iconic structures in the world. It is a wonder of modern engineering, a prime tourist destination and a symbol of the City by the Bay. It is also the most popular suicide spot on the planet.
Frightening futuristic thriller speculates on a world on the brink of collapse
By Devin D. O’Leary
One day, somewhere down the line, some enterprising film critic or cinema historian is going to write a biography on the life and work of Mexican-born writer/director Alfonso Cuarón. That person is going to have their work cut out for them trying to make heads or tails out of Cuarón’s brilliant but bafflingly diverse résumé.
Given Hollywood’s love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with celebrity photographers, I’m a little surprised it took the industry so long to make a TV series about paparazzi. Leave it to envelope-pushing FX, though, to burrow deep into the tabloid trash heap and come up with the intermittently entertaining sleaze-fest that is “Dirt.”
Last Tango in Albuquerque—The rumors have proven true. Gorilla Tango, the comedy improv theater that opened Downtown in 2004, officially closed its doors on Jan. 1. The owners cited poor management and insufficient public support as reasons for the closure.
One well-worn stereotype about Americans traveling abroad is that we expect everyone else in the world to speak perfect English. Increasingly, this is becoming a fair assumption—one that often comes at the expense of native languages.
The cultivated baby cabbage we call Brussels sprouts are one of the most hated vegetables in the Western world. They can turn nasty off-green colors, their texture is a little rubbery and, yes, they tend to cause gas. But this winter we’ve grown attached to the little bugger and offer a recipe to the tribunal.
If you’ve ever asked a true Beatles fan what he or she thinks about The Monkees, you may get a series of disparaging comments inundated by eye-rolling and perhaps a polite expletive or two. This is because even folks who aren’t big on music still know enough to determine that The Monkees were a prefabricated, Hollywood-hyped version of the Fab Four. Not to say that the Monkees didn’t have redeeming qualities--hell, I’ve hummed “Last Train to Clarksville” in the tub a few times. But when comparing “Daydream Believer” to “I Am the Walrus,” one will undoubtedly come up short.
The demolition of Santa Fe’s teen arts center nears
By Amy Dalness
In a room once too dark to navigate its stacks of audio-visual equipment and art supplies hangs the future of Warehouse 21 (W21). Bright, white lights illuminate the now almost barren space, which serves as the final stop in a journey through the history of the teen-arts center.
Oregon man suspended for showing "¡Ask a Mexican!" to coworker
By Gustavo Arellano
Robert Diefenbach took his annual vacation two months ago in Albuquerque. While there, the Newport, Ore., resident picked up a copy of the Alibi. He read "¡Ask a Mexican!," the column in which yours truly answers readers' questions about Mexicans. The questions that week concerned the Mexican love affair with chickens and the similarities between Mexicans and the Irish.
What do you get when you cram 112 state legislators, hundreds of eager staffers and more lobbyists than ticks on rez dogs into a four-story building for 60 days? Besides several respiratory infections, sleep deprivation and more handshakes than a three-armed Kiwanis club member, you get another strange and wonderful New Mexico Legislative Session.
This year we visited relatives in Chile during the Christmas season. On New Year’s Eve we were in the port city of Valparaiso for the mammoth fireworks display with which Chileans traditionally welcome in the New Year at the stroke of midnight.
Dateline: Norway--A Lithuanian held on suspicion of theft at a Norwegian jail slipped out of custody recently by stripping naked, smearing himself with vegetable oil and sliding through the prison bars. “He slipped through the bars on Christmas Eve,” said Sven-Erik Jacobsen, operation leader for the Oest-Finnmark Police District. Another Lithuanian, held as an accomplice in the same cell, tried to use the same slick technique as his partner in crime. Unfortunately, he proved to be just a bit too large to squeeze through the window at the Vadsoe Jail. “It was a good effort,” Jacobsen said. “But all he did was get his head and part of his shoulder through the bars.” According to Norwegian police, the oily escapee, 25-year-old Yuris Sinkevicius, is still at large.
Spring Crawl is set for Saturday, April 28, this year. That's three and a half months from now, but I started getting calls from bands asking how they can get on the bill back in October. So, while I truly admire your forethought and tenacity, for the millionth time, don't send me or anyone at the Alibi your demo. Here's Crawl coordinator Joe Anderson on what really works:
Imagine a metal band at a house party. On ripped-up sofas, overturned chairs, and a floor littered with empty cans and bottles, a crowd moshes wildly as the band trashes its way through the set. A glass vase falls from the shelf, shattering on the tile floor and bringing the party to a halt. The moshers disappear, the sofas are repaired, the cans and bottles are (mostly) gone, but the band remains.
In the cold light of December, the final box office total for 2006 represented a slight improvement over the embarrassment that was 2005 (thanks almost entirely to the $420 million windfall that was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest). But what about the quality of films? Honestly, 2006 felt like a lean year. There were bright spots, to be sure, but even some of the year’s most critically acclaimed efforts fell short of perfection.
This being a forward-looking, progressive publication, I decided to review the top stories of 2007. Why rehash what you already know about 2006? So come along as we fast-forward through the next 12 months.
By Christie Chisholm, Steven Robert Allen, Marisa Demarco and Amy Dalness
After paging through hundreds of old articles, nursing several pots of coffee and wracking our brains for significant stories from the past year, our team of researchers stood back and stared at it: the best and worst list of 2006. It was awful—three times as many stories on how our city had screwed things up as there were stories on the city’s accomplishments. It looked dismal, lopsided, disjointed.
Dateline: Germany--A young woman who didn’t want to go to work came up with a simple solution late last month--she sent a text message to her parents saying she had been kidnapped. Police in the Bavarian town of Straubing said they had carried out a huge search throughout the region for the 21-year-old woman who disappeared on Dec. 23. She turned up at her fast-food restaurant job the following morning, saying the kidnappers had let her go. The woman was questioned by police and later admitted she make up the whole story because she owed a colleague 25 euros (about $40) and did not have the money. She now faces a fine of up to 1000 euros ($1,680).
2006's Six Great Things in Local Music—I know, I know. Somewhere in the history of journalism, someone said, "Let there be 10, or thy year-closing lists shall be struck from the hands of thy readers with lightning bolts." Quick! Drop your paper!
Chloe Day doesn’t know how to describe trip-hop. You might find that odd, considering she’s known throughout the World Wide Web for her trip-hop, goth and industrial music. Still, she knows it when she hears it.
So many bad films, so little space. Would that I could extoll the non-virtues of Doogal, Material Girls, Just My Luck, RV and Man of the Year. If only I had room to discuss Steve Martin’s systematic destruction of The Pink Panther franchise. Just a word or two about the endless, pointless horror film remakes (The Hills Have Eyes, The Omen, When a Stranger Calls, The Wicker Man, Black Christmas) ... But no. This is the worst of the worst, and we’ve gotta muck our way right to the bottom.
“Battlestar Galactica” (Sci-Fi) They ended one season with a storyline about a stolen election and picked up the next season with most of the human race devolved into suicide bombers under an inhuman occupation force. The miracle of this series is not that it discusses hot-button political issues, but that it does so while still being one of the most exciting, action-packed shows on TV. (That battle for the freedom of New Caprica just about gave me a coronary!)
N.M. Book Award—The New Mexico Book Co-op is unveiling a new book award to draw attention to the best books connected to our literary state. Judged by a panel of scholars and librarians, the contest is open to any author or publisher, as long as the book submitted has some tangible connection to New Mexico or the Southwest. Entries must have been published from 2005 through the present. Deadline is July 1, 2007, with a discount for entries submitted by April 15. For more information and categories, go to nmbookaward.com.
Thankfully, 2006 was about more than just a dead-end war in the Middle East. Here in Albuquerque, our little art scene continued to blossom. It wasn't easy to narrow down, but here are my top 10 local arts events of 2006, in no particular order.
1. 2006 was so crowded with megawatt names in American fiction that it was easy to overlook (in my opinion) that the best fiction came from overseas. The very best of these imports was Alaa Al Aswany’s hilarious and terribly sad novel, The Yacoubian Building (HarperCollins, paper, $13.95), which depicts a cross-section of Egyptian life around the Gulf War as Dickens would, had he have been an Egyptian, of course.
Thanks for the Calories--I've gained eight pounds this year. Bad for my vanity, but a very good indication of the gastronomical happenings in our humble burg in 2006. Here are some of Albuquerque's other "big" trends of the year.
Yes, we know, Americans are fat. However, in 2006 the focus has gone from the entire population to just our kids. In an effort to put the damper on the "epidemic" of childhood obesity, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation managed to convince the country's top three soft drink companies to remove all sweetened drinks--such as Coke, Pepsi and flavored iced teas--from school vending machines and replace them with bottled water, nonfat milk and 100 percent fruit juices. If that weren't enough, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services jumped in by urging food companies to make products that were more nutritious and to also change the way they market foods targeted toward kids. Lastly, they tried to instate minimum nutrition standards for those foods to ensure kids were getting all the stuff they need.
Hibernation is a beautiful thing. I love nothing more than to spend snowy winter months eating meat and soup (meat soup kills two birds with one stone) and holing up in my house. Last week was one of those rare times I've encountered since moving to Albuquerque five years ago. I woke up in the middle of the night with the vague realization it was cold, and I went to turn on my rarely touched heater. On my way back to bed, I glanced out through my window: Huge clumps of snow were pelting the glass. I was so shocked I opened my front door to have a look, only to find half my neighbors staring up into the sky like aliens had landed.