Steven Spielberg double-dips with a couple of Christmas blockbusters
By Devin D. O’Leary
If you’re a fan of Steven Spielberg (and every filmgoer must be to some degree), then you’re going to find your Christmas stocking overflowing this week. Working like a sweaty elf in Santa’s factory, Mr. Spielberg has delivered not one but two feature films for Christmas.
Another year down, another 52 weeks’ worth of idiotic behavior. Several things can always be counted on when it comes to weird news stories: People will get drunk and do stupid things, stoners love to dial 911, and bank robbers will hand over their IDs at the drop of a hat.
Holiday-themed music is ubiquitous during the most wonderful time of the year. Shake things up with a sonic snow globe of garage rock, punk, pop, experimental, old country and blues—all in the key of Christmas.
“The Nutcracker” suite is full of memorable melodies, which is at least partly the reason it has become all but inescapable during the holiday season. This year, though, the music is getting a special twist or two, courtesy of The Nutcracker (Swing!) concert presented by Concordia Santa Fe.
It makes sense to fashion a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer character off Charles Bukowski. Both pop-cultural archetypes have big red noses (Bukowski from a career of professional alcoholism, Rudy from some sort of unexplained nasal phosphorescence); both were social outcasts before they got famous; they’re both horny—in their own way.
Mother Road delivers laughs and tears in tale of sibling camaraderie
By Christie Chisholm
With only a handful of days left slipping between our fingers until the new year, Mother Road Theatre Company has produced a show that may be the best to come out of Albuquerque in 2011. Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, directed by Mark Hisler and Vic Browder, is in one great eruption heartbreaking, fantastically funny and absolutely riveting.
A local chapter of the NAACP is suing the City of Albuquerque, charging that it treats African-American employees poorly. And Jewel Hall says the city is not backing the 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Multicultural Celebration next month.
We’re in the homestretch before the new year caps the 2011 party season. Office potlucks and impromptu festivities crowd the calendar—and at some point we have to decide what to bring to the next gathering.
It's amazing how a building as big and beautiful as the Monte Vista Fire Station can stay so hidden. The only Pueblo Revival-style fire station in, well, anywhere was built just before World War II and put up for sale in 1972, when it was no longer big enough for a new breed of fire trucks. Hoses used to hang from the roof of the tower all the way to the garage, which is now the dining room of the Monte Vista Fire Station bar and restaurant.
We associate growers’ markets with summer, and for good reason. That’s normally when stuff grows. Thanks to a combination of old-fashioned tactics and newfangled technology, however, farmers have figured out ways of extending the season. And if you’re out to absorb some social cheer as winter sets in, stock up on staples, and wolf down a breakfast burrito and a coffee, there’s no finer place than the Santa Fe Farmers Market—the state’s largest, oldest and arguably best.
Autoharps and hammer dulcimers are hard to come by in New Mexico. But Apple Mountain Music has them, along with a host of folk instruments you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Bodhráns, bouzoukis, Irish and Native American flutes, djembes, and didgeridoos are neatly displayed alongside more recognizable harps, ukuleles and fiddles. Ever hear of a bowed psaltery? Owner Debra Fortress is happy to pull one off the shelf of her cozy store and show it to you. They’re as beautiful to look at as they are easy to play. There’s not a lot of plastic at Apple Mountain—these instruments were clearly made with care. They glow with rippling wood grains, Celtic fretwork inlays, ceramic glazes and animal skins. Of course, Fortress sells the sundries—instruction books and strings, for example—that keep players in tune. Be sure to ask about regular playing circles, classes and performances at the store.
One of our favorite nerdy items in this store is Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities. Non-nerd types are likely to love the assortment of Ten Thousand Waves body products, or a fair-trade wooden xylophone, or a set of 20 iron-on decals in the shapes of birds and foxes and porcupines. Then there are the shelves of children’s books, the stamp sets, the boxes of beads and the stacks of cookbooks. And don’t miss the natural-material clothing, jewelry and hand-stitched wallets.
When it comes to inexpensive local crafts, The Octopus and the Fox is about as nifty and comprehensive as it gets. Featuring more than 60 New Mexico arts-and-crafters, the boutique has everything from felt-lined zia bracelets made from beer cans ($20) to popular recycled sweater cat dolls with button-eyes ($18) made by co-owner Belita Orner. And with a stock of screen-printed tees, girls’ dresses and knitted sweatbands with animal ears, there are as many treats for the kids on your gift list as the adults. (And animals, too; sewn catnip toys feature cute kitty faces.) In fact, just about everything at the store is cute and cozy, even felt Frankenstein and vampire dolls. There's also a full supply of organic body goods, and don't miss the awesome volcano and dinosaur wall art. Plus, the recycled-parts earrings made with bug wings and Plexiglas are bound to turn someone into a happy pixie.
Sukhmani is a family endeavor. Behind the counter, Sat Bachan Anthony smiles and says the store is named for his niece. His wife painted the images adorning the walls. With his mother, he makes the uncommon and beautiful jewelry they sell—chunks of stone in beautiful settings. His sister Sat Gurumukh Khalsa co-owns the small but uncluttered shop. The environment is calm and relaxing. Inexpensive candles and body products line the shelves, and glass cases house jewelry at a variety of prices.
Tucked into the back corner of The Village Shops at Los Ranchos is this pleasingly retro mercantile store. If you're looking to cowboy up, Wagon Mound is the place to go. The shop specializes in ranch-style cookware—from Dutch ovens to cast-iron skillets. The skillets range in size from tiny four-inchers ($5.50) to pizza-sized stove-crushers ($59.95). Pair them up with a cookbook (Field Guild to Dutch Oven Cooking or The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, perhaps) and you've got yourself a Christmas gift. Beyond the plentiful cookware is a colorful array of enameled tin dinnerware, from teapots to plates to those ubiquitous tin cups you see in every cowboy movie. Need more cowbell? Wagon Mound has got you covered from small ($5) to large ($66.95). Deerskin gloves, silk handkerchiefs, CDs and jewelry add to the stocking stuffer list for the old-fashioned cowboy or cowgirl in your life.
Nob Hill's Shop and Stroll was besieged by "an apocalyptic windstorm from hell" this year, says Self Serve owner Matie Fricker. It's supposed to be the biggest sales day on the calendar. But the weather depressed turnout, which was "really damaging for our bottom line," she says. It added momentum to a downward trend that started before the winter. "Many local businesses we love have closed in the last year."
Does our desert city have the right to drink from the Rio Grande?
By Christie Chisholm
In 2008, the city stopped relying solely on a rapidly dwindling aquifer. Our water utility flipped a switch, and the Drinking Water Project came online. The good news is the project seems to be working. The bad news is the New Mexico Court of Appeals just ruled the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority doesn’t have the rights for the Rio Grande.
Blistering black comedy celebrates stunted development and spectacularly bad ideas
By Devin D. O’Leary
The last time director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody teamed up, it was for a little film called Juno. Four years later they’re back together for another drama-laced comedy, Young Adult. Perhaps the two have grown older and wiser. Perhaps times have changed. But the snarky, impossibly well-spoken wit of Juno has dried up, replaced by the cynical comedy of discomfort.
Working as a cameraman in reality television has got to suck. Imagine the poor schmuck saddled with the task of filming the orange-tinted “Jersey Shore” cast members as they wallow in their herpes-laden hot tub, alternately sucking face and puking up Goldschläger. Or the guy whose job it is to follow Khloe Kardashian around all day waiting for her to do something “interesting.” Ugh. What if, then, you were suddenly offered the opportunity to point your camera at something real, something maybe even newsworthy. ... Congratulations, Bob, you no longer work for “The Bachelorette.” We’re transferring you to “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan.”
Lotus Eye Productions is casting for a new webisode series set to shoot every other Saturday in January. The series is being produced under SAG’s New Media Contract. No pay is involved, but “great exposure” is promised. Producers are looking for four main characters—two women, two men and one transvestite dominatrix—all in their thirties. Auditions will take place Saturday, Dec. 17, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Split Vision Studios (300-A Aspen Road). For audition time and sides, please email your pics and résumés to director Holly Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, go to nmactingstudio.com/Auditions.aspx.
The Porter Draw is a friend to Albuquerque's Americana scene
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Alt.country band The Porter Draw is part of a small but prolific Americana movement that has bubbled up in Albuquerque during the past five years. Marked by an unusual amount of camaraderie, the handful of bands within it are friends who are mutually dedicated to making music in and for this town.
Stranger Factory’s Winter Salon is like an adorable nightmare
By Sam Adams
It's beckoningly grotesque, mischievously menacing and intriguingly oddball. That would be Stranger Factory's Winter Salon, host to the work of about two dozen artists, both local and international. Much of the work here, and continuously on display at the Factory, are resin sculptures of ghoulish, reptilian and space-age creatures. These figures have the perfection of assembly-line action figures, assuming that assembly line was on a planetary hybrid of Mars and hell—and situated in a bayou.
A counterculture perspective on raising children in the real world
By Geoff Plant
“Rad Dad” is a submissions-based zine edited by father and veteran zinester Tomas Moniz. Its essays on parenting, radicalism and society stand in nicely for the mountain of traditional parenting books available at any bookstore. An anthology was published earlier this year combining the best of Rad Dad”—which has been around for six years—and selections from Jeremy Adam Smith’s Daddy Dialectic blog. Moniz will be reading from Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood on Sunday, Dec. 18, at Winning Coffee. The Alibi caught up with him in advance.
With a name like W.C. Longacre, it's no surprise that he looks like Willie Nelson and talks like a wise journeyman. "I like the term ‘trader,’ ” he says. “I find ‘artist’ is a little presumptuous. I dabble in a lot of creative endeavors." The entrepreneur, craftsman and lover of creativity is also a professionally trained chef (he co-authored Great Bowls of Fire! with Dave DeWitt, aka “The Pope of Peppers”). In the mid-’70s he created the first line of cosmetics made in Albuquerque that was non-animal tested, petroleum-free and used no animal products. These days the 59-year-old lives with the younger artists Colleen O'Callahan and Patrick Stokes. Together, the unlikely fellowship create and trade for a bevy of handmade artifacts. You may be familiar with them if you've been walking around Downtown during your lunch hour. They work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—and sometimes Tuesdays and Thursdays, if weather and inclination permit—in the open air downstairs from the Anodyne (409 Central NW).
Documentarian Chris Metzler on Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone
By Devin D. O’Leary
After completing his award-winning 2004 documentary Plagues and Pleasure on the Salton Sea, San Francisco-based director Chris Metzler went out on tour, roadshowing the film, meeting audiences and doing Q & As. He passed through Albuquerque, stopping briefly at the Guild Cinema. He’ll be back again this weekend with his new film, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. The film chronicles the tumultuous, multidecade life of funk/punk/ska pioneer Fishbone—starting at the roots of L.A.’s punk rock scene, traveling through the ups and downs of success, and heading straight into the weirder realms of cult brainwashing, attempted kidnapping and theremin worship. The Alibi took the opportunity to chat with Metzler about the madcap, music-based documentary before his arrival in New Mexico.
The 2011-2012 season has hit its midway point. Shows are taking a break for the holidays and will be back with new episodes in late January or early February. Some of them anyway. A few have already gone off to that great television channel in the sky. While the fall 2011 season wasn’t exceptionally bloody, there were a handful of high-profile network casualties.
There will be a major casting call this Sunday, Dec. 11, for the “post Civil War Western” Silver Bullet (which I think we can all agree is the worst fake working title they could possibly have come up with for Disney’s remake of The Lone Ranger). The casting call will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Far Horizon Studio (300 Washington SE, suite 304). Casting director Elizabeth Gabel (Cowboys & Aliens, Terminator Salvation, No Country For Old Men, Paul) will conduct the day-long search. Producers are looking for “Native Americans, Asians, Anglos and Hispanics of all ages, as well as expert horse riders to appear in non-speaking roles.” The production is also on the hunt for “men with facial hair and for trapeze and circus artists.” (I’m thinking if you’re a hairy trapeze artist, you’re in like Flynn.) These are all paid positions. The film, which stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, will begin shooting in the Albuquerque / Santa Fe area in February.
Blackout Theatre’s fresh take on a holiday classic
By Christie Chisholm
Blackout’s Theatre’s take on A Christmas Carol is marvelous—whimsical yet dramatic with fine acting, haunting live music and some wonderfully creative puppetry. The kids will love it, but more importantly, you will probably love it, too.
Posthumous journal collection is patchy but endearing
By John Bear
The Journals of Spalding Gray offers a glimpse into the mind of a man who rose to fame in theater and then—it would appear—threw himself off the Staten Island Ferry after seeing a sad movie (Big Fish). The writing here is not polished, but it has its own charm.
If Dino S. Hall is passionate about two things, it's poetry and planes. A 30-year vet in the aviation industry—serving both as a pilot and a head air traffic controller—Hall started a poetry slam series in October, A Night of Spoken Word. In addition to bringing nationally renowned poets to the Duke City, the series is designed to raise funds to send youths to an airplane camp at Kirtland and the Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. "The thought came to me, Why not let poets help me get the word out?" Hall says. A longtime poetry fan, he says he’s flying the wordsmiths in on his own dime from around the country.
Landmark restaurant approaches a quarter-century milestone with new dishes
By Ari LeVaux
Flying Star Café has become an old friend to many. It’s the kind of friend you hang out with all the time, even though you sometimes complain about him. The red stuff is too expensive, but you drink it anyway because it’s that good. The watery beans in the breakfast burrito may not be what gets you up in the morning. But just thinking about a tofu scramble with brown rice feels like a warm hug.
Cleveland journalist Michael Ruhlman has made a career of being a fly on the wall. His nonfiction books have covered subjects from pediatric surgeons to craftsmen boat-builders. But it was his research into the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., that launched him headlong into the seductive world of food.