Remember that nifty deck of cards that the Bush administration distributed just after we invaded Iraq? The cards were designed to be distributed among members of our armed services to aid in capturing the nastiest members of the Baath regime. They were also designed to popularize an invasion that with each passing day seems to have less and less to do with the war on terrorism.
The Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin once wrote that "the passion for destruction is also a creative passion." This sentiment fuels much of the murderous, hallucinogenic action in the Vortex Theatre's production of Methods to Madness, a darkly funny play by Joel Murray about the art and thrill of acting.
Sometimes editors publish writers before they are ready. Confirming that are three recent books from Curbstone Press: E. Ethelbert Miller's How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love (paper, $12.95); George Evans and Nguyen Qui Duc's translation of Huu Thunh's The Time Tree (paper, $15.95); and Margaret Sayers Peden's translation of Claribel Alegria's Casting Off (paper, $13.95). Too often I found these books stuffed with short poems that read as toss-offs and really merited further thought before inclusion.
Over the last few years, Eric Schlosser has built up a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most innovative journalists in the country. His first book, Fast Food Nation, a huge bestseller, was Schlosser's ambitious exposé of our country's fast food industry. Among other frightening facts, the book revealed an almost complete lack of governmental oversight of the meat-packing industry. He also discussed some of the truly disgusting pathogens and other nasty bits found in much of our fast food.
The peachiest children's story of all time will be transplanted from the page to the stage starting this week when the Albuquerque Little Theatre presents a production of Roahl Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. Bring the kids. Bring your grandmammy. The classic story of James Henry Trotter and his long and dangerous journey inside the vehicle of a giant fuzzy fruit is truly fun for the whole family. If that isn't enough, there will, I'm told, be an honest-to-god giant peach ensconced right on stage. The play opens on April Fool's Day and runs through August 10. $6. Call for times. 242-4750.
The Richard Levy Gallery brings together work from 10 emerging artists in a show opening this week. From Todd Anderson's comedic red prints from his "First Aid for Beautiful People" series to Vincent Burke's latex, paint and steel landscapes to Saya Woolfalk's colorful brain-smashing paintings and sculptures, this exhibit presents pieces on the razor-sharp cutting-edge of contemporary art. Spring Fever opens on April 4 and runs through May 7. For details, call 766-9888.
Concluding the Civil War saga he began in The Sands of Pride, Trotter creates a complex, nuanced story set mostly in North Carolina in 1863. Advance readers have said that ambitious research and a sharp cast of characters make this a pleasure for history aficionados.