Alibi V.17 No.7 • Feb 14-20, 2008

Culture Shock

AMP Concerts' home shows may be no more, but Neal Copperman is making sure AMP-quality shows will be found in the Duke City. The AMP Gallery Series continues where the house concerts left off, offering a variety of music in an informal, community fashion (with a potluck to boot) at a local art gallery. This Friday, Feb. 15, AMP presents Caji and Salomé at the Windchime Champagne Gallery (518 Central SW) at 7:30 p.m. Caji and Salomé meld Brazilian guitar with songs from Portugal, Cuba, South America, Cabo Verde and France, creating sophisticated, romantic grooves. Tickets are $15 in advance at Brownpapertickets.com or Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) and $20 at the door.

feature

Poly (Greek, "Multiple") Amor (Latin, "Love")

The language of love morphs when you're working outside monogamy

“Compersion.” It's a word that describes happiness at seeing a partner get joy from someone else—almost the opposite of jealousy. Monogamous lovers might hesitate to imagine feeling anything aside from anger at the sight of their other half being loved by someone else. But compersion is a kind of fulfillment gained by the polyamorous, those who maintain honest, committed romantic relationships with more than one person.

news

Still in the Pound

City misrepresents the number of animal adoptions over the holidays

Albuquerque Journal subscribers woke up Christmas Eve morning, stepped outside and scooped up their daily papers. The headline on the bottom left-hand corner of the front page stated, simply, “Animal Shelters Are Empty.” That title was, at best, misleading.

Answer Me This

Who was one Albuquerque homeowner trying to scare off with his shotgun? The Senate killed the domestic partnership bill, but what would it have done? What did legislators find at the Governor's Office after passing the budget? New Mexico Democrats are fudging which rules to speed up ballot counting?

Convincing Yourself—and Others—You Talk to the Dead

On Jan. 31, I woke up to hear a man named Robert Baca on the 94 Rock Morning Show claiming to talk to the dead. He did readings for TJ Trout and the 94 Rock crew and their callers, offering what sometimes seemed to be “amazingly accurate” information from beyond the grave, such as telling subjects that they owned a deceased loved one’s ring or that the subject had a “father figure” whose name has a “B” and who died suddenly.

Convincing Yourself—and Others—You Talk to the Dead [extended web version]

On Jan. 31, 2008, I woke up bleary-eyed. My beauty sleep had already been interrupted several hours earlier by my aborted appearance on a live radio morning show in Kingston, Jamaica, which had been scheduled at the unfortunate hour of 4:30 a.m. Albuquerque time. I won’t go into the details, but the point is I was kind of fuzzy-headed when my radio alarm woke me up at 7:30 that Thursday morning and I heard 94 Rock’s TJ Trout talking about how he would soon be having a guest in the studio who could talk to the dead.

The Heinrich Maneuver

And Darren’s white horse

For most of 2007, former City Councilor Martin Heinrich had the Democratic field in replacing Heather Wilson in Congress virtually to himself. But the first poll showing him faring poorly against Sheriff Darren White, the probable Republican nominee, brought out real challengers. With them has come a word we’re hearing more in Democratic circles: electability.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: England--A British businessman is offering motorists the opportunity to get even with England’s much-hated speed cameras--by running over them in a 17-ton tank. Bill Bailey, who runs a paintball business in southwest England, said the off-road experience would allow drivers to get behind the wheel of his Abbot 433 Self-Propelling Gun and take it for a spin around an abandoned rock quarry with a driving instructor. The climax of the experience will let drivers use the caterpillar-tracked vehicle to mow down a mocked-up speed camera. “It will cost about 100 pounds ($224) for an hour in the tank, with an extra charge of 60 pounds ($134) to crush the speed camera.” Bailey is also working on an option of blowing up a copy of the ubiquitous Gatsometer brand traffic safety cameras seen on British roads. “The gun only fires blanks,” Bailey told reporters. “But we can simulate an explosion at the other end with pyrotechnics.”

film

Reel World

ABQ arts org Basement Films will sponsor a two-night screening of “under-represented motion media” this weekend. On Friday, Feb. 15, highlights from Experiments in Cinema v1.0 and v2.0 will be shown. This 81-minute program will feature representative selections from the first two years of UNM lecturer Bryan Konefsky’s experimental film festival (about to enter its third year this April). The second night, Saturday, will be “The Personality of the Personnel,” which will spotlight short works by various members and volunteers of Basement Films from the past 16 years. This highly eclectic selection will include works by Maximillian Godino, Charla Barker, Bryan Konefsky, Saul Rodgar, Tyrrell Cummings, Sarah Wentzel-Fisher and more. Saturday night will conlude with “Fellah, Can You Amass?” featuring a variety of film and video projectors tangling their images in a go-for-broke montage. Both nights will take place at VSA North Fourth Art Center (4904 Fourth Street NW) beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are a mere $7 at the door. Log on to www.basementfilm.org for more info.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Dark, emotional fantasy isn’t just for kids

In an era when kids’ films seem almost as creatively bankrupt as romantic comedies, it’s refreshing (dare I say exciting) to find one that swims against the tide. The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the popular young adult book series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, would seem at first glance to exist among the idea-starved crowd. A kids’ fantasy series in a day and age when all youth-seeking lit seems to cower in the shadow of Harry Potter? Though it features a trio of plucky, prepubescent heroes and a whole host of magical creatures, Spiderwick weaves its own unique spell.

Jumper

Fast-paced sci-fi thriller may have a franchise in mind

Neatly vacuformed to a colorful cardboard backdrop, the sci-fi freneticism of Jumper is as slickly packaged as this year’s must-have action figure. And that isn’t meant as an insult. Honestly. The film may be geared toward providing easily accessible entertainment for the masses, but it does so in such an appealing way that plenty of people will be rushing to get their hands on it.

Disorder in the Court

“Eli Stone” on ABC

Given the length of Hollywood’s Writers Guild strike, its rare enough to see new episodes of any (non-reality) TV series these days, let alone a brand-new offering. With carefully hoarded TiVo shows long ago watched and erased, viewers are desperate for something--anything--fresh in prime time. ABC recently responded by ripping the wrapping off its quirky legal comedy/drama “Eli Stone.”

music

Music to Your Ears

Although our man Rahim Alhaj didn't pick up Grammy gold for Best Traditional World Music Album, all in all—and I never thought I'd say this—the Grammys were totally entertaining. Awkward and tedious at times, sure, but I challenge any massive award show to shake those fugly bedfellows. I really couldn't ask for more.

Liars

A case study in perpetual reinvention

Once unhappily lumped into the genre of dance punk, Los Angeles, Calif., power-trio Liars can now only be described as ever-changing.

Le Chat Lunatique’s Demonic Lovely Gives Dancers and Listeners Cause for Celebration

CD captures the verve, swing and musicality of this “filthy, mangy jazz” quartet

The appeal of Le Chat Lunatique’s live performances owes as much to its bandmates patter and seriocomic stage presence as it does to their music—and the music is damn good. They’ve managed to translate that appeal to their new studio CD, Demonic Lovely, without visual or verbal aids. The music and the commitment with which it is played, it turns out, are really what it’s all about, whether you’re on the dance floor or sinking into a sofa.

art

food

Good Sauce Trumps Bad Marinade

Q: Dear Ari,

Can you recommend a good marinade for wild game?

—Got Game

A: Ah, yes, hunting season might be over but the eating continues! On any day countless lucky hunters, plus their lucky families and friends, are thawing out chunks of wild meat. Some know what to do with it, some don’t.

In my opinion, my opinion means nothing compared to that of Angus Cameron, author of The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. Let me just say that he is the man.

Papa Nachos

Authentically good

Restaurant criticism has a fairly straightforward formula: Do your homework, visit the restaurant a few times and sample as much of the menu as possible. Keep an eye out for ambience and service and, voila!, you have our jobs in a walnut shell. But even with a rubric, the hard part comes from sitting in front of a blank computer screen, cursor blinking impatiently for input. Analyzing the latest in a string of mom-and-pop joints weighs heavily, because it's not only reputations that are at stake—it's livelihoods. People in the business of serving families have their own mouths to feed. And usually it's those families that are back there cooking, waiting tables and washing dishes.

Tickle Your Fancy, Suckle a Truffle

The Alibi chocolate truffle taste test

It's high truffle season—not the highly prized, exorbitantly priced fungus (that's October through December), but the highly prized, less exorbitantly priced little morsels of cocoa, sugar and cream. Chocolate truffles.

Host a Chocolate-Tasting Party

1) Pick a theme. We settled on milk chocolate truffles, but you could also try comparing chocolate from different countries of origin, chocolate bars within the same cocoa percentage range, exotic spice-spiked chocolate candies or maybe a spectrum of chocolates made by a single maker. Choose between five and 10 examples--much more and you run the risk of fatiguing your palate. (Your tastebuds’ equivalent of going cross-eyed.)

Food 101

bittersweet chocolate: Dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor and less than 12 percent milk solids. Bittersweet and semisweet both fall under this definition, but bittersweet is also often used for chocolate with a minimum of 50 percent chocolate liquor.

Alibi V.17 No.6 • Feb 7-13, 2008

Got a Light?

Businesses open cigar bars to allow smoking patrons indoors. But is it legal?

At least one bar is trying a new tactic to bring its smoking customers out of the cold.

feature

Slathered in Love

The Alibi's fifth annual Valentine's Day Card Contest

Artists have toiled for millennia to capture the essence of true love. Alibi readers have done it for the past five years with ease.

news

Answer Me This

Area men make national news after filming what? Why is it getting warmer out here? A new bill would increase domestic-violence penalties how? A Deming man collected what kind of animal?

Therapy Dogs

A heartening dose of four-legged medicine

Quince pushes his wet nose into a patient’s room at Albuquerque’s Heart Hospital. Valerie Peyton is on her back recovering from a heart attack. She looks tired, battered. Quince catches Petyon’s eye. Color returns to her cheeks. A smile breaks across her face.

Ethics Bills Flail in the Roundhouse

As time in a brief 30-day Legislative Session ticks away, will these measures fizzle out?

Charges of corruption abound in this state, and with each confirmation of an ethics breech, public trust dwindles. Accusations of cronyism, the conviction of former state treasurers, charges that politicians skimmed millions off construction funds for the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse—the parade of shamefaced officials grows ever-longer. Though the governor set health care at the top of the legislative priorities this session, a handful of ethics reform bills also made it onto the agenda. Many were introduced late in the game and haven't been receiving much of a push from the governor or state legislators.

Calling Obama

I am writing this column several days before the 22 states holding Democratic primaries (New Mexico among them) will have made their decisions on the matter of the party’s next presidential candidate on Super Tuesday.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Croatia--Hundreds of Croatians painted themselves blue and wore silly white hats in an attempt to break the world record for dressing up as Smurfs. A total of 395 turned up dressed as the popular cartoon characters in the town of Komin. But when they contacted Guinness officials to register their record, they were told it was too late. A spokesperson for the organizers said, “We read on the Internet that the record was 290 people held by a group of Americans and decided to beat it. We had TV, radio and print media report our success.” Unfortunately, the smurfy record had already been topped last July by 451 people at Warwick University Students’ Union in England. One organizer of the wasted Croatian record attempt told reporters, “We could easily have got more Smurfs, but we thought that over a hundred more than the American record we found on the Internet would be enough.”

music

Music to Your Ears

Iraquerque oudist and composer Rahim Alhaj is up for a Grammy! Alhaj's nomination was announced toward the end of 2007, but you'll have to tune in to the 50th Grammy Awards (which aren't being picketed by the Writers Guild) to find out if our homeboy wins. It's airing on CBS (or "Channel 13" to you and me) this Sunday, Feb. 10. The album of the hour is When The Soul Is Settled: Music Of Iraq, 73 minutes of music Alhaj recorded with tabla master Souhail Kaspar (the tabla is a hand drum that's sort of shaped like an hourglass—you've seen them before). Look for it on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label. Good luck, Rahim!

Donovan

From “Mellow Yellow” to Transcendental Meditation with David Lynch

It’s been more than 40 years since Donovan Phillips Leitch was riding the wave of “Mellow Yellow” and 11 other top 40 smashes.

film

Reel World

The New Mexico Italian Film Festival enters its sophomore year with more days, more films and more events. The second annual film fest gets underway this Sunday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. with an opening gala concert by the Albuquerque Philharmonic featuring classic Italian music at the KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. This is followed by the New Mexico premiere of The Legend of Tony Vilar, a comic mockumentary about an Italian who becomes a pop superstar in Argentina. An opening gala dinner is next at 4 p.m. at the Embassy Suites. Opening night wraps with a screening of Martin Scorsese’s Italian filmmaking documentary My Voyage To Italy, beginning at 6 p.m. back at the KiMo.

Over Her Dead Body

Ghostly romantic comedy should have killed off more cast members

The best thing about the new supernatural rom-com Over Her Dead Body is the title, which allows for plenty of creative interpretation. For example: Under what circumstances should you see this film?

Fool’s Gold

Adventurous romance stays afloat, but just barely

Here’s a highly pertinent question regarding the new film Fool’s Gold: What kind of vacation suits you best? Are you the sort of person who goes in for an enriching vacation full of vigorous physical exercise like mountain climbing or surfing? Do you prefer a stimulating break in which you explore the culture and art of a country or region, taking in as many museums, galleries and historical sites as possible? Or do you crave nothing more than a respite from work, abdicating all physical and mental activities for a weekend on a cruise ship where you can park your ass in a lounge chair and have people stuff you full of food and drink? If you fall into the final category, then the breezy, brain-free Fool’s Gold is highly tailored to your tastes.

Commercial Grade

Super Bowl winners and losers

With six out of 10 households tuned in to watch the New York Giants squeak past the heavily favored New England Patriots, this year’s Super Bowl XLII was the most watched in history. But viewership wasn’t the only record toppled last Sunday. A mix of 37 advertisers paid the highest price ever for Super Bowl commercials--$2.7 million for 30-second spots.

Week in Sloth

The Week in Sloth

Highlights from around the dial. Except no one has dials anymore.

art

Culture Shock

Josh Jones is turning 30 and he's using it as an excuse to host an erotic art show. Jones, the brains behind Black Market Goods, plans to celebrate his coming of age with 30 But Still Durty. The one-night, 18-and-over event is at the Princess Jeanne Shopping Center (1440 Eubank NE) on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. and features naughty paintings, titillating sketches, searing photographs and flirtatious body painting. Jones even promised to re-enact his birth using interpretive dance and a tub of hair gel. Just let that image set in ...

In Frame

Rookies at the Richard Levy Gallery

It doesn't seem far-fetched for Oprah to rent out the Roman Colosseum to give a speech to the students of her leadership academy for girls, does it? This (and more) happens in the collages of Wain Wayne, who joins painter Jacob Goble in Rookies, on exhibit at the Richard Levy Gallery.

Psychedelic Elements in Design and Decor Aboard the M/S Oosterdam

When pondering the aesthetics of the typical lodging establishment—hotels, motels, resorts and cruise ships included-—cutting-edge design does not come to mind. Instead, there are flashes of burgundy, flower patterns, stripes and beige--mentally and spiritually apathetic exercises in blandness and safety. But every now and then someone, somewhere, on some corporate staff in the hospitality industry, has a vision that materializes on the walls and the ceilings and the floors and the stairs. On the couches and the chairs.

Blown Ashore

Geraldine Brooks, a lobster roll and the Sarajevo Haggadah

Geraldine Brooks may have hung up her press pass, but the foreign correspondent turned novelist has retained a journalist's knack for blending in.

food

Athens Eclectic Greek

The gods must be stuffed

I’m going to be honest here. I'm not crazy about Greek-American food. It's greasy. It's heavy. The components are unidentifiable as they blend together into flavor oblivion. Seriously, what’s with that hunk of spinning mystery flesh? Processed gyro meat tastes like Mediterranean Steak-Ums, spanakopita sometimes contains cottage cheese and, more often than not, Greek salads come topped with a one-inch cube of inferior feta.

Bite

Our innate drive to spend three hours cooking after eight hours working has been stunted lately. We’ve been making lots of quick-fix meals of late, and this one was at the top of the list.

Alibi V.17 No.5 • Jan 31-Feb 6, 2008

Culture Shock

The First Friday in February brings art events galore. As with every first Friday of the month, Feb. 1, plays host to gallery openings and receptions all over the Duke City. The number of venues participating is too great to list here, so visit the Albuquerque Art Business Association's website (www.artscrawlabq.org) for full details. Most galleries will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight and offer snacks, art and fine conversation.

feature

Guardians of History

Museum will gather the story of African-Americans in the Southwest

People tend to think there's no African-American presence in New Mexico, says Rita Powdrell. The only time you might catch an exhibit about their history in the Southwest is during Black History Month, she adds. "But it's not in your school systems," she says. "We've been here since as long as the Spaniards have been here. We've had quite an influence on the culture of the state."

Strong Beginnings

New African American Performing Arts Center starts with a bang

Susan Luna spent several months last year traveling around New Mexico, photographing African-American families. She snapped shots of them in their churches, schools and homes to create a portrait of the Black community across the state. Starting in February, her artwork will be on display at the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall at Expo New Mexico to celebrate Black History Month.

African and Native American Hearts Beat in Rhythm

All Drums film festival at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

The thing about Black history is that it’s not just Black history. Africans and the African Diaspora have interacted with and had an influence on every culture and country on Earth. The history of Black people is also the history of America, inextricably linked through good times and bad since before our nation was a nation.

music

Music to Your Ears

"My biggest fear as a parent," confesses a first-time father and YouTube documentarian, "was that I would have to spend the next several years of my life listening to Barney or The Wiggles." He was spared that fate, he says, by Dan Zanes, a Brooklynite folk-rocker who crafts children's music that parents are equally mad for. On Dan Zanes and Friends’ 2006 Catch That Train!—probably the first “children’s music” disc you could pick up at Starbucks, thanks to a deal with the coffee juggernaut's Hear Music entertainment division—Zanes' friends include Nick Cave, The Kronos Quartet, Natalie Merchant and The Blind Boys of Alabama. When Zanes plays the National Hispanic Cultural Center this Wednesday, Feb. 6, his friends will be of the home-grown variety (I’m just not sure who, at this point). Bring the wee ones out for this concert. For once, it's not overreaching to say the whole family will enjoy it. Cost is $15 advance, $20 at the door for adults, and $10 advance, $15 at the door for children under 12, through TicketMaster and the NHCC box office (with no service fee, 724-4771). The show starts at 6:30 p.m.

A Chat with Wynton Marsalis

The Jazz at Lincoln Center flagship sails in

Over the years, music director, trumpeter and gentleman Wynton Marsalis has maneuvered several smaller craft—a quartet, a quintet and a septet—through New Mexico's jazz waters. Next week, he’ll dock the quindectet Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the flagship of that New York institution, in Albuquerque for a program of Duke Ellington’s love songs. One thing is for sure: The evening will swing.

Little Women

The band you won't hear live this week

I just got word from Derek Caterwaul that the Little Women show slated for Thursday, Jan. 31, won't be happening—the guitarist developed tendonitis while touring, and won't be driving in for the show. But I did a perfectly good interview with the experimental punky jazz quartet from Brooklyn, and thought I'd tell you about them anyway. Little Women balances tight, turn-on-a-dime changes with a rowdy, frantic energy, a kind of unpolished polish I'll call spit-shined. Take in the frenetic, bursty approach at myspace.com/littlewomensounds. Little Women's first recording, Teeth, will be out March 4 on Gilgongo and Sockets records.

art

Tales of Many

Soul Expressions at the South Broadway Cultural Center

Evan Harrison has a knack for mixing business and hobby. In elementary school, he made drawings of horses and Pokémon to sell to fellow classmates. In junior high, he used Sharpies to create temporary tattoos during lunch hour. (Now he gets requests for real tattoo designs.) All through school, he made a few bucks by doing what he loves—making art.

The Anti-Slumber Party

The Pajama Men burn up The Stove

One of my favorite things about the Pajama Men--the funnyman duo made up of über-buddies Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez--is that on visits back to their hometown (that would be Albuquerque) they go out of their way to set up shows in new, little-known venues. Such is the case with a new live improv comedy and music show at The Stove, an art gallery and performance venue located in the fertile terrain of East Nob Hill.

Inside Straight

Free-form sci-fi

How is a 50-foot-tall fire-breathing stuffed-toy dragon related to a superhero reality show and a deadly alien virus? It’s George R.R. Martin’s job to figure it out.

news

After the Fire

An abortion clinic overcomes arson with resolve

At 7 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7, Amanda was woken up by a phone call.

The clinic where she works as a counselor, Abortion Acceptance of New Mexico, had been damaged in the night.

"The person on the other line said someone had bombed the clinic. No one was hurt, and they'd let me know when there was a plan," Amanda says. "For about three seconds, I thought, Oh good, I don't have to work today. Then I just gasped when it hit me." Amanda declined to use her last name, because it could make her a target, she says.

Answer Me This

Lobbyists drop big bucks on politicians. Is it Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for New Mexicans? What did someone steal from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"? How high could UNM's entry GPA requirement go?

Does it Have to be Coal?

Report says there are alternatives to the Desert Rock power plant

Navajo grassroots organizations continue to chip away at a Desert Rock coal-fired plant. Meanwhile, supporters maintain the proposed power plant will provide much-needed revenue for the Navajo Nation. The latest installment in the battle is 160 pages long.

Flash and Burn

Will the city make improvements to its STOP program, or will red-light cameras wink out of existence?

A task force appointed by Mayor Martin Chavez says if problems with the red-light camera program aren't fixed, it should be discarded. Ted Shogry, a task force staff member, reported to the City Council at its Wednesday, Jan. 23, meeting. "The study group had one main recommendation, and that basically is to continue the STOP Program, but to improve it."

Drilling Albuquerque

Our future in the oil patch?

A Texas company that stirred controversy with plans to produce oil near Santa Fe has been exploring for natural gas on Albuquerque’s Southwest Mesa. Tecton Energy of Houston won’t say what it’s found after six months of exploration. But the company is punching more wells into the ground to pursue its hunch that the area holds valuable quantities of natural gas.

An A-Historian

African or American?

An independent researcher on political assassinations, covert operations and hidden history, John Judge calls himself an “alternative historian.” I liken myself to an “a-historian,” whose only noble crusade is to correct the miseducation of me.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Australia--On Jan. 22, a man in his late 20s was attacked by an alligator near a popular tourist spot on the Mary River in Northern Australia. To add insult to injury, unlucky Jason Grant also ended up getting shot by a rescuer who was trying to free him from the reptile’s jaws. Grant was collecting crocodile eggs at a remote reptile farm when he found his arm locked between the teeth of an angry alligator. For a few terrifying moments, the animal “splashed about,” shaking its victim before the intervention of fellow worker Zac Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald fired two shots at the saltwater croc. One hit the target, but the other struck Grant in the arm. Grant was flown by helicopter from Marraki Station, 75 miles east of Darwin, to the Royal Darwin Hospital for emergency surgery on both the bite and bullet wounds. He was reported to be in stable condition following his treatment. “They think he’s probably got a broken arm and soft tissue damage from the bites and he’s got a bullet wound on the upper part of the arm,” Mick Burns, owner of the Darwin Crocodile Farm, told news.com.au. “His first words to me were: ‘I don't think I’ll be at work for a couple of days.’ ”

film

Reel World

There’s no doubt about it: 2007 was a very good year for the film industry in New Mexico. You don’t need to look any further than the recent Academy Award nominations to prove that. In all, 14 Oscar nominations went out to films shot here in our state. Leading the pack, of course, was the Coen brothers’ crime thriller No Country for Old Men. The film landed nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Tommy Lee Jones, who lent his formidable acting chops to No Country, wound up with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for another film shot here in state, Paul Haggis’ post-Iraq War mystery In The Valley of Elah. The sci-fi summer blockbuster Transformers picked up nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Rounding out the honors was the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma, which was nominated for awards in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Not too shabby a showing.

Fade to Black

A look back at African-American film

Black History Month is upon us. Sadly, many of us tend to think of history in the most somber of terms. To us, Black history means riots and marches and speeches and the struggle for freedom, integration and voting rights. But men and women of African descent have contributed to all segments of our society--not just the political. Given just 28 days (29 this year!) to reflect upon the whole of Black history, most Americans tend to just hit the highlights, ignoring the subtler gifts Black people have given America in the form of literature, dance, art and film.

Untraceable

Silence of the LANs

Computers can be fun. You can play Quake 4 on them. You can download porn on them. You can use them to communicate with friends halfway around the globe. But in order for computers to be even remotely engaging, you need to be physically interacting with one. Simply sitting and staring at a computer screen is boring. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot like work. Which is why movies about computers are no fun at all. That was proved almost 13 years ago with the would-be cyber-thriller The Net. Watching Sandra Bullock sit at a computer terminal and type for an hour and a half was pretty much the opposite of thrilling. Entertaining, computer-inspired movies like Tron and The Matrix are only enjoyable because they aren’t really about computers. They’re about fictional, high-tech fantasy worlds. They're what we wish computers were really like: giant virtual-reality theme parks full of LightCycles, slo-mo kung fu fights and Monica Bellucci in a rubber dress.

Without Words

Talkers go on with the show sans writers

It’s been nearly a month since the bulk of TV’s talkers came back to the airwaves, many of them flaunting the still-active Writers Guild of America strike. David Letterman’s “Late Show” and Craig Ferguson’s “Late Late Show” (both of which are produced by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants company) were able to negotiate an independent contract with the Writers Guild, allowing them to operate with their writing staffs and without union pickets on their sidewalks. The rest of the lot--including Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart and Steven Colbert--have had to do without benefit of the union blessing, making for a whole list of winners and losers.

food

Bad Apples Spoil the Lot

Q: Dear Flash,

What’s up with the expression about “one bad apple?” I mean, I guess I understand what it means because I’m looking at my stash of rotten apples from last fall. But why is it that one bad apple can ruin the whole batch?

—Sister Apple Sludge

A: Dear SAS,

Ripening fruit gives off a gas called ethylene, which acts like a plant hormone because it induces physiological changes in plant cells. Like yawns, colds and other contagion, ethylene can cause a self-fueling chain reaction among fruit that’s kept in close proximity to other fruit in a non-ventilated space. For the most dramatic example of ethylene in action, try wrapping a banana in plastic and see how fast it ripens itself.

Porky’s Pride

... and a few other lip-smacking sins

Guy Nix may very well be the devil. Hell, he even has his own fiery pit. But instead of tortured souls and brimstone, his is brimming with blazing barbecue that sends wafts of smoky temptation through a modest dining room on Juan Tabo.