Truth-squading. Immediately following President Bush's State of the Union speech last week, Robert G. Kaiser, the Washington Post's associate editor, went online to offer instant analysis and take questions from readers. One of the questions came from a Cleveland, Ohio resident, asking: “Maybe I am hopelessly naive, but why aren't obvious lies in Bush's State of The Union called out immediately?”
After enduring the gooey dishonesty of Bush's State of the Union speech, it was heartening to spend the next evening, Wednesday, Jan. 21, seeing Albuquerqeans debate in good faith the emotionally fraught and technically complex WIPP shipment bill. Council President Michael Cadigan was absent and Vice President Eric Griego chaired the meeting.
Dateline: Russia—A family in frozen southern Siberia has been forced to seek help after giving shelter to a stranded baby flamingo, the ITAR-TASS news agency has reported. Exhausted by its journey, the rare bird had taken shelter in the Muravyov family's home in the village of Verkhny Markovo near Irkutsk. The young flamingo was living out the winter in the family's old wooden house warmed by the heat of a single wood stove. Recently, however, temperatures in Siberia plummeted to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Muravyovs felt that their houseguest might be in danger of freezing to death and appealed for help. Local zoos weren't sure what to do with the tropical bird. Assistance eventually came from the cultural center of the regional railway workers' association at Severobaikalsk, on the shores of Lake Baikal several hundred miles away. Personnel at the center invited the flamingo to take up residence in their winter garden, where it now enjoys nearly 1,000 square feet of floor space that includes a wide variety of tropical plants and a small fountain.
Basement Walls—Basement Films is returning to The Walls Gallery (510 Central Ave. SE) for “Pixels and Grain,” a night of new experimental film and video works from local and not-so-local filmmakers. The evening will include works from Albuquerque artists/filmmakers Sherlock Terry, Jesse Derleers, Blake Gibson and Charla Barker, Portland-area filmmakers Matt McCormick and Naomi Uman, Canadian filmmaker Garinene Torossian and New York video artist Wago Kreider. Total run time is about 80 minutes for this eclectic collection of shorts. For more information (including handy, dandy film descriptions), log on to www.basementfilms.org.
It's official: The New Mexico Showcase is toast. Last week, I reported that a conversation with NM Showcase mastermind Michael Feferman had revealed that the showcase was on indefinite hold while he works on his master's degree in Austin, Texas. Two days after the issue hit the stands, I got an e-mail from Feferman saying the event had been officially retired. During its three-year run, the NM Showcase hosted upward of 100 local bands at venues all over the state. Kudos to Michael Feferman and everyone else who made the event possible. ... The 16th Annual Folk Alliance Conference is scheduled for Feb. 26-29 in San Diego, Calif. Registration is now open. Folk Alliance members get the whole enchilada—concerts, workshops, panel discussions, etc.—for a cool $480. Non-members will pay $560. Visit www.folk.org to register or for more information. ... The Sweat Band have changed their name to The Foxx. Bad idea. But that's just my opinion. I've never supported band name changes unless key members leave, the music or image changes significantly and/or the new name is monumentally better than the old one. Besides, why erase all the name recognition and buzz you've worked so hard to create? ... Jazz fans rejoice! The Outpost Performance Space will kick off its 2004 spring season on Saturday, Feb. 21, with two shows by incomparable singer Cassandra Wilson at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 general, $30 Outpost members and I predict a quick sellout, so get 'em now at the Bookstop (268-8898) or the Outpost (268-0044).
Tuesday, Feb. 3; Popejoy Hall (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Even the most gifted artistic genius, it is believed, will one day find his or her well run dry. The technique and desire remain, but there comes a time when all such artists must accept that their creative spark has burned out, right? Don't be so sure. Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, regarded the world over as the master of that particular art, is one of the rare ones: a brilliant musician who continues to move forward in spite of conventional thinking.
De Lucia's latest release, Cositas Buenas (Verve), is proof positive. Here, de Lucia eschews several signatures associated with previous masterworks in exchange for a more deeply personal approach that is affecting in an entirely new way. Gone is the sextet with whom de Lucia has recorded and toured for the past decade. What remains for the most part is de Lucia himself, and his guitar. His astonishing technique remains intact, as do his trademark bold explorations. But other than a couple of guest vocalists and palmas (handclaps), Cositas Buenas is a revealing musical excursion by a rare genius.
Guitarist Robert Randolph kicks ass in a Jeff Healy kind of way. His main axe is the pedal steel, from which he's able to coax chordal passages that sound as if they're coming from a Telecaster and solos that, like Healy's ghostly slide work, are more articulate than those you've come to expect from guys with only six strings to deal with. Randolph doesn't create all his magic on the pedal steel, but what he's able to do on the instrument is otherworldly. This, his second record, is cohesive, energetic and jaw-droppingly superlative in terms of songwriting and performance.
Some writers write for money. Some write for fame. Others write just for kicks. Every once in a while, though, you'll come across a scribe who puts pen to paper intending to change the world.
Life is so unfair. Sure, you can eat all the bacon, butter and cheese you want and still lose weight. But just try to cheat with a couple of Cheetohs and poof! You look like Fat Monica in one of those “Friends” flashback episodes, complete with triple chin and an extra roll of fat that sticks out from beneath your bra. This stupid Atkins diet mania is pure hell. You try to behave when you're out to lunch but how can you enjoy your grilled chicken over shredded greens when the guy next to you is dunking every bite of his 24-ounce ribeye in a small vat of queso. And now Ben and Jerry's comes out with low-carb vanilla Swiss almond ice cream. Yeah, it's got 15 grams of fat per serving but if you play the Atkins game then it's virtually guilt free! Only two grams of carbs. Talk about cruel and unusual. Wouldn't it really be ideal if you could Atkins by the meal? Say at lunch you can have a mountain of rice vermicelli with a little grilled pork and heaps of vegetables and you've stayed on your lunchtime low-fat diet. But at dinner you get to have a bacon-wrapped steak and a big bowl of ice cream—as long as you don't have any of those wicked mashed potatoes. Now that diet sounds doable.
Did you know that McDonald's Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad has more fat than a Big Mac and an order of fries? With the dressing, it contains 50 grams of fat, about 70 percent of your daily allowance if you're not on a diet. Seriously. Don't kid yourself that you're eating healthy just because you're eating a salad. Lettuce on its own has very little nutritional value—or taste for that matter. So by the time you pile on cheese, croutons and ranch dressing, your salad has lost any advantage it might have had over a burger and fries. The way to win with salad is to pile on vegetables, not cheese, meat or fatty dressing. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over it, toss and then sprinkle with oil and vinegar or low-fat dressing (if you must). Use about a third of the amount you think you'll need. By the way, another common pitfall is juice. Before you pat yourself on the back for drinking lots of juice blends, look at the nutrition facts box on the back of the container and multiply the calories by the number of servings. A 300 calorie juice is not a diet food. It's empty sugar calories. Give it up.