Alibi V.14 No.51 • Dec 22-28, 2005

feature

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

The Alibi's New Year's Guide

The end is upon us, but it's not here yet. The wrapping paper is still piled on the floor, and there's enough turkey in the freezer to feed a family of six for weeks. It's been a stressful year, topped with a maddening holiday season, but, finally, 2005 is on its last legs.

New Year's Resolutions

A reference guide

Once the partying is done and the hangovers cured, the guilt starts to set in. The daunting realization that it's the beginning of another year—a year you promised to make better than the last. To make this compact, clip-out New Year's Resolutions Guide as productive as possible, here's a bit of preliminary advice.

1) Your resolution should be something you have control over. Don't resolve to win the lottery. That's a wish, not a resolution.

2) Tell yourself you can accomplish your goal. It may sound silly, but part of doing something is believing you can do it.

3) Don't be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in your battle. Find support groups, talk to your loved ones and seek out others with the same goals.

All right, here's a random, obviously incomplete list of organizations you might consider contacting to help make 2006 a successful new year.

New Mexico Sports and Wellness
858-1785

Designer Bodies Personal Training and Nutrition Management
899-1700

Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI)
224-3000

Yamaha Music School
293-5698

24-Hour Addictions Referral Network
(800) 577-4393

LovinSpoonfuls: A Cooking School
292-3657

Financial Freedom of New Mexico, Inc.
889-9346

Arthur Murray School of Dancing
296-6112

Alcoholics Anonymous
266-1900

Toastmasters International
(888) 259-4235

Albuquerque School of Fine Arts
856-5159

Kays All Swim School
255-7946

Hypnotherapy Associates
296-1898

Career Enrichment Center
247-3658

Important New Year's Phone Numbers

Numbers you need to know to get your sorry butt home and out of trouble

Albuquerque Cab Co.
883-4888

Yellow Cab Co.
247-8888

A Fantasy Limousine
833-5466

Downtown Action Team
243-2230

AAA Bail Bonds
262-4222

Tattoos Erased
323-4033

Dent Express
255-1018

Pop-A-Lock
242-4550

Mr. Plumber
994-4444

Party Games

Your antidote to a dull New Year's Eve

Party games are fun for moderately sized groups, and are a good way to integrate and transform regular old drinking, eating, conversation and funny hats into end-of-the-year entertainment. Most of these games are—or are derived from—old parlor games and were attained from my new favorite website, wikipedia.org (thanks, wikipedia!). Happy New Year and watch out for falling ammunition.

music

Music to Your Ears

All-Ages Dance Party!—Snugfit Social Club will host its first all-ages DJ night at the Cell Theatre (First Street, just south of Lomas) this Friday, Dec. 23. The monthly indie/electro/disco/nuwave dance party will, as usual, be hosted by DJs Paul and Will, and will unusually also feature longtime Shack Up DJ from Denver Tim Garvey, plus other talents from the Albuquerque scene. They've got their hands full with two big rooms to fill, and this party won't stop until 3 in the morning. And did I mention it's all-ages? $5 gets you in, and "you can dance as insanely as you'd like," say the Snugfit boyz.

Miles Maeda

with DJs Eldon, Justin Roberts, Zaid and Carlos Zentella

Thursday, Dec. 22, 10 p.m.; Martini Grille (21-and-over), $5: As I entered Miles Maeda's website (milesmaeda.com) my computer's mouse immediately went into spinning-colorful-disk mode, which indicates that my computer needs a breather before it can allow me to click out of, into or do pretty much anything. This has happened many-a-time, especially when visiting band websites, and it usually results in my looking around pensively to see how annoyed my fellow Alibi pals have become from the blisteringly loud and obnoxious music that has taken over my computer and caused it to fall into paralysis. This time, however, my computer's ineptitude was not worrisome at all because the music flowing forth was up-tempo without being obtrusive. Maeda's opening web-track "So Hot" is a song that you can sip your drink to without getting a splitting headache from an inundation of noise pollution. Maeda, who is believed by many to be the major source behind Chicago's mushroom-jazz scene, has created electronica for the reasonably laid back. Although his songs are pretty different from one another, Maeda tends to find a groove and stick with it; pulling from genres as diverse as acid jazz, house, funk and R&B. Albuquerque's over-21 crowd can see the Hawaii native along with local act DJ Eldon at the Martini Grille. Fans of hip but unpretentious DJs should take note.

Flyer on the Wall

'Tis A Nightmare Before Xmas, an all-ages very merry metal show featuring Caustic Lye, Manias, Greenthroat, Cadaveric Engorgement and Torture Victim on Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Launchpad. Doors open at 7 p.m. Santa says, "Throw them horns high!" (LM)

The First Annual Funky Sweater Get Down Holiday Food and Clothing Drive

with Felonious Groove Foundation, DJ Chach and secret guests

Friday, Dec. 23, 8 p.m.; Moonlight Lounge (21-and-over), free (donations of food and clothing greatly appreciated): Grab the funkiest retro sweater you can find and head out to the Moonlight Lounge for the freshest holiday party in the Duke City. The Dish and Don Mickey Designs are putting on a holiday party/fundraiser with donations benefiting the Salvation Army. What'sthedish.com's Kevin Hopper says party attendees can donate their old-school attire while cutting-a-rug to Felonious Groove, DJ Chach and a special mystery band.

The Ground Beneath CD Release Party

Metal success never tasted so good

In less than a year and a half, The Ground Beneath has earned a full-page spread in the Albuquerque Journal, partied with hardcore metal gurus Seven Dust and recorded their first full-length LP with Grammy-nominated producer Tim Scroh at Step Bridge Studios in Santa Fe. I'd be lying if I said these twenty-somethings weren't residents of "Talent City," but, putting that aside, what, pray tell, is their secret to supercharged metal success? "Hard work pays off, I guess," Steve Civerolo, lead singer and guitarist for TGB aw-shucksily explains. "There's always naysayers. When we started, emo and sideways haircuts were big and what we were doing was the opposite of that and it wasn't well-received, but you keep rolling."

Other Than Auld Lang Syne

Old and new favorites for the New Year

While any compilation from MTV's "The Grind" will suffice, here are some more suggestions for your New Year's Eve party. The songs are in rough chronological order from the beginning of the evening to cleaning up at the end of the night.

art

Culture Shock

Old Stuff—The annual Santa Fe Winter Antiquities Show is a holiday tradition 'round these parts. This year it's moving to El Museo Cultural (1615 Paseo de Peralta, in the railyard). As always, expect a wide range of the finest antiques from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas—from books to paintings to jewelry to furniture. A gala preview on Wednesday, Dec. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. will benefit Kitchen Angels, a charity providing home-meals to homebound members of the Santa Fe community. The gala is $50 per person, which includes cocktails and canapés along with entrance to the show for the remainder of the weekend. The actual event runs from Thursday, Dec. 29, through Saturday, Dec. 31. Admission is $10 per person, with three-day passes available for $15. Kids under 17 are free. For details, go to www.antiquities-shows.com.

Urban Art

Wall Scrawl at the Downtown Contemporary Art Center

It's often said that Albuquerque is a giant small town—and there's something to that statement. Yes, we've got a population of over half a million people, but the number of folks who actually venture into public on a regular basis seems fairly small. Most of us spend much of our time stuck in our cars, our offices, our living rooms.

Dirty Thursday

Tricklock Performance Space

Whether you've been naughty or nice, the Pajama Men will give you a little somethin' for Christmas. A Dirty Thursday improv show! Will they break out some red and green, reindeer-print jammies? Will Santa ride in on a drunken hippopotamus? Are aliens secretly hoarding all the mistletoe in Kansas? Anything is possible with these boys when the scripts are nonexistent and their wits are put to the test. The merriment starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Tricklock Performance Space (118 Washington SE). Tickets are $10, and can be purchased at the door or by calling 254-8393.

The Joys of Teaching

An interview with Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt might be smiling these days, but the darkness within keeps leaking out. After publishing two best-selling memoirs about growing up poor in Ireland and moving to America, McCourt has just issued a third, Teacher Man, which chronicles the three decades he spent as an instructor in New York City schools. I recently had an opportunity to discuss with the 75-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner why teaching—not writing—was his salvation.

news

The Place in Nob Hill

Redevelopment in Nob Hill takes off, and ticks off some area residents

Nob Hill is waiting for something spectacular. Already one of Albuquerque's favorite shopping destination points (and many people's favorite living destination points), the corridor seems destined for bigger things. Like playing host to a light rail system that the city aims to plop down in coming years, or moving forward with more infill development, higher walkability and, therefore, more pedestrian traffic. In fact, running neck-and-neck only against East Downtown (EDo), Nob Hill has a chance to be the premiere location for new urbanism in the state. And it may all begin with The Place.

A Culture of Fear

A special Council meeting on Dec. 12 provided a public forum on the city's All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan. The plan addresses wars, floods, earthquakes, fires, hazardous materials, infrastructure damage, civil disturbances, epidemics, energy shortages, major plane crashes, terrorism, severe snowstorms, water shortages, bus and train accidents, tornadoes and landslides. But all the public wanted to talk about was radioactive threats. Councilors Debbie O'Malley and Brad Winter were excused.

Cutting and Running

I swear, sometimes the Republicans are just too clever for their own good. Karl Rove, the brain behind the Bush White House, has built an enviable record as a successful strategist largely on his talent for capturing in just a few words the conventional wisdom about a person or situation.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Germany—If you're looking for the holiday spirit, Germany may not be the place to find it. A department store Santa on his way home from work was beaten by stressed-out shoppers in Wiesbaden. Stefan Stettler, 31, was still in character and chatting with other passengers while waiting for his train home. Police say two men, apparently stressed after a full day's Christmas shopping, went ballistic when asked to “tell Santa what they want for Christmas.” The men took Stettler's sack of presents and beat him over the head with it. Stettler broke several fingers trying to protect himself. “Around this time of year, shoppers seem to get this glint in their eyes and you can just see they are going to go off any minute,” Stettler said. “I should have known better. But, come on, who beats up Santa Claus?” Police are still searching for the unknown assailants.

film

Reel World

The Chronicles Continue—No big surprise here, but after the large opening of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Disney is rushing ahead with a sequel. Disney was hoping for a $60 million opening weekend, and wound up with even more than that. Plans for a Harry Potter-sized franchise are all but assured. (Just like Harry Potter, the Narnia books have seven volumes.) Seems that Disney is hoping to get The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian into theaters by December 2007.

Mirrormask

Arresting visual fantasy creates a nice place to visit, but you might not want to live there

For true fans, Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman, the minds behind the new fantasy film Mirrormask, need no introduction. For those who haven't followed the comic book industry for the last couple decades, Gaiman is the award-winning writer of the groundbreaking fantasy series Sandman. McKean is his longtime collaborator, the creator behind most of the elaborate cover art that graced the Sandman series over its long life. If, by chance, you've never read the Sandman series, I suggest you go out right now and purchase each and every issue.

The Producers

Movie-turned-musical-turned-movie-musical fails to produce solid entertainment

The Producers began life as a film by Mel Brooks. Shortly after Hairspray (a film by John Waters) became a big hit as a Broadway musical, The Producers was tapped as the next movie-to-stage surefire smash (proving that Hollywood isn't the only industry incapable of coming up with original ideas). The odd twist in the tale comes now that The Producers has been made back into a movie.

... And a Happy View Year

Christmas Day around the dial

Whether you're searching for something to pass the time while the coffee percolates and the kids wake up, or if you're just in the mood for some vegetative, post-present-opening entertainment, this year's Christmas Day television roster is filled with appropriate holiday treats.

food

New Year's Eve on the Menu

Don't drop the ball—make your reservation today

Remember when you partied like it was 1999? Well, how about making this New Year's Eve less about chugging peppermint schnapps, and more about having an elegant, grown-up dinner and a midnight toast with a n-i-i-ice flute of bubbly? Our ever-eating city is host to a bountiful bevy of multiple-course supper parties at some of the best spots in town, and for a few extra clams you can wine, dine and feel fine, all without swabbing the bathroom floor the morning after. Here's a list of the happening places to get your attention and your leftover holiday bread.

Alibi V.14 No.50 • Dec 15-21, 2005

feature

A Place by the Water

The potential sale of Westland Development has spurred a battle, and the cries of protest are getting louder

James Aranda and Jaime Chavez are looking out over the West Mesa, on land that runs through their blood like the Rio Grande runs through Albuquerque. They are standing on Atrisco land, pointing out the boundaries of their heritage—the east bank of the Rio Puerco, the west bank of the Rio Grande, Pajarito Road on the south and St. Joseph Drive by St. Pius High School on the north. I smile when I realize what 82,000 acres means.

news

Forging Trails

The county clerk's recent decision on voting machines provokes debate among area residents

Some concerned citizens waited with bated breath last week as the state's 33 county clerks made decisions that will impact many election processes to come. On Monday, Dec. 5, the officials were obligated to select one of three Help America Vote Act (HAVA) compliant voting machines for the disabled. HAVA, which was signed into law in October 2003, provides federal money for voter database systems, poll worker training, voter education (such as TV commercials) as well as enough funds for one American Disability Act compliant voting machine per polling place.

A Fresh Start

And so it begins. The first meeting of the 17th Council got off to a late start as a full house shuffled about with handshakes, welcomes and words of congratulation. First-time Councilors Ken Sanchez (District 1, replacing Miguel Gómez), Isaac Benton (District 3, replacing Eric Griego) and Don Harris (District 9, replacing Tina Cummins) expressed excitement over their new endeavors, while second-round Councilors Michael Cadigan (District 5) and Sally Mayer (District 7) thanked their constituents for another term.

Victimless Crimes

Without proper attention, prostitution could be coming to your neighborhood

How big a problem does Albuquerque have with prostitution? I hadn't given much thought to that subject ... until I met Bill Cobb for a cup of coffee and an eye-opening education into the matter.

Let's Talk About Sex

Health class in high school wasn't the most pleasant of times. It included routinely embarrassing moments, like practicing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, naming male and female anatomy and repeatedly going over detailed descriptions of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This was in addition to the even more embarrassing talks with my mother about sex and responsible behavior. According to the dictionary on my shelf, embarrass means “to cause someone to feel awkward or self-conscious.” Welcome to the motto of my adolescent life.

Reverend Billy's Holiday Shopocalypse

The Church of Stop Shopping is coming to town

Reverend Billy is leaning against the counter of a Starbucks in Northridge, Calif. Dressed in a white suit and clerical collar, his gelled, dyed-blond hair swept skyward in a John Travolta pompadour, he could pass for a real man of the cloth--until he opens his mouth.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Germany—A soccer coach has been suspended for helping his team--by head-butting a player on the opposing team. The German Soccer Federation announced last week that Duisburg coach Norbert Meier could face a three-month ban and a fine. Late in a 1-1 tie match with Cologne last Tuesday, Meier and Cologne's Albert Streit got into a face-to-face argument on the sideline. The argument came to a head when Meier smashed his forehead into Streit's nose. Both men fell to the ground and were ejected from the game. “I blacked out and I apologize,” Meier later told reporters.

art

Culture Shock

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!—Under the direction of Guillermo Figueroa, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and Chorus whips up a complete rendition of Handel's holiday classic, The Messiah, for two performances at UNM's Popejoy Hall on Friday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m., and one at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m. Experience the story of Jesus in all its operatic splendor. Tickets range from $10 to $57. They're available online at nmso.org, by calling (505) 881-8999 or in-person at the Symphony Store (4407 Menaul NE).

The Nutcracker

KiMo Theatre

Like eggnog and candy canes, the holiday season just isn't complete without The Nutcracker. The Ballet Theatre of New Mexico's version of this Christmas classic opens this weekend at the KiMo Theatre. Join Clara and her nut-cracking dreamboat in a winter wonderland filled with dancing snowflakes, entertaining sweets and the ever-lovely Sugar Plum Fairy. Runs through Dec. 24. Call for dates and times. The Saturday, Dec. 24, performance will be followed by the Nutcracker Tea, where kids can sample offerings from the Kingdom of Sweets and meet characters from the ballet. Tickets are $15 to $20 ($5 extra for the Nutcracker Tea). Discounts available. Order by calling 768-3544. Visit www.btnm.org for more information.

Don't Go Home for Christmas

The Long Christmas Ride Home at the Cell Theatre

Along with all the carols, the shopping, the decorations and the fat, jolly old guy in the unflattering red suit, you can bet your last dollar you'll be subjected to a big pile of whining this Christmas season. Something about the holidays brings out both the best and the worst in us. Many people choose this time of year to write checks to charities, donate cans to food banks and generally direct a little extra kindness toward their fellow humans. Others get mean drunk and bicker idiotically for hours on end with their families. Some are so estranged from their relatives they skip Christmas altogether.

film

Reel World

Bastard in the Flesh—If you like to support local filmmakers, or if you just have a really sick and twisted sense of humor, I suggest you get down to Burning Paradise Video (800 Central SW) this weekend. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, BP will be hosting a signing party for the new Science Bastard double feature DVD. The DVD includes two short films by local filmmaker Scott Phillips (The Stink of Flesh). “Science Bastard” and its recently completed sequel “Scream, Science Bastard, Scream!” are a pair of twisted superhero parodies that feature such delights as trepanation (look it up), go-go girls and hypnotic porn stars. Chalk this one up as a shameless plug, since your humble Alibi film editor stars as the titular Bastard. (One viewing of the films is more than enough to prove that “shameless” assertion.) Writer/director Scott Phillips will be on hand to absorb your abuse and costar Billy Garberina will be there showing off his sweatpants. Buy a DVD and we promise not to breathe on you.

Syriana

Oily drama builds complex but cold narrative

Having nabbed himself an Oscar for penning 2001's drug war drama Traffic, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan has turned his ambitions up a notch to take on the task of writing and directing the structurally similar ensemble drama Syriana. Shifting his addictive subject matter from drugs to oil, Gaghan uses former CIA case officer Robert Baer's nonfiction book See No Evil as loose source material, spinning off a complex, interwoven set of (fictional) narratives that highlight various elements of today's international oil-based economy.

King Kong

Epic remake of Hollywood classic is monstrously entertaining

There are times when remaking a classic Hollywood film is appropriate, and there are times when it is not. The intentions of the filmmakers are important. The degree to which the original is beloved is important. The amount of time that has passed between original and remake factors into it. In the end, though, history judges by the final product. For example, producer Dino De Laurentiis' silly 1976 remake of King Kong is pretty much an example of how not to do a remake. But, with the bad version out of the way, there's room for a good one.

Happy Life Day

“The Star Wars Holiday Special”

Long before Jar-Jar Binks took his first pratfall into a pile of poop, there was another disturbing tremor in the Force, like a million Star Wars fans crying out in anger and frustration.

music

Music to Your Ears

Get Your Squawk On—The second installation of the new Rocksquawk.com Concert Series will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Burt's Tiki Lounge at 8 p.m. Featured performers are When Darkness Falls, Kronic Obsession, The Unemploid, The Giranimals and The Gracchi. What's a rocksquawk, you ask? Log on to www.rocksquawk.com, then come to the show and find out. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Flyer on the Wall

... of Carlisle and Central, that is. The Albuquerque Blues Connection will play the first blues show in the history of Nob Hill's newest bar, Harlow's on the Hill, on Friday, Dec. 16, at 9 p.m. It's far from their first time on that stage, though. "The Blues Connection used to be a regular at Club R&B," says ABC bassist Steve Whitman, "so it's sort of momentous that we're back in the room again." Tickets are $6, or $10 per couple. Doors open at 9 p.m. (LM)

Hella

with The Black Furies and August Spies

Thursday, Dec. 15; Launchpad (21-and-over), $7: Nor-Cal residents Hella play music that you can brawl to. The sound of shattering glass is all that's missing from the mêlée of turbulent noise that so unambiguously characterizes what Hella has produced. The mishmash of tight snare drum, with its unrelenting speed and intensity, and spastic guitar along with "Castlevania" keyboard occasionally thrown in will have you feeling like a mouse in a dark, trap-filled basement. One gets the impression from listening to Hella that the twosome has been bestowed with enough musical skill to put together a formidable, more traditional band. Hella aren't grade-school kids playing as loud as they can—they're virtuoso crybabies with an axe to grind and an untraditional way of grinding it. From listening to a Hella record, it seems unlikely that their highly randomized "improvisations" could be reproduced for their live shows but, in fact, this is exactly what occurs. With no more deviation than any standard ensemble, the group duplicates their tracks with uncanny attention to details (however unsystematically arrived at the details may be). Open-minded listeners are encouraged to attend as long as they are not prone to epileptic fits.

Makin' Everything All Right

The Alex Maryol Band with The Eric McFadden Trio

Get ready, Albuquerque. I'm letting you in on a little Santa Fe secret: Alex Maryol. If you don't know who he is—oh baby, you're in for a treat. The Alex Maryol Band has been playing Santa Fe for years: bars, clubs, Warehouse 21, the Thirty Ear Festival and the burning of Zozobra. He released his first CD, They Call Me Lefty, at 18, and has been named "Best Local Musician or Band You Don't Want to Miss—Even on a Tuesday Night" in the Santa Fe Reporter's reader polls three years running. In short, there are some major reasons why the Alex Maryol Band at the Launchpad this weekend is a big deal.

Here's To You and Your Wassail, Too

A few suggestions for atypical Christmas music

Christmas music is one of the biggest mysteries of the universe. Some of us, maybe even most of us, think it was specially designed to drive us over the edge during a vulnerable time of year. But according to the laws of capitalism, millions and millions love this smut. Otherwise, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra wouldn't return each year, and every high-profile recording artist wouldn't have lent their own spin to holiday songs.

food

All the News That's Fit to Eat

Duran's Station on Menaul—You don't have to drive through a mess of construction and holiday tourists to get a chile fix at Duran Central Pharmacy in Old Town. The pharmacy's sister restaurant opened last Wednesday at 4201 Menual NE, in what used to be the fire station just west of Washington. In fact, Duran's Station takes its name from the old firehouse, and traces of it remain in the form of a beautiful red brick wall and a fire bell near the entrance. Finished concrete floors, salmon-pink seating, tasteful lighting and three tall glass brick windows update the space into a comfortable and modern dining room. When we went in for lunch, one of the managers stopped by to ask us how our meal was, confessing: "We had to get everything exactly the same before we could open. If the guacamole, anything, doesn't taste just like the first Duran's, we'll shut the item down for the day." We didn't think the food or service was quite up to the level of the original place, but c'mon, it was their first day. We'll be back for a few beers over dinner—two exclusive additions the new restaurant proudly offers. Try it for yourself Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Call your order in at 830-0007.

Wolfe's Bagels

Our hometown casa de carbohydrates

This world is made up of two distinct groups: the donut people and the bagel people. Donut people are into the cake, love the glazed and make those little white bags of holes an entire meal at 3 a.m. The bagel people are a different breed altogether. They are up at the booty-crack of dawn, salivating in intense anticipation of a toasty, chewy delight rolled in poppy seeds, sesame, onion or all of the above.

Easy Bake

Fake your way to a trio of comfy desserts

There's something about winter that makes my domestic instincts kick into overdrive. Namely, I clean more than usual—which is to say, more than not at all—and I get the cajones to bake things I'd never consider at other times of the year. Buches de Nöel, cookies, bars, homemade high-protein chocolate cake. But here's a secret: I'm a terrible baker. I just don't have the temperament for it, nor the attention to detail, the exactness or the 400-level math skills it requires. Other cooks I know share the same attitude.

Alibi V.14 No.49 • Dec 8-14, 2005

feature

The Alibi's 2005 Last Minute Gift Guide

Time's a-wastin'. Get off your fat, lazy keister and start slappin' some plastic.

Can you hear that sound? It's the unnerving tick of your internal clock, warning you that the holidays are quickly approaching. Thankfully, the Alibi has once again busted its swollen hump to dream up multiple fool-proof shopping plans designed to make this holiday season as easy as possible for our beloved readers. In the words of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "don't panic!" In this year's Last Minute Gift Guide, we've divided up our fair city into manageable geographic chunks so that you can complete your shopping and still have plenty of time left over for slurping eggnog and ogling cute elves (of the gender of your choosing).

Old Town

Old Town is one of the best pedestrian shopping districts in Albuquerque, and Old Town merchants know how to do up the holidays right. Park your wagon in the neighborhood, and you can easily accomplish most of your holiday shopping in a single afternoon.

Nob Hill

Holiday shopping is as dreaded to me as paying rent; it must be done, but I really don't wanna. To make the experience as pain-free as possible, I make a list, check it twice (maybe three times) and feel no shame about giving the same gift to many of my friends and family. If Nob Hill is your shopping district of choice, then your options are many and getting something for everyone on your list will be no problem.

Southeast Albuquerque

Jimi Mod Spacepod (1, 112 Morningside SE, 804-2331) is a swankadelic vintage store specializing in mid-century modern furniture, with a special eye toward the space-age. Tin robots (original and reproduction) litter the store's many shelves. Odd old paintings of astronauts and spaceships plaster the walls. Funky, 2001-esque couches recline beside lava lamp-inspired blobs of Murano glass. Danish modern coffee tables jockey for floorspace amid a positively orgasmic selection of plastic fantastic lamps. If Tom Jones owned the penthouse in a casino on Mars, it would look a hell of a lot like this.

Northeast Heights

I followed Wyoming Boulevard like the great Mississippi River, navigating 'round rocky chains and impersonal megastores, searching every strip mall north of Montgomery for an oasis of great local gifting. Land ho!

Westside

The construction dust has barely settled at Riverside Plaza (Coors and Montgomery), but there is a smattering of local vendors there to help you stay out of Wal-Mart.

East Mountains

One of the most widely ignored areas for holiday shopping is the East Mountains, which is a shame, considering how many local artists and business owners take up shop within its scenic boundaries. There are far more shops along Route 66 and N. Hwy. 14 than most people realize, and all it takes to find some of the most unique stores in the area is a pair of eyes and a pretty ride. So step down off your high horse and raise your altitude—you'll be pleasantly surprised (and avoid the migraine-inducing mall crowds).

Downtown

Gentlemen, Gold Street is a great place to shop for ladies, so this where our journey begins, and Glowing (1, 317 Gold SW, 243-GLOW) is the first store in the row. If, like me, the prospect of pregnancy makes you shudder, steer clear of this store because with it's über-stylish, high-end maternity clothing and baby paraphernalia you may begin to think the whole idea isn't so bad, after all. If you've impregnated someone this holiday season, you're pretty much obligated to go here for a gift certificate. (And if you want to impregnate someone, the lovely lingerie seller Seventh Goddess is right next door.)

film

SFFF: Part VI

The 2005 Santa Fe Film Festival returns with movies to spare

If there's one thing the movie industry loves, it's a sequel. So, for the sixth year in a row, the Santa Fe Film Festival returns to the City Different. The fest will run Dec. 7-11 with a diverse slate of films from around the world, an impressive roster of guests, and a full complement of parties, panel discussions and awards.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Low-key romance argues that books are better than movies

Authors often get bent out of shape when their literary masterpieces get translated from page to screen--which is why so many books find their way to the big screen after their creators are dead. Well, it's pretty safe to say that the Chinese-born, French-based novelist Dai Sijie is pleased with the current cinematic adaptation of his international bestseller Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. After all, the film was written and directed by author-turned-filmmaker Dai Sijie.

Joey, We Hardly Knew Ye

Networks hand out final pink slips of 2005

The good news is that struggling NBC sitcom “Joey” won't have to go up against FOX juggernaut “American Idol” this January. The bad news is that the show is being yanked from the schedule for a serious “retooling.” Not good, considering the show was seriously retooled at the beginning of the season. (Perhaps now Joey will be a fry cook in Alaska?) The ejection of “Joey” from NBC's Thursday night schedule until at least March is one of the most high-profile failures of the Fall 2005 season, but it's hardly the only one.

food

All the News That's Fit to Eat

We Have a Winner!—Congratulations to Jason Archuleta for correctly answering all the components of last week's food section quiz and puzzle! Jason emerges $50 richer in Wild Oats groceries and Belgian chocolates, and is the proud new owner of a FirmGrip Straight Peeler by Edge Resources. Way to go, bro!

La Siringitu Vegetarian Café

Good food, no meat; good lord, let's eat

Vegetarian soul food? One of the nicest things about living in Albuquerque is the sheer variety of people, cultures and sweet, sweet grub. I had been hearing about the vegetarian soul food at La Siringitu for some time, so I decided to make a visit on a Sunday afternoon, just in time for their "gospel brunch."

news

Is New Urbanism Right for Albuquerque?

The Sierra Club names the new urbanist East Downtown (EDo) redevelopment project one of the 12 best in the U.S.

Some things really do come back to life. Take the old Albuquerque High School, located at Broadway and Central, which, after a 30-year stint as a deteriorating building, has emerged as the focal point of the up-and-coming EDo corridor (located roughly between I-25 and the train tracks on Central, and Coal and Lomas on Broadway). Recently remodeled into stylish loft apartments, the project is now receiving national attention.

Is Albuquerque that dangerous?

In October, The Free Lance-Star out of Fredericksburg, Va., ran an op-ed piece with the headline, "In New Mexico, season's always open for man, car and chopper." The writer, who lives in a rural area, describes a phone conversation with a friend who lives in Albuquerque during which the resident who supposedly lives in a good neighborhood hears a semi-automatic weapon being fired in the near distance. When he hears that "distinct popping noise" again he calls the police. The writer's friend returns to the phone and explains that our local gunfire situation is so bad that residents no longer pay attention to it.

The People's Platform

After not quite one year in the State Legislature, one of the most important lessons I've learned is that we have, in our legislative processes, a powerful platform for the voice of the people ... though sometimes how that voice gets heard is not always readily clear.

Papa Light-Rail: Where Art Thou?

In politics, success has many fathers, especially when it comes to big projects like arenas, baseball stadiums and building a light-rail system. Ask local leaders to show up at a press conference announcing a big new project and its like Fathers' Day at Furrs Cafeteria. Yet, ask them to sponsor funding (like a new tax) for one of these big amenities—and suddenly these projects become awkward, bucktoothed orphans.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Ireland—Proof positive that, if there is a god, he loves the Irish: Fishermen on both sides of the Irish border netted an unexpected Christmas present, hauling in bottles and bottles of Irish cream liqueur from the ocean near the English coast. The bottles of Carolans Irish Creme liqueur were part of a consignment of 8,000 bottles lost last month when a container was swept overboard in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, between Spain and France. The fisherman's nets brought up the bottles still wrapped in special presentation packs that had been destined for the Christmas market in Spain. The presentation packs included not only the bottles of booze, but the glasses from which to drink it. Prawn fishing boats from such diverse ports as Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay in southeast Ireland, Clogherhead in the northeast and Kilkeel in Northern Ireland had reported catching the gift packs in an area off the English coast known as the Smalls. “We don't know how it got to be there,” John Chamney, export director for Ireland's C & C International drinks company, told AFP. “The liqueur was in a container that was swept off a ship in the Bay of Biscay. The container must have broken up when it hit the bottom, and then I suppose the Gulf Stream must have taken it. I haven't spoken to anyone who has sampled the booze but it would appear it is in perfect condition. The glasses hadn't been broken and the Carolans is very drinkable.”

music

Music to Your Ears

Happy Trails, Cheryl— Cheryl Hooks, host of KUNM's "Ear to the Ground," panel member of the Albuquerque Music Association and champion of the all-ages music community in Albuquerque, is leaving New Mexico for a full-time on-air position in Arizona. "I'd like to say thanks to everyone in the New Mexico music scene," Cheryl said in an e-mail last week. "It's been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of this community." I call say is, it's been a real honor working with the caliber of tireless local music advocacy that Cheryl has embodied through her work here in New Mexico. In parting, you can read Cheryl's "Crawl Out and Get Active" piece, here.

Flyer on the Wall

Get it on with ex-Fever Hot punky new-wave threesome Bang! Bang!, N.Y.C. evil bass-punk duo Mommy And Daddy, Burque's glam-bam thank-you-ma'ams The Foxx and maximus rockus via The Gracchi. Free on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Atomic Cantina. You must be 21 to ride this train. (LM)

The Bellmont/Below The Sound CD Release Party

with Oktober People, The Answer Lies and Tanuki

Every few years, I find myself driving through eastern New Mexico, looking for music: record stores, shows, even a--godhelpme—Hastings, if necessary.

The Verbs CD Release Party

Songsmiths with a penchant for similes

Former Madison, Wisconsinites and current Verbs members Seth Hoffman and Jacob Lowery came to Albuquerque over three years ago and settled in as the house band at Stella Blue. Over the course of several Tuesday night jam sessions at the club, Hoffman and Lowery joined up with mandolinist Christie Lipinskai, bassist Cory VanMinefee and drummer Vance VanDonselaar to create what Lowery candidly refers to as, "the only thing in my 16 years of playing music that I'm really proud of."

DJ Swamp

Thursday, Dec. 8, 10 p.m.; Burt's Tiki Lounge (21-and-over), free: DJ Swamp is stepping out from behind Beck's turntables with his recent hip-hop release, Never Is Now, and a solo tour. Yes, he played with Beck for four years, but he's not piggybacking off that fame; he's making his own. Never Is Now showcases Swamp's "turntablism" and rapping talents, and it sounds like what nü-metal should be aiming to achieve--a real collaboration of rap and rock. It's dark, hard rock with a kickin' beat and some majorly skilled scratching. In an interview with Alexander Laurence, Swamp said he was working as a street sweeper, even after winning the USA DMC Championship in 1996, until he posed as a reporter and dropped Beck a demo. Following in that "make my own opportunities" vein, Swamp wrote, produced, recorded and performed everything in Never Is Now. His life performance is self-produced, too—and it's much more than dark hair hanging in his face with an occasional hand gesture. He is a pyromaniac; well, a self-described "fire retard." He lights his hands on fire, breaks LPs--and then uses them as instruments--and, apparently, scratches his tongue with phonograph needles. Since it's low budget, he doesn't use flame retardant and has been hospitalized (though I don't know if Burt's allows fire displays of any kind during performances). In "Ring of Fire," Swamp calls himself "the inferno, burning down the show.” I think he's got a theme going here. So mod-clash dance partygoers: Be ready for a different reason to dance Thursday night. It's not the kind of DJ experience we often see in Burque.

Red Lightning

Tuesday, Dec. 13; Atomic Cantina (21-and-over), free: Alain Whyte, Morrissey collaborator and current lead singer and songwriter for Los Angeles/London's Red Lightning, is bringing the stripped-down sound of his new three-piece to the Atomic Cantina. Whyte, who helped create such Morrissey faves as You Are the Query and Your Arsenal, has put together a power trio that draws much of its creative ammunition from bands like The Cult, The Smiths and U2.

art

Culture Shock

A Shadow of Our Former ElvesSanta's elves have had enough with slave wages and lousy working conditions. They'll be letting off a little steam in a late-night Christmas variety show beginning this weekend at Sol Arts (712 Central SE). With live music, flicks from Basement Films and surprises around every corner, A Shadow of Our Former Elves should be a welcome alternative to the staid conventions of more typical holiday entertainments. Fridays and Saturdays at 9:45 p.m. through Dec. 17. $5. Proceeds to benefit United Elf Workers of the World, Northern Branch. 710-7724.

Wild and Sweet

Orpheum Art Center

A host of fine local artists will be opening their studios for a special holiday show called Wild and Sweet at the Orpheum Art Center (500 Second Street SW). Beyond the visual art, there will also be modern, belly, aerial hoop and burlesque dance performances along with comedy improv and short animation. Wild and Sweet opens Friday, Dec. 9, with a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Open studios will be held Saturday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. For a schedule of events, call 715-2602 or e-mail Courtney at bellcourt@yahoo.com.

Giggle and Wince

Love & Beauty at the Tricklock Performance Space

A few years ago, the Tricklock Company staged a play called Dandelion Clockwork, a bizarre comic horror show that, from what I remember, was quite a bit more horrifying than comical. I liked it well enough, but it didn't exactly bowl me over.

A Brief Guide to Gift-worthy Recent Releases

Every winter in Iceland, friends and relatives give each other a book. It is a national tradition, this exchange of literary presents, which means that all the books in Iceland are published around Christmastime.