Alibi V.16 No.51 • Dec 20-26, 2007

SWOP Gets the Boot

Who's bending the ears of Albuquerque students?

Political solicitation is not allowed on Albuquerque Public Schools campuses. Military-based organizations are not considered political, says Rigo Chavez, APS spokesperson.

feature

Predictomatron

The Alibi’s year in preview

Oprah may be our next vice president, Brad Pitt will cry in public ... and then the world will end.

music

Music to Your Ears

Is there any better way to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus than attending church? Of course not. ... Unless that church is hosting some kind of charitable event for needy children. And there's also progressive rock involved.

Father of the Flood

Weather event or concert?

The first time I saw Father of the Flood, his slow-morphing tones vibrated the art off The Stove's walls. Some of the audience ran from work to work, pulling glass-enclosed pieces down before the chest-rattling low end could cause them to leap to their doom. Then we sat and felt the notes thundering from four 15-inch speakers into our bodies. When the flood was over, I had no idea how much time had passed. Was the set five minutes long or 30?

The Lotus Sound

Label of Love

Father of the Flood is putting out his first CD on Dec. 18 through The Lotus Sound, a label run by Mike D'Elia. The label's been around for a decade, though for a large portion of that it was in hiatus while D'Elia got Astro-Zombies, his Nob Hill collectible toy and comic shop, off the ground.

art

Home Sweet Home

ArtStreet presents Home is Where the Art Is

The talking heads on a prime-time news station said Paul Tucker would be homeless. The Vermont resident spent too many days in the Good Samaritan Haven and took too long to get a real job, they said. Tucker would live on the streets, just like the people he was earning money for outside the local shopping mall with a red Salvation Army kettle and a bell. He spent his time doing charity work, calling for coins to help the less fortunate during the holiday season, instead of making an income. It seems homelessness can hit anyone, even those who would be saints.

news

Answer Me This

The high school rumor mill strikes again. How will the State Senate kick off its next session? Why is the governor in hot water? How did a mail carrier allegedly dispose of his loot?

Wolf Music

Catch it while you can

Winter in the Gila. Snow sparkles between the trees. Ponderosas cast long shadows in the moon’s cold light. It is a magical, frozen night deep in New Mexico’s greatest wilderness.

Thin Line

Most of us can identify the major national figures who have an impact on our lives: the Cheneys, the Clintons, the Richardsons. Few would probably know the name Kevin Martin. He's the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and his actions Tuesday, Dec. 18, reduced your options in this media-soaked environment.

A Closer Look at Psychic Predictions

While going though files on psychics in my Buffalo, N.Y., office a few years ago, I came across a newspaper article listing annual psychic predictions--in and of itself, an unremarkable find. The article appeared in this very newspaper, and featured predictions from local psychics for the following year. What made this particular article interesting was the year being predicted: 2001, in an issue dated Jan. 11-17.

Fueling the Revolution

Local company shows you how to run your car on H2O

Russell Pickavance's short list of life goals reads something like this: 1) Make an affordable, water-powered car. 2) Feed everyone in the world.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Japan--An aquarium in Tokyo has turned to a Japanese inventor for a novel way to light a Christmas tree--using electric eels. Inventor Kazuhiko Minawa said it took him more than a month to devise a system that would effectively harness eel power. Two aluminum panels were eventually placed inside the eels’ tank to serve as electrodes. Cables attached to the panels supply the lights on a nearby tree with electricity. “If we could gather electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree,” Minawa told Reuters Television. The tree, which will stay illuminated until Christmas, is proving itself a popular attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.

film

Reel World

The year is approaching its end, and that means only one thing--it’s time to hand out a lot of awards! With Dec. 31 looming, a multitude of organizations are scrambling to enumerate the nominees in their best films of 2007 lists.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Musical biopic remembers the lyrics, forgets the laughs

Given the number of high-profile musical biopics in recent years (Ray, Walk the Line), it’s inevitable that someone would get around to making a spoof of the genre. Unfortunately, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story isn’t a spoof so much as a scene-for-scene recreation. With jokes. And occasional laughs.

What Would Jesus Buy?

He wouldn't buy this crappy documentary, that's for sure

Considering outward appearances, it may seem like the period between late November and late December is a lovely time of year, filled with family gatherings, endearingly tacky decorations, yule logs, latkes, turtle doves, dradles and an alarming, yet welcome abundance of gifts. But to the prickly, Scrooge McDucks of the world--and moreover, anyone opposed to holiday commercialism--the holiday season is a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t end until you wake up hungover on New Year’s Day. When we see the chilly parking lots surrounding malls filled with shoppers going into debt to buy wares made in Third World countries, the spirit of Christmas seems dead. Only it’s not just dead--its bloated corpse has been roasting in the sun in a remote desert for a few weeks with vultures pecking at it.

The Gift of TV

Christmas around the dial

Face it: You’re probably not going to get what you want for Christmas this year. You’re just going to end up with a bunch more useless stuff that will be used to crowd your already overstuffed shelves until your next yard sale.

food

Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro

A tale of two restaurants

It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. OK, so maybe that’s a little on the dramatic side, but in many ways dining at Zinc brought to mind the contrasts Dickens was so fond of fictionalizing, so read this with a British accent.

Apple 2

We’re not known for luxurious desserts—it’s not our thing. We get too full too fast. We prefer savory salts, the occasional soft, ripe, bloomy artisan French cheese and hard after-dinner liqueurs. We gorge on calories in other ways. But for the holidays, when the fruitcakes and weird chocolate logs start showing up on people’s tables, there are some far easier, more awesome ways to serve festive treats—and get drunk at the same time. We’ve become obsessed with baking apples in apple beer.

Alibi V.16 No.50 • Dec 13-19, 2007

Jaded for the Holidays

The Santaland Diaries at The Box Performance Space

There should be a bumper sticker that reads "Take the mas out of Christmas." More gifts. More decorations. More shopping. More debt. The season of giving often means more stress than celebrating, so why not say "No mas!" and hit the eggnog? Or just take a holiday breather with The Santaland Diaries—a one-man, one-act based on an essay by David Sedaris that says "Up yours!" to the mas.

feature

Last-Minute Gift Guide

Don't get malled

Let's get right down to business: You still need gifts, and Christmas is less than two weeks away.

East Nob Hill

Central between Washington and Carlisle

Featured in magazines like Elle Decor and In Style Home, this furniture, décor and fashion store runs most of its business online. But passing up the exquisite showroom with custom design leather trunks, woven blankets from New Zealand (made by the same weavers who created the magic cloaks in Lord of the Rings), hand-felted wraps and camel bone necklaces would be a crime. Plus, it's remarkably affordable.

Near Northeast Heights

Lomas between San Mateo and Girard

Thrill your lady love with frilly lingerie and soft robes from this charming boutique. If her dresser drawers are already overflowing with silky undergarments, opt for some fragrant lotions or tasteful accessories instead. Most of the bras and panties sold here are from French clothing lines, and while that may not mean anything to you, chances are it will to her.

Midtown

Menaul between San Mateo and University

If beads are what you're after, you can find thousands from all over the world at Elinor Oldham's Art & Bead Gallery. Oldham also carries dozens of fine art pieces, jewelry, earrings, decorative pots and tons of trinkets. You won't have to know what you're looking for when you walk into the gallery—a few minutes of browsing should have your head jam-packed with possibilities.

North Valley

Second Street and Fourth Street, between Candelaria and Osuna

This high-ceilinged adobe is flanked by tall windows and has the feel of a church. Acequia Booksellers' approach to the printed word is indeed reverential, but it's not inaccessible (cued by comfy, crackling jazz piped in from iTunes). The store specializes in rare and out-of-print works, Southwest and Native American subjects, and the humanities, with a large number of French selections. "It's called Acequia because bookstores feed people's minds like an acequia feeds farms," explains owner Gary Wilke. "And it starts with A."

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Fourth Street between Montaño and Alameda

Run by Paddy O'Riley and his grandson Kenneth, this strip-mall repository has a lock on Albuquerque's paint-flinging needs. For $170, you can score a Tippmann 98, a full-package machine for the beginner. Upgrades are easy, and these folks live up to the “N-Stuff” part of their name with tons of custom stocks, barrels and response triggers. Fill a stocking with paintballs ($14 a box, $54 a case) and don't forget the masks!

Corrales

Corrales Road near the center of the village

On the higher end of used clothes, Karleen's collection of recycled fashions is fairly select and not built with fly-by-night teen or college trends in mind. Quality, timeless fashions live in the racks of this tiny shop. With women's clothes only, gift your favorite fashion queen with jewelry, a hat, a vintage purse or campy poofed slippers. The friendly, eager staff will gladly assist you in choosing the right one-of-a-kind item.

Santa Fe

South Guadalupe Street and Sanbusco Market Center near downtown. Unless noted, all hours for stores listed in Sanbusco Market Center are: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m..

Walking among the whitewashed bookshelves of the converted house that is now Big Star Books feels more like perusing a historic library. Shelves of pre-loved volumes neatly organized by topic make the selection process effortless, and you never know what you'll stumble upon since Big Star buys out libraries and collections. There were a few classic Choose Your Own Adventure books on the shelves not long ago—nostalgic stocking stuffers, anyone?

film

Reel World

Actor/director Lee Kitts has taught acting since 1987 in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Kentucky and has recently relocated to Albuquerque. Kitts will be teaching a series titled “Acting Technique 1” early next year. The 10-week course starts on Jan. 14 and is now enrolling adults of all skills and levels. Classes will take place in the afternoon or evening (call for schedule) and will run three hours per week. Total cost is $295 with a $100 deposit to enroll. Kitts’ class is decribed as “an in-depth, step-by-step approach for the beginning student or the experienced actor, which translates to authentic, organic behavior for stage and film with focus in the following areas: Acting as action, focus outside the self, clarity and specificity of intention, theatre ethics/ensemble.” For more information, call 872-2349.

Atonement

Sweeping romantic drama has nothing to apologize for

Atonement presents viewers with the kind of sweeping romance and epic storytelling that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Reds or Doctor Zhivago or Gone with the Wind. (Yes, I consciously left The English Patient off that list--it’s highly overrated.) Admittedly, that’s a mighty bold statement to make. It’s not merely a reflection on the film’s quality, which is impeccable, but a description of the classic cinematic style for which Atonement is reaching. So many modern Hollywood love stories are obsessed with the petty and the miniscule (mistaken identities, ridiculous lies and other formulaic contrivances). When lunkheaded dirty jokes like The Heartbreak Kid pass for romance, we’re in serious need of some old-fashioned affairs of the heart.

King Corn

Corn-based documentary unearths America’s No. 1 crop

Corn: It’s everywhere, though most of us probably don't realize it. During the past 30 years, the New World plant has become absolutely pervasive in the United States, turning up in everything from soda to meat to jokes (just joking), and contributing to cheap foods that have negative effects on our health. Hence, the documentary King Corn. Without calls to action or divisive language, this artistic little piece of investigative journalism explores the hand-in-hand transformation of corn and the American food supply.

Back to the Drawing Board

Anime: Drawing a Revolution on Starz

Is it possible you’ve lived for the past seven years amid the wreckage of post-20th-century pop culture and you still don’t know what the hell anime is? Well, if that’s the case, Starz is coming to your rescue with Anime: Drawing a Revolution, a documentary primer on this wacky new thing called Japanese animation.

food

A Locavore's Winter Salad Bar

Q: Dear Chef,

My family is trying really hard to do the local foods/seasonal-eating thing. The onions, squash, carrots, potatoes and garlic in our basement were all purchased at the farmers’ market. My daughter picked the strawberries in the freezer and says she wants to go hunting next year! This year we went in on a cow and a pig, both from a local farm, with our neighbors.

Phở Nguyen

In the middle of the pack

Vietnamese restaurants have proliferated in Burque faster than Starbucks over the last couple of years. More than ever, local phở fans have plenty of options for where they can slurp their rice noodles, and with more choices comes the need for each place to set itself apart.

news

Sanctuary Grows New Roots

Day shelter for homeless women seeks to replant itself in Albuquerque

As Maria helped the new staff of Almas de Amistad set up shop again, she recognized some of the furniture. Couches, shelves and knickknacks from the old Amistad, open for about six years as a sanctuary for women from the streets trying to get clean. Amistad lost a federal grant and shut its doors at the end of February, ceasing the specialized services it provides to homeless and drug-addicted women. "The first week I found out they [reopened], I came and started painting with them," Maria says.

Answer Me This

Why are some Albuquerque High School parents atwitter? What surprising discovery did a Santa Fe woman stumble upon? Why did the mayor say he was dropping out of the U.S. Senate race? How is Moriarty helping DWI victims’ families?

The Red and Green Mile

Keeping it Querque for Christmas

To get my Christmas shopping going, I needed a pin and a piece of string. The pin went into an Albuquerque map at the spot where I live. Then I measured the string to match the equivalent of a mile radius around my house and drew a circle.

Hey, Big Spender

When it comes to loans, consumers are advised to protect themselves before they wreck themselves

For many, consumer credit can provide convenience, easier access to high-dollar items and security not always afforded by cash. On the other hand, misused loans infer a false sense of wealth, leading to financial troubles that may range from minor setbacks to overwhelming crises.

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Australia--Apparently, Australia was serious about its ban on Jolly Olde St. Nick. Professional Santa John Oakes claims he has been fired for saying “ho, ho, ho” and singing Christmas carols on the job at a department store in Cairns. Temporary employment agency Westaff recently made headlines for ordering its seasonal Santas to say “ha, ha, ha” instead of “ho, ho, ho” because the phrase might frighten children and could be offensive to women. Mr. Oakes, 70, told the Cairns Post, “After my shift on Monday, I got a call from my manager telling me my services were no longer required. I hadn’t done anything wrong so I asked her why, and she said, ‘You said ho, ho ho and that’s not appropriate.’ She also said I wasn’t supposed to sing, but I was only singing ‘Jingle Bells’ to get the kids to laugh for their photo.” A company spokesman for the U.S.-based Westaff said, “The candidate was not sacked nor was his use of the term ‘ho, ho, ho’ a factor in our decision.”

music

Music to Your Ears

Peter Gelb has transformed New York's Metropolitan Opera since becoming general manager in the summer of 2006. His goal is broadening the opera house's audience, trimming down opera's overstuffed pomp and replacing it with populist circumstance. Basically, he wants regular people like us to enjoy opera again.

Leah Black and Friends

Acoustic jams from electric performers

As someone whose music is sometimes not taken seriously because of her day job, it makes sense that 93.3 KOB FM DJ Leah Black wants people's hidden talents to shine. Black has gathered up four musicians who made names for themselves with amplified guitars and asked them to strip it down for an evening. From her experiences in her rock/soul pop band, Black has seen the highs and lows of being an acoustic performer, who thrives on the vulnerability of being without electricity. Black talked to the Alibi about being naked on stage.

Greg Ruggiero’s Balance

Albuquerque native returns to celebrate release of new CD

Warm and liquid, the music of jazz guitarist Greg Ruggiero slides into the ear so easily, you don’t notice until it’s already had its way with you. The first signs include a slowing of the breath, a relaxed attentiveness and a heightened awareness of one’s blessings.

Down With Christmas

A selection of the Christmas albums we received this year, all of which fill us with urges to stab each other with sharpened candy canes

Whether you're having problems with money, family, food, Jesus or Christmas in general, those minor issues will all be eclipsed if you happen upon this agonizing Michael Bolton album. Not only are these songs awful, they're crooned by one of the most horrid musical demons of our time. This Christmas, your troubles are of a Michael Bolton nature. (JCC)

art

Culture Shock

The newsletter-style e-mails from Sol Arts always start with the same headline: "Here's what's next at Sol Arts!" The e-mail I received last week was no different, except what's next at Sol Arts is nothing. While it's sad to see a local, grassroots art space close its doors, the folks at Sol Arts are doing it for a positive reason. The members, including UNM theater professor and Sol Arts founder Kristen Loree, have decided to devote their time and focus into their own artistic creations and put running art space on hold, at least for now.

Twelve Books for Christmas

Or Yule, or Kwanzaa, or no reason at all

Got some impossible-to-buy-for types on your list? One of these twelve books should satisfy even the most difficult name on your list. Plus, you’ll be supporting a Southwest writer at the same time.

Alibi V.16 No.49 • Dec 6-12, 2007

Right to Porn

Pornotopia purveyors face no penalty but are slapped with a zoning violation for festival

Friday was a stressful day for Guild Cinema co-owner Peter Conheim. About two hours before adult film festival "Pornotopia" opened, a code enforcement officer showed up with a warning notice.

feature

Plastic People

How we became a nation of debtors, and how we can find our way out

When it's in the mailbox, ornamenting the roadside and drenching most of our entertainment, it doesn't take long to recognize a labyrinthine media barrage promoting endless and conspicuous consumption. We are what we buy, and in a free market society where business doesn't always live by the golden rule, when others win when you lose, it's easy to find yourself burned. Often that burn comes by way of incinerating little pieces of hologram-emblazed plastic--using fake money like it's real.

Small Change

Financial advice on credit and debt from UNM finance professor Emmanuel Morales-Camargo

Emmanuel Morales-Camargo is an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico with a Ph.D. in Finance. While his teaching areas include financial institutions and systems research, before he came to our fair state last year, Professor Morales-Camargo was the educational adviser to an organization at the University of Arizona that provides free personal finance education. He is also an aspiring author of a case study book on financial literacy. We put his money mind to use, extracting valuable information about how to deal with debt.

music

Little Metal Sisters

Suspended thrashes Burque's masses

The most promising metal act in town is not staffed by tattooed, beer-guzzling, sweaty men in their late 20s/early 30s. Amanda Castillo, Channing Concho and Melynda Montaño draw their inspiration from the ’80s metal that infected their childhoods.

Iron & Wine and You and Me

And Arthur & Yu, all together this week

It's unfortunate that Iron & Wine—Florida native, former film and cinematography professor, and Austin resident whose real name is Sam Beam, that is—is best recognized for his quiet cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." His original work tops any cover by far. Not-quite-folk, yet not-quite-rock ’n’ roll, not fully characterizable at all, Beam seems to have accomplished the impossible task of forging his own style. This is especially true of his overwhelmingly lovely late-September release, The Shepherd's Dog. His most recent collection, which is aided by Calexico (á la their 2005 collaborative release In The Reins), hangs on to the absorbing melancholy of Beam's previous recordings, yet twists it into something more mature and slightly happier. Try tracks No. 1, "Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car," and No. 9, "Boy with a Coin" (where flamenco fans may note a nice use of palmas).

Mei Long CD Release Party

Mei love you Long time

When psychedelic mod-rock outfit Mei Long decided to go electric, the growing pains ached enough to make the band question whether the transition would work at all.

art

Culture Shock

Look, I tried to come up with some quirky, cute way to say the holidays are imminent and shopping days are numbered, but it's all been done before so I'll just cut straight to the holiday jugular: You've got two weeks and it's really hard to shop for Aunt Betty. Consult the “Alibi Picks” this week for a multitude of shopping and strolling events, but if your taste and the taste of those on your list leans on the artsy side, there are a few more events to consider. On Saturday, Dec. 8, the New Mexico Book Co-op and Footprints From the Bible are sponsoring the Holiday Book and Craft Fair at St. John's Cathedral (318 Silver SW) starting at 10 a.m. The event features more than 50 local authors, artists and craftspeople, and book signings with Dave DeWitt (Avenging Victorio), Don Bullis (New Mexico: A Biographical Dictionary) and Robert Torrez (New Mexico in 1876-1877). Of course, many of the authors will be promoting their publications and I'm sure they'll be happy to slap a signature on your copy. After checking the bibliophile(s) off your list, visit Regalos at La Tiendita Museum Store at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW) also on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artisans from around New Mexico will be offering their wares, including paintings, sculpture, santeros, literature and glass art. Beyond the shopping, Regalos features carolers, storytelling (at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.) and refreshments.

Methods of the Past

The Imaginative Mind of Bruce Lowney at Artspace 116

The fine art medium of lithography is a mysterious process to some and unknown to many more. Like daguerreotypes and woodcuts—two other kinds of image replication with far-reaching influence to modern expression—the lithograph has been relegated to niche status, the stuff of dusty museum archives. Yet many artists still prefer this rigorous, technical process. Bruce Lowney is one of them, having used the lithograph press to create beautiful, compelling works for more than 30 years.

news

Answer Me This

Could your red-light camera tickets be refunded? Why are New Mexico thieves acting like fools? Santa Fe police were suspicious of what object? Highland High School is proud to present...

Talking to the Dead: Who's Answering?

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

--William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act 3

You’re Getting Warmer

The Kyoto Accord began the race to halt global warming. On its 10th anniversary, why are we barely past the starting gate?

I remember so well the final morning hours of the Kyoto conference. The negotiations had gone on long past their scheduled evening close, and the convention center management was frantic. A trade show for children’s clothing was about to begin, and every corner of the vast hall was still littered with the carcasses of the sleeping diplomats who had gathered in Japan to draw up a first-ever global treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But when word finally came that an agreement had been reached, people roused themselves with real enthusiasm—lots of backslapping and hugs.

Thin Line

Transgendered people have never received much media attention in the U.S., but according to a new study, that’s starting to change.

Draw The Body On The Dick Knipfing

We had wealth of great entries for this contest to draw the body on everyone’s favorite news anchor, but our chosen winner is 11-year-old Cameron York. Congratulations, Cameron!

Vive le Knipfing!

Click on the headline for more!

Odds & Ends

Dateline: England--A springer spaniel was rushed to the hospital after eating what his owners say is his 40th pair of underwear. Taffy, owned by Eubie and Sharon Saayman of Tamworth, Staffs, has also wolfed down 300 socks and destroyed 15 pairs of shoes. He even once ate the keys to their Mercedes, reports London’s Daily Mirror. Normally, everything Taffy devours comes out the other end, but this last pair of underpants wouldn't budge. Fortunately, 34-year-old Eubie Saayman is a veterinarian, who operated on his family’s pet after noticing the animal was in pain. “He didn’t touch his food for two days and lay in his bed looking sorry for himself. I knew straight away what had happened so I didn’t need an X-ray to see the problem,” Saayman told the newspaper. “His stomach was swollen and, during the operation, just as I thought, there was a pair of my son’s Bob the Builder pants that had got stuck.” Sharon, 44, manager of Eubie’s vet’s practice, said they have spent nearly $1,000 replacing items the 18-month-old spaniel has swallowed. “I guess this is just his vice,” said Mrs. Saayman.

film

Reel World

Big congratulations are in order for Albuquerque-based filmmaker Billy Garberina, his cast and his crew on Necroville. The low-budget horror comedy captured the Tamalewood Award for Best New Mexico-Made Film at last weekend’s mega-successful Santa Fe Film Festival. The film had some stiff competition as this year’s SFFF featured more than 60 shorts, features and documentaries in the New Mexico Film Expo program. Also taking home top honors were Persepolis for Best of the Fest, Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez for Best Documentary, Miss Navajo for Best Indigenous and Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa for Best of the Southwest. Kudos are also reserved for the festival itself, which sold more than 20,000 tickets during its five-day run, making 2007’s eighth annual fest the most successful to date. See you next year!

VideoNasty

Latitude Zero (1969)

If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you’ll know by now that I have a full-on love affair with Japanese-American co-productions. Flicks like The Green Slime, The Manster and Terror Beneath The Sea all hold a special place in my cold, callous heart. So it is with great pleasure and schoolgirl giddiness that I present to you the long sought-after Latitude Zero, which is set to hit our shores in a pimped-out two-disc edition courtesy of the fine people at Tokyo Shock. What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of Latitude Zero? Well then, have I got a treat for you.

Brand Upon the Brain!

Canadian Guy Maddin doses audiences with another mad vision of yesteryear

Experimental Canadian fantasist Guy Maddin (The Saddest Music in the World, Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary, Tales From the Gimli Hospital) continues his somewhat prolific career of weirdness with Brand Upon the Brain!, a curiously anachronistic horror-mystery the filmmaker describes as “semi-autobiographical” (with, we’ll assume, a heavy emphasis on the “semi”).

TV 2.0

Comedy on the Web

The news last week that NBC would be picking up the episodic Web-only series “Quarterlife” as a midseason replacement show for early 2008 told us one of two things: Either the month-old Writers’ Guild strike is having a much more devastating effect on the industry as a whole, or we’ve been looking in the wrong place for our entertainment. After all, “Quarterlife” is produced by TV vets Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick (“thirtysomething,” “My So-Called Life”). The show, about six twentysomething artists coming of age in the digital generation, airs on MySpace, where the first episode has been viewed more than 190,000 times. Maybe it’s time to start ignoring television altogether and dig into this digital realm of Internet-only webisodes.

food

Lee’s Bakery

Dessert first, questions later

Last week was colder than a well digger's nether regions, and I was not at all inclined to leave the warmth under my stack of comforters. Still, I donned my thermal underwear and drove to the corner of Louisiana and Central, hoping like hell I’d find a good Vietnamese sandwich.

Spirited Gifts

Five wine websites that let your fingers do the shopping

There are some people that are just a pain in the ass to shop for: Your boss who’s having a midlife crisis, the Stepford-like neighbor who just invited you to a politically correct “holiday” party, or a second cousin, twice removed, whose presence is gracing yours out of the blue. Some already have everything, some don’t like anything and some you really don’t know that well. Too bad. You still have to get them something. And the gift for casual acquaintances or for that special wino in your life is just a mouse click away.

Über Tubers

Fresh truffles are ridiculously expensive. The ones you're looking at go for $2,000 per pound, approximately $350 each. Why in god’s name would anyone pay so much for something that looks like a blond dirt clod? What do they even taste like, anyway?