Reboot of literary classic plays fast and loose but remains reverent
By Devin D. O’Leary
The cinematic watchword for 2009 was “reboot.” For better or worse, Hollywood has been cautiously rebooting film series for a few years now (James Bond, Batman, The Pink Panther, Halloween). But in 2009, the movie industry started rebooting the hell out of stuff. We got all-new, updated, reimagined versions of Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, Sorority Row, Star Trek, Terminator, Land of the Lost, The Taking of Pelham 123, G.I. Joe, Fame, Astro Boy and A Christmas Carol. The latest major character to get a ground-up spit-shine is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes.
Driving home while thinking about the cultural profoundity of events like Weekly Alibi’s upcoming Best of Burque Music Showcase—which is happening on Saturday evening, March 24, downtown, in case you did not know that fact—led me to the shores of ghetto Smith’s where I repaired to the produce section for some fresh fruit to calm my florid mind.
Typing your name into Yahoo or Google or Bing or whatever the kids use to search the InterWebs these days isn’t simply a vainglorious way to waste time at work. It’s also a helpful tool to measure your worth in today’s post-Twitter world. Plus, it’s a good way to keep track of any crazy stalkers who are blogging about you and your sleep habits.
The majority of Americans spend Christmas Eve with family—trimming the tree, roasting some large dead bird and hanging the stockings by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. The rest of us just fritter it away at a dive bar drowning our seasonal depression in cheap whiskey and Hank Williams songs. Either way, nobody’s watching a lot of TV. But if you feel the need to turn to your old friend the Idiot Box this Dec. 24, here’s what you can expect to find.
Though this week of the year—the filling in our Christmas and New Year’s cookie sandwich—is brimming with social engagements, there’s little in the way of public performances. It’s a hard time to be an arts writer, especially when one of the only events happening this week includes said arts writer, a writer who’s terribly uncomfortable with self-promotion (the event rhymes with Schmurch of Schmetoven; that’s all I’ll say).
Fire department calls Burque theaters on safety issues
By Julia Mandeville
Lt. Skip Navarrette wants citizens to know that the Albuquerque Fire Department’s primary aim is education: the prevention of injury and loss of life through shared information, community awareness, and general understanding of safety rules and regulations. And he embodies this objective. Though his regular workweek spans Monday through Thursday, Navarrette volunteered his Saturday morning in the name of comprehension. But the lesson is neither as catchy, nor as straightforward, as “stop, drop and roll.”
A new director helms Albuquerque’s animal shelters
By Christie Chisholm
Albuquerque’s new mayor, Richard Berry, walked into his 11th-floor office for the first time on Dec. 1. But that Tuesday wasn’t just Berry’s first day on the job. It was also Day 1 for all of his city appointments, including Barbara Bruin, the head of the city’s two animal shelters.
Dateline: Germany—Two Germans ended up in the hospital after a supermarket battle involving cold cuts. The fight took place in the western city of Aachen when a 74-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman tried to take possession of the same shopping cart. As the elderly man wrestled the cart from the hands of his rival, the woman’s 24-year-old brother stepped forward and decked him with a punch. The brother and sister, along with their 53-year-old mother, took their four-wheeled spoils of war into the store. But the defeated pensioner followed them to the deli counter where he snatched up a tube of salami and started clubbing the younger man. Thinking fast, the 24-year-old’s mother grabbed a sharp, 4-pound wedge of Parmesan and used it to fend off the meaty blows of the salami. At some point during the food fight, the 53-year-old woman was knocked over, hitting her head on the deli’s glass countertop. Police eventually arrived to break up the melee. Two of those involved were treated in at a local hospital for minor injuries. According to London’s Daily Telegraph, the trolley was undamaged.
A tiny uproar erupted in web-o-land last week when the dubiously monikered Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named its 2010 inductees: Genesis, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, The Stooges and ABBA. Euro-pop act ABBA received an abundance of ire (yet few complained about Genesis, eww), the big gripe being that ABBA, a glam-pop group, got the honor, while glam-rock group KISS failed to be inducted. It was like the ’70s all over again with former teenage boys flying "Disco Sucks" flags all over the Internet.
Low Spirits haunts the building that once housed Bear Assets
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
On Friday night the bar was comfortably full, populated by a crowd teeming with baby boomers and twentysomethings alike. Despite the place’s given name, everyone seemed to be feeling festive, there to take in a little local blues, have a drink and maybe a dance.
With a name like El Pollo Real (which astute readers will recognize as meaning The Royal Chicken), you’d expect chicken to reign supreme. Instead, the restaurant is more democracy than monarchy, where chicken—crispy, juicy, falling-off-the-bone tender and full of smoky charbroiled flavor—is represented without dominating the menu.
Here’s an idea for singles: Instead of spending lonely evenings dining on beer and canned tamales, head out to your local high-end grocers for some duck fat, veal broth and San Marzano tomatoes. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of Judith Jones’ newest cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One, so those ingredients will make sense to you.
Barbecue is supposed to be served on paper plates, washed down with Kool-Aid or Coke, and found in restaurants dingy enough to prove their authenticity yet clean enough that you don’t fear for your health.
In Denver in 2005, geeks John Dicker and Joel Peach began a business based on the pub quiz. Two years later they spread their tentacles of snarky trivia beyond the Centennial State and into Albuquerque. Nowadays the pub quiz called Geeks Who Drink can be found enriching multiple communities of booze-loving eggheads in Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Washington and New Mexico.
Thoughts about a harmonious balance between the body, mind and world—let’s call this health and vitality—extend back to the dawn of history. In many traditions, these views are often refined over centuries of practice and study.
Perhaps you’ve not heard, but other instruments besides guitars, banjos and mandolins produce sound through the vibration of strings. Below you'll find 12—see if you can match them (by drawing a line), and figure out how to play air zither.
Draw the state of the atmosphere around our favorite Albuquerque weatherman.
The one who draws the most interesting weather gets his or her artwork printed in the paper and a prize. Send entries to: Steve Stucker Challenge, 2118 Central SE, PMB 151, Albuquerque, N.M. 87106-4004
“It’s true, I’m working my ass off,” says Iraqi oudist Rahim AlHaj, on the phone from his Albuquerque home, “composing music and commissioning music and making the oud recognizable with all these remarkable musicians, plus my practice time, which is six to eight hours a day.”
Last week, to coincide with my review of Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock by Phil Sutcliffe (Voyageur Press, hardcover, $40), I implored readers to compose a riddle about Queen or homosexuality in rock for a chance to win a copy of this fabulous book.
While Joshua Breakstone has been a guitarist since his early teens, cutting his teeth on Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, his most profound influences have come from players of other instruments. The fluid lines of his improvisations have often been compared to those of a trumpeter or saxophonist, and when he cites Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown and Charlie Parker among his prime influences, the comparison comes into focus.
Fast Heart Mart’s New Zealand rockumentary premieres
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
"We like reaching everybody—we like reaching people who don't necessarily expect it. At nightclubs and whatnot people are expecting a band and they either care or they don't care—they're just there to drink. But when you're out in the street, life is really going on around you," says Roblyn Crawford.
It’s time to stop branding every tortilla-based dish created as “Mexican” and show a little respect. Much of what we’re served in stateside Mexican restaurants would hardly be recognized in Mexico. Foods do cross over international borders and state lines, and truly “authentic” cuisine is difficult to define anymore, but c’mon. There’s no reason to lump together distinct culinary traditions like Mexican, New Mexican, Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex.
Alibi's nurse columnist quizzes a congressman on reform efforts
By Whitny Doyle, RN
Rep. Martin Heinrich’s constituents gathered beneath the outdoor tent, warming up with posole and hot chocolate, while the old guard South Valley residents sat on folding chairs discussing grandbabies and holiday recipes with one another. Saturday, Dec. 12, marked the grand opening of Heinrich's district office in the South Valley, an area in which he saw “great needs” during his campaign, he said in a news release.
If you’ve flipped by public access channels 26 and 27 lately, that “swoosh” sound you heard in the background was a shoulder-launched rocket propelled grenade going through one window and out another at the Quote... Unquote, Inc. studios on Civic Plaza.
Dateline: Russia—A chemistry student in the Ukraine city of Konotop has been killed by what is believed to be exploding chewing gum. Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports that the unnamed 25-year-old was found dead with his jaw blown off after he was working on a computer at his parents’ house. “A loud pop was heard from the student’s room,” a city police chief aide told ukranews.com. “When his relatives entered the room, they saw that the lower part of the young man’s face had been blown off.” Family members say the man had a habit of dipping his chewing gum in citric acid. Ria Novosti reports police found both citric acid packets and “some kind of explosive material” on a table in his parent’s room. The parents believe their son, who was a student at Ukraine’s Kiev Polytechnic Institute, mistakenly mixed up the packets, dipping his gum into the explosive powder.
Mature look at the world of corporate downsizing mixes romance, humor and a timely personal touch
By Devin D. O’Leary
When Up in the Air marches confidently into February’s Oscar race (and it will), it will be on the strength of its sharp writing and expertly grounded performances. If Up in the Air succeeds at the box office (and it might), it will be due largely to the film’s timely theme.
First: a little background. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the Chinese national epic, an 800,000-word historical saga that has been well-entrenched in the Asian mindset since its creation in the 14th century. To a literate Chinese person, a section like the Battle of the Red Cliffs is as familiar a cultural touchstone as the Death Star Trench Run would be to us semiliterate Westerners.
For me, the SPEED Channel has always been chaff. A specialty station that sits unused somewhere in the middle of my satellite dish menu. I’m not what you’d call a gearhead and was extremely happy the day my paychecks got big enough that I could pay someone else to change the spark plugs in my car. I realize, however, that there are plenty of people for whom motor vehicles are a downright obsession.
When I was invited to read at the Church of Beethoven as the featured poet back in October, I was sadly unable to meet the series' founder, Felix Wurman. First diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2008, he had major surgery this past spring and experienced a brief reprieve. The cancer returned, however, spreading now to the bone. By the fall, he had gone to North Carolina to be near his sister and receive treatment there. At the Sunday performance I was so privileged to be a part of, there was still talk of Wurman's return. However, this is no longer the case. Wurman’s cancer has proven resistent to treatment.
Happy Hanukkah, everyone! I mean: Merry Christmas! Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Islamic New Year. Blessed Solstice. Super Pancha Ganapati, all. Join us in celebrating the range of winter holidays with our Match the Famous Artists to Their Beliefs quiz. Reductionist? Maybe. Neat fun? You bet!
An art sleuth follows the trail of a legendary local artist
By Julia Mandeville
It all begins on a Sunday morning in October. My fiancé Alex and I arrive at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, pass through the double doors of the lobby gallery and enter the world of Albuquerque Now. As we would at any exhibition—but particularly since this marks our first real introduction to local visual arts, having just moved to New Mexico in July—we move slowly. We spend 20 to 25 minutes with the first six works, marveling at the intricacies of Catalina Delgado Trunk’s cut paper “Cyclical Time” and trying to identify the myriad found objects in Cynthia Cook’s “This Mortal Coil.”
Disney is back to form with clever updating of classic tale
By Devin D. O’Leary
A few years ago, Walt Disney Pictures tried to declare an end to “traditional” hand-drawn, 2-D animation. Then they bought out cutting-edge 3-D animation studio Pixar, which promptly took over all cartoon-related duties at Disney. Pixar seized the opportunity to announce that the death of traditional animation was greatly overstated. (God love those Pixar people.) So here we are, several years later, ready to ogle the first honest-to-goodness Disney toon in the classic mold in many a moon: the fairy tale-informed The Princess and the Frog. Ignoring ill-advised computer-animated experiments like Meet the Robinsons and Bolt and direct-to-video junk like Bambi II and The Emperor’s New Groove 2: Kronk’s New Groove, this is the first time Disney’s looked like Disney since ... 2002’s Lilo & Stitch at least.
With only two weeks left to find the perfect present for everyone on your list, the stress of holiday traffic and early morning door-busters is starting to take its toll. Park your sleigh, Santa, and back away slowly from the big-box stores. Our annual Last-Minute Gift Guide takes the hassle out of the mad dash for holiday gifts by focusing on great mom-and-pop shops within walking distance of each other. Neighborhood by neighborhood, these local merchants are working hard to make the holidays enjoyable again.
This is where you go for the serious blang-blang. (Ahem, fine jewelry.) Mati's inviting corner shop on the plaza is not only the most pleasant of the local jewelry giant's three Albuquerque locations, but this store also has the best deals. In a twinkling sea of top-notch personal adornments lie several cases of 40-percent-off merchandise and one that's—gasp—75 percent off. That means the $2,000 cocktail ring I tried on is only $500! Bargains aside, in addition to Mati's beautiful, unique pieces, they also do custom work, engraving and repairs.
Microwave owner Ray Chavez has skateboarding in his blood.
His grandparents opened the South Valley's Concrete Wave in 1988 (it's still there). Ray, whose feet were already glued to a deck, started working the counter when he was 9 or 10 year old. "Back then, there wasn't a lot of shops. There was the mall, and that stuff was overpriced," he says. "That's why this is the Microwave. It's the little one."
Chavez' three-year-old satellite store is, in fact, very small. But it's filled with all the right gear. "Even if we had the room, I wouldn't carry anyone besides the brands we do. They're good people with quality products. And quality products is probably the main thing in skateboarding—that's what we look for." Chavez’ is one of only a few stores in town to carry SBs—Nike's chunky, colorful, tricked-out skateboard shoe line that's sought after by "sneaker head" collectors and straight-up skaters alike ("pro" boat-style shoes run around $70, high tops jog up to $200). And since he was the first SB account in Albuquerque, he gets hooked up with a constantly changing selection of special and limited edition shoes.
Though celebrity kids may have upped the fashion ante, this children's boutique is anything but hoity-toity. Fun and affordable, Zap ... oh! has what salesperson John Besante calls "a different perspective in children's clothing." All of the staff are bonafide kid experts eager to help you find the perfect piece for your favorite tiny humans. Our favorites include alien overalls, tutus and the Pee-pee Teepee—if you've met an infant boy, you get it.
The low-lit atmosphere and friendly staff make admiring this shop’s numerous boards for snow and skate a reverent experience. Browse the extensive T-shirt collection, or check out the watches, stickers, wallets and DVDs that would make great gifts for the skater (or anyone else) you know.
Step through the door of this teeming antique shop and the squeak of the wood floors alone is enough to send you back in time. Wander the free-flowing aisles and you're guaranteed to trip over (maybe literally) some bygone goodies—most dating from the middle of the 20th century or so. You won't find a lot of Victorian clothing or Federalist furniture here, but there are plenty of pop cultural gems, from the big (a full-size Pepsi-Cola cooler) to the small (a tidy selection of classic 45 records). You can spend a little ($2 for rustic, decorative kitchen utensils) or a lot ($3,000 for an actual juke box). Alongside your standard Americana (old advertising signs, rusted license plates, collectable salt-and-pepper shakers) are some sharp Western items. Ornate, hand-tooled saddles will run you upwards of $400. Professional branding irons go for $145. Indian blankets range between $85 and $125.
If there is but one truth within the annals of rock 'n' roll, it is this: Queen is awesome. Voyageur Press understands this truth. The publisher released a handful of excellent coffee table titles this year, including one on The Velvet Underground and another on Neil Diamond (very cleverly named Neil Diamond Is Forever), and has now added to its catalog an extensive volume that chronicles Queen's mighty quintessence. With the help of hundreds of photos, record covers and other ephemera, rock journalist Phil Sutcliffe recounts Queen's story from a tiny twinkle in Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon's eyes, to arena-rocking audiences throughout the '70s and '80s, to Mercury's death of AIDS in 1991, to present. The book is supplemented by guest writers on topics like the band's equipment and effects, and how it persists with only two remaining original members. There's also commentary—Slash on Brian May, Rob Halford on Freddie Mercury, et cetera. Even comics about the band are included. It's a worthy package of Queen's regal, majestic, glamourous glory.
Could this be the coming of ska’s fourth wave? To find out, put on your bowler and finely tailored pants on Saturday, Dec. 12, and skank down to Amped Performance Center (4200 Lomas NE). The $5, all-ages show begins at 7 p.m. and includes the jams of Drop Steady Rockers, The Blue Hornets and Martial Law. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
As talent-buyer and manager for not one, not two, but three venues—Launchpad, Low Spirits and Sunshine Theater—Luis Mota is constantly surrounded by music and/or music-related things. Below are the first five shuffled tracks that were floating around his music library.
Chili Express, on the easternmost stretch of Gibson, marches to its own beat. Its spelling of “chili” seems out of place in New Mexico, and even its claim to serve “Mexican food” would be believable anywhere else but here—this is New Mexican to the core. Luckily, this same peculiar approach goes into crafting comfort food with a meticulous sensibility, not to mention the decor of one of the funkiest eateries in town.
In a matter of minutes, a grim situation for public access television did a 180. On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Quote... Unquote, Inc. Executive Director Steve Ranieri announced Mayor Richard Berry was undoing an eleventh-hour deed executed by former Mayor Martin Chavez.
The Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about the federal enforceability of a permit issued to a cement transfer station in the North Valley, according to documents requested by the Alibi under the Inspection of Public Records Act.
Journalists are calling it the most important environmental summit to date. In Copenhagen, Denmark, thousands of dignitaries and officials, green crusaders, and the business-minded gathered for the U.N.'s climate change conference, which began Monday, Dec. 7.
You know those days when you're not feeling so ... fabü? Maybe your general sense of well-being is missing. In its place is anxiety and paranoia. Maybe you didn't get enough sleep. Or your clothes don't hang right. Or you drank too much wine the night before. Or you're having flashbacks from ’Nam. Whatever the trouble, the last thing you want to happen upon is your stupid face smirking back at you from the pages of Albuquerque the Magazine.
A fresh City Council got down to business Monday, Dec. 7, with Councilors Dan Lewis and Michael Cook on board. Lewis replaces Westsider Michael Cadigan, and Cook takes Sally Mayer’s Northeast Heights seat. Mayor Richard Berry briefly addressed the Council, welcoming the freshman councilors to the table, introducing members of his staff, and pitching harmony and a clean start.
’Tis the season, and few things go better with spiked eggnog and mistletoe than a naughty roll in the manger. But anyone who is single and ready to tingle these days knows the dating market has become increasingly competitive since the economic downturn. Decreased financial security means few people have the luxury of just lookin’ for a good time. And while foxiness will never go out of style, many of us are more inclined to choose a mate with job security and a sizable benefits package (of the health care variety, sicko) in these tough times.
Dateline: Taiwan—The online video game blog MMO Champion reports that a Taiwanese man has become the first to “finish” the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. The player, identified only by his screen name “Little Gray,” successfully completed all 986 achievements listed in the game’s armory. To reach this milestone, the player accumulated 7,255,538,878 points of damage, killed 390,895 creatures, finished 5,905 quests, raided 495 dungeons and hugged 11 players. Hardcore World of Warcraft players have pointed out that Little Gray did not complete the elusive Patch 3.2.2 event known as “BB King.” However, a glitch in an earlier PvP system gave the player an extra achievement point resulting in the perfect 986/986 score. For this epic achievement, the player wins ... nothing more than a nagging sense that he’s wasted his entire life.
UNM’s Department of Cinematic Arts will present Happiness Is a Warm Projector, the department’s 2009 student showcase, this Friday, Dec. 11. The showcase will take place from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE). This is a free show and is open to students, former students, filmmakers and any other interested viewers. The showcase will feature a random assortment of the best films produced at UNM this year. University soundscapers Mannie Rettinger & The Chuppers will open and close the show. Several film scholars will also be there to discuss their experiences in film school abroad. For more information on this event or the Cinematic Arts program in general, please visit cinematicarts.unm.edu.
After hours of precise calculations and empirical research, I have arrived at the 10 best gifts you can buy for the film lovers in your life. If you happen to get them something from this list and they don’t appreciate it? Well, then they aren’t really film lovers, are they?
On the list of all-time crimefighting debacles, I’d say hiring Steven Seagal to headline his own cop reality show ranks somewhere between giving guns and badges to Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson and Wee Man on CBS’ aborted “Armed & Famous” and the four Police Academy movies that didn’t star Steve Guttenberg.
Put down those bath beads—no one wants those for Christmas. Instead, pick up some one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork for the loved ones left on your list. Neighboring galleries Matrix Fine Art and New Grounds Print Workshop (3812 Central SE, Suites 100 A and B) invite you to their holiday show and sale. The reception on Friday, Dec. 11, goes from 5 to 8 p.m. Artwork is priced from $25 and up. For more information on these galleries and this event, go to newgroundsgallery.com or matrixfineart.com.
This time of year is perfect for gathering up your friends and family and heading as far from the mall as possible. So in between your last minute holiday purchases, put on your crushed velvet and patent-leather finery (universal Christmas attire still, right?) and go see a play. There are so many great ones in town this month, I just couldn’t choose one. Maybe you shouldn’t, either.
New Mexican poet, author and journalist Demetria Martinez has one or two stories to tell. Martinez was the religion editor at the Albuquerque Journal in the ’80s, working part-time while writing poetry. In 1987, she was indicted on charges of conspiracy relating to smuggling refugees from Central America to the U.S. She was acquitted the following year.