Arts Orbit Weekly: 12/4/08

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This week’s picks

Thursday, December 4
It’s Thursday night, so admission is free at the Walker Art Center, where you can catch half of the blockbuster Eero Saarinen exhibit and—why not?—make a lamp.

Friday, December 5
Sample the best of Eat Street all at one sitting (or standing, as it may be): the Black Forest hosts the first annual Ethnic and Community Media Awards Celebration, sponsored by the Twin Cities Media Alliance and New America Media.

Saturday, December 6
The film In the Garden, produced by John Gwinn and youths from Minneapolis, will be shown with a live musical score at In the Heart of the Beast as part of Phillips Community TV‘s annual benefit. Having done something good for the kids, do something good for yourself by hitting the Soulacious CD release show at Jitters. The show is free, then for $15 you can hop on a party bus with the band and hit the streets—once you’re on the bus, drinks are free and they’ll even throw in a copy of their new disk. Now that’s fan appreciation!

Sunday, December 7
If you enjoyed the Soulacious party, take another of Dwight Hobbes’s recommendations and head to Theatre in the Round for a matinee performance of White Sheep of the Family.

Monday, December 8
Take a day for books ‘n’ beers in the “beautiful and quiet” Capital City. Start with coffee at Nina’s, then head downstairs to Common Good Books. Turn west down Grand, stopping at Sixth Chamber Used Books. Wrap it up at Half-Price Books in Highland (don’t miss the buck-a-book basement) and celebrate your finds at the Groveland Tap (don’t miss the fried pickles).

Tuesday, December 9
First Ave kicks off its new Staff Showcase series with a performance by teenage chanteuse Claire Taubenhaus. Is this a smart move, or an insider’s indulgence? Stop by the Entry and find out yourself—for free, if you’re one of the first five people to e-mail jay@tcdailyplanet.net and ask for a pair of tickets!

Wednesday, December 10
Longtime Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream appears at the downtown Barnes & Noble for a lunchtime appearance promoting his new tome, a good book with an unfortunate title: Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin.

Daily Planet arts roundup

Theater

The holiday shows have arrived in a flurry, and we’re on ’em. I sent my mom to the Guthrie’s Christmas Carol (where she couldn’t believe they’re still making that stupid turkey run around the stage) and Yellow Tree Theatre’s Miracle on Christmas Lake, which she praised for the actors’ convincingly bad performances—though she later mentioned to me that she wasn’t 100% sure about whether all the performers were actually good actors playing bad actors, or whether some of them were just plain bad actors. Go see it and decide for yourself. Tomorrow night, Mom will be at SteppingStone Theatre, where she’ll see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever; she’ll write about it, but her article won’t be a “review.” Why? Because SteppingStone is afraid she’ll say some nasty things about their kids.

Betsy Mowry caught Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol at Park Square Theatre, where, she reports, solo performer Jim Lichtscheidl almost keeps the momentum going for the full two hours. Finally, Dwight Hobbes says you owe it to yourself to go see Theatre in the Round’s hilarious White Sheep of the Family.

Looking forward, Cyn Collins previews Bedlam’s typically ambitious upcoming production, The Turducken, which attempts to satirize dinner theater while serving you dinner and satirize cash-cow holiday shows while itself being a cash-cow holiday show. Also, the Union Park District Council informs us that on December 12, there will be “paranoia, banishment, and destructiveness” at a potluck-dinner reading of A Winter’s Tale.

“But wait,” as Ed Valenti would say. “There’s more!” Phillip Andrew Bennett Low reports on the Fringe-For-Fall, and statistician John Middleton introduces us to “Nancy,” the average theatergoer. She may or may not be into butoh.

Books

This week the Daily Planet spotlighted two St. Paul independent bookstores: Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books and Sixth Chamber, which might just be the most organized used bookstore in Minnesota. Political cartoonist Kirk Anderson is another St. Paul institution; Lydia Howell talks with Anderson about his new book Banana Republic: Adventures in Amnesia.

Other drummers on the book beat this week:
• Dwight Hobbes effuses about All Seriousness Aside, a collection of wry essays by Minnesota Law & Politics founder Bill White.
• Mary Turck says that Julie Landsman’s memoir Growing Up White had a positive affect—er, effect—on her.
• Phyllis Louise Harris writes about a new Hmong cookbook. If you’ve ever wondered why a people from the other side of the globe fit so well in Minnesota, take a look at the sample recipe Harris reprints: beef salad.
• And Pat Coleman picks the next two entries—chronicles of exploration—on his list of the 150 best Minnesota books, though a commenter calls him out as “Eurocentric.” He’s got 115 more to go…will Winona LaDuke make the list? Stay tuned!

Music

It was a wild week for Dwight Hobbes, who first poured himself a triple-Jack straight and paraded around in the altogether listening to new music from Kymara, then indulged in the “nasty cheese” of Soulacious, “so funky someone need to open a window.” As if we weren’t all excited enough, Justin Schell wrote about the wall-to-wall multimedia stimulation at Project, Project. But really, no one was more stimulated this week than Tonic Sol-Fa, who had an invigorating on-air encounter with Don Shelby.

Movies

In our most-read article this week, Beth Hammarlund—founder of l’etoile magazine and our newest blog partner A Tiny Machine—shares her very candid thoughts on the book that inspired the movie Twilight. Also in movies, Amy Danielson writes about the rediscovered anthology Six in Paris: a beautiful downer, screening this weekend at the Oak Street.

Dining

I rip ThriftyHipster.com for its neglect of many thrifty and hip places to eat and drink in St. Paul, which the site dismissively calls “a beautiful and quiet city.”

Visual Arts

Matt Peiken brought his video camera to MCAD, where students recently held their annual art sale and tried to drum up a few thousand bucks to make a short film about “one man’s attempt to bring the truth about a massive government weapons program conspiracy to the American people.” Do contributors get a cut of the profits? “No, this is to be considered a donation.”

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Jay Gabler (jay@tcdailyplanet.net) is the Daily Planet’s arts editor.