Friday, January 29, 2010

Promenaders need plan b

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Royal Shakespeare Company brought us a taste of promenade staging during their 2007 residency at Davidson College when they staged Pericles and shepherded the audience around Duke Family Performance Hall as scenes changed. Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is doing much the same when they open the Bard’s As You Like It on February 19. All ImaginOn’s a stage as Rosalind chases after her banished Orlando in hopes of winning his love. Under Matt Cosper’s direction, actors and audience journey beyond the usual confines of McColl Family Theatre and Wachovia Playhouse into the public spaces of ImaginOn, so parents need to don comfy walking shoes if they wish to keep pace with their anklebiters as the action unfolds.

One other obstacle has been added to your steeplechase. All the originally scheduled 7:30 p.m. performances of As You Like It are already SOLD OUT through February 27, and the press release we received earlier this week had not yet specified any additional dates and times. Nor were there any online updates when we checked this morning.

What we do know is that tickets for additional performances will go on sale February 8. So it’s a good idea to keep your browser tuned to the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte website for further info – and pounce on those tickets when they become available.

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School district down on oral sex

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Picking this week’s Stupid Thing of the Week was a toughie, what with the anti-ACORN undercover pimp guy being arrested for messing with a U.S. Senator’s phone system being in the running. Finally, though, we went with the school district in Menifee, Calif., which may go down as the most idiotic, not to mention counterproductive, book banners ever. The district decided to ban ... ready? ... the Merriam-Webster dictionary. That’s right; they decided they didn’t want a book in their school libraries that, no matter how educational, also contained the words “oral sex.” And if that isn’t enough stupidity, the district has now formed a committee “to review whether dictionaries containing the definitions for sexual terms should be permanently banned." And I guess you don’t wanna get them started looking up words like titular, asinine, cocky, and so forth, either. God help us all.

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Two-day N.C. Dance Festival kicks off

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 2:45 PM


Dance enthusiasts should head to N.C. Dance Festival, happening tonight and Saturday night at UNC-Charlotte. At the fest, a bundle of dedicated dancers from across North Carolina will showcase a diverse collection of impressive moves. Friday night's performance will showcase dances by Kim Jones, Eleanor Smith, Even Exchange Dance Theater, Cyrus Art Production and other local artists, while Saturday night's performance features Kinetic Works Dance, Natalie Marrone, Cindy Mancini, Joan Nicholas Walker and Courtney Greer and more. Tickets are $6-$14. Show starts at 8 p.m. For more information, call 704-687-1849 or click here.


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It's a miracle! CMUD admits mistakes!

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM

I bring you good news of a miracle! The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD), historically one of the touchiest, most thin-skinned governmental service agencies on the planet, has now admitted that they’ve caused problems for customers. If you’ve ever tried to get CMUD to admit to a mistake, you’ll know what a miracle it is that CMUD Director Doug Bean came out from behind his curtain today in the daily paper.

CMUD has come under heavy criticism lately for overcharging customers, mostly through inexplicable price “spikes.” Bean, though, downplays the extent of the spikes, even as he’s admitting there’s a problem. “Sometimes we make a mistake,” Bean says. And, you know, it just takes too darn long to research all these high bills we’ve been sending out in the middle of a deep recession, so come on, we’re sorry, but give us a friggin break. No, those aren’t Bean’s exact words, but they would have been, if his prose had properly matched his tone.

And from the tone of this blog post, you can probably guess that I’m one of the people who’ve had problems with CMUD. At our house, we’ve seen incredible pricing spikes during the past two summers. In 2008, like an idiot, I thought I could call up the county and get things straightened out. I mean, surely our bill couldn’t really go up in one month from our average, around $50, to nearly $300. Oh yes it could, I was told, people are watering their lawns this summer and bills are high, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Except that we don’t water our lawn. Ever. Which went in one of CMUD’s ears and out the other. They never did send anyone, or do anything. This past summer? Same damned thing. About $50 one month, nearly $300 the next two months. And the month after that? A sudden swoop down to around $20, as if we'd quit showering or washing stuff. Was CMUD trying to make up for overcharging the two previous months? Is their meter reading equipment that screwed up? I don’t know, because like others I know, I gave up trying to get anything other than a runaround from CMUD. Which is why I’m grateful that enough people have called the utility on their billing problems that it may actually do something about them.  I guess miracles happen.

Self-portrait of the writer, circa July 2009
  • Self-portrait of the writer, circa July 2009

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Edge of Darkness: Moody Mel returns

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Edge of Darkness

By Matt Brunson



DIRECTED BY Martin Campbell

STARS Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone

Although based on a 1985 British TV miniseries, the new thriller Edge of Darkness mostly feels like The Constant Gardener shorn of all emotional complexity and weighty plotting. That hardly matters, though: The picture could have played like an episode of Sesame Street and audiences would still turn out just to answer the pressing question: So, what's Mel been up to these days?

Continue reading »

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Crazy Heart: Bridges burning bright

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:41 PM

DIRECTED BY Scott Cooper
STARS Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal


Robert Duvall appears in a supporting role in Crazy Heart and also serves as one of the film's producers. His participation in this project makes complete sense: He wanted to personally hand the baton off to Jeff Bridges.

After all, Duvall won his Best Actor Academy Award for 1983's Tender Mercies, and now here comes four-time nominee Bridges, the odds-on favorite to finally win his own Oscar for playing the same type of role essayed by Duvall — that of a rumpled, boozing, country & western star who enters into a relationship with a sympathetic woman at least two decades his junior.

Bridges' grizzled character goes by the name Bad Blake, and that first name describes less the man who bears it — he's fundamentally decent although, like most drunks, irresponsible and exhausting — than the circumstances of his present lot in life. Washed up, perpetually inebriated, and playing honky-tonk dives while his protégée, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), fills up massive arenas, Blake stays in the fight even though the odds are against him ever achieving any renewed success. But suddenly, unexpected developments on the personal and professional fronts hold real promise. Sweet turns up and, clearly fond of his former mentor, offers him an opening slot on his tour and the opportunity to write new songs for him. And Blake, a multiple divorcé and unrepentant womanizer, finds a chance at a lasting relationship when he meets and falls for reporter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mom whose young son also melts Blake's heart. Will Blake finally encounter true happiness, or will he find some way to screw everything up?

Adapting Thomas Cobbs' novel (although he might as well have been adapting Horton Foote's Tender Mercies script), writer-director Scott Cooper throws enough curve balls into the expected plotting to keep the narrative from completely dissolving into formula. For instance, one of the nicest touches in the film is that Sweet isn't the back-stabbing opportunist we anticipated but a respectful guy whose brand of neo-country showmanship simply appeals more to today's breed of country fan than Blake's traditional approach. The scenes between the two musicians are among the best in the movie, with Farrell seemingly as awed by Bridges as Sweet is by Blake. (Added bonus: Both stars do their own singing.)

Farrell's contribution is a solid one, and he and Paul Herman (in a sharp turn as Blake's agent) are the only performers even worth noting among the supporting players — Duvall is wasted as Blake's longtime buddy, while the talented Gyllenhaal never completely convinces us that her character would shack up with Blake. Otherwise, this is Bridges' show from start to finish, and he seems to be taking particular glee in letting it all hang out (sometimes literally, as a generous gut is frequently glimpsed bursting through an open shirt). Jeff Bridges is a great actor and Bad Blake a great character, and that's more than enough to make this otherwise unexceptional picture sing.

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Today's Top 5: Friday

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Jan. 29, 2010 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

• Opening reception for the Recall: Joyce Scott exhibition at McColl Center for Visual Art

Joyce J. Scott in Tampa

Haiti Benefit at Neighborhood Theatre

N.C. Dance Festival at UNC-Charlotte

Stand-Up Comedy at Alive

Wine Tasting at Zebra Restaurant & Wine Bar

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shut 'em down: A State of the Union review

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 5:55 PM

President Obama's State of the Union address was brilliant and reminded many of us of why we voted for him in the first place.

He has good ideas, strong ideals and really is looking to make a difference in the lives of many with his presidency. The address was also a good reminder of the work that needs to be done to get folks to work with each other, instead of working against each other.

Crossing your arms and staring down the president in protest at a state of the union address? That demonstration visually showed the American people what our president is up against. It is impossible to effect change when you're trying to work with people who don't want it — Democrats and Republicans alike. President Obama will keep moving forward in spite of this foolishness, which is exactly what we need in this country.

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More than a ton and a half of pot seized

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Darn. I mean: Obviously pot doesn't make you paranoid enough.

Seriously, don't the feds have something better to do, like hunt down violent criminals and rouge bankers?

Let's stop goofing around and legalize pot. We can tax it, goodness knows the government needs the cash. "They" can smoke it. Everyone's happy.

According to the complaint, federal agents watching the shop Jan. 20 followed a white GMC Yukon from there to the Thoroughbred Lounge on Rozzelles Ferry Road.

It then crossed I-85, doubled back and met a green Freightliner tractor-trailer with Texas tags.

Agents watched the Yukon lead the truck back to the automotive shop. The Yukon continued driving around the shop, conducting what the agents believe was counter-surveillance.

Several men spent the night in the shop, sending out runners for food while they worked, agents said.

At 5:50 a.m. the next morning, a white Ford van drove out of the garage with its headlights on. Surveillance units followed the van from I-85 to I-485 south, when a CMPD K-9 unit pulled the van over.

Read the rest of this account of the bust from the Charlotte Observer's Ely Portillo here.

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Check out these events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area this weekend— as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Friday, Jan. 29

Biloxi Blues

Theatre Charlotte

Theatre Charlotte’s latest production of Biloxi Blues, the comedic play by Neil Simon that’s set in Biloxi, Miss., in 1943, centers around Eugene Morris Jerome’s experiences during basic training. This quirky mess of happenings is partly expected (there’s lots of character diversity with his fellows-in-training and a tough-ass drill instructor) and partly unexpected (first times? … and yes, we mean sex).

Special Event Too old for the circus? Never. But you will have to be able to get past the big-eyed wee rascals sitting around you, as parents rejoice in something to distract their young ones' spiraling attention spans, during Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Zing, Zang, Zoom performances. Illusionists, magicians, trapeze acts, clowns, animals and more parade Time Warner Cable Arena tonight. more...

Theater It's hard to imagine how two well-to-do women related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - Edith ("Big Edie") Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith ("Little Edie") - could go from a grand lifestyle to hoarding and animal infestation. But, you'll get the full story with Queen City Theatre Company's latest production, Grey Gardens. more...

Saturday, Jan. 30

Found Footage Festival

The Light Factory

Found Footage Festival stops in at The Light Factory tonight. In case you’re out of the loop, the fest includes an entertaining mix of VHS cuts of old infomercials, training videos, and more. Add to that commentary from Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, and what seemed like out-dated trash becomes laughable treasures.

Music Local indie rock act The Sammies stop in at Visulite Theatre tonight for a performance. With The Unawares, The Spalding Grays. more...

Film A pretty cool looking shindig, titled “A Night of Films and Music” is set to unravel at Pura Vida tonight. The event will feature new music by Bo White and films by the Charlotte-based filmmaker Ross Wilbanks and the Brooklyn-based artistic director of the experimental video group, Lake Ivan Performance Group, David Finkelstein. Oh, and it’s free. more...

Sunday, Jan. 31

Haiti Earthquake Benefit Concert


The tragedy in Haiti has left many of us shaking our heads in horror and scrambling to help with relief efforts. That's where Robinson Hall Players and the UNC-Charlotte Department of Theatre come in. Tonight they'll host the Haiti Earthquake Benefit Concert, which is scheduled to feature performances by Jeremy Current, Bright Young Things, Jessica Drake, The Natural History, Matrimony, The Activity, Chris Kincaid, Sarah DeShields, e-s guthrie, and Amy Scheide. All proceeds raised from the concert will be donated to the American Red Cross - Haiti Relief & Development fund.

Food Tasty pub food and classic dishes are plentiful at The Liberty. In addition, the gastropub has a selection of 70 beers, 20 on draft and 50 by the bottle. more...

Festival The Second Annual GayCharlotte Film Festival at Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Community Center continues today with a closing-night screening of fest favorite, Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! more...

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