Tribute shows tend to be crashing bores, even the ones in Vegas that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. Factor in a tribute show that includes Elvis and you're really asking for tired and trite.
That's what makes Broadway San Diego's Million Dollar Quartet, on stage at the Civic Theatre, Downtown, such a welcome surprise. The one-act jukebox musical featuring the pioneers of Memphis' Sun Records—Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Sun entrepreneur Sam Phillips—kicks rock 'n' roll butt from beginning to end. It helps that the actors are all musicians who play their own instruments throughout the show (guitarist James Barry as Perkins and pianist John Countryman as Lewis are especially noteworthy).
Million Dollar Quartet finds time in between musical performances to tell the story of Sun Records, Phillips and the legendary foursome who brought the little label unparalleled fame. But you're not whacked over the head with some long-winded history lesson. This show is mainly about the music, about "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Hound Dog," about "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Great Balls of Fire." Hearing these songs performed live—and, happily, loud—reminds you why rock 'n' roll will never die, and that should be enough even for younger theater-goers weaned on Arcade Fire or Bruno Mars.
Million Dollar Quartet runs through Sunday, Dec. 8.
The South Park Walkabout has, over time, gotten to be a pretty big deal. Every three months, it brings a greater numbers of residents and visitors to the neighborhood's shops and restaurants for seasonal treats and family-friendly entertainment. But this December, the Walkabout, which takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, along and around Fern and 30th streets between Ash and Kalmia, is being given a few extra watts of illumination as part of Luminaria, a month-long display of holiday lights. Have some cider and brownies while perusing independent shops and street vendors, or tuck into Alchemy or Station and cozy up with a cocktail and some grub. A free trolley service runs between Beech and Juniper streets.
Do you like people? Lots and lots and lots of people? People as far as the eye can see? People stacked on top of other people? Yeah? Then Balboa Park December Nights is for you! The big event is back for its 35th consecutive year—from 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7—and more than 350,000 warm-blooded humans are expected to attend. If you’re one of them, you can get into participating museums for free from 5 to 9 p.m. both nights (actually, a great way to escape the crowds); experience musical, dance and puppet-theater performances; check out arts and crafts; get down on a vast array of food and drink—particularly at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages (the cocktail garden's highly recommended)—and generally bask in the holiday vibes. Help limit traffic congestion around the park—and do yourself a favor—by making use of a free shuttle at Petco Park or San Diego City College (last ones leave at 8 p.m.). And if you’re not planning to attend, take our advice and steer clear of the entire area. You'll thank us later.
Part of the appeal of burlesque performers is their creativity. They often combine other talents, like magic, comedy or acting, with sultry moves and a PG-13-rated striptease that involves the shedding of layers of costumes, sometimes handmade by the performers themselves. If that sounds like something you'd dig, the KiK Burlesque Dance Company—a coed neo-burlesque troupe (that's a rarity!) presents Get a Kik Out of This, an 18-and-up event happening from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Dancehouse (1466 F St., Downtown). CityBeat art director Lindsey Voltoline is in the lineup, which features performances by group, pairs and solo artists. Tickets are $10-$12, or $20 for VIP (wine, fruit, photos with the company, special seating and more).
Writers are sore losers. For every person celebrating the sight of seeing their stories published in this week’s issue of CityBeat, we guarantee there are 10 other writers grumbling about how their story wasn’t chosen, about how we wouldn’t know good writing if it bit us on the ass and how we’re contributing to the sorry state of literature. Etcetera, etcetera.
So, for all you poor, sad losers, here’s a handy guide that will increase your chances of winning next year.
1. We publish stories, not writing: Oh, you’re previously published in a slew of prestigious literary journals? Salman Rushdie retweeted you once? Your 101-word piece absolutely killed in workshop?
That’s too bad, because no matter how flawless your sentence, how purple your prose, you’re battling against a room of eight or so intoxicated alt-weekly writers. Imagine reading your story at a noisy bar: That story has to reach all the way to the back of the room and punch the drunkest guy in the face. As editor David Rolland states in the issue, we reward outrageousness, creativity and a sense of humor. Bringing a beautifully written story laced with ambiguity and subtlety to Fiction 101 is like bringing a bottle of Laphroig to a frat party. You’re just wasting the good stuff.
2. Make us laugh: Just like in real life, the fastest way to become our friends is to make us laugh. Now, this can be interpreted in many ways. We don’t mean the bawdy kind of stories told in the front of men’s magazines. We want the absurd. The more insane, the better. Sassy animals, social commentary, maulings, evil children, gross sex, talking inanimate objects, exploding heads, stupid ghosts, horse masks—that kind of stuff.
3. No more twist endings: Remember that movie The Usual Suspects? Remember how when you first see it, you think, “Oh, that ending was kind of clever.” But then the more you think about it, you realize that the ending totally negates the entire movie, and everything you’ve just seen may or not be a lie. It’s not clever; it’s lazy disguised as clever, and that’s worse. Give us a real ending. Don’t let us get to the 101st word and make us regret reading the previous 100.
4. Don’t be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc: We want to believe that we have the most progressive readership in San Diego, but, every year, we get a couple stories that probably would’ve gone over well in the 1960 issue of Fiction 101. Same goes to all your provocateurs: We don’t care if you’re edgy or pushing boundaries. Save it for the internet—we hear it’s really easy to get published in the YouTube comments.
5. Don’t write about winning the CityBeat Fiction 101 contest: You’d think this would be pretty obvious. Sigh.
"I kind of like that guy in a way," Caveney says. "At least he’s honest, you know. It's kind of refreshing. He has no filter whatsoever."
As if a movie about five college kids on Thanksgiving break being attacked by a homicidal turkey wasn’t good enough, check out Laundromat Candy Presents: Thankskilling, a live lampooning of the holiday horror flick. Local comedians Dan Venti, Nick Crosby, Pat Puccini, Chris Curtis and Adam Wolpe have been selected to provide running commentary on the cinematic triumph from writer-director Jordan Downey. But be warned: as the cursed bird hunts down its victims, the five-person band of jesters could offer witticisms and insights that run “afowl” of good taste. Will the homicidal turkey axe the co-eds down one by one or will survivors carve up the possessed bird? And will anyone in the audience bust a gut laughing at the unmitigated terror? For a full serving, stop by Artlab Studios (3536 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights) onWednesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 and includes drinks and popcorn.
Inspired by his little nephew Elijah’s artwork, Sam Lopez of the experimental music series Stay Strange has, for awhile, wanted to curate a show full of children’s depictions of terrifying, grotesque, bizarre monsters, and he’s finally put it together. Stay Strange will present I Eat People: Children’s Monster Art from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Space 4 Art (325 15th St. in East Village). The poster art for the show is Elijah’s rendering of a freaky green mutant bunny-bug beast with yellow fangs, sharp yellow claws and an ominous “X” on its forehead (what does that mysterious symbol mean?!). The show, featuring works by kids age 3 to 13, including more by Elijah, likely won’t display only drawings and paintings; the call for submissions also sought sculpture, photography, video and even music—when it involves children, the imagination has no limits, in medium or content. The only requirement here was that it had to involve monsters that would surely eat you for lunch with fava beans and a nice Chianti, if given the chance.
The owl in the Harry Potter books is named Hedwig. How do I know this? Not because I've read the books, all of which seem to me as long as War and Peace. No, I know about Hedwig because my fiancée is a fan of the Potter books, and the movies.
She cajoled me into watching the final two films, and when I'd finished watching them, a strange thing happened: I realized I'd actually enjoyed the characters, the story and the magic. Not enough to go back and read all of Rowling's books (seven of them, each a tome), but enough to make me curious about a two-man show that's in town this weekend at the Balboa Theater. It's called Potted Potter—The Unauthorized Harry Experience. It's a parody created by and starring Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson.
Silent horror films tend to be a lot scarier than their modern counterparts. There’s something extra-creepy about grainy effects and ominous pipe-organ music that torture porn or surveillance-cam gimmickry just can’t touch. And how did they manufacture those effects 90 years ago, anyway? Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in the Seuss Room of UCSD's Geisel Library, The Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra, helmed by old-timey-music virtuoso Scott Paulson (shown here), will add a unique touch to the silent horror-film viewing experience with Horror on Halloween, by providing live soundtracks (with some opportunities for audience participation) to a variety of classic horror flicks from the Geisel Library archives, including some German-expressionist gems. Admission is free.
The fact that the start of San Diego Beer Week coincides with Halloween means lots of treats in the form of adult beverages. Take, for instance, Karl Strauss Brewing's special cask of "Milk Dud" Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, available at the Karl Strauss tasting room (5985 Santa Fe St. in La Jolla) from 5 to 9 p.m.Thursday, Oct. 31. Or, you can add to your ceramics collection with the groovy little goblet to the left, available for $12 (and filled with Hobgoblin Dark English Ale) from 5 to 11 p.m. at Small Bar (4628 Park Blvd. in University Heights). Other SDBW Halloween events include $4 pints of Rip Current Western Swell Weizenbock (tapped through a pumpkin!) at Brothers Provisions (16451 Bernardo Center Drive in Rancho Bernardo)—note: costume required. And Monkey Paw (1805 16th St. in East Village) will be offering "dueling casks" of Ashes from the Grave and Evil Dead Red, plus cookies, candy and other goodies. See the Beer Week website for a full line-up of events.
This Halloween, the Visual Underground resurrects its gritty, multimedia art series with Spooky VUE: Dead Celebrity. Folks are invited to come to The Casbah (2501 Kettner Blvd. in Middletown) on Thursday, Oct. 31, dressed as their favorite dead celebrity (or a superstar you wish would just die already). The night will include music performances, short horror films (hosted by Gavin Allen) and a curated art show featuring the dark paintings of Lindy Ivy and Jimmy Ovadia's series of dead rock stars, as well as a photo booth and a $100 prize for the best costume. Bands on the roster include Transfer, Low Volts and The Heavy Guilt Duo. The show starts at 8 p.m. and is 21 and over. Tickets are $20.