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Wild At Heart - Monday 12/14/2009

Wild At Heart

Getting into the holiday mood this weekend by experiencing a number of Christmas themed events including a performance of "The Valley Haven Christmas Show" at Union Lake Baptist Church, the Ice Festival in downtown Ferndale with all the ice sculptures and fire dancers you can handle and a traditional Polish Christmas dinner at the Wawel (located at the American Polish Cultural Center) complete with pork chops, stuffed cabbage, pierogi, mushroom soup and other treats.

I also caught the newest Ringwald production "Real Housewives of the North Pole" which according to writers Cara Trautman and Marke Sobolewski is loosely based on the Bravo series, The Real Housewives. Inspired to do something for the holiday season, this show seemed ripe for parody which has been a staple for the Ringwald as seen with musical productions like Facts Of Life, Debbie Does Dallas and Evil Dead. Like the Bravo series, the women engage in catty behavior and back stabbing as they are set to try to help the North Pole deal with a recession. The social ramifications of these trying times quickly takes a backseat to the sharp and often sexually implicit language much like the series which inspired it. A world-famous economist has been brought in to consultant the town on its recovery, and he's brought with him a new housewife, Trista (the sexy Christa Coulter) who gets a quick into to the girls of the town. These include Santa's wife Jessica (Jamie Warrow) who is convinced that her husband has been unfaithful. The rest of the group includes Jessica's sister-in-law, Patty Kringle (Cara Trautman) who is certain the new girl is the culprit, local tramp Roxy Dupont (Lauren Bickers) who helps Mrs. Claus "spice up" her love life and ultra-conservative Mary Margaret Cross (Dyan Bailey) who tries to make friends with the new girl via scrapbooking. The show isn't much on plot and relies on the strength of the five ladies to bring their characters to life and that is not always a guarantee. The show is very uneven which might just be some of the easiness of which the more graphic lines are delivered. That is not to say there aren't a lot of laughs because there is a number of funny one-liners. The problem is that the show comes across as more similar to improv than an actual show. The most consistantly funny character is Dyan's Mary who is freuquently called upon to be offended by the other girls outrageousness. This is not going to be to everyone's taste but if you are looking for something naughty for Christmas, this might be something different to try out. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 248-545-5545. The Ringwald is also putting on a repeat performance of last year's "Santaland Diaries" and "Season's Greeting". My grade for Housewives is a C+.

Real Housewives Of The North Pole

The Cyndi Lauper Charity Auction ends this Tuesday so if you are still looking to get me something for Christmas, you can get some last minute bidding in. Some items that I would be interested in include the lunch and tarot reading with Cyndi Lauper. I have always wondered if a relationship with her was in the cards and now would be a perfect time to find out. There is also the autographed limited edition Cyndi Lauper Barbie Doll or maybe the Cyndi Lauper personalized voice mail message. If you want something for yourself, you could try for an opportunity to go to the Celebrity Apprentice Season Finale and then the After Party. Get meet & greets with the likes of Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Lady Gaga and Wyclef Jean. If you are more fashion conscious, how about that Melinda Doolittle American Idol dress or the Jason Mraz trademark hat. Guitar chicks might like the autographed Sara Barellis guitar? Or maybe you just want lunch with Judge Judy and the cast of her show. There are some interesting items up for auctionand all the proceeds go to the True Colors Fund.

Check out the fun here

I was just down at the MOCAD today trying to waste some time and checking out the exhibits that are currently running. One exhibit is by contemporary artist Ann Lislegaard who was a MIT Rubin Artist-in-Residence. Her exhibit 2062 (which represents the year she will turn 100 years old) takes a look at at her investigation of the science fiction genre. In her work the artist employs sound and light architecturally to reflect on and investigate how we perceive and move through the physical and the psychological environments that we inhabit. The three works she looks at for her main video works are 1) 'Bellona' the fictional city of Samuel R Delany’s science fiction cult classic "Dhalgren" which is a place beyond reason, where time and space is out of joint and architectural fixtures seem to be in constant flux and transformation, 2) 'Crystal World' which is loosely based on JG Ballard’s 1966 novel "The Crystal World" (one of his 4 novels of the 60's where he destroys the world using the four elements (air - The Wind From Nowhere, fire - The Burning World, water - The Drowned World, earth - The Crystal World) and 3) 'The Left Hand of Darkness' based on Ursula LeGuin’s pioneering 1969 science fiction novel of the same name which describes an icy planet populated by a single sex of androgynous humanoids.

All three of these novels are excellent works of sci-fi which I highly recommend reading. Having been familiar with the works, I found the work to be an interesting interpretation of the central ideas of the novels which I might have found boring otherwise. I am not usually a fan of this type of art but the sci-fi background brought me in where otherwise I would just look and shake my head. If you want to head down to check out the work, I strongly suggest visiting to read up about the works

first so you will get more enjoyment out of the exhibit.

Also at the MOCAD is an exhibit by the Swedish, Malmö-based artist Alexander Gutke that will present a focused selection of the artist’s film-based and slide-based works and Christian Marclay's 'The Sounds of Christmas'.

While the title of this new release might be a bit more suggestive, The Strip, is anything but. The Strip has nothing to do with Las Vegas or the removal of clothes but a bunch of workers at a low-end electronics store in a strip mall. Headed by manager Glenn (Dave Foley) the team of misfits find ways to stave of boredom and their impending adulthood. The film reminds me a lot of "The Office" TV series is the way the humor is presented. It doesn't try to go over the top as many new comedies tend to try to do, but keeps an even keel as we have various common stereotypes presented among the workers including the son of the owner who doesn't want to carry on the family business, the overly loud worker who is totally un-PC, the Indian worker who is going through an arranged marriage and the slacker who probably couldn't work anywhere else. While not bad, the film comes across and mostly uninspired esp when you have better movies "Office Space" or TV series "The Office" to choose from. This might be a rental. Grade = C-.

I also spent some time at the JCC this weekend and saw my first play at the JET Theatre which is "The Big Bang". You can hear an interview with the cast on my show this upcoming Saturday morning on or 88.3FM between 8-10AM. However, if you can't wait to hear what this play is about, let me tell you. Picture the child between the classic Mel Brooks comedies "The Producers" and "The History Of the World". As a member of the audience, you are invited by our 2 hopeful writers to listen to an investors pitch of their newest 83.5 million dollar, 12 hour epic production about the history of the world starting with the big bang up until modern times. Set in a ritzy Park avenue apartment (thanks to the owner's vacation), the two writers put us through 18 different production numbers looking at the exploits of Adam and Eve, Queen Nefertiti, Julius Ceasar, Eva Braun and much more. Greg Trzaskoma and Brian Thibault, who were once teacher and student, are the actors who bring these characters to life helped by the endless props which comes from the creatively designed sets. A pair of umbrellas and a sheet become Civil War era skirt while a clock becomes Napoleon's hat. The two actors seem to have as much fun as Broderick and Lane in pitching their movie and playing the various roles even when the songs sometimes don't live up to the spectacle. I'm not sure how musical director Stacy Cleaveland, who spends the entire production behind the guys playing piano, keeps a straight face because the audience seems unable to do so. She seems to imply it is not always fun esp as during one early scene she gets an eyeful of the actors in their speedos when they are Adam and Eve. If you find yourself craving a comedy to lighten your spirits and enjoy the Mel Brooks style of equal opportunity ethnic parody, you will probably enjoy the fast pace and catchy tunes in this production. For more information or ticket reservations, call the Jewish Ensemble Theatre at 248-788-2900. My grade is a B+.

The Big Bang

Before or after the play, make sure to check out the Maurice Sendak travelling exhibit upstairs which compliments the recent release of the "Where The Wild Things Are" movie. The book is my personal favorite children's book and was a Caldecott Medal winner which goes to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. The book was originally about horses but Sendak had trouble drawing them and settled on monsters which were caricatures of his aunts and uncles. The beauty of the book to me is that Max is a kid who is a little defiant which gets him sent to his room without dinner. His time in his room captures perfectly the imagination of a little kid as his room turns into a land where you can have adventures and meet monsters. However, when all is said and done, he does come down for dinner when he gets lonely which was kept warm for him by a caring mother. The story resonates in so many ways and just captures youth so perfectly. The exhibit has drawings of the book and well as many other of Sendak's work such as "Chicken Soup with Rice", "The Sign On Rosie's Door" and "Outside Over There". Kids can make Wild Thing masks and play in a bowl of chicken soup. Fans of the book should make an effort to get out there before Dec 31st when the exhibit leaves.

There are not many shows coming next week but here are my highlights:

Tuesday (12/15) - Singer/songwriter Josh Hoge is back @ Pike Room while long time personal favorites Preservation Hall Jazz Band @ Detroit Orchestral Hall (when younger, my parents used to take me to see them every New Years).

Wednesday (12/16) - country artist Delbert McClinton plays @ The Ark

Thursday (12/17) - Muskegon's own Pop Evil is @ Machine Shop and the talented Audra Kubat @ PJ's Lager House

Friday (12/18) - One of my top shows of the year returns as we see Kenny Rogers @ Fox Theatre, the Verve Pipe @ Magic Bag, Pistol Day Parade @ Blondies and Liz Larin @ Memphis Smoke

Saturday (12/19) - the rocking Hot Club Of Detroit @ Dirty Dog Jazz Bistro while Sax Maniacs are @ the Rusty Nail

Sunday (12/20) - couldn't find anything to catch my eye

Monday (12/21) - ditto

One of my pet peeves this year is the stations that have converted to Christmas music. I don't mind Christmas music, but every station is playing basically the same songs and maintaining a very traditional list while there are tons of great songs that are getting ignored. I for one would like to hear more comic Christmas songs such as Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol", Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero", "Green Christmas" by Stan Freberg, "I'm a Christmas Tree" by Wild Man Fischer, "Christmas with the Devil" by Spinal Tap and "Rusty Chevrolet" by Da Yoopers to name a few. There are also New Wave songs like "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, "December Will Be Magic Again" by Kate Bush, "Fairytale of New York" The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, "Winter Wonderland" by The Cocteau Twins or "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight)" by The Ramones. How about rocking numbers such as "Father Christmas" by the Kinks, "All Join Hands" by Slade, "Thank God It's Christmas" by Queen, "It's Christmas Time" by Staus Quo, "Mistress for Christmas" by AC/DC and "Lonely This Christmas" by Mud.

With evry band on Earth having at least one Christmas song, you would think that this rock and alternative stations could play artists which actually belong to their format instead of everyone just repeating themselves year after year. Come on guys, break the mold Or maybe, everyone should just listen to college radio like WXOU (and my show which plays this stuff. Here is a song I love which I played this Saturday morning...

Christmas Songs - Max Headroom

Have a good week and stay warm. Before I forget, Laffreys Steaks On The Hearth which is located on 24201 W 7 Mile Road is going out of business after 40 years. While a bit on the expensive side, it is well worth it. For $40, I got unlimited trips to the salad bar, a bowl of tasty French Onion soup and the best steak I have had in the past two years with a nice baked potato. The steaks are specially cooked on a hearth unlike other faster chains which in today's troubled economy have been putting the pinch on their fine dining experience. I only found out about the place due to a friend I met at Callahan's who recommended it saying it was his favorite restauant in Detroit. I must say it was one of the best meals I have had recently. They are only open for dinner and make sure to call (313) 538-4688 for reservations. There clientelle is trying to make one last trip before the place closes so seats are at a premium.

They close Dec 31st so act quickly if you want a great dining experience.