FunStuff: December 22 and beyond

Night lights
You may never be sure the Great Wall of China is visible from space, but you can bet your last chocolate coin that Jeffrey Norford's Christmas lights are visible from I-64. The full-time delivery driver (whose hauls include the Hook) has become legendary for personally greeting visitors– this year dressed as Rudolph– at his house-dwarfing display near the U.S. 20 exit. (From Downtown: Take Monticello Avenue toward PVCC and then left on Quarry Road which turns into Mountain View Street.)
Until January 8, 1307 Mountain View Street, evenings, free


Skip is back
There may not be a "Skip" in Skip Castro, but like Jesus to Bethlehem, the venerable "Boogie at Midnight" party band returns to its birthplace for one night at the Jefferson Theater. From their Charlottesville base, they rocked the college scene for much of the 1980s. Now, they're spread out but coming home. Show your incredible insider cred by reminding wild-haired keyboard virtuoso Danny Beirne of the few weeks in the mid-1990s when he actually sold popcorn as a Theater employee! Equally popular '80s-tastic band the Nighthawks opens.
December 30, Jefferson Theater, doors open at 7pm, $20/22


No turning back
Wintergreen Resort opened for skiing and snowboarding on December 17, and the rich person's sport is a little more affordable for newbies thanks to Wintergreen's special "guaranteed" learning discount. With daytime pricing of $82 or $102 for adults (mid-week v. weekend) and $67 or $82 for kids, this Nelson County resort provides not only the lift ticket but also a lesson or two along with rental equipment. Because people over the age of 20 are notoriously fearful of learning– and since the price when a lift ticket alone can near $80 can make them equally fearful of paying– this deal may be your ticket to ride.
Every day, Wintergreen Resort, 9am-10pm, many prices


Women in art
Nope, this isn't about Yoko Ono or Karen Finley but about a travel further back in time and place to New York's Union Square district. The artists in this exhibition entitled "Figure Study" taught or studied at the Art Students League between the World Wars. Paintings include "City Street," a big canvas shown here and painted in 1939 by Kenneth Hayes Miller. The work recalls some of history's greatest painters as these artists represented the classic female form in the decidedly unclassic– but then quite modern– environment of early 20th Century Manhattan.
Thru December 30, UVA Art Museum, 12-5 daily except Mondays, free


Men's basketball
The UVA students may have left town, but they left their basketball team behind. With some student sections opened to public sale, holiday break might be the perfect opportunity for less-than-avid fans to come see what Tony Bennett's men can do on their home court. Before the December 18 game in Oregon, the team had an overall record of 8-1 with victories in their last six games thanks in no small part to Jontel Evans, shown here. Better get moving, because at presstime some lower-level seats appear to be available; and you get a free hotdog and soda with the purchase of four or more tickets.
December 27: Maryland Eastern Shore, John Paul Jones Arena, 7pm, $12-35
December 30: Towson, John Paul Jones Arena, $12-35




Night prowlers
Thomas Jefferson was no Christmas fanatic, but he did call this “the season of mince pies," and his house will look extra special when you take a nighttime holiday tour. These evening tours aren't cheap, but neither was Jefferson, who– although he died bankrupt– did actually turn away a neighbor's proposed delivery of Christmas brandy when the British put an embargo around his fledgling nation. Reservations required.
December 21-23 & 26-30, Monticello, 5:30 & 5:45pm, $45


Run for the hills
It's been called one of the most scenic marathons in the nation, and you'll be pretty scenic too if you lose those extra 20 pounds by hitting the pavement. You just missed the first training session, but there are sixteen more weeks of training before the Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon take place on April 7, 2012.
Every Saturday in Riverview Park, 8am, $10 covers all sessions


Meet the Russians
The Great Russian Nutcracker at The Paramount Theater on December 21 and 22 is sold out ($27-$102), so unless you're good at making sad eyes at the ticket-taker or finding a tuxedoed scalper, your chance to see this renowned ballet are over. But your chance to meet and greet members of the award-winning Moscow Ballet has just begun. Thanks to the Hip Joint shop just off the Downtown Mall.
December 22, 110 2nd St. NE (around the corner from The Paramount), 5:30-6:30pm, free


Produce this
We remember when Live Arts was a mostly avant garde kinda theatrical troupe. Over the years, however, crowd-pleasing has occasionally taken a front seat to envelope-pushing. Case in point: the current production is The Producers, a decade old musical based on a 43-year-old Broadway play by Mel Brooks. It won a record-setting 12 Tonys, so it must be pretty good. It stars Doug Schneider, shown here with the "usherettes," Jaime Kurtz and Jessica Wilbert.
Thru January 14, LiveArts, various times, $14-24.50



The big 30 for 2012
The state's longest-running alcohol-free extravaganza is turning 30, and First Night Virginia isn't letting its old age cause ennui. In fact, it's a veritable baby compared to Charlottesville itself which turns 250 this year. The inaugural First Night 5K kicks things off at 11am, and a laser light show in the nTelos Wireless Pavilion happens at 7pm. Compounding the fun are the usual cornucopia of singers, dancers, jugglers, and more. Musicians include two Paramount shows by Bone Hampton and inside-the-Omni gigs by Groove Train and the Gladstones.
December 31, Downtown Mall, all day, $15/18 adults, $5 for children 6-15





Schuyler's in Charlottesville
Currently on the silver screen in a new Gus Van Sant picture called Restless, Schuyler Fisk may be best known locally (besides having famous parents in the form of Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk) as the dog-saving voice– thanks to her once-ubiquitous "Love Somebody" song whose iTunes proceeds helped the local SPCA. Now busy with movies and music on the West Coast,  Fisk returns to her old stompin' grounds with a special "Sounds of the Holiday" concert that should include music from the singer-songwriter's new holiday EP. Jesse Harper and Friends opens
December 22, The Southern Café, 8pm, $8/10

We'd like to take a moment to thank former culture editors Vijith Assar, Laura Parsons, Linda Kobert, and Rosalind Warfield-Brown for bringing readers interesting info about events for the past ten years. This week's "FunStuff" was compiled by Hawes Spencer, and next issue's "FunStuff" will be compiled by another staffer. To be considered, send your press release to


Read more on: FunStuff


Not to be missed --Jeffrey's Hooville . They even have a facebook page.

@NancyDrew: Thanks for the link. I've added that to the blurb.--hawes spencer

December 19th dozens of local birders combed the nooks and crannies of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, joining thousands of others nationwide, in the Monticello Bird Club's annual Christmas Bird Count. At last report 65 species were seen by our local group.

So, if you aren't the late night partying type, and instead prefer to rise with the sun, you still have a chance to participate in a local Christmas Bird Count to be held January 1st in Warren Va. The Warren Count is organized by well known birder Allen Hale, and if you'd like to join the effort just call Allen to participate at 434-263-8671 .

And to shed those excess pounds and enliven your spirit - head to our magnificent Natural Areas: Ragged Mt. and Ivy Creek, for a wintertime hike.