Cultural calendar, December 16-22, 2004

THURSDAY, December 16
Do-re-mi for the holidays at the annual caroling night at Central Place on the Downtown Mall. Meet at the Community Holiday Tree at 5:30pm, and go from there. No fee.

Feds Confab: Members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Chapter 135 meet to hear from William Pahuta, operations director at Charlottesville Airport. 11:30am. Golden Corral restaurant, Route 29. 293-3170.

Christmas on the Frontier:
The Frontier Culture Museum entertains this subject through Holiday Lantern Tours. Historic holiday traditions from Old World Europe and 19th Century Shenandoah Valley are presented by costumed interpreters. Tours leave every 30 minutes from 5:30-8:30pm. $12 adults, $8 children. Advance reservations required. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

A Christmas Carol:
This adaptation of the Dickens holiday classic will delight the whole family. Let's face it, Ebenezer, Tiny Tim, and those ghosts never get old. Today there's a school matinee at 10:30am in addition to the 7:30pm show. $14-26. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. 540-855-5588.

Far Away Tryout: Live Arts hosts an audition for Carolyn Churchill's Far Away, a sinister tale from a master dramatist, directed by Betsy Rudelich Tucker. Performances in March and April. 7pm. 123 E. Water St. 977-4177x100.

Get Lost in Santaland: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents the ultimate anti-holiday show: The Santaland Diaries, a hilarious one-man act written by NPR humorist and author David Sedaris. As usual, it's about his zany life: this time as an unemployed artist working as an elf in the Big Apple. 10pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-21. 540-885-5588.

Matthew Willner solo at Atomic Burrito:
Always a chameleon of sound, Willner will morph into a solo star tonight, as his on guitar, bass, synths, loops and devices show you don't need a band. Just a lot of money and some soul. No cover, 10pm.

Yellow Cab Karaoke at Damon's at the Holiday Inn. No cover. 9pm-1am. 977-0803.

Karaoke Night with DJ Wild Wes at Buffalo Wild Wings. Free, 9pm.

Danny Beirne (piano-man) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Karaoke Night at Damon's Sports Bar. Free, 9-12am.

Chicken Head Blues Band at Dürty Nelly's. $4, 9pm.

Stable Roots at Garden of Sheba. $7/$5 students, 10pm.

Peter Markush (piano) at Gravity Lounge. Free, 12-1pm.

Nothin' Fancy with Applejack Jam at Gravity Lounge. $10, 7pm.

Open Mic Night at Kokopelli's Café. No cover, signup 6:30pm/music 7pm.

Thompson / D'earth and friends (freeform jazz) at Miller's. $4, 10pm.

Insurgency at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Satisfaction with Noel Sanger (18 and up dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm.

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm.

FRIDAY, December 17
Santa Sightings:
Word has it that the Jolly Old Elf will appear at April's Corner on the Downtown Mall today for photo ops and confidential information sessions with young believers. 1-5pm. 963-9757.

Reason for the Seasons: The Science Museum of Virginia explores seasonal questions such as why it's cold in winter and what exactly is a solstice in their interactive planetarium show "LiveSky." Afterward, members of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be out on the lawn (weather permitting) sharing their telescopes for a real live look at the sky. 6pm. Free. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

Star Struck: The view is out of this world at Public Night at McCormick Observatory from 7-9pm (weather permitting). UVA's research telescopes on O-Hill will be pointed heavenward, and Astronomy Department staff and students will be on hand with a slide show and answers to starry questions. Free. McCormick Rd. 924-7494.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

Best Ever:
The Herdmans are back as Four County Players presents a holiday performance of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on a children's classic by Barbara Robinson. When "the worst kids in the world" take over the church's annual nativity play, these street-wise siblings give everyone a new take on the reason for the season. A bistro with homemade goodies and gifts opens for business with each show, and Santa makes a cameo at every matinee. 7:30pm. $12 adults, $10 seniors/students, $8 children. Barboursville Community Center, Rt. 678. 540-832-5677. See Performance feature.

Far Away Tryout:
See Thursday, December 16.

A Christmas Carol: See Thursday, December 16. Tonight's show is at 730pm.

Get Lost in Santaland: See Thursday, December 16. Today's show is at 10pm.

Highway Bound? Piedmont Virginia Community College and Offstage Theatre host auditions for a joint production of Highway Child by Sean Harvey and Drew Bergman. This modern fable incorporates American Indian myth and modern landscapes. Men and women encouraged to try out. 6pm. Maxwell Theater, V. Earl Dickinson Building, PVCC. 961-5387.

A Queen is Born:
Tonight Club 216 crowns one of its local female illusion/drag performers, Lucky Supremo, the new Miss Club 216 during the "Christmas Show" hosted by Jennifer D'Ville. Lucky is the striking 6'5" tall ebony Barbie lookalike, known for her beauty, talent, and powerful stage presence. Membership not required for this "open club" event. Club opens at 10pm, show starts at 11pm. 218 W. Water St. Suite F. 296-8783.

Holiday Market:
Start your holiday celebrations at the annual Holiday Market. Shop for crafts, baked goods, toys, and greenery on Fridays and Saturdays now until Christmas. 10am-5pm. Central Place on the Downtown Mall.

Pre-Holiday Sale: Dig into the huge FOCUS flea market before the January crowds at their annual pre-holiday sale. Rivanna Ridge Shopping Center on Pantops. 10am-6pm. Donations accepted for the January sale. $5 admission. Contact Mary Spear at 293-2222 ext 30, or see

Still a Great Society?:
Oxford University's Gareth Davies speaks on "The Great Society after Johnson: The Case of Federal Education Policy." Davies has published a book on the Great Society and its welfare efforts. He discusses Lyndon Johnson's education legacy at the Miler Center. Free and open to the public, including lunch, but reservations are required. Noon. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-4694.

Books and Hoots in the Valley: Occasional Hook contributor Chris Graham– late of the Charlottesville Observer and now co-brain behind the August Free Press– signs copies of his new book, Stop the Presses, at the Sharon Book Store, 6-9pm. At 7:15pm he talks on humor writing. 540-249-1198.

Sierra at the Dew Drop Inn, Scottsville:
These cats play a mean cover, interpreting it as their own with some screaming lead and good vocals– you'll know all the songs, so singing along won't be a problem. No cover, 9-12pm.

Andy Waldeck and the C-villians with The Dirty Dishes at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8pm.

Vernon Fisher ("romantic side of jazz") at Keswick Hall. No cover, 6:30pm.

Guano Boys (reggae) at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 8-11pm.

The Blooms at Miller's. $3, 10:30pm.

Snug at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

Spark's Flaw and Bluezonia at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Quinton Parker (jazz and standards) at Rapunzel's. No cover, 7:30pm.

SATURDAY, December 18
What Are Books For?
Hear Mark Edmundson, UVA English professor, discuss how to make reading and teaching literature matter more. Joining him are poets Stephen Cushman and Lisa Russ Spaar, offering poems on which you can practice what Edmundson preaches. New Dominion Bookshop today at 4:30pm. 404 E. Main St. 295-2552. See Words feature.

Santa Sightings:
See Friday, December 17. Also today, the big guy in the red suit is expected to show up at Michael's Arts & Crafts in the Barracks Road Shopping Center from 10am-5pm. The elves are asking for donations of $6 and canned food items for the Jefferson Area Food Bank. 977-4583.

In Your Dreams: Old Michie Theatre makes magical dreams come true with their annual puppet production of "The Elves and the Shoemaker." 11am and 1, 2, and 4pm. $5. 221 E. Water St. 977-3690.

All Aboard: Young travelers can climb aboard the Polar Express at the Scottsville Library where they can make a candy train and hear a reading of the delightful children's picture book. 11am. Free. 330 Bird St. 286-3541.

Down on the Farm: Mangham Wool & Mohair Farm host a country Christmas Fair on the farm. City folks can explore the farm, pet the animals, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and finish up some holiday shopping for wooly socks, hand knit sweaters, blankets, hats, yarns. Noon-5pm. 901 Hammocks Gap Road. 973-2222.

For the Birds: Folks can decorate for the holidays and feed the birds at the same time at a workshop at the Frontier Culture Museum. In "Nature's Christmas Tree," participants make and hang nature friendly food ornaments on the Museum's evergreen trees and make more to take home. 10am-noon. $7 adults, $5 children. Advance reservations required. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

Holiday Market:
See Friday, December 17. 10am-5pm. Central Place on the Downtown Mall.

Hill Top Holidays: December at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery is all about Southern hospitality. Enjoy seasonal refreshments, complimentary wine tastings, and a tour of the winery. 1-5pm. Free. 361-1266.

Pre-Holiday Sale: See Friday, December 17. Contact Mary Spear at 293-2222 ext 30, or visit for more information.

Midwinter Matinee: Take a nostalgic trip back to The Paramount's roots as part of the theater's grand reopening celebration with a showing of The Wizard of Oz on the big screen at 2pm. Come back at 7 to catch the classic Casablanca in the newly renovated Paramount Theater. For more information, call 979-1333 or visit

Wassail With Wool: It's an old-fashioned country Christmas fair at the Mangham Wool and Mohair Farm Open House. Join them for hot cider, cookies, tours of the facility, and deals on all sorts of wool gifts. Noon-5pm. 901 Hammocks Gap Road. 973-2222 or

A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 16. Shows today at 2 and 7:30pm.

Get Lost in Santaland: See Thursday, December 16. Today's show is at 10pm.

Best Ever: See Friday, December 17 and Performance feature. Today's shows are at 2:30 and 7:30pm.

Paul Curreri's CD Release party at Gravity Lounge:
Curreri goes electric! Or at least not solo electric as were his last two albums– with the release of The Spirit of the Staircase. Backed by an assorted cast of local favorites, Curreri hasn't lost any of the quirky songwriting quality we've come to expect, still layout out those country-blues numbers for the appreciative public. $10, 8pm.

Third Annual Christmas Party at Rapunzel's: Almost every style of music that performs at Rapunzel's will make their way to the stage this Saturday night. On the bill are Tigerlily, Swang, Eli Cook, Willie Kirschbaum, Jimbo and Kim Carey, Lindsey and Pete Osborne, the Tye River Band, Soul Canoe, and many more. If you don't know them, come and discover some new sounds. $5, 7:30pm.

Closing Show: The Graboids, Ostinato, the Smashcasters, and five more acts at Tokyo Rose: The end of an era– the Tokyo Rose opens its doors for one last raucous rock show, featuring eight bands in one blitzkrieg blowout. $5, 10pm.

Victor Cabas (blues) at Basic Necessities. No cover, 6:30pm.

Populist Dancing at Club Rio. $10, 9pm.

Vernon Fisher ("romantic side of jazz") at Keswick Hall. No cover, 6:30pm.

Jambalaya (Dixieland and swing jazz) at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 8-11pm.

SUNDAY, December 19
A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 16. Shows today are at 2 and 7:30pm.

Get Lost in Santaland: See Thursday, December 16. Today's show is at 5pm.

Best Ever: See Friday, December 17 and Performance feature, page 37. Today's 2:30pm show is the final performance of the run.

Historic Holiday:
The Frontier Culture Museum hosts a Children's Holiday Party with games, crafts, and refreshments of olden times. Kids ages 4-10 will visit the historic farms, help with chores and decorations, and visit with the interpretive staff. 1-4pm. $12. Advance registration required. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

In Your Dreams: See Saturday, December 18.

Down on the Farm: See Saturday, December 18.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

Hill Top Holidays:
December at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery is all about Southern hospitality. Enjoy seasonal refreshments, complimentary wine tastings, and a tour of the winery. 1-5pm. Free. 361-1266.

Pre-Holiday Sale: See Friday, December 17. Contact Mary Spear at 293-2222 ext 30, or visit for more information.

Dig Dug: Just because it's cold outside, you don't have to stay indoors this winter. Join the Outdoor Adventure Social Club for a caving trip and get up close and personal with some serious geology. 9am departure. $17, plus membership fee. 760-HIKE or for more information.

Wassail With Wool: See Saturday, December 18. Noon-5pm. 901 Hammocks Gap Road. 973-2222 or

The Oratorio Society annual Holiday Candlelight Concert at Cabell Hall: The choir is accompanied by a full orchestra, and will be performing selections from J.S. Bach's "Christmas Oratorio," and "The Many Moods of Christmas," as well other songs of the season featuring soprano Melanie Campbell. $20/$10 children, 3:30pm.

Mary Prankster with The Naked Puritans at Gravity Lounge. $7, 8pm.

Irish Music Session at Shebeen. No cover, 3-6pm.

MONDAY, December 20
In Your Dreams:
See Saturday, December 18.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

Open Mic Night with Charles Davis at Baja Bean. No cover, signup 8:30pm/9pm.

Matthew Willner solo at Miller's. No cover, 10pm.

George Melvin (piano merriment) at South Street Brewery. No cover, 9:30pm.

Travis Elliot (pop) and John Figura at the Virginian. No cover, 10pm.

TUESDAY, December 21
In Your Dreams:
See Saturday, December 18.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 16. Today's shows are a 10:30am school matinee and an evening performance at 7:30pm.

The Poetry Lounge final night featuring The Beetnix at the new Live Arts:
Two years of providing a place for ranters and ravers to exorcise their demons is enough for the brains and brawn behind the Lounge– it's time to move on. Get in on spoken and yelled word, a performance by hip-hop minded The Beetnix, and a closing night after-party with music and beverages. See Tunes feature.

Karaoke Night (what you make of it) at Baja Bean. Free, 8pm.

Glen Mack (rock) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10:30pm.

Alli Collis (solo acoustic) at Miller's. $3, 9:30pm.

Benvolio at Outback Lodge. $5, 7pm.

$2 Tuesdays with Big Circle at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Intenebris at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

WEDNESDAY, December 22
A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 16. Today's shows are a 10:30am school matinee and an evening performance at 7:30pm.

Get Lost in Santaland: See Thursday, December 16. Today's show is at 5pm.

In Your Dreams:
See Saturday, December 18.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Thursday, December 16.

Cold Enough?:
Hit the slopes tonight with the Outdoor Adventure Social Club. 5:30pm departure. Fee, plus membership. or 760-HIKE.

Intro to Iyengar: This yoga style is excellent for beginners because it teaches a variety of different poses and works with the body's natural alignment. This Outdoor Adventure Social Club class offers indivdualized attention and a highly trained teacher. 6:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlottesville. $7 plus membership fee. or 760-HIKE.

Intro to Iyengar:
This yoga style is excellent for beginners because it teaches a variety of different poses and works with the body's natural alignment. This Outdoor Adventure Social Club class offers individualized attention and a highly trained teacher. 6:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlottesville. $7 plus membership fee. or 760-HIKE.

Folkskunde at Gravity Lounge: After breaking up to go their separate ways, this show marks a reunion for a great band that's too young to drink (legally). Fabulous Zepplin-esque riff rock, but taken to an indie-extreme. $5, 7pm.

Cheesy Trivia with M&M Express at Buffalo Wild Wings. No cover, 8:30pm.

Benny Dodd (rock covers) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Open Mic Night at Dew Drop Inn. No cover, 7:30pm.

Country Dance Night (couples and line) at Fry's Spring Beach Club. $7/$4 students, lessons 7-8pm, dancing 8-11pm.

Folkskunde at Gravity Lounge. $5, 7pm.

The Mike Rosensky Jeff Decker Quartet (jazz) at Miller's. No cover, 9:30pm.

Travis Elliott with David Brookings from Memphis at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

Man Mountain Jr. at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Open Jam at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 7pm.

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm.

Jim Davies (acoustic rock and blues) at the Virginian. No cover, 10pm.

Karaoke Night at West Main. No Cover, 10pm.

THURSDAY, December 23
Mountain Holiday:
Celebrate a traditional Virginia Christmas with holiday craft workshops, horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas dinners, a gingerbread house contest, New Year's Eve celebrations, and more at Wintergreen's Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas. Call 325-8180 or visit for more information.

Christmas on the Frontier:
See Thursday, December 16.

A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 16. Today's shows are a 10:30am school matinee and an evening performance at 7:30pm.

Get Lost in Santaland: See Thursday, December 16. Today's show is at 10pm.

Inner Space at Atomic Burrito:
One varied jam after another, Inner Space get's extremely funky without getting tiresome. Great instrumentalists making great music. No cover, 10pm.

Karaoke Night with DJ Wild Wes at Buffalo Wild Wings. Free, 9pm (W)

Danny Beirne (piano-man) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm. (W)

Karaoke Night at Damon's Sports Bar. Free, 9-12am. (W)

Chicken Head Blues Band at Dürty Nelly's. $4, 9pm. (W)

Stable Roots at Garden of Sheba. $7/$5 students, 10pm.

Peter Markush (piano) at Gravity Lounge. Free, 12-1pm. (W)

Crooked Road (traditional Irish music) at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 7-9:30pm.

Thompson / D'earth and friends (freeform jazz) at Miller's. $4, 10pm. (W)

Satisfaction with Noel Sanger (18 and up dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm. (W)

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm. (W)

The Graboids at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Yellow Cab Karaoke at Damon's in the Holiday Inn. No cover. 9pm-1am. 977-0803.

Upcoming and Ongoing
Best Of:
Kennedy Promotions invites artists working in all media to enter its competition to appear in the book Best of Virginia Artists and Artisans. Deadline: May 25, 2005. Download entry form at

Look Around: The Artisans Center of Virginia invites entries for a national competition/juried exhibition, "Sacred Icons: A Collective Vision of Symbolic & Ritual Objects." All media are accepted, but work must have been completed in the past two years. The entry fee is $20, and the submission deadline is February 19, 2005. Info: 540-946-3294 or

Glass-Blowing Workshop: Try your hand at glass blowing with a one-day class at Sunspot Studios in Staunton. You'll get to watch a master in action, and then jump in to create a paperweight, ornament, or a hand-blown vase of your own. Class times and themes vary, as do fees. 202 S. Lewis St. in Staunton near the old train station. Details and registration info: 540-885-0678 or

All Around the World:
"Joy from the World," brightens the Science Museum of Virginia where holiday customs of the world light the museum in festively decorated fir trees, a display of handcrafted dolls representing actual and mythical characters, and special weekend cultural presentations. The museum's Carpenter Theatre Company presents the play "One Bad Camel," and "First Star I See Tonight" shows in the planetarium. Included in the price of admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

Traditions!: "Our Community, Our World in Celebration" explores the holiday traditions of Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Ramadan, and Eid at the Children's Museum of Richmond. The interactive exhibit features six miniature houses where young visitors have the chance to play games such as Dreidel and Mancala, hear stories, make Kwanzaa candles, dance the dragon dance, and more. Included in the price of admission. 2626 W. Broad St., Richmond. 804-474-7006.

Christmas on the Frontier: The Frontier Culture Museum celebrates Holidays in History through December. The four historic farms are festively decorated, and costumed interpreters talk about holiday traditions from historic England, Scotland/Ireland, Germany, and the Shenandoah Valley. 10am-4pm. Included in the cost of admission. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

Tree Trimming: Intrepid hunters and gatherers can cut their own Christmas tree from the fields at Ash Lawn-Highland. Trees are growing naturally so are not shaped, and there may be a hike to find just the right Virginia pine or cedar. Bring your own saw and a rope to secure the tree to your vehicle. 11am-4pm daily through December 24. $5 donation requested. James Monroe Parkway (Rt. 795). 293-9539. See Family feature.

Script It:
Offstage Theatre seeks scripts for Bedroom Plays, set (duh) in bars and bedrooms. Pieces should run 10 to 20 minutes and require minimal props, costumes, etc. Comedies, dramas, monologues, musicals all eligible. Offstage pays $50 per chosen script. Deadline mid-February for Bedroom Plays. Send inquiries to and submissions to, or send mail to Chris Patrick, 210 Little Graves St., Charlottesville 22902.

Play Reading Series: Join theater aficionados at Live Arts for walk-throughs of the essential dramas in theater history. Call if you're interested in reading, or just show up and enjoy. Third Sunday of every month. 3-6pm. 123 E. Water St. 977-4177x100.

Modern Dance: Classes with the Miki Liszt dance company. Safety release technique: 7pm Tuesdays. Dynamic alignment: 10:30am Wednesdays. Horton technique: 5:30pm Fridays. Studio 20, McGuffey Art Center, 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Practice Swing: The Charlottesville Swing Dance Society hosts weekly practice sessions for beginners and intermediates Thursdays. Singles and couples welcome. DJ takes requests. 7:30-9pm. Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road. Free. 980-2744.

Sunday Salsa: The Charlottesville Salsa Club sponsors a weekly opportunity to learn and practice Salsa and other dances, in a smoke-free nightclub atmosphere. A basic lesson (usually salsa) gets the evening started at 8. DJ'd music is 80 percent salsa mixed with other Latin styles. Complimentary water and sodas. The Outback Lodge, 917 Preston Ave. 8pm-midnight. $5 (members $3). 979-7211.

Country Dance: Couples and line dancing at Fry's Spring Beach Club. Dance lesson Wednesday 7-8pm, dancing 8-11pm. $7, students $4. (students $2 every fourth Wednesday). 2512 Jefferson Park Ave. 977-0491.

Belly Dance and More: Get kinky at the Berkmar Ballroom with lessons in everything from exotic dance to salsa and tango. Classes, schedules and prices vary. Visit for a complete listing or call for more information. 652 Rio Road W. 975-4611.

More Belly Dance: Studio 206 Belmont offers one-hour belly dance lessons every Tuesday with instructor Amalia Habibi. 7:15pm. 501 Monticello Road (above Mas tapas bar). $9-12. 296-6250.

Keep Rotating those Abs: Studio Bijoux's Leila offers Egyptian belly dance for advanced beginners (permission required) at 7pm Mondays and 7:15pm Wednesdays. A technique course open to dancers of all skill levels takes place at 8pm Mondays. Ages 15 and up welcome. All courses at ACAC Albemarle Square. $10-12. 978-3800 or

Ninja Yoga:
Towards a revolution of consciousness. Free yoga classes. Bring a mat. Thursdays, 9-10:15am. Mondays, 6:30pm, followed by a writing workshop at 7:30pm. Meditation, an indirect non-action, meets Wednesdays 8-9am for instructions, discussions, short sittings. Meets Thursdays 8-9am for a silent "bare bones" hour-long sitting (followed by yoga). Free and open to the public at "Better than Television," a new community center at 106 A3 Goodman St. 295-0872. See Walkabout feature.

Water Watchers: StreamWatch needs for volunteers interested in stream ecology and willing to collect aquatic organisms for the purpose of evaluating stream health. See for info, then call 923-8642.

Green Gatherings: Explore the spiritual side of nature with NatureSpirit. Explore the spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions and learn how to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Meets the first Sunday of the month at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church at 6:30pm., call 243-6421, or

Parla italiano? If you don't, Christina Ball of Ecco Italy offers "Italian for Beginners" lessons on Wednesday mornings (9:30-11am; $15 drop-in fee). If you do, why not drop by for the Tavola italiana (Wednesdays 11:30am-12:30pm) for a free chat hour in italiano? Or what about "Cinema Chat," a series of intermediate Italian conversation classes inspired by Italian films. ($55 for five-week chat series or $15 single class drop-in; Thursday 7L30-9pm). All classes held in the Verity blue Tower Lounge at the Main Street Market 406A W. Main St. Contact or 825-4390.

Monticello in Winter: See Jefferson's homestead up close and personal on a cold weather tour of the property's architectural highlights. Now through the end of February. Usual admission fee applies. 984-9822 or for a complete schedule.

Alliance Dinner Meeting: Interfaith Gay Straight Alliance of Central Virginia, a faith-based group working for full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders and their families, meets the first Thursday of each month. 7pm. St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church, 1700 University Ave. Brown bag supper at 6pm. 220-0970.

Bead Business: Studio Baboo presents weekly classes in bead stringing and jewelry making. Call the shop for specifics. 106 Fifth St. Downtown Mall. 244-2905.

Madison House: Help UVA's Madison House bring a happy holiday to over 100 low-income families in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. Call Reimi Okuyama at 977-7051 for details.

Early Music Meeting: The Shenandoah Recorder Society meets on the third Sunday of every month to discuss the recorder and early music in general. Open to all. For more information, call 295-1395.

Mindfulness Meditation: Tuesdays 12:15-12:45pm. UVA Hospital Chapel. Meditation practice with guidance. Free. No experience necessary. 924-1190.

Second Street Gallery presents "Drawn into Light: Works on Paper by Kay Hwang and Imi Hwangbo," on view through January 29. 115 Second St. SE. 977-7284.

Through December 23, the University of Virginia Art Museum displays "Whiteness, A Wayward Construction," a collaborative exhibition by 24 artists exploring "the concept of whiteness as an ideology of power." Also on view: "Lifeline: Movement and Time in Prints, Drawings and Photographs from the Collection," and video artist Bill Viola's "Six Heads," presented in conjunction with the Virginia Film Festival. The latter two run through December 23. Also extended through December 23 is the exhibition "Museums: Conditions and Spaces." 155 Rugby Road. 924-3952.

The McGuffey Art Center presents its annual Holiday Group Show, featuring work by over 50 artists, during December. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Vanity Salon features photography by Aimee Wade and Shannon Winter through December. 1112 High St. 977-3332.

Through December 30, The Art Box presents "Outside the Box," an exhibition of work by nine young female artists. 2125 Ivy Road, lower level. 295-5426.

The Main Street Market Galleria displays paintings by Kiki Slaughter during 416 W. Main St. 244-7800.

The 5th Floor Gallery at Keller Williams is currently showing the glass and metal sculpture of Bill Hess, landscape photography by Mary Withers, and oil cityscapes by Edward Thomas. Ten percent of proceeds from artwork sold is donated to Habitat for Humanity. Suite 500, Citizens Commonwealth Building (UVA Credit Union), 300 Preston Ave. 220-2200.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church presents an "all church" group show of artwork by members of the congregation during December. 717 Rugby Road. 293-8179.

Angelo displays "Thailand-China, September 2004," photographs by Pam Perugi Marraccini, through December 31. 220 E. Main St. 971-9256.

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art opens two new exhibitions in December: "Shades of Black: Photographs by Wayne Quilliam" and "Black & White & Red Ochre." Both shows run through January 29. 400 Worrell Drive, Peter Jefferson Place (off Route 250 East at Pantops). 244-0234. See Art feature.

Les Yeux du Monde presents "Places of Color and Light," paintings by Annie Harris Massie, through January 2. Also on display during December: "Small Treasures," a wide-ranging holiday group show. 115 S. First St. 973-5566.

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville displays photographs from its "Where Else but Downtown?" photography contest at the Charlottesville Community Design Center through the end of December.101 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-2232.

During December, Transient Crafters hosts "Horses: Drawings, Paintings, and Limited Editions by Milenko." 118 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

Nature Visionary Art presents "Visions of Haiti," a group show curated by Laurie Carmody of Galerie Bonheur, through December 30. 110 Fourth St. 296-8482.

For its December show, The Gallery @ 5th & Water offers the Africa-inspired work of Gloria Mitchell, plus paintings by Lindsay Michie Eades. 107 Fifth St. 979-9825.

Can't get enough of Lindsay Michie Eades? Then head to New Dominion Bookshop, where Eades' paintings are also on display through December 31. 404 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 295-2552.

During December, CODG presents "Abstract Ornamentation," spotlighting eight local artists working in a wide range of media.. 112 E. Main St., under the Jefferson Theater. 242-4212.

The C&O Gallery features "A Secret Garden," an exhibition of stunning botanical prints by John Grant, through December. Next door to the C&O Restaurant, 511 E. Water St. 971-7044.

Sage Moon Gallery highlights work by Elliott Twery during December. 420 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 977-9997.

New works by members of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild, featuring watercolors, oils, pastels, and mixed media are on display at the Albemarle County Courthouse. 501 E. Jefferson Court Square. 296-8484.

During December, the Mudhouse shows "Snowflakes," paintings by Christian Peri.. 213 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-6833.

View Ray Wirth's photography exhibition, "Distillations from Larger Landscapes," at Art Upstairs during December. Also, this month the gallery features its annual members' exhibition and sale of miniature paintings. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

For the month of December, Bozart Gallery offers a group show by Bozart members. 211 W. Main St. 296-3919.

L'étoile Restaurant displays paintings by local artists Barry Gordon, Malcolm Hughes, and Christian Peri. 817 W. Main St. (across from the Amtrak Station). 979-7957.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts displays "Selections: 20th Century Latin American Art in the VMFA Collection" through March 13. Also on view, "Albrecht Durer: A Renaissance Journey in Print" runs through January 9. 200 N. Broad St., Richmond. 804-340-1400.

Washington and Lee University presents new large-scale paintings by Frank Hobbs, on display through January 7. Lexington. 540-458-8954.

During December, the Staunton Public Library displays the photographs of Bonnie Rutledge Edwards. 1 Churchville Ave. 540-332-3902.

Madison's Sevenoaks Pathwork Center shows the pastel and oil paintings of Janice Dunn Rosenberg through February 22. 403 Pathwork Way, Madison. 434-295-8315.

Noon Whistle Pottery and Art Gallery presents an exhibition of three local landscape artists, Will Brown, Mark Collins, and Carol Weiss. Main Street, Stanardsville. 434-985-6500.

Ombra's Café in Crozet features paintings by Doris deSha and Laurel Johnson, on view through December. 434-823-5332.

Spruce Creek Gallery presents "Nature in the Abstract," an exhibition of paintings by Alyce Ananda McCoy, through December 13. 434-361-1859.

The Barn Swallow features pottery by Janice Arone and Mary Ann Burke, plus other handcrafted artwork. Route 682 off 250W. 434-979-4884.

Staunton's Painted Thunder Studios welcomes the work of equine artist Jennet Inglis. 19 W. Beverley St. 540-851-0864.

During the holidays, Sun's Traces Gallery displays three-dimensional pictures by Michie Taylor, shadow baskets by Charlotte LaRoy, as well as turned wood pieces by Richard Cruise, and clay works by Paula Brown-Steedly. Barboursville. 540-832-7044.

The Ed Jaffe Gallery features paintings and marble sculptures by Ed Jaffe, plus abstract photographs by Marc Jaffe. 108 W. Main St., Orange. 540-672-2400.

Staunton's Middlebrook Gallery offers contemporary art and fine crafts, including sculpture by Ken Smith. 5 Middlebrook Ave. 540-885-9955.


The Artisans Center of Virginia invites entries for a national competition/juried exhibition, "Sacred Icons: A Collective Vision of Symbolic & Ritual Objects." All media are accepted, but work must have been completed in the past two years. The entry fee is $20; the submission deadline is February 19, 2005. 540-946-3294 or

Black eye: Living color Down Under

Viewing Wayne Quilliam's "Shades of Blackness" at the Kluge-Ruhe museum is a strange experience. Within the walls of this colonial house-turned-gallery politely surrounded by boxwood gardens, Quilliam's vibrant photographs of Australian Aboriginal life and landscape seem completely at odds with their setting.

The first image encountered upon entering the foyer is a large photograph entitled "The Pinnacles, Western Australia." Beneath a cerulean sky, a blazing ochre desert stretches up across the bottom two-thirds of the photograph toward a distant rock-studded horizon. A scraggly branch lying in the foreground mirrors a sweep of white clouds overhead.

The image pulses with expansive wildness. The hall remains contained and tame. A sign informs viewers the Pinnacles are an Aboriginal meeting place 400km north of Perth. But Quilliam is doing much more here than simply providing a documentary image– he's luring viewers out of their immediate surroundings into a sun-enflamed landscape.

The photographs in "Shades of Blackness" expose Quilliam's audience to Aboriginal life in the 21st century, calling attention to variations in skin color (hence "shades of black"), changes in traditions– even as they are perpetuated– and expressions of pride. Quilliam clearly wants to document and convey the post-colonial survival of his people and culture, but with a professional background in fashion and magazine photography, he moves his images beyond being merely ethnographic records. Infused with vibrancy and a compositional zing, the photographs practically jump from Kluge-Ruhe's staid walls.

In the central room, just beyond the foyer, hangs a large portrait of a middle-aged man dressed in a red/black/yellow/green snakeskin patterned short-sleeved shirt. The accompanying sign blandly notes the man has traveled 4,000 km from Queensland to Alice Springs to attend the Yeperenye Festival. But the photograph's energy comes from Quilliam's depiction of his subject's joyful expression combined with the absurd, kitschy details of modern life.

The caramel-skinned man beams at the camera as his red hair spikes up against a backdrop of blue sky and rolling hills. Slung over his right shoulder, a small brown dog pokes its head out of a quilted bag improbably decorated with Dutch floral patterns and a label reading "Tiny Pet." This bright and humorous image enables Quilliam to make a gentle comment on the changing way some Aborigines now relate to nature and animals. But there's no condemnation, only celebration of variation.

To encounter these lively, color-rich images of proud Aborigines– defiant survivors of Australian colonial discrimination– hanging in a Virginia colonial-era home provides an odd juxtaposition and yet another layer of meaning.

"Shades of Blackness: Photography by Wayne Quilliam" is on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Aborignal Art Collection through January 29. 400 Worrell Drive (turn-off just before Peter Jefferson Place on 250E at Pantops). 244-0234.

Pick your own: Chopping tree makes holiday fun
These days I'm feeling like the hurrier I go, the behinder I get. I should have a good chunk of my holiday decorating, baking, and shopping done by now. Instead, I'm sitting in Rt. 29 traffic shuffling the scraps of paper that together form my "to do" list, wishing I had another week or so to work with.

Still, it's not too late to pile the kids into the car and head for the hills for a real down-to-earth Christmas tradition: cutting our own tree.

"We still have plenty of trees," says Mary-Scott Rhoads of Greene Meadows Tree Farm in Stanardsville. "As long as you don't want a big tree…" (Because of the drought in recent years, she explained, most area tree farms don't have many conifers over eight-feet tall.) "Come on up," she urges.

Those seeking smaller evergreens can choose and cut the perfect Virginia white pine or Canaan or Balsam fir from this 10-acre farm any time up to dusk on Christmas Eve. On weekends Rhoads' husband, Jim, even takes the kids out on the hay wagon to feed the donkeys and visit the sheep in the fields.

Naughty or nice, boys and girls can also help themselves to hot chocolate, candy canes, and coloring books. The folks at Greene Meadows make wreaths and centerpieces fresh everyday. Pre-cut balsam fir and the new concolar fir, a variety that adds the scent of citrus to the holiday air, are also available.

Tom Saunders, one of the Saunders Brothers of Nelson County nursery fame, must be a special friend of the big guy in the red suit. He's lucky enough to run Kris Kringle's Tree Farm from his home in Arrington. On weekends only, do-it-yourself woodsmen can come on over and fell their own white or Scotch pine, Douglas fir, or Colorado blue or Norway spruce. Fresh-cut Fraser firs and hand-made wreaths are also available.

There are lots more choose-and-cut options scattered around the area, including Turk Mountain Tree Farm just north of Waynesboro and Davis Creek Tree Farm in Lovingston. Others can be found on the Virginia Department of Agriculture's website: and at

I'm just hoping we can get out there this weekend. I figure waiting until the night before Santa slides down the chimney is probably too late.

Greene Meadows Tree Farm (9am-dusk). 487 Crow Mountain Road in Stanardsville. Trees and wreaths are $15 and up. 434-990-1999 or Kris Kringle's Tree Farm (9am-5pm Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday). 357 Stringfellow Lane. 434-277-8538. Turk Mountain Tree Farm (9am-5pm weekends, 1-5pm weekdays). $20-35. 13 McClures Run Lane. 540-943-8859. Davis Creek Tree Farm (10am-4pm weekends, by appointment during the week). $20 and up. 4143 Davis Creek Road. 434-263-8762.

Too much fun: Whatever happened to wisdom?
The idea struck Mark Edmundson when he read the student evaluations of his course on Freud. He got good comments, as usual– the distinguished professor of English is a particularly popular teacher at UVA, cool, fun, laid back, hip.

But for some reason, this time, all those thumbs-up gave him pause. The overwhelming message was that his class was enjoyable.

"It was pleasurable, diverting, part of the culture of readily accessible, manufactured bliss," writes Edmundson in his new book, Why Read? It fit right in with America's "culture of Total Entertainment All the Time."

Why didn't anyone write about the disturbing subject matter, their new ways of seeing, the deep character changes they had experienced while studying Freud? Edmundson's answer: This is a consumer culture, and even universities have been co-opted by its ways.

From that opening meditation, Edmundson launches into an impassioned yearning for learning of yore. He longs for the days when college shaped students' characters, when they discovered their paths, entered new realms, and encountered new visions. When teachers urged students to respond personally to literature. When students thought and talked about ideas, conflicts, and characters in terms of their own lives and beliefs.

He evokes the experience of learners and teachers– Plato and Socrates, for example– and the wisdom of writers and philosophers– especially Marcel Proust and former UVA prof Richard Rorty. He uses real works of literature– poems by Wordsworth and Yeats, essays by Edmund Burke and George Orwell– to suggest how reading can change the soul.

Most vividly he intends his argument to counter the trend that dominates English (and other literature) departments today: the theoretical approach, by which a work of art is not to be felt but examined, not experienced but analyzed to unearth the unacknowledged cultural assumptions underpinning it. If a student moves through literature courses that sharpen his intellect but never reach his mind and soul, Edmundson believes, American democracy will not survive.

"Imagine a nation, or world, where people have fuller self-knowledge, fuller self-determination, where self-making is a primary objective not just in the material sphere but in the circles of the mind and heart," writes Edmundson. "We humanities teachers can help create such a world." As can anyone who reads, who shares the printed word with others, and who thinks and talks about how their reading matters in this world.

Mark Edmundson shares his book Why Read? at New Dominion Bookshop Saturday, December 18, at 4pm. Joining him will be poets Stephen Cushman and Lisa Russ Spaar, reading from their poetry. 404 E. Main St. 295-2552.

Disaster!: Brats redefine Yule meaning
BY ROBERT ARMENGOL PERFORMANCE@READTHEHOOK.COMA long time ago all of the cousins in my family used to get together at Christmas and reenact the Nativity.

I don't know how the tradition began or when exactly it ended, probably around the time the oldest ones got to high school. After a while, as the number of participants surpassed a dozen and then two dozen, it must have become unwieldy.

How many shepherds could wander in the fields of one living room? How many Josephs could run off with baby Jesus wrapped under his arm like a football?

We must have learned a thing or two from all this. But I'm not sure what. Maybe it was something about this crazy family. My sense was we children were primarily fodder for the amusement of grownups, little yuletide fetishes wearing sheets for robes. It was all caught on video, of course.

For all that, we couldn't hold a purple Advent candle to the Herdman kids, those bullies who crash the scene in Barbara Robinson's classic The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Her narrator describes "the worst kids in the history of the world": "They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cursed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain."

And they've been having a bash at the Barboursville Community Center over the past three weeks in a Four County Players adaptation of the story, using local youngsters and adults. This is the last weekend to catch the show.

A quick recap: Bedlam ensues at a local church when the Herdmans invade the Christmas pageant in search of free snacks. Naturally, they're not familiar with the story and have their own take on things. Gladys wants to add violence and rename the play "Revenge at Bethlehem." Ralph thinks someone should "get old Herod."

Poor Mrs. Bradley, a stand-in director, is stuck trying to work it all out. Everyone else is sure the pageant, with fires in the church and rehearsals that end in chaos, will be the worst ever.

Unlike my family's Nativity, though, this performance has an interesting twist. In the end, the Herdmans offer some new depth to the enigmatic meaning of Christmas, and a pageant that seemed doomed to flop takes flight.

A bistro serving homemade goodies and gifts opens each performance of the Four County Players Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Santa will be on hand to greet children attending the matinees. Evening shows are Friday and Saturday, December 17 and 18, 7:30pm. Matinees Saturday and Sunday, 2:30pm. Barboursville Community Center, Route 678, Barboursville. $8-12. 540-832-5355.

Two-wheel terror: Discover cycling's wild side
BY TIM SPRINKLE WALKABOUT@READTHEHOOK.COMIMy advice: Never doubt the lengths that people will go to for a good time. Sure, everybody has their own definition of fun, but when you're talking about bungee jumping, pie eating contests, drag racing, and the like-&endash; you just can't argue with the raw power of excitement.

The road cycling/mountain biking hybrid sport of cyclocross is no different. It's essentially a high-speed, off-road event designed for cyclists who want a little extra challenge to keep active through the winter. That's right, muddy outdoor cycling in sub-40-degree weather-&endash; pushing the limits.

But it's also rapidly becoming one of the most popular biking spectator sports in the country thanks to the short course design, high intensity action, and the fact that it's just plain fun to watch. Besides, when else do you get to see otherwise civilized racers slogging through mud bogs, climbing over barrier walls, and pedaling like mad over half-frozen ground?

"Cyclocross has a great 'zoom factor,'" says Richard Pence of the Charlottesville Racing Club. "That feeling of going really fast while still being off road, there's just nothing like it. It's exhilarating, but it's also really hard."

Like most two-wheeled sports, cyclocross got its start in Europe. Developed by Belgian messengers after the first World War, it's been in the U.S. for several decades, but has been growing into more of a mainstream sport over the last few years. Here in Charlottesville, riders from semi-professionals to first-timers compete in the Virginia Cyclocross Series.

Unlike traditional cycling events, cyclocross races last less than an hour-&endash; an intense, physically draining burst that Pence describes as "sprinting for a little longer than you should."

Sure, it's tough, but it's also great fun for fans. Since an entire course can fit onto a few acres of land, spectators are ensured a pretty good view of the race no matter where they stand. And, with the races themselves being so short, you can spend as much or as little time out in the cold as you like.

Cyclocross rolls back into town Sunday, December 19, when the Virginia series makes its second stop at Panorama Trails. It's the last race of the season, too, so be prepared for riding that's cold, muddy, fast, and furious-&endash; cycling like you've never seen it before.

Virginia Cyclocross Series event December 19 is free and open to the public. 10am-2pm; the most competitive heats start at noon. Directions to farm: Earlysville Road north. One mile beyond airport, left onto Panorama Road, two miles to the parking lot. has details.

Poetry's end: With a bang, not a whimper

Sometimes, even in the bleakness of winter, the stars align, the fates smile upon the humble music critic, and for once in a long while, too many events of note appear in one quarter of a lunar month to fit into a single preview article.

Unfortunately, two thirds of this week's triumvirate of merit are the type of things one hates to have to write about– the demise of two pillars that help make Charlottesville the town it is.

In the plus column, local-gone-national country/folk-pickin' ruffian Paul Curreri holds a release party for his latest outing, The Spirit of the Staircase, at Gravity Lounge on December 18. On the minus side, the Tokyo Rose, that endearing spot for the best sushi (and often most raucous noise riot) in town, will be closing its doors as a music venue with one final eight-band blowout on the same night. And on December 21, the Poetry Lounge, the two-year-old monthly chance for local wordsmiths to strut their stuff, shuts down permanently.

Deciding which of these three to feature is the hardest thing I've had to do as a music critic ("Where the spirits move me" is my usual mode of choosing where to go each night), but I've opted to save Tokyo Rose final blowout and Curreri's latest opus for reviews. So here comes the poetry.

Two years ago, Tucker Duncan, Todd Ristau, and Erin Fleck thought up an evening where the spoken word– sometimes integrated with music, sometimes without– would be the name of the game. The three wanted to create "a show dedicated to the people," according to Duncan, an offshoot of Charlottesville's version of the nationwide quirky performance series known as No Shame Theater. The Poetry Lounge has been startling in its consistency, missing its goal of monthly showcases only once, a fact that makes Duncan proud.

The only original member of the original founders, Duncan relates the reasons for the Lounge's demise in straight-forward fashion: "The show is ending because the people involved are tired and ready to move on to other things. We all figured to quit on the two-year anniversary and make a clean break. It's not that the people involved are tired of reading poetry and putting events on, just this event."

The Lounges I've attended have been a mixture of passion and anger, love and loss, where predictable lines duked it out with brilliant phrasings as the house band played on. The last Poetry Lounge featuring a performance of the intelligent hip-hop outing The Beetnix, artist David Cochrane, and after-the-show drinks and music. If you missed the last 22 Poetry Lounge events, don't miss your last chance to feel the crackling voltage of group creativity.

The final night of the Poetry Lounge features The Beetnix at the new Live Arts, December 21. $3/Free for performers, 9pm.