MISS INFERNO. Ladies of ludicrousy Kelly Nisbitt and Beth Nixon join forces to deliver an evening of side-splitting comedy with FACE ON FIRE, a performance crammed with wheat paste, would-be snake charmers, lobster lipstick, sequined leotards, curious smells, and musical interludes. Most likely, youíve seen Kelly Nesbitt perform, as she is heavily involved in community performances. Not only is she the co-producer of the Casco Bay Cabaret (coming up at the end of the month), but she also teaches workshops in juggling, puppetry, and other absurdities. Beth Nixon is a Philly puppeteer whose interests lie in cardboard construction, beast building, and spectacle creation. With interests like that, the 8 pm performance is sure to be a randomly ridiculous sight. Watch these ladies ignite your spirits at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress Street in Portland. Tickets are $5 for all ages. Call 207.828.5600 for advance tickets.
Itís just about that time of year when you regularly burrow into your favorite comforter flipping through channels until you slip off into that dreamy everyone-can-fuck-off state. After about the fourth nap or so, you begin daily contemplation of whether youíre living life to the fullest and the state of your passionate self. While snacking on Chex Mix and Twizzlers, you remember the stories that make you feel like yourself again. Geesh, weíre pathetic, arenít we? Well, Jean-Paul Boisvert wouldnít think so. Portrayed by Michael Parent in ONE MORE THING, Boisvert is a retired Franco-American mill worker who is trying to rediscover himself after the death of his wife. At 67 years old, he is fairly set in his ways, which makes the struggle with some unfinished emotional business difficult. The play, showing January 12 through 15, inspires questions about aging, grief, loss, and the connection between work and self-worth. For $12 tickets (seniors and students are $10), call 207.775.5568 or go to St Lawrence Arts Center at 76 Congress Street in Portland. Curtain is at 7:30 pm tonight, 8 pm Friday and Saturday, and 2 pm on Sunday.
KICK BALLS. As if things couldnít get any stranger at Strange Maine, they prove us wrong with another bizarro line-up of pseudo-musical performers. What better time to freak yourself out than Friday the 13? Because we have yet to experience these human noise engines, we must quote what we know of each. MAXNOIMACH describes himself as a power-eating "one-man maximum noise machine from rough and tough Philly." CALEB JOHNSTON describes himself as a "one-man origami head folding noise from Baltimore." His home-made organ/vaccuum was quite a success in Portland last April. ID M THEFT ABLE, a regular sonic feat, will make you kick balls like you were competing for the fifth-grade kickball championship. Wait, what does that even mean? All shows at Strange Maine are free. Go to 576 Congress Street at 8 pm. For more idiosyncratic descriptions, call 207.771.9997.
Making his debut in Portland, Mike Novak dishes out his acoustic combination of reggae and rock, with a side order of folk and blues. His latest album, Novakaine, is a solo recording with Novak displaying his incredible musical range by playing most of the instruments on the album, which should make the live show quite engaging. Opening for Novak is Mandy Shaw at 7 pm. There is no cover at Acoustic Coffee. Go to 32 Danforth Street or call 207.774.0404 for more information.
With an evident increase in our need for nutritious entertainment, we indulge ourselves in television shows like Hellís Kitchen, not only to watch people cry when they canít hang with the chefs, but to learn about food preparation ó Iíve got to learn to cook if Iím ever going to get a husband. Seriously though, itís time to get hooked up with an organization that can teach you everything you need to know about good taste in, er, taste. SLOW FOOD was founded in 1986 to counteract the ginormous growth of fast food and supermarket homogenization. Really, aren't you tired of buying the same old shit at the grocery store? Youíve pretty much got the weekly list committed to memory. Slow Food is an international movement dedicated to slowing down the process of living to spend more time respecting and celebrating traditions of the dinner table. The Portland chapter joins tonight to read their favorite food writings and sample tastes of Maineís best dishes. Local authors include Michael Sanders, Michael Paterniti, Amy Sutherland, and Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Tickets for the 7 pm event are $25. Slow Food Portland meets at SPACE Gallery. For information about joining the chapter, call 207.828.5600 or go to www.slowfoodusa.org.
MEMORIES NíAT. The loss of Meg Perry was quite a blow to our community. Known for her selfless commitment to volunteering and organizing events for Peopleís Free Space, her devotion to the struggle of equality and humanity, and her warm spirit, Perry was beloved and cherished by many. Her untimely and tragic death occurred during group hurricane relief work in the Gulf Coast. In celebration of her life, friends have organized a Meg Perry Memorial. The memorial includes a free yoga session, community potluck feast, open mic with words, dances, and songs in remembrance of Meg, live music with Esperanza and Rag Village Orchestra, and other activities. If you arenít able to get to North Deering Grange Hall (1408 Washington Avenue in Portland), there will be a car pool leaving Peopleís Free Space at 3:45, 4:30, and 6 pm. The event begins at 4 pm.
Itís near impossible to transition from a memorial to a concert, so weíll just get down to business. There are two shows tonight equally worthy of your attention. First up is Portland-born Robert Stillman, an eclectic man of the jazz persuasion. Those of you in the scene may recognize him as the saxophone player for Kalifactors, a popular jazz quartet in New York City. Stillmanís solo album Horses is an extraordinary collection of enigmatically resonant songs. Stillman is sure to win you over at SPACE. Seekonk opens the 8:30 pm show. Cover is $6 for 18 and older. Call 207.828.5600 for more information.
The other show is for blues fans. Scissormen are a guitar/drum duo. If you know anything about the blues, you know that you canít sing the blues unless you're broke. Real blues bands are only one or two musicians pouring out their soul through 12 bars (traditionally, but not always so) of heart-wrenching lyrics and weeping guitars. A full band canít produce this ó plus they look ridiculous singing about hard times while playing a brand new Strat. Scissormen have a sound familiar to young Bob Dylanís bluesy albums Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks, but with the rawness of John Lee Hooker and RL Burnside. Donít miss these guys playing tonight at Chickyís Fine Diner, located at 3 Bridge Street in Westbrook. The show starts around 8 pm with no cover. Call 207.854.9555 for more details.
HOLY ROLLING. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, "Hope Versus Fear" is a sermon delivered by Reza Jalali, a nationally known human rights and refugee activist, about our culture of fear and need for hope to create a safer world. Yes, I used the word "sermon," which means youíre going to a church ó State Street Church to be exact. Come on, people, itís in memory of one of the greatest men to fight for civil rights. It wonít kill you to wake up for a 10 am service, now will it? Church is free, unless youíre guilted into dropping the last of your cash into the collection plate. The church is located at 159 State Street in Portland. For more information, call 207.774.6396.
If you canít do the church thing, you can join SILVER LEAF GOSPEL SINGERS performing a soulful celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Prepare yourself for an emotional evening. With their powerful, soul-stirring voices, gospel singers always make me cry. The concert, sponsored by NAACP Portland, is at 6 pm at Merrill Auditorium (20 Myrtle Street in Portland). Tickets are $7, and $3 for children under 12. Call 207.842.0800 for reservations.
KING OF EQUALITY. Martin Luther King Jr Day is one of my favorite holidays because of the controversy and fight to observe his life and work. Itís ironic the controversy even occurred considering Columbus Day is a national holiday and that guy led the destruction of an entire race. One of the most notable of those leading the 1980 campaign to observe King's birthday was Stevie Wonder with his song "Happy Birthday." One of the jerks in opposition was Senator Jesse Helms who questioned whether King was important enough to receive the honor. But it was Ronald Reagan who signed the federal bill creating the holiday, which was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, although it wasnít observed in all 50 states until 1999. The day is marked by demonstrations for peace, social justice, racial and class equality, and community service. Maine is celebrating with events all over the state including Bates College in Lewiston. "THE NOBLE ROAD TO PEACE: STORMING THE BATTLEMENTS OF INJUSTICE," with Professor of African American Studies Sharon Harley, is a discussion about the work and lives of two race women during the Ď50s and Ď60s and the imagined and real conversations they had with King. As a pioneer in the field of African-American womenís history, Harleyís speech will be both historically accurate and enlightening. The 10:45 am address is followed by performances and workshops and preceded by a 9:30 am debate. The celebration concludes with a 7:30 pm Katrina fundraiser concert with Chauncey Packer, a New Orleans-based tenor and rising opera star. The concert will be held in the Olin Arts Center. All events are free. Call 207.786.6400 for more information.
We canít forget about the annual Martin Luther King Jr Breakfast Celebration, sponsored by NAACP. This yearís address, "Conscience of a Nation," will be delivered by Victor Bolden of the General Council of NAACPís Legal Defense and Education Fund. The celebration is at 8 am at Holiday Inn by the Bay, 188 Spring Street in Portland. For reservations, call 207.253.5074 or register online at www.naacpportland.org.
JOIN THE FIGHT. I donít know if crackers like you are permitted to join the NAACP, but if youíre dedicated to fighting for racial and class equality, you might be able to become a member. General membership meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month at 7 pm at Casey Family Services, 75 Washington Avenue in Portland. The local branch is active in the community and throughout the state fighting against discrimination and for racial harmony. Meetings are free, but there is probably a membership fee. Call 207.253.5074 for more information.
TRAITOR! As hard as it may be to imagine any other race could have been more mistreated, think again. American Indians suffered a mass genocide from the pilgrims and United States government. If you think those days are over, think again, again. Join attorney Cush Anthony for his lecture "UNITED STATES MISTREATMENT OF AMERICAN INDIANS" detailing the history and current status of the federal governmentís relationship with the tribes. The free presentation is from 7-8:30 pm at Unitarian Universalist Church, 524 Allen Avenue in Portland. Part II of the presentation will be held January 30 (same time and location). Call 207.797.7240 for more information.
Although reviews arenít promising anything spectacular, we still want to view The New World (a film that chornicles the life of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith) to find out if the filmmakers wrote with the perspective of the white, male idiots who wrote our history books or of more accurate historians like Howard Zinn. Pocahontas is remembered as an American heroine. Those of us who have studied Native American history know better. That Judas Iscariot not only sold out her heritage to become Anglicized, but she tipped off American soldiers with her tribeís battle plans. She deserved to die of small pox. We suppose thatís a bit harsh, but weíre angry about the treatment of American Indians. There are so few alive that director Terrence Malick had to hire Qíorianka Kilcher ó a dark-skinned German ó to play Pocahontas. Now that weíre all fired up, weíre ready for the movie theater. Post-bitch session will commence in Clarkís Pond parking lot. See "Movie Listings" for participating theaters.
I SEE TRAILS. Surrealist works are incredibly visually stimulating, because you can stare at them long enough to experience a holographic effect ó but maybe thatís just a peyote flashback. Surrealism, a style blending and confusing phantasmic dreams with reality to stimulate the unconcious mind, became a popular art movement in the Ď30s. Surprisingly, AcCommodations of Desire: Surrealist Works on Paper is the first exhibit of Surrealist art at Portland Museum of Art. The exhibit, showing through March 19, is from Julien Levyís collection of over 100 drawings, watercolors, collages, prints, photographs, and films. Levy cultivated Surrealism in his Manhattan Gallery by showing works by Salvador Dali (whose painting inspired the exhibit name), Dorothea Tanning, and Roberto Matta among other famous Surrealists. Be one of the first to view his collection January 18 from 6-8 pm at the opening reception. The museum is located at 7 Congress Square in Portland. Call 207.775.6148 or see "Listings" for hours, admission prices, and upcoming programs related to Surrealism.