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Issue of 11/25/2009


Cover Story:



2009 Metro Times Gift Guide
by Metro Times staff
We got your back with great gift ideas that are fun, local and often over-the-top

Features:

'I began writing in mystery' by Norene Smith
A few words with Philip Levine

Cass class by Detroitblogger John
Ex-teacher and gospel recording artist offers neighbors all kinds of lessons

Detroit gets booked by Michael Jackman
A shortlist of this year’s fab Motor City reads

Easy Riders by Ann Sexxton
To slide easily into the stocking

Hanging around the scene by W. Kim Heron
An obsessed photographer, eye-candy for crate diggers and a thousand lyrics

It's in the 313, baby by Megan O'Neil
Do yourself (and all of us) a favor this season and skip online and mall shopping in favor of the local indie

Literary largesse by Metro Times book critics
An index of titles worthy of a spot under the tree

Money's no object by Sandra Svoboda
A selective list for the few who can still splurge and the many who can dream

Pickup lines by Curt Guyette
Will curbside recycling work in Detroit?

Rockin' reads by Bill Holdship
MT's annual guide to the year's grooviest rock literature

Slip 'em a disc by Metro Times music staff
DVDs, CDs, box sets and reissues to give — if only to yourself

Sonic supreme by Brian Smith
Last-word versions of classic Motor City related albums

Swingin' X-mas party by Bryant Franks
Or proof that you really do have opposable thumbs!

Columns:

Cheat code by Metro Times game reviewers (Cheat Code)
The gift that keeps on giving carpal tunnel

Comics (Comics)

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
Sweet Lorraine's at 25, Michael Symon speaks, and more

Muchas gracias! by Jim McFarlin (Idiot Boxing)
Let us thank, from the glorious TV altar, Hoarders, Southland, old Matt Millen and any Dick Wolf production

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)
Ranting about retailers, and much more

Motor City Rides by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
The story behind Ty Stone's bitchin' Camaro

New trials and their tribulations by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Diane Bukowski gets a new hearing

Tribulations, and maybe a trial by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Prosecutors still mulling whether to target prisoner freed by Innocence Clinic

Night and Day by Megan O'Neil (Night and Day)

Time for Thanksgiving by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Believe it or not, we have some things to be grateful for

A little bent by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
Tales of straight and gay who mix it up a bit

Drinksgiving! by Metro Times food staff (Short Order)
Places to party and imbibe, and where to eat — before and after

Viva la revolution! by Walter Wasacz (The Subterraneans)
Comrade Aaron-Carl introduces a new D-town dance manifesto

Reviews:

 Music/Books:
 No Reviews

Movies:

The Blind Side Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Sandra Bullock is sensational as Leanne Tuohy, a spitfire Memphis matriarch who runs her well-heeled family with queen grace and drill-sergeant precision. But Tuohy’s a benevolent ruler; when she discovers one of her kid’s junior high classmates is homeless, she takes him in, ignoring the country club gossips. The taciturn boy looks more like a man; hulking African-American Michael “Big Mike” Oher towers over his peers, but his 80 I.Q. score, and a lifetime of neglect, finds him trailing far behind in school. With an absent father and a drug-addicted mother, Big Mike slept on couches and in the streets before the Tuohy’s took him in, turned his grades around and helped guide him to gridiron greatness.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
In an award-worthy performance, Mo’Nique plays mom, a foul, hateful creature who calls her daughter a “worthless fat bitch” whose only value is as a monthly government check. Continually abused at home, Precious can’t begin to fathom her schoolwork; she daydreams about having a handsome “light-skinned boyfriend” who’ll buy her fancy things and treat her right. These illusions are all she has in a ruined urban wasteland untouched by light or hope. The only thing keeping her from disappearing altogether are a string of compassionate ladies, including a teacher who gets her into an alternative high school program, and a deglamorized Mariah Carey as the social worker who forces her to confront her mother. Slowly we begin to see Precious blossom, to begin not just dreaming of a better life but trying to grab it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
George Clooney enthusiastically leaps in as the arrogant Mr. Fox, who gave up his days of livestock thievery to placate his wife (voiced by Meryl Streep) and raise a family. Now a newspaper writer, he has a stable home life, neurotic son (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) and a deep longing to be true to his nature. Committed to one last major score, Fox enlists pal Kyle (Wally Wolodarsky) and athletic nephew Kristofferson (voiced by Wes’s brother Eric Anderson) to raid three nearby farms — all owned by wealthy, vicious farmers. Unfortunately, this incites Farmer Bean (voiced by Michael Gambon), the trio’s nastiest, to wage war on Fox’s family and friends. Adorned with all the adolescent fetishes of Wes Anderson's previous films — maps, stylized landscapes, vibrant colors and textures, oddball characters and blasts of obscure classic rock — its stop-action animation world suits Anderson, allowing him to create the perfect playground for his deadpan sense of humor and relentless examination of familial anxiety.

Ninja Assassin Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
This film's plot concerns a pair of bland Interpol dolts dedicated to tracking down and stopping these elusive Ninja clans, who serve as an elite murder cabal, offing anyone for the low fee of 100 pounds of gold. The cops get a major assist from charismatic renegade ninja Raizo (played sleekly by a J-pop singer Rain), who’s out for revenge against his evil former master. Wachowski brothers protégé James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) stages the fight scenes behind enough smoke, water and strobe lights to choke out a Madonna video, but still delivers all the bloodthirsty comic-book thrills you’d expect.

35 Shots of Rum Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Lionel is heartsick widower, quietly toiling as a Parisian train conductor, silently watching the world stream past him. We see many POV shots of subway cars charging forward, but, like Lionel’s own life, the film runs at a more deliberate pace. He lives with Josephine, his pretty, university-student daughter, in a drab high-rise somewhere in the concrete sprawl of greater Paris. They’ve been experiencing several years of isolated domestic tranquility, every day gently comforting each other over the loss of Jo’s mother, though doing their best to not name their pain. Both father and daughter have begun relationships with lonely, warm-hearted neighbors, and these connections begin to gradually draw them apart and back into the world, whether they want to leave home or not.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Mopey but precocious Bella (Kristen Stewart) is caught in a love triangle. On one side is the vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), her alabaster emo lover who frets over her safety and the integrity of her soul. On the other is Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), her childhood friend who has blossomed into a tortured hunk. You see Jacob, a member of Quileute tribe, is a werewolf, destined to war against the vampires. Needless to say it gets all unrequited and angsty. Visually this sequel lands very much in the same competent yet unspectacular territory (inexcusable really, when you consider the box office). Story-wise, however, New Moon elicits slightly more interest, digging deeper into its otherworldy mythology. Unfortunately, it’s all-too-aware of its rabid fan base and calculated to within an inch of its life.

The Road Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
It probably seems odd to praise a film that, in the end, exhausts its audience. And John Hillcoat’s faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is just that: two hours of bleak tension that anyone would be hard-pressed to call entertaining. The apocalypse has come. We don’t know why or how; we just know that the planet has been reduced to a slow dying cinder. As revealed in flashback, the Man (Viggo Mortensen) and his pregnant wife, the Woman (Charlize Theron), were there to witness it. When their Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is born, the Woman falls into despair and, unable to face the idea of raising a child in a world destined for extinction. And then she kills herself. Eight years later, father and son search for a sliver of salvation in a crushingly sad and brutally desperate landscape.

Restaurants/Places:

Shangri-La Reviewed by Mel Small (Restaurant)
Midtown’s Shangri-La has a quirky interior, extremely attentive servers, and excellent dim sum, those small plates that are something like Chinese tapas. Most dim-sum are $2.95 to $3.50, and most offer a bite or so for at least three diners. Teeny pancakes laden with garlic and chives, crisp dumplings, lilliputian spare ribs in a sweet black-bean sauce, stuffed eggplant, and the sweet bun full of barbecued pork are all winners. Although the regular menu is dominated by traditional Chinese cuisine, curries ($9), Singapore noodles ($8) and cilantro-less pho-like noodle soups ($7-8) suggest a pan-Asian influence. If you are looking for more exciting creations, you will have to choose among the chef specials, which are more expensive ($13.95-$16.95), and can include a whole or half roast duck, eggplant with shrimp paste in black-bean sauce, a mélange of succulent fried squid, scallops and shrimp with (not that) spicy salt or more mellow walnut shrimp.

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