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Issue of 12/23/2009


Cover Story:



Branching out
by Detroitblogger John
Necessity is the mother of Christmastime invention. Just ask this autoworker whose job is on shaky ground

Features:

Mobsters, music ... and magic by Bill Holdship
It’s Jersey Boys at the Fisher Theatre!

Murphy's law by Brian Smith
Two Brittany film essentials that went unnoticed

Parent power by Sandra Svoboda
Amid the Detroit schools chaos, who helps parents?

People who died by Metro Times staff
Our annual homage to late, little-known greats

Ten years after by Amy Elliott
The 'perennially vilified' Jason Stollsteimer discusses his new Detroit 'supergroup,' life in the city, and the future of the Von Bondies

The return of the 'Jet Age Geniuses' by Chris Handyside
Well, goll-eee! Goober & the Peas are back!

We're all mad here by Travis R. Wright
Feed your head down in Wonderland

Columns:

Comics (Comics)

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
New Year's Eve ideas and more about food

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)
Readers respond about Niagara and more

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Chris Breest's studio in a former Plymouth church

Duh by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Judge's defense: I didn't know it was against the rules

Up from the ashes by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Consultants' idea: Turn Detroit into a "green city"

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

Christmas cheer by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
We're battered, bruised and ... better off than we were

Cruisin' for a bruisin' by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
Should I meet anonymously with this trucker I met online?

Tableside in Tree Town by Metro Times food staff (Short Order)
A shortlist of notable Ann Arbor eateries

Reviews:

Music/Books:

My Roaring 20's - Cheap Girls Reviewed by Chris Parker (Record)

Movies:

Nine Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
If you thought Rob Marshall’s Chicago was overrated, his latest musical adaptation, Nine, will amplify your feelings of ill will. A wrongheaded mess of a movie musical, it mistakes whip-pan camera angles for choreography, sexy star wattage for acting, and muddled melodrama for storytelling. Yup, this film adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical is based on Fellini’s 1963 classic. But unlike the maestro’s acerbically postmodern examination of creative inspiration, egotism and morality, Nine is a rudderless journey into a film artist’s mid-life crisis. Anyway, adapting Fellini’s 8-1/2 into a musical isn’t all that revolutionary. Bob Fosse did a bang up job with All That Jazz back 1979. If you’re craving a smart, sophisticated and rousing musical, see that instead.

The Maid Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Catalina Saavedra is intense as Raquel, a reserved and clearly exhausted Chilean maid who has traded her own life’s happiness for decades of service to the family that employs her. She’s watched the children grow up, dealt with familial upheavals and ruled over a domestic landscape that was never her own. And those years have taken their toll, leaving the shy but sourpuss maid devoid of a personal identity and given to sudden feinting spells. When the family brings in extra help, Raquel sees it as a mortal threat to her domain, and dedicates herself to sabotaging each new hire. One by one, her adversaries fall, undone by her psychotic scheming until confident, free-spirited and patient Lucy (Mariana Loyola) is brought onto the payroll. Soon, Raquel begins to understand the price of her cloistered existence and the true value of friendship.

Black Dynamite Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
As a parody of that brief golden era of brash blaxsplotation heroes, this year’s Black Dynamite is right on the money, down to its tight, poly pants and broad-flare collars — just a little too on the money, honestly. Michael Jai White plays the title stud, an indestructible soul brother whose kid brother gets gunned down in a bad drug deal. He then takes a break from the street game to lay the smackdown on any fool dumb enough to get in the way of his vengeance. As Dynamite plows his way through dope-dealing suckas, he brushes up against all of the genre’s stock players — the hustlers, junkies, tricks, orphans, corrupt politicians and Black Power militants — who make the ghetto bloom. Dynamite’s homies are also sly winks, Tommy Davidson (Booty Call) gets the Antonio Fargas-like role as fast talking hipster “Cream Corn,” and his main man Bullhorn (Byron Minns) is a slick dresser prone to speaking in Dolemite-style rapping couplets. There’s even an Arsenio Hall cameo at a secret pimp conference. While busting heads, Dynamite uncovers a deep conspiracy, and he rounds up his crew to take the fight to whitey.

Avatar Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic jarhead sent to the distant moon Pandora to stand in for his dead twin brother. A perfect genetic match, he's transferred into his scientist sibling's "avatar," a human-alien hybrid created to win the hearts and minds of the planet's indigenous natives. You see, Pandora is home to a precious mineral that promises to solve all of blackened Earth's energy woes, and the giant blue tree-hugging Na'vi live atop its richest vein. Of course, it isn't long before Jake comes to love this lush, exotic new world, learning the ways of the Na'vi, riding cool dragon-like creatures and falling for princess Neytiri (Saldana). Eventually push comes to shove and the evil, monolithic mining company lets their Duke Nukem Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) settle things with a shock and awe campaign that "... will blast a crater in their racial memory so deep they won't come within a thousand clicks of here ever again!" Eye-popping battles ensue.

Restaurants/Places:

Howe's Bayou Reviewed by Todd Abrams (Restaurant)
With New Orleans-flavored prints on the wall and a plea to “let the good times roll” in Cajun French above the bar, the atmosphere is laid-back, with dark wood panels, tables and a long, graceful bar, the slender space is cozy under low-hung ceiling fans. All but the most fainthearted of eaters should try the crawfish boil. If you’re not so bold, order the crunchy and mild deep-fried popcorn crawdad tails or the more refined crawfish cakes. Out of the 10 “po’ boy” sandwiches served on a French loaf with fresh Southern slaw, the one packed with sweet and tender pan-fried Andouille sausage-encrusted oysters is always a pleaser. The dark roux-based crawfish étouffée is a good choice off the entrée menu, though there have been times it hasn’t had the deep, roasted-nut essence you expect from that preparation. Though small, the drink lists are carefully considered. There are no bottles of wine costing more than $30 and the selection is surprisingly diverse.

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