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Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

It's the Late Last Minute

At press time, Christmas was two weeks from yesterday. And that means you’re too late.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas Stories

Sure, you can turn to Oprah or the New York Times bestsellers list for gift ideas, but you won’t be the only one looking there. Whereas local subjects and local authors—these can’t be found in airport kiosks. Instead, you can find them in special sections at local booksellers and gift shops, including Talking Leaves Books (951 Elmwood Avenue, 3158 Main Street), Rust Belt Books (202 Allen Street), the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society gift shop (25 Nottingham Court) and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery gift shop (1285 Elmwood Avenue).

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Cookie Exchange

by Artvoice Staff

The holiday cookie exchange is a sweet yet practical tradition, invoking the spirit of sharing while saving everyone valuable time. Each person makes a different kind of cookie and then all get together to trade, providing each participant with a variety that would have taken 10 times as long to create alone. We at Artvoice are just starting the tradition this year, and staff from every department has been kind enough to share recipes for this year’s Gift Guide. These all sound equally delicious and diverse, and they would all make perfect gifts or party treats.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Ready for Winter, Sport?

by Peter Koch

There’s nothing so sublime as the near silent swish-swishing of skis through the thick, powdery snow of a moonlit forest. That’s something I discovered halfway through high school, when a group of friends and I stepped out into the bone-chilling cold of a clear, still Southern Tier midnight, strapped on cross-country skis and struck out into the woods. These woods were familiar to us (we often camped out in them, road mountain bikes over their trails and fished in the trout brook that runs through them), but the thick blanket of snow and darkness transformed the place into a fairytale. The black and white world we found ourselves in was washed in moonlight, lending it the otherworldly light of a Thomas Kinkade painting. As we skied—along the edge of a ravine, beneath alternating black evergreen canopies and between rows of hardwoods, across fields and over frozen ponds—a change came over us. The silence of snow and the darkness of night heightened our senses, and it narrowed our focus to the task at-hand: moving forward, moving fluidly. In that situation, as I’ve learned on many subsequent outings, you almost try to become a part of the night: your mind clears out the inane thoughts of the day-to-day, and you begin to tap the primordial beast that Jack London was always invoking. Only when we stopped on one of the frozen ponds and laid out, flat on our backs, to look at the stars, did our minds fill up again with thoughts of life, the world outside of the woods and our tiny place in it.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Goodwill to All Men

by Peter Koch

It’s easy to get caught up by your own cares and concerns in the midst of the buzz and hum of the holidays—the number of people on your gift list is overwhelming, social obligations are piling up and you haven’t even decorated your house yet.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

A Little Holiday Music

by Donny Kutzbach

First Act PW580 electric guitar ($179.99 at—Guitar Hero III for XBOX360? Rock Band for PS3? These are not the things which make a true rocker. Still, I’m not so worried about the next generation because the current swell of instrument-simulation music video games can only help to inspire them. All the same, mastering Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” on expert level is not the real thing. Maybe it’s time to put down the four-button plastic toy and pick up an actual guitar. What better way than with one designed by a rock legend? When Paul Westerberg and his Minneapolis buds started the Replacements, their goal to was to get drunk and play loud. They achieved both, along the way issuing some of the 1980s’ defining rock albums and helping to shape the punk and underground rock scene. Westerberg went on to become America’s rock-and-roll laureate, a peerless songwriter and performer who has never lost his perfectly jagged punk edge. As legend has it, Westerberg stopped at a chain store during a solo tour several years back to pick up shaving cream. As a lark, he ended up walking out with an inexpensive First Act electric guitar, which was quickly added to his stage arsenal for nightly use. The folks at First Act were ecstatic and asked Westerberg to design a custom model. His ideal was realized in a Les Paul Junior-style six-string with a lone but growling single coil pickup, a fast maple neck and a permacool “punk rock plaid” pickguard. Now, with a quality instrument available at less than $200, there’s no need to die without a guitar within your reach. In case Westerberg’s model is not your style, First Act offers a varied line of introductory level guitars and—trust me—these make way better beginner guitars than the Harmony I got out of the Sears catalog back in 1984.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts from the Community

Local artists working well off the beaten path offer a unique approach to holiday shopping. You may be running behind on filling your gift list, but these local crafters can help you out:

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Moving Pictures

by M. Faust

DVDs make a great stocking-stuffer item, or something for that person at the office whose name you drew: They’re reasonably inexpensive and everyone likes movies, right? Of course, not everyone likes the same movies, and the ones that the chain stores have a zillion copies of are seldom the ones most worth having. So if you’re shopping for a movie buff, and you don’t have a $20 limit, here’s some of the best of what was released in recent months. Prices noted are suggested list prices only: With a little shopping you can usually find them for 25-30 percent less.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

An Afternoon at the Opera

by Jan Jezioro

This Saturday, December 15, the Metropolitan Opera begins its second season of live HD simulcasts to theaters around the world with Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Transmitted live, in high definition and surround sound, the Saturday afternoon opera broadcasts are shown locally at the Regal Transit Center Stadium multiplex on Transit Road in Lancaster.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

All Dressed Up With Places To Go

by Agathi Georgiou

Looking for the perfect dress for your holiday party? Fashion-lovers, listen up! Here’s the lowdown on the latest trends in dresses and the fabulous accessories to wear with them.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Flavor and Politics

by Michael I. Niman

More money is spent globally on coffee than on any other tradable commodity with the exception of oil. How that money is spent is one of the most important social indicators as to who we are as a global society. The simple act of choosing which coffee to buy is one of the most important daily decisions we make when it comes to social justice and environmental responsibility. For the most part, our buzz is a buzz saw cutting through third-world communities. Put simply, there’s blood in your coffee—but it doesn’t have to be there.

Getting a Grip

Plastic Poison

by Michael I. Niman

Remember when plastic used to break? You know, really break, as in shatter. Now it kind of bounces. The difference is that much of our modern plastic is vitamin-fortified with additives called phthalates. Phthalates protect plastic by making it more malleable, but a growing number of scientific studies suggest that while protecting plastic, certain phthalates are poisoning people. More specifically, they are carcinogens, they’re potentially toxic to our livers and kidneys, and juvenile exposure in males may lower lifelong testosterone levels, physiologically feminizing men while lowering their sperm counts. But hey, that’s some fine plastic we’ve got there.

Letters to Artvoice

In your zest to publish only those articles which support your biased agenda on the Kyoto Protocol, and with which you punctuated Ed Smeloff’s article by noting that Australia’s new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd immediately signed Kyoto, you jumped the proverbial gun, just as did Mr Rudd.

News of the Weird

by Chuck Shepherd

■ Small-Town Mayors: (1) Mayor Ken Williams resigned in Centerton, Ark. (pop. 2,146), in November and revealed that he is actually Don LaRose, an Indiana preacher who abruptly abandoned his family in 1980 because, he said, satanists had abducted and threatened him, and brainwashed him to rub out details of a murder he supposedly knew about. He said his memory returned only recently, thanks to truth serum. (2) Mayor Lino Donato of Poteet, Texas (pop. 3,500), said in November that he would remain in office despite his inability to set foot in city hall. That building is less than 1,000 feet from a youth recreation center and therefore off-limits to Donato, who was adjudicated a sex offender in October.

See You There

Llik Your Idols/You Killed Me First

by Geoff Kelly

The Artists Among Us: The Burchfield Penney's Members Exhibition

by K. O'Day

Away From Her

by Geoff Kelly

Tony Woods

by Brad Deck

Calendar Spotlight

John Schmitt

McCarthyizm's Benefit for Friends of the Night People

The Naughty List: Calendar Release and Open Skate Party

The Buffalo Choral Arts Society

Doug Yeomans and Lo Blu Flame

Sean Patrick McGraw


I do not recall the first time I met J. Bryan Hayes, or the first time I saw him on stage. By the early 1990s, however, he was, without question, a major personality in my world. Certainly, I knew Bryan by the time he appeared as the father in Equus at Theatre of Youth on Franklin Street in 1991. I had seen him in Lenny at Erica Wohl’s legendary Cabaret. And I saw him countless times in countless other plays after that. I remember how, when he finished his own performance in another show, he would show up at the Franklin Street Theater, just in time to see Gail Golden perform “The French Song,” in A…My Name Is Alice, night after night; it didn’t take the company long to realize that this was the beginning of a romance.


The fabulous Cindy Williams (pictured above) will be making her Broadway debut this week in the Tony Award winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone, which is playing at the Marquis Theatre. Best known for her turn as Shirley Feeney in the long-running TV show Laverne & Shirley, Williams will be playing Mrs. Tottendale, the role originated by Georgia Engel, and most recently played by JoAnne Worley. Engel is currently starring in the touring production of the show which will play Shea’s March 4-9. TV star Bob Saget (Full House, America’s Funniest Home Videos) is also currently starring in the Broadway production.


Movie Times

Now Playing

On the Boards


Branagh & Caine

by M. Faust

Separately, Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine may have worked with just about every actor and director in Great Britain, but they’ve never worked with each other. That gap has been remedied with Sleuth, a new film based on the Anthony Shaffer play. Perhaps “inspired” would be a better verb: This version was scripted by the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, who retained only the basic plot structure (two men in an English country house, one of them an aging novelist, the other the young man who has been sleeping with his wife). The play was filmed before in 1972 by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, with Laurence Olivier and Caine. This time Caine takes the role of the older man, against Jude Law (who also produced) as his nemesis.

Film Reviews

Spreading the Word: For the Bible Tells Me So

by George Sax

During one of the recent televised Republican Presidential debates, an internet questioner demanded the candidates state whether they regarded the Bible as the unerring word of God. Each of them hastened to assure the debate audience of his belief in the Good Book’s inerrancy.

Film Clips

I Am Legend

by Greg Lamberson

Richard Matheson’s classic 1954 novel I Am Legend, a science fiction-horror hybrid pitting the soul survivor of a global plague against vampires, has previously been adapted for the screen as The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, and The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston. It also inspired George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

In the Margins

The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories, by Bruce Jackson

by Geoff Kelly

Readers of this paper may be forgiven if they forget that Bruce Jackson’s political columns and reporting are not his principal stock in trade. His day job is, as the tag at the end of his stories here sometime indicates, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture at the University at Buffalo. He is the author of more than 20 books as well as a documentary filmmaker and photographer. It is for his work as an academic, and not for his thoroughgoing explorations of the Peace Bridge and casino debates, that he was named Chevalier in L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest honor in the arts and humanities.

Puck Stop

The Wheels Come Off in So Cal

by Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell

LOS ANGELES—So after last week, is there anyone who is still really excited about returning to the old NHL scheduling format?

You Auto Know

1 for the Money

by Jim Corbran

I was just about to type “Only in America…”—hmm, I guess I just did—when I realized that what I’m about to tell you didn’t happen in America at all, but took place in Essen, Germany. I’m talking about the world debut of the “brand new” early 1970s model BMW 2002tii—the car which you may recall began BMW’s long, successful journey as one of the most desirable “driver’s cars” on America’s roads. The folks at BMW took an old 2002tii and rebuilt it from the ground up using new old parts. The car was constructed at BMW’s museum in a glass-enclosed room where visitors could keep an eye on its progress.

Free Will Astrology

by Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Everything absolute belongs to pathology. Joyous distrust is a sign of health.” So proclaimed Friedrich Nietzsche. Note well that he used the adjective “joyous” to describe distrust, not “cynical” or “grumbling” or “sour.” The key to remaining vital and strong while questioning every so-called absolute is to cultivate a cheerful, buoyant mood as you do it. That’s one of your top assignments in the coming weeks, Aries: Practice joyous distrust.

Ask Anyone

I’m a 38-year-old woman in a long-term, loving relationship with another woman. We live a pretty quiet life nowadays, but when we first were together I was anything but quiet. I lived pretty fast in my 20s, a lot of drugs (buying, selling, using) and drinking and lots of partners. I straightened out on my own, with the help and love of my partner, and I’m glad those days are gone. So is she, and there are a lot of sleeping dogs we’d like to leave alone.