There's someone like you on Avenue Q

I loved Avenue Q at the opening line. But then, I’m biased. Having graduated from a small liberal arts college with a degree in Slippery Slope to Poverty, I appreciated the humor in college grad Princeton’s lament: “What do you do with a B.A. in English? What is my life going to be?”

I’d heard that Avenue Q is a Sesame Street for grownups—that is, puppets interacting with real people to solve problems in their neighborhood and in their personal lives (including, for us adults, issues of a sexual nature). That’s true, but it’s more than a parody. Avenue Q explores what it means to compromise for the sake of relationships and community, yet remain true to yourself.  read more »

Art and music gifts at the VERY last minute!

Hi…okay, so I flew off to Mexico just moments after writing my last blog entry and didn’t write a thing the whole time. Apologies! I had hoped to give you more great gift ideas for arts-lovers. But if you are anything like me, you’ve still got shopping to do in these last few days before gathering with family and friends. So here’s a quick update. And if you give or receive an artsy gift that you’re particularly proud of, email me and let me know!  read more »

Great Gifts for Arts Lovers

The appearance of December 1st on this week’s calendar comes as a surprise to me, perhaps because my Minnesota lawn is still bright green. I have not yet begun my Christmas shopping, a delay for which I blame global warming. (How do South Americans get into the mood without snow? And do their mall Santas wear flip-flops?)

Ah, but I’m an arts lover and am always, always, always in the mood for giving something artsy (or receiving…hint hint!). Keep on reading for a list of great places to shop for the arts lover in your life. In giving the arts as gift, you are not only pleasing a loved one, you are supporting artists, too!  read more »

I'm turning Japanese, I really think so....

According to Sushi & Sake magazine, sake is considered a type of beer under Federal law and a wine under California State law. The magazine says the divisiveness happened during Prohibition, but I’m betting that Californians call everything wine just like Southerners call everything Coke. (If a server in Atlanta should ask what kind of Coke you want, a perfectly good answer would be “root beer.”)

Regardless, on November 29 at Spill the Wine, you can have your wine and call it sake, too.

The VaporsTurning Japanese  read more »

Soul-stirring art...Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Capri, Chanhassen and more!

¡Hola! Yet another sunny Saturday (in October! in Minnesota!) has put me in the mood to speak español. That and the sold-out Frida Kahlo exhibition preview party coming up October 26 at Walker Art Center. The exhibit runs October 27 through January 20, and we in Minneapolis are privileged to have Ms. Kahlo’s paintings here in advance of their national tour. These colorful, pain-inspired, hopeful and dramatic works of art are not to be missed.

For a double-dose of estrogen power, visit the work of another internationally acclaimed 20th-century painter, Georgia O’Keefe, at Minneapolis Institute of Arts through January 6. Go with your sweetheart, then book a room at the Westin or Graves 601. I’m not kidding. Trust me, art as aphrodisiac was not invented by Playboy magazine.  read more »

Via is a good, easy answer to "Where shall I meet you?"

I’ve been meaning to write about the new restaurant Via for weeks, but I’ve been too busy eating there to blog about it. That should tell you something. But it’s not that the food is outstanding (though a few items are), or that I’ve been wowed by the service (although the wait staff are attentive). It’s that Via is big and comfortable and offers a variety of pleasant vignettes in which to sip, sup and socialize.

Normally I tend toward downtown or neighborhood restaurants—112 Eatery, Café Maude and Jasmine Deli, for example—but sometimes it’s nice to just whip into a sprawling parking lot, hang onto your keys, and save $10 (no need to valet park in Edina).

Via is an all-occasion place to meet for anything from a casual cocktail and calamari to a celebratory formal dinner. It boasts the not-quite-southwest suburb’s largest outdoor patio—not as intimate as Crave’s wooden trellises, or Eden Avenue Grill’s little garden spot—and I, for one, welcome the Redstone-like, see-and-be-seen ambience a bit closer to home. Via’s patio has not one, but two fire pits, a marble bar (with stools that need another six inches in height to get me level with my lunch), and cozy sofas and settees, plus the usual glass-topped rattan rounds.  read more »

The state of the arts at the Minnesota State Fair

Every year I attend the State Fair, and every year I do it differently. Last year two girlfriends and I went to cheer for a pal who’s a TV reporter and was supposed to be broadcasting live from the fairgrounds, only to learn that she’d been held up in the newsroom by a breaking scandal. So we ate some fatty food and listened to a band and rode some overpriced rides and shopped but didn’t buy anything and then went home.

The year before, I went with a guy friend who encouraged me to buy everything from shoe polish to gardening tools, and then asked to borrow them.

This year I went on my own, as a volunteer for BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) at the Education Minnesota booth in—where else?—the Education Building. It was fun! After my 30-minute stint reading to a passel of cute, curious kids, I mapped out my “60-minute arts and culture route” and stepped into the drizzle on Cosgrove Street.  read more »

Craving comfort food? Bring your tastebuds to Brasa.

Ah, rain—finally! Rainy days and Mondays always get me…in the mood for comfort food. Fortunately, I have found a new favorite supplier: Brasa, in the spot formerly occupied by Betty’s Bikes and Buns at 600 E. Hennepin. The brand new, budget-conscious brother of Restaurant Alma, Brasa bills itself as a premium rotisserie and serves, bless their hearts, only two main dishes: Marinated & Spice Rubbed Rotisserie Chicken ($11.50-$14) and Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork Shoulder ($11.50-$14), with a combo plate for $14.50. I’m a fan of the limited menu. It makes the decision easier, which is part of the comfort in comfort food.

But lest avid foodies can’t take two for an answer, there’s an abundance of side dishes to get the adrenaline going. (Foodies never quite relax for fear of missing the mention of fennel in an entrée and wondering halfway through dinner if that’s what they’re tasting…necessitating an anonymous phone call to the host stand from the bathroom.)

Sugar is the comfort that my friend Karl and I were seeking on this rain-soaked Saturday after a matinee of The Bourne Ultimatum. Dashing from the car á la Matt Damon and Julia Stiles, we burst through the door to meet the smiling visage of chef and proprietor Alex Roberts, ready at the register in case we wanted take-out.  read more »

For the love of art (and Henry)

Twin Citian Gail Miller Weber practices law and spends every spare moment of her time promoting the arts. With a barrister’s thoroughness and attention to detail, Gail digs up the calendars of every arts event that is worthy of its ticket price (plus many that are free of charge), organizes them both thematically and by date, and publishes the info with articles and humorous quips in her three- or four-times-yearly magazine, Exploring T.O.S.C.A. (annual subscription $35). T.O.S.C.A. stands for theater, opera, Shakespeare, culture, art. Of course, Tosca also is the title of an opera penned in 1900 by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, who also composed Madame Butterfly and La Bohème.

This Sunday afternoon, August 12, at a lovely Hopkins/Minnetonka venue, Gail will host one of her famous events that bring T.O.S.C.A. to life for aficionados and novices alike. It’s called Musetta, Doretta & Loretta (not The Sopranos you’re used to). Local soprano Margaret Houlton will provide musical entertainment, and she’s amazing. This is the event to attend if you’ve never been to an opera because Margaret tells the story behind every aria she sings, and it’s all very casual. Not stuffy. Plus you’ll get appetizers, sandwiches and pastries by Agora Nova Catering.  read more »

Sample Circuit offered oasis of normalcy and calm after bridge collapse

Okay, so I was on the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis on Wednesday during rush hour. I shouldn’t have been there, but I have a bad habit of chatting on my cell phone while driving, and, involved in conversation, I missed my exit. Decided to take University/4th Street instead— which put me bumper-to-bumper with a couple of hundred other souls encased in sheet metal on the ill-fated 500-foot span.

I was on my way to a Sample Circuit event at one of my favorite new venues, Spill the Wine, on Washington Avenue. Traffic was heavy coming into downtown because of the Twins vs KC Royals game, and I was running a few minutes late. Thank God.

Gail Miller Weber, who publishes the Twin Cities magazine Exploring T.O.S.C.A. (Theater, Opera, Shakespeare, Culture, Art), was to meet me at Spill the Wine at 6:00. She was running even later. (More praise heavenward.)

Sitting on the bridge about 1/3 of the way across, I felt vibrations but thought nothing of it. After all, this is construction season in Minnesota, and I could see that work was being done on the bridge. The right couple of lanes were blocked off by orange cones and cement-filled barrels.  read more »

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