Thursday, January 24, 2008

DECEMBER 2007: Film Fest; Adlermans; Andaman Aborigines; Mutts; Janice Fried; Barbara Crafton; Chris Grabenstein; Dan Whitley; Holiday Party

8 PM, FRI, SAT & SUN, NOV 30, DEC 1 & 2
Hosted/Introduced by Reed Scholar Lawrence Mintz

Fri/Odd Man Out:
The telling opening preamble to Odd Man Out - Carol Reed's first great postwar film - stresses that it's the 'conflict in the hearts of the people' that most concerns the director - and not the specifics of the 'struggle between the law and an illegal organization'. Which is just as well, as barely any mention is made throughout this fantastic, thoughtful and stunningly photographed thriller of the exact beliefs and motives of James Mason's fugitive IRA chief Johnny McQueen and the various characters he meets while on the run from the police one dark night in Belfast. Ultimately, the IRA element is but a catalyst for a subtle, near-metaphysical portrait of a character in crisis. As Johnny stumbles deliriously through the city's underbelly and the police run him to ground, Reed lays the foundations of the nightmarish noir he'd perfect in The Third Man. A fascinating supporting cast, and a rousing score by William Alwyn add brio to Mason's fascinating performance. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

Sat/Fallen Idol:
In the impressive filmography of British director Carol Reed, The Fallen Idol is sandwiched between Odd Man Out and The Third Man - the second of three consecutive masterpieces (adapted by Graham Greene from his short story "The Basement Room") by a filmmaker at the peak of his artistic powers. Of those three, The Fallen Idol is the most delicately subdued, but it's a flawlessly plotted thriller that achieves considerable tension through the psychology of its characters. By telling the story through the eyes of a child, the plot gains even greater urgency as a variation on the theme of "the boy who cried wolf," as young Phillipe (Bobby Henrey) - the 8-year-old son of the French ambassador to England--struggles to clear his beloved embassy butler Baines (Ralph Richardson) from being wrongfully accused of murder. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

Sun/The Third Man:
In this Cold War classic, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), an alcoholic writer of pulp westerns, arrives in Vienna to investigate the mysterious death of his old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime (Orson Welles). This was Reed's second collaboration with British screenwriter Graham Greene (after The Fallen Idol), a clever thriller simply evoked by one sentence written by Greene: "I saw a man walking down the Strand, whose funeral I had only recently attended." Surprisingly, it was nominated for only three Academy Awards in 1950, including Best Director, and Best Film Editing. Its sole Oscar was for Robert Krasker's moody black/white cinematography. Its two most famous sequences include the fairground showdown high atop a deserted Ferris wheel and the climactic chase through an underground network of sewers. The distinctive musical score was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas. Before the production came to Vienna, Karas was an unknown wine-bar performer. Reed fell in love with Karas' zither after hearing him play inside a café. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

2 PM, SAT. DEC 1

Do you ever look 'round for something you can't find? Domino does! He looks 'round and 'round...and everything looks round to him, too! A game of fetch has never been this fun and colorful. So look 'round inside this book. You'll be surprised at what you find (and you'll have a ball). Ages 3 and up. Danny and Kim’s previous books include How Much Would Could a Woodchuck Chuck, Africa Calling, and Rock-a-bye Baby. Books on sale at the event (all titles). A signed children's book by Danny and Kim makes an excellent holiday gift! FREE!

A Sherlock Holmes Society

Featuring lectures by Dr. Robert Moss (The Mind is the Man: Samuel Pepys as a model for Mycroft Holmes) and Dr. Michael Blumenthal (CSI: Victorian London - the origins of forensic science from the French Revolution through Conan Doyle's time and why/how Holmes was up to the minute in deploying the latest technology). Plus a special reading of an original Sherlockian pastiche, The Poor Folk Upon the Moor, by Alex Dawson. "The aborigines of the Andaman Islands may perhaps claim the distinction of being the smallest race upon this earth…they are naturally hideous, having large, misshapen heads, small fierce eyes, and distorted features…they have always been a terror to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with their stone-headed clubs or shooting them with their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invariably concluded by a cannibal feast." The Sign of the Four, Arthur Conan Doyle. Comp Port served. FREE!

7:30 PM, FRI. DEC 7
Spoken Word/Live Music

2 PM, SAT. DEC 8
Reading/Signing/Chalk Talk

In 1994, McDonnell created the award-winning comic strip Mutts, which now appears in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries and has been anthologized in books all over the world. It was described by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz as "one of the best comic strips of all time." A coffee table book of his life and work, Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell, was published in 2003. In 2005, McDonnell wrote his first children's book, The Gift of Nothing, which was a New York Times best seller. The Best of Mutts, a ten year celebration of the strip introduced by acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold, and his fourth children's book, Hug Time, were published this fall. All of his books are printed on recycled paper. He is involved with many animal and environmental charities, and is a member of the Board of Directors for both The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. DEC 14
Art Exhibition/Live Music

Janice Fried has been working professionally as an illustrator for over 20 years. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, children's books, pop-up books, card decks, and on book jackets, CD covers, and gift cards. Her clients include The New York Times, Scholastic, NBC, Newsday, and Highlights for Children. Both originals and prints of her work will be on sale at the event. For an online gallery of her art, please visit

In the mid-80s Bruce Donnola was a semi-regular player at Folk City, Speakeasy and other folk venues. He's opened for Pete Seeger, the Red Clay Ramblers, Buskin & Batteau, and many others. In the mid-90s Bruce fronted a cult all-acoustic rockabilly-bluegrass band, The Nor’easters. Bruce recently returned from a European tour for his most recent album, The Peaches of August, which will be on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, SAT. DEC 15
Live Music

With a sawed off vocal approach that can sound like a lumberjack's gassed up tool-of-choice revving and rampaging through the American landscape, Whitley's range runs from gospel and plain-spoken blues to complex spoken-word enigmas that rival T. Bone Burnett's most cryptic, labyrinthine lyrics. Zack Leffand's powerful guitar is at various times rampant and elegant, and Elf's thumping drumwork sounds like something beating on a cabin roof in the dead of night (I mean that in the best possible way). Like his influences, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf, Whitley's best songs pick you up, shake you hard, and throw you down in the dirt. But rest assured, you'll dust yourself off and ask for more. Dan Whitley is the younger brother of music legend Chris Whitley (with whom he frequently played). In 2001, the New York Times called the older Whitely "restless ...evoking Chet Baker and Sonic Youth as much as Robert Johnson," The Rolling Stone said "The post-Hendrix explosion of whammybar wankers hasn't produced a single axeman who can compare to Chris Whitley," and Dave Matthews said, "I have a fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris Whitley makes." Chris Whitley died in 2005 at the age of 45. FREE!

1 PM, SUN. DEC 16

For an ordinary girl named Mary, living in an ordinary family in a dusty first-century town, extraordinary things were beginning to happen. This delightful story re-imagines the Christmas narrative from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It’s Mary’s story, and it’s told with gentle humor, lively imagination, and a sense of wonder. Each chapter is beautifully and tenderly illustrated. Barbara Crafton is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and author. She was rector of St. Clement's Church in Manhattan's Theatre district. She was also a chaplain on the waterfront of New York, and served both historic Trinity Church, Wall Street and St. John's Church in Greenwich Village. She was a chaplain at Ground Zero during the recovery effort after the WTC bombing. An actress, director and producer, she has worked for many years in combining the lively arts and the life of faith. Her books, articles, and radio scripts have won many awards and she is seen frequently on television both as a preacher and as a commentator on Hallmark's "New Morning" and "America at Worship," and has been profiled extensively in electronic and print media throughout the world. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

7:30 PM, THURS DEC 20
James Patterson Protégé CHRIS GRABENSTEIN

When kidnappers seize seven-year-old Carlos, the son of a U.S. customs official, Jersey City FBI agent Christopher Miller (St. Chris), whose own seven-year-old daughter Angela remains traumatized from an encounter with a savage, sanguine Santa the previous Christmas, prepares for a spectacular showdown at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Grabenstein's hair-raising holiday sequel (after 2006's Slay Ride). A former improvisational comedian (he and Bruce Willis were in the same Greenwich Village comedy troupe in the early 1980s), Grabenstein spent almost twenty years writing commercials. You've probably seen his spots for Seven Up, Miller Lite, KFC ("Everybody needs a little KFC"), Dr Pepper, and many others. He was, perhaps most famously, the copy writer who created Trojan Man, a radio campaign that still rides the airwaves today. His writing talent was first discovered by James Patterson, the Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. Patterson had come up with a Writing Aptitude Test, which ran as a full-page ad in The New York Times under the headline "Write If You Want Work." Over 2,000 applicants responded. Grabenstein was the first writer hired. He won the "Best First Mystery" Anthony Award for his debut Tilt-a-Whirl, the first in a series of John Ceepak stories to be set "Down The Shore" in a New Jersey tourist town called Sea Haven. The second book, Mad Mouse, was called one of the "Ten Best Mysteries of 2006" by Kirkus. Hell for the Holidays, his fifth book, was published on December 1. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. DEC 21
Featuring a Staged Reading of

A Play by Connor McPherson. Performed by Jeff Maschi.
Perhaps you know that St. Nicholas is more a play about vampires than Christmas. Perhaps you are prepared to be scared. Perhaps a small part of you wants to be scared. So when the lights go out and stay out, when you sense that someone has entered the space, your skin, if you allow it to, will crawl a bit. From the inky pitch you hear, "When I was a boy, I was afraid of the dark. And perhaps one of the things I thought was there, folded into the blackness, were vampires." So begins the journey of a play that takes the audience from Dublin's literary scene to London's vampire scene. It's not a fright fest. It's simply a holiday story about a drunk drama critic on a bender. But is it real? Or not. The tale, swinging through many forms of storytelling, from the kinds of extended, self-serving lies born of drunkenness to a proper Brothers Grimm-like fable, is a memorable theatrical voyage, rich in both symbolism and metaphor, as character and audience come together to find human light in the midst of moral darkness. $5 Suggested Donation.