Drink of the Week: Corks n’ Crowns’ Dark ‘n’Gory


Pitch black is the new black. At least when it comes to Halloween cocktails. Just ask Alison Riede, who came up with our Drink of the Week — the Dark ‘n’ Gory, her twist on the classic Dark and Stormy cocktail, using one of the darkest rums out there: Whaler’s. Add to that, Riede uses a Black Lemonade from a company called Skeleteen. (Look for it at BevMo! because that’s the only place we’ve seen it.) There’s a skull on the label, so it’s easy to spot, and it’s not alcoholic, either.

Cupcake maven Ms. Riede, who hosts cupcake pairings — with alcohol — every Sunday at Corks n’ Crowns in Santa Barbara, also adds a little bit of brown sugar and lychee juice to sweeten it up, and a rim of red sugar … or is it blood sugar? And to make it all that more spooktacular, Ms. Riede made “eyes” from lychees with blueberries stuffed inside. Tip: Sprinkle some leftover red sugar on the “eyes” and soon they’ll be “bloodshot.” With two impaled eyes on a straw resting on the rim, you have a drink that seems to be checking out the drinker, perfect for your Halloween party!

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Whitaker to receive Douglas Award

Forest Whitaker

Film actor Forest Whitaker, who stars in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” is to receive this year’s Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, according to an announcement from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The award will be given at a black-tie gala dinner Dec. 15 at the Bacara.

The 52-year-old actor is best known for his roles in “Platoon,” “Bird,” “The Crying Game,” and “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.”

His starring role in “The Last King of Scotland,” in which he played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, earned him his first Oscar for Best Actor. He also was honored for the role at SBIFF in 2007.

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 Dan Gunther,"Speaking-of"regular,will read the title story,"The Things They Carried." Brad Spaulding photos

Dan Gunther,”Speaking-of”regular,will read the title story,”The Things They Carried.”
Brad Spaulding photos

When Tim O’Brien’s short story collection about Vietnam “The Things They Carried” appeared in 1990, it was the end of a journey that started with select stories being printed in Esquire and its title work being selected for the 1987 anthology of Best American Short Stories. Another journey started afterwards. It went on to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide; nearly won a Pulitzer; and found its way onto the reading list of high schools across the country. It’s considered one of the best works of Vietnam-war fiction out there. So it was only a matter of time that our Public Library would choose it for their annual “Santa Barbara Reads” program. The surprise is that they have now teamed up with Speaking of Stories to turn some of their stories into a special event this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

It wasn’t originally a part of Maggie Mixsell’s “Speaking of” series when they announced this season. But the library reached out to Ms. Mixsell’s business partner, Center Stage Theater’s Teri Ball, and it sounded like a good match. Ms. Mixsell, having put on the series for half of the two-decades-long run, knows a good short story when she reads one.

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Think of the 1980s and art and what comes to mind? Possibly Nagel, neon colors, jagged diagonals and geometry, paint splashes. Maybe the squiggles of Keith Haring, or the attack of Basquiat, or Jeff Koons’ kitsch. But for Julie Joyce, who curated this new show at the Museum of Art, it was a time of excitement for galleries, of a new trust in materials and finance, and lots of black. “Totally 80s: Gifts to the Permanent Collection” only nods to the clichéd idea of the decade in its title. There’s one example of neon. But there’s lots of black. (There’s more, too, in the other show she helped set up: the photos of John Divola, in the gallery around the corner).

Recent exhibitions from the Museum’s permanent collections have been too much of a muchness, with too much repetition of recently shown work. But “Totally ’80s” avoids that, thanks to recent gifts from the Broad Art Foundation in L.A. and Laura-Lee W. Woods and Robert J. Woods, Jr. There are only two familiar pieces here: Charles Arnoldi’s rough-hewn and brutal wood canvas, “Landfisher” and Al Held’s “Brughes II” that used to hang in the atrium, neon hoops and green building girders — an example of the brief “neo geo” movement.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Outback Steakhouse’s New South Wales Red Sangria


Strewth! It’s about time we checked out Outback Steakhouse, the “American restaurant with the Australian Theme” as it was described to us. (Indeed, one Aussie once told us there cannot be an “Alice Springs Chicken” because “there are no chickens in Alice Springs, mate!”). But blimey, it is a very popular franchise to own for some. For Sonny Buttler, the fast-talkin’ Brooklynite who opened the place in 1997, it’s been humming right along in its Calle Real strip mall, watching neighboring stores and restaurants come and go, rise and fall.

Outback has survived. So we wanted to try something from the cocktail menu, which lists eight martinis, seven margaritas, four sangrias, two mojitos and a wallaby in a pear tree. (Okay, maybe not that last one.)

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Worldwide galleries show interest in autistic Carpinteria artist

Kevin Hosseini, an 18-year-old Carpinteria artist, has two pieces on display at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. COURTESY PHOTO
Kevin Hosseini, an 18-year-old Carpinteria artist, has two pieces on display at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Kevin Hosseini produces four to five canvases a month, he sells rather well, and his calendar is booked with show openings both in town and as far afield as St. Petersburg, Russia.

One thing is certain about the 18-year-old Carpinteria artist: autism isn’t holding him back.

The St. Petersburg show came about when Mr. Hosseini won a competition for autistic artists put on by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The exhibit has traveled around the world, but the Russian Museum invited him to submit a second painting.

“I felt good to have my artwork in Russia,” Mr. Hosseini said. “I felt like I’m making progress in becoming famous.”

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 Ira Glass, the host of the popular NPR show "This American Life," returns to Santa Barbara accompanied by pair of dancers on stage as he tells his stories Evan Agostini photo

Ira Glass, the host of the popular NPR show “This American Life,” returns to Santa Barbara accompanied by pair of dancers on stage as he tells his stories
Evan Agostini photo

Fans of “This American Life” know, and some of us love, host Ira Glass’ voice, soft, quick, worldly and wordy, but it’s only recently that audiences have come to know what he looks like. After thirty-some years in radio, to see the voice made flesh was strange, at first. When his popular NPR/PRI radio hour went on tour as a live, HD simulcast show a few years back, or for those who have seen him in rare, live appearances, it was interesting, but not astounding.

The bespectacled man, curly hair like his cousin, composer Philip Glass, did what he usually does: sit at a desk and cue up story after story, and provide the framing structure to lead us through it. But his spirit of adventure and of rising to a challenge — the same one, he says, that led him to start broadcasting in the first place — has found him heading a very odd evening this coming Saturday: Ira Glass will appear with two dancers who will accompany his evening of stories. It’s a “This American Life” that moves, called “One Radio Host, Two Dancers.”

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Ty Lounge’s Pink Dragon


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You possibly have a pink ribbon on your lapel. Maybe you walked for charity. We here at Drink of the Week salute you and your efforts to bring attention to and one day end the scourge that has taken many of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, lovers, wives and friends. So it was cool to hear that the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara and its Ty Lounge is offering a special cocktail this month to honor breast cancer awareness. Ten percent of proceeds goes to the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

So we set out to investigate. Pink drinks are a mystery to us. I mean, there’s pink lemonade as one option. Pink champagne. Maybe one could use very light cranberry juice … but pink? The answer, as Jennifer Higgins created the drink under the auspices of Four Seasons’ franchise-wide plan for October, is dragon fruit. Yes, that pink spiky football at the farmers market that you always were too scared to try is very pulpy and very pink … some would say even magenta. Mixed into a drink, it’s super pink.

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A teaching moment – Defying Gravity shoots for poetry, falls to earth in DramaDogs latest

DramaDogs only produce one play a year — recently, anyway — and have such short lives in the theater (only three performances), that many in town might not be aware of their long existence. E. Bonnie Lewis, co-director with husband Ken Gilbert, stars elsewhere in other company’s plays, but a DramaDogs show is her fullest expression of her art and DD’s techniques. Those techniques were out on full display in their production of “Defying Gravity,” Jane Anderson’s 1997 play about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Or at least that’s the springboard for a play that means to tie together our dreams of flight with concepts of faith and art. Ms. Anderson’s play is a lightly comic collage of disparate parts that intersect at humdrum moments. There’s a Christa McAuliffe stand-in, just called the “Teacher” in the play (Michelle A. Osborne) and her child (Natascha Skerczak) who narrates the play as an adult, but plays a five-year-old in the scenes with her mother. There’s a retired couple, Ed and Betty, played by Juan Rodriguez and Meredith McMinn, who are touring the country in a Winnebago and head to the Kennedy Space Center to see the launch. There’s a NASA engineer C.B. (Joe Andrieu) who spends his after hours at a local bar, flirting with the bartender Donna (Erica S. Connell), and after the Challenger explosion, drowning his sorrows and blaming himself. And there’s Claude Monet (Ken Gilbert), the Impressionist painter who died in 1926.

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Lisa Lampanelli had to rethink her comedy act after losing over 100 pounds Andrew Coppa photo
Lisa Lampanelli had to rethink her comedy act after losing over 100 pounds
Andrew Coppa photo

Here’s the open secret about the “Queen of Mean,” comedian Lisa Lampanelli: she’s a sweet person, really. Although her stand-up career has been filled with more swearwords than an entire seaboard of dockworkers, more vitriol and insults than a traffic jam filled with cab drivers, she’s accommodating and friendly in interview. (However, when this writer made a mistake with one question, she let me have it.) As her fans will tell you, it’s a delight to be insulted. They’ll get that chance this Thursday when she comes to the Chumash Casino Resort for an evening of no-holds-barred comedy that is not for the sensitive.

The biggest change in Ms. Lampanelli’s recent stand-up routine is not the subject matter, but her waistline. Without sounding too much like a Cosmopolitan article, Ms. Lampanelli lost just over 100 pounds through gastric stapling surgery in April 2012, with her husband, Jimmy Cannizzaro, following suit in June.

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