My Story of the Master Cleanse

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After watching Rosminah do it several times, I finally decided to do the Master Cleanse. You may have heard of it–seven to 10 days of nothing but diluted maple syrup and lemon juice, while the body detoxes itself.
I guess at some point I decided my body needed some cleaning out. I’m pretty healthy anyway, but could I do with some extra intestinal housekeeping? Some things were promised: lost weight, a heightened sense of smell, watching weird stuff come out of your body, a general euphoric feeling. I’ll try anything once, right?
So on a Tuesday night I had my last food and drink. I went out with a Zombie and an appetizer plate of potstickers. This wasn’t by design, just how things played out.
DAY 1: This was the only day I really felt hungry. It was more a mental thing. I kept getting up to “grab a snack” and then sitting back down. While I was teaching I started thinking about what i was going to have for dinner. And then realizing…Nope! The mix itself of lemon juice (2 tbsp) and maple syrup (grade b, 2 tbsp) with water (about 1-1/4 liquid cups) and 1/10 tsp of cayenne pepper wasn’t bad. And you do get to have a cup of tea at night: Yogi brand herbal laxative tea.

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Moving on, Moving out — ’35 Shots of Rum’ demands a close watch

Mati Diop, left, and Alex Descas, right, star in Claire Denis' "35 Shots of Rum."
Mati Diop, left, and Alex Descas, right, star in Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum.”
Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum” is a movie of quiet, subtle gestures, of gazes, looks and glimpses. It’s also a movie about life slowly changing and the inevitability of people moving on. Set among the varied African communities of Paris, Denis presents a tale about a quartet of people who have known each other for a long time and about the period of time where everything has changed.

Viewers have to figure out a lot of these relationships themselves and become like the characters in the film, closely examining body language and eyes. Denis makes us work more than other filmmakers, and a lot of “35 Shots of Rum” is like being at a party for new friends and trying to figure out how everybody is related.

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All Aboard the Xprez — Half-animation, half-performance piece brings the weird to CAF Thursday

Above: screenshots from the animated centerpiece to the new CAF show "Cartune XPrez." Photo courtesy of Hooliganship
Above: screenshots from the animated centerpiece to the new CAF show “Cartune XPrez.”
Photo courtesy of Hooliganship
Sometimes, a childhood spent watching Saturday morning cartoons pays off. For Peter Burr, one half of the artistic collective/band Hooliganship, now performs inside one (sort of) in the Cartune Xprez performance coming to the Contemporary Arts Forum next week.

Half animation revue, half performance, all weird, Cartune Xprez (its name a nod to USA Network’s own animation show) grew out of the minds of Burr and his co-conspirator Christopher Doulgeris.

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THE MING DYNASTY’S ‘ZOMBIE’

Ming Dynasty has been huddled away in the Kmart shopping center in Goleta for a good quarter-century, serving up everything from orange chicken and dim sum to fresh Mongolian barbecue. But it’s also had a small bar hidden inside, a reminder that Chinese food and cocktails used to go hand in hand.

Take a look at the cocktail menu and you’re back in mid-century America, when tropical drinks took over the national consciousness.

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This Benson doesn’t hedge : Brendan Benson, part of the raucous group The Raconteurs with Jack White, delivered clean-burning power pop at Velvet Jones on Friday

Brendan Benson of Raconteurs fame put on a blistering show at the Velvet Jones on Friday night. CARA ROBBINS/BROOKS INSTITUTE
Brendan Benson of Raconteurs fame put on a blistering show at the Velvet Jones on Friday night.
CARA ROBBINS/BROOKS INSTITUTE
Take no prisoners, or in a rush to get back to the tour bus? Brendan Benson’s blistering show at the Velvet Jones on Friday night raised just those sorts of questions. How else to interpret this piledriver set, a dozen or so singalong would-be-hits with hardly a breath between, let alone a hello howdyado? Leav ’em stunned, seems to be Benson’s motto.

On his latest record, Mr. Benson wraps himself in all sorts of lush arrangements, with a wide palette of instruments at his disposal. Live, with Mr. Benson backed up by three smokin’ hot musicians, the songs get returned to their post-punk roots, less Wings and more This Year’s Model.

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Climb Every Mountain — Popular Banff documentary film festival returns to UCSB for two days

"TAKE A SEAT"
“TAKE A SEAT”
There are film festivals that you go to in the mountains, like Sundance and Telluride. And then there are film festivals that come from the mountains to you. That would be the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which swings past UCSB this Tuesday and Wednesday for two days of the best in mountain-themed documentaries, from climbing to gliding.

The festival has been coming to UCSB on tour since 1992. The festival originally started as a community event in Banff, Canada. It was a way, Fest coordinator Seana Strain says, of bridging the gap between the summer and winter recreational seasons. It gained such popularity that the festival was taken on the road. The first tour went across Canada only, but the word of mouth spread. Today, the tour hits 30 cities worldwide, and even includes a few shows in the Antarctic, making this viewable in all seven continents.

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Benson’s Back — Power popster Brendan Benson, who gigs at Velvet Jones tonight, has returned to solo work since a stint with The Raconteurs


Fans of power pop have been watching Brendan Benson’s career since he arrived with a perfect gem of a debut in 1996 with “One Mississippi.” In a perfect world, fans say, Benson would have had a string of pop hits and by now taken his seat as the new Paul McCartney. After his disillusionment with his major label he continued to put out albums, but with a lower profile. It was his partnership with friend Jack White in The Raconteurs that brought Benson back to the national stage. And now he has returned with one of his strongest solo albums, “My Old, Familiar Friend,” packed with melodic invention, sing-along choruses, clever songs structures and a retro-’70s feel from producer Gil Norton that nods to Wings, ELO, and Todd Rundgren.

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A Night with the Opera — Portland’s Vagabond Opera comes to SOhO


What is it about Portland that has made it such an incubator of great music? The scene is thriving, not just on a national stage (The Shins, Pink Martini) but on a local one, with a live scene that makes Santa Barbara’s look like an elementary school talent show and jumble sale. One reason, suggests Eric Stern, leader of the Vagabond Opera: money and time.

“Things are cheap,” he says. “Unlike California, the people have a lot of time to sit around and play music and play together. Portland is a great crossroads for that, it’s a musical laboratory.” Stern adds that the community is small — he attends school functions for his kid and runs into members of The Decemberists.

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At Last, Shorts Weather — 10 films nominated for the Oscars come to the Arlington in two screenings

 "French Roast," above, is among the shorts nominated for an Academy Award and being screened this week at the Arlington Theatre. Below is a scene from "Logorama," the story of a psychotic bankrobber loose in the streets of Los Angeles, in a world made entirely out of corporate logos.

“French Roast,” above, is among the shorts nominated for an Academy Award and being screened this week at the Arlington Theatre. Below is a scene from “Logorama,” the story of a psychotic bankrobber loose in the streets of Los Angeles, in a world made entirely out of corporate logos.
So you’re sitting watching the Oscars. You’ve seen a majority of the nominated films, or at least heard of them, and have your own opinions over who should or should not get that golden bald man statue. And then they come to the short films. Chances are you have never heard of any of them, and even after the winners are announced, they are not coming to a multiplex near you anytime soon. Until now, that is.

Metropolitan Theatres has finally secured the rights to bring the touring program of Oscar-nominated shorts to Santa Barbara, showing at the Arlington starting today and running through the rest of the month. Two programs will be offered: A live-action selection and an animated selection, topping out at 90 minutes. Because the nominated shorts are a shorter total runtime, three additional films that did not make the Academy cut will be added (including a Pixar short).

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A SINGLE-MINDED MAN : Colin Firth receives Outstanding Performance Award at SBIFF

Colin Firth greets guests in front of the Arlington Theatre before walking down the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday night. ROBBY BARTHELMESS / NEWS-PRESS
Colin Firth greets guests in front of the Arlington Theatre before walking down the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday night.
ROBBY BARTHELMESS / NEWS-PRESS
Colin Firth, left, and Nick Hornby pose for a portrait on the red carpet.
Colin Firth, left, and Nick Hornby pose for a portrait on the red carpet.
Mastroianni, in his perfect ’60s suit, slicked-back hair, and thick black glasses. On the red carpet Saturday night he looked the opposite: relaxed in a charcoal grey suit and open shirt. His role as George Falconer, a gay British man teaching in 1962 Southern California and still grieving over the sudden death of his long-time partner, has earned him both Golden Globe and Oscar nominations (for the latter, his first). It marks not a capping of a career, but yet one more role in a period where Firth has been stretching his talents.
 Finola Dwyer is pictured on the red carpet.

Finola Dwyer is pictured on the red carpet.
But it was this performance in the movie adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel that earned Mr. Firth this year’s Outstanding Performance Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Saturday night event.. His “A Single Man” co-star, Julianne Moore, also received an honor, the Montecito Award, on Thursday.

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