Lacey’s Mind Eraser

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press
Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Remember those signs on the way out into the desert: “Last Chance for Gas”?

Well, Roundin’ Third Sports Bar, tucked behind a 7-Eleven, is the proverbial “Last Chance for Booze” until Buellton.

Let us switch that around, though, and suggest all you Santa Barbarans got it wrong. For all the blue-collar workers in Gaviota, for all the locals in Ellwood, for all the retirees in Winchester Canyon… REPRESENT! This sports bar in a strip mall is actually your first chance for booze. And here you may stay.

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Around the World and Back Again – Ancient Future returns to S.B. for an intimate concert

MARIAH PARKER
MARIAH PARKER

Back when Ancient Future co-founder and guitarist Matthew Montfort attended high school in Boulder, Colo., his locker partner was Eric Reed Boucher, who would go on to change his name to Jello Biafra and form the Dead Kennedys. The two didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye back then, but neither can deny that they’ve both followed their muse, whether into fiery punk or — in the case of Montfort’s Ancient Future, founded the same year as Biafra’s band — intricately arranged large ensemble world music.

The version of Ancient Future that stops by Yoga Soup this week has been stripped down to just Montfort and Mariah Parker. This makes things different than their last Santa Barbara visit in 1997, when the band was a quartet with a dancer. But that’s the Ancient Future way, a series of fluctuating lineups.

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Gyro Worship – There’s more to the 37th Annual Greek Fest than just the food

It’s easy to take the Greek Festival for granted sometimes. Even in the economic downturn, the fest managed to do well, if not better than ever, last year.

“Our resolve last year was it was going to be the best and the biggest and the one with the most profit,” George Mamalakis, manager of the ever-popular gyro booth, says. Luckily, their hopes came true, and all proceeds went to the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox church.

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Hugo Rethought – Oliver Stone examines the South American revolution

 Director Oliver Stone and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez talk to the media in Stone's documentary "South of the Border." Courtesy photo

Director Oliver Stone and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez talk to the media in Oliver Stone’s documentary “South of the Border.”
Courtesy photo

First Fidel, now Hugo.

Director Oliver Stone doesn’t mind incurring the wrath of the mainstream media with his documentaries, which he has recently been releasing in between his studio features. “Finding Fidel” and “Comandante” attempted to rescue Castro from decades of demonization, with Stone sitting down and chatting up Cuba’s leader. In the new “South of the Border,” Stone travels down to Venezuela to do the same thing with Hugo Chavez.

The brisk and informative “South of the Border” begins with the talking bobble heads of Fox News’ morning show, snarking about how Chavez must be insane because he eats a bowl of cocoa every day. The most intelligent of the three hosts steps in to bravely ask if they mean coca. Nobody is really sure, and who cares, right? (Knowledge is so elitist.) It’s a scene that promises to melt your brain right there and then, and then make one despair for modern media in general. But after a quick history lesson on the West’s finagling in South America, Stone brings in Hugo Chavez and sits down with the man we’ve been led to believe is a bloodthirsty monster.

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Creative Juices – CAF highlights the best of the Ottawa Animation Festival

STILL FROM MICHAL SOCHAS' CHICK
STILL FROM MICHAL SOCHA’
STILL FROM G. MELISSA GRAZIANO'S 'LOVE ON THE LINE'
STILL FROM G. MELISSA GRAZIANO’S ‘LOVE ON THE LINE’
S ‘CHICK’

In Canada, the city of Ottawa has earned a reputation as a hub for film festivals, and one of its most popular is the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival. Part of that reputation comes from its community-building before, during and after the screenings, and part comes from its openness to local and amateur filmmakers, but a major ingredient has to be the pure quality of films each year.

But there’s no need to travel to the Great White North, as the festival packages an 80-minute compilation of its prize-winners to tour. This tour stops at Santa Barbara’s own Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday to show, as part of First Thursdays.

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Rip It Up and Start Again – With a new drummer and an album in the works, The Donnas channel a new chapter in their career

For a long time, The Donnas was a rock band that was all dealt in youth. It was the “American Teenage Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine” at the time of their second album. The band’s fourth album, “The Donnas Turn 21,” featured cover art of the girls sitting in a nightclub booth, pretending this was their first time drink. They’ve all been friends since eighth grade, and now (gasp!) The Donnas turn 30. As it passes through Santa Barbara this week for one of three warm-up shows on the West Coast, the band is about to start a new phase, mature but just as rockin’.

Injury has already claimed one of the original group members. In an on-again, off-again physical ailment that was made official this month, drummer Torry Castellano retired due to tendonitis of the shoulder. That leaves The Donnas with a new drummer (an old school friend Amy Cesari, of The Demonics) and a new phase to a career.

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THE ROAD HOME : Hollywood scriptwriter David Weiss’ journeys of faith

PHOTO COURTESY SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
PHOTO COURTESY SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

David Weiss’ goal as a scriptwriter has maintained itself over his years in the industry: “I like telling stories that a kid in junior high would enjoy. I like doing things that are good and helpful to mankind. And there’s something neat and sweet and old fashioned in doing films for families.” And in his work, from his debut “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” “The Rugrats Movie,” “Shrek 2,” and the upcoming “Smurfs” movie, he’s done just that. Behind the success, however, Mr. Weiss has also journeyed a great deal spiritually, a path he will outline in his presentation Friday at Chabad Jewish Center in Ventura, the city where he was born and raised.

Mr. Weiss’ own storyline pitch would be simple: A boy raised a Reform Jew in Southern California finds Christ and converts to Christianity. Yet, later on in life, after his initial success in Hollywood, he returns to Judaism, delving deeper than he ever did.

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Have Guns, Will Travel – S.B.’s James Andrew Clark up for Eisner Award for superhero Western comic

Andrew Clark, seen here at last year's Comic-con in San Diego with his children, returns to this year's Comic-con and is up for an Eisner Award, the comic world?s equivalent to an Oscar, for his 'The Guns of Shadow Valley,'seen below and at bottom. Courtesy photos
Andrew Clark, seen here at last year’s Comic-con in San Diego with his children, returns to this year’s Comic-con and is up for an Eisner Award, the comic world’s equivalent to an Oscar, for his ‘The Guns of Shadow Valley,’seen below and at bottom.
Courtesy photos

In recent years the comic book part of San Diego Comic-con’s name has been overshadowed by the arrival of Hollywood. What once began as a place to buy, sell and trade among other comic book collectors, or to get autographs from your favorite artist, has now turned into a major launching pad for major fall movies, television shows and sneak peeks at the following summer’s blockbusters. After all, the audience for superhero comics and for the inevitable movie adaptation are usually one and the same.

Comic-con is also famous for people-watching, with fans dressed up in meticulous recreations of their favorite comic, movie, manga or TV characters, with awards creating a serious amount of competition.

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Generals and Majors – ‘Precious Nonsense’ at Circle Bar B pokes fun at Gilbert and Sullivan

Susie Couch, left, Max Avila, center, and Jasin Ouisenberry star in Circle Bar B's "Nonsense Precious." Courtesy photos
Susie Couch, left, Max Avila, center, and Jasin Ouisenberry star in Circle Bar B’s “Nonsense Precious.”
Courtesy photos

When Susie and David Couch of Circle Bar B Ranch decided on “Precious Nonsense” as their next play, the two directors knew they needed someone special to take the helm. Someone who was adept at both comedy and musical theater, because Rachel Lampert’s play details a touring production of “The Pirates of Penzance” gone awry in 1930s upstate New York.

Enter Miller James, who has not only “Pirates” on his résumé (he directed it just last November for Opera SB, although not for the first time), but also other Gilbert and Sullivan musicals and several condensed operas for children.

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They Draw Horses, Don’t They? – Artists gather for a 24-hour marathon art session

Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer. Thomas Kelsey/News-Press
Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer.
Thomas Kelsey/News-Press

“4 a.m. is when it really starts to get to you,” says artist Saul Grey-Hildenbrand. “That’s when you really start questioning your sanity.”

Doing anything for 24 hours straight is pushing human limits, but there’s a special place for drawing, as a select group of Santa Barbara artists will find out this weekend when Contemporary Arts Forum hosts its first annual “From Dusk ’til Drawn” to raise money for CAF’s budget.

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