Happy Nerf Year! – Nerf Herder reunites for a New Year’s Eve party and Parry Gripp talks about a 2014 album

Dana Sherlock photo

Dana Sherlock photo

‘I don’t know the last time we played in Santa Barbara,” says Nerf Herder lead singer Parry Gripp, when asked to lay down some timeline for this very nebulous band. Yes, he says, there was a gig at the Mercury Lounge two years ago, but that was in honor of his wife’s birthday and it was free, so … is that official? Regardless, the Goleta band’s gig at the Mercury Lounge Tuesday is not just official, but is going to see out 2013 and usher in 2014.

The evening will feature two sets by the pop-punk rockers, one early in the evening “because one of the problems of getting old is that none of your friends want to come see you after 10:30” and then another that will blast through midnight with a rocking “Auld Lang Syne” and more. In between, one-time Nerf Herder and sometime manager, music journalist and now DJ Marko DeSantis (aka Marko 72) will spin tunes.

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Hundreds line up to see ‘The Interview’

Moviegoers wait in line Christmas Night for the screening of "The Interview" at the Arlington Theatre. KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS

Moviegoers wait in line Christmas Night for the screening of “The Interview” at the Arlington Theatre.
KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS

At the beginning of Christmas week, controversial comedy “The Interview” looked like a film doomed to obscurity, after threats made by the anonymous hackers behind the increasingly embarrassing Sony leaks.

But on Thursday night, following similar moves by independent cinemas across the United States, the Arlington Theatre screened a special 10:45 p.m. showing of the film, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen.

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Playing it safe: Theater in Santa Barbara 2014 was a chance to reconsider and regroup

he biggest news this year in the world of Santa Barbara theater was the loss of the Circle Bar B Ranch Dinner Theatre. It’s not that the small but lovable theater was in the red. In fact, by all reports it was doing well and had a hearty subscriber base. But the owners of the surrounding ranch wanted to take the location in other directions and so in October, after 44 years, the theater closed with Marc Camoletti’s “Boeing Boeing.” Directors Susan and David Couch put their heart and soul into the little space and made it a shining example of what is usually a disparaged style of theater. It was also a home to many of our town’s favorite comic actors . . . and it gave them gainful employment too. It shall be missed.

The Ensemble Theatre Company finished its first full season at the New Vic and began its second, beginning with David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People” and bringing out the big guns for Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” showing off all the stage goodies the New Vic has at its disposal, including a reflecting pool. But the stage also benefits intimate shows with small casts, like John Logan’s Mark Rothko bio play “Red” and the campy Tallulah Bankhead-led comedy “Looped.” The year ended with a standby — Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus” — and a U.S. premiere, the uproarious comedy “The Best Brothers.” Executive Director Jonathan Fox has been balancing the new with the popular these two seasons and hopefully he’ll continue to do so.

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Drink of the Week: La Cafe Stella’s Bass Flower

NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS

NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS

We here at Drink of the Week love a mimosa as much as the next garden partier, but as cocktails go, there’s not much leeway. It’s a breakfast drink when you need a hair of the dog but don’t want to go full Bloody Mary. And you either improve the sparkling wine, or you improve the orange juice. (Don’t use Sunny D, people, come on now.)

Maybe you’d like something just a bit fancier over your brekkie. Recently we took a trip out to Cafe Stella on Las Positas, which knows a bit about brunch and easing into the day.

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El Presidente introduced for Old Spanish Days

The Old Spanish Days board of directors gathers Wednesday at El Paseo. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

The Old Spanish Days board of directors gathers Wednesday at El Paseo.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

The Old Spanish Days board of directors doesn’t keep to tradition when choosing a location for its December holiday party, but this year that changed in keeping with a major announcement.

The organizers went back to El Paseo, the location of many an early Old Spanish Days celebration, and the old location of the organization’s office, to celebrate the naming of 2015’s El Presidente, take an official photo of the new board, and to announce that, for the first time ever, Old Spanish Days will be represented in the upcoming Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

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Unity Shoppe Telethon features surprises

Unity Shoppe Executive Director Tom Reed, left, speaks with Jeff and Susan Bridges. KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS

Unity Shoppe Executive Director Tom Reed, left, speaks with Jeff and Susan Bridges.
KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS

The 28th annual Unity Shoppe Telethon got some surprise help this year, in keeping with its slogan “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

Still hosted by KEYT, the four-hour event tries to keep to its tried-and-true plan of musical guests, interviews and tours of the large facility that provides low-income families with a chance to shop for the goods they need, not rely on random handouts and gifts.

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Can’t stop moving: Momentum ignites competitive dance in Santa Barbara

Betsy Woyach moved to Santa Barbara a year ago with years of dance experience under her belt, ready to start a family and be closer to her mother and aunt. She had been teaching on and off in town, along with performing in BASSH, and knew how much our town loved dance. And she spotted the one thing we didn’t have.

“There was no competitive dance,” she says. “I grew up in a completely competitive dance arena where every studio went to competitions.”

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The California Honeydrops bring the party vibe to SOhO for two nights

The California Honeydrops bring the party, and the swingin' tunes, to SOhO this week. Stuart Levine

The California Honeydrops bring the party, and the swingin’ tunes, to SOhO this week.
Stuart Levine

The California Honeydrops return to SOhO for a two-night stay this weekend. Two nights, because as founding member Ben Malament says, “We can spread about and give people a lot of different music. So people who like us for all different reasons can get their Honeydrops fix.”

Pretty good for a band that started with two guys busking at BART stations around Oakland. Mr. Malament played washtub bass — what they called the “soul tub” — and Polish-born singer Lech Wierzynkski played trumpet. They played everything from the Memphis Jug Band to Wilson Pickett, from Arthur Crudup to Big Bill Broonzy. And that continues to this day, with genre-spanning music that reflects the encyclopedic tastes of its founders and its newest members, with nothing off limits.

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The healing arts: Cancer Center painting exhibit focuses on work by patients

Artist Joan Price's work will be on display along with pieces by other cancer patients during the seventh annual Art Heals exhibit at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. The exhibit opens Thursday. MICHAEL MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS

Artist Joan Price’s work will be on display along with pieces by other cancer patients during the seventh annual Art Heals exhibit at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. The exhibit opens Thursday.
MICHAEL MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS

An exhibit of paintings by cancer patients, some who have started creating art for the first time, will open Thursday at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

The seventh annual Art Heals is co-sponsored by Sansum Clinic and is the end result of classes hosted by Rick Stich, who has been teaching at the center for 18 years.

Lisa Winebrenner, oncology health promotion coordinator at the center, said the class is not so much about learning art skills as it is about providing patients, many of whom are going through heavy chemotherapy, a place where they don’t think about cancer.

“These are people who are looking for some kind way to work through their cancer diagnosis,” says Ms. Winebrenner. “And Rick provides this two-hour-a-week opportunity to learn some skills. There’s great camaraderie, he has great talent, and it’s an incredible program. … He brings out the best in these people.”

The work will be hung in the halls of the Cancer Center and over the year serves as a revolving exhibit of work, serving as an inspiration to others.

One such artist is Joan Price, 59, whose ovarian cancer returned in August after being in remission for more than 10 years.

She has finished her chemo and is in remission again with a new kind of treatment she takes every three weeks.

Ms. Price has done art on and off throughout her life and was happy to take Mr. Stich’s class.

“It’s a great place for everyone,” she said. “It was really healing for me.”

She wanted to take the class 10 years ago but was too busy as a working executive for the Montecito YMCA. “This time I said, ‘I’m going to work on getting healthy,’ ” Ms. Price said.

The art classes, she said, gave her a place to go where her “head didn’t spin.”

“When going through cancer there’s so many things to worry about,” Ms. Price said. “But when you’re there, everybody else in the class is going through it. You don’t have to talk about it. Some days are good and some days are bad. You just have to show up.”

As executive director of the YMCA, Ms. Price was instrumental in starting the LiveSTRONG program, a series of health and wellness classes for cancer survivors.

She knows the physical side of treating cancer, but the art classes at the Cancer Center focus on the mental side.

Ms. Price paints figures and landscapes and some will be featured in the show. The last time she exhibited in the show, it was a self-portrait called “Embracing Baldness.”

The exhibit is a chance to mingle and take in the art, meet some of the artists, and learn more about the Cancer Center.

There are plenty of misconceptions to deal with.

“They’ll say, ‘So you’re in remission, so you’re done right?’ ” Ms Price said. “No! You’re never done. This is just the new reality.” Ms Price said.

The Art Heals reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cancer Center, 540 W. Pueblo St. It is free but space is limited, so please RSVP to Stephanie Carlyle at stephanie@ccsb.org or call (805) 898-2116.