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Tres Bon – ANJELAH JOHNSON RETURNS TO THE GRANADA WITH HILARIOUS CHARACTERS AND STAND-UP COMEDY

Rick Navarro photo

Rick Navarro photo

From cheerleader to extra to TV star to stand-up comic: Anjelah Johnson has had a circuitous path to get to where she is now, a headliner with a full fan base. This is her second performance at the Granada, and, she thinks, her third in Santa Barbara. She’ll be bringing her clean — well, mostly clean — stand-up, as well as her well-loved characters Bon Qui Qui and the nameless nail salon worker whose incomprehensible language is part of the charm. Her second one-hour special, “The Homecoming Show,” aired last year on Comedy Central.

Ms. Johnson, who can claim both Mexican and Native American blood in her heritage, grew up in San Jose, which she describes as a “melting pot” of the best kind: big Latino population and big Vietnamese population. She bounced about through various high schools, including a performing arts high school, and then to an “independent studies high school” which she says was essentially her mom picking up her homework every week for her to finish.

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At Long Last Love – BILL WAXMAN’S NEW PLAY RIFFS ON LOVE IN THE GOLDEN YEARS

The cast of "The Coot Elimination Committee" includes, back row from left, Jerry Oshinsky, Stuart Orenstein, Ed Giron and Sandy McOwen; seated, from left, Tim heard that phrase and right then and there Whitcomb, Deborah Helm, Julie Allen and Char Smith.

The cast of “The Coot Elimination Committee” includes, back row from left, Jerry Oshinsky, Stuart Orenstein, Ed Giron and Sandy McOwen; seated, from left, Tim Whitcomb, Deborah Helm, Julie Allen and Char Smith.

Writer and director Bill Waxman was visiting his wife’s stepmother and significant other in a retirement community in Palm Springs. That’s where he heard about a committee that had been established to rid their environs of a disruptive duck-like bird: The Coot Elimination Committee.

“It was like a gift,” Mr. Waxman says. “I heard that phrase and right then and there I thought, this is a play. I came home and sat down and about a month later I had the play. It rolled right out.”

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Putting the ‘art’ in ‘party’: SBMA’s Atelier bash is back for 2014

Test-tube tastings of geographic distillations of time and space are promised at the Botany Bar, inspired by artist Michelle Stuart's seed calendars.COURTESY PHOTOS

Test-tube tastings of geographic distillations of time and space are promised at the Botany Bar, inspired by artist Michelle Stuart’s seed calendars.

COURTESY PHOTOS

Spring is here and Atelier is back at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The twice-yearly party turns the museum into a fun, interactive night out. The title this time around is “Moons, Mapping, Memory, and Fantastic Machines,” with plenty to keep the visitor occupied over the two hours on Friday.

Atelier replaced the more extensive “Nights” activities at the museum, reducing the number of parties per year, and moving much of the event inside. (In the “Nights” days, the events used to spill out onto the museum’s back patio, where DJs spun tunes until late.)

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A Bit of Faith – Local Christian Filmmakers premiere their first feature at Arlington

Melissa Dixon, left, plays Elaine and Crister De Leon plays Alex in the film "Redemption of the Heart Road Less Traveled Pictures

Melissa Dixon, left, plays Elaine and Crister De Leon plays Alex in the film “Redemption of the Heart
Road Less Traveled Pictures

Indie filmmakers work years to see their projects through to the premiere date. They enlist friends, family and co-workers to help. They scrape together funds to start and they further scrape to finish. But it’s all worth it for the love of creativity.

“Redemption of the Heart” ‘s filmmakers, Isaac Meeks of Santa Ynez and Sandon Yahn of Oxnard, have had a similar experience with their film, but the twist here is that they’re also doing it for the love of Jesus and their church, Calvary Chapel.

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Portrait of Jimmy: From oils to watercolor, artists celebrate a favorite watering hole

Jimmy's Oriental Garden as seen in 2006. The iconic location is now hosting an art display, showing various artist images of the famed location. Various artwork of Jimmy's Oriental Garden as seen through the ages and currently on display at the restaurant now known as The Pickle Room.

Jimmy’s Oriental Garden as seen in 2006. The iconic location is now hosting an art display, showing various artist images of the famed location.

Various artwork of Jimmy’s Oriental Garden as seen through the ages and currently on display at the restaurant now known as The Pickle Room.

The Pickle Room aka the Bar Formerly Known as Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens is still one of the most picturesque buildings in downtown Santa Barbara, not just because of its pleasing facade, tile work, and faux-Chinese theme, but because of the decades of memories ensconced within.

This Friday, owner Bob Lovejoy opens the bar for its first ever art show, and the subject is the building itself. (After owner Tommy Chung closed the bar in 2006, Mr. Lovejoy kept the faith and finally reopened the rechristened spot last year, keeping much of the decor and the vibe.) Over the years, local artists have painted Jimmy’s in all sorts of styles, from photo realist to impressionist. Nearly a dozen paintings will be on display alongside the Pickle Room’s usual decorations, like the 1920’s Chinese cheesecake posters and the good luck knot of red rope.

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New Filmmakers, New Fest : Pop-Up Film Festival Takes over Arlington for one day

The Arlington Theatre rolled out the red carpet last Thursday night, not for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (that’s later this week), but for a day-long screening of social justice films called the “Pop Up Film Festival.” The creation of filmmaker Daniel Bollag, the Festival was a one-day, 12-hour affair, with a series of seven films screening from noon to midnight with stops along the way for audience discussion, promotional tables in the lobby, a bar on the patio for guests, live music outside, and the aforementioned red carpet, which the Arlington extended out to the street.

“I didn’t really worry about turnout so much,” Mr. Bollag said as he took a quick break from the proceedings. “This is all about giving these films a voice. A lot of these films will not be shown in the normal film festivals.”

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Bruce Dern to replace Emma Thompson at SBIFF

Emma Thompson fans looking forward to seeing the star on the red carpet or hearing her talk about her career next week at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival found themselves disappointed late Monday when the festival announced that the star had canceled her scheduled appearance.

Ms. Thompson was due to receive the Modern Master Award on Feb. 8, but, according to a festival release, she “is required for rehearsal in London on the New York Philharmonic staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.”

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The Transformed Man – UCSB SHOWS GODFREY REGGIO’S ‘QATSI TRILOGY’ AND HIS LATEST FEATURE

Trish Govini photo

Trish Govini photo


For a man who has eschewed dialog for his entire hypnotic filmography, Godfrey Reggio sure loves to talk. In interview, he comes front-loaded with philosophical riffs, turns of phrase, metaphors, and more. Some of it is evidence of years promoting, explaining, and defending his films. Some of it is his joy of living. And, although he hasn’t said so, some may be the flip-side of his youth, where he spent 14 years in silence as he studied to be a monk for the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

Mr. Reggio is best known for his “Qatsi” trilogy, which debuted in 1982. Its first film, “Koyaanisqatsi” (Hopi for “Life out of Balance”) was “the” art-house film of the ’80s, an updated ’60s head-trip that began with gorgeous helicopter shots until descending into beehive-like, time-lapse footage of the modern city, all propelled by Philip Glass’ hypnotic score. The film propelled both Mr. Reggio’s and Mr. Glass’ careers, and while Mr. Glass went on to score many Hollywood films, Mr. Reggio worked on the sequels: “Powaqqatsi” (“Life in Transformation”) from 1988, and “Naqoyqasti” (“Life as War”) from 2002. Not only is UCSB showing the trilogy in full this Saturday at the Arlington, but they’ll be showing Mr. Reggio’s latest, “Visitors.” Shot in 5k digital and in slow-motion black and white, it’s much like his short film from 2002, “Evidence,” which showed at UCSB with live Philip Glass Ensemble backing. The film turns the camera on an audience as it watches a film. Like all of Mr. Reggio’s work, it’s hypnotic, mesmerizing, but without narrative, as much as audiences love to insert a story into his images. (Another thing you learn talking to Mr. Reggio: he dislikes the word “experimental.” “That’s for science,” he says.)

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And the nominees are…: Fifteen Oscar hopefuls come to SBIFF

More hits than misses: that’s the tally of Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s award-winning movie stars who also got an Oscar nomination this week.

The festival books its buzz-worthy actors and filmmakers months ahead, hoping precognition will turn out to be correct, and after Thursday’s announcement, the festival can now claim 15 Academy Award nominees visiting Santa Barbara at the end of this month.

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A Wealth of Talent – POP-UP FILM FESTIVAL SHOWCASES LOCAL TALENT

Mekhi Phifer stars in "The Suspect."Sherry McCracken photo

Mekhi Phifer stars in “The Suspect.”

Sherry McCracken photo

In the run-up to the SBIFF, you might have spotted some posters around town announcing another film fest at the Arlington in January. Well, you aren’t seeing double. The Pop-Up Film Festival is a day-long, 12-hour selection of mostly local filmmakers and their work, set up by producer-director Daniel Bollag. A long-time fan of all SBIFF brings to town (he often attends their tribute evenings), Mr. Bollag says the timing is purely coincidental.

Yes, he does wonder if SBIFF has evolved into a “marketing opportunity for bigger studios” and noticed there were also a lot of local, social-justice documentaries that weren’t being shown at the Fest or anywhere else in town. So the Pop-Up Film Festival was born, a full 12 hours of film for which one can buy individual tickets ñ or a whole day-pass. And nearly all films save “No Burqas” have a Santa Barbara-based filmmaker, including Israeli Meni Philip, who recently moved to town.

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