In December 2010, Matt Henderson wanted to have a Christmas open house—an all-inclusive, meet-the-neighbors affair. But Henderson's house is a small former church in Northeast Portland, so the visual artist and drummer called some friends, made some costumes and held a live nativity, papier-mâché animals and all. "All the participants were more or less professed nontheists, [but] we tried to approach it somewhat seriously," he says. "We posed for periods of 10- to 20-minute blocks for a couple hours. There was classical Christmas music playing in the background, and we served hot chocolate."
This year, Henderson decided to go for something bigger. He was considering a neon nativity until Halloween, when he had his friend Lauren Carter make a "giant alien head" to fill the empty shrine space above the church's stage. "This alien head is so bad-ass that it occurred to me that we should do an alien nativity," he says. Yes, alien, with a mirrored manger, xenomorph Santa and extraterrestrial magi. When I called Henderson, he was shopping for "androgynous-looking" mannequins to represent Mary and Joseph. "I always like to highlight the fact that there is no one definitive history—that the story of Jesus is no more plausible than some of these alternate histories that are not accepted but nonetheless compelling," he says. The key verb is "highlight": Visitors will be issued diffractive glasses and ushered through a series of archways lit with randomly flashing LEDs. The result should be an experience akin to a Christmas rave hosted by Art Bell. I'll see you there.
SEE IT: Alien Nativity is at Xhurch, 4550 NE 20th Ave. 5-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday, Dec. 21-25. Free.
[MUSIC] This seven-member all-female vocal ensemble, drawn from Portlandâs pre-eminent large choirs, will sing some of the Renaissanceâs most beautiful music, by composers such as Palestrina, Dufay and Praetorius, along with the world premiere of a new work, Lux ex Nocte, that the group commissioned from Colorado composer Richard Toensing. St. Philip Neri Church, 2408 SE 16th Ave., inmulieribus.org. 7:30 pm. $12-$20.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN 3D
[MOVIES] Exactly how popular is Tintin, the boy reporter who travels the world with Captain Haddock in the Belgian comic? This was debated in our office. Exactly how good is Steven Spielbergâs movie adaptation? Real good. Various locations including Century 16 Eastport Plaza, 4040 SE 82nd Ave., 772-1111. Multiple showtimes. $13.
Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave., 445-3700, pcs.org. 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 pm Saturdays-Sundays. Noon and 5 pm Dec. 24. $25-$51.
[THEATER] Want to see your Mormon cousins squirm for 3
hours? This will do the trick. World Trade Center Theater, 121 SW Salmon St., 205-0715, portlandplayhouse.org. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays. $15-$32.
[MOVIES] When heâs not playing a sex addict, Michael Fassbender spanks Keira Knightley in David Cronenbergâs new movie. Weâd wonder what Freud would say about this, but we donât have to, because Viggo Mortensen PLAYS FREUD. Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10, 846 SW Park Ave., 221-3280. Multiple showtimes. $10.50.
WOODY ALLEN AND HIS NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND
[MUSIC] Woody Allen is in the midst of his third or fourth career resurrection thanks to a massively successful film (Midnight In Paris) and a great documentary about him that appeared recently on PBS. What better time then to take a quick jaunt around the U.S. with his New Orleans Jazz Band? Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 7:30 pm. $55-$97.