December 21st, 2012 4:18 pm | by WW Culture Staff Features | Posted In: Willamette Weekend

Willamette Weekend

13 Things to Do in Portland, Dec. 21-23

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A Very Joan Crawford Christmas
[THEATER] If you want to avoid all the overwrought Christmas offerings this holiday season but still want to see some theater, you should see A Very Joan Crawford Christmas. The show actually has very little to do with Christmas; the holiday only serves as an excuse for Joan Crawford to break the fourth wall and invite the audience into her apartment. Kam Sisco’s Crawford is more desperate than evil, but she’s all camp. She drinks several vodka-Pepsis, scoffs at she-whoshall-not-be-named (Bette Davis) and encourages applause every time the title of one of her movies is mentioned. AARON SPENCER. Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., 239-5919. 7:30 pm Thursdays- Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays through Dec. 23. $15-$35.

The Big Lebowski 
[MOVIES] For  those foolish holdouts who remain unconvinced that The Big Lebowski  is the funniest movie ever made, here are the perennial 12 reasons: a check made out for 69 cents, Marty the Landlord’s dance cycle, lingonberry  pancakes, Jesus and the Gipsy Kings, Sobchak Security, “How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve  seen Karl Hungus?”, whale songs, the proximity of the In-N-Out Burger,  Logjammin’, Branded or at least the bulk of the series, the Malibu Police  Department coffee mug, “Dude’s car  got a little dinged up.” Really, I could go on like this for years. AARON MESH. Clinton Street Theater. 6:50 and  9:20 pm Friday-Thursday, Dec. 21-27.

Grammies, DNA Series
[MUSIC] Doomed to be forever un-Google-able and relegated to a periphery of St. Johns bars and house shows, Grammies must prefer it that way. Both saxophonist Noah Bernstein and percussionist Dan Sutherland have successful gigs with a few up-andcoming acts, including Tune-Yards and Portland’s own Shy Girls. But running their respective instruments through a gauntlet of effects, Grammies is the time for both musicians to freak out—and stretch their chops. The hypnotic, looped pulse of the sax against deep, soulful synth beats is equally appropriate for a slow grind or a mushroom trip. Precise syncopation adds tense flair to a few tracks. After a Grammies show, the effect is almost postcoital, with the scrubbed cleanliness you get after free jazz and the smirk from romantic R&B. MITCH LILLIE. Slim’s Cocktail Bar, 8635 N Lombard St., 286-3854. 9 pm. Call venue for ticket information. 21+.

Brownish Black, DJ Drew Groove
[MUSIC] When M.D. Sharbatz goes for high notes typically reserved for James Brown or Otis Redding, his voice cracks like old paint, straining to reach well beyond the singer’s range. But that imperfection is exactly what makes PDX funk-soul outfit Brownish Black so fantastically listenable. Combined with co-vocalist Vicki Porter’s smooth delivery, blaring horns and funked-up organ hooks, this is the kind of slick, explosive and infectious stuff you’d expect to hear blaring from a crowded underground speakeasy in Detroit. Your only choice is to get the fuck down. AP KRYZA. Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd Ave., 503-287-5800. 9 pm. $5. 21+.

Cool Nutz
[HIP HOP] Terrance “Cool Nutz” Scott has been called “the ambassador of Portland hiphop” for so long it’s easy to forget he’s not a self-appointed diplomat but a tough MC who earned that title. As a rapper, Nutz is decidedly blue-collar. There’s nothing showy about his rhymes, and his deep, buttery flow is almost entirely affectless, to the point he often sounds more like a community organizer addressing the city council than any sort of microphone assassin. Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th Ave., with Illmaculate, Beejan, DJ O.G.ONE and DJ Fatboy, on Friday, Dec. 21. 9 pm. $10. 21+. Toy donations encouraged.


The Santaland Diaries 
[THEATER] The Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris’ brutally comedic account of a stint playing wage-slave elf “Crumpet” for Macy’s annual Yuletide installation, always seemed an odd evergreen to brighten the theatrical season of giving. As a one-man show with minimal staging, the unflinching depiction of a shopping public too boastful or benumbed to temper their worst instincts doesn’t exactly ennoble the audience. Amid nastier moments (talk of special children with one in the fifth row, say), it’s a Christmas miracle that the spirit never dims. For this fourth Portland Center Stage run, Darius Pierce dons the striped leggings for the first time, and the local stage and television veteran navigates the poles of impish self-deprecation and scathing misanthropy with an eye toward sheer momentum. Pierce, whose shiny dome and mischievous mien helplessly suggest Dr. Evil, doesn’t linger excessively over his observations and, playing a character as fractured by seasonal expectations as anyone he encounters, he wrings genuine sentiment from the sappiest time of the year. JAY HORTON. Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave., 445-3700. 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, 2 pm Saturdays and Sundays, 12 pm Thursdays. Through Dec. 30. $30-$59.

Con Bro Chill
[MUSIC] Are these guys serious? Very serious. Sort of. Ridiculousness is Con Bro Chill’s stock-in-trade. The band’s music is a high-fructose blend of OK Go’s hyperactive power pop and the garish party rock of LMFAO. Its live shows have the sugar-rush energy of a Saturday-morning cereal commercial. Its primary instrument is a keytar. It’s outlandish, and maybe a bit obnoxious, but that doesn’t mean the band is an ironic goof. Instead, Con Bro Chill embraces the Andrew W.K. philosophy of orgiastic optimism: Its message is to love life, and it leads by extreme example. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., on Saturday, Dec. 22. 8 pm. $10 advance, $15 day of show. All ages.

Donald Glaude 
[DJ] The Tacoma-born, internationally bred DJ has done as much as Carl Craig and Juan Atkins to popularize the 4/4 pulse and squiggly melodies of club music here in the states. The Whiskey Bar, 31 NW 1st Ave., 227-0405. 10 pm. $10. 21+.

Kelli Schaefer, Tope, Slang
[MUSIC] Although her voice is well-equipped for that of a female folk singer, Kelli Schaefer won’t let it sway her. Instead, she moves between belting out her vocals with weaponized intensity against heavy electric guitar and warbling with delicacy atop acoustic fingerpicking. Sometimes she goes at it with nothing but her own pipes to back her. While there’s no doubt the Portlander can sing a lovely song, what really elevates Schaefer’s work is her dynamic experimentation, her ability to place two differing ideas alongside each other and still create a cohesive sound. Tonight’s show—which also includes the soulful MC Tope—marks the fourth annual holiday celebration for local record label Amigo/ Amiga. There’s potential for some interesting Christmas tunes with this lineup. We’ll see what happens. EMILEE BOOHER. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663. 9 pm. $7 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.


The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece
[VISUAL ARTS] Although The Body Beautiful is a traveling show that originated at the British Museum in London, its Portland installment admirably cross-pollinates with Northwest artists and arts organizations. This celebration of Classical statuary, vases and other artifacts partnered with Seattle sculptor and conceptual artist John Grade (winner of the Arlene Schnitzer Prize at 2011’s Contemporary Northwest Art Awards) and Oregon Ballet Theatre. The result was a moving dance performance in October entitled Ekho. Choreographed by Christopher Stowell, it wove the myth of Narcissus into a homoerotic pas de deux, with two male dancers mirroring one another’s movements as if glimpsing one another on the glassy surface of a lake. Grade’s fabric-based sculptural set pieces exemplified a cross-disciplinary spirit all too rare in the Northwest art scene. Through Jan. 6. Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., 226-0973.

A Tuna Christmas
[THEATER] Tuna, Texas, seems to be everything Portland isn’t. Everyone’s got a gun, dancing is a little too liberal for town tastes and the local burger joint is the busiest and healthiest restaurant in town. Just 24 hours before Christmas, the 22 inhabitants of Tuna are scrambling to overcome family differences and find out who’s been sabotaging everyone’s yard decorations. From horny teenage gum-poppers to lonely Baptist divorcees, all 22 Tuna townsfolk are played by Jeffrey Jason Gilpin and Alan King with the help of flawless costume changes, often within the same scene. Oneliners thrive under the guidance of Drammy-winning director Philip Cuomo. Vera Carp, the gun-happiest in town, asks in a commercial for her gun shop, “Wouldn’t you rather shoot someone than have them run off with your toaster?” Costumes aside, the physical comedy is serviceable, though not given much room to succeed amid the barrage of zingers. Insider allusions to Audie Murphy and The Miracle Worker pose as intelligent jokes, but their quick delivery will send them over the heads of most audience members. Nevertheless, A Tuna Christmas is a very well-executed, side-splittingly funny parody of how the other side of America lives. MITCH LILLIE. Winningstad Theatre, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, 1111 SW Broadway, 946-7272. 7:30 pm Tuesday-Sunday and 2 pm Saturday- Sunday, Dec. 18-23. $20-$42.50.

Oregon Ballet Theatre
[DANCE] A source of nostalgia and parody both in and outside the ballet world, The Nutcracker has its charms, particularly the enduring Tchaikovsky score (performed live), the saberrattling battle between toy soldiers and giant mice and the cast of colorful characters who whirl through the Land of Sweets. Oregon Ballet Theatre does the George Balanchine version of the piece, with all the formalism and sparkle that entails. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 800-745-3000. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Fridays, 2 pm and 7:30 pm Saturdays-Sundays.

Kevin Calaba (of Stars of Track and Field)
[MUSIC] Since releasing two full-length albums with his indie-pop band Stars of Track and Field (the name is taken from a Belle & Sebastian tune), former frontman Kevin Calaba has been quietly writing songs and playing shows in New York City. After the Stars’ 2009 sophomore record, A Time for Lions , which proved grossly perfect for scoring television dramas, Calaba briefly assumed the band name Elijah Bonfire, followed by the moniker the False Idols. Now, he’s going by his own name. I think. At least, that’s what he is using for tonight’s performance, during which the ex-Portlander will play an acoustic set, suiting his smooth voice better than the hyperproduced commercial pop he was once dangerously moving toward. EMILEE BOOHER. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231- 9663. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
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