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November 8, 2013

Q&A We sat down with Norman Artist Judy Osburn

On Assignment Horace Bristol’s photographs on display at Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Oklahoma Nutcracker Norman’s localized version of “The Nutcracker”

d l O y oll NICK JST.


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photo by Shevuan Williams


Photos courtesy of Lisa Monahan Photography

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Christmas Carol at Lyric Theatre

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Christmas in Norman

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Top 10 Social Calendar

From the editor

On Assignment 03

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staff

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Coram Boy

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Q&A with Judy Osburn

Publisher Terry Connor

Ad Director Debbi Knoll

Production Manager Rob Rasor

Executive Editor Andy Rieger

Advertising Representatives Rebekah Collins Robin Escarcega Kimberly Lehenbauer Sherry Romack Nick Sheats

Writers Hannah Cruz Amber Hodge Doug Hill Holly Jones

Editor Hannah Cruz Layout Artist Kerry Friesen

Friday 21 2nd Events 11-8

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Book & Music Reviews

Photographers Kyle Phillips Julie Bragg Lisa Monahan John Thomas

N-town is a monthly publication of The Norman Transcript, 215 E. Comanche St, Norman, OK 73070. (Phone: 405.321.1800). Letters or editorial contributions should be sent to: N-town, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, OK, 73070 or emailed to hcruz@normantranscript.com. N-town is not responsible for unsolicited submissions. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content in any manner, without permissions is prohibited. Address advertising inquiries to Debbi Knoll, 405-366-3554 or dknoll@normantranscript.com. N-town can be found online.


ONASSIGNMENT a t Fr e d J o n e s

by Doug Hill

From Left: Horace Bristol (U.S. 1908-1997) Man Getting Tattoo, 1946 Silver gelatin print, 14 x 11 in. The Horace and Masako Bristol Trust Horace Bristol (U.S. 1908-1997) Five Bombers in Formation in Clouds, 1942 Silver gelatin print, 20 x 16 in. The Horace and Masako Bristol Trust Horace Bristol (U.S. 1908-1997) Reflections in Irrigation Furrows, 1939 Silver gelatin print, 16 x 20 in. The Horace and Masako Bristol Trust

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Photographer Horace Bristol’s (1908-1997) name doesn’t have the ring of familiarity such as those of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz. He was contemporaries with that famous trio and his work arguably should be just as well known. The University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art will be making that case with a display of Bristol’s photos on exhibit Nov. 16 to May 18, 2014. “Our exhibition is a survey of one of the most productive periods in Horace Bristol’s career from 1938 to 1948,” said Mark White, museum chief curator and interim director. “It was an important time for him as a photographer as well as one in world history.” Images from Bristol’s “Grapes of Wrath” series will undoubtedly have an emotional impact on many Oklahomans. Although the photos were taken in a California migrant workers camp in 1938, it’s part of our national legacy that many of those folks had traveled there from the Sooner State. The shots were part of a joint journalistic project with author John Steinbeck that never came to fruition. The writer’s experiences in the camp later became the inspiration

for Steinbeck’s great American novel “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939). White believes these photos from over a half-century ago still hold a tremendous amount of relevance for the modern world, noting the themes of economic insecurity, patriotism during wartime and increased exposure to other cultures. “American interest in the 1930s, and especially the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, represent problems we still deal with,” he said. “Being able to show the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ series of photographs that inspired the novel is deeply interesting because it depicts where the story began and then where it wound up.” Bristol’s pictures of real migrants are named for characters in Steinbeck’s novel. The photographic reality and author’s fiction are blurred into an American montage that holds genuine significance for us today. Pictures are included from when Bristol worked as a freelance photographer for “Life” magazine. Included is a series produced on the South Pacific island of Bali. He made images in New Mexico and of 1930s water irrigation projects in the arid west. “To some degree Bristol was never really happy working for ‘Life,’” White said. “He liked the

fact that his photographs were being shown and wanted them to be used as a tool for social change and awareness but had a lot of difficulties with his photo editor at the magazine.” Those job conflicts were rendered irrelevant by WWII. In 1941 Bristol became a member of the U.S. Naval Aviation Photographic Unit under the command of noted portrait and fashion photographer Capt. Edward J. Steichen. A picture of Bristol from those days shows a Hollywood-handsome 33-year-old in Naval Officer’s uniform gazing resolutely away from the lenses. “His photos from WWII are fascinating,” White said. “Part of the tour is from ‘Operation Torch’ in North Africa, some from the Pacific Theater and shots of the Alaska campaign.” Many of these images were widely viewed by Americans hungry for news during the war but they didn’t necessarily know who the photographer was. Bristol has a place in the American collective memory mostly without the fame. White’s primary challenge organizing the exhibition was selecting images. The Bristol estate maintains a vast library of his photos

and they worked closely with the museum. “I wanted to capture the important aspects of his career while showing a side that is unfamiliar to most Americans,” White said. This involved choosing pictures that ran in “Life” magazine but also ones that were compelling but without prior broad public exposure. Soon after WWII, Bristol relocated his family to live and work in Occupied Japan. Photos from that era have been seen by relatively few. “There are some tremendous images in his postwar Japan essay,” White said. “He’d created his own outlet called East West Photo Agency with a couple other photographers and they were interested in capturing a side of Japan that was not well known.” Subjects were as diverse as Shinto priests and heavily tattooed organized crime figures. Scholarly circles study those first few years after Japan’s defeat but these pictures document a place in time unfamiliar to average Americans. “I think this exhibition will draw an audience because it has a little something for everybody,” White said. “Most viewers will be Oklahomans and it will speak to them on multiple levels.”


coramBOY

by Hannah Cruz

not only enhance and underscore the Delve into an epic melodrama drama but they come forward in five of danger and excitement during the different places in the show to just sing University of Oklahoma’s upcoming music that enhances the story telling, to production of “Coram Boy.” have their own statements and contribute Set in 18th-century England, the play to the understanding of the show.” — based off the award-winning children’s The chorus is supported by a chamber novel by Jamila Gavin — weaves together orchestra of Norman Philharmonic several storylines and music in what members, led by director Richard Zielinski, director Rena Cook calls an “emotional Norman Phil music and artistic director wallop.” and OU professor. “It's an emotional thrill ride and in The music features contemporary getting that, of course, you deal with the twists on Handel’s “Messiah,” Zielinski themes of human trafficking, cruelty to said. Offering the listener clever takes on children — which was prevalent in the era an old favorite, the arrangements include — trouble with friends and relationships, excerpts of melodies or duets made with a the pursuit of passion — it deals with variety of instrumentations. those themes,” Cook said. Zielinski agreed that the music greatly A cast of 50 students from OU enhances the story. Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts’ “People have to realize this isn't a schools of drama, musical theatre, music musical,” he said. “Music is a part of the and dance tell the story focusing primarily show because for several of the characters, on two young men who are orphans at music is a part of their life and they’re the Coram Hospital for Deserted Children. young composers and The cast also includes gifted young artists. Music five children from the carries them through these community. tragedies. Music plays a very The audience watches important part in that.” the boys — one raised in The “Coram Boy” wealth who wants nothing “Coram Boy” creative team includes music more than to be a musician performances are at 8 p.m. director Zielinski, movement and the other a young man Nov. 22, 23 and Dec. 4, 5 and 6, and 3 p.m. Nov. 24 and director Matthew Ellis, raised in poverty by a cruel, Dec. 7 in the Rupel J. Jones costume designer Lloyd abusive father — as they Theatre, 563 Elm St. The Cracknell, scenic designer grow and progress over eight production is rated PG. Ethan Hartman, lighting years, Cook said. Tickets are $22 for adults, designer Richard Sprecker, The production also $18 for senior adults, OU sound designer Matthew largely centers around faculty/staff and military, and Barnard, technical director George Frideric Handel’s $14 for students. To Scott Henkels, production “Messiah,” which Cook purchase tickets contact the manager Kasey Alleesaid acts as the emotional OU Fine Arts Box Office at Foreman, artistic director underlying foundation of the 405-325-4101, located in the Tom Huston Orr and storytelling. Catlett Music Center at 500 W. University Theatre executive “The chorus is another Boyd St. For more information producer Rich Taylor. character,” Cook said. “They visit theatre.ou.edu.

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Coram Boy photo provided


&A

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Wildlife has long inspired artist Judy Osburn’s work. The Oklahoma native creates animal-themed sterling silver and stone jewelry from her home studio in Norman where she lives with her artist husband, Warren Osburn. Judy is showing her work during the Holiday Gift Gallery at the Firehouse Art Center, 444 S. Flood Ave. Judy is one of many artists exhibiting in the gallery space through Dec. 24. Mediums range from fine art to craft pieces, including painting, pottery, jewelry, blown glass and sculpture. An assortment of Christmas ornaments are also available. The Firehouse Art Center will be open late for shopping during the Second Friday Circuit of Art Nov. 8 and Dec. 13 from 6–9 p.m. each evening, in addition to regular hours, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more on Judy visit osburnsart.com. For more on the Firehouse visit normanfirehouse.com.

Q A Q A

At what point did art become a part of your life?

When I was born. My grandmother was an artist, my mother was an artist. I just have always been involved. Was it always through jewelry? Or was it manifest in other ways?

No, no — animals, horses. Horses, particularly. I was always drawing horses. It’s just always been an interest. You don’t know where it begins when that’s just what you’ve always known. And my mother was not a working artist, she did things for gifts and things like that so I wasn’t around that type of art, but I always knew I was going to do something with it.

Q A

At what point did you begin working as a professional artist?

I started working professionally in about 1972. I had young children at that time and I was going to school at the University of

So this necklace you’re wearing right now, did you make the chain for that, too?

Yes, this is a hand-woven chain that I make a lot of. That and beads. I use a lot of beads

also.

Q A

Does it take a long time to make a handwoven chain like that?

with Judy Osburn by Hannah Cruz

Oklahoma. I came here to go to school and started in interior design — art related. The art school was totally contemporary at that time and I was drawing horses so we didn’t click. So I tried other things and didn’t finish then because I got married and then had children. I guess it was when our youngest daughter was in art school at OU that I said, “Well, shoot! I might as well go back and get it finished.” And I did end up with an art degree which was wonderful. I started out in visual communications and ended up in printmaking as a degree.

Q A

So then how did the jewelry making come into this?

Because I’m tuned into horses — I love jewelry, I always wanted silver and turquoise jewelry. After my parents lived on the Navajo reservations for many years, I got very involved with the turquoise and the silver. I’d have to wait for the horse shows to come to town so I could go look for horse jewelry. And I just never found anything I really wanted so I thought, “Well, I’ll just learn to make my own.” We had an art league in Norman for many years and I was president for some time, and we always met on the second floor of the Firehouse Art Center. And going up to the room I’d walk by the jewelry room and I’d think, “Boy, that looks like a lot of fun!” I think the art league probably disbanded in 1996 or ‘97, something like that. So that jewelry room was always in the back of my mind. When I decided I was going to learn to make jewelry I contacted the Firehouse. I’ve been there ever since.

Q A

Tell me what your process is like creating jewelry.

I always start with an idea and I draw. I still love to draw so I do a lot of drawing. Then that drawing is transferred to a sheet of silver. It’s what we called “pierced out” — cut out of the silver — and from there you set stones. You texture your metal, just whatever your idea of what you want it to look like when it’s finished.

Yes, yes, it does. Three feet of wire makes one inch of chain. So it takes a while. But that’s something that I do as I sit and watch TV or listening to TV or riding in the car. It’s just something on our New Mexico trips — that’s what I do.

Q A

Is there a learning curve for creating jewelry?

Yes, there was for me because I had never dealt with a torch fire. And it was pretty scary. I owned my own torch for about a year and a half before I ever turned it on at home. I want my teacher here with me before I blow this up. [laughing] No, really, it’s scary. It was to me. All of the medium is totally different than oil painting or watercolor or whatever else there is. I’ve melted a few things that I didn’t intend to. There is a definite learning curve.

Q A Q A Q A

Was that nerve-wracking for you?

Yes, for me. It was stressful just because I’m old and I want to do it perfect the first time and that doesn’t always happen. Well, I’m not old and I want to do it perfect the first time, too. [laughing] But you’d think as old as I am I ought to know. [laughing]

When you’re creating jewelry do you know if you’ll be keeping them or selling them?

Yes. Intent to sell. I’m very mercenary. [laughing] Intent to sell and then I change my mind. And in some cases if I’ve shown it a couple of times and don’t get any response and it’s one I really like then it goes in my jewelry box. So I have a lot of nice jewelry. And then there has been a couple of pieces when I’m trying a new technique or something like that, that I will keep just to have because I need to know how to do it again.

Q A

How large is your personal collection of just things you’ve created? Oh my goodness. That I’ve made? I probably have — I’m going to say 15 that


I’ve kept. It’s not bad, compared to the amount I’ve made over the years. I kind of have to say, “I don’t need anymore.”

Q

Do you feel like you are curating a gallery space every time you dress yourself with jewelry?

A

Yes. And every time I go to a museum or to a horse show I wear one particular piece of jewelry and I always get compliments. As a matter of fact, I just got a commission from wearing it yesterday.

Q

What do people say? Do they just compliment you and you say, “Oh, I made this, thank you.”

A

Well, yes. I hate to say that every time and we’ll be walking down the street and someone will stop and say, “Oh, wow, I love that,��� and my husband will say, “She made it!” And then I say, “Oh, thank you.” I don’t like to toot my own horn. So I keep him along for that. He’s my marketing manager. He’s good about that. [laughing] Eagle Pendant with jasper. photo provided

Q A

What are your goals for the future?

None specifically. I just want to continue learning new techniques. I just want to keep enjoying and making. Pounding on metal. Because I do like the three dimensional work and that’s all done with hammers and punches and things like that.

design will come up. Some of the agates and things like that really kind of look like landscapes. But usually I take a stone and design around the stone. I’ll have an idea for a horse, or something like that, and then I find the stones that will go. It’s both ways a lot of times.

Q A

How much are you directly inspired by Native American

work?

Q A

How many stones do you have at any given time?

Oh my goodness. I have so many. Rocks are wonderful. And these stones — some of them are just incredible, and there’s no two alike. That’s what’s exciting. I just have drawers and drawers full of stones and I still buy when I get close to one. And turquoise. I love the turquoise. There’s some other stones, agates and things like that, that they’re just incredible. They’re beautiful.

Tremendously. I don’t want to copy their designs but the influence is definitely there. I like the graphic feel of their design and, of course, the silver and turquoise is definitely Navajo, and the other tribes, too. I try some of the Plains Indians’ designs in my work, too. It’s just the design of it I like.

Q

Do you have an idea in your head and try to buy a stone to match it or do you buy a stone and then form an idea around it?

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I do both ways. If I have a pretty stone a lot of times a Feather necklace. photo provided

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BAH! humbug! by Hannah Cruz

Several Norman residents are taking the stage this holiday season to tell the redemptive story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Lyric Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” Vince Leseney, Mandy Jiran, Tom Huston Orr, Mat Govich and Owen Joyner are among the cast members performing the Charles Dickens holiday classic in the Oklahoma City theater’s third annual performance. Leseney, splitting the role of Bob Cratchit with Orr, said the production combines the joys of Christmas with thrills, chills and overthe-top theatrics, making it the perfect way to commemorate the season. “I want the audience to feel like they’ve been immersed in the Dickens period with all the costumes — the set is great, the costumes are beautiful — it’s for people to completely forget for a couple hours, to forget how crazy the holidays can be and how much they have

to be done and just enjoy the ride, enjoy the story,” Leseney said. “And to be changed to the very core of their souls.” Mandy Jiran, performing as the Ghost of Christmas Present for the third year, said the production is about a man’s journey as he reflects on his life and considers what the future might look like. After supernatural visits in the night from the ghost of Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley, as well as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Scrooge is transformed from a selfish, hateful man to a hopeful, charitable man. “It’s a story about change, I think — that a person can change,” Jiran said. “And it’s beautiful, in its grotesque ways.” With ghosts and allusions to death, Jiran said the nature of “A Christmas Carol” is both dark and jolly. This production is packed with effects that add to the tone with Christmas Past

flying over the audience, actual falling snow and more. “It’s just magical,” she said. “I think the effects of the show, even Christmas Present, my role, during the entrance we have a giant sleigh and the sleigh comes down through the audience. It’s as much spectacle as it can be, in a smaller theater.” Jiran said the production is appropriate for all ages and a wonderful production for families to come back to see year after year. “I want them to want to come back every year. I want them to want to make this a tradition for their families,” she said. “I want them to go on this journey with Scrooge and reflect on how they may live and how they can live in the future and that people can change. And I want them to be filled with that hope and hope for themselves and their families and for all of us.”

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Get in the holiday spirit with Lyric Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Showtimes are Nov. 29 through Dec. 28. Tickets, $40, are available from lyrictheatreokc.com.

Mandy Jiran as The Ghost of Christmas Present. photo provided.

Tom Huston Orr as Bob Cratchit. photo provided


r e k c a r c t N u A M O H A O K L

by Holly Jones

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Celebrating the great Sooner State, the Norman Ballet Company is performing “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts, 1809 N. Stubbeman. In it’s 12th year, “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” is the company’s unique version of “The Nutcracker,” taking its cues from Oklahoma history and nature. “Our adaptation encourages pride in our state, set in the familiar sight of the Overholser Mansion drawing room,” said Marjorie Kovich, Norman Ballet Company artistic director and choreographer. “The concept is that an early Oklahoma family would be having their neighborhood Christmas Eve party within the framework of a classical ballet performance. It is a ballet for all Oklahomans performed by young aspiring Oklahoman dancers.” The ballet is set during Christmas Eve in 1907 at the Overholser Mansion in Oklahoma City, where Henry and Anna Overholser and their children, Henry Ione and Henry Samuel, are hosting the neighborhood’s holiday party. Family friend and Opera Impresario Sam Shubert soon arrives, delighting the children with candy and magic tricks. Sam Shubert presents a special gift to Henry Ione — a wooden nutcracker dressed as a soldier. As the festivities end, Henry Ione cradles her beloved nutcracker and drifts to sleep. At the stroke of midnight, she awakes to a strange new world and is led by her nutcracker prince on a journey through an Oklahoma winterscape, arriving at the Oklahoma prairie as the sun sets. There she meets the Sand Plum Fairy who invites Henry Ione to sit atop a Rose Rock Throne while characters drawn from Oklahoma wildlife — the scissortail flycatcher, king snake, tall prairie grass, Indian paintbrushes, and a

Mama Armadillo and her babies — dance to the Tchaikovsky score in her honor. Returning as guest artists this year are Madalina Stoica and Ovidiu Ianco, senior soloists from the Tulsa Ballet Theatre. They will dance the leading roles as the Sand Plum Fairy and her Prince. Doug Carlton, performing as Sam Shubert, has portrayed the character for the last three years. “I am so proud to be playing this role and consider it an honor to be allowed to do it,” Carlton said. “He brings the nutcracker in to Henry Ione and also gets to do magic tricks and some dancing. He’s mysterious, but fun.” Amy Newton, performing as Mrs. Overholser, said the production is unique from other Nutcracker performances since all dancers represent Oklahoma state treasures. Newton has danced in 11 of the 12 performances and said it is one of her favorite yearly traditions. This year she has the privilege of dancing alongside her daughter, Analynn. Many of the high school and college-aged dancers in the cast have previously performed in the children’s roles, and make great mentors for the younger dancers. There are approximately 60 dancers in the cast, ranging in age from 7 to those in their 50s. Kovich said the company is constantly adding to the production design each year, with the most recent addition being a growing Christmas tree for the Act I set. The ballet also is re-choreographed each year to show off that year’s dancers’ skills. “The audience will take home the great holiday experience that comes with attending the traditional ‘Nutcracker’ ballet, but in addition, our audiences will marvel at how the traditional story and beautiful Tchaikovsky score could be adapted to include Oklahoman themes of history and nature,” Kovich said.

Act I Party Scene Children in the 2012 Oklahoma Nutcracker. photos courtesy of John Thomas

Norman Ballet Company is performing “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts, 1809 N. Stubbeman. Individual seats are $20 per person. A block of seating can be reserved at a family rate of four for $60. Tickets can be purchased at ticketstorm.com or by calling 1-866-966-1777. Pre-performance activities include the annual Sand Plum Fairy Tea Party, beginning at 1 p.m., in the Studio Theater. The event features a storyteller, crafts for children and a visit from the Sandplum Fairy and her Prince. Catering is by Althea’s Vault Cafe and Bakery. Special to this year’s tea party is a visit from Santa Claus. Tea party tickets are $18 per person. An adult must accompany all children. Tickets can be purchased at ticketstorm.com or by calling 1-866-966-1777. Ticket holders are encouraged to attend a free, pre-performance presentation of photos and stories of the Overholser Mansion and the Henry Overholser family, led by Preservation Oklahoma. The presentation begins 1:45 p.m. in the John Clinton Theater. Reservations to attend this event may be made by calling Tanya Branscum at 405-317-1372.


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Photo courtesy of Lisa Monahan Photography

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by Hannah Cruz

d l O y l ol NICK JST.

Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Père Noël, Jolly Old Elf: No matter how you say it, one Norman resident has big boots to fill this holiday season. Santa Opa Claus (his civilian name is withheld to protect his identity) began his transformation after he grew out his beard one year for No Shave November. After an acquaintance told him he looked like Santa, Opa Claus found an opportunity to transform himself into the beloved legend for his own grandchildren. Before he knew it, the festive metamorphosis was well underway. “It’s kind of like the movie where you put on the suit and the reindeer know what to do,” Opa Claus said. “In looking into it and learning about being Santa, magic happens. And you get it.” Now, Opa Claus is about to embark on his first season into the secret world of being a “Santa ambassador.” His new responsibilities include checking the naughty or nice list twice, caring for the reindeers, organizing the elves and handing out gifts. Of course, Opa Claus said it’s not as simple as it seems. “It’s much more than just putting on a suit, anyone can do that. But a child will always be able to tell if you’re not being honest and you’re not being forthcoming with them,” Opa Claus said. “And once you learn what it is about the appeal of Santa, I think it’s easier. It’s just three basic things: It’s love, joy and kindness. That’s all it is. And that’s something we all strive for every day. And once you figure that out everything else just falls into place with it and it just becomes fun.” When he makes visits, Opa Claus wears a deep red velvet suit — or crimson, Opa Claus does live in Norman —accented by white fur, gold buttons, a large black belt and spectacles. Opa Claus has to be on his A-game for every interaction with children. “You have to have a basic working knowledge because you never know what a child is going to ask you,” he said. “Like ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Santa Clause.’ ‘What was your mom and dad’s name?’ ‘Mr. and Mrs. Claus.’” His favorite part about visits is the look of wonder in a child’s eyes the moment they see Santa. Mrs. Claus, Opa Claus’ wife, said she likes being a part of that magic, too. “The best thing in life is just to see that look in a kid’s eye.” Mrs. Claus said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the parent, the ,grandparent, an aunt or whatever — just that amazement and the wonder and just the magic — I think that’s what everybody should strive to see every day.” Unfortunately, Opa Claus said visits with children aren’t always feel-good moments. And though he wishes he could say yes to everything on all children’s wish-lists, some heartbreaking stories are too much for even Santa to fix. “It’s not all happy times because I know I’m going to hear some terrible things, but they’re just children. They’re going to be honest and you have to try to comfort them and help them through that moment and help them to see what I’m standing for and it’s those three things again,” Opa Claus said referring to love, joy and kindness. Once the season winds down, Opa Claus said he hopes he won’t feel too depressed waiting for Christmas to come back around next year. His ultimate dream would be to have Christmas all year round. “It’s sad to me that Santa is only recognized for four weeks out of the year because really what he embodies is what we should strive for every day,” Opa Claus said. “Right. Hope, goodness — and dreams,” Mrs. Claus echoed. For more on Santa Opa Claus, find him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SantOpaClaus.

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Photo courtesy of Lisa Monahan Photography

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by Hannah Cruz

d l O y l ol NICK JST.

Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Père Noël, Jolly Old Elf: No matter how you say it, one Norman resident has big boots to fill this holiday season. Santa Opa Claus (his civilian name is withheld to protect his identity) began his transformation after he grew out his beard one year for No Shave November. After an acquaintance told him he looked like Santa, Opa Claus found an opportunity to transform himself into the beloved legend for his own grandchildren. Before he knew it, the festive metamorphosis was well underway. “It’s kind of like the movie where you put on the suit and the reindeer know what to do,” Opa Claus said. “In looking into it and learning about being Santa, magic happens. And you get it.” Now, Opa Claus is about to embark on his first season into the secret world of being a “Santa ambassador.” His new responsibilities include checking the naughty or nice list twice, caring for the reindeers, organizing the elves and handing out gifts. Of course, Opa Claus said it’s not as simple as it seems. “It’s much more than just putting on a suit, anyone can do that. But a child will always be able to tell if you’re not being honest and you’re not being forthcoming with them,” Opa Claus said. “And once you learn what it is about the appeal of Santa, I think it’s easier. It’s just three basic things: It’s love, joy and kindness. That’s all it is. And that’s something we all strive for every day. And once you figure that out everything else just falls into place with it and it just becomes fun.” When he makes visits, Opa Claus wears a deep red velvet suit — or crimson, Opa Claus does live in Norman —accented by white fur, gold buttons, a large black belt and spectacles. Opa Claus has to be on his A-game for every interaction with children. “You have to have a basic working knowledge because you never know what a child is going to ask you,” he said. “Like ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Santa Clause.’ ‘What was your mom and dad’s name?’ ‘Mr. and Mrs. Claus.’” His favorite part about visits is the look of wonder in a child’s eyes the moment they see Santa. Mrs. Claus, Opa Claus’ wife, said she likes being a part of that magic, too. “The best thing in life is just to see that look in a kid’s eye.” Mrs. Claus said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the parent, the ,grandparent, an aunt or whatever — just that amazement and the wonder and just the magic — I think that’s what everybody should strive to see every day.” Unfortunately, Opa Claus said visits with children aren’t always feel-good moments. And though he wishes he could say yes to everything on all children’s wish-lists, some heartbreaking stories are too much for even Santa to fix. “It’s not all happy times because I know I’m going to hear some terrible things, but they’re just children. They’re going to be honest and you have to try to comfort them and help them through that moment and help them to see what I’m standing for and it’s those three things again,” Opa Claus said referring to love, joy and kindness. Once the season winds down, Opa Claus said he hopes he won’t feel too depressed waiting for Christmas to come back around next year. His ultimate dream would be to have Christmas all year round. “It’s sad to me that Santa is only recognized for four weeks out of the year because really what he embodies is what we should strive for every day,” Opa Claus said. “Right. Hope, goodness — and dreams,” Mrs. Claus echoed. For more on Santa Opa Claus, find him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SantOpaClaus.

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t i s i V a t n a S e l b a r o H i n ts f o r a M e m Before you book a visit with Kris Kringle, Santa Opa Claus suggests the following tips to make the visit as enjoyable as possible.

1. Have your camera ready Be sure to have all cameras, camcorders and batteries necessary to take the photos you want. Be sure to recharge or have fresh batteries in advance. 2. Reserve a special parking place for Santa Parking should be available right where Santa is visiting. If he parks down the street or around the corner and has to walk all the way to your home or office, he will be winded and exhausted when he gets there. Remember, he’s a senior citizen wearing a heavy wool suit that gets very hot. Santa always budgets about five minutes for parking. Any more time than that is part of your allotted time. If the visit is at your home, leave an opening at the end of your driveway. Put a temporary barrier in the space. Have some fun and put a sign out like “Reserved for Santa!” If your event is at a company facility, office building or hotel, try to make arrangements for Santa to park in a valet or loading area. Again you can mark the area with a fun sign. This makes it easier for him to be fresh and ready to bring joy to your guests. 3. Have your gifts ready Santa does not bring any candy canes or gifts with him. He will hand out your candy and gifts and can carry in one bag of presents (40 pounds or less) for children or guests. All gifts should be well labeled. We suggest a large black marking pen and writing directly on the gift, as tags can easily fall off. All packages should fit into one 35-gallon trash bag. He will then transfer the gifts to his “Santa” bag. If you have more gifts than will fit in his sack, Santa will usually ask a couple of the ‘big kids’ (adults) to be honorary elves and instruct them to bring in the extra gifts. 4. Have a special chair for Santa Folding chairs, plastic chairs, and low chairs (the one’s you sink into) are not good. Santa likes a chair that is sturdy and stable. A good, sturdy straight-back dining chair with no arms works well. He should be able to sit comfortably with the chair supporting him plus a child on each knee. 5. Place the chair in a holiday setting Place Santa’s chair in front of a decorated wall or any festive type of backdrop for photos that will express the holiday season. Place a wreath, a few Christmas cards or your children’s

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Photo courtesy of Lisa Monahan Photography

drawings on the wall for a perfect backdrop. Leave a foot or two between the chair and the tree or wall. This will allow room for others to gather around and behind Santa’s chair for group photos. 6. Get everyone together before Santa enters To prevent wasted time during Santa’s visit, gather everyone together before Santa arrives. If everyone is scattered around the house or office, you lose valuable time. Santa should call you when he is five minutes away from arriving. That’s your cue to have someone go outside to meet Santa, and for you to get everyone together to maybe sing some Christmas carols. If Santa is to bring in presents, the person meeting him can help him fill his bag. Then, at the right moment, Santa can pop in and join everyone in the singing. If you have a large group of children to see Santa, you should assign someone to be Santa’s helper and coordinate the children as they each visit Santa. 7. Think about photos with everyone Yes, some teenagers will shy away or think it is too childish to have a photo with Santa. But don’t worry: Santa can stand up for a “buddy” photo. What about Grandma and Grandpa? Take a photo with Santa and Grandma hugging. And, nothing is more fun than having Santa ask Grandpa if he’s been a good boy. 8. Gifts for Santa Santa always appreciates tokens of appreciation. Instead of handing Santa cash directly, consider placing cash inside a Christmas card or envelope. As Santa departs, hand him the envelope and say, “Thank you Santa, and here is a Christmas card from all of us.” 9. Santa never breaks from his character This is very important: Santa never breaks from his character. Please don’t say things to Santa such as: “Why you’re one of the best Santas I’ve ever seen.” Don’t ask questions about when he started playing Santa or where did he get his costumes. It’s very important that you treat Santa Opa Claus as Santa Claus and not as someone that plays Santa Claus. Please help keep the wonder of Christmas alive for your children and others. Source: Adapted from Santa Opa Claus Facebook page.


s a m t s i r h C

in norman

Celebrate the holidays with these local events and activities. For an updated list of events visit christmasinnorman.com.

by Hannah Cruz

Breakfast with Santa events

Philanthropic events

Havenbrook Event Center’s Breakfast with Santa

The Christmas Store of Cleveland County

Santa and Mrs. Claus are arriving early this year for Breakfast with Santa 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Havenbrook Event Center, 3401 Havenbrook St. The free event includes Christmas-themed donuts, music and a free photograph with Santa Claus to take home. For more information visit havenbrookfuneralhome.com.

City of Norman’s Breakfast with Santa Dine with Santa during the City of Norman’s Breakfast with Santa 8 a.m. Dec. 7 at the Norman Senior Citizens Center, 329 S. Peters Ave. The event includes a pancake breakfast, puppet show, crafts and candy cane hunt. Attendants are encouraged to bring cameras for photos with Santa. Tickets, $5, can be purchased at the Senior Citizens Center, Parks and Recreation Main Office 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or at the 12th Ave. Recreation Center 1-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Each person must have a ticket to enter the facilities.

Help others enjoy the Christmas season by donating time and resources to The Christmas Store of Cleveland County. The store helps lowincome families make holiday purchases at more affordable rates. Children’s toys, non-perishable groceries, household goods and gifts for seniors and youth are being accepted 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 19-22, as well as 9-11 a.m. Dec. 2-5 and 1-3 p.m. Dec. 2-4. Donations can be delivered to the store site at 641 E. Robinson St. Financial contributions can be mailed to “The Christmas Store, PO Box 256, Norman, OK 73070.” For more information, including how to apply for eligibility to shop at the store, visit christmasstore.org.

Pajama Party with Santa Throw on your pajamas, grab your favorite stuffed animal and hang out with Santa Claus during a Pajama Party with Santa 6 p.m. Nov. 19, 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17 at the Sooner Mall, 3301 W. Main St. Bring a new unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots. For more information visit soonermall.com.

Orr Family Farm’s Breakfast with Santa Hang out with Kris Kringle during the Orr Family Farm’s Breakfast with Santa 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21. The event includes a pancake breakfast, story time, a Christmas craft and carols with Santa at the farm, 14400 S. Western Ave., Oklahoma City. Includes one train ride and carousel ride. Cameras are welcome. Reservations are required and spots are limited. Tickets, $12.50 per person, are available at orrfamilyfarm.com.

Assistance League of Norman’s Holiday Home Tour Tour beautiful Norman homes lavishly decorated for the holidays during Assistance League of Norman’s Holiday Home Tour 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23. Tickets, $25, are available at norman. assistanceleague.org or at Havenbrook Funeral Home, Brockhaus Jewelry, Christmas Expressions, Tulips, Old Town Realtors, Two Hip Chicks,

Cayman’s and Theo’s Marketplace. Proceeds benefit the Assistance League of Norman’s philanthropic programs. For maps of the five privately-owned Norman homes visit norman.assistanceleague.org.

Downs Family Christmas Light Ministry Get in the Christmas spirit with music and lights at Downs Family Christmas Light Ministry, 2900 72nd Ave. SE. Lights go live Thanksgiving evening, Nov. 28, weather permitting and run through Jan. 4. Lights are on each evening 6 p.m. to midnight. All donations accepted at the light show benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. For more information visit downsfamilychristmas. com or find them on Facebook.

Assistance League of Norman’s Polar Express Gala Enjoy an evening of entertainment, dining and tradition during the Assistance League of Norman’s 2013 Holiday Gala 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Oklahoma Memorial Union Ballroom. This year’s theme is centered around the children’s Christmas book “The Polar Express,” and benefits the Assistance League’s seven philanthropic programs. Tickets are $100 each and can be purcahsed by emailing norman.assistanceleague@sbcglobal. net or calling 321-9400. For more information visit norman. assistanceleague.org.

Citizen’s Advisory Board’s Secret Santa Help provide a Christmas to a child in the Cleveland County foster care program by donating an unwrapped gift to the Citizen’s Advisory Board’s Secret Santa program. Become an “elf” by signing up to purchase a gift for a child at cabok.org.

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Other Christmas events: Holiday story time events at Barnes & Noble Head to Barnes & Noble, 540 Ed Noble Parkway, for several story time events. Elf on the Shelf Storytime: Adopt-anElf Event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 9 with story time and activities. Grinch Day, including a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is 2 p.m. Dec. 1 with Grinchthemed activities, treats and more. Read “The Polar Express” during a story time 7 p.m. Dec. 6 complete with activities and treats.

Holiday Ice Rink at Andrews Park

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Take a spin around the Holiday Ice Rink at Andrews Park, 201 W. Daws St., starting Nov. 29. The rink will run through Jan 5, 2014. Admission price is $10 with skates, $7 for those who provide their own skates, and $5 for children 5 years old and under. Hours of operation are 4-9 p.m. weekdays during school with Friday closing at 10 p.m. and 1-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. When school is out the rink will open at noon during the week.

City of Norman’s 22nd Annual Holiday Celebration The City of Norman is getting festive during the 22nd Annual Holiday Celebration 5:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in Andrews Park, 201 W. Daws St. The free event includes Norman’s tallest Christmas tree, free hot chocolate and cookies, moon bounces and musical performances. Attendants are also encouraged to bring cameras for free photos with Santa. For more information visit normanok.gov.

Holiday Happening at the Sam Noble Museum Hang with Santa during Holiday Happening 5-8 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua Ave. The free event includes photos with Santa, family-friendly crafts, music and entertainment from the Sooner Theatre,

Pioneer Library Storybook Time, OKC Ballet and The Redliners. Visit snomnh.ou.edu for more information.

Havenbrook Funeral Home’s Christmas Memorial Service Honor loved ones during Havenbrook Funeral Home’s Christmas Memorial Service. The free candlelight ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Havenbrook Funeral Home Chapel, 3401 Havenbrook St. For more information visit havenbrookfuneralhome.com.

Holiday music at the University of Oklahoma Ring in the holidays during two concerts at the University of Oklahoma’s Sharp Concert Hall, 500 W. Boyd St. Holiday Pipes is scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 6. Holidays at OU: Brass, Percussion, Organ and Combined OU Choirs is scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 8. Tickets to both events are $9 for adults and $5 for students. For more information call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at 405-325-4101.

Victorian Christmas Open House The sights and sounds of 19th century Indian Territory will abound during a Victorian Christmas Open House 6-9 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Moore-Lindsay Historical House Museum, 508 N. Peters Ave. Check and cash donations will be accepted for the house. This year the open house is featuring “foods from around the world.” Other highlights include free carriage rides to 2nd Friday Circuit of Art on Main Street, live music by local musicians and local jewelry and bakery vendors. For more information visit normanmuseum.org.

Holiday events at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Test your luck Dec. 13 during the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art’s annual Holiday Grab Bag Sale at MUSE, the museum store. Visitors can draw a grab bag with a mystery discount of 15-40 percent on total purchases (most items) during museum hours 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

That evening’s “Art “à la Carte,” 5-7 p.m., features ornament decorating, live music by singer/songwriter Sherree Chamberlain, and food and drink provided by Johnny Carino’s. Admission is free. The museum is located at 555 Elm Ave. For more information visit ou.edu/ fjjma.

Norman Christmas Parade Bands, floats, horses and of course Santa Claus will make their way down Main Street during the 2013 Norman Christmas parade 10 a.m. Dec. 14. Themed “Hometown Christmas,” the parade will start at Norman High School on Main Street and will run to Crawford Avenue. For more information visit normanchristmasparade.wordpress.com.

Christmas on the Corner Take a photo with Santa and kick it with Oklahoma City Thunder mascot Rumble Dec. 14 during Christmas on the Corner. The event begins 1 p.m. just north of Hideaway Pizza on Buchanan Street in the heart of Campus Corner.

Assistance League of Norman’s Sunday with Santa Spend the day with Sants and Mrs. Claus during the Assistance League of Norman’s Sunday with Santa 2-4 p.m. Dec. 15 at 809 Wall St. The event includes pictures, crafts and treats. Tickets are $20 per child, with free admission for adults. Tickets can be purchased from any Assistance League members or at the door.

Sisters of Swing Holiday Jazz Concert Tap your foot along to the swinging tunes of the Sisters of Swing Holiday Jazz Concert 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Norman Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave. Sisters of Swing features Mary Reynolds, Louise Goldberg, Elyse Angelo, Mary Freeh , Joanne Trombley, Christine Freeh and Rosalind Cravens. Advance tickets, $10, will be available at the Depot during office hours 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.


The Norman Christmas Tree lights up the night at Andrews Park in 2011 after it is turned on for the first time of the season during the Holiday Celebration at Andrews Park. photo by Kyle Phillips

Santa Claus pays a visit during the 2012 Norman Christmas Parade. photo by Julie Bragg

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Kyndall Wells, 7, glides around the ice skating rink at Marc Heitz Chevrolet in 2011. photo by Kyle Phillips


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See our detailed calendar in N-town lite in the main edition of The Norman Transcript for a complete guide of this week’s events.

N-town staff picks the top 10 things you can’t miss this month.

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Don’t miss your chance to see the iconic American musical “Carousel” as performed by University of Oklahoma Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre students 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. Nov. 9 and 10 in the Weitzenhoffer Theatre, 563 Elm St. The Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original includes classic Broadway songs like “If I Ever Loved You,”“June is Bustin’ Out all Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for senior adults, OU faculty, and staff and military, and $15 for students. To purchase tickets contact the OU Fine Arts Box Office at 405-325-4101, located at 500 W. Boyd St. in the Catlett Music Center. Visit theatre.ou.edu for more information.

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Carousel at the University of Oklahoma


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Thompson Square at Riverwind Casino Hear husband and wife country duo sensation Thompson Square during their upcoming Norman concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at Riverwind Casino, 1544 West State Highway 9.

Tickets, $35-$55, are available at the Riverwind Box Office, online at riverwind.com or by calling 405-322-6464. For more on Thompson Square visit thompsonsquare.com.

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Miss Oklahoma 2013 at Riverwind Casino

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Family Day at Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art FREDTalks at Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Find inspiration from Latin American art in the exhibition “Libertad de Expresión” during Family Day 1-4 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave.

The day includes a variety of hands-on art activities for the entire family. For more information visit ou.edu/fjjma.

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The Sooner Theatre Presents

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Keith Adams

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Book and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick Music by Joe Raposo Adapted from the Frank Capra film “It’s A Wonderful Life”

2013-14 Winter Wind Concert series. Tickets are $20 and are available at ticketstorm.com or at the Norman Depot. For more information visit pasnorman.org or call 405-307-9320.

online at soonertheatre.com or by phone at St. 405-321-9600 or at 101 E Main the Sooner Theatre box office.

Elm Ave. Panelists will share short presentations on the topic, followed by a Q&A. Light refreshments will be served. For more information visit ou.edu/fjjma.

Turkey day 5k

Riverwind Casino, 1544 West State Highway 9. Tickets, $25-$45, are

Downtown Norman (405) 321-9600

www.soonertheatre.com

Run off all the inevitably consumed holiday calories during the inaugural Turkey Day 5K and 1-mile fun run 8:30 a.m. Nov. 28 in Norman. The 5K starts near Norman High School.

Off

Registration is $30 through Nov. 27, and $35 on race day. The fun run is $15. Register online at turkeyday5krun.com. Runners will receive a T-shirt with registration.

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Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 6-8 & A Wonderful Life at Sooner Theatre Stoney LaRue at Riverwind Casino Dec. Jam 13-15, 2013 Enjoy a timeless fable of and 15. available at the Riverwind out with Red Dirt dreams, disillusionment and Tickets are $15 for children favorite Stoney LaRue Box Office, online at $25, the power of love during “A 12 and Tickets: under, $20 for the Main $20 riverwind.com or by calling during his upcoming Wonderful Life the Musical” at Floor and $25 for Star Circle. 405-322-6464. concert 8 p.m. Nov. 29 at Children 12 & under: $15 Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main St. Tickets can be purchased Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. Dec. 1, 8

Explore the topic “blasphemy” during FREDTalks, a new museum program featuring different creativity-related topics, 7 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555

Run Your Winter Wind with Red Molly at Norman Depot Turkey Day 5K in Norman

Don’t miss the Attend Miss Call Oklahoma USA and Miss 405-322-6464 for tickets. opportunity to hear Red Molly, Americana/Roots female trio, Oklahoma Teen USA 7 For more information during their concert 7 p.m. Nov. 24 at the Norman Depot, p.m. Nov. 23 and 24 at visit riverwind.com or 200 S. Jones Ave. Lisais Fox Riverwind Casino, 1544 missoklahomausa.com. Directed The by concert part of Music Direction the Performing ArtsbyStudio’s West State Highway 9.

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Holiday Happening at the Sam Noble Museum

Hang with Santa during Holiday Happening 5-8 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua For more on Stoney Ave. LaRue visit stoneylarue.com. The free event includes photos with Santa, family-

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friendly crafts, music and entertainment from the Sooner Theatre, Pioneer Library Storybook Time, OKC Ballet and The Redliners. Visit snomnh.ou.edu for more information.


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5 p.m. 5:30 p.m.

Firehouse Art Center, 444 S. Flood Ave., is opening the annual Firehouse Holiday Gallery, offering a wide range of fine art and seasonal crafts from local artisans that make for wonderfully unique holiday gifts.

Plan your perfect Art Walk with us. Find a complete list of events at 2ndfridaynorman.com.

6:30 p.m.

Jacobson House, 609 Chautauqua Ave., is proud to present renowned Kiowa artist Sharon Ahtone Harjo. Jacobson House will also present up-andcoming Native artist Antonia Belindo and J. NiCole Hatfield with live painting demonstrations and entertainment by Brian Frejo’s Shock B and the Culture Shock.

LOCAL, 2262 W. Main St., brings in featured artist Ellen Moershel, along with complimentary snacks and refreshments.

KIDS

CORNER 6 p.m.

Kids’ Corner, located at the parking lot adjacent to LWPB Architects & Planners, or inside in case of inclement weather, is back with free art and mask-making activities presented by Norman Arts Council 6-8 p.m.

6:45 p.m. The Performing Arts Studio, 200 S. Jones Ave., debuts the third annual Small Works Show, featuring art from Carolyn Faseler, Rick Fry, Skip Hill, Don Holladay, Tim Kenney, Brad Price, Bert Seabourn, Corazon Watkins and Betty Wood. There will also be a short artist chat 7:30-8 p.m. along with live painting demonstrations throughout the evening.

7:30 p.m.

7 p.m.

STASH, 412 E. Main St., welcomes featured artist Jason Pawley and another Mohawk Market, featuring a variety of Oklahoma handmade vendors and pop-up shops, in the STASH Annex.

Dreamer Concepts, 324 E. Main St., opens with Dreamer 51: A NewView of Art, featuring artwork created by blind and visually impaired Oklahomans. Student bands from McMichael Music will also be on hand.

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7:45 p.m. Shevaun Williams & Associates, 221 E. Main St., hosts a gallery show and sale featuring work as much as 75 percent off, along with a studio flea market with Nikon lenses, Canon 5Ds, backdrops, props, furniture and more.

8 p.m.

Gray Owl Coffee, 223 E. Gray St., invites you to join an art venture. SNAIL MAIL, is a call for artwork-covered envelopes addressed to Gray Owl Coffee. The art show will be formed by the visual responses the shop receives, and participants are welcome to do or create whatever they would like on an envelope between the sizes of 4” x 6” and 11” x 14.”

8:30 p.m.

8:15 p.m.

Sandalwood & Sage, 322 E. Main St., features Arabesque, the award-winning Norman world music duo, with a free performance.

The Social Club, 209 E. Main St., features the art of OU student Hailey Helmerich, specializing in antler arrangements inspired by a love of nature,

9 p.m. The Abner Ale House, 121 E. Main St., hosts a free show with rising folk star Parker Millsap, presented by Norman Arts Council and Norman Music Festival.

10 p.m. Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave., howls deep into the night with free Tone Def Parade Karaoke.


reviews books

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by Amber Hodge Book: W is for Wasted (2013, Penguin Group) Author: Sue Grafton Why you should read: Author Sue Grafton is certainly no stranger to the limelight. Her flair for mystery has made her an international bestseller, and her readership spans across the world. Her latest and 23rd installment in the Kinsey Millhone series, “W is for Wasted,” feeds the demands of Grafton’s current fans while inviting newcomers at the same time. Santa Teresa, Calif., P.I. Kinsey Millhone is experiencing a lag in her work, until a dead man is found with a note in his pocket with her name on it. To make matters more intriguing, the dead man, Terrence Dace, has left her his life savings — over half a million dollars. Soon, Millhone is on the hunt for answers, which leads her to three grown children the man disinherited, and all of whom want the money he left behind. Adding to the plot, a morally questionable fellow P.I. was murdered six months prior, and both deaths are initially figured to be unrelated. While incorporating Millhone’s own personal background into the story, the author takes readers on a slowbuilding journey to a satisfying end. Grafton began writing this alphabet series in 1982. The first book, “A is for Alibi” began a continuing journey that is set to conclude in 2015. In “W is for Wasted,” Grafton provides everything previous readers will enjoy while expanding and exploring the main character, who is an engaging and likeable character. Grafton knows how to deal with the many layers of the story while keeping to the main issues at hand. “W is for Wasted” is an enjoyable read for any and all mystery lovers, and current fans of this long-running series will love Grafton’s latest work. For more information on this series, visit suegrafton.com.

by Amber Hodge Book: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison (2011, Spiegel & Grau) Author: Piper Kerman Why you should read: Freelance producer Piper Kerman didn’t have the look of a criminal, living in New York City with her boyfriend, Larry, a men’s magazine editor. But when the police show up at her door, Kerman’s long-ago past comes rushing up to meet her, a past her boyfriend and family knew nothing about. After graduating from Smith College, Kerman lingered in the college town waiting tables, yearning for excitement. When she begins dating an older woman named Nora, who admits she’s involved in international drug trafficking, Kerman dives right in. By the time she realized things were getting too heavy, it was too late. Her delivery of a suitcase filled with $10,000 in drug money happened 10 years ago, but that doesn’t stop her from acquiring inmate No. 11187-424 and a 15-month sentence to the Danbury, Conn., federal correction facility. Stripped of her freedom and everything she knows, Kerman spends her time behind bars, learning how to maneuver through the system while meeting women of all backgrounds. “Orange is the New Black” is currently No. 1 on the NY Times Bestseller List for paperback nonfiction. Kerman chronicles her memoir from the time before she lands behind bars up until her release. While in prison, Kerman finds enlightenment and surprising acts of kindness through her fellow inmates, and experiences first-hand how things are handled on the inside, both good and bad. And though it’s a memoir, it doesn’t focus solely on the writer. Instead, it offers an interesting look into the controlled world Kerman lived in for more than a year. She shines the light on everyone else, while sprinkling pieces of herself throughout. “Orange is the New Black” is a compelling read that can’t be put down easily, and stays with you long after it’s over.

music by Doug Hill Musician: Starlings, TN Album name: All the Good Times (2013, Chicken Ranch Records) Why you should listen: Hipster hayseed quartet Starlings, TN are unmistakably sons of the South. Based in Austin, their band’s name is pronounced Starlings, Tennessee. Google Maps finds no place by that name in the Volunteer State but their new album “All the Good Times” sounds as if it’s more a state of mind. The disc is on Chicken Ranch Records whose slogan is “We Gots Our Own Damn Town Music.” A pair of the songs make referewnce to genuine places below the Mason Dixon line. “Back to Magnolia” is sweeter than syrup on buttermilk biscuits. It’s lead vocalist and band leader Steven Stubblefield’s homage to his family’s home. Although the lyrical sentiment may not be popular down at the Southern Baptist church in town, he hopes in his “next life” to return as a honey bee buzzing around Magnolia’s blossoms. “Oh! Whiskey” is a tribute as well, to the clear or brown liquor favored throughout the Deep South. “Whiskey sweet/ whiskey mine/ my one true love/ my only crime,” Stubblefield sings. It’s a passionate anthem with a sly allusion to oral sex. The world may not have been clamoring for another cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” but track five here is an up-tempo twang twister. The exciting musicianship justifies the choice of a certified chestnut. Folks in much of this great nation would have no clue what to expect from seeing a song titled “Burnt Ends.” It’s about the smoky crust of a perfectly charred beef brisket found on good barbecue restaurant menus from Kansas City to Dallas. Stubblefield’s jarring line about putting “yaller mustard” on anything barbecue only slightly detracts from an otherwise terrific tune. Barbecue variations can be an article of faith in these parts, son. Pay a visit to Starlings, TN for a kaleidoscopic listen to their new songs of the south.

by Doug Hill Musician: Kim Lenz and The Jaguars Album name: Follow Me (2013, Riley Records) Why you should listen: Kim Lenz has an adorable quality in her voice that’s mesmerizing. This entire review could be about the magnetic attraction of her vocals that quaver seductively in one song and are roaring strong as a Chevy V-8 in another. Lenz is well known in these parts from when she was based in Dallas and would frequently perform with her all-male Jaguars band in metro watering holes. Based now in the City of Angels she’s the Princess to Oklahoma City’s Queen of rockabilly Wanda Jackson. Listen to track five “Whiplash” and you’ll hear what sassy defiance sounds like. The female heart and soul of Lenz’s genre is women standing up to dunderheaded men who do them wrong. She has her vocals and original lyrics on these steely numbers honed to a needle point like the Italian stilettos some gals carried at 66 Bowl Saturday nights. “Cry Wolf” is about an unfaithful bad boy she regretfully gave her heart to. The tune fades out with spoken threat “I’m going to blow your playhouse down.” The Jaguars are a seasoned crew of West Coast gunslingers and their accompaniment here is impeccable. The record was produced by British native Carl Sonny Leyland who’s been a noted rockabilly scene pianist in multiple American projects for decades. Nine of the album’s dozen compositions were penned by Lenz. “Tumble and Fall” is a head long musical plummet that features Leyland’s solid sender piano pacing Lenz’s hyper-tempo vocals. Title track “Follow Me” has an alluring vibe that recalls Charlie McCoy and Kent Westberry’s song “Funnel of Love.” Lenz is at her most tempting with castanets and shimmering brass percussion beckoning into a feminine web of erotic intrigue. It all goes back to Kim Lenz’ style. The sultry red head with inimitable pipes will make you a follower.


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November