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INSIDE COVER P. 4 With so many new elected officials slated to take office in 2019, Oklahoma Gazette takes a yearbookstyle look at what to expect from these new officeholders.

An Original Music Docuseries

By Nazarene Harris Cover by Kimberly Lynch

NEWS 4 COVER newly elected officials

6 CITY Oklahoma County jail update 8

THE HIGH CULTURE market value

10 CHICKEN-FRIED NEWS

EAT & DRINK 13 REVIEW Buttermilk vs

HunnyBunny Biscuit Co.

14 FEATURE Osteria OKC

16 FEATURE Shawarma & Co. 17 FEATURE Babble

18 GAZEDIBLES post-Thanksgiving

ARTS & CULTURE

RODNEY CARRINGTON LIVE

DEC 29 7PM STARTING AT $60

20 ART Pop Stars! Popular Culture and

Contemporary Art at 21c Museum Hotel

21 ART Small Works VIII at The Depot

Gallery

22 THEATER Jim Brickman’s Joyful

Christmas at OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater

Holiday Gift Guide 24 THEATER Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Chesapeake Energy Arena 23

26 THEATER RACE Dance Company’s

The Hip-Hop Nutcracker 27 CULTURE Sonic Free Family Day at Oklahoma City Museum of Art 28 BOOKS The Greatest Love Story Ever

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COV E R

NEWS

Political yearbook

Meet the class of Oklahoma’s newly elected officials. By Nazarene Harris | Photos provided and Alexa Ace

The Nov. 6 election results ushered in a new class of elected officials in Oklahoma scheduled to begin work during the start of a new legislative session in February, or in some cases, before then. Oklahomans showed preference for female candidates like never before and demonstrated a newfound respect for political outsiders. Those outsiders include the state’s new governor, Republican Kevin Stitt, who received 12 percent more votes than his opponent, Democrat Drew Edmondson, who served as Oklahoma’s attorney general from 1995 to 2011. Oklahoma City attorney Kendra Horn is another political outsider who received more votes than her opponent, U.S. Rep. Steve Russell. Horn unseated the incumbent with 50.7 percent of votes. New faces to Oklahoma politics also include Oklahoma City-County Health Department program director turned county commissioner Carrie Blumert, math and science teacher turned state senator Carri Hicks, Oklahoma City nonprofit director turned state senator Julia Kirt and Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs advocate turned House representative Nicole Miller. With newcomer politicians likely to make headlines in 2019, here’s a look at the men and women behind the fresh faces.

Kevin Stitt

Elected title: governor Also known as: Stitt was the CEO and founder of Gateway Mortgage Group. He maintains ownership of the company. Age: 45 Family: Stitt’s family includes his wife, Sarah, and their six children. Hometown: Stitt was born in Florida but moved to Norman as a toddler with his family. Hero: Stitt’s hero is his grandfather, who worked as a dairy farmer in Skiatook when Stitt was a child. Most likely to: Stitt said as governor, he is most likely to attract new business to the state with the promise of an “Oklahoma turnaround.”

Kendra Horn

Elected title: U.S House Representative from Oklahoma’s 5th District Formerly known as: Horn was an Oklahoma City-based attorney and the director of Sally’s List and Women Lead, nonprofit organizations that supported women candidates running for elected office. Age: 42 Family: Horn’s family lives in Chickasha. She said she is the proud descendent of strong women who advocated for community service and engagement. Hometown: Chickasha Hero: Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Most likely to: Advocate for the expansion of Medicaid and the de-privatization of core services.

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Carri Hicks

Elected title: state senator for District 40 Formerly known as: Hicks was a science and math teacher at Deer Creek Public Schools. Age: 35 Family: Hicks’ family includes her husband, Spencer, and their three children. Hero: Hicks said her heroes are Oklahoma’s public school teachers. Most likely to: Ensure that the requests made by the Oklahoma Education Association’s Together We’re Stronger campaign are met. Requests include additional teacher pay raises by the year 2020 as well as an increase in pensions for retired teachers.

Emily Virgin

Elected title: state House minority leader Also known as: state House representative for the 44th District Age: 32 Family: Virgin has two nieces, and her family lives in Norman. Hometown: Norman Hero: Virgin said her heroes include Oklahoma civil rights activist Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher and Kate Barnard, who became the first woman elected to state office in Oklahoma in 1907. Most likely to: Advocate for criminal justice reform.

Mike Hunter

Elected title: Oklahoma attorney general Formerly known as: Governor Mary Fallin appointed Hunter as Oklahoma’s attorney general February 20, 2017.

Age: 62 Family: Hunter’s family includes his wife Cheryl and their two grown sons. Hometown: Guthrie Hero: Hunter’s heroes include his mother and former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. Most likely to: Crack down on illegal opioid manufacturers.

Randy McDaniel

Elected title: state treasurer Formerly known as: state House representative for the 83rd District Age: 51 Family: McDaniel’s family includes his wife, Julie, and their two children. Hero: McDaniel said his father is his biggest hero. Most likely to: Work toward balancing Oklahoma’s budget alongside Governor-Elect Stitt.

Matt Pinnell

Elected title: lieutenant governor For merly k now n a s: Oklahoma’s Republican Party chairman Age: 39 Family: Pinnell’s family includes his wife, Lisa, and their four children. Hometown: Tulsa Hero: Pinnell’s heroes include his father and former professional football player and U.S. House Representative for Oklahoma’s 1st District Steve Largent. Most likely to: Advocate for Oklahoma’s foster care families.

Carrie Blumert

Elected title: Oklahoma County District 1 commissioner For merly k now n a s: Oklahoma City-County Health Department program director Age: 31 Family: Blumert’s family includes her parents, Keith and Janice, and older sister, Bonnie, who is a trial lawyer and an Oklahoma County public defender. Hometown: Ponca City Hero: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Most likely to: Advocate for the construction of a new Oklahoma County Jail.

Julia Kirt

Elected title: state senator for District 30 Formerly known as: executive director of Oklahomans for the Arts Age: 45 Family: Kirt’s family includes her husband, Nathan, and their two children. Most likely to: Advocate for increased funding for core services including education and mental health services.

Nicole Miller

Elected title: state House representative for District 82 Formerly known as: Advocate and employee of Oklahoma’s Department of Veterans Affairs Age: 49 Family: Miller’s family includes her husband Doug and their two children. Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas Hero: Miller said her hero is her husband Doug, a retired Air Force lieutenant. Most likely to: Oppose taxes and heavy regulations placed on small businesses.

Leslie Osborn

Elected title: labor commissioner Formerly known as: state House representative for District 47 Age: 55 Hometown: Salina, Kansas Most likely to: Create a partnership between the state department of education and Oklahoma’s Department of Career and Technology Education so high school students become better aware of career options available to them.

John Waldron

Elected title: state House representative for District 77 Formerly known as: Tulsa Public Schools history teacher Age: 50 Hometown: New Jersey Hero: Abraham Lincoln Most likely to: Advocate for restoring House Bill 1017, also known as The Education Reform Act that prevented classroom overcrowding with maximum-capacity restrictions.


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In 1991, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the corner of Robert S. Kerr and Shartel avenues in downtown Oklahoma City. The occasion marked the opening of Oklahoma County Detention Center. The jail was designed by architects HTB Inc. and RGDC Inc., and completed sooner than expected. However, what was unknown to onlookers at the time was that the jail’s architects had never designed a jail before and finishing construction ahead of schedule meant overlooking safety precautions and ignoring recommendations from county commissioners. A 2008 report filed by U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division indicated that corners might have been cut to lower costs. The report states that based on design alone, the jail at 201 N. Shartel Ave. is not equipped to safely house individuals, much less ensure that there is no chance of their escape. Left to stand the test of time for 27 years, experts now agree that incidents of jail violence, death, escapes and abuse prove the report’s findings true and despite uncertainty over whether or not county residents would agree to

pay for a new jail, recently elected Oklahoma District 1 county commissioner Carrie Blumert said it is time to put the idea back on the table. “I think if the public was more aware of the issues that surround the jail right now, they would be open to the idea,� Blumert said.

Everybody wants to create a new jail; the issue is how we pay for it. Mark Opgrande Because funds for a new county jail would likely need to be paid through property taxes, the ultimate decision would be left to taxpayers to decide through a ballot measure. Educating the public on why a new county jail is needed, Blumert said, is the first step to making it a reality.

Taking note

After inspecting the jail four times,


RGDC Inc., one of two architecture firms that worked on the detention center, had not designed a jail prior to creating this design.` | Image Gazette / file

with several disturbing occurrences that took place during the time the jail was studied, including an incident in which a woman detainee who was in premature labor three months early was left handcuffed to a wall for 10 hours with no medical treatment or help despite crying out for it. The infant died shortly after it was born. The report also conveys how the suicides of several inmates remained unnoticed for hours at a time. In September, more than 30 inmates escaped their jail cells in an attempt to riot. In 2017, 12 inmates died within the jail’s premises. Since it opened, Oklahoma County Detention Center has been sued numerous times.

New life

correctional practice experts with DOJ composed a 24-page report listing potentially hazardous flaws and correlating recommendations. Experts reported that several factors combined to create a dangerous situation at the jail, including “the lack of adequate detention staff … the overcrowded conditions … and little interaction between detention officers and detainees.” Likewise, the report stated “the large number of detainees, combined with the awkward physical layout of the Jail, makes providing adequate sight and sound supervision of detainees in their housing units extremely difficult.” Standing 13 floors high and designed to house 1,250 inmates, the jail continues to be overcrowded with around 1,700 inmates who are undoubtedly affected by the limited space, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Opgrande said. “Other than one small common space, there’s no recreational room in the jail besides a small basketball court on the roof of the building,” Opgrande said. “But there’s no way 1,700 inmates can fit out there at once, so many don’t get the opportunity to get out of their cells often in a 24-hour period.” While access to medical care is a constitutional right for prisoners, the jail was not built with a medical unit and, until recently, went without one. The current medical unit is located on the jail’s 13th floor, Opgrande said, and consists of old jail cells that have been converted into doctor and counselor offices. The DOJ report tied the jail’s issues

With the criminal justice community in Oklahoma County nearly in agreement that a new county jail would be preferable to renovation, Blumert said she will do her due diligence to educate the public on the issues but leave the final decision to them. This year saw the formation of Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s Criminal Justice Task Force, designed to independently assess and resolve issues in county jails across the state. After a one-year assessment period, the task force issued six recommendations that could ease problems within Oklahoma County Detention Center. Those recommendations include keeping people charged with lower-level offenses out of jail entirely and creating alternatives to jail for people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. While the task force has not publicly issued a recommendation for the creation of a new jail, several studies have been issued to assess whether or not such a creation would be beneficial. “Everybody wants to create a new jail,” Opgrande said. “The issue is how we pay for it.” In 2013, commissioners nearly put a $281 million jail proposal before county voters but withdrew the idea before ballots could be printed. “All things are possible, and it’s never too late,” District 1 county commissioner Willa Johnson said. “We can spend a lot of money repairing a jail that can’t be fixed, or we can build a new one. I hope we get a new jail that’s safe for the inmates and for those who work with them. There’s only so much patching up we can do to the one we have now.” Blumert will replace Johnson in January when Johnson retires after serving 25 years in public office, 10 of which were as county commissioner. She said she knows she’s leaving her district in good hands and that it might be time to breath new life into an old issue.

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NEWS prices on the quality product, I can’t foresee them coming down for another year or so.” Keeping prices low is a matter of balancing quality and price from growers. Urban Wellness turned down three growers’ offers in the past week. “If they buy wrong, they have to charge it. If we buy something at $4,000 a pound, there’s no way we can sell it at $10 a gram, so we won’t even entertain that thought,” Flowers said. He said keeping the price low isn’t an

M A R I J UA N A

Demand’s high, supply’s low, prices are ridiculous. But, you know, that’s business. That’s just the way it goes.

Green market

Prices are stabilizing for medical marijuana after the opening-day high. By Matt Dinger

The market price for a gram of medical marijuana was through the roof on opening day. A month in, prices have stabilized — for now. The reality of what the market will bear is still unknown and will be until next year. Prices at Oklahoma City dispensaries already doing business are averaging $10 to $25 per gram. An ounce of marijuana contains 28 grams, and larger quantities are often offered at reduced prices. The first franchise of The Peak, 2120 NW 23rd St., opened mid-November. It offered eight strains but has already sold out of three. Each is priced at $20-$25 a gram. Its location saw over 100 patients a day at least twice during its first week in business, co-owner Jerry Caughman said. “Right now, as far as getting flower from growers, it’s a little bit on the extreme side as far as prices go,” Caughman said. “We’re paying anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 for a pound of flower. When you’re talking about the quality, if you’re considering the California, Colorado, Washington state, Oregon market, it’s probably midgrade type stuff, even the stuff you’re seeing for $3,500. It’s definitely not something you’d see on the top shelf in, say, California. The growers are a little bit disorganized right now, all the ones we’ve been in contact with, honestly, so it’s hard to keep a steady supply because we’re selling a lot of product and they simply don’t have enough. Demand’s high, supply’s low, prices are ridiculous. But, you know, that’s business. That’s just the way it goes.” 8

THC

N OV E M B E R 2 8 , 2 0 1 8 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M

The owners of The Peak anticipate selling some strains at $12-$14 a gram soon and expect the premium strains to top out around $35. They hope to have between 40 and 50 strains in each store next year. “I envision that going down to $15 for the average, $15 to $20 type of deal, and then going down a little further from there once we get all of our growers cranking out a bunch of product,” Caughman said. Part of the reason pricing was so high out of the gate in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry is the breakneck speed with which it became law. After it was passed, State Question 788 gave growers and dispensaries only a few months before sale was legalized. Some states like North Dakota and Arkansas legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but their industries still haven’t gotten off the ground. At Urban Wellness, 1515 NE 23rd St., prices have already dropped from $20 a gram for top-shelf product. It’s priced now at $10 and $15 a gram, co-owner Jerry Flowers said. Urban Wellness started selling flower on Oct. 27, the day after it became legal to do so, and is now averaging about five strains at a time. “We came down on that $20 to help out the patients of Oklahoma, so our highest strain that we’re ever going to carry is going to be $15 a gram,” he said. “The pricing’s going to be pretty much the same through at least the first two or three harvests, and then the pricing’s going to go down. The first harvest is happening right now, and those with quality products are always going to demand a little more money. Those

Jerry Caughman indication of low- or mid-grade quality. “We’re going to turn down a grower before we put a subpar product out there. We’d rather have two that are really good than six and people complain about them,” he said. “My partner’s been to California, he’s spent some time in Colorado. He’s seen the best of the best out there. Just because it’s priced at $15, we’ll still put our flower up against anyone in this country, not just Oklahoma.” South of Interstate 40 at Nature’s Cure, 100 SE 29th St., owner Elizabeth Trujillo opened with prices between $10 and $20 a gram. By the third week of November, she had 14 strains on the shelf. “I think prices in the dispensaries are probably going to stay the same. I don’t think it’s going to go too much lower,” Trujillo said. “You can’t. We have bills to pay. It’s not the street price.” Trujillo opened the first week of November. She chose not to match prices of dispensaries charging higher prices. “We’ve pretty much stayed in that same price range. I don’t think it’ll go

up. Really, you can’t go too much higher than that because you have social media,” she said. On Reddit, the r/OKmarijuana thread is abuzz with prices from around the state, and price gougers are being skewered. One Tulsa dispensary was reportedly selling a quarter-ounce for $125 and a full ounce for $500 the third week of November. “Anyone that tries to pull this shit deserves to fail,” one poster wrote. “They will never get a dime from me.” One commenter called them “enemy” prices and double what that amount of marijuana sells for on the black market. A day later, prices had dropped to $100 a quarter and $300 an ounce, just over cost, according to a Facebook post from the dispensary. In other states where medicinal marijuana is legal, prices have also stabilized between $10 and $20 a gram, according to data from priceofweed. com. Prices on the site are self-reported by customers. No distinction is made between cannabis sold in dispensaries and product sold on the street. As of Nov. 21, the average price for an ounce of marijuana in Oklahoma was $345, according to the site. Comparatively, in states where recreational marijuana is legal, prices have plummeted. Several dispensaries in Washington, which is experiencing a glut of product, are offering ounces of certain strains for $60-$75. Nobody expects prices to again hit the highs seen on opening weekend. But for now, both patients and dispensary owners are at the mercy of the market and growers. “We have a little bit pricy, and a really pricy,” Caughman said. “It’s kind of where we’re at, unfortunately, in this early, emerging market we have. But it’s to be expected.”

Prices for medical marijuana are expected to drop in 2019 as supplies increase. | Photo bigstock.com


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chicken

friedNEWS

Merry fallen

After three decades in politics and two terms as leader of the state, Gov. Mary Fallin told Tulsa World last week that she is done with politics following the inauguration of governor-elect Kevin Stitt Jan. 14. “I think it is time to spend some quality time, more time, I should say, with my family,” Fallin, 63, told Tulsa World, noting that her political career, which began in the Oklahoma State House and transitioned to lieutenant governor before she headed to Washington, D.C., as 5th District congresswoman, started when she was 35 years old. Fallin’s time in the governor’s mansion will be remembered for her commitment to less-than-ideal ideals, even if it meant pyrrhic victories. Fallin was a staunch supporter of the erection of a Ten Commandments statue on Capitol grounds and wanted it returned even after the state Supreme Court and a voter ballot resolution ruled against the statue’s obvious violation of the separation of church and state. Fallin campaigned on the platform of eliminating the state’s income tax. After years of trying different measures, she oversaw the reduction of the state’s income tax in 2016 that, in conjunction with a downturn in oil and gas prices, tightened the state’s path toward austerity. It gutted budgets of state agencies and put some school districts on four-day-a-week schedules, setting the stage for 2018’s teacher walkout. The state’s financial situation is one of the primary reasons Fallin had the lowest gubernatorial approval rating in the country in a list by Morning Consult this past July, at just 19 percent. Fallin might not have a choice when it comes to pursuing another political career; the numbers speak for themselves. Of course, that only might mean the end of a public political career. There’s certainly a lobbying or consulting firm that is willing to add her to the payroll for access. The state GOP has to be happy that Stitt’s messaging as a political outsider allowed him to comfortably win the governor’s mansion and expand its super majority in the state house despite Fallin’s huge disapproval rating. Even after all his talk about “draining the swamp” and distancing himself from Fallin, Stitt’s transition team is led by Marc Nuttle, a member of Fallin’s international team, and also includes Fallin’s labor commissioner Melissa Houston and former state Senator Mike Mazzei, whose 12 years as policy adviser for state Senate Republicans included Fallin’s tenure. Mazzei is now president of Tulsa Wealth Advisors, which makes him perfect to advise sentient wealth like Stitt.

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Naked and afraid

As the saying goes, nothing good happens after 2 a.m. A man who police described only as “naked with poor decision making skills” reminded Oklahomans of that dad adage (dadage?) shortly before Thanksgiving when officers found him running through Norman’s streets sans clothing and in apparent distress. We at CFN might applaud if, like Will Ferrell in Old School, this poor bloke’s desire for a drunken night free of responsibility and garments led him to briefly go streaking down memory lane. Unfortunately for John Doe, police said the story was a lot more dangerous and definitely more uncomfortable, venturing perilously close to what the ChickenFried News team calls “ice bath and missing kidneys” territory. The night apparently began when the man, who police have not identified, went to Dèjá Vu Showgirls in Valley Brook at 3 a.m. and fell in love with a stripper. John Doe reunited with his new love an hour later at a Mama Lou’s restaurant, and before sparks could really fly, the two encountered two strangers who owned John Doe’s dream car, a really killer Jeep. Full of what we at CFN can only assume was a lot curiosity and low-grade booze, the naïve man and his date followed the two men to a storage area they claimed had loads of


cars similar to John Doe’s favorite. Instead of finding a set of sweet wheels that could ostensibly take him and his soulmate to Las Vegas for classy nuptials, John Doe said he and Jane Doe were forced by their captors to snort lines of cocaine before the criminals stole from him, ordered him to strip down to nothing and drove him to Lake Thunderbird. He then endured the additional humiliation that comes from being separated from one’s clothing and forced to display embarrassing shrinkage to startled early risers on a cold fall morning. When police found John Doe after one resident called 911 to report “a man running naked going west on Bethel Road,” he claimed he was kidnapped and fortunately (or unfortunately), his story proved true. The woman who made the call even took a photo, probably because the people on Nextdoor probably wouldn’t

believe her otherwise. Don’t be surprised if the photo resurfaces as possible Sasquatch evidence. According to KFOR, a warrant has been issued for alleged robbers William Trites and Phillip Tullis, who look like guys who eat at 4 a.m. in 24-hour diners and look for drunk dudes they can roll. Years ago, an early CFN staffer who has since left the state and become weirdly respectable found himself in a similar situation, but the stripper in question just stole a bunch of his cookware while he was in the bathroom. We know; she was a strangely specific thief with a thing for Calphalon, and this has become one of CFN’s favorite office retreat campfire stories. So pretend that CFN is holding a flashlight under its face and giving you some scary advice. First of all, don’t get into a stranger’s car, even when the strangers seem like the super-cool kids downing black coffee and steak ’n’ eggs in the next booth over. Second, don’t be lured by promises of candy or promises by Candy or promises of your dream car tucked away in a remote storage facility that you can have for your very own if you’ll just get in the back seat and put this bag over your head. Finally, when in doubt, just stay at home — or at the strip club. Enjoy the buffet, but maybe skip the shrimp.

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How do standalone biscuit concepts HunnyBunny and Buttermilk compare to each other? By Jacob Threadgill

Buttermilk 605 NW 28th St., Suite A buttermilkokc.com | 405-605-6660

HunnyBunny Biscuit Co. 429 NW. 23rd St. hunnybunnybiscuitco.com | 405-605-4395 WHAT WORKS: Buttermilk’s biscuit construction holds together, and HunnyBunny’s sweet biscuit options deliver. WHAT NEEDS WORK: HunnyBunny’s biscuit is too small for sandwiches. TIP: Stick with a sandwich at Buttermilk, and order something else at HunnyBunny.

After spending the last decade and a half in Mississippi and Oklahoma, I’ve taken it for granted that you can find a flaky buttermilk biscuit at most holein-the-wall cafes or breakfast spots. On a vacation this spring, I ended up at a 24-hour diner in central Pennsylvania around midnight and had a craving that could only be filled by biscuits and gravy. The only problem? There was nary a biscuit in sight. During the trip, I avoided toll roads and took the scenic route through small towns, and it was somewhat jarring to see their downtowns thriving and well maintained, given what I’m used to seeing from towns that size in Mississippi and Oklahoma. Is that the trade-off? Do we forgo a strong tax base for access to biscuits? I’m pretty sure that’s a tenet of all legislation backed by ALEC (American Leg islative Excha nge Council). A friend from Los Angeles recently texted me, “The diner down the street

closed, and I don’t know of a place in the city that serves biscuits.” It really hit home the idea that a large portion of the country doesn’t have access to flaky biscuits outside a fast food version or ones that pop out of a can. Don’t take your access to biscuits for granted, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City’s biscuit population increased this spring as HunnyBunny and Buttermilk opened within weeks of each other, delivering standalone biscuit sandwich concepts. Which one wins the match-up in a head-to-head review?

The competitors HunnyBunny Biscuit Co.

HunnyBunny comes from Interurban Restaurant Group, where chef Chris McKenna, who has since left the company to run the kitchen at Oso Paseo, 603 NW 28th St., developed the menu and biscuit recipe. The recipe relies on the steam created from its all-butter (no shortening) mixture for a fluffy and tender interior that is showcased in its sweet options but doesn’t hold up as well for its sandwich iterations. The small space next to Tower Theatre fills up quickly during peak weekend brunch hours. On a recent visit, I beat the rush on an early Sunday morning. Orders are made at the counter, which I can only imagine can become a headache when it’s really busy as the line snakes into the warm, welldesigned dining area. On this trip, I tried an order of the biscuit French toast ($8) and the Charleston sandwich ($8) with a cup of house coffee. I thought the biscuit held up best as the French toast, but I honestly wanted more from the order. I would have to order a few sides for the one biscuit split and

dipped in batter, served with fresh strawberries, blueberries, candied pecans and whipped cream to be a full meal. The biscuit was nice, but I expected the final product to be crispier than it was served. There was nothing that screamed French toast other than the fact it was drowned in cream and maple syrup. I was excited for the Charleston (fried chicken, collard greens, hot sauce and an egg) because I love any excuse to eat greens. The tender biscuit did not work as a sandwich, and the fried chicken was so bland that I wondered if it had been seasoned at all. The biscuit did not handle the huge chicken breast and caved under the weight, leaving me to pick at it with a knife and fork.

Buttermilk

Like its sister restaurants Waffle Champion and Maples Barbecue from restaurateur Todd Woodr uf f, Buttermilk got its start as a food truck. It’s taken its sandwich biscuit concept to the new Paseo development The Pueblo, where it shares a building space with Scratch Kitchen. Buttermilk’s menu is smaller than HunnyBunny’s. Where HunnyBunny offers entrees like chicken potpie, biscuit Benedict and an entree of fried chicken, Buttermilk keeps it simple by offering six biscuit sandwiches, sweet biscuit minis, a side salad and a healthy smoothie bowl. Woodruff’s biscuit concept is inspired by South Carolina chef Sean Brock’s recipe, which is a black pepper biscuit that is heavy on butter and crispy on the outside. It shines as a sandwich but is kind of tough in sweet, miniature form. The construction of the

The chicken honey biscuit from Buttermilk | Photo Alexa Ace

biscuit for the sandwich is perfect. It has a brown, crisp edge flavored with black pepper and plenty of butter. The chicken honey biscuit with pickles and smoked paprika honey had much more flavor than its HunnyBunny fried chicken counterpart, and the sandwich held its integrity even after being split in two. I’d recommend making sure the eggs in the bacon egg and cheese (BEC) are served soft-scrambled, as indicated on the menu. I was given hard-scrambled and would’ve preferred a creamier egg. Buttermilk’s biscuit minis have reduced the offerings to three: a chocolate chip mini with peanut butter, cinnamon toast mini with vanilla and blueberry mini with lemon cream. It has removed green apple with caramel and banana nut with butterscotch from the offerings. A choice of all three with fresh berries is $7. My favorite of the bunch was the blueberry, which got a nice citrus finish with lemon frosting. The vanilla frosting was so intense that I scraped it off the cinnamon biscuit. It was a nice portion with a lot of fresh fruit, but the crispy finish that is nice on the fullsized biscuit was kind of tough on the miniature version.

Final verdict

HunnyBunny has an advantage of having a larger menu, and its sweet biscuit delivered even if the French toast version wasn’t as crispy as I would’ve liked. However, Buttermilk wins in a split decision because its biscuit sandwich is so well-constructed.

A club sandwich with fried chicken, lettuce, tomato and bacon from HunnyBunny Biscuit Co. | Photo Alexa Ace

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EAT & DRINK

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F E AT U R E

THE CHICKASAW NATION

Dynamic duo

Osteria OKC — a partnership between local chef Jonathon Stranger and celebrity chef Fabio Viviani — opens in Nichols Hills. By Jacob Threadgill

One of Oklahoma City’s most anticipated restaurants — Osteria OKC — a partnership between local chef Jonathon Stranger and celebrity chef Fabio Viviani opened to the public Nov. 17 in Nichols Hills after months of delays that were no fault of the owners. Stranger and Viviani have known each other in passing for years, another recognizable face during events, but about two years ago, the plans for what is now Osteria OKC, 6430 Avondale Drive, were set in motion. Viviani is an in-demand speaker since his breakout on season five of Bravo’s Top Chef and a host of other television appearances. Such was the case when Viviani went to Norman to speak at the Tom Love Innovation Hub at University of Oklahoma. A friend invited Stranger to hang out for the day and catch up with Viviani, an old acquaintance. As serendipity would have it, Stranger and his wife had recently returned from a trip from Viviani’s native Italy, so a concept was on his mind. “I got to talking with Fabio, and he asked what I was looking to do next,” Stranger remembered. “‘It’s funny that we’re talking because I’d love to do a true Italian restaurant here.’ During our meeting, [Viviani] said, ‘What if we do it together?’ Well, if you’re going to say that, you better be ready to do it.”

It’s a partnership between focused and driven chefs. Stranger, along with business partners Dr. Steven Sands and Drew Tekell, also own En Croûte, St. Mark’s Chop Room, Ok-Yaki and Prairie Wolf Distillery. Viviani’s company based in Chicago has opened more than 25 restaurants across the country. Within a few weeks of that meeting, the official partnership was formed, and they just needed a location. Stranger already operates En Croûte and St. Mark’s Chop Room in Nichols Hills Plaza and heard through the grapevine that Starbucks was looking to move to a standalone building in the shopping center. “The second I heard, I called the landlord and he said [Starbucks] was looking to get out by the end of the [2017]; I said, ‘Great; I’ll take it,’” Stranger said. Stranger went up to Chicago to meet with Viviani to begin what they thought would be the process to open Osteria OKC in the spring of 2018, but Starbucks’ own building project was not ready by the end of 2017, and it pushed back the timeline for Osteria. “There’s nothing you can do to move Starbucks. I can’t call the CEO and tell them to step it up,” Stranger said, noting that they finally got into the property in July. During the delay, Stranger and


Tuna carpaccio with yellow fin tuna, capers, pickled onions, frisée, breakfast radish and burnt lemon vinaigrette. | Photo provided

Osteria OKC executive chef Darshon Daines were able to work with Viviani and his team as they opened Osteria Tampa, which was supposed to follow the Oklahoma City location. In Italian, an osteria is the least formal eatery, followed by a trattoria and the very formal ristorante. “Darshon is very talented and leading the kitchen in magnificent ways,” Viviani said in an email. “Jonathon is the best around in the restaurant business. So for us, a collaboration on Osteria’s menu was very easy and we see eye to eye.” The name served as inspiration for Viviani’s concept at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but Stranger said the two new concepts are completely different. They are focused on providing fresh and local ingredients prepared in an Italian style, which is the true Italian ethos. While some pizzerias import San Marzano tomatoes and other ingredients from Italy to get Neapolitan approval, Stranger notes that Italian cooking varies by region in the country based on available local ingredients. “Italians would never import something from thousands of miles away,” he said. An example of how an Italian dish was transformed with local ingredients is showcased with the wild hake filet ($24), which is served with toasted local wheat berries, fennel, olives and charred lemon. All seafood arrives at Osteria within 24 hours of being caught through the Sea to Table service. “In Italy, you would use farro, which is in essence the same thing. It’s a popular grain to use, but we don’t have it anywhere nearby. So fish and farro

is a classic Mediterranean dish that is very delicious. We can’t get fish from the Mediterranean as fast as domestic fish. The whole dish is using the philosophy of what is Italian but creating something unique to here.” All of the pastas are made fresh every morning, and the only imported ingredients on the menu are the fish. Local greens are used for salads, and the same goes for proteins. Stranger continues his relationship with Iron Horse Ranch, which is the main supplier of steaks at St. Mark’s, and it’s showcased at Osteria OKC with a softball-sized 16-ounce meatball ($19) and a flank steak with roasted cipollini onions, Parmesan fingerling potatoes and salsa verde ($32). Over the first weekend of service, Stranger said he was surprised at how well braised Spanish octopus with Romesco sauce, sautéed celery fennel, olives, chilies and burnt lemon butter sauce ($22) sold. “It’s something different on a menu here, and I think we did a good job with it,” he said. Other top-performing items from the weekend included squid ink garganelli pasta with clams, cherry tomatoes, white wine and uni (sea urchin) cream ($25); rigatoni in a jar ($25); two types of gnocchi (basil, $19, and mushroom, $21); and the chicken marsala, the latter of which is served with chickpeas, roasted cauliflower and blistered cherry tomatoes. “Everything went well for an opening weekend,” Stranger said. “We spent a lot of time, three weeks, training kitchen and front-of-house staff. We’ve got some great people on our team. The smoothness of the weekend is due to the staff, more so than anything Fabio, management or me did.” Visit osteriaokc.com.

I

Kaiser’s

Real Jewish Rye Kaiser’s Grateful Bean Café N Walker & 10th • 236-3503

Mon – Thurs 11a-6p • Fri – Sat 11a–8p General Manager - Alberto Fonseca personally prepares our NY Jewish sourdough rye using old-world methods; he also personally creates our corned beef, sauerkraut, spicy mustard, guacamole, salsas, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk...and lots of other great fermented foods.

Chefs Jonathon Stranger and Fabio Viviani partnered to open Osteria OKC in Nichols Hills. | Photo provided

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F E AT U R E

EAT & DRINK

Franchise-ready

Open only a month, family-owned Shawarma & Co. has the look, feel and taste of an established operation. By Jacob Threadgill

The biggest problem Shawarma & Co. has faced since opening its doors at 14600 N. Pennsylvania Ave. a little over a month ago is letting people know that it’s a locally owned sit-down restaurant that wants to add variety to Middle Eastern street food. Mohammad Abuobead operates Shawarma & Co. with his wife Yaqeen and brother Odai, and they opened the restaurant after Mohammad spent the first few years after college working in graphic design at a marketing firm. He designed the restaurant’s sleek logo, and the family painted the restaurant. It’s a former Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, and its sandwich station easily converted to the new restaurant’s area to make wraps, salads and bowls. “A lot of customers think we’re a franchise,” Odai Abuobead said. “But really, it was all [Mohammad]. He had all the design ideas from the stickers [on the ketchup bottles] and everything else you could think of.” It seems like a good problem to have. When most restaurants in their first few months are just trying to get customers in the door, the owners at Shawarma & Co. are, to their surprise, handling long lunch lines during the week and a steady business on the weekend. “I’ve honestly thought about writing ‘This is not a chain’ outside,” Mohammad

Aboubead said. “The way it’s set up, you might think it is fast food, but we operate as a sit-down. It’s different than street food.” Mohammad and his brother lived in Jordan before moving to Oklahoma in 2002 after their father went into business with their uncle franchising IHOP locations. Mohammad said that while shawarma is one of the most popular street food items across the Middle East, it is usually only served with the option of french fries. “We wanted to have more variety with different kinds of salads and sides,” he said, noting that salads — like everything on the menu — are made fresh every hour. The restaurant serves four types of salad (Greek, tabbouleh, fattoush and Mediterranean) with wraps, gyros and bowls that can be filled with any combination of the meats spinning on the rotating spits: chicken and beef shawarma, chicken gyro and beef with lamb gyro meat. Shawarma differs from gyro meat in that it is chicken or beef sliced and pounded thin, marinated and layered on top of each other before cooking on the spit. Gyro meat is ground and formed into a large block before cooking. It’s a two-day process to slice and marinate the chicken shawarma, which is the restaurant’s top-seller. It is served

on a plate and wrapped in a Middle Eastern flatbread or in a bowl. “We serve it the right way, Arabicstyle,” Mohammad said. “It’s almost like a sushi roll. It’s a wrap that’s been cut up with our flatbread and served with garlic sauce. The more Americanized way is when you get it in a pocket pita with all the veggies.” Like the chicken, the hummus is a two-day process. Chickpeas are soaked overnight before being combined with fresh tahini and other spices. Shawarma & Co. sells three varieties: regular, spicy and beruti, the latter of which blends fresh parsley into the mixture. The restaurant also has fresh baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves and labne (Greek yogurt blended with olive oil, lemon and spices) served with choice of pita. Yaqeen Abuobead helped develop the recipes for the meat and falafel by inviting friends and family, including uncle Yusef Al Yassin, owner of ZamZam Mediterranean Grill, 3913 N. MacArthur Blvd., over every day for weeks to perfect spice mixtures. “When Arabs come into the store, they tell us that it tastes like home,” she said. Yaqeen also developed a surprise hit for Shawarma & Co.: freshly made dessert crêpes. She pours the batter on a crêpe griddle and fills them with either Nutella or cookie butter and fresh fruit, and then chocolate is shaved off a nearby rotating spit to top off the sweet treat. “We knew they were good, but we A shawarma wrap with falafel, tabbouleh, hummus, garlic sauce, pita bread and pickled vegetables | Photo Jacob Threadgill

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Yaqeen and Mohammad Aboubead operate Shawarma & Co. | Photo Alexa Ace

didn’t expect the crêpes to sell this well,” Odai said. The business has been full of surprises for the Abuobeads, but the good kind. They said the support and lines of customers overwhelm them. Odai said they’re working 105 hours per week to meet demand. “We don’t have time to go home,” Yaqeen said. “We don’t have kids, so this is our baby right now,” Mohammad added. As Mohammad and Odai grew up in the restaurant industry, their first job was working at the family’s IHOP location. The experience planted a seed of inspiration that led to a lifelong dream for the brothers, even as the elder brother started a career in graphic design and marketing. “Since I met him [three years ago], he was talking about the business that he wanted to own; it was a dream of his,” Yaqeen said. “He wasn’t going to be happy unless he did this; I knew it.” “I had several business ideas, but I knew we could perfect this one,” Mohammad said. In the coming weeks and months, he said they’re going to add menu items, including gluten-free options, but they’re already talking about a future with a second location. “We have a good positive feeling and feel like it is going to grow,” Yaqeen said. Visit facebook.com/shawarmaandcompany.


F E AT U R E

Boba cafe

Babble puts customers in control of buildyour-own bubble tea and much more. By Jacob Threadgill

Husband and wife Tuan and Lisa Le are trying to do more than redefine the word Babble with their business; they’re also trying to change the concept of a neighborhood cafe by combining coffee and bubble tea. The definition inside the 6909 W. Hefner Road, Suite B12 location presents Babble as a verb: when you gather with your friends at your neighborhood cafe and can’t stop talking excitedly. The family-owned business is focused on providing good customer service while introducing a build-yourown-boba concept to an area of the city that doesn’t have as much exposure to the Asian-style drink. Tuan Le grew up in northwest Oklahoma City and attended Piedmont High School. Some of his fondest memories were running up and down the sidewalks of the shopping center where his parents own and still operate Speedy Wok, 11122 N. Rockwell Ave. “When you see [16th Street] Plaza District and Midtown are popping up and people are taking chances, we want to be in that conversation and growth,” Tuan Le said of northwest Oklahoma City. “People shouldn’t have to go to the Asian District just to get boba.” Tuan Le owns Babble with his wife Lisa at 6909 W. Hefner Road, Suite B12. | Photo Alexa Ace

Boba — or bubble tea as it is often referred to in the U.S. — was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s by combining sweet tapioca balls (boba) with blended teas. Babble offers in-house flavored boba in addition to a variety of jellies that can be added to four varieties of flavored milk teas, coffee and sweet caffeine-free fruit drinks called refreshers. “Ten years ago, people were just starting to be introduced to pho, and now everyone knows what it is,” Le said. “Bubble tea is a growing trend.” Teas are brewed in-house and infused with a non-dairy creamer. Customers choose their size of cup and head over the BYOB (build-your-ownboba) station to add boba pearls, jellies and other ingredients before adding ice and their choice of milk tea that includes flavors like wintermelon and specials like hazelnut in addition to the house-blend milk tea. Babble offers sample cups so customers can try each flavor of tea and refresher. “We want you to explore outside the box,” Le said. “If you ask us, ‘Can I add this to my drink?’ If we have the ingredients, we can make it happen.” Babble also offers a wide range of coffee drinks made with Tulsa-based Topeca Coffee Roasters and hot tea drinks like London Smog, which takes the traditional London Fog blend of

steamed Earl Grey with milk and adds a shot of espresso. Blended smoothies and slushies are also available and are flavored with more than 15 options including fruit like mango and strawberry but also sea salt caramel, taro (purple sweet potato) and red bean. To complete its cafe ambiance, Babble offers sweet and savory food options. Customers can snack on three kinds of popcorn chicken served with a sweet soy glaze or steamed or panfried dumplings. For sweet options, Babble sells macarons from Belle Kitchen and a few other outsourced bakery options. It also sells Braum’s ice cream that can fill a sweet waffle that tastes like a fortune cookie and has a honeycomb pattern. It also has mini Babble Boxes, which are a smaller version of Japanese toast boxes. Sweet Hawaiian rolls are hollowed out, toasted and filled with the customer’s choice of ice cream, fruit and candy options. “We’re concerned with quality in everything we do, and it’s hard to go wrong with the quality of Braum’s ice cream,” Le said. “Throw [in] some strawberries, something fun like Frosted Flakes, and it’s a fun treat.” Since opening in August 2017, Babble is a dream come true for Le, who made the difficult decision as his parents’ only child to branch out from his family’s restaurant business, but he didn’t go too far. Babble is located in a shopping center in the same block as his parents’ restaurant. “My dad wanted me to take over [at the restaurant] eventually, but I told them, ‘I learned a lot from you. You’ve done a great job,’ but I wasn’t passionate enough in the kitchen, and I loved to own a business one day. It was my dream. I learned how to grind it out at work and be the best man that I can be from a family standpoint, which is what he provided to me.” His wife Lisa — who is a graphic designer — helped design Babble’s colorful interior and devise its mascot, a night owl named August, after the month in which the

Milk tea with boba from Babble | Photo Alexa Ace

cafe opened and in honor of the late nights they spent working on the concept. The owners and customers lovingly refer to the owl as Auggie. “Before we went into it, we dreamed of working together,” Lisa Le said. “It hasn’t always been easy — we just had our son three months ago — but we enjoy our time together. For us, we’re building our dream together, and it’s really cool.” The cafe originally opened as Babble and Sip, but they received a cease and desist notice from a coffee shop and bakery in New York City named Bibble and Sip, which federally trademarked the name and operates under B&S LLC. “I felt like if I was going to pump $10,000 [in lawyer fees] to keep my name, I’d rather put that into the business,” Tuan Le said. “If I were to open another Babble across state lines and applied for federal trademark, we could run into problems. We could’ve won, but there was no reason to take the risk. People were referring us just as Babble anyway.” Visit letsbabble.com.

A latte from Babble | Photo Alexa Ace

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GAZEDIBLES

EAT & DRINK

Thanksgiving cleanse

After a hedonistic week of eating Thanksgiving food, these seven restaurants will allow you to get on the right track before the next holiday. By Jacob Threadgill with photos provided and Gazette / file

Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria 5801 N. Western Ave. flipswinebar.com | 405-843-1527

Do you want to eat out, but the idea of Flip’s tasty but indulgent pizzas or pasta dishes just sound like too much after the holiday? The Omega 3 Antioxidant Power Salad packs flavor and nutrients by combining spinach, blueberries, tomatoes, avocado, red onions with toasted nuts and a honey sesame dressing with 4 ounces of grilled salmon.

Gia Gia Vietnamese Family Restaurant 2624 N. Classen Blvd. 405-602-5095

Fresh cilantro packs a lot of nutrients, and one of the best ways to enjoy it by the handful is with the Vietnamese vermicelli salad bun that pairs lettuce, noodles and bean sprouts with sauces. Gia Gia in the Asian District serves up a good selection of bun, including a soup version with duck.

Holiday Open House

With multiple locations throughout the city in different office buildings, Health Nut Cafe is a fast sandwich and salad option where you don’t have to sacrifice taste. Its black bean burger has good smokiness and the additional crunch of sprouts. It also offers a variety of meats for sandwiches, melts and wraps with a few nutrient-rich salads.

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The Red Cup

Plato’s Provisions

3122 N. Classen Blvd. theredcupokc.com | 405-525-3430

Chef Patrick Clark has turned the venerable cafe into a vegetarian powerhouse in recent years. He turns out a daily vegan special like falafel salad, but Red Cup’s kale Caesar salad — with chickpea barley salad, sundried tomatoes and cucumber — is the answer for your post-Thanksgiving cleanse.

Nunu’s Mediterranean Cafe & Market

Mobile locations facebook.com/platosprovisionsco 405-464-3041

The One Cafe

122 E. 15th St., Edmond 405-340-0333

3131 W. Memorial Road nunuscafe.com | 405-751-7000

Oklahoma City’s newest vegan food truck makes handmade seitan every morning before service where the protein-rich meat replacement is uniquely seasoned for every batch. Owners Taylor and Clint are delivering gyros, chicken sandwiches and daily specials to a growing number of fans every week. They’re starting its first midweek lunch service at the Midtown Holiday Pop-Up Shops. Check social media for all dates and times.

This Edmond cafe has served poke since before it became seemingly the most popular menu item of 2018 at restaurants across the city. Its build-your-own poke bowl allows customers to mix and match the choices of regular or spicy tuna, scallops and salmon that can be ordered over salad for an even more healthy option. The One Cafe is one of the highest-rated restaurants in Edmond for a reason.

The Mediterranean diet of chicken and fish not only is great for your body, but also nearly has the same carbon footprint as a vegetarian one. Take care of yourself and the planet by eating at Nunu’s, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with new menu items and additional dining space. Nunu’s also has four vegetarian options on the menu.

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ART

ARTS & CULTURE

Cultural colors

An exhibit at 21c Museum Hotel explores the intricacies of pop culture. By Joshua Blanco

Beaming with color and vibrant décor, the walls of the museum located in 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City offer viewers a unique way to explore a variety of issues prevalent in our modern social structure. Through the lens of popular culture, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art features contemporary artists from around the world who take their audience on a reflective journey through past and present, providing a means by which we can better understand the evolution of culture in a society dominated by consumerist ideals. “The imagery of manufactured fantasy is reframed in the visual language of historical iconography in this multi-media exploration of popular culture today,” wrote Alice Stites, Pop Stars! exhibit curator. “As the real and the virtual increasingly collide, boundaries between art and media further blur. … Appropriating images and practices from commerce, science, politics, religion, sports and technology, these artists illuminate recent shifts in how culture is being created and consumed.” In a display of over 100 pieces utilizing a diverse set of media ranging from film and audio to painting and sculpture, those who attend will be challenged to look past the aesthetics in order to appreciate a deeper message that might either be hidden or otherwise unexpected. In a piece by R. Luke DuBois titled “(Pop) Icon: Britney,” the artist focuses on the darker side of celebrity worship, clearly giving way to religious sentiment. After stripping an audio sample of her work from all backing instruments, the singer’s voice was played back in a church known for its collection of Byzantine icons in Ravenna, Italy. The resulting soundtrack, which fills the space in a muffled albeit ethereal fashion, accomTitus Kaphar’s “Ascension” combines a silhouette of Michael Jordan with Rogier van der Weyden’s “The Descent from the Cross.” | Image 21c Museum Hotel / provided

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panies a compilation of the pop star’s images centered in an ornate frame. Regarding the hidden dimension many of these pieces possess, the images are actually a decade’s worth of her film mashups run through a surveillance software program used by U.S. Intelligence to track down Osama Bin Laden. The irony is the use of top-notch technology to pinpoint an individual who would never need to be found. As a celebrity, her whereabouts are almost always known. Works with similar messages are scattered throughout the gallery, and many have stood the test of time, having been a part of the display since the original Pop Stars! opened in Durham, North Carolina, in the spring of 2015. Typically, each show remains on display at a 21c Museum Hotel location no longer than nine months. When that time is up, the exhibition rotates to another 21c locations, sometimes including a host of new additions. These newer works are carefully chosen to accommodate the theme of the sections present within the overall display. “We live in a world that’s changing very quickly, and therefore, if we want the exhibition to be relevant, we need to then include new artworks or change artworks that make sure that the ideas that are being presented are up to date and relevant,” Stites said. The exhibit’s relevancy is echoed by others who have a close relationship with pieces featured in the presentation. “I appreciate how relevant the exhibition is,” said Michaela Slavid, museum manager of 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City. “It’s about popular culture and contemporary art, and popular culture is just ubiquitous today. You can’t really stray far from it.” Stites mentioned an important piece she recently added to the sports section. “If it Must be Love, Let it Brand the Soul,” a piece by Brazilian artist Alexandre Mazza, is a high-definition production featuring a boxer decorated in the garb of a veteran fighter who spars himself instead of another man after realizing he is his own greatest opponent. “It has this ritualistic feeling that he is engaging in some sort of self-purging or inner struggle search for transcendence,” Stites

said. “So it also has a kind of spiritual quality that links it to some of the other works in the sports section.” In this rendition, the sports section has been expanded upon. “[It elucidates] how we treat sports figures and this contemporary obsession with athletes that also is combined with the way that athletes are asked to sacrifice so much of their lives, their privacy and then even their bodies,” Stites said. “There are several works that draw parallels between the way that especially African-American athletes are once revered when they’re on the court or on the field but are also still often targets of discrimination and violence.”

Accessible art

In a museum of this size, there is ample opportunity to incorporate messages such as these. Which messages to convey and with what art, however, poses its own set of challenges. Since its debut, Stites has included even more pieces outside the realm of sports, dealing with topics of consumption and technology and how our social landscape is changed by the evolution of these cultural components. With over 4,300 square feet of space, another complication arises. Tackling the issue of making everything fit can be just as daunting, especially in the limited time they have to set up the display. Though they try to have everything cleared out and the next exhibit ready to be viewed in a matter of 10 days, a high level of efficiency is required and is expected to be maintained. Considering the structure of the museum’s architectural components is just one of the many pieces to this puzzle. For example, Brian Paumier’s piece “An Act of Faith” is a large, intimate work he created after returning home from his tour in Iraq, one that he will certainly never forget. Hanging the piece on a rounded wall presented a bit of a challenge due to the multiple-image format, but with a little creativity and some thoughtful planning, the matter was resolved. “It’s very hard to find artwork that looks good on the rounded wall,” Stites said. “But when you have a piece that comes in multiple small squarish or rectangular pieces, it takes a long time but it looks really great. And it really activates that space beautifully.” Taking into account the depth of the story behind the work, coupled with its

“Lisa” by Hassan Hajjaj | Image 21c Museum Hotel / provided

beauty and its message, Stites believes it was worth the challenge. Creating a space that takes people on a journey that appeals to more than sight alone is an achievement. “That’s what I think about a lot … which artworks to put together in which exhibition to stimulate an interesting conversation and that will [be] interesting and related when you hang them together on walls or place things together in the same place,” Slavid said. According to Slavid, this has already been a reality since the gallery opened at 21c in Oklahoma City. Giving at least two tours per week, she has a personal conversation with at least one person each time over some aspect of the exhibit. “Honestly, the reaction to the exhibition provides a metaphor for the exhibition itself just because people are drawn in,” Slavid said. “And so I think this really makes the artworks on view accessible; it really leads to a heightened engagement with the artwork, and from that, it’s much easier to really start thinking about what each artist has to say.” Because each piece has a meaning of its own, it might be difficult to grasp the concept behind each and every one. Stites hopes the audience will at least walk away understanding there is a very real connection between art, everyday life and the ideals that surround us. “What we see on the street, on our screens, in everyday life are subject matters that are valid for making thought-provoking contemporary art that has a relationship to the canon of art history and that can reveal and reflect some of the most important ideas happening all around us and make us more aware of what is happening in culture and society today,” Stites said. Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art will be on display until February 2019. Admission is free. Visit 21cmuseumhotels.com.

Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art through February 2019 21c Museum Hotel 900 W. Main St. 21cmuseumhotels.com/oklahomacity 405-982-6900 Free


ART

“Cliff Swallows” by Debby Kaspari | Image The Depot Gallery / provided

Holiday haul

The Depot Gallery offers an exhibition full of small artwork perfect for gifts. By Joshua Blanco

Small Works VIII, an exhibit featuring new works from prominent Oklahoma artists and a perennial holiday favorite, makes art available to those in search of a heartfelt gift for the holidays. “We love that show; it’s our favorite of the year,” said Shari Jackson, executive director of The Depot Gallery. Small Works was introduced in 2010 as an outlet for prospective customers to purchase artwork they might otherwise be unable to afford. With two rooms filled with over 60 pieces by 10 different artists, those interested in taking home a gift will have plenty of options to choose from. “We absolutely know that people are buying gifts and they are looking for interesting things to purchase this time of year,” Jackson said. “We wanted to give them an option outside your normal gift-giving, something really unique, something that’s one of a kind. Something you can’t get anywhere else.” According to Brad Price, expressionist painter and member of The Depot Gallery committee, this is the best time for Small Works to be open to the public. “It’s one of the reasons that we do it this time of year,” he said, “so that the art is less expensive and more people can afford it.” Price will have six 8-by-10-inch pastels available for purchase. Though the works on display will be smaller than you might be used to seeing at a standard exhibition, they won’t be any less appealing. They will, however, come with a significantly reduced price tag. The largest piece available for sale measures 14 inches by 18 inches — not too small when considering other paintings and photographs hanging on the walls of other galleries. What’s more, the artists behind these masterpieces put the same amount of care into these works as they do their larger ones.

When recruiting artists for the show, The Depot committee maintains its own set of qualifications. “We’re looking for somebody that does have a good distinctive style,” Jackson said. “We really want to focus on artists with strong Oklahoma ties, a strong Oklahoma background or a presence, and obviously, really good skills. [We look for] highly skilled artists with unique perspectives.” Preference is also given to artists who have showcased their work at The Depot in the past. Fortunately for staff and audience members alike, this year’s show will be yet another display blending the work of talented artists with a special knack for their craft. The artists — Carol Beesley, Carolyn J. Faseler, Steve Hicks, Debby Kaspari, Tim Kenney, Brad Price, Bert Seabourn, Connie Seabourn, Cletus Smith and Betty Wood — each have their own style, giving viewers a vast array of options.

Plein narratives

In a press release, Beesley said the paintings on display in the Small Works gallery “represent a ‘pause’ from the big behemoths [she] usually produce[s].” But that doesn’t mean they are any less intricate. The same goes for the works of the other artists. Like Beesley, who taught at University of Oklahoma and eventually became professor emeritus of art, Hicks is a veteran artist and educator in his own right, having only recently retired from Oklahoma Baptist University. Both Beesley and Hicks present their own takes on landscape paintings, creating works with a style easily distinguished from one another. The ability to create a piece of art with an identifiable style and assemblage of features is perhaps one of the

greatest accomplishments available in the profession. “Burt does such interesting work, and he’s got such a strong personality in the way that he puts images together,” Jackson said of Seabourn’s work. “You can’t help but know it’s a Bert Seabourn when you’re looking at it.” The same could be said of his wife, Connie, who has the unique ability to express a number of themes through her watercolors and serigraphs. “Connie Seabourn’s watercolors — the way that she blends colors — is just spectacular,” Jackson said. Often, her works appear to be telling a narrative of their own. To these artists, communication is key. “What I try to do is I try to take something that’s been meaningful to me and present it to the viewer in a way where they can appreciate it in a fresh way,” Price said, referencing his own paintings. “I just try to present things that mean a lot to me in a fresh and bright way. My favorite part is really just seeing how people respond to the painting. The best is seeing the reaction that people have when they see one of my paintings and they want to spend money, their hard-earned money on something that I do. That just tells me that I really touched them with my work, and that’s one of the greatest parts.” His pieces have been described as joyful and reminiscent of the work of Vincent Van Gogh. He uses a common method of taking photographs to use for his paintings, not unlike other artists trying to capture a certain setting. However, the way in which they utilize their photos varies. “I don’t generally paint from photos,” Kaspari said regarding her use of photographs in her paintings. “I take photos to refer to later, to help kind of remind me. But really the best color and the best light I get from being right there outside and seeing what the sunlight’s doing. I suppose some people can do this from photography, but I never could capture what I could see in a photo. So for me, it’s really important to be actually outside with the paint and looking to see for real what’s happening.” This style of painting known as en plein air (French for painting outdoors) is also practiced by Norman artist Tim Kenney. Like Kenney, Smith also likes to capture landscapes from Oklahoma and New Mexico using watercolor to illustrate the scenery. Though the settings reflected in the work of both artists are similar, the differences in style and approach are clear at first glance. Those interested in the works of these artists are encouraged to make a purchase. Usually, the piece may not be taken down until the exhibit is over, but in true holiday spirit, The Depot is willing to make an exception. The staff made a special request that artists provide backup works to fill the spaces in the event one of their pieces is sold, allowing

the buyer to carry it straight home. The only hope is that viewers will enjoy their time and take a moment to appreciate the art and ambiance offered only at a gallery with a setting as unique as The Depot. “It’s a great atmosphere for the arts,” Price said. “I think the depot is a beautiful building. … It’s a historical and very aesthetically pleasing building, and being centrally located, it’s a great place to show art.” Small Works VIII is on display through Dec. 23. There is an artist demonstration 2-4 p.m. Sunday and a reception 6-9 p.m. Dec. 14 during 2nd Friday Art Walk. Admission is free. Visit pasnorman.org.

“Watercolor” by Cletus Smith | Image The Depot Gallery / provided

“Black Hawk” by Bert Seabourn | Image The Depot Gallery / provided

“Chana Cliffs” by Brad Price | Image The Depot Gallery / provided

Small Works VIII 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Dec. 23 The Depot Gallery 200 S. Jones Ave., Norman pasnorman.org | 405-307-9320 Free

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ARTS & CULTURE

Comfort and joy Pianist Jim Brickman brings his Joyful Christmas tour to OKC. By Joshua Blanco

Award-winning pianist Jim Brickman is coming to town Dec. 11, and though he won’t be carrying presents on a sleigh guided by a band of reindeer, that doesn’t mean he’s coming empty-handed. Accompanied by two vocalists and a violinist, Brickman and his crew will deliver an invaluable present, one that can’t be wrapped in colorful paper or topped with a sparkling bow: holiday cheer. For the second time in two years, Brickman will make his return to Oklahoma City, this time offering his take on old holiday favorites as part of his Joyful Christmas tour. In just over a month’s time, the musician will cover venues in over 30 cities across the United States. However, the tour wouldn’t be complete without including OKC as one of the anticipated stop-ins for his live shows. As Brickman puts it, deciding where to perform is a bit like playing hopscotch, and he’s glad to be scheduled in a place Jim Brickman plays at OCCC’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater Dec. 11. | Photo Jeff Klaum / provided

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he can look forward to coming back to. Having grown up in Cleveland and Chicago, he describes OKC as a sort of mirror reflecting the values he acquired throughout his childhood years; the city maintains a certain “understanding of what hard work is and what ethic is and family,” he said. “I feel like it’s very relatable to me. … I feel more comfortable in places that are more like the way I grew up,” Brickman said. “It’s always been such a kind response. Plus they also have Bricktown, so I figure if they’re gonna name a part of the city after me then the least I could do is be kind and generous.” And all this time, we thought its namesake originated from the seemingly endless amount of bricks comprising the focal point of the district’s unique architecture. But it’s not just the city and its people that motivate Brickman to come back for another performance. He also appreciates the closeness he feels with the audience when playing smaller venues. Hosted at Visual and Performing Arts

Theater at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), an intimate setting that seats an audience of about 1,000, a more personal experience will be available for those hoping to tune into the holiday spirit. “I love the intimacy of a place [that size],” Brickman said. “Those are the kinds of things that I’m really drawn to when it comes to the Christmas show because people are gathering and they’re celebrating the season. … It feels like my friends are just hanging out at a Christmas party.” Though it requires him to be more in tune with the audience, it’s unlikely he’ll be struggling to turn his viewers on to the spirit of his music. Aside from what he describes as an intuitive sense for how his audience feels and responds to his music, those who attend will likely already be anticipating an atmosphere filled with holiday joy. “My music lends itself, I think, to the holiday because it’s very emotional. It’s a really nice soundtrack — a very nice, peaceful aspect to the season,” Brickman said. “The spirit everybody’s in … they’re in a more celebratory, happy mood and so it’s special.”

Anything goes

In addition to a number of holiday favorites from his Joyful Christmas album, Brickman will also perform some of his more popular hits, taking a play-it-as-it-comes approach. The audience is in for a treat even if they’ve experienced his shows in the past. According to Brickman, nothing he plays is written down. Of course, when there’s a set planned out with other musicians sharing the stage, he can’t be too spontaneous with his songs. Still, he retains an extemporaneous element with his compositions, and once he and the crowd warm up to one another, the pianist might at times have those in the room feeling as if they’ve come to hear a Christmas jam rather than a rehearsed compilation of holiday music. “I always wanted my music to be something that lifts people up, that makes them smile, that connects them with their emotions,” Brickman said. “Everything in my point of view is hopeful, idealistic, happy. I feel like es-

Christmas music makes up a significant percent of pianist Jim Brickman’s discography. | Photo Jeff Klaum / provided

pecially now in the world, all of us are looking for a way to escape and daydream and have hope and promise.” Now over two decades into his career, it would seem he has been able to do just that. People who went to see Brickman perform when they were kids are now the parents of a new generation of concertgoers attending his live shows. To this end, he said, it’s important to cultivate the audience and provide them with the momentary escape they’ve been looking for. “While it’s happening, you don’t realize that 22 years has gone by, but that’s life, you know, so seeing that cycle is kind of cool,” Brickman said, reflecting on his success. “I would never think that far ahead.” “I know his work; I have his albums,” said Richard Charnay, director of cultural programs at OCCC. “He’s a lovely guy, and he’s great to work with. He does a great show, and he’s got a nice following.” Over the years, Charnay has played a key role in booking Brickman’s performances. He said it’s not unlikely for Brickman to return to OCCC in the near future, but it probably won’t be for a Christmas special. In the meantime, Brickman will enjoy his holiday tour while it lasts. Having released upward of 12 Christmas albums, the season is undoubtedly an important part of his life, one he hopes to share with those interested in joining him for the occasion. “I always just loved Christmas, always loved doing Christmas music, and it’s become so much a part of my career,” he said. “People love the holiday music, and I’ve always loved the melody and the beauty of holiday songs.” Visit jimbrickman.com.

Jim Brickman’s Joyful Christmas 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater 7777 S. May Ave. occc.edu | 405-682-7579 $17.50-$45


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ARTS & CULTURE

Submissions must be received by Oklahoma Gazette no later than noon on Wednesday seven days before the desired publication date. Late submissions will not be included in the listings. Submissions run as space allows, although we strive to make the listings as inclusive as possible.

Submit your listings online at okgazette.com or e-mail them to listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.

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List your event in

Orchestral transition

Trans-Siberian Orchestra presses on following the death of its founder. By Daniel Bokemper

Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Dec. 5 with a production of The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. The brainchild of the late composer and songwriter Paul O’Neill, the upcoming outing reflects nearly two decades of touring for the collective. The tour also marks a full year since O’Neill’s passing in April 2017, a loss that tested the orchestra’s timelessness in the absence of its founder. Formed in the early ’90s as a classical music-infused collaboration of arena rock veterans, TSO transitioned from a successful experiment to an ongoing spectacle in 1996 off the heels of its inaugural tour. A crossroads of young and seasoned musicians, the group’s talent pool traces to O’Neill’s work producing metal bands like Savatage. However, far more than a lavish gimmick, the orchestra has conjured contemporary holiday classics like “Sarajevo 12/24” and “Wizards in Winter.” Though TSO’s music and production accounts for much of its acclaim, the orchestra’s longevity was ensured by the imagination of O’Neill. The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, for instance, is an original story from O’Neill involving a young runaway finding refuge within a dilapidated theater. Adapted into a film in 1999 to better frame TSO’s performance, the piece has become one of the orchestra’s most iconic arrangements. Al Pitrelli, longtime guitarist of TSO and alumnus of Alice Cooper and Savatage, was incredibly close to O’Neill and played a key role in establishing the group. Even with a lifetime of performances in front of countless, sold-out stadiums under his belt, the sorrow of his mentor and friend’s loss deeply impacted the musician. “It was really hard to deal with it last year,” Pitrelli said. “Everything on that

stage, every note we played and every pyro hit was Paul’s creation, so he was there with us at all times. There were a few moments in the show where I really had a difficult time just getting through it because Paul was like a big brother aside from being our boss, producer and creator of this whole thing.” The decision to run The Ghosts of Christmas Eve this year was done to emphasize the legacy of O’Neill’s craft. Jeff Plate, recurring and current drummer of TSO, recalled the importance and purpose of bring Ghosts back to the arena for a third encore. “Years ago, [Ghosts] really brought us into the living rooms of a lot of people with the television show,” Plate said. “When Paul originally put this show together, he absolutely loved it. When we brought it back in 2016, the response to the show just seemed to have gone according to plan; it really couldn’t have gone better. When we lost Paul, doing this show was just a great way to honor him.” As a handful of viral videos featuring carefully sequenced Christmas lights attest, TSO utterly embraces the power of an over-the-top live set. Plate often finds himself encased in a chandelier of a drum kit while flames rise around him, and Pitrelli’s shadow gets cast across the audience, shattered and reassembled by a storm of lasers. Bringing TSO’s performance to life requires a Herculean endeavor. Roughly 18 trailers haul the group’s stage setup in a caravan that is propelled by a superhuman engine of caffeine and road stories. For the performers, the perseverance of their crew often gives them the determination to play with consistence. “If any of us onstage are ever feeling sluggish and dragging their feet or feeling sorry for themselves, just look at the crew,” Plate said. “More than

Trans-Siberian Orchestra found success through visual and musical spectacle. | Photo Mark Weiss / provided

likely, they’ve had maybe two or three hours of sleep and they’re going to do the same routine the following night and then again after that.” Like a traditional orchestra, no contributor to the orchestra is a standout themselves, but a nonetheless integral piece of a force bigger than any single career, even that of its founder. Talent will inevitably cycle in way or another, but the idea will persist. “Time is our most precious commodity — 20 years of touring and 25 years of recording have gone by in a blink of an eye,” Pitrelli said. “We’ve watched it from infancy to adulthood and become something we never really thought it could be. As we learned tragically over the last couple years, time is way too precious to squander. You can never go back to yesterday.” In many ways, O’Neill’s passing triggers a shift for TSO and a challenge to its longevity as an institution. However, Plate, Pitrelli and their colleagues feel this change was a certainty they would have to confront. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem as though they’ve missed a beat. “Sorrow and the pain that goes along with losing a loved one was prevalent with every one of us,” Pitrelli said. “Paul had always said, ‘We want this thing to live long past all of us.’ I don’t think any of us were prepared for that to occur so soon, but we were kind of handed that task. We kind of just really hunkered down last year, more so than usual, to make the show the best it could possibly be. Now here we are exceeding last year’s ticket sales, let alone the excitement building towards this tour, it just means again Paul was right as usual. This will live past all of us.” Visit trans-siberian.com.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghosts of Christmas Eve 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 Chesapeake Energy Arena 100 W. Reno Ave. chesapeakearena.com | 405-602-8500 $41-$64.50


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Breakdancing Nutcracker

A local take on The Nutcracker replaces ballerinas with hip-hop dancers and does away with the classical soundtrack. By Jeremy Martin

Before she’s transported to the Land of Sweets, Clara spends Christmas Eve in a well-appointed parlor with her friends and extended family, decorating a luxurious tree and receiving beautiful handmade gifts. Until the mice begin to appear toward the end of Act One, many modern-day theatergoers would have trouble relating Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s world-famous fantasy ballet The Nutcracker to their own imperfect childhoods, unless they have fond memories of watching one of the many adaptations of the story on TV. Hui Cha Poos, founder and executive director of RACE Dance Company, set out to modernize the much-produced holiday favorite in a way that would honor the company’s acronym, Radical Application of Creative Energy, and serve its stated mission “to bring about social awareness and change, through dance performances and dance education.” Now in its seventh year, RACE’s The Hip-Hop Nutcracker is scheduled for four performances Dec. 8-9 at Oklahoma City Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave. “I wanted to adapt the story so that it was a little more relatable,” Poos said. “So instead of a Clara, there’s a Carlos, and he’s not from a perfect nuclear family; he’s from a single-mom family. Instead of candy and all those other lands that are more just make-believe, he goes to a land called the Land of Possibilities.” In the Land of Possibilities, Carlos sees what he imagines having a father would be like. RACE Dance Company performers rehearse for the seventh-annual production of The Hip-Hop Nutcracker. | Photo Alexa Ace

“All the things he thinks he missed,” Poos said, “the Land of Video Games and Sports and Tinkering with Things. Then he transitions into the Land of Hidden Treasures, which is family, essentially, teachers, friends, people that are around you all the time that you take advantage of because they’re always there. And it’s a full-circle story of him realizing that what he thought he was missing was really around him already and inside of him.” Poos said she knows The Hip-Hop Nutcracker story is relatable because its main character is based on an actual student she taught, a “wonderful kid and incredible dancer” who was also named Carlos. By adapting a classic work to relate to modern children, Poos said she hopes to make dance feel more relevant to younger audiences. “The Nutcracker is something that everybody knows what it is,” Poos said. “You don’t have to explain it, and I always wondered what that story is really about. You get lost in the scenes and there’s not really a meaning. Maybe I’m not looking into it deep enough, but I saw a scene that was pretty and perfect, and I thought there was something there that could be more meaningful. I’m not trying to take away from The Nutcracker as it exists because it’s a tradition for a reason. I just wanted to start a new one, and why not?” By enhancing a take on a timeless tale with hip-hop music, Poos said she also hopes to encourage the audience to reevaluate the musical form’s artistic merit. “People think that hip-hop is — they make judgments about it because it is originally from the streets — that it’s not meaningful and doesn’t have much

to say,” Poos said. “I wanted to do something the opposite of that to show people that it can really bring about emotion and bring about thought.” In an attempt to keep up with modern hip-hop trends, the production’s score, which Poos described as a “kind of allover-the-place” mix of “traditional songs with pop songs and new hip-hop songs,” is tweaked every year. “The Nutcracker is so traditional, and some people love to go and see the same thing,” Poos said, “but then since it’s hiphop, it’s a genre that needs to change, so we’ve changed up some of the music and some of the movements to keep it fresh.” This year’s revamped choreography combines a wide variety of dance styles with breakdancing, the style traditionally associated with hip-hop culture. “We even have tap in the show this year,” Poos said. “That’s a new one. The dance company does every genre. Even though hip-hop is primarily the focus of the show, and there’s a ton of genres of hip-hop, we’re adding elements of house and voguing so it runs the spectrum and we get to educate the audience and show them there’s more than what they think there is.”

Local talent

The script has also been rewritten to include more dance students from local schools. Poos said teaching the youth is an integral part of RACE’s mission. “We tutor the schools for about three months, and we mentor weekly,” she said, “so not only do those kids get to learn dance from a professional dancer, they have access to them to ask questions and see them on stage. The bridge from who they are in their dreams and their future is a little closer, and they feel they can succeed.” While hip-hop can help introduce these students to other art forms, Poos said many young dancers are already interested in a broad spectrum of music and dance. “It’s always surprising to go into schools and expect them to care only 26

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The Hip-Hop Nutcracker, scheduled for four performances Dec. 8-9 at Oklahoma City Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave., features students from eight local schools. | Photo Alexa Ace

about hip-hop,” she said. “They’re kids like any other kids, and they want to be exposed to all the other genres and ballroom and anything. It’s a great tool to get in there and get them invested, but it’s really just there to ignite a sense of dreaming and goal-setting for them. I have several kids from the first Nutcracker who are getting ready to graduate college with dance degrees. … There’s this incredible lineage from the beginning of the show that I’m really, really proud of.” Many of the students involved in the production are shocked to see that dance performances can be better received in the outside world than they often are at school. “The majority of the kids, they dance with their schools, but there’s not always a great turnout,” Poos said. “They’re not always supported at their school because there’s a great deal of bullying and name-calling, especially the boys in school. So for them to come to these shows and they’re pretty sold out and really full in a beautiful theater, it really is a cool experience for them. It changes what they think dance is.” The production, like hip-hop itself, is constantly evolving as Poos, like her story’s protagonist, continues to explore the Land of Possibilities. “I’m just trying to actualize a dream,” Poos said. “And I think my dream has always been pretty big because I believe in the show and I believe in what these kids can do.” Visit racedance.com.

The Hip-Hop Nutcracker 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 9 OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater 7777 S. May Ave. racedance.com | 405-682-7579 $10-$20


C U LT U R E

ARTS & CULTURE

Artful afternoon

Sonic Free Family Day lets everyone in the door at Oklahoma City Museum of Art. By Jeremy Martin

Thanks to a donation from a drive-in restaurant known for its cheeseburgers and chili dogs, scores of 19th-century British artworks, some appearing outside the U.K. for the first time, can be viewed for free noon-5 p.m. Sunday along with a Disney cartoon featuring a talking candlestick. Sonic Free Family Day at Oklahoma City Museum of Art offers free admission to everyone, and special activities are planned for guests that day. In addition to the museum’s other current exhibits, visitors are invited to view Victorian Radicals: From the PreRaphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement, presented by the American Federation of Arts and Birmingham Museums Trust with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Featuring 144 revolutionary and avant-garde works created during the Victorian era, the exhibition offers an extensive overview of a significant period in British art history. “It’s a lot,” said Becky Weintz, director of marketing and communications for the museum. “It’s very cool though. It’s all different mediums, so it’s not just painting. There’s also metal work and glasswork and pottery and even cloth-

ing. It does feature the Arts and Crafts movement, so there are a lot of different objects and you can really see the history of what was going on during this time period in Birmingham and England.” Arising in the 1860s, the Arts and Crafts movement called for a return to handmade goods created in the tradition of medieval tradesmen as a reaction to the perceived inferior quality of mass-produced products in the Industrial Age. In order to make Victorian Radicals more accessible to younger visitors, the museum is offering visitors the chance to make their own crowns and patterned prints in the style of textile designer William Morris and his Arts and Crafts movement compatriots, but the method guests will use to make the prints — dipping cutout Styrofoam into gold ink and pressing it on black paper — has been modified from those used by 19th-century artists. At 2 p.m., visitors are invited to watch Disney’s 1991 Oscar-winning animated film Beauty and the Beast, which ties into two works on display: John Dickson Batten’s tempera painting of the same name, and Edward Burne-Jones’ painted tiles “The Prince (formerly The Beast)” and “The Merchant’s Daughter (Beauty).” Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, which provided Batten’s painting for the exhibition, describes it as depicting the moment in the folk tale when “Beauty recoils in horror as she first lays eyes on the beast.” Eventually, the description continues, “her fear gives way to pity, then love, which breaks the spell.” BurneJones’ tiles, part of a larger series originally designed for installation above a bedroom fireplace, depict the moment the fairytale couple live happily ever after. Artists from the PreRaphaelite brotherhood and those they influenced drew inspiration from literature as well as everyday life and favored a vibrant style over the more restrained works in fashion in the mid-1800s. Weintz said she knows from personal experience that the artworks featured in Victorian Radicals are engaging to younger viewers even without the addition“Proserpine” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti | Image Oklahoma City Museum of Art / Birmingham Museums Trust / provided

al crafts and cartoon tie-ins. “The exhibition is very brightly colored, so I actually had my infant son — he’s 10 months old — I walked through with him a few weeks ago, and he just loved looking at the colors and the faces,” Weintz said. “I think that’s something that kids like and can identify with.” The Pre-Raphaelite painters, who wanted to revive the bright and realistic style of late-medieval and Renaissance period art and emphasized the humanity of even the most sacred subjects, might enjoy efforts to make the works more accessible to everyone. “They painted their friends in a lot of the paintings, so they were painting real people,” Weintz said. “When you look at the paintings, you’ll see these are not stylized, idealized bodies. They look like your friends or people you would know.” The rapidly changing world PreRaphaelite artists and their associates were reacting to, questioning class and gender identity along with artistic methods, might also be relatable to modern-day viewers. “They were facing a lot of the same issues that we’re facing today,” Weintz said. “How do we balance the handmade with the machine-made? Obviously, our machines are very different now, but there still is an aspect of that.” And, Weintz added, some of the local artisans in the area seem to be motivated by similar ideas. “I think that here in Oklahoma City, we’re seeing a resurgence of Arts and Crafts,” she said. “And if you walk around some of our districts, you see shops that have returned to the handmade, the handdesigned, the hand-sewn.” Unfortunately, the environment in which the Victorian Radicals created these works would also be familiar to modern-day viewers. “Pollution was happening during the Industrial Revolution,” Weintz said, “and pollution is something we still are dealing with today. So I think there are a lot of parallels with this exhibition in current life, and I hope that comes across.”

Sonic Free Family Day at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art offers free admission to everyone noon-5 p.m. Sunday. | Photo provided

Other activities include sketching in the first-floor galleries, chances to win prizes and a pop-up library hosted by Metropolitan Library System. Guests can also view the museum’s other exhibits, including Masterworks of British Painting, featuring works from the Georgian (1714-1837) and the Victorian (1837-1901) eras; The New Art: A Milestone Collection Fifty Years Later, including longstanding museum highlights and rarely exhibited works purchased from the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in 1968; and Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light, one of the largest collections of the famous glass artist’s works, including the 55-foot Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the museum’s atrium. Visit okcmoa.com.

“Design for the ‘Moxon Tennyson’” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti | Image Oklahoma City Museum of Art / Birmingham Museums Trust / provided

Sonic Free Family Day noon-5 p.m. Sunday Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch Drive okcmoa.com | 405-236-3100 Free

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BOOKS

ARTS & CULTURE

Couple goals With a fistful of Emmys and a devoted husband/pop cultural icon/co-author, metro native Megan Mullally presents The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. By Charles Martin

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman adore each other. They’re two comedy titans locked in an enduring love of social media legend. Like Barack and Michelle Obama, they serve as both couple goal material and paternal figures engrained in the modern American moment. Mullally and Offerman’s new book, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, is a sort of marriage victory lap celebrating 18 years of a thriving romance, offering a fly-on-thewall perspective of the busy couple stealing moments in between press junkets to discuss a range of subjects such as jigsaw puzzles, backstage romances and a piggy-back sprint through Los Angeles traffic to reach the Emmy Awards in the nick of time. The tone is unusual for a celebrity book. Neither a dishy memoir or a how-to, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is a series of transcribed conversations originally intended to lay down the foundation of the book to be fleshed out later. “We picked a topic and just started talking,” Mullally said in an interview with Oklahoma Gazette. “We sent the recording to our editor so she could say she liked this part and this part,

from left Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally recorded their book The Greatest Love Story Ever Told on Offerman’s phone. | Photo Emily Shur / provided 28

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then we could build on that. Instead, she said she liked it the way it was, that this could be the book. It’s fun and interesting; no one ever does it this way. We always recorded while we were laying in a bed in a hotel somewhere. I’d ask if he wanted to do a chapter, and he’d say yes. We’d pick a topic and record it on his phone.” Though there were subjects they wanted to hit, they didn’t really plan out what they were going to say. The only editing Mullally said was done was just to trim off tangents to “keep the book from being 90,000 pages long.” Mullally was emphatic that they didn’t try to adhere to any preconceived public image and if their relationship seems like an impossibly halcyon existence, it’s because it actually is. Large swaths of the book feature their shared adoration and mild bafflement that they were so fortunate that their paths collided in 2000 during a production of The Berlin Circle in a former bra factory. Mullally’s stardom was on its ascent, and Nick was still grinding out the early stages of his career. Rather than a firestorm romance, theirs was more of a cautious slow burn. “I held Nick at bay for an unreasonably long period of time for a variety of reasons,” Mullally wrote in the book, “the primary reason being that I had rushed into a lot of relationships in the past, and I didn’t want to do that again. So I kind of

went overboard — overcompensated — with Nick.” Even after Offerman semi-moved in with Mullally, he was relegated to the couch, which he didn’t mind. “I had been looking for the woman of my dreams, with whom I could trust my devotion, and I found you,” Offerman wrote. “I would have fucking still slept on that couch for years because great — if you’ll let me adore you, I’ll be here.” For readers with a deep fascination with Mullally and Offerman as an item or with matrimony as an ideal, this book will be a satisfying view into love when it works as advertised. There is also some emotional heavy lifting, specifically when the conversations turn to family. In a chapter titled You’re Just Trying to Get In On the Action Because Your Family Is Like A Norman Rockwell Painting, Mullally reveals her battle scars from a difficult upbringing in Oklahoma City with her emotionally abusive father. She remembered him as a frustrated actor far removed from Broadway and Hollywood, driving around town in a 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III while wearing an ascot, a man out of place and time. Nick, in response, had only a story of receiving a swatting that led to both him and his mother laughing. Life in Minooka, Illinois, was much more stable for Nick than life in Oklahoma City was for Mullally, but she counts herself fortunate to have had a mother who believed in Mullally’s talent and did her best to make up for the father’s failings. These stretches are where the book feels most raw and unguarded, its most uncharted. Even Mullally’s closest friends didn’t know these darker parts of her childhood. Mullally and Offerman also delve into the mechanics of keeping a power coupling intact, which include long, steamy sessions of jigsaw puzzles and audiobooks, but also a stringent rule that they will be apart no more than two weeks at a time, no matter their schedules or where on planet Earth they might find themselves. Even if it’s just a quick flyover to London for one quiet day together, they hold fast to the rule. The rule might not, on its surface, seem applicable to an average couple not burdened by work-related globetrotting, but it does speak to the universal need for prioritizing the ones you love.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told was released Oct. 2 | Image Penguin Random House / provided

Because the book was largely comprised extemporaneously, it lacks the comedic efficiency of Parks and Recreation or Will & Grace, instead opting for more casual exploration as Mullally and Offerman riff off each other. At a few points in the book, they do hold back, most notably during a brief mention of a toxic Hollywood player who remained nameless and their brief discussion of their moments of discord. “There’s a perception of us as this perfect couple, so we’ve always been paranoid that if we get into a scrape at the grocery store, it’s going to be running on a chyron on CNN,” Mullally wrote. “That’s ridiculous, of course, but I’m exaggerating to make a point, the point being that people think that we have such an idyllic relationship that if we had a normal spat, like people do in public places…” “It would be the Death of Love,” Nick interjected. The Greatest Love Story Ever Told correctly is not meant to be confessional or instructive; it instead offers the reader the opportunity to play witness to their love. Offerman perhaps gives the best advice of the book when he discusses his patience and honesty when he was not ready to commit with other women. He wanted to wait until he found someone he could venerate. Even if the marriage isn’t a high-flying celebrity whirlwind, they do believe that each person is worthy of adoration and if we, their readers, want a romance of their magnitude, we must wait until we find someone worthy of an Offerman/ Mullally level of exaltation. Visit penguinrandomhouse.com.


BOOKS

Emotional aftermath

Oklahoma novelist Lou Berney’s new book November Road, released in October, has already been optioned for a film. By Jeremy Martin

Award-winning Oklahoma City author Lou Berney’s mother told him he was conceived on Nov. 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but like many of the stories surrounding that infamous date, the details might not quite add up. “She was always a great storyteller, so I’m not sure if that’s true or not,” said Berney, currently on tour supporting his new book November Road, set during the aftermath of the assassination. “The math is a stretch, but it’s plausible. Who knows? It’s a great story.” Berney, born about eight months after JFK died, said the president’s death still loomed large in his childhood. “I remember being 5 or 6 years old and hearing about it,” Berney said. “I come from a Catholic family in Oklahoma City, and a lot of my relatives I remember having photos with John F. Kennedy on the wall framed, and so I was really aware of him as a person and as a historical presence. We would drive every summer down to Dallas to see a baseball game, and my dad would always drive us through Dealey Plaza where the assassination took place. I remember at a pretty early age of childNovember Road, set in the days after the Kennedy assassination, was published by HarperCollins last month. | Image provided

hood being aware of this kind of fascinating historical event that happened pretty close to us.” Charlotte, one of November Road’s protagonists, meanwhile, who is sitting in the Bank of Woodrow, pleading for an extension on her mortgage payment, when she hears about the assassination, has trouble feeling any way at all about it. “She continued to remain curiously unmoved, curiously removed, by the news from Dallas,” Berney wrote in his novel. “The president had been shot. Charlotte could understand why people were shocked and upset. They feared an uncertain future. They worried that their lives would never be the same. And maybe their lives wouldn’t be the same. But Charlotte knew that her life would remain undisturbed, her future — and the future of her daughters — certain. A bullet fired hundreds of miles away didn’t change that.” For Charlotte, the thought that the future will be the same as the present is scarier than uncertainty. “She’s just sort of stuck,” Berney said. “She’s married to an alcoholic. She’s got a job where she’s never going to get a promotion. She’s always kind of just going to be stuck in her existing life unless she does something about it. That’s why she leaves her husband and heads west.” For the novel’s other protagonist, New Orleans mobster Frank Guidry, the assassination is catastrophic, upending his comfortable life. Guidry, a lieutenant for real-life mobster and common Kennedyconspiracy suspect Carlos Marcello, has to hit the road to escape from his boss after realizing he knows too much about the president’s murder. Though Marcello is often a featured player in conspiracy theories, Berney said his intention for writing November Road was never to focus on the shooting itself. continued on page 30

By Charles Dickens • Directed by Michael Baron

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ARTS & CULTURE

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continued from page 29

“I wanted to use the assassination as a jumping-off point and then focus on characters at the edges of historical events and really follow their own stories,” Berney said. Guidry, on the run, meets Charlotte and her daughters and epileptic dog and sees the opportunity to use them as a cover story if they all head west together. Berney said he created Charlotte after wondering what would have happened if his mother, who grew up in Shawnee during the Depression, had the opportunity to escape and said yes. But Charlotte soon developed into someone else. “That character is really inspired by my mom, but as soon as I started writing that character, the distance between the character and my mom grew and grew and grew,” Berney said. Charlotte feels trapped in Woodrow, Berney said, and he faced a similar problem when writing the first version of the novel, which saw her hiding out with a ruthless hitman, a character who would later become the novel’s antagonist, in a small town.

BOOKS

BUffets

I wanted to use the assassination as a jumping-off point and then focus on characters at the edges of historical events and really follow their own stories. Lou Berney

Join us on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 for SONIC Free Family Day at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The theme of the day is Victorian Stories, inspired by the special exhibition VICTORIAN RADICALS: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement.

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“It just wasn’t working,” Berney said. “I wish I had figured that out sooner. In retrospect, it seems like a really dumb idea, but at the time, it seemed to make sense. But two things: One was that a cold-blooded killer’s not going to fall in love with a woman like that. It just doesn’t really happen. It doesn’t feel authentic at all. The other thing was that I just hated being stuck in that small town. There was not enough conflict, so I needed to put them on the run from something to start creating more conflict that would allow me to drive the plot forward.” The novel, like its characters, needed a change of setting. Berney, who left Oklahoma shortly after graduating from high school, said he sympathizes. “I always loved it, but I knew at the age of 18 I wanted to get out and see the world, so for me, it was a place I needed to leave at the time,” Berney said. “But it’s also been a place that I love coming back to, and I love living here now. It’s like I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Though he grew up in Oklahoma during the time period of November

Oklahoma City author Lou Berney’s novel November Road is being adapted into a film. | Photo provided

Road, Berney said he read extensively about the era to prepare for writing the book. “I knew it was going to be a novel so I could make up a lot of stuff,” Berney said, “but I wanted it to feel very plausible and very authentic, so I did a lot of research, both on the Kennedy assassination and the early ’60s and sort of the voice of the time and the way people spoke and the way they thought about the world. So I wanted to get that right even if the facts aren’t exactly true; I wanted to be true to the era itself.” In his research, Berney learned details about the time period he’d been oblivious to as a child. “I did discover it was kind of a wild time in America,” Berney said. “The mafia was really entwined with American political life, which I didn’t really realize. … I was just a kid in the ’60s, so it was fascinating to kind of time travel back to that period and realize what was going on without me being aware of it.” In October, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back) bought the rights to adapt November Road into a movie. Berney said he welcomes any changes Kasdan might make moving the story from the page to screen. “He’s one of my filmmaking heroes,” Berney said. “He’s just phenomenal, so I trust him to do whatever he wants with the book. … The movie is so different from the book that I’m happy that the book is mine, and whatever filmmakers do with the movie is kind of up to them, so I don’t really feel like I’m too worried about any of that. Everything that’s in the book is the way I want it, and that’s all that really matters to me in terms of my story.” Visit louberney.com.


T H E AT E R

Family matters

Oklahoma City’s beloved New Zealander releases a memoir about his unlikely ascension from the farms of Rotorua to the NBA Playoffs. By Charles Martin

If Steven Adams can be neatly distilled into just five seconds, then it would absolutely start at the 5:47 mark in the fourth quarter of an Oklahoma City Thunder home game against the Toronto Raptors on December 27, 2017. Coming off a pick and roll, Russell Westbrook passed to the hard-charging, seven-foot Kiwi wrecking machine who promptly bowled through the wilting defense. Adams jogged back on defense and, realizing he had landed a plush spot on every Top Plays montage of the night, celebrated by pumping both hands in three-fingered salutes which indicated either he was Ready to Rock or was saying “I Love You” in American Sign Language. Either option seemed equally plausible and ridiculous. What makes this play such a defining moment for the New Zealander is that it demonstrated his monstrous athleticism, aggression and power but also the enduring awkwardness of a shaggyhaired accidental superstar who only turned to professional basketball when his dreams of farming seemed a bit out of reach. And, yes, I’m also suspicious of these salt-of-the-earth claims from professional athletes, but a reading of his recently released memoir made it abundantly clear that basketball greatness wasn’t anywhere on Adams’ radar during his formative years until fate intervened. When I heard Adams was releasing a memoir, I immediately imagined an NBA origins story featuring an amiable, somewhat hapless hero who might look like Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones) but is voiced by Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok). And not without reason because flashes of that humor consistently pop up in media interviews and was featured prominently in his 100 percent gold series of YouTube videos with fellow Stache Brother (now New York Knickerbocker) Enes Kanter. That’s what I wanted from the book, the story of a silly giant beloved by all aside from his NBA adversaries who have roundly agreed that Adams has a very punchable face — or kickable crotch if you are Draymond Green. Then I saw the cover of My Life, My Fight and knew that’s not what I was going to get. It is instead a classic NBA product that was buffed to a sheen and, aside from a handful of fairly innocuous expletives, written for all ages. It’s a sanitized and easy-to-read fan’s memoir. These autobiographies of a sportsman’s life are a classically difficult genre to review because they don’t lend them-

selves to high writing or risky storytelling. All the good bits from the athlete’s life have already been mined to exhaustion by sportswriters and commentators, so what we are often left is a retelling from the athlete’s perspective who, in many cases, isn’t thoroughly convinced that their story is all that interesting. But we the readers insist it must be fascinating to perform at a high level, right? They must know a secret that allows them to maximize their potential while we very much don’t. I’m reminded of a revelatory essay by David Foster Wallace titled “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart.” Wallace breaks down the common failure of memoirs from successful athletes and why they are often pale reflections.

When Adams recounts being punched, elbowed and kicked in the groin, he dismisses it as being a part of the game, probably not intentional­— and who cares?! Because it’s in the past. “It may well be that we spectators, who are not divinely gifted as athletes, are the only ones able truly to see, articulate and animate the experience of the gift we are denied,” Wallace wrote. “And that those who receive and act out the gift of athletic genius must, perforce, be blind and dumb about it — and not because blindness and dumbness are the price of the gift, but because they are its essence.” In short, asking a talented athlete why they are great won’t yield worthwhile answers because they are great because they don’t waste time questioning their greatness. They simply activate it. Wallace remembers his competitive tennis days as he tortured himself before important serves, running through the legion of what-ifs. Austin, on the other hand, didn’t consider whatifs. She just served the ball the same way she’d practiced 10,000 times before. Adams shrugs off his astonishing athleticism the same way, explaining that an alley-oop is basically like diving into a pool and trying to catch a beach ball at the same time. As someone who briefly played above the rim, I can assure you there is more to it than that. When

Adams recounts being punched, elbowed and kicked in the groin, he dismisses it as being a part of the game, probably not intentional — and who cares?! Because it’s in the past. As someone who has been punched, elbowed and kicked in the groin, I can assure you that there is more to it than that. But Adams’ memoir is worthwhile because there is something else going on — an urgency. Adams, unlike many other athletes trying their hands at memoirs, knows exactly why he’s telling his story. He wants to wrangle the legends surrounding his untraditional journey to the NBA and, specifically, settle the history of his beloved father, a British sailor who fathered something north of 14 children after first making landfall in New Zealand. Adams had been rumored to be homeless and a gang member following his father’s death when Adams was only 12, but he wants us to know that his family never abandoned him. They instead pushed him into basketball to save him from his depression, a depression that Adams only briefly discusses even though it was clearly significant. Adams is not the sort who wants to think through his emotions. His family knew he needed something to excel at. Basketball seemed like the best bet, even if he didn’t really care much for the sport. And he still doesn’t. Not really. He admits to rarely watching basketball unless he’s playing in the game. He just likes working hard, taking it one play at

My Life, My Fight by Steven Adams | Image Hachette / Penguin / provided

a time, representing his team that is like his family and all those other sports clichés that still ring true in this context. My Life, My Fight was co-authored by Madeleine Chapman, a fellow alumni of the Kenny McFadden Basketball camps in Wellington, New Zealand, that turned Adams from a lanky and uncoordinated farm kid to a gifted college prospect. She avoided forcing a heavier style on the book to allow Adams’ story to stand on its own. There is no delightful absurdity of the Stache Brothers era, no ground broken on the deep philosophy of the motion offense or the role of a true center in a modern game moving further and further away from traditional post play. It’s just a simple story from a gifted athlete who somehow still believes Draymond Green didn’t intentionally kick him in the groin during Game 3 of the 2016 Thunder/Warriors series — which, of course, Draymond Green totally did. Visit penguin.com/au.

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H H H H H H H H H H H H HH H H DEALS ON MEN’S FRC & H FAMILY SKIWEAR CLOTHING H HEADQUARTERS FOR H H WINTER CLOTHING H H LATEST STYLES -FAMILY TOP QUALITY - CASUAL - SECURITY OILFIELD WORKWEAR - MILITARY - HUNTING H CHILDRENS H JACKETS - WARM CANVAS COVERALLS BIBS - JACKETS - KIDS TO KING SIZES H H MOST ITEMS BEAT INTERNET PRICES H H FOR 73 YEARS - WE HELP FIT YOU AND H H SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY WORKING MEN - STAY WARM FOR LESS H H FAMOUS MEN'S BIG & TALL STORE - UP TO 10 XL H OLD SCHOOL IS GOOD - YOU KNOW WHAT YOU BUY H LIKE US ON H OUTDOORMEN'S PARADISE H FACEBOOK & GOOGLE SAMSBESTBUYS.COM H H OLD SCHOOL - WE CARE ABOUT YOU H SAM’S BEST BUYS H H 2409 S. AGNEW • 636-1486 • M-SAT 9-5:45 H NOW OPEN ON SUNDAYS! 1P - 4:45P H H 73 YEARS AND MORE TO COME H H H H H H H H H H H H HH

NATIONAL DAY NATIONAL DAY NATIONAL DAY OF BISON! SATURDAYS FOR KIDS OF THE THE BISON! OF THE BISON!

November HOLIDAYS AT THE November 3 3 November 3MUSEUM 10:00 a.m. – Noon December 1 10:00 a.m. Noon Journal Making 10:00 a.m. –– Noon

Journal Making 10:00 a.m. Making - 1:00 p.m. Journal

HOLIDAYS AT THE MUSEUM! Celebrate the holidays in December 1 Prosperity Junction, the Museum's 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. turn-of-the-century frontier Crafts, Scavenger Hunt and Santa! town. Make Western-inspired ornaments, pinecone birdfeeders, and decorations, meet historical FREE FOR THE FAMILY! December 1 frontier Western figures, sample December 1 the food, mosey up to 10:00and a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m. –bar 1:00 p.m. Crafts, Scavenger Hunt and Santa! sarsaparilla before Crafts, Scavenger Huntholiday and Santa! dropping off your 1700 Northeast 63rd Street wish list with Santa! Oklahoma City, OK 73111 Mon – Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 Find Howe and Dee thep.m.Cowboy Sun, Noon – 5:00 p.m. (405)a 478-2250 Elves to earn special badge.

HOLIDAYS AT HOLIDAYS AT THE MUSEUM! MUSEUM! THE

nationalcowboymuseum.org/kids

FREE FOR THE FAMILY!

FREE FOR THE FAMILY!

1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111 Mon – Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 1700 Northeast 63rd Street Sun, Noon – 5:00 Oklahoma City, OKp.m. 73111 (405) 478-2250 Mon – Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. nationalcowboymuseum.org/kids

Sun, Noon – 5:00 p.m. (405) 478-2250 nationalcowboymuseum.org/kids 32

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521 NW 16th St. is one of the homes on Mesta Park’s Holiday Homes Tour. | Photo provided

Historic hike

Mesta Park’s Holiday Home Tour returns for its 41st year. By Daniel Bokemper

Mesta Park’s Holiday Home Tour returns for its 41st anniversary Saturday and Sunday. An ideal outing of the holiday season, the tour offers a seasonal stroll through one of Oklahoma City’s historic neighborhoods. The event promises porchside refreshments, spontaneous caroling and unique journeys through some of the community’s most interesting homes. Established a century ago, Mesta Park has become a constant against the backdrop of the surrounding city’s change and growth. Furthermore, the close-knit neighborhood, as well as its continual improvements and upkeep, are attributed to its residents. Finding something a bit less chaotic than the life within an apartment, Katie Huskerson and her spouse, Tyler, have resided in Mesta Park for a little over five years. “I first lived in a little apartment in the neighborhood where my husband and I got engaged,” Huskerson said. “We loved Mesta so much we eventually bought a house here, and our daughter attends Wilson [Arts Integration School]. It sounds kind of hokey, but there’s a sense of community here, a sense that people truly care about each other.” Over its lifetime, the neighborhood has endured a fair share of challenges. Almost 50 years ago, the area nearly fell into irreversible disrepair. However, the efforts of a few passionate individuals revitalized what is now Mesta Park, dubbing it the Comeback Neighborhood as the city awarded it a historical designation. Even with such an anchor of preservation firmly planted, the upkeep of Mesta Park came from within in the form of several fundraisers, including the Holiday Home Tour. The raised funds are attributed to

inherent improvements like new foliage and consistent landscaping as well as civic fixtures. Mesta Park’s neighborhood association has garnered renown as one of the primary donors to Wilson and has brought numerous upgrades to medians and other commonly used routes running through the community. However, improvements have not become a reason to lose sight of Mesta Park’s distinct charm. “We all appreciate the old style of homes, and we’re fortunate to not have a lot of things to tear down, rebuild and expand,” Huskerson said. “There’s a respect for what was built over a century ago, and with each house comes a sense of pride and preservation that spills out across the neighborhood. People move to this neighborhood because they want to be involved.” The notion of a home and, by extension, community has grown strained in the 21st century. Several factors, not all deliberate, can sabotage a home’s sense of comfort and, in turn, pollute a community. Additionally, as we grow more disconnected from the notion of a neighborhood as something worth cultivating, we gradually become pariahs only associated by proximity. “Being a community means interacting and actually growing to know the people around you,” Huskerson said. “It’s about caring for what’s going on in each other’s lives and being there if some needs help. A close friend of mine was sick last year, and there was a team of eight families checking in on her and helping care for her daughter until she got well. You need a willingness to look out for one another in a neighborhood, not just a place to pull into your driveway, shut your garage and never go back outside.” However, the process of revitalizing

a community cannot without everyone coming together. Just as Mesta Park was resurrected by the Comeback committee, the prosperity of a neighborhood is dependent upon the residents who live there. For Huskerson, diligence and cooperation will always be more meaningful than the dues of a neighborhood association elsewhere. Likewise, upkeep is not a passive affair. Though a few modern updates have allowed for more comfortable living spaces, the vintage architecture in the community has remained intact. In many ways, Mesta Park and the homes on its holiday tour are an allegory for the city’s past and present. “Things that are built to be shiny and beautiful and, of course, new are great,” Huskerson said. “But it’s important to reflect on the ideas of the past, like architectural styles and materials. For example, the stained glass you see in a lot of these houses is almost nonexistent in today’s homes. Our homes are certainly not the most energy-efficient, but there’s this spirit here of seeing what’s ahead for OKC while also being respectful of what has come before.” Through curating homes many would consider antiquated, Mesta Park presents a canvas for imagination. Each of the five homes on the holiday tour includes a guided story, digging deep into the structures’ significance, restoration and past residents. A shuttle provided by Mercedes of OKC will ferry any in need, and refreshments include Elemental Coffee Roasters. Homes in the tour are 800 NW 17th St., 517 NW 17th St., 917 NW 19th St., 927 NW 16th St. and 521 NW 16th St. Refreshments are located at 604 NW 18th St. Ultimately, the holiday tour is an opportunity to reflect on the possibilities of preservation. Homes might not be fully modernized, but the beauty of Mesta Park is undeniable. “The holiday tour is a great celebration of making certain these houses are preserved,” Huskerson said. “Still, it also celebrates the people who are willing to build upon what was proposed 40 years ago when the Comeback group opted to sincerely revitalize the neighborhood. Now, the people moving in like Tyler and I get to reap the rewards of their work. We are really appreciative of what they’ve done for us.” Visit mestapark.org.

Mesta Park Holiday Home Tour 4-8 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday Mesta Park 604 NW 18th St. mestapark.org $12-$15


CALENDAR are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.

BOOKS Mary Coley book signing the author will autograph copies of her mystery novel Chrysalis, set at the Ponca City Grand Prix races held at Lake Ponca from the late 1960s to the 1990s, noon-1:30 p.m. Dec. 1. Best of Books, 1313 E. Danforth Road, Edmond, 405-340-9202, bestofbooksok.com. SAT Oklahoma Voices hear featured poets read from their works at this monthly event, 2 p.m. the first Sunday of every month, 2 p.m. Dec. 2. IAO Gallery, 706 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-232-6060, iaogallery.org. SUN

FILM Gremlins (1984, USA, Joe Dante) improperly caring for an unusual pet causes a teenager, his family and their whole town trouble over the holidays in this cartoonishly violent action comedy, 7-10 p.m. Dec. 3. Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. MON The House That Jack Built (2018, Denmark, Lars von Trier) follow 12 years in the life of a serial killer (Matt Damon) from his point of view, 7-9:30 p.m. Nov. 28. Rodeo Cinema, 2221 Exchange Ave, 405-235-3456. WED

HAPPENINGS Ante Up! play casino games including poker, blackjack and roulette, and enjoy live music, cocktails and craft beer and food at this fundraiser for the museum’s public education programs, 6 p.m. Nov. 29. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405-478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. THU Board Game Day enjoy local craft beer while playing old-school board and arcade games with friends, 5-8 p.m. Sundays. FlashBack RetroPub, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-633-3604, flashbackretropub.com. SUN Board Game Night choose from more than 125 board games to play with family and friends with drinks and snacks available, 6-11 p.m. Tuesdays. PB&J Games, 1201 NW 178th St. #117, 405-696-5270, pbandjgames.co. TUE Cheering Away the Holiday Blues learn skills for coping with holiday stress at this four-week group counseling session, 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Dec. 17. Access to Counseling, 3035 NW 63rd St., Suite 200, 405-242-2242, access2counseling.com. MON Chicago Steppin Class learn how to do the popular dance at this free weekly class, 7-9 p.m. Thursdays. L & G’s on the BLVD, 4801 N. Lincoln Blvd., 405-5242001, facebook.com/landgsontheblvd. THU Conversational Spanish Group Meetup an opportunity for all experience levels to practice speaking Spanish, 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, 405-842-2900, fullcirclebooks.com. TUE

Mandy (2018, USA, Panos Cosmatos) a man seeks bloody vengeance on a cult leader in this violent and surreal film starring Nicolas Cage, 10 p.m. Nov. 30. Rodeo Cinema, 2221 Exchange Ave, 405-235-3456. FRI

Deck the Halls celebrate the season with live organ music, children’s crafts and photos in front of holiday decorations, 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 1. Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, 405-521-2491, okhistory.org. SAT

Mirai (2018, Japan, Mamoru Hosoda) an enchanted garden allows a boy to travel through time with a future version of his little sister, 8 p.m. Nov. 30. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. FRI

Downtown Recyclers Toastmasters practice your public speaking skills at this ongoing weekly meeting, noon-1 p.m. Wednesdays. Department of Environmental Quality, 707 N. Robinson, 405-7020100, deq.state.ok.us. WED

VHS & Chill Presents “Fantasy Rewind” watch a selection of vintage sci-fi, fantasy and animation TV shows, with onsite concessions and beverages, 8-10:30 p.m. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-887-3327, theparamountroom.com. WED VHS and Chill: Black Christmas (1974, USA, Bob Clark) a terrifying stranger harasses and stalks a group of sorority sisters in this cult holiday horror classic, 7-10 p.m. Dec. 4. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-887-3327, theparamountroom.com. TUE

Fuzzy Friday a monthly happy hour meet-andgreet hosted by the Bears of Central Oklahoma, 5:30 p.m. Fridays. Apothecary 39, 2125 NW 39th St., 405-605-4100. FRI Get Organized: Stress Less learn how to prioritize responsibilities and organize information for a more productive workflow and less stressful life, 9:30-11 a.m. Dec. 5. Pioneer Library System, 225 N. Webster Ave., Norman 405-701-2600, pioneerlibrarysystem.org/norman. WED Governor’s Club Toastmasters lose your fear of public speaking and gain leadership skills by practicing in a fun and low-stakes environment, noon-1 p.m. Wednesdays. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Building, 2501 N. Stiles Ave., 405-523-2300, okfarmbureau.org. WED Harry Potter Trivia compete in teams to demonstrate your knowledge of J.K. Rowling’s famous wizard and everything related; costumes are encouraged and prizes will be awarded, 6-8 p.m. Nov. 29. COOP Ale Works Tap Room, 4745 Council Heights Road, 405-842-2667, coopaleworks.com. THU Holiday Lights Spectacular see more than 100 animated lights displays and a 118-foot Christmas tree on a 1.5-mile drive soundtracked by classic holiday songs, through Dec. 25. Joe B. Barnes Regional Park, 8700 E. Reno Ave., 405-739-1293, midwestcityok.org. FRI-TUE Music Industry Networking Night meetup with musicians, promoters sound engineers, fans and more at this networking event, 7-11 p.m. Nov. 28. The Root, 3012 N. Walker Ave., 405-655-5889, therootokc.com. WED OKC Toy Show show for new, vintage and antique dolls, action figures, comic books, model trains and more, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 1. Crossroads Event Center, 7000 Crossroads Blvd. SAT

A Dog Day in December Unleash your party animal at this canine-friendly holiday fundraiser. Pet photos with Santa, treat gift bags and auction items will all be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting Midtown Association, which contributes to public art, landscaping and lighting in the district to ensure your Midtown walkies are well-lit and scenic. The party is 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday at Midtown Mutts Dog Park, 407 W. Park Place. Admission is free, but photos with Santa are $10-$20 and gift bags are $20. Visit midtownokc.com. SATURDAY Photo provided

OKC Vintage Flea Market get your shopping done at the flea market with antiques, collectibles, vintage, crafts and more, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 9, Saturdays, Sundays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 9. Crossroads Event Center, 7000 Crossroads Blvd. SAT-SUN Open Fiber Night a weekly crafting meet-up for knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers, 5-8 p.m. Thursdays. Yarnatopia, 8407 S. Western, 405-6019995, yarnatopia.com. THU Paseo Homeless Alliance Drive donate warm winter clothing, cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, toiletries and more to the community organizations seeking end homelessness in Oklahoma City, through Nov. 30. Smash Bangles Jewelry, 607 NW 28th St., Suite F, 405-628-7521, smashbangles.com. TUE-FRI Pecha Kucha Night local creatives race to complete timed slide presentations at this recurring event, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 5. Plenty Mercantile, 807 N. Broadway Ave., 405-888-7470, plentymercantile.com. WED Sleigh Bells Market shop for vintage, handmade and local goods from a variety of vendors, noon-5:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Farmers Public Market, 311 S. Klein Ave., 405-232-6506, okcfarmersmarket.com. SUN Territorial Christmas Celebration take a tour of Guthrie’s Victorian inspired architecture in a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy holiday light displays, through Dec.

Write-for-Rights Instead of writing a letter to Santa this year, why not drop a line to somebody who doesn’t get nearly so much mail and you can be sure exists: political prisoners around the world and death-row inmates in Oklahoma. This annual event honoring International Human Rights Day and sponsored by Amnesty International Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty doesn’t require you to be eloquent, only to care enough to sign your name to prewritten letters and holiday cards to help remind those in the not-so-jolly belly of the prison-industrial complex that they’re still part of the human community. Put pen to paper 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore 1900 Northwest Expressway, Suite 135. Participation is free, but donations of books of stamps are requested. Call 405-650-1344 or visit facebook.com/amnestyokc. SATURDAY Photo bigstock.com

24, Wentz and Oklahoma Ave., Guthrie, 405-2820197, offbeatoklahoma.com. SAT-MON Trinket ’n’ Bauble Show eat vegan foods and shop for custom ornaments created by local artisans, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1. Red Cup, 3122 N. Classen Blvd., 405525-3430, theredcupokc.com. SAT Wednesday Night Trivia test your knowledge on various subjects for the chance to win prizes, 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The Garage Burgers and Beer, 1117 N. Robinson, 405-602-6880, eatatthegarage.com. WED Weekly Trivia put your knowledge to the test and let your intellectual superiority shine, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Free. HeyDay, 200 S. Oklahoma Ave., Suite HD, 405-349-5946, heydayfun.com. WED World AIDS Day Luncheon learn about how Oklahomans are affected by the disease at this fundraiser for the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 29. Will Rogers Theatre, 4322 N. Western Ave., 405-604-3015, willrogerstheatre.com. THU

FOOD Surf and Turf this weekly all-you-can-eat feast in the Bricktown Brewery features prime rib, snow crab legs, shrimp and more, 4-10 p.m. Thursdays. Remington Park, 1 Remington Place, 405-424-9000, remingtonpark.com. THU

PERFORMING ARTS Amahl and the Night Visitors the students from the university’s school of music will perform Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act play about the three wisemen from the Nativity story, Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Southern Nazarene University, 6729 NW 39th Expressway, 405-789-6400. FRI-SAT Arab After Hours a weekly belly-dancing performance featuring dancers from the Aalim Belly Dance Academy, 8:30-10:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Hubbly Bubbly Hookah & Café, 2900 N. Classen Blvd., Suite K, 405609-2930. TUE Bach Collegium Japan an internationally acclaimed choir and orchestra performing Baroque music on period instruments, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Armstrong Auditorium, 14400 S. Bryant Ave., Edmond, 405-285-1010, armstrongauditorium.org. TUE The Bel Canto Trio opera singers Hailey Clark, Joshua Guerrero and Nicholas Brownlee celebrate the 70th anniversary of the original Bel Canto Trio by performing its program of arias, duets and trios, 7:30-10 p.m. Nov. 29. OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave., 405-682-7579, tickets.occc.edu. THU

YOUTH

Bluegrass Open Jam Session bring a banjo, mandolin, guitar or bass and play along with other musicians at this informal jam, 1-4 p.m. Dec. 1. American Banjo Museum, 9 E. Sheridan Ave., 405-6042793, americanbanjomuseum.com. SAT

Darlina Chambers Eichman book signing the author will autograph copies of her children’s book Space Station Vacation about a boy who stows away on the International Space Station, 11 a.m.-noon Dec. 1. Best of Books, 1313 E. Danforth Road, Edmond, 405-340-9202, bestofbooksok.com. SAT

Canterbury Christmas a choral concert featuring holiday classics and new selections with featured performances from the Oklahoma City University Faculty Brass Quintet, 7-9:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. SUN

Early Explorers toddlers and preschoolers can participate in fun scientific activities they can repeat later at home, 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. THU

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage a touring stage production adapted from Charles M. Schulz’s animated holiday staple with a live soundtrack , 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. MON

Explore It! get your questions answered of what, why and how about the natural world we live in, 11:30 a.m -noon Saturdays through Dec. 29. Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua Ave., Norman, 405-3254712, samnoblemuseum.ou.edu. SAT

Christmas with Bella Voce a holiday concert performance from the chamber choir, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Mayflower Congregational Church, 3901 NW 63rd Street, 405-842-8897, bellavoceokc.org. TUE

Litttle Saplings this educational workshop teaches toddlers about gardening with songs, games, and hands-on activities, 10 a.m.-noon every other Tuesday. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, myriadgardens.com. TUE Storyland Christmas a visual and performing arts event featuring live music, costumed characters, holiday murals and visits from Santa Claus, Nov. 30-Dec. 16. Charles J. Johnson Central Park, 7209 SE 29th St., Midwest City, 405-739-1293, midwestcity.org. FRI-SUN Storytime Science the museum invites children age 6 and younger to hear a story and participate in a related scientific activity, 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. TUE

GO TO OKGAZETTE.COM FOR FULL LISTINGS!

Comedy Open Mic Night try doing standup and/ or watch other aspiring comics hone their acts, 10 p.m. Tuesdays. Othello’s Italian Restaurant, 434 Buchanan Ave., Norman, 405-701-4900, Othellos.us. TUE Corey Holcomb see the radio show host, comedian and actor perform standup, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30. Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. FRI The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Theater eat a four-course dinner while attempting to solve an interactive murder mystery, 6-9 p.m. Saturdays. Skirvin Hilton Hotel, 1 Park Ave., 405-2723040, skirvinhilton.com. SAT

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Diverse Universe International Performance Fest experience live performance art from Oklahoma’s APMFG, Tennessee’s The Emotron, Estonia’s Nongrata and more, 7-11 p.m. Dec. 1. Resonator, 325 E Main St., Norman, resonator.space. SAT

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Frank Capra’s classic holiday film is presented as a mock radio broadcast in this play adaptation, through Dec. 23. The Pollard Theatre, 120 W. Harrison Ave., Guthrie, 405-282-2800, thepollard.org. FRI-SUN Lyric’s A Christmas Carol the annual production of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic returns, through Dec. 24. Lyric Theatre, 1727 NW 16th St., 405-5249310, lyrictheatreokc.com. FRI-MON Macbeth the National Theatre presents a worldwide broadcast of a live stage production of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Dec. 2. OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave., 405-682-7579, tickets.occc.edu. SUN

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Oklahoma City Handbell Ensemble Winter Concert an evening of live handbell and hand chime music accompanying a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 1. West Norman Public Library, 300 Norman Center Court, Norman. SAT Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s The Christmas Show a musical holiday celebration featuring Broadway star Nikki Renée Daniels, The Philharmonic Pops Chorale, the Mistletoes Dancers and Santa Claus, Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. THU-SAT Open Mic a weekly comedy show followed by karaoke, 7:30-9 p.m. Fridays. Don Quixote Club, 3030 N Portland Ave., 405-947-0011. FRI Open Mic hosted by Elecktra, this open mic has an open-stage, almost-anything-goes policy and a booked feature act, 6-11:30 p.m. The Root, 3012 N. Walker Ave., 405-655-5889, therootokc.com. MON Open Mic Monday a music and comedy open mic hosted by Amanda Howle, 7:30 p.m. Mondays. Triple’s, 8023 NW 23rd St., 405-789-3031. MON

8503 N. ROCKWELL 239-HAHA(4242)

WWW.LOONYBINCOMEDY.COM

Open Mic Night with HuckWheat local musicians, comics and other performing artists take the open stage to practice their arts, 9-11:30 p.m. first Mondays. Hubbly Bubbly Hookah & Café, 2900 N Classen Blvd. Ste K, 405-609-2930. MON Public Access Open Mic read poetry, do standup comedy, play music or just watch as an audience member, 7 p.m. Sundays. The Paseo Plunge, 3010 Paseo St., 405-315-6224, paseoplunge.org. SUN Random Jam Tuesdays a weekly music open mic for solo artists and full bands followed by a late-night jam session, 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Tuesdays. Bison Witches Bar & Deli, 211 E Main St., 405-364-7555, bisonwitchesok.com. TUE Red Dirt Open Mic a weekly open mic for comedy and poetry, hosted by Red Dirt Poetry, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Sauced on Paseo, 2912 Paseo St., 405-521-9800, saucedonpaseo.com. WED

2018

KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS

12.05.18

ROBERT EARL KEEN

COSMIC COWBOY CHRISTMAS

MY SO CALLED BAND

NEW YEAR’S EVE

2019

PARKER MCCOLLUM JEFF TWEEDY

AT THE AUDITORIUM AT THE DOUGLASS

BRONZE RADIO RETURN BROTHERS OSBORNE

12.18.18

12.31.18 11.06.18

01.17.19

03.01.19

04.05.19

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TICKETS & INFORMATION AT

THEJONESASSEMBLY.COM

A Monster Holiday with Allin KHG If the sadistic bully from Toy Story had an art show, it might look a little something like Allin KHG’s Muses for a Nightmare series. See the latest in the line of repurposed and Frankensteined animatronic toys at this exhibition where you can play with and purchase these altered and spray-painted monstrosities for the people on your “not necessarily naughty but definitely warped” list. The revelations begin 5 p.m. Thursday at [Artspace] at Untitled, 1 NE Third St. Call 405-815-9995 or visit 1ne3.org. THURSDAY Photo provided

VISUAL ARTS Alexis Austin: See-Through Women in Secret Kitchens an exhibition of the latest works from the experimental abstract painter, Nov. 30-Dec. 19. IAO Gallery, 706 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-232-6060, iaogallery.org. FRI-WED American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters an exhibition of Native art from the Kiowa Six, Harrison Begay, Tonita Peña and more, through May 12, 2019. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405-478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. SAT-THU Beautiful Minds: Dyslexia and the Creative Advantage an exhibition of artworks created by people with dyslexia including students from Oklahoma City’s Trinity School, through July 14, 2019. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. FRI-THU Ceramics Sale view works by local artists, teachers and students at this showcase exhibition and fundraising event, through Dec. 23. Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., 405-951-0000, oklahomacontemporary.org. FRI-SUN

The Space Lab an evening of sketch and improv comedy , 7-8 p.m. Nov. 29. Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. THU

Cowboys in Khaki: Westerners in the Great War learn about the ways Westerners contributed to the US effort in World War I at this exhibit featuring military, rodeo and other historical memorabilia from the time period, through May 12, 2019. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405-478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. SAT-THU

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) a satirical holiday show presented by London’s Reduced Shakespeare Company, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29. USAO Te Ata Memorial Auditorium, 1727 W. Alabama Ave., 405-574-1337. THU

Daren Kendall: Threshold With Me view seven sculptural thresholds based on the seven terraces of Dante’s purgatory, through Dec. 30. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., Norman, 405-3253272, ou.edu. FRI-SUN

ACTIVE

Fall 2018 Group Exhibition an exhibition of works from local artists including Kjelshus Collins, John Davidson, Shanina Graves and more, through Nov. 30. The Art Hall, 519 NW 23rd St., 405-2315700, art.theriseokc.com. FRI

Co-ed Open Adult Volleyball enjoy a game of friendly yet competitive volleyball while making new friends, 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays. Jackie Cooper Gymnasium, 1024 E. Main St., Yukon, 405-350-8920, cityofyukon.gov. WED Learn-to-Swim Program Giving residents of all ages and financial situations the opportunity to learn to swim with proper technique and basic water safety at their own pace offered by the King Marlin Swim Club, ongoing, Through Dec. 31. Lighthouse Fitness (Front), 3333 W. Hefner Road, 405-8455672, marlinswimamerica.com. SAT-MON Monday Night Group Ride meet up for a weekly 25-30 minute bicycle ride at about 18 miles-per-hour through East Oklahoma City, 6 p.m. Mondays. The Bike Lab OKC, 2200 W. Hefner Road, 405-603-7655. MON Open Badminton hit some birdies in some morning pick-up games of badminton with friends, 10 a.m.noon Saturdays. Jackie Cooper Gymnasium, 1024 E. Main St., Yukon, 405-350-8920, cityofyukon.gov. SAT Wheeler Criterium a weekly nighttime cycling event with criterium races, food trucks and family activities, 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays. Wheeler Park, 1120 S. Western Ave., 405-297-2211, okc.gov. TUE

Ink & Draw a weekly meet-up for illustrators, artists and comic book creators, 4-6 p.m. Sundays. The Paseo Plunge, 3010 Paseo St., 405-315-6224, paseoplunge.org. SUN John Brand view works by painter/photographer John Brand, through Dec. 31. 50 Penn Place Gallery, 1900 Northwest Expressway, 405-848-5567, 50pennplacegallery.com. SUN-MON Josette Simon-Gestin view paintings by the French artist alongside works by Oklahoma artist Marc Baker, through Dec. 30. Nault Gallery, 816 N. Walker Ave., 405-642-4414, naultfineart.com. FRI-SUN Lucidity an exhibition of works by eight University of Central Oklahoma students minoring in illustration in the school’s design department, 5-8 p.m. Nov. 29. Dunlap Codding, 609 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-6078600, dunlapcodding.com. THU National Geographic Photo Ark a collection of images captured by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore to preserve current species for future generations, through Dec. 16. The Oklahoma City Zoo, 2000 Remington Place, 405-424-3344, okczoo.com. WED-SUN

The New Art: A Milestone Collection Fifty Years Later an exhibition including longstanding highlights and rarely seen works celebrating the museum’s purchase of a 154-piece contemporary art collection in 1968, through Dec. 30. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. SUN Sandra Patterson and Paul White an exhibition of oils on canvas and porcelain and watercolor and acrylic paintings, through Nov. 30. Porcelain Art Museum, 2700 N. Portland Ave., 405-521-1234, wocp.org. MON-FRI Seeds of Being curated by students enrolled in the university’s Native American Art & Museum Studies Seminar, this exhibition examines the impact of art in indigenous communities, through Dec. 30. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., Norman, 405-325-3272, ou.edu/fjjma. TUE-SUN Still Looking: The Photography Collection of Carol Beesley Hennagin an exhibition of selections from Hennagin’s extensive collection, including works by Edward Weston, Frederick Sommer and more, through Dec. 30. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., Norman, 405-325-3272, ou.edu/ fjjma. TUE-SUN Ticket to Ride: Artists, Designers, And Western Railways Exhibition view some of the paintings, studies, posters, and graphics that resulted from collaborations between artists and commercial designers with Western rail companies between the late 1880s and early 1930s, through Dec. 30. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., Norman, 405325-3272, ou.edu/fjjma. FRI-SUN Whiteout at Campbell Art Park an outdoor artwork made by hundreds of transparent white spheres embedded with white LED lights and animated in large-scale patterns, through March 31, 2019. Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., 405-951-000, oklahomacontemporary.org. WED-THU

Submissions must be received by Oklahoma Gazette no later than noon on Wednesday seven days before the desired publication date. Late submissions will not be included in the listings. Submissions run as space allows, although we strive to make the listings as inclusive as possible. Fax your listings to 528-4600 or e-mail them to listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.

901 W. SHERIDAN, OKC

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For OKG live music

see page 37

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MUSIC

F E AT U R E

Chris Stellman relaunched Oklahoma City record label Clerestory AV in 2017 after a 10-year hiatus. | Photo Alexa Ace

Vinyl revival

A defunct record label is revived and releases vinyl to support local artists. By Jeremy Martin

When he’s not working as a family medicine physician, Chris Stellman is trying to help remedy an issue he has diagnosed in Oklahoma’s music scene: underexposure. “I don’t think people in general buy music as much as they did 10 years ago,” said Stellman, owner of Oklahoma Citybased record label Clerestory AV. “With Spotify and everything else, a lot of people in Oklahoma don’t realize yet what a great music scene we’ve got. It’s kind of like if no one knew who Russell Westbrook was — best player in the country and no one even knows about it. That’s kind of how I feel about our music scene. I think people are starting to wake up to the depth of talent that’s around here.” Stellman’s label, which he runs out of his guesthouse, began releasing the OKAY vinyl series, 7-inch split singles featuring local and regional artists, in September in an attempt to introduce more people to their music. The first volume in the series featured one track each from singer-songwriters Samantha Crain and John Calvin Abney, and the second paired indie rock acts Tallows and Husbands. The third, featuring songs from Beau Jennings & The Tigers and Doug Burr, is slated for a Friday release with a Dec. 6 show at Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., to follow. “The series seemed like a fun way to work with a bunch of different artists who I admire,” Stellman said. “It would be a lot more difficult to do a full-length album individually with each of those bands. This has been a cool way to work with bands I admire and get to know them a little bit and be involved with them.” Burr, who lives in Denton, Texas, is the first artist in the OKAY series from outside

the state. Stellman plans to release a fourth volume featuring Austin-based, Oklahoma-formed band Lord Buffalo in 2019. Last year, Stellman relaunched the label after a 10-year hiatus to release Lord Buffalo’s full-length self-titled album. “We started when I was an undergrad and did about six records, and then I went to med school and it was impossible to do both,” Stellman said. “I put things on hold and kind of had not planned on doing anything again. … This time around, I have more of a focus on bands with Oklahoma connections or bands with local roots. Whereas before, we had been working with bands in New York and Baltimore and kind of all over the place, but we’re really trying to be more involved in the local scene. Honestly, I think the local scene is a bit more exciting than it was 10 years ago. There’s a lot of cool things going on right now. There’s all these great artists and bands making really wonderful music.” Though there are many artists Stellman would like to include, he said he isn’t sure if the OKAY series will have a fifth installment. “I’d love to keep going with it, but we have to see how many of these I can sell,” Stellman said. “It’s something that’s really been rewarding and really a lot of fun. And people who have bought a record have really enjoyed it. … It’s been a little slow catching on, but I think the more people hear about it and the more records

we do in the series, hopefully it will pick up a little bit.” All the songs in the series so far have been recorded by Scott Johnson and Dustin Ragland at Stowaway Recording in the Deep Deuce district. Instead of a front and back indicating an A and B side for the records, the album jacket art features both artists, one on each side, in black-and-white photos taken by Ryan Magnani. Each album is pressed on colored vinyl. “I’m really proud of how all these have turned out,” Stellman said. “We’re trying to make a product that looks and sounds as good as any record you’d buy from any label … quality pressings and they look really cool.” Stellman said vinyl singles have always been a significant format to him personally as a music fan. “I love 7-inches because they’re two songs, easy to digest, and you can buy a 7-inch and you’re not taking the same risk as buying a full LP,” Stellman said. “I think a 7-inch is a great fun way to discover new music. It’s how I discovered a lot of the bands I really love right now, from picking

up 7-inches at the record shop.” While Stellman has worked to pair likeminded musicians on each release, he said the main connection between the artists is the quality of their songs. “There’s not a set genre within the series,” Stellman said. “All the bands are a little bit different. … The biggest thing, I think, the most important thing, is that they’re making good music and doing something that’s exciting, but also good people and nice folks and easy to work with. There’s a lot of ego and attitude sometimes in the music community, and I think life’s too short to work with people like that, so everyone I’ve worked with has been really good people, nice, genuine. They all show enthusiasm for the growing Oklahoma scene.” Several of the artists also contributed to the label’s Cheyenne Songs, a digital download accompanying Clerestory AV’s vinyl rerelease of 2005’s I Am Haunted, I Am Alive, the debut album from Jennings’ previous band Cheyenne. The bonus album features 27 covers of Cheyenne’s songs by Crain, Tallows, Husbands and other acts including Kyle Reid, Student Film and Broncho. A debut full-length from Beau Jennings & The Tigers is scheduled for a future release. Ester Drang’s EP The Appearances, released in October, is Clerestory’s bestselling album to date. Though music is increasingly streamed online, Stellman said he thinks releasing albums on vinyl remains important for listeners and artists because the physical format can facilitate a deeper appreciation for the music itself. “When you put on a record, put it on the turntable, it kind of demands your attention more than when you have Spotify going in the background or in your car,” Stellman said. “You’re a bit more mindful of what’s playing and experience the music a little more, so in my mind, there’s still value to that.” Each record in the OKAY vinyl series is $10, and a subscription including all four planned releases is $36. Visit clerestoryav.com.

Clerestory AV launched the OKAY vinyl series in September. Artists featured on the 7-inch split singles have included John Calvin Abney, Samantha Crain, Tallows, Husbands and Beau Jennings & The Tigers. | Photo Alexa Ace

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EVENT

MUSIC

Vile thoughts

Singer/songwriter Kurt Vile aims for organic sounds on his new album, Bottle It In. By Jeremy Martin

When Kurt Vile performs in Oklahoma City, concertgoers will have a chance to hear his songs in their ultimate form, whatever that means in that moment. “I think the purest way you can play music is live,” Vile said. “In the studio, there’s plenty of trickery, but if you try to follow the style of, like, the best Neil Young records, he realized at an early age that playing live with people bouncing off of each other in real time, that’s where you get the true organic sound. So you apply that as much as you can to the recordings, which are kind of domino effect inspired by playing live concerts, and then you’ve got the record and then you get back on the road. Everything kind of bounces off of the other thing, really, in an ideal world.” Vile, scheduled to play with his band the Violators Dec. 5 at The Jones Assembly, 901 W. Sheridan Ave., released Bottle It In, his seventh solo album, in October. The musician and guitarist said he discovered a better method for capturing live energy on a studio album while recording Bottle’s predecessor, 2015’s B’lieve I’m Goin Down... “Before B’lieve I’m Goin Down..., we had a few rehearsals beforehand,” Vile said, “but it’s almost like it’s better to just go in and while you’re sitting there learn the songs. Usually the earliest versions of it are kind of the purest versions, unless you’re doing some kind of powerpop thing. The magic is in the moment in learning it and stuff before people get tired of it and go through the motions.” Eventually, to really recreate the experience for the listeners at home, he might have to record live in the studio with an audience. “But then there’s this other thing with the live show where things reach epic proportions,” Vile said. “So maybe sometime down the line, we could be on the road and book a studio that’s, like, a big live tavern or

something and just rock the hell out with new material.” The cover art for Bottle It In, which features Vile curling his lip Elvis Presley-style in a Planet Fitness T-shirt, came together in an appropriately spontaneous and off-the-cuff way, but only after Vile was afraid the right moment had passed. “Because I was a little nervous we didn’t capture a candid, in-the-studio shot, but one of [producer] Rob Schnapf’s interns who’s from near where I’m from, we’re very similar, her name’s Mimi Raver, she was taking photos at one of the sessions, hanging out … and I said, ‘You should have Mimi come over tomorrow and take some shots,’ but I forgot she was coming, so then I wore that Planet Fitness shirt that I stole from my brother. I’ve never been to Planet Fitness in my life, but people laugh at it. … We went around the block once, and I was really thinking we wouldn’t get it, and I was like, ‘Aw, shit! I got this Planet Fitness shirt, this low-key outfit,’ but all those things worked themselves out. It’s kind of like the recording thing we were talking about, capturing something with your guard down. It’s often what you’re looking for when you aren’t thinking about it all, when you think it’s not happening or something.” Schnapf also produced “Pretty Pimpin,” Vile’s best-known song and the opening track from his breakthrough B’lieve, which topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart in 2015. “’Pretty Pimpin’, once it was done, for sure, I knew it sounded like some kind of pop hit,” Vile said. “I did. I never had a radio hit, so I didn’t get my hopes up because I didn’t know what having a hit song maybe on an indie label, quoteunquote, what that would really equal on the real charts, and even so it was a hit and it is still a hit but it’s not like it was number one on the pop charts or something insane, but it was still number one on certain charts. But I like the idea of having a pop hit somehow.” He might want another charttopper, but Vile, who titled his solo debut album Constant Hitmaker following his departure from The War on Drugs, said he knows better than to try to intentionally record a “Pretty Pimpin’” part two. “I’ve discovered that I just can’t force anything,” Vile said. “If something like that’s going to happen again, it’s going to Vile released Bottle It In, his seventh solo album, in October. | Image provided

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come to me pretty easily. Just one moment when I’m inspired, I’ll have a song and then another level of that is it’s got to be captured in the studio in a certain way so that it will go off or whatever. So it’s best to not force it because then it certainly won’t come if it’s contrived. If you’re just living your life, I know something will happen again, but it’s never going to be exactly the same.” Recording 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice with Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett gave Vile new insight in how to better capture these moments without second-guessing his instincts. “I really like working with Courtney because she’s not quite 10 years younger than me, so she has young energy,” Vile said. “She’s 31 and I’m 38, so she was a little fresher, but she would go in and out of her head the same way I do. And I love her voice. Whenever either one of us was in doubt, we’d just tell the other one we loved what they were doing, and it just made things happen really quick.” Living in the moment can be difficult, especially with the constant intrusions of modern technology. Bottle’s “Mutinies” laments “Small computer in my hand explodin’ / I think things were way easier with a regular telephone.” While technology can simplify the recording process, it can also create distance between performers and their music.

Kurt Vile is scheduled to play with his band the Violators Dec. 5 at The Jones Assembly, 901 W. Sheridan Ave. | Photo Jo McCaughey / provided

“Ultimately, you’re trying to use the digital tools but treat it like tape, but it’s really a constant battle,” Vile said. “It’s hard to make records the old way, as straight-up music caught on tape. It makes more sense to use the digital tools. … It’s convenient to have a phone. It helps you to get around. It helps you find things easily, and all those things. I’m not against that. Same with Pro Tools technology. It’s the easiest way to go. It’s harder to get the analog thing. You’ve got to really know what you’re doing, but it’s easy with both of those to get carried away and strip everything of its detail and homogenize and overuse everything, so it’s a constant push and pull, I guess, to keep it all in check.” Tickets are $26-$51, and Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt is scheduled to open. Visit thejonesassembly.com.

Kurt Vile 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 The Jones Assembly 901 W. Sheridan Ave. thejonesassembly.com | 405-212-2378 $26-$51


LIVE MUSIC These are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members. For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.

TUESDAY, DEC. 4 Country Clique, Friends Restaurant & Club. COUNTRY

www.okctalk.com

Kyle Reid, Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails. SINGER-SONGWRITER

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 28

Void Vator, Blue Note Lounge. ROCK

Adam Aguilar, The Jones Assembly. ROCK

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5

Amanda Cunningham, Hollywood Corners.

Maurice Johnson, The R & J Lounge and Supper Club. JAZZ

Elizabeth Speegle Band, The R & J Lounge and Supper Club. JAZZ

Maggie McClure & Shane Henry, Bin 73. POP

SINGER-SONGWRITER

Jonathan Byrd, The Blue Door.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Chesapeake Energy Arena. CLASSICAL/ROCK

SINGER-SONGWRITER

Thollem’s Electric Confluence, Resonator. EXPERIMENTAL

THURSDAY, NOV. 29 Five Finger Death Punch/Breaking Benjamin, Chesapeake Energy Arena. ROCK Hot House Band, Othello’s Italian Restaurant. JAZZ Koolie High & the Tap Band, Ice Event Center & Grill. JAZZ Manchester Orchestra/The Front Bottoms, Diamond Ballroom. ROCK Replay, The Liszt. COVER

Where local news gets their news

FRIDAY, NOV. 30 Amanda Cunningham/J.R. Smith, VZD’s Restaurant & Bar. SINGER-SONGWRITER Bad Influence, JR’s Pub & Grill. COVER Chase Rice/Wight Lighters, The Criterion. COUNTRY colourmusic/Applied Music Program/Net, ACM @ UCO Performance Lab. ROCK Drew Kennedy, The Blue Door. FOLK Hosty, The Root. FOLK Humdrum Sun/Page 9, The Root. ROCK Koe Wetzel, Diamond Ballroom. COUNTRY Parker McCollum, Cain’s Ballroom. SINGER-SONGWRITER

The Turnaround/Naturalist/Klamz, 89th StreetOKC. ROCK Um.., Kamps 1310 Lounge. ELECTRONIC

SATURDAY, DEC. 1 Avant, OKC Farmers Market. R&B Drive, Remington Park. COVER Electric Okie Test, The Deli. COVER Fabulous Minx/Dresden Bombers/Costanzas, Blue Note Lounge. ROCK Lindsey Stirling, Chesapeake Energy Arena. CLASSICAL/POP

Midas 13, Newcastle Casino. COVER New Time Zones, The Root. ROCK SoMo, Tower Theatre. SINGER-SONGWRITER Spite/Aberrant Construct, 89th Street-OKC. METAL Travis Linville, The Blue Door.

Manchester Orchestra Not just anybody can provide a suitable soundtrack for a film about a farting corpse, but Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Robert McDowell were nominated for two International Film Music Critics Association awards for their work on 2016’s Swiss Army Man. The beautiful, intricately layered vocals they provided for the film represent only one element of Manchester Orchestra, which actually originated in Atlanta, Georgia, and features a standard indie-rock band lineup, but the soundtrack offers a good glimpse of the scope of adventurous talent and darkly skewed sensibilities making albums A Black Mile to the Surface and Cope/Hope critical favorites. Brother Bird and The Front Bottoms let it rip first 8 p.m. Thursday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern Ave. Tickets are $27.99. Call 405-677-9169 or visit diamondballroom.net. THURSDAY Photo Mike-Dempsey / provided

SINGER-SONGWRITER

SUNDAY, DEC. 2 The Wood Brothers/Amy Helm, Tower Theatre. FOLK/ROCK

Rebecca Loebe, Norman Santa Fe Depot. SINGER-SONGWRITER

Tanner Miller, The Blue Door. SINGER-SONGWRITER

MONDAY, DEC. 3 Jason Hunt, Sean Cumming’s Irish Restaurant. FOLK Elizabeth Wise/Wess McMichael/The Ravens, Othello’s Italian Restaurant. BLUES Sunny Sweeney/Brennan Leigh/Ward Davis, The Blue Door. COUNTRY

Live music submissions must be received by Oklahoma Gazette no later than noon on Wednesday seven days before the desired publication date. Late submissions will not be included in the listings. Submissions run as space allows, although we strive to make the listings as inclusive as possible. Fax your listings to 528-4600 or e-mail to listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.

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PUZZLES 1

NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE CROSSWORD PUZZLE SILENT FINALES

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92 Word after who or how 93 Dropping the baton in a relay race, e.g.? 98 Bit of ink 99 Optimum 101 Senator Feinstein 103 Blues legend Waters 106 “____ complicated” 107 Area near the shore 109 Publicans’ servings 112 Area near the shore 115 Warning not given on a golf course? 118 Something on the rise today 119 Actress Belafonte 120 Start to inhabit 121 Baja California city 122 The Zoo Story playwright 123 Movie trailer, e.g.

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1 Late Queen of Soul 7 Places for bears or villains 12 What a recipe may be written on 20 Puts up 21 Veep under Nixon 22 Formal defense 23 Photo caption for the winning team’s MVP being carried off the field? 25 Get an F in physics? 26 Bert of The Wizard of Oz 27 Powerful swell 28 In the style of 30 First-generation Japanese- American 31 Houdini feat 33 Rey, to Luke, in The Last Jedi 36 Place for a stud to go 38 What you’re effectively saying when you sign a waiver? 41 Longtime athlete on the U.S. Davis Cup team 45 Line through one’s teeth? 47 Torment 48 Full of subtlety 50 Capital of Albania 52 Atlas or Titan, for short 53 Street through the middle of town 54 Energy secretary Chu under Obama 55 ____ neutrality 56 Actress Long 58 Extended diatribe 59 Moon race? 61 Router attachments 63 It’s just below 0: Abbr. 64 Medieval poets 67 Piece of writing that’s half in verse? 70 Some paid rides, informally 71 First leg of an itinerary 72 Avenging spirits in Greek myth 73 Bad thing to hit with a hammer 75 “Casey at the Bat” poet Ernest 77 Wee bit 78 “I’m f-f-freezing!” 80 Coined money 84 Aids for determining pregnancy, e.g. 86 Pizazz 87 Fellini’s La ____ 88 Inducing forgetfulness 89 Outlook alternative 91 Dollar signs without the bars

1 Name of what was once the world’s second-largest saltwater lake 2 Tabula ____ 3 “Hematite, magnetite — take your pick”? 4 Line that ended with Nicholas II 5 “____ Grace” (title of address) 6 “To quote myself …” 7 Los Angeles neighborhood next to Beverly Grove 8 Wide-eyed 9 Memo starter 10 Half of a cartoon duo 11 Make official? 12 Super Bowl III MVP 13 Nail polish brand with the colors Teal the Cows Come Home and Berry Fairy Fun 14 Talking-____ (reprimands) 15 Big female role on HBO’s Westworld 16 Two things you might find in Sherwood Forest? 17 As long as one can remember 18 Work (up) 19 “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” painter 24 Apartment building VIP 29 Mentally sluggish 32 Producer of 60 Minutes 33 Seniors’ big night out 34 European stratovolcano 35 Astronauts’ wear

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90 Pageant whose 1986 runner- up was Halle Berry 94 Procedural spinoff starring LL Cool J 95 Antarctic penguin 96 Person who’s hard to take 97 Most conservative 100 Page of a movie script? 102 1994 tripartite treaty 103 De bene ____ (legal phrase) 104 In those days 105 Tommy of tennis 107 Temporary cover 108 Hopper 110 Writer ____ Stanley Gardner 111 Tiresias, in Oedipus Rex 113 Some gametes 114 Join 116 Capitals’ org. 117 Ruby of A Raisin in the Sun

ASSISTANT EDITOR Brittany Pickering STAFF REPORTERS Jacob Threadgill Jeremy Martin Nazarene Harris CALENDAR COORDINATOR Jeremy Martin PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER Alexa Ace CONTRIBUTORS Joshua Blanco, Daniel Bokemper Matt Dinger, Charles Martin CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kimberly Lynch GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Ingvard Ashby Tiffany McKnight

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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY Homework: Hug yourself as you tell yourself your biggest secret. ARIES (March 21-April 19)

Every year the bird known as the Arctic tern experiences two summers and enjoys more daylight than any other animal. That’s because it regularly makes a long-distance journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again. Let’s designate this hardy traveler as your inspirational creature for the next eleven months. May it help animate you to experiment with brave jaunts that broaden and deepen your views of the world. I don’t necessarily mean you should literally do the equivalent of circumnavigating the planet. Your expansive adventures might take place mostly in inner realms or closer to home.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20)

When the American Civil War began in 1861, the United States fractured. Four years later, the union was technically restored when the northern states defeated the southern states. At that time, African American slavery became illegal everywhere for the first time since the country’s birth decades earlier. But there was a catch. The southern states soon enacted laws that mandated racial segregation and ensured that African Americans continued to suffer systematic disadvantages. Is there a comparable issue in your personal life? Did you at sometime in the past try to fix an untenable situation only to have it sneak back in a less severe but still debilitating form? The coming weeks will be an excellent time to finish the reforms; to enforce a thorough and permanent correction.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20)

Does an elusive giant creature with a long neck inhabit the waters of Loch Ness in northern Scotland? Alleged sightings have been reported since 1933. Most scientists dismiss the possibility that “Nessie” actually exists, but there are photos, films, and videos that provide tantalizing evidence. A government-funded Scottish organization has prepared contingency plans just in case the beast does make an unambiguous appearance. In that spirit, and in accordance with astrological omens, I recommend that you prepare yourself for the arrival in your life of

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intriguing anomalies and fun mysteries. Like Nessie, they’re nothing to worry about, but you’ll be better able to deal gracefully with them if you’re not totally taken by surprise. CANCER (June 21-July 22) Does moss really “eat” rocks, as Cancerian author Elizabeth Gilbert attests in her novel The Signature of All Things? Marine chemist Martin Johnson says yes. Moss really does break down and release elements in solid stone. Gilbert adds, “Given enough time, a colony of moss can turn a cliff into gravel, and turn that gravel into topsoil.” Furthermore, this hardy plant can grow virtually everywhere: in the tropics and frozen wastes, on tree bark and roofing slate, on sloth fur and snail shells. I propose that we make moss your personal symbol of power for now, Cancerian. Be as indomitable, resourceful, and resilient as moss.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)

Let’s shout out a big “THANKS!” and “HALLELUJAH!” to the enzymes in our bodies. These catalytic proteins do an amazing job of converting the food we eat into available energy. Without them, our cells would take forever to turn any particular meal into the power we need to walk, talk, and think. I bring this marvel to your attention, Leo, because now is a favorable time to look for and locate metaphorical equivalents of enzymes: influences and resources that will aid and expedite your ability to live the life you want to live.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground,” writes author Judith Thurman. I’m guessing you will experience this feeling in the coming weeks. What does it mean if you do? It may be your deep psyche’s way of nudging you to find an energizing new sanctuary. Or perhaps it means you should search for fresh ways to feel peaceful and well-grounded. Maybe it’s a prod to push you outside your existing comfort zone so you can expand your comfort zone.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Venice, Italy consists of 118 small islands that rise from a shallow lagoon. A network of 443 bridges keeps them all connected. But Venice isn’t the world champion of bridges. The American city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania holds that title, with 446. I nominate these two places to be your inspirational symbols in the coming weeks. It’s time for you build new metaphorical bridges and take good care of your existing metaphorical bridges.

intentions flourished? Have your dreams blossomed? Have your talents matured? Have your naive questions evolved into more penetrating questions? Be honest and kind as you answer these inquiries. Be thoughtful and big-hearted as you take inventory of your ability to follow through on your promises to yourself. If people are quizzical about how much attention you’re giving yourself as you take stock, inform them that your astrologer has told you that December is Love Yourself Better Month.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

To aid and support your navigation through this pragmatic phase of your astrological cycle, I have gathered counsel from three productive pragmatists. First is author Helen Keller. She said she wanted to accomplish great and noble things, but her “chief duty” was “to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” Second, author George Orwell believed that “to see what is in front of one’s nose” requires never-ending diligence. Finally, author Pearl S. Buck testified that she didn’t wait around until she was in the right mood before beginning her work. Instead, she invoked her willpower to summon the necessary motivation.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Blackjack is a card game popular in gambling casinos. In the eternal struggle to improve the odds of winning big money, some blackjack players work in teams. One teammate secretly counts the cards as they’re dealt and assesses what cards are likely to come up next. Another teammate gets subtle signals from his card-counting buddy and makes the bets. A casino in Windsor, Ontario pressed charges against one blackjack team, complaining that this tactic was deceptive and dishonest. But the court decided in the team’s favor, ruling that the players weren’t cheating but simply using smart strategy. In the spirit of these blackjack teams, Sagittarius, and in accordance with astrological omens, I urge you to better your odds in a “game” of your choice by using strategy that is almost as good as cheating but isn’t actually cheating.

WE’RE SOCIAL.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

What has become of the metaphorical seeds you planted during the weeks after your last birthday? Have your

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If you want to play the drinking game called Possum, you and your friends climb up into a tree with a case of beer and start drinking. As time goes by, people get so hammered they fall out of the tree. The winner is the last one left in the tree. I hope you won’t engage in this form of recreation anytime soon—nor in any other activity that even vaguely resembles it. The coming weeks should be a time of calling on favors, claiming your rewards, collecting your blessings, and graduating to the next level. I trust your policy will be: no trivial pursuits, no wasted efforts, no silly stunts.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20)

In his song “Happy Talk,” Academy Award-winning lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II offered this advice: “You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” Where do you stand in this regard, Pisces? Do you in fact have a vivid, clearly defined dream? And have you developed a strategy for making that dream come true? The coming weeks will be an excellent time to home in on what you really want and hone your scheme for manifesting it. (P.S. Keep in mind Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s idea: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”)

Go to RealAstrology.com to check out Rob Brezsny’s expanded weekly audio horoscopes /daily text message horoscopes. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700.

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