THURSDAY, Dec. 15
CREAM ME A RIVER | Rarely in human history has there been less of a need for writers to originate new writing. The morass of man-made content is so vast that screenshots, retweets, or memes could suffice, across several infinities surely. And yet some still endeavor to originate, often at their own peril. One of them, a local man named Douglas W. Milliken, has gotten quite good at it — whatever “good” means nowadays. In the eyes of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, he was good enough to win the 2016 Maine Literary Award. Based on that, you could argue he’s the best writer of English in Maine — that’s meaningless superlative, but why not? In Milliken’s stories, you get characters who seem like regular-ass people until their motivations, which Doug often conceals, collide them. He celebrates a follow-up to last year’s Cream River with a new collection of microfiction, titled One Thousand Owls Beneath Your Chest.
| FREE | 7:00 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. | http://www.space538.org/ |
RUBBING NICKELS TOGETHER | The Manchester, New Hampshire, the well-traveled comedian Paul Landwehr, a regular guy, is the headline for Laugh Shack, the weekly comedy night at the faux-speakeasy bar Lincolns underneath Pat’s Pizza in the Old Port. Like everything else, admission is $5.
| $5 | 8:30 pm | Lincoln's Bar, Market St., Portland | https://www.facebook.com/LincolnsPortlandMaine/ |
FRIDAY, Dec. 16
THE NOODLE WITHIN | In Tampopo, the 1985 Japanese film about how to eat and appreciate ramen, we learn several things. One is the importance of being affectionate to the meal. Skim the chopsticks along the broth, caressing the noodles. Apologize to the pork. Regard the sinking seaweed. Ramen originated as a cheap and convenient food for on-the-go Japanese laborers. Now, cities like Portland package it as a luxurious and savory meal, rich in cultural capital and weather-resistant fat. Juzo Itami’s 1985 comedy plays with a variety of high and low-status characters to tell the ramen story. It could also arm you with some slick quips for date night. Screening Friday through Sunday at PMA Films.
| $8 | 6:30 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland | http://www.portlandmuseum.org/ |
PROCESSIONS | The Bayside art post Zero Station has hosted paintings by the Houston-based painter Ricardo Osmondo Francis since November. The complex, surrealistic images on his canvases approach racial identity, masculinity and class structures (see his painting titled “Young Harlequin Spinning the Wheel of Fortune” pictured here). He’ll talk about his work and those themes, some of which also overlap with the work of Portland art-dance group Hi Tiger, led by Derek Jackson, who perform in the space tonight before a larger dance party steered by house DJ Jamie O’Sullivan. The performance is titled “Mythic/Poetic.”
| FREE | 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland | www.zerostation.com |
WERK LOCAL | With all the political wreckage and existential panic happening this year, you’d be forgiven if that ephemeral notion folks call the “Christmas spirit” has eluded you. That’s fine: the Nutcracker Burlesque, the annual flagship show by Portland dance collective Vivid Motion, manages to reduce the holiday spirit to its bare, pagan essentials, which is people doing weird things together, mostly naked. Opening tonight and running through the 23rd, see original choreography by Vivid locals Alison Berry, MJ Emerson, Shea Murphy, Brigitte Paulus, Emma Tompkins and Emily Zack. Tickets notoriously sell out extremely fast.
| $18 | 7:30 pm | St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland | http://www.stlawrencearts.org/ |
LATE DANKNESS | Burlesque can withstand a dose of holiday corniness, but the same can’t often be said of hip-hop. Thankfully, Maine rapper Spose has been peppering his style of hip-hop with Yankee corniness, self-flagellation, and straight-up irony for close to a decade, and his product has been better for it. The dude throws his third annual December concert, titled PDANK XMAS, at Port City Music Hall tonight. Expect many guests. Tickets run $14-16. 504 Congress St., Portland.
| $14-16 | 8:00 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/ |
SATURDAY, Dec. 17
LACE UP | In cities all over the country, membership at self-defense and mixed martial arts classes have skyrocketed. Looks like Portland feels that heat too. The usual yoga and dance fare of West End wellness center Hustle and Flow expands to include a class on “Street Harassment and Bystander Intervention,” hosted by the Portland group Prevention Action Change, part of the Violence Prevention Network that also includes the vital organizations SARSSM, Maine Boys to Men, Speak About It, and more. This workshop may actually be sold out, but the group plans to host monthly workshops on how to de-escalate potential assault. 10 am, $15 at Hustle and Flow, 155 Brackett St. #3, Portland. Down the road at noon, Peace Action Maine hosts a Nonviolent Direct Action Training at the Maine Irish Heritage Center, covering the strategic actions and legal concerns involved in taking part of the resistance movement. That’s at 34 Gray Street in Portland, and free.
WATER WARS | Since September, the indigenous peoples of the Dakota Sioux tribe have been in protest of the planned construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, an effort that has rallied many thousands of supporters from around the country, and has sparked conflict and aggression from North Dakota police. Surely your personal politics will have already colored your perspective. But the developments have placed the opposing values in stark relief — water protection and civil rights on one side, and the proceedings of corporate capital and big oil on the other. As Pete Seeger sang, which side are you on? While President Obama ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit to Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline owner, earlier this month — a victory for the protestors, for sure. But with president-elect Trump literally holding stock in the companies building the pipeline, many expect the fight isn’t over. Tonight’s rock show, headlined by the energetic prog group Five of the Eyes, benefits the protestors, tribes and water protectors in their next chapter.
| $10 | 8:30 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/ |
LIFT UP | Dydine Umunyana was four when the Rwandan Genocide tore through her community. Today, she’s a peace ambassador and galvanizing political speaker, whose book Embracing Survival: Genocide and War Through the Eyes of a Child, which was released this fall through Umbrella Press. Hear her tell her story, and remember that history is never over.
| FREE | 7:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/ |
FATTEN WELL | Been a fine first year for the folks at Fork Food Lab. The Bayside shared kitchen and tasting room throw together a winter market in time for the holiday. If your household has let slip the tradition of stuffing stockings, use this as an opportunity to pack your lover’s booties with some local oatmeal bars or plant-based yogurt.
| FREE | 10:00 am to 3:00 pm | Fork Food Lab, 72 Parris St., Portland | http://www.forkfoodlab.com/ |
SUNDAY, Dec. 18
LABORS OF LOVE | Last winter, Portland filmmakers Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw put the final touches on Tumbledown, a thoughtful Maine-based comedy they’d been working on the past eight years. Thankfully, the film is not only watchable, but really effing charming, a meditation on love and grief and the hard work people buoyed by great performances by Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis. It screens at Frontier from the 13th through today, when it’s up at 3 and 7 pm. Tickets run $6 for the matinee and $8 for the evening show at 14 Maine St. in Brunswick. 207.725.5222.
TENDER ACTS | One of the city’s most vital organizations is Portland Outright, which secures community and builds leadership in LGBTQ Maine youth. Today, they host a program for making holiday cards for prisoners. It’s a novel, tender, simple, and radical idea, and these folks are friendly as hell.
| FREE | 4:00 pm | Portland Outright, 68 Washington Ave., Portland | http://portlandoutright.com/ |
WHAT IS JAZZ? | Colleen Clark, one of young Portland’s best lady-voiced singers, had such a grand time throwing a holiday party last year that she’s done it again, corralling guests the likes of Susanne Gerry, KGFREEZE, Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, Rob Cimitile, Dustin Saucier, Amanda Rae Tubbs and comedian James Spizuoco. If you don’t truly hate the holidays, but think they’re best accessed with some edge, a little alcohol, and a whole lot of friends who are good at getting ridiculous around each other, this party’s for you.
| FREE | 6:00 pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/ |
MONDAY, Dec. 19
THIS IS REAL | I know you’re tired, but the you that pledged on November 9th (well, November 10th — nobody could even get out of bed that Wednesday) wants you to keep pushing. Tonight, there’s a meeting of the Maine Democratic Socialists, a party that Bernie Sanders was trying to yoke into the mainstream before he lost the primary to Democratic primary to Hillary. But now that the U.S. has actual fascists in power, maybe centrists might change their tune about the country not being “ready” for single-payer health care. This growing group meets at the City Hall at 7 pm, where they’ll be nominating candidates for Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.
| FREE | 7:00 pm | City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandmaine.gov/ |
TUESDAY, Dec. 20
WHAT’S THAT SONG? | Tonight, the illustrious jazz singer VIVA revives old world standards at the Exchange St. bar Crooners and Cocktails, which I’ve always thought had a strange mafia vibe to it. Sinatra songs are a thousand times better when they’re sung by someone like this lady.
| FREE | 9:00 pm | Crooners and Cocktails, 90 Exchange St., Portland | http://www.croonersandcocktails.com/ |
PAST VICTORIES | Loving, a historically inspired film by Jeff Nichols, tells the true tale of a mixed-race couple in 1967 named Richard and Mildred Loving. The Lovings fought for nine years to live in their hometown of Central Point, Virginia, battling the state's laws against miscegenation. Dramatized, the film gets reportedly excellent performances from Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. Loving screens at the Strand Theatre in Rockland from the 16th through the 29th, and 7 pm tonight. 345 Main St., call 207.594.0070.
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21
SOFT BOOCH | The fine folks at Urban Farm Fermentory host a nondenominational holiday party — a Solstice celebration — timed with the release of their elderberry kombucha. Salsa group El Malo make this a solid party, no tinsel.
| FREE | 8:00 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://www.fermentory.com/ |
JOE STRUMMER | The spirit never leaves Don Campbell, the Maine player who’s been slinging his folky, pop-country crossover songs since 1991. He’s big on Christmas songs, having popped out two discs of the stuff, so he’ll be on his game tonight at the Frog and Turtle, 3 Bridge St. in Westbrook, at 7 pm.
THURSDAY, Dec. 22
SUNG SONGS | Next week, the local emo-punk band Restless Atlantic shore up Empire, Port City Music Hall screens a double-feature of The Nightmare Before Christmas and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Free at 8 pm at 504 Congress St.
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