Arts & Entertainment

Vegas Vacation

Las Vegas has always been known as the city built by mobsters and beset with gambling, sex, drugs and alcohol. Vegas is the ultimate City of Sin. Vegas is the kind of city that God would like to smite. Countless movies have been made about the rampant hedonism of Vegas, and Hunter Thompson’s novel “”Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”” almost glamorized the use of drugs in Vegas. One cannot compare the beautiful neon lights of Vegas to any other city in the world. Tyler Huff Guardian Over the last decade Las Vegas has slowly been shedding its image of complete decadence. Although it is probably still quite easy to be sinful in this city, Vegas has started to create this image of being more accessible to a wide range of people of all ages. Vegas has bloomed into a city of entrancing lights, wonderful sights, and it shows off capitalist might. The strip, or Las Vegas Boulevard, is lined with beautiful new hotel-casinos with shopping malls located right inside along with art exhibits, quaint coffee shops and many different performances. Here are some of the hotel-casinos that line the strip and some things to do besides gamble away your savings. BELLAGIO DESCRIPTION: The 3,025-room Bellagio is the most beautiful and praised resort on the strip. Costing $1.6 billion, the Bellagio offers a 116,000-square-foot casino, 12 specialty restaurants and a luxurious shopping arcade. The Bellagio opened in October of 1998 and is located right in the middle of the strip, just south of Caesars Palace. Room rates range from $159 to $499, varying with the season and on the day of the week without notice. WHAT TO DO: The Fountains at Bellagio is one of the most visually appealing shows on the strip. It is also free. Dozens of high-powered fountains are gorgeously choreographed with lights to the music of Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie and Andrea Bocelli. If you have about $90 to burn, you can watch “”O”” by Cirque Du Soleil, which uses 1.5 million gallons of water as its stage. The Bellagio Conservatory is an amazing collection of fresh flowers and trees that changes with the holidays and seasons. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art rotates exhibits on a quarterly basis. The current visiting exhibit displays paintings from Picasso, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Van Gogh. If you just won the lottery or have a great financial aid package, you can window shop at Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Chanel and Giorgio Armani. PARIS LAS VEGAS DESCRIPTION: Across the strip from Bellagio lies the $785 million Paris Las Vegas, complete with an Arc de Triomphe and a 50-story Eiffel Tower. The hotel features an 85,000-square foot casino adjacent to “”Le Boulevard,”” an indoor cobblestone street lined with 31,500 square feet of shops and eight French-inspired restaurants. The spacious guest rooms include master baths with imported stone floors and counters. The price of the rooms can range from $129 to $369. Suites can be as large as 6,670 square feet and they cost a small fortune. WHAT TO DO: Aside from the exquisite cuisine, the quaint cafes and the European specialty shops, you can also ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower for under $10. The elevator flies up at 340 feet per minute. From the observation deck you can enjoy a picturesque view of Las Vegas that will be breathtaking any time during the day or night. THE VENETIAN DESCRIPTION: The Venetian is another Italian-themed resort. Each of the 3,036 rooms at The Venetian is a suite providing 700 square feet of living space. A canal winds through 500,000 square feet of real estate in the Grand Canal Shoppes. The casino is among the largest, taking up 120,000 square feet of land. The Venetian is located right across the street from Treasure Island. WHAT TO DO: Take your pick from five-star restaurants created by culinary masters like Emeril Lagasse, after which you can go to The Venetian’s 63,000-square foot health club. In the evening you can head to the C2K dance club and listen to ’70s and ’80s dance music along with some ’90s pop and some house music. The club is 21 and up. You can also check out Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and for $10 you can take a half-mile ride through The Venetian on one of the six gondolas. CAESARS PALACE DESCRIPTION: A landmark on the strip since its opening in August 1966, Caesars Palace features over 2,400 rooms, a 45,000-square foot casino and over 100 restaurants and shops. Rooms, many of which feature Roman tubs or whirlpool baths, range from $79 to $500. WHAT TO DO: The main attractions at Caesars are the Forum and Appian Way shops. The Forum Shops include Banana Republic, The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, which are relatively affordable compared to the Appian Way specialty shops such as Bernini Couture and Cottura. Visitors to Caesars will also find an IMAX ride, two talking statue shows and an aquarium. MANDALAY BAY DESCRIPTION: Located on the south end of the strip, the 3,309-room hotel includes a 135,000-square foot casino featuring over 2,400 slot and video poker machines and 122 table games. Rooms at Mandalay Bay range from $97 to $140. WHAT TO DO: Rumjungle, one of Vegas most popular clubs, features techno, Top 40 and Latin house music. The hotel also has 11 specialty restaurants, a 12,000-seat events center, a 1,700-seat showroom, and the 1,500-person House of Blues live music venue. Mandalay Bay is also home to The Shark Reef, a $40-million aquarium that contains 1.5 million gallons of seawater and 2,000 animals. NEW YORK-NEW YORK DESCRIPTION: The facade of this hotel is an approximation of the New York skyline, complete with the Manhattan Express, a 2-minute, 45-second roller coaster that winds its way around the outside of the hotel. The interior of the casino at New York-New York is modeled on Times Square and Central Park. Rooms at the hotel range from $60 to $309. WHAT TO DO: New York-New York features 10 specialty restaurants, 11 stores and a Coney Island-style area with games and a video arcade. The Manhattan Express plummets riders down a 160-foot drop and through a 540-degree spiral at speeds up to 67 mph. LUXOR DESCRIPTION: The giant pyramid on the strip whose beam can be seen for miles is home to 4,476 rooms and a 120,000-square-foot casino. Rooms in the pyramid, which range from $69 to $139, are custom-designed with unique views. Inclinators take guests up to 30 stories high at a 39-degree angle. WHAT TO DO: The Luxor is home to Ra, a club that was part of the hotel’s $400 million renovation. A host of local DJs spin deep house, techno, top 40 and trance mixes nightly. Luxor also features a two-story video arcade and an IMAX theater. MONTE CARLO DESCRIPTION: The Monte Carlo is an elegant blend of European and American tastes. It has a 90,000-square foot casino along with 3,014 rooms with prices that range from $59 to $399. The Monte Carlo is located toward the south end of the strip and is located between New York-New York and Bellagio. WHAT TO DO: World-famous magician Lance Burton performs two shows nightly between Tuesday and Saturday in a 1,200-seat theatre. A massive 21,000-square foot pool includes waterfalls and a wave pool. Monte Carlo also offers a wide range of shops. BALLYS DESCRIPTION: Ballys is the hotel-casino that was host to the “”Flying Elvises”” in the movie “”Honeymoon In Vegas.”” There are 2,814 rooms in Ballys and they can start as low as $59 in the middle of the week. The casino floor is 67,000 square feet. There is also a monorail that links Ballys to the MGM Grand. WHAT TO DO: There are various gourmet and casual restaurants, such as The Big Kitchen Buffet, to satisfy your appetite. The 1,040-seat Jubilee Theatre is host to various performers and is home to “”Jubilee!”” TREASURE ISLAND DESCRIPTION: Treasure Island is right next to The Mirage and offers 2,891 rooms at prices from $60 to $360. The casino is 75,000 square feet, and there is a variety of stores like the Calvin Klein Store and the Treasure Island Store. WHAT TO DO: Treasure Island can fulfill your dreams of being a pirate, with live pirate battles complete with stunts and explosions. The Hispaniola and the HMS Pinafore battle it out every night. There is also a massive 18,000-square foot game center. ...

The Presidents want your vote this year

Just when you thought you were stuck with this president for the next four years, you might want to look at the three candidates you should’ve voted for but punched the wrong chad. All three members of the band formerly known as The Presidents of the United States of America — Dave Dederer (bass/guitar/vocals), Chris Ballew (guitar/bass/vocals) and Jason Finn (drums) — are now back together, simply going by The Presidents. They might not have the answers to all your burning political questions, but they definitely have their post-election party planned, bringing you what could have been the most promising platform of the election: music that makes you laugh. The Presidents have always been remembered for their clever song-writing and tunes you could never get out of your head. The Grammy-nominated Presidents previously released two full-length records on Columbia. Their most recent release, “”Freaked Out and Small,”” hit stores nationwide in September. This latest project has a number of new twists but still maintains the band’s original sensibility. For this album, The Presidents didn’t rehearse the songs. They went into the studio, learned the songs, and then recorded them right on the spot, taking only three months to wrap up the entire recording process. The pure musical talent and energy created by this unique environment is evident on the 12-track compilation. “”We just have some kind of magic when we play together,”” Dederer stated. “”I can’t describe it, can’t define it, and I don’t think any of us can take credit for it. It’s just plain dumb luck to find that kind of synchronicity, and it shouldn’t be trifled with.”” “”Freaked Out and Small”” is The Presidents’ first full release since 1996. The new album is a strange mix of what you would expect to hear from The Presidents plus something similar to the sound of punky pop rock bands like “”The Mr. T Experience.”” The Presidents’ first single, “”Tiny Explosions,”” is heavily guitar driven and more rock than comedy. The lyrics are not quite as ridiculous as previous releases but they definitely make up for it with their new focus on the music. Five strings and half of a drum kit are all The Presidents ever needed to make their insanely catchy pop ditties. But don’t think they’ve lost their funny bone, because tracks such as “”Jazz Guy”” and “”Jupiter”” still make you laugh and remind you why this band is so great. The new album really shows some growth for the band. You can tell they wanted to come back strong, sounding a little different but still keeping the comedy act. Their music is fun, they have more ability with half of the equipment, and they remind us that those other presidents take themselves way too seriously. ...

The Hiatus Calendar

Thursday The Black Eyed Peas will perform at the Belly Up Tavern at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497. Friday Chris Calloway is the daughter of swing music legend Cab Calloway and will perform at UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium. Calloway is singer, dancer and bandleader and she will lead the Hi-De-Ho Orchestra and Dancers through some of her father’s arrangements. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased through the UCSD Box Office or through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. UCSD graduate Chris Kilch and the Chris Kilch Jazz Quintet will perform at Dizzy’s in downtown San Diego. Kilch will be featured on alto and tenor sax, clarinet and flute. The show starts at 8:45 p.m. and tickets are $8. Call (858) 270-7467 for ticket information. Saturday Countervail along with Give Until Gone, Curl Up And Die and Kareen will play at the Che Cafe at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information. Jam band Clyde’s Ride will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets are $7. Call Ticketmaster for more information at (619) 220-8497. Monday A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Concert will be held at Mandeville Auditorium. The UCSD Gospel Choir, under director Ken Anderson, will perform spirituals and gospels in celebration of King. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $3 to $5. Call (858) 534-3229 for ticket information. Tuesday Touring behind their recent release, “”Jupiter,”” Cave In will perform at the Che Cafe with other hardcore acts The Thrones, Durga and Secret Fan Club. The show starts at 8 p.m. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information. Wednesday Gregory Isaacs will perform his smooth reggae groove at 4th & B. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16.50. Call Ticketmaster for tickets at (619) 220-8497. Thursday Metal band Fear Factory will show off their evolving metal sound at Cane’s Bar & Grill. Their new album incorporates computer technology for a new groove but with a distinctively metal sound. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $15. To buy tickets call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497. ...

Review: Album

Blur“”Blur: The Best Of””EMI Records A After six albums and more than a handful of hit songs, Blur has finally released “”Blur: The Best Of.”” The album provides 18 tracks of Blur and their growth from their 1991 release, “”Leisure,”” through their most recent release in 1999, “”13.”” For those of you whose knowledge of Blur doesn’t go beyond the techno-casino sounds of “”Girls & Boys”” and the familiar “”Whoo-Hooo!”” of “”Song 2,”” then this album will open your eyes to the music that is distinctively Brit-pop. Blur was first known as Seymour and started out playing their style of art-punk in various places around London in the late ’80s. In 1989 they changed their name to Blur, signed to Food Records and released “”Leisure,”” which included hits like “”She’s So High”” and “”There’s No Other Way.”” “”Modern Life is Rubbish”” was released in 1993 and it pioneered the Brit-pop sound of the early- to mid-1990s. The lush My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar work with Beatles-esque harmonies and the use of string and brass sections achieved a witty collection of songs. Their first No. 1 album, “”Parklife,”” continued Blur’s collection of hit songs including “”Girls & Boys”” and gave them four Brit Awards. With the release of their next album, “”The Great Escape,”” Blur became part of a media-created rivalry with Oasis. “”The Great Escape”” reached No. 1 in the British charts and sold 1 million copies in Britain. Their self-titled album, “”Blur”” was released early in 1997 and they were instantly known stateside with their two-minute hit simply titled, “”Song 2.”” “”Song 2″” also found its way into commercials, movies and other promos. Largely ignored were songs like “”M.O.R.”” and “”Beetlebum.”” Their most recent studio album, “”13,”” was lyrically direct and emotional with beautiful musical textures. Blur songwriter Damon Albarn wrote about his painful break-up with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann and used the brilliance of William Orbit to produce the album. Their “”best of”” album collects all of the songs that define Blur and their career. Classics such as “”Parklife”” and “”Charmless Man”” are included with the light melodies of “”Country House”” and “”To the End.”” The bonus disc includes 10 songs from their concert at Wembley Arena. “”Blur: The Best Of”” is a fantastic way to open your eyes to more than just the American radio hits and it’s a great way to start the foundation of your Blur collection. ...

Under the Scope

The first year of the new millennium brings many new films that will try to offset the horrible selection of movies that plagued 2000. Winter may prove chilly, but Hollywood intends to brighten and warm this season with films that range greatly in style and genre. Unfortunately, this winter may seem cold because many of the new films coming out continue the downward trend that began last year. Here is a look at some films coming to theaters this winter. Snatch Snatch Jan. 19 The Mexican Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemying, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia and Jason Statham. Turkish (Statham) is a boxing promoter who gets in trouble when he works with gangster Black Top to rig a boxing match. At the same time, a diamond theft occurs, but the diamond disappears; as a result, the mastermind of the heist, Avi (Farina), goes to England to get the lowdown. The two stories intertwine with each other, creating havoc in the process. Outlook: This film looks to be a winner with a fresh, fast-paced plot that is sure to bring out a bit of everything. Although it may be over the top, the chaotic yet stylish storyline should make this film fun and exciting to watch. The Wedding Planner Jan. 26 Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers and Judy Greer. When wedding planner Mary Fiore (Lopez) meets Steve Edison (McConaughey), she thinks she has found the man of her dreams. This is great until she finds out that Steve is engaged to Fran Donelly (Wilson-Sampras), who has hired Mary to plan her wedding. Mary now has to manage the fine line between her job and her love life. Outlook: A chick-flick that is sure to be a crowd pleaser this year. Chemistry between Lopez and McConaughey is good, but the predictable and simple plot makes this one seem like an ordinary romantic film. Sugar & Spice Jan. 26 Starring: Marley Shelton, Jame Marsden, Rachel Blanchard, Mena Suvari, Sean Young, Sarak Marsh and Melissa George. Diane (Shelton) is the captain of the school cheerleading squad and dates the quarterback Jack Barlett (Marsden). Everything is fine until Jack and Diane find themselves in an unexpected situation and need cash immediately. In order to help the couple, the rest of the cheerleading squad, the A-squad, plot a bank robbery. The girls put their futures on the line in order to help out their friend in this comedy. Outlook: Can you give me a “”D-U-M-B?”” The idea of a bunch of peppy cheerleaders turning to a life of crime is not exactly A-material. The only thing these cheerleaders can motivate you to do is to not see this poor excuse for a movie. Head Over Heels Feb. 9 Starring: Monica Potter, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah O’Hare, Shalom Harlow, China Chow, Ivana Milicevic and Tomiko Fraser. Amanda Pierce (Potter) is a single art restorer who resides in Manhattan in this comedy. When she lands a great deal on a new, luxurious apartment, she is both surprised and uncertain when her new roommates are four beautiful, gorgeous models. The models quickly change Amanda’s lifestyle and Amanda is attracted to Jim Winston (Prinze). Things are turning out fine until she witnesses what appears to be Winston committing a murder. Pierce and her new roommates are now on the trail to find out the truth. Outlook: “”Head Over Heels”” is another teen-pop flick that proves that all you need to make a movie is a pretty face. This movie lacks the credibility and plot to be much more than another chance to see an attractive actress or actor. Not only is the plot ridiculous, but it also has the intelligence of the movie’s character, which is none. Hannibal Feb. 9 Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri and Zeljko Ivanek. The sequel of “”The Silence of the Lambs”” has the escaped Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) being the hunted instead of the hunter when an old victim of Lecter, Mason Verger, tries to seek revenge and attempts to kill Lecter. In order to do this, Verger uses FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Moore) as a tool to capture Lecter. Outlook: The original movie proved such a success that Thomas Harris wrote another chilling book in order for a movie to be made. Although money was the catalyst, this film will prove to be one of the more thrilling and haunting films of the year. With director Ridley Scott and Anthony Hopkins back as the lead, this film will bring a realistic, spine-chilling thriller that is macabre and gruesome. Sweet November Feb. 16 Starring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Frank Langella and Liam Aiken. Keanu Reeves plays a busy executive too concerned with himself to care for the well-being of others. His way of life changes when he meets an awkward but free-spirited woman (Theron) who persuades him to spend a month with her in order to change not only his views, but also his way of life. However, neither of them expected to fall for each other. Outlook: This weak premise portrays itself as a warm, sentimental romance. A love story demands chemistry between the two leads, but Reeves and Theron are not known for their great acting. The odds of seeing not only good acting but also great chemistry from the two actors are the same as having a legitimate and fair election in Florida. The Mexican March 2 Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini. Jerry Welbach (Pitt) is in a tight situation because he has to not only recover an antique pistol for his mob boss, but also has to deal with the fact that his girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) wants him to end his association with the mob. Trouble ensues when Jerry recovers the pistol, which turns out to be cursed, and by the fact that Samantha is now held hostage by a hit man. Outlook: Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, with their immense starpower, will ensure that this film will be seen by many and will be a success at the box office. This predictable film looks to be decently funny with a good blend of not only comedy, but also romance, drama and action. Animal Husbandry March 30 Starring: Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, Marisa Tomei and Ellen Barkin. In this romantic comedy, Ashley Judd plays talk show producer Jane Goodale who is in a romantic relationship with Ray (Kinnear). When their relationship turns south, Jane uses her knowledge of the male animal to write a sex column. In the process, Jane and her column become a sensation. Outlook: This look into men-women relationships falls flat as the script seems shallow and it clarifies the obvious. As a result, a meaningful understanding is never developed. Judd has been in many bad movies lately and this seems to be just another one of them. ...

The Hiatus Calendar

Thursday The performers of Lower Left will use mud, water and their sense of brutal sincerity for their performance and dance act at Sushi Performance & Visual Art in San Diego. There will be strong language and nudity. The show will run through Dec. 3 and again from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10. Call (619) 235-8468 for more information. Check out “”Gynomite: Fearless Feminist Porn!”” at Dizzy’s in downtown San Diego. Eight intelligent and sexy women will tell their stories about sex. The event starts at 8 p.m. and there is a $5 cover charge. Call (858) 270-7467 for more information. Check out some of the best in indie rock at the Che Cafe on the UCSD campus just east of the Theatre District. Songs: Ohio will headline and will be supported by Damien Jurado, Paris TX and Kind of Like Spitting. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $6. Call (858) 534-2311 for more information. Friday Digital Underground will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. Call the Belly Up at (858) 481-8140 for more information. Saturday Ska-Punk? Punk-Ska? Take your pick when the Aquabats perform at Canes Bar & Grill. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $12. Call Canes form ore information at (858) 488-9690. The incredible voice of Dave Wakeling which once led the English Beat and General Public can be heard at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts a 9 p.m. Call (619) 220-TIXS for more information. ...

Beatlemania Returns to Theaters

We all know being a rock star is tough. Even before VH-1 dared to go “”Behind the Music,”” director Richard Lester took a light-hearted approach to the rockumentary when he made a movie about four young lads from Liverpool trying to survive the fast-paced road to stardom. Part comedy, part adventure, and part musical, “”A Hard Day’s Night”” captures John, Paul, George and Ringo in the midst of Beatlemania. It was 1964 when movie houses packed with screaming teenage fans first showed this classic Beatle film. The Fab Four had just invaded America and the question troubling every young girl was: Which one is cuter, John or Paul? The soundtrack, which features “”Can’t Buy Me Love,”” “”I’m Happy Just to Dance With You,”” and of course “”A Hard Day’s Night,”” was often drowned out by the uncontrollable wailing of devoted fans. Thirty-six years later, Miramax Films will re-release a fully restored version of “”A Hard Day’s Night,”” just in time for Christmas. The re-release of “”A Hard Day’s Night”” was originally planned for September of 1999 but was pushed back because of the August 1999 re-release of another Beatle movie, “”Yellow Submarine.”” It was then slated to hit theaters in October 2000, but Miramax pushed the release date back once again to coincide with release of other Beatle merchandise, such as the new “”Beatles 1″” compilation album and the Beatles Anthology book. “”A Hard Day’s Night”” will finally hit theaters Dec. 1 in New York and Los Angeles, and then Dec. 8 nationwide. As the sons and daughters of baby boomers, many of us have heard stories about the first time our parents saw “”A Hard Day’s Night.”” It is hard to believe that those doe-eyed, pre-teen Beatlemaniacs who have been preserved for posterity on old footage of the Ed Sullivan Show actually grew up to invest in mutual funds and retirement pensions. But if you have ever wondered what became of those screaming Beatle fans, they probably became your parents. So what better way to spend quality time with them this holiday season then by showing them you’re hip to their kind of music? OK, perhaps that is a bad idea, considering taking your mom to see “”A Hard Day’s Night”” might unleash some very unwelcome nostalgia trips. However, the chance to see this award-winning piece of pop culture in the theaters should not be passed up. This glimpse into history shows rock ‘n’ roll when it was still innocent, and gives insight into that all-important question: Who is your favorite Beatle? ...

Celebrating the Holidays South of the Border

With the holiday season approaching, it is important to realize that not all cultures ring in the new year by decorating a dead tree and leaving milk and cookies for an overweight burglar in a red jumpsuit. In fact, our neighbors just south of the border have a very different way of celebrating Christmas and the new year. While Christmas in the United States is generally celebrated on Dec. 25, the Mexican holiday celebration stretches from Dec. 16 to Jan. 6. It is not uncommon for many Mexicans to take the two weeks before Christmas off of work or school in order to spend more time with family and friends and to celebrate the holiday, according to http://www.mexonline.com. The Posadas are one of the best-known holiday traditions in Mexico. There is one held each night for the nine nights prior to Christmas Eve. While the literal translation of “”posada”” is “”home,”” “”shelter”” or “”inn,”” the Posadas are dramatized re-enactments of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary’s search for a place to stay and give birth to the baby Jesus. In older celebrations of the Posadas, a young boy and girl were chosen to represent the two biblical figures. In modern celebrations, groups of people walk around with candles. They visit three houses and ask for a place to stay by singing a traditional question-and-response song. The first two houses deny them access, while the third house welcomes the group inside for festivities. When the group is finally welcomed into the third house, it gathers around a manger scene and offers songs of welcome called Ave Marias. While the more religious celebrators of the Posadas may pray when the third house lets them in, the event has evolved into a party. The festivities usually include refreshments and dancing. The adults are served a thick punch that usually contains a little alcohol to keep out the cold. Often, the party also includes a pinata, which is very popular among children. The pinata is filled with candy and toys, and is usually hung from a tree. The celebration is said to have originated in 1587, according to the Internet system of the presidency of Mexico, located online at http://world.presidencia.gob.mx. According to the Web site, it was then that Friar Diego de Soria obtained a Papal Bull from Pope Sixtus V to celebrate “”Aguinaldo,”” the Christmas gift Masses that ran from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24 in what was New Spain. The Masses, which were held in the church atriums and designed to convert patrons before Christmas, were filled with scenes that alluded to Christmas. The Augustinian missionaries used fireworks, sparklers, Christmas carols and pinatas to attract crowds. These festive celebrations evolved into the modern celebration. The ritual is continued until Christmas Eve, when another verse is added to the Ave Marias that tells the Virgin Mary that the night has come to give birth to baby Jesus. The children are dressed as shepherds and stand beside the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing. The ritual is concluded by rocking the baby Jesus to sleep with the cradle song “”El Rorro,”” which means “”Babe in Arms.”” After the last of the Posadas, worshippers go to church to attend the “”Misa de Gallo”” or the “”Mass of the Rooster.”” This is the first Mass of Christmas Day and is traditionally celebrated with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles to announce the birth of Jesus. The Mass is followed by a large dinner of traditional Mexican foods, including tamales, rice, rellenos, atole (a sweet traditional drink) and medudo, which is said to be more sobering than a strong cup of coffee. Celebration of the holiday on Christmas Day itself also differs from the American celebration. While Americans traditionally celebrate the day with a Christmas tree and presents, Mexicans usually do not do anything special on Dec. 25. However, recent trends have Mexicans integrating the American celebration of Christmas trees and Santa Claus into their traditional celebrations. In Mexican tradition, presents are not distributed until Jan. 6, the Dia de Reyes, which means the “”Day of the Kings.”” This day, also called the Epiphany, is supposed to coincide with the twelfth night of Christmas. This is the day on which it is believed the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus. ...

'Horns Wings and More Tales'

“”Performance art … that usually involves getting naked and smearing stuff on your body, right?”” a student queried earlier this week, looking at the postcard ad for “”Horns Wings and More Tales.”” The ad featured a black and white photo of a dancer superimposed on an attention-getting red background. True to the title, the dancers appear at various moments in the program with wings, horns and even (yes) their tails bare as they artfully spin a tale of the female experience in our culture. Courtesy of Lower Left The Lower Left dance company has reprised the popular “”Horns Wings and Tales,”” a powerful mish-mash of dance and performance art first performed in 1998. “”Horns Wings and More Tales”” opens tonight with “”Moving Violations”” for a seven-night, two-weekend run at Sushi Visual and Performance Art Space downtown. The show presents a series of subtly related vignettes featuring such characters as Hairy Woman, Monster Girl and Nordstrom Woman. Through monologues and movement, the five performers bring to light the ways in which American women chafe under, cope with, and (somewhat) escape from the inherent patriarchy of our culture. The women of Lower Left are not afraid to be both poetic and aggressive, and they present a stunning piece of work. Between mud, water, spelunking equipment, flying harnesses, crazy-but-logical monologues, glue-on body hair, and of course dance, this show covers vulgarity, beauty, anger, repressed pain and hope. Something for everyone? Not for those who seek to avoid challenges to the status quo. Viewers of previous performances have been heard uttering phrases such as “”life-changing”” and “”phenomenal.”” Opening the evening is a dance crazy with movement called “”Moving Violations.”” First choreographed by Nina Martin of Lower Left in the mid-eighties, it was revived for this year’s Trolley Dances and expanded for this performance. In addition to learning Martin’s choreography, the dancers worked together under her direction to create the fastest, most hair-raising quintets they could, crammed to capacity with lifts, jumps, flailing limbs and half-controlled falls. Numerous UCSD dancers and alumni are performing in the show. Alumna and UCSD Recreation gymnastics instructor Margaret Paek will be seen in both pieces. Also, over a third of the huge cast of “”Moving Violations”” comes from UCSD. Look for undergraduate Lindsay Sworski, graduate student Jean Steiner and alumni Todd Bennett, Jean Dugan, Hannah Griffith and Andrew Wass. Such a strong UCSD presence in the post-modern dance community is noteworthy, especially considering that the dance department here tends more toward the modern dance vein. With seven performances in two weekends, UCSD students have no excuses for not going to “”Horns Wings and More Tales.”” This may be a crazy time, between finals and getting home for vacation, but so what — you’d regret missing this amazing performance. Sushi is located on 11th Avenue, between J and K streets. Tickets for “”Horns Wings and More Tales”” are $15, $12 for students and $10 for Sushi members. Call (619) 235-8466 for information or reservations. ...