Barney’s Weekend Picks

barney_mug.jpgWell, it’s been rainy and chilly, so you’re probably looking for something to do inside this weekend.

Luckily, there’s a lot going on.

Theater: I know people who wouldn’t go to the play if everyone on stage was nude. Or especially not then. Their loss.

In the Ensemble Theater play The Memory of Water, now on boards at Alhecama, the stresses and strains within a family are laid bare, for laughs and otherwise. Great theater. The whole cast shines. Runs through March 11. Mud, a production at the UCSB Performing Arts Theater, continues through Saturday. It’s the work of Cuban-born playwright Maria Irene Fornes. Love triangle on the farm. Tel: 893-3535. We don’t see enough of Bertolt Brecht’s work, but he’s popped up at Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria with The Chalk Circle, written in 1944 and based on an ancient Chinese story. Women’s Work continues at Center Stage Theater through Sunday. Four plays by four local women. mow_01.jpg

Movies: Last chance to see nominated flicks before Sunday night’s Oscars. The Lives of Others, nominated for best foreign language film, is at the Riviera. for instance. Also in town but not up for awards is Amazing Grace, the powerful but gracefully down story of one man’s winning fight to outlaw English slavery, is at Paseo Nuevo and impressed many at the recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Breach tells the true story of a spy scandal. Wild Hogs is not about pigs rampaging around Santa Cruz Island but some guys on motorcycles. Vroom! The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey, was supposed to be in the Film Fest but was jerked out at the last minute due to some Byzantine dispute. It’s at Camino Real and Metro 4.

Saturday is Central Asia Film Day at Victoria Hall Theater, featuring four movies sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures. The Adopted Son, from Central Asia, starts at 2 p.m. Travellers & Magicians, directed by Khyentse Norbu, follows at 4 p.m. The Cave of the Yellow Dog, an age-old story from Mongolia, screens at 7 p.m. and The Story of the Weeping Camel, about Gobi Desert camel herders, shows at 9 p.m. Info at 893-3535.

Music: Lucky us. We have grand opera. Opera Santa Barbara is staging the Verdi Festival. Rigoletto is being staged at the Lobero Saturday and March 2, 4 and 10 and A Masked Ball on March 3, 9 and 11. Info at 898-3890. Tonight, Feb. 23, Santa Barbara Symphony is having a blast with one of its pops concerts. In view of the Oscars, the Symphony number233.jpgwill be showing scenes from classic Oscar winners like The Wizard of Oz and playing scores from the movies. At the Arlington, 8 p.m. The Russians are coming, the National Philharmonic of Russia takes the Arlington stage Tuesday night (OK, it’s a bit beyond the weekend, but this is something not to be missed.) For one thing, it’s an all-Russian program, including pianist Olga Kern performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Music to fall in love by. (It happened to me.) Info at 963-4408.

Chowing Down: Wally Ronchietto has taken over the old Casa Blanca Mexican restaurant, 509 State St., renovated it (and boy did the old place need it) and opened Bricks, a restaurant with music every night. Teka sings lovely Brazilian melodies Sunday nights, 7-9 p.m. Five dollar margaritas and New York steaks Wally says would cost about $10 more at his Buenos Aires restaurant across from the Arlington. “I’m having so much fun,” Wally tells me and the place is packed. Some say Bill Connell’s Surfdogs are the best hot dogs on the South Coast. He sells them from a colorful freeway ramp past Carpinteria, but Wednesday he promised to serve them, free, to News-Press protesters at De la Guerra Plaza. Didn’t happen. “They wouldn’t license me,” Bill lamented. But he got up and made a speech on behalf of the fired journalists.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at or 805-965-5205. He also writes a Tuesday on line column in the Independent and a print column on Thursdays.

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