By the time this column runs, I will have attended six classes, been to my office at The Daily Nexus at least once, started working on next week’s column for The Independent, gone into my work at I.V. Drip at least twice, paid a cable bill and a credit card bill, and responded to countless emails, mini crises, and phone calls. And that’s just what will have gone on between Saturday – when I return to I.V. from a relatively calm winter break at my parents’ house in the L.A. area – and Tuesday. Whoever is in charge of the weather out here in sunny Santa Barbara may not know it, but it’s officially winter quarter. Welcome back. Welcome back to early-morning classes, late-night study sessions, overpriced books, underpaid shifts at work, sleepless nights, and stressed-out days. Before you decide to just give up and hide back at your parents’ house until springtime sunshine makes it okay to ditch classes again, let’s take a second to examine the good things we Isla Vistans have to look forward to this quarter.

Film buffs and celebrity worshippers alike can take solace from the fact that in just a few weeks, our little town is due for a hefty dose of celebrities, ceremonies, screenings, and, of course, plenty of paparazzi. That’s right, it’s time again for Santa Barbara’s header_arlington_logo.jpg very own mini-awards season, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The festival, scheduled for January 25-February 4, will feature awards ceremonies honoring such diverse talents as Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, and Bill Condon. This year’s schedule features films ranging from Half Nelson, the indie flick featuring The Notebook hottie Ryan Gosling as an inner-city teacher dealing with as many demons as his troubled students, to Factory Girl, the Edie Sedgwick biopic that is already making waves on the runways and in the reviews. Sure, tickets to the events are a little expensive – ranging from $37-$1,500 – but having an excuse to break out your best pair of heels and hobnob with real live stars is totally worth it.

If you’re looking for a way to break up the proverbial winter doldrums without breaking the bank, check out this quarter’s lineup at Magic Lantern Films. Because this I.V. institution is funded by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, the College of Letters and Science, and the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts here at UCSB, they can afford to show second-run films for a lot less than the big theater chains. And, the Friday-night screenings are a veritable buffet of fine film geeks, hot hipsters, and folks that just plain want to spend at least part of their Friday night doing something other than drinking. sm_2404.jpg If that’s not a recipe for finding a good date, I don’t know what is. Plus, there’s usually popcorn. Check out, and look out for upcoming films such as Marie Antoinette (January 19), Borat (February 9), Stranger Than Fiction (Febraury 23), and Happy Feet (March 2), plus offerings from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Sounds smoking hot to me.

Speaking of hot, last quarter the fine folks at Arts & Lectures brought us the thinking girls’ (and some boys’) sexiest man alive – Jon Stewart. Seriously, next to my new favorite TV personality/distinguished-older-man-crush Anthony Bourdain, Stewart is the hottest salt-and-pepper-haired man currently gracing the cable airwaves, and thanks to Arts & Lectures, many of us got to see him up close and personal in November. Don’t think the staff at A&L plans to rest on its collective laurels after that triumph, though. icon_viola.jpg This winter, they’re planning on bringing us programming that includes performances by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Clint Eastwood‘s war epic Flags of Our Fathers, and a lecture by Garrison Keillor – the author, radio personality, and writer behind A Prairie Home Companion, the first film other than Mean Girls in which Lindsay Lohan‘s performance evoked emotions other than “someone please force-feed her carbs immediately.” More information about A&L’s calendar and ticket prices is available at

So welcome back, Isla Vista. Welcome back to what looks to be a fabulous film festival, some seriously satisfying screenings, and enough lectures, performances, and events to fill that new 2007 calendar you bought from the bargain bin at the campus bookstore after blowing all your holiday cash on textbooks. It might be a crappy calendar – and winter quarter, with its unpredictable weather and shorter days, might very well be the crappiest quarter – but at least there’s plenty of exciting events to fill up those tiny little calendar boxes and those long, cold winter nights. And, if all else fails, just remember, winter quarter means we’re only about 10 weeks away from spring.


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