BROOKWOOD BOOK LOOK: If you read our calendars for the regular book readings and signings, then you’re probably accustomed to seeing listings for Alabama Booksmith and Little Professor in Homewood, primarily. These two locations have by far the most book-related events in town. And it’s not surprising that most of them would occur in smaller, local venues. But every once in a while, Books-A-Million in Brookwood Village gets in on the action as well. And as you can imagine, they tend to produce signings with some of the bigger names that came through Birmingham. This week, Rachael Ray will be dropping by to sign copies of her new cookbook, Look + Cook. The book, released early in November, is meant to be somewhat of an introduction to cooking. It has 100 recipes total, and each comes with six pictures detailing the progression of the meal. For inexperienced chefs, this gives them a clear guide for preparation that they can follow step-by-step without too much hassle. Numbers for the attendance line went on sale starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, so hurry and find a spot before it’s too late! To learn more, call (205) 870-0213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG ZOO TO-DO: Every year, throughout the month of December, the Birmingham Zoo transforms itself for the holiday season. This year is no exception. Starting on Friday, the zoo will start to close their grounds at 4 p.m. All the animal exhibits will be closed to make way for “Zoolight Safari”. If you’ve ever been to a Christmas lights show, especially one in a zoo, then you know what to expect. But don’t be too sure that the Birmingham Zoo won’t have something unique to offer. It already sounds pretty sweet on paper: half-a-million Christmas lights lining the road for a Holiday Express Train Ride, where you can look out and view attraction after lit up attraction. Plus, a “Jingle Bell Carousel”, and rides like “Santa’s Rock ‘n Roller Racers” and a “Winter Trail Ride.” Then, if you’ve already been through the Safari, and you’re looking for more to do, head over to the Barn in the Children’s Zoo. If you’ve got kids, they can enjoy story time, photo opportunities, as well as animal demonstrations and other activities. The zoo has certainly given you a lot of chances to check it out: it will be continuing from this Friday through next Thursday, and then it will pick up again on December 26 and go through the end of the year. Each night lasts from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for non-members are $8, while Birmingham Zoo members get in free. An “All- You-Can-Ride” wristband costs $10. For more information, call (205) 879-0409 or visit www.birminghamzoo.com. 2801 7th Avenue South | Birmingham, AL 205.202.4024 | www.cafedeparis.us lunch: 11am-2pm, dinner: 5pm-11pm Sunday brunch: 10am-3pm
CHECK AND MATE: Caesar Chess, easily the most active chess organizers in Birmingham, are ending the year with their Third Annual “Magic City Classic Chess Tournament.” The event will start in the Homewood Community Center this Saturday, and go all day long. The competition is broken down into four categories: 1) The Open level, for adults with United States Chess Federation ratings of 1500 or higher, 2) The Reserve level, for adults rated below 1500 on the USCF scale, 3) The Premier level, for all USCF-rated students between kindergarten and twelfth grade, and 4) The Novice level, for students K-8 who are not rated by the Federation. The games in the Open and Reserve levels will last 75 minutes, while games in the Premier and Novice levels will last 30 and 25 minutes, respectively. The four levels are split into two ongoing competitions, the Classic and the Scholastic. The Classic runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m., from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m., and 2:30 to 5 p.m. The Scholastic goes from 9-10:15 a.m., from 10:15 to noon, from noon to 1:15 p.m., and 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. In the Open level, participants can win up to $225 for first place, or $125 for second. In Reserve, it’s $200 for first place and $100 for second. Trophies will be awarded in the scholastic session. The site opens at 8 a.m., and you must register before 8:40 a.m., if you haven’t pre-registered already. For more information, call (205) 663-3441 or visit www.caesarchess.com.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN: The Neo Jazz Collective was founded in 2004, when, like their website states, the director Dr. Lud Yisrael became frustrated with “professional adult musicians.” He recruited his son as well as a few other children his age (thirteen, at the time) and set about to “enact a positive change in the youth of our community through an education in music and the arts also to educate, train and develop gifted students into professional career artists.” This is the organization’s mission statement, and it’s nothing if not respectable. If you’ve dealt with the same frustrations, or simply want to see more youth involved in music, you might want to head to the Highland Conference Center on Sunday, where the Collective will be holding what they’re calling “The Gift of Music: A Youth Instrument and Toy Drive.” The title leaves little to be explained. It’s a fundraiser for the organization’s primary cause. So bring one of those toys that have been lying around for years, or an instrument collecting dust in the attic. There’ll be live music at the event from Jona Crooner, Ree’Al, Dat2, and Laura Luke, and it will be hosted by Sharrif Simmons, a frequent contributor to the Birmingham music scene. The benefit will go from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is $10. For more information, call (205) 783-9880 or visit www.neojazz.net.
FESTIVE FLICKERS: Don’t you wish the Alabama Theatre would just show movies every night? Seriously, when they’re not putting on a concert or a play or whatever else they do, they’ve got a perfectly good projector sitting in silence that could be used to entertain me at all hours of the day. Okay, I’m sure there’s a good reason they don’t do this—but there’s also a good reason they unveil their “Holiday Film Series” this time every year. Starting on Thursday, audiences can get the chance to see Christmas Vacation (Thur & Fri, 7 p.m.), White Christmas (Sat, 7 p.m. & Sun, 2 p.m.), Elf (Tues, 7 p.m.) a Saturday children’s matinee with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2 p.m.), or, in the case of this Monday, Home Alone (7 p.m.). General admission tickets are $7 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alabamatheatre.com.
ART VIA MUSIC: All year long, the Birmingham Museum of Art has taken time out of every week to bring Alabama art enthusiasts a new “Artbreak.” If you’ve never read our listings before, “Artbreaks” are 30 minute gallery talks at the Museum that cover a massive range of topics. Participants are invited to attend the talk and then stay for lunch at the Museum restaurant, Oscar’s. This week’s was particularly worthy of mention, not because it’s the last Artbreak of the year, but because of the subject matter. Nancy Wingard, Assistant Professor of Music at Birmingham Southern College, will “explore the Museum’s collection through live piano.” I’ll admit, I don’t know exactly what this will entail, but if it’s anything like what I think it will be (a sort-of improvisational piece inspired by the moods of artistic works), it should be quite interesting. The lecture starts at noon, and it’s completely free. For more information, call (205) 254-2565 or visit www.artsbma.org.
GO AHEAD, LAUGH: The Comedy Club Stardome in Hoover is never short on acts. When there’s not a particularly big name taking the stage, you can be sure they’ve got a consummate professional waiting in the wings. This week, that professional is Mickey Dean, a comedian known for leaving filth at the door. Some people might see his clean jokes as trying to please too many people, but often-times dirty jokes please no one, because they’re a crutch. It really doesn’t do much to try and criticize a comedian before you see them, anyway. Dean will start at the Stardome this Wednesday and he’ll be there until December 26 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. All shows start at 7:30 p.m and cost $12. For more information, call (205) 444-0008 or visit www.stardome.com.
IT’S PARTY TIME: With the end of the year come all of our music venues’ end of the year Christmas celebrations. Next Thursday brings Zydeco’s Fifth Annual Year-End Christmas Bash, which will see performances from Challey Legg, The Odettas, and Hightide Blues. Legg is more geared toward the singer-songwriter genre (her Facebook page says she sounds like Michelle Branch and Justin Bieber, so glean from that what you will) but The Odettas should be an adequate transition for the lead act. Hightide Blues is known pretty well throughout the South—they played at Bonnaroo in 2008, and have opened for acts like The Zac Brown Band and The Whigs. And while their southern rock style isn’t breaking any barriers, they’re surely talented and fun enough to ring in the hoiday season. The show starts at 10 p.m., and tickets are $10 the day of the show ($8 if you buy in advance). No one under 18 will be admitted. For more information, call (205) 933-1032 or visit www.zydecobirmingham.com.