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A&E Feature 


Doris Christopher
Noon Tuesday, Aug. 9
Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St., 899-7323

"I would challenge anyone on Wall Street to take $3,000 and do what Doris Christopher has done: build a business from scratch into a world-class organization," billionaire financier Warren Buffett writes in his forward to Christopher's book, The Pampered Chef: The Story of One of America's Most Beloved Companies (Currency/Doubleday). "But follow the simple steps in this book, and it just might happen." Christopher says her mission is simple: to help improve family life by easing the process of preparing food and to suggest the kitchen tools to make that happen. Christopher got into the game a quarter-century ago after spending eight years as a stay-at-home mother, so she certainly didn't descend from some ivory tower on the subject. The Pampered Chef traces Christopher's journey from domestic goddess to entrepreneur, which includes selling her company to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Company in 2002. That business includes a 780,000-square-foot facility with more than 70,000 independent "Kitchen Consultants." (Ah, the age of specialization.) Christopher will talk about and sign copies of her book. -- David Lee Simmons


Brian Jonestown Massacre
10 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
TwiRoPa (Tchops Room), 1544 Tchoupitoulas St., 232-9503;

The best line in the Sundance award-winning documentary Dig! , which chronicles the love-hate relationship between Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM) and its mid-1990s West Coast neo-psychedelia scene mates the Dandy Warhols, is "That motherf--ker broke my f--king sitar!" It's a perfect metaphor for BJM -- the combination of the angry instability of the utterer, the notoriously irascible Anton Newcombe, and the groovy vibe of the fuzzy, California-in-the-1960s-style guitar rock he cranks out to the tune of 14 albums in 15 years. The new We Are the Radio EP (Tee Pee) is trippy but dark, with a distant, ambient feedback that haunts songs such as "Never Become Emotionally Attached to Man, Woman, Child or Beast." Newcombe's unpredictability may have kept the band from major-label success (in one scene in the film, an industry showcase performance dissolves into an intra-band brawl), but the almost painful precision of his songwriting and era-appropriate sound is worth the admission price. Tickets $11 in advance, $13 at the door. -- Alison Fensterstock


Dinner With Friends
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 11-13; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14; through Aug. 20
Actor's Theatre of New Orleans, 4539 N. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, 456-4111

The lines that define friendships and allegiances tend to blur when marriage comes into play, and that's the key theme of Donald Margulies' Pulitizer Prize-winning comedy-drama, Dinner With Friends . The play serves as the debut performance in the Actor's Theatre of New Orleans, on the second floor of the WTIX-FM building in Metairie. Margulies' off-Broadway hit explores the ripple effect that a divorce has on two married couples who seem to do just about everything together: vacations, meals, children's functions, you name it. That divorce throws everything into doubt: the trust among friends as well as the stability of the still-married couple. Actor's Theatre Artistic Director Rene Piazza directs Chelle Duke, Leon Contavesprie, Michael Santos and Sarah Fontenelle as the not-so-happy couples. Tickets $15 adults, $13 students/seniors. (On Wednesday, Aug. 17, there will be an Actor's Night, with $10 tickets for members of the theater community.) -- Simmons


Otherwise Harmless
8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 13-14; through Aug. 28
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 258-0905

There are two misconceptions regarding the New Orleans theater scene that creep up from time to time. One is that the "season" dies down in the summer as everyone heads out of town for vacation, cooler climes, etc. The other is that there's a paucity of talented local playwrights. Starting a couple summers ago, that first notion was easily debunked as the proliferation of writers, directors and talent led to a blossoming of summer productions. There's simply too much going on to limit local theater to three seasons. This summer is no exception. As for the second misconception, well, while there's not an overflow of talented, working local playwrights, we can at least enjoy quality over quantity. (Jim Fitzmorris, the lone regular playwright who contributed to the current Native Tongues installment, is a great example of this.) R.J. Tsarov is another strong example; he is alternately one of New Orleans' most ambitious and most prolific playwrights. As Gambit Weekly theater critic Dalt Wonk once wrote, Tsarov's plays "reflect the world we live in and yet they are not by any means a copy of that world. In that way, they are truly like dreams." Tsarov's latest dream, Otherwise Harmless , features Mike Driscoll (pictured) from Chicago's prestigious Roundabout Theatre in the starring role, and demanding (according to Tsarov's press release) that the audience smoke heavily during the show. We're game! This one-man show is described as "part stand-up comedy, part aerial acrobatics." Tickets $9.99 general admission, $10.99 students with ID, $15.99 CAC members. -- Simmons


John Legend, Common, De La Soul
8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE;

Neo-soul singer John Legend and rapper Common have spent a lot of time in New Orleans this year. Legend was most recently in town for the Essence Music Festival, and Common appeared at the International Arts Festival. Both have also benefited from their association with Kanye West, who produced Legend's Get Lifted (Sony) from last year, and Common's Be (Good/Geffen) this spring. Legend makes a guest appearance on "They Say" on Be , and both artists' albums depict men in similar positions -- not quite street anymore, but not bourgeois, either. As they try to negotiate this no-man's land, they look to the church, the past, sex and the streets they've left, not finding any of those wholly satisfactory. Lyrically and musically, they share a sensibility with '70s Philly soul. Opener De La Soul is now years removed from the Daisy Age, but has also spent a career trying to figure out how to be from the streets without being defined by them. Tickets $25. -- Alex Rawls



Texas Hold 'Em benefit poker tournament
Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 11-14
The Pontchartrain Center, 4545 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 861-4500;

The ESPN-led poker craze has ushered into the mainstream a game once the sole province of rough-and-tumble, ramblin'-and-gamblin' men. This trend is the means to a positive end this week, as poker players commence a four-day tournament with proceeds to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana, an Uptown-based nonprofit that will use this week's funding boost to provide patient services and medical supplies for Louisianians with kidney disease. Satellite games will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday to select the best for the big payouts on Sunday, when the action will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Poker players can register online or by calling; fees are $50 per seat, $10 registration for satellite games Thursday-Saturday, $500 per seat, $100 registration for tournament games on Sunday. Prizes include a 2005 Chevy truck, a seat at the World Poker Championships in Las Vegas, plasma TVs, grills, Visa gift cards and more. -- Frank Etheridge


The Cripple of Inishmaan
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 12-13; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14; through Aug. 28
NOCCA/Riverfront, Nims Black Box Theatre, 2800 Chartres St., 343-1865

The NOLA Project is an ambitious one, hoping to connect the theatrical dots among New York, Chicago and New Orleans. One way to do that is to present a theatrical production using personnel from all over the map, which is what will happen with the debut production, Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan . McDonagh is the author of the more well-known works The Lonesome West and The Beauty Queen of Leenane , the latter of which is a Tony Award winner. The Cripple of Inishmaan is about as darkly comical as the Irish get, and that's saying something: The titular cripple Billy, so annoying that his parents preferred suicide to him, finds out that (real-life) documentarian Robert Flaherty (of Louisiana Story and Nanook of the North fame) is in the area looking for extras for his Man or Aran filming and goes for an audition. Hollywood ensues! James Tripp, head of acting at the Stella Adler Studio, directs NOCCA drama department lead teacher Janet Shea and Stella Adler Studio associate artistic director Angela Vitale, among others. Tickets $20, $15 students. -- Simmons


Gun Buy Back Benefit with Cyril Neville & the Uptown Allstars
10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12
Southport Hall, 200 Monticello Ave., Jefferson, 834-7990;

No matter whether you are a person who thinks guns kill people or people with guns kill people, you can get behind the Gun Buy Back program in New Orleans. The program raises funds to buy back guns -- illegal and otherwise -- from people in the city. This benefit to raise money to buy back guns starts with the New Orleans Police Department band, a group of officers playing many R&B chestnuts. Headliners Cyril Neville and the Uptown Allstars seem to play with an even more missionary-type zeal at benefits such as this. Neville has been outspoken about the issues that most affect New Orleanians, particularly the poor, so it's no surprise he lends his talent to this cause. Every $50 raised gets one gun off the street, and the buy back itself happens Aug. 27 at 3501 St. Bernard Ave., but make it to the show first. Minimum donation $10, recommended donation $20-plus. -- David Kunian

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