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Sex Trivia: Good drinks and good loving on tap

Sister: Gee, Babs, you look like something the cat just dragged in. 

Babs: I know. I feel crummy. But I just can't seem to put my finger on what's wrong. 

Sister: That's too bad, Babs. Has it ever dawned on you that it just may be your uvula? 

During Saturday Night Live’s inaugural first season they performed these lines from a groundbreaking sketch comedy that was so downright cutting edge that I am certain the censors were scrambling to determine Bab’s uvula’s true meaning. 

Lucky for us, sexual innuendo and the need to hide it is far behind us when it comes to access to information, and on Thursday night you are invited to join others who have made the monthly Sex Trivia event at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown one of the hottest improv game show events in the city since, well, ever.

“Sex and reproductive health can be a lot of fun and doesn't need all the stigma it receives,” says Annamarie Buller, who helped co-found this event with Planned Parenthood’s Janet Carbonneau.

The game is played in rounds with 10 trivia questions for each segment. The final round is when the laughter really starts to ramp up, as this is a visual trivia round with guests being asked questions like “Sneeze or O-Face?” These visuals are produced by local graphic designer Abby Peters. 

They have also featured a famous wardrobe malfunctions question or two, with many of the sillier questions taking a walk on the wild side of pop culture.  

The trivia host, Maria Filice, likes to walk that comic fine line between learning and making education fun.

“I think events like this help to demystify sex and make it more comfortable for people to talk about openly,” says Buller. This event benefits our local Planned Parenthood.

Happy hour runs until 9 p.m. at Billy’s on this evening. There are two rounds of trivia on this night with round one starting promptly at 7 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m.

Admission:  $10 suggested donation 

Art Van Santa Parade: Ho Ho Ho. Guess who is in Grand Rapids this weekend?

No matter how and what you celebrate during the holidays, the chance to see a parade in your city is always a delight for the eyes…especially children’s eyes.

On Saturday morning, the Art Van Santa Parade glides back into Grand Rapids with its famous reindeer, and I couldn’t be happier after a long and depressing 2016. 

Soon the streets will be filled with the sounds of soaring vocals, hot brass, and a steady drum beat as local marching bands, carolers, and performers take to Monroe Avenue to announce the arrival of a fat man in a red suit who somehow has avoided diabetes all these years after a diet of candy canes, cookies, and room temperature milk laid out at nearly every home he visits each Christmas. 

And just like other years, our parade will feature float entries created around the themes that emerge out of this holiday season.

We also have another reason to celebrate downtown this year, as the parade welcomes glass ceiling bursting Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss as the 2016 Grand Marshal. She will be joined with Guest of Honor singer/songwriter Jacob Davis.

This event always attracts thousands of parade-goers, so do not be late and miss this once-a-year event being stuck in traffic or trying to find a parking space. 

For those who cannot stand the cold, crowds, or are simply too busy to get out of bed this early on a Saturday to Monroe Avenue, then lucky you because the parade will be broadcast live on WOOD TV8 starting at 9 a.m.

Admission: Free

Tanglefoot Artists' Open Studio Event: 25 years of creating

Many may recall that before I was writing or working in media, I was first and foremost an artist of your community.

On Nov. 18 and 20 I invite you to join me in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the annual Tanglefoot Artists’ Open Studio Event on the westside of Grand Rapids. 

And while I am certainly one reason to consider attending if you have ever wondered what my artist studio space looks like, I am not the sole reason. 

In fact, I can offer you nine additional reasons as to why you should be there to celebrate this historic milestone. 

These nine diverse reasons are: Elaine Dalcher, Nikki Wall, Michael Pfleghaar, Jeff Condon, Alynn Guerra, Jason Villareal, Carlos Aceves, Cathy Marashi, and Gretchen Deems. 

Over the years the building’s event has swelled and contracted in size, with this year promising to be the biggest and most exciting as we have added three new studios within the building that you must experience firsthand. 

So if you are curious about the nature of artists spaces, why not consider visiting a space younger than Festival for the Arts but older than ArtPrize.

This is the year to visit Tanglefoot and meet the artists. (Sunday is a quieter day if the bustle of Friday night is too much for the kids.) 

Admission: Free

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Rest in power

In the days after the election of President-elect Trump, the rate of hate crimes in America rose to higher levels than we have not seen since after the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

While the targets of these attacks have ranged from crimes based on race, gender, and even perceived and actual country of origin, another group within the LGBTQ has faced some of the highest rates of violence than nearly all other groups - the transgender person in contemporary American society, and these individuals transcend so many other identities. 

So, as we have done each year, the Grand Rapids Pride Center and the newly formed Grand Rapids Trans Foundation invite the public to join them at the Trans Day of Remembrance service on Nov. 20.

Sunday is the day we honor those lost by celebrating their lives and contributions in our city, but also to ensure that those whose lives were lost via acts of anti-transgender violence will one day be seen as full citizens of these (somewhat) United States. 

Scheduled to speak on this day is Jeynce Poindexter, Victim Advocate for Equality Michigan and the Lead Organizer of Black Lives Matter Kalamazoo’s Max T Issac.

And while we as a society appear to have become comfortable with each year’s rising temperatures as related to climate change, it is worth saying that we as society should in no way ever become cold to the reality that 2016 has become the deadliest year for our trans and gender non-conforming community.

Admission: Free

Good Kids: A play with a purpose about teen sexual assault opens locally

One of the most powerful ways to address societal issues as a group has always been the theatre, and this Friday Grand Valley State University’s theatre department presents a timely production exploring the topic of teenage sexual assault and the consequences to the lives of its victims, survivors, perpetrators and bystanders.

The play, “Good Kids,” centers around a teen hosted party that goes horribly sideways and is told through  the multiple perspectives of the attendees who explore the aftermath of the sex crime and its cover-up. 

Topics covered in this provocative production include consent, intent, rumor, and gossip as this cast set in a small midwest town comes to terms with the consequences of their actions and inactions.

Performances of "Good Kids" will take place Nov. 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and November 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. All performances will take place in Louis Armstrong Theatre, located in the Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus.

“Good Kids” is directed by visiting professor of theater Dennis Henry, and at the end of each performance there will be a moderated talk session for attendees. 

"Education on this subject is vital," Henry says. "The cast is well educated in principles of consent and assault, but must explore the darker side of playing characters who don't know or don't care about what consent is."

Please note that “Good Kids” contains profanity and discusses sexuality, teen alcohol use, rape and sexual violence. It is not recommended for children.

Admission:  $12 for adults, $6 for students and $10 for alumni, faculty, staff and seniors.

PechaKucha Grand Rapids: Storytelling with 20/20 vision

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6:30 p.m. (doors), 7:30 p.m. (show time)
Here is the heart of the PechaKucha challenge: You have just 20 images and 20 seconds per slide to share your passion on a topic. Do you think you can do it? 

On this night of the 15th edition of PechaKucha Grand Rapids, special guest presenters include Grand Raggidy Roller Derby’s Ann O'Steel Kuipers, Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Dana Friis-Hansen, Dodd’s Records and musician Rev. Charles Preston Smith, real life Mad Men and former Grand Rapidian Clayton Boothe, and many more will be welcomed by your host for the evening, emcee Ted Jauw.

This fast-paced story-telling format is great for folks like me, who often want to attend a lecture but hate the thought of being trapped in a long boring slowing moving event. It is always lively and full of good energy. Besides, it helps deepen your understanding on a topic that the presenters have made a part of their passion. 

Secure your tickets in advance by visiting the event’s site here

Admission: $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. 

Coming Home: For us, from us...and only at UICA

Opening Reception, Friday, Nov. 11, 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. (members preview), 6:00 - 9:00 p.m (general public)
“Coming Home” offers West Michigan art lovers a chance to see the latest works from some of the area’s emerging and established artists with an exhibition devoted to showcasing fresh new works. 

This exhibition really cements UICA’s role as an arts center for local artists who have selected Michigan as their home ultimately revealing what is possible within this state.

With “Coming Home,” the state acts a platform through which an artist can find inspiration, limitless exploration, and along the way increase their creative artistic development.

Since this season is familiar territory for the act of coming home, this show seeks to tap into this annual journey with a nod to our arrivals and departures since many of these artists are currently based in Michigan, or have spent a considerable amount of time in our state during the course of their careers.

“Coming Home” features work by artists Kelly Allen, Mike Andrews, Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Geary Jones, Bob Marsh, Dylan Miner, Mario Moore, and Diane Zeeuw.

“Coming Home” will be on view Nov. 11, 2016 - Jan. 8, 2017.

Admission: members are free, general public $5.

CreativeMornings GR: Live fantasy on stage and free

We could all use a little inspiration to get us through Friday, and on Nov. 11 at 8:30 a.m. attendees of CreativeMornings will get just the right amount of inspiration to add flight to their steps.

Patricia Barker, artistic director at Grand Rapids Ballet — Michigan’s only professional ballet company — is the former principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet and is considered one of the world’s most gifted ballerinas.

In addition to a life devoted to dance, Barker is also wired with an entrepreneurial mind bringing her distinct management experience to the field of product design and development for her own dancewear company. She is even the recipient of a patent award Barber secured while consulting with a leading dancewear manufacturer.

Barker will be framing her talk around the topic of this month's theme of fantasy. When it comes to the building the illusion of weightlessness and effortless grace under such strength of being, then we have no better example than Barber to take us all there on Friday morning.

Seating is limited so get your free ticket now.

Admission: Free

At Sea: Artist Todd Freeman heads to the ocean

There is a beautiful stillness that emits within Todd Freeman’s art work. It is simple in its representational style, but inviting, in that it draws down our focus, prompting us to further probe the questions that begin to emerge.

In his earliest works it was his strong acumen for creating intriguing taxidermies-stylish drawings that captivated my attention, but since then his depiction of the natural world still is center to understanding his pieces.

For his new series, “At Sea,” Freeman is turning to the vastness of the ocean, not just as a physical space but as a thing where so much power resides. For Freeman, much is contained within the platform of the oceans, and many of his images draw their inspiration from objects, animals, and nautical exhibitions from the 19th and early 20th century.

These new drawings from Freeman also arrive in the Sparrows’ space where I first discovered the artist’s taxidermy drawings. Freeman writes that “At Sea” is an “examination of an eclectic display of functional objects, collected specimens and other articles of interest from the golden age of exploration.”

With his BFA in Printmaking from Grand Valley State University, Freeman says, “My prints draw material from the natural and supernatural kingdoms, referencing both alleged anomalies and legitimate marvels. They are inert swatches from the natural world, and offer documentation for stories that time has lost or dismissed."

Freeman has had a series of art openings over the years, both in town and out, including the group show “Uses,” where he exhibited earlier this year at Ortega y Gassett Projects in Brooklyn, New York. 

And while he will have a few images on display from his forthcoming book, “Make A Signal,” those who are interested in Gather (2012) — a book of net drawings — will have a chance to purchase a copy at the opening. Freeman’s work has also been featured in the magazines Juxtapoz, Design Bureau, Booooooom and Hi-Fructose.

Admission: Free

Lamp Light Music Festival V: Fall in love with your city's sounds

It is hard to imagine that five years ago a group of guys talk their friends into helping them host a series of house concerts — all within walking distance of each other — and set out to program them like one would a festival. The rest is history, as they say, because Lamp Light has indeed succeeded against all the ups and downs that hosting a popular festival can entail.

According to its mission statement, Lamp Light seeks “to inspire, educate and empower with programming that includes music, workshops and panel discussions.” And do they ever, with seven unique workshops exploring themes of experimental photographic processes to the joys of caring for your kombucha in a session led by food startup Bloom Ferments. 

There is a great vibe at this festival hosted in people’s living rooms and basements, with Lamp Light welcoming 21 acts who will be performing across four houses this weekend.

Familiar and new names like Alexander Lynch, Fauxgrass, Spissy, The Go Rounds, and Allen Karpinski, The Soil and the Sun, and many more will all be performing special sets of music sized perfectly for each venue. 

Having attended many of these, from the lazy afternoon sessions to the louder basement acts, I can say that on more than one occasion I have had to pinch myself because I was so moved by the musical experience that Lamp Light provides.

So, while you have a lot to think about before voting on Nov. 8, this weekend, before we cast our votes, be sure to turn off your Facebook newsfeed and tune into a festival that is guaranteed to have you falling in love with your city all over again. 

Lamp Light makes you not only feel great about the talent of our region and those who will travel to perform here this weekend, but by being a part of this event you are casting a valuable vote for your city where so many wonderful events like this festival can appear to light our dark days with a bit of hope.  (It is also a great spot for a first date if you wanted to impress someone.) 

Admission: $15 - 40. See Lamp Light site for details. 

Generation Startup: Films to motivate and challenge views on entrepreneurship

Part of getting older is we become a bit risk averse. And who can blame those folks who often arrived at the top of their personal pinnacle often while others who, like them, sharing the same dream, but not the ability to execute it. To remain nimble enough to try new adventures is the challenge of all generations.

This month is the kickoff of a new monthly film series from Start Garden — hosted in partnership with Worksighted & Lakeshore Advantage — and will feature “Generation Startup,” a new documentary looking at six college graduates all on the front lines of entrepreneurship in America.

Set in Detroit, “Generation Startup,” directed by Academy Award-winner Cynthia Wade and award-winning filmmaker Cheryl Miller Houser, seeks to capture these six rising startups as they face the challenges and share their triumphs.
And rather than be a drop-in-and-shoot documentary, “Generation Startup” was recorded over 17 months. Because of such access, it enables the filmmakers to really dig down and showcase what it takes to launch a startup. 

What makes this documentary especially vital is that it arrives at a time in American when those seeking to start a new business is at an all-time record low. If the American small business person is the backbone of this nation, then we have a few things to consider at the end of this new film. 

Space is limited so be sure to register in advance. 

Admission: Free

8th Annual Recycled Art Market: Gift ideas for those you love and your planet, too

While I know Christmas is so much more than just a season devoted to the act of giving, it is, to many, a time when the purchasing of stuff can produce stress for folks who are concerned about our over-consuming culture. 

Luckily, for those who are seeking a more interesting gift-giving path this year, one of my favorite events is happening again in Creston.  

This year the Recycled Art Market will see more than 75 artisans set up their booths devoted to those unique and truly one-of-a-kind items for the perfect gift-giving experience that is easy on the environment as well.

Items at the Recycled Art Market include home decor, garden art, jewelry, natural bath and body care items, and even clothing. The best part of this annual event is that for an artisan to participate in the market their booth offerings must demonstrate how much of their product is being created from items that might have been destined for the landfill. The result is a room full of eclectic gift-giving ideas that ensure that your holiday present will be truly a one of a kind moment but also does not create any harm to the environment. 

This is the 8th Annual Recycled Art Market and is a City PTSA fundraiser, which benefits Grand Rapids Public School’s City High students in grades 7-12.

Admission: $2. (Proceeds from the door support the CityPTSA) 

American Idiot: Rock concept album becomes rock opera

It is hard to fathom that it has been 11 years since Green Day appeared in 2005 at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena in support of the band’s culturally significant “American Idiot” release. 

If you were at this concert then you can attest to the rawness of this production, as well as its rich theatricality with a picture-perfect ending as the band selected one of the greatest rock anthems — Queen’s “We Are The Champions” — as one of their final songs of the night.

Fast forward four years and you quickly see the audience was not the only one thinking this album clearly had another channel of opportunity, as “American Idiot” the rock opera began its first run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 before debuting on Broadway in April 2010 and is soon to be the subject of a new HBO film adaptation. 

This concept album seamlessly transferred to the stage, with a few tweaks, into a full-blown rock opera that centers around three young people, Johnny, Will, and Tunny, and their quest to discover some meaning in their lives and, along the way, become more awake during a time when everything seems to be in flux around them in America. (It sort of sounds familiar to now, right?) 

Finally, this rock musical is being made available to communities around the nation, enabling local voices to put their spin on this energetic production that not only includes the many great songs from the original recording, but also songs from Green Days’ album “21st Century Breakdown” and an original piece “When It’s Time.”

This musical could not be timed better, as it lands right at the end of our 2016 Presidential election campaign, providing the perfect escape from those seeking something loud and challenging  from a punk rock trio — who I can honestly say I would have never expected to release a Broadway musical had you asked me during their “Dookie” (1994) years. 

Admission: $22 - 28.

Corgis In The Park: This city has gone to the dogs

Some folks in the fall live for Christmas, with all the shiny lights and the presents under the tree. And others for a chance to over-consume at Thanksgiving and spar with an always-disagreeable relative before finally taking a nap before waking up to begin a round of eating seconds (or thirds).

But, for me, this fall has been more than the cooked carrot of turkey day and the lure of colorful wrapping paper. This fall, since laying eyes on the Corgis in the Park event, all I could think about as we marched ever closer to Oct. 29 is how many Corgis will actually show up this year at Riverside Park.

As I sought out more information as to why I was so enamored of this breed, I discovered they originally were bred as a cattle dog and are popular not only in their homeland of Wales, but are one of the preferred breeds of the Queen of England.

As the weeks rolled by, the numbers of attendees both interested and attending crossed over into more than 3,000 looking to participate and celebrate as spectators of this special costume themed event in Grand Rapids’ Riverside Park.

So, if the endless news cycle has got you down, no worries, the Corgis are sure to chase away your anxiety as this dog costumed event takes over the park. 

If you have a Corgi and plan to participate, be sure to tag your photo of your dog for us to see on Instagram and Facebook with #rapidgrowth. 

Admission: Free

Saved by the 90s: Sure smells like teen spirit (again)

If you live long enough, you will be able to enjoy the best of your decade become the subject of a revival of sorts to a new generation of music fans. 

We have lived for some time in the shadows of the 80s revival, with musical acts and tribute bands all vying for your attention at local events like Mega 80s. 

But lucky for those fans of the 1990s, this often overlooked decade, with its low unemployment to the launch of the dot-com era, is about to get really hot locally this weekend as The Intersection presents Saved By The 90s. 

This touring band promises a 90s themed night that will usher in the excitement and energy of hearing your favorite acts’ songs all over again. 

Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their favorite tribute wear, and given that it is Halloween weekend, you won’t get people taking a second look — unless, of course, you dress up like Cher from her “Believe” video. 

So fans of Beastie Boys, Lisa Loeb, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Naughty By Nature, and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, get ready to dance all night long to the best of the decade at Saved By The 90s.

Admission: 18+ show, presale $5 - 7. 
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