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Vagina 

The AJC won't use it in a headline, but I will

This is the last issue of Creative Loafing before Christmas. It's a long-standing tradition in Atlanta for people to buy Christmas gifts for their favorite newspaper columnists. Telling you exactly what I want would ruin any potential surprises, so instead, I've dropped subtle hints throughout my column that should help you dear, wonderful, generous readers select a gift for me. Pay careful attention and you might spot them.

Oops: I owe my readers an apology. Britney Spears, whose moves are hotter than a George Foreman GR10 AWHT Champ Grill, and the Vagina Monologues were playing in Atlanta last week, yet I attended neither event. Simply pointing out that they were in town during the same week elicits a chuckle from some people. Had I gone, the tasteless joke possibilities would've been endless. I'm truly sorry for letting you down.

The spice of life: I'm 28 and I barely remember the days when celebrity-studded TV variety shows were as common as so-called reality shows are now. Chris Blair, who wrote and directed the Dad's Garage Theatre Company variety show spoof Chick & Boozy's Fun Time Holiday Special: Live From Hawaii, doesn't look that much older than me, but seems to remember every little detail about them. He must either have a phenomenal memory or a TiVo Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

The show, which runs through Dec. 22, starts with a cheesy voiceover announcing that the show is being broadcast from Hawaii, "the entertainment capital of the central Pacific Ocean." It includes "celebrity" skit appearances by Don Knotts, Gallagher, Ricky Martin (and his pants), Michael Flatley, Ricardo Montalban, Carrot Top and many more. It's also got dancers and a singing dog. The hosts are Chick Starley, a fictional macho leading man well past his celebrity prime (played by Blair), and a puppet named Boozy, whose puppeteer, Lucky Yates, stands in plain view the whole time.

True to its variety show format, Live From Hawaii offered one highlight after another. My favorite celebrity was Mr. T, played by George Faughnan, who explains his gaunt, Caucasian-ness by repeatedly noting that he'd been sick.

This column is your column: I attended the second of two shows by the Josh Joplin Group at Eddie's Attic in Decatur last Wednesday. Even though I arrived less than five minutes after the scheduled start time, I still missed the first song because Eddie's Attic is the only music venue on Earth where the shows actually start at the listed time. If only I had a stylish wristwatch to wear.

Joplin's voice is what R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe's would've been had he been popular and self-confident in high school. Even though JJG plays acoustic-driven, storytelling rock songs, Joplin never let the show collapse into plaid-shirted earnestness. He's a handsome, energetic and charismatic showman who can play a crowd like a Sony Playstation 2. He concentrated on his more recent songs, ignoring repeated screamed requests to play older favorites like "Weebles."

Joplin ended his set with the great alternative national anthem, Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," which prompted a happy sing-along. The group even included the oft-ignored, politically agitating verse, "There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me/ The sign was painted 'private property'/ But on the backside, it didn't say nothing/ This land was made for you and me."

Paging Mr. Jablomie: On Saturday afternoon, Janke Studios held a glass art exhibit at Studioplex on Auburn Avenue, complete with glass-blowing exhibitions. I'd never seen glass blowing in person before, but any event that puts artists near open flames is bound to be of interest to CL readers.

The artists shape the glass by heating it with torches or ovens until it's soft; then they shape it by blowing air into it or molding it like you would a ceramic (albeit a very hot one). Perhaps weary from the heat or breathless from all the blowing, glass blowers aren't a particularly talkative bunch. I didn't get much information out of them other than "glass isn't a good conductor." I bet that a RIM 957 Blackberry Wireless handheld e-mail device would get them to open up.

FLATTERY GETS YOU COVERAGE: I went to Rock in the Raw Sunday night at Smith's Olde Bar because one of the participants, Shelley Yankus, sent me an e-mail telling me how much she likes this column. The event, which is held every few weeks, featured Kevin Crow of Soup, Shane Hines, Randall Kirsch, Oliver Wood of King Johnson, and Yankus taking turns playing their songs on acoustic guitar while the others tried to sing and play along. The songs were mostly of the earnest, rootsy pop-rock variety, the kind where words like "angel" are sung with an extra syllable to convey sincerity. The playing along consisted mostly of bluesy lead guitar licks. Wood was my favorite because he coaxed the best backing performances out of the others and his voice reminds me of Van Morrison's. If you don't believe me, three of Morrison's best, Astral Weeks, Moondance and Tupelo Honey, are only $11.97 each at amazon.com.

I did it again: Sorry again for missing Britney and Vagina Monolgues. Just a single tasteless comparison joke involving the phrase "lip-sync" would've made this column truly special.

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