Face to face with the Boss; two local teens on "Jeopardy"
Bruce Springsteen certainly worked the room at Xcel Energy Center. He ran through the crowd and then he body-surfed his way back to the stage. He jumped on a platform with saxophonist Jake Clemons -- one tall young guy with sloppy, sagging jeans and one short old guy with tight-butt jeans -- and serenaded the fans sitting behind the stage. And he especially worked a runway in the middle of the main floor. At one point during Sunday's show, he scurried down the runway and then slid on his knees and stopped dead in front of fan Mike Plant, a Minneapolis filmmaker. "I wear out more jeans this way," he confided to Plant. Retorted the fan: "Yeah, but it's worth it!" Said the Boss: "Yep!"
JON BREAMLand of parks & rec
"Parks and Recreation" has had a lot of fun over the years poking fun at small-town Indiana. But last week it was Minnesota's turn. Diehard fans know that Adam Scott's character Ben Wyatt was once the boy mayor of fictional Partridge, Minn. His engagement party to Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) prompted a visit from his divorced parents. At one point, Wyatt suggests they distract the bickering couple with some kind of innocuous conversation. "Like what?" Knope asks. "Well, they're white people from Minnesota. So hockey, fishing, skiing, sailing and after a few drinks, put on a Prince album," he said. "Don't mention the Green Bay Packers or the state of Iowa."
NEAL JUSTINTop gun
Minnesota's deer hunting season began earlier this month, but some of the most notable kills went down Saturday in New York City. That's where local Chris Fream bested 64 cyber-deer slaughterers in the fifth annual Big Buck World Championship, an arcade contest to find the country's top "Big Buck Hunter HD" marksman. Fream pocketed the $15,000 grand prize. His final opponent was reigning champion Nick Robbins, a fellow Minnesotan, who earned $7,500. So what does this back-to-back domination of the Big Buck World Championship by Minnesotans mean? Obviously it's a testament to our time spent in bars. (Will we also dominate Lobster Zone tourneys?) Somewhere, the ghost of Louis Hennepin nods approvingly.
JAY BOLLERIn the form of a question
A: Two. Q: How many Twin Cities residents will compete in "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament? Lila Anderson, 17, of Plymouth's Providence Academy, and Joe Vertnik, 17, of Mount Westonka High School, will be among the 15 contestants vying for a $75,000 grand prize. They travel to Los Angeles next week. Nearly 10,000 students took an online test to snatch a spot. "To have two teenagers from the same area represented in the 'Teen Tournament' is quite remarkable," said host Alex Trebek. "The 'Teen Tournament' is my favorite event of the year because the contestants bring a burst of energy to the set and their unique mix of candor and intelligence makes me excited to see what this year's group has in store for us." The episodes featuring the teens start airing Jan. 30.
NEAL JUSTINPutting art in its place
Public-art concepts were smokin' at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center this week when Carol Colletta, president of Chicago-based ArtPlace, stopped by. The year-old grant-making consortium recently awarded more than $1 million for three Minneapolis projects that will directly connect art to neighborhoods and communities. The projects include Pillsbury House + Theatre's Arts on Chicago, a multi-project effort set to unfold up and down the historic urban avenue; an Indian cultural-arts market off the Franklin Avenue LRT station conceived by the Native American Community Development Institute, and Intermedia Arts' pairing of four artists with Minneapolis city planners in 2013. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, that tireless culture vulture, just had to spice things up further while describing the Twin Cities arts scene during Colletta's visit: "We're not a melting pot, we're jambalaya!"
Fans of Stephin Merritt's brilliantly sardonic songwriting were in clover Tuesday when he and his band, the Magnetic Fields, played First Avenue. The 28-song acoustic set traversed many years and albums. The 1999 opus "69 Love Songs" was well represented, as was this year's release, "Love at the Bottom of the Sea." I.W. was told that the leadoff song, "Beach-a-Boop-Boop," hadn't been performed live in many years. Merritt, well-known as a Gloomy Gus, cracked wise a few times in his low-affect bass voice, but made no mention of a project, announced the same day, to produce a fund-raising compilation of cover versions of all "69 Love Songs" by Twin Cities acts, ranging from A (Aby Wolf) to Z (Zoo Animal).
CLAUDE PECKJamaica say you will
Writer and performer Debra Ehrhardt, dubbed the Caribbean Halle Berry, delivered a tour-de-force performance Sunday in Hopkins of her autobiographical one-woman play, "Jamaica Farewell." What the minimalist production lacked in design elements, Ehrhardt's show more than made up for in charisma and captivating talent. It helped that the show was staged by Hollywood director Joel Zwick ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding"). An established Twin Cities theater company -- say the Guthrie, Mixed Blood or Penumbra -- should say "welcome back" to this "Farewell."