FunStuff: Charlottesville events December 6 and beyond

Holiday soul
Maybe you don't want to tell anyone that you were first in line at Walmart on Black Friday. And maybe you did gently push someone as you lunged for the last $199 flat-screen TV. It's over now, and the good news is that there's a way to make karmic peace by finishing your holiday shopping at a bazaar offering unique handmade gifts by local artisans. It goes down Friday evening and Saturday at the Shala Center for Healing, Arts, and Community (see, doesn't that name even make you feel better?). It's in the Glass Building on Second Street SE, next to the Bluegrass Grill, and the event is dubbed "Lux+Alchemy." You'll find art lamps like the one pictured here by Mark Edwards, as well as herbs, soaps, clothing, handcrafted artisan knives, railroad ties etched with haiku, and handmade jewelry. It may be easy to rail against the materialism of the holidays, but giving gorgeous gifts that support local artists takes a lot of the steam out of that argument.
December 7 and 8, Glass Building, Fri: 5:30-8:30pm & Sat: 9am-4pm, free



Painless Opera
Hey there! Howdja like to take your kids to the opera? If you are an actual parent, of actual children, and you answered "yes," then you are also a liar. (That's algebra, by the way...) Seriously, it's hard to imagine the vast majority of kids (and even many adults) being able to sit through the three or more hours a typical opera requires, but Ash Lawn Opera solves that problem this week with Amahl and the Night Visitors. This one-hour, one-act opera was commissioned by NBC as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1951. Composed by Gian Carlo Menotti, it tells the story of a handicapped boy and his mother who are visited by the Magi on their way to bring gifts to the Christ child. These Saturday Ash Lawn Opera performances at the Paramount feature singers from The Metropolitan Opera as well as local singers from The Virginia Consort and dancers from The Wilson School of Dance.
December 8, Paramount Theater, 4:30 and 7pm, $11-37



Some performers are mellow; some are not. Jason Ring promises his Friday night gig will fall into the latter category. "It's really like watching a kid with ADD on crack, but in the best possible way," Ring says of his performances.  Just hearing the array of instruments Ring plays including guitar, mandolin, dobro, and bass is enough to make one believe he won't be sitting still much as he plays bluegrass, blues, jazz, and "all kinds of stuff."
December 7, The Whiskey Jar, 10:30pm, free




Nick of time
You never know where Santa will pop up once December rolls around, and this year, he's promised to stop in to the Paramount Theater for the first time ever for a Sunday morning meet and greet. To celebrate his visit, the folks at the Paramount are also providing breakfast in the balcony for wee ones and their parents as they wait for the jolly man by listening to caroling by local school groups and choirs.
December 9, The Paramount, 9am, $15, under four free



Head north
This time of year, there's lots of talk about following the North Star, but here in Charlottesville, you just have to follow 29 North on Saturday and you'll find lots of locally made goodies at the Holiday Farmer's Market held Saturday at Forest Lakes North. Located at the North Swim and Tennis Facility on Timberwood Boulevard, it offers all the fixings for a fabulous holiday meal at your own home or a gift for someone else's. The goods include honey, jams, and toffee as well as pastured poultry, grass-fed beef and pork, eggs, home baked pastries and bread, plus arts, crafts and more.
December 8, Forest Lakes North, 10am-2pm, free




Backyard history
Five bucks doesn't usually get you much, maybe a power bar and a Gatorade, or a couple hours of parking downtown. This week, however, starting on Friday, five dollars gets you hundreds of years of history, thanks to the good folks at Monticello who've lowered the entry fee in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Monticello becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a slight chill in the air, but no snow on the ground (yet), this could be a perfect week to combine an easy hike up the Thomas Jefferson Parkway with lunch at the Visitor's Center before touring the house and grounds for the same price you'd have paid back in 1987.
December 7-11, Route 53, 9am-5pm, $5


Lit up!
Looking for a uniquely Charlottesville holiday tradition? Look no further than the Lighting of the Lawn on Thursday, an annual early December event that combines history and holiday spirit as students, faculty, and staff join members of the Charlottesville community to ooh and ahh as the Lawn gets lit up. The night also includes a cappella performances, hot chocolate served in Lawn rooms and Pavilions, and the recitation of a poem that recounts the previous year. Hmmmm... That last one alone might make this worth the price of admission. Can anyone think of something that rhymes with "Dragas"?
December 6, UVA Lawn, 7-10pm, free



Local stars
They may have changed the name of their band from the memorable Straight Punch to the Crotch to the more family friendly We Are Star Children, but this local band still packs a punch of happy, get-off-your-duff and dance beats. There's something almost Flaming Lip-sy about their vibe, which can effortlessly transition from psychedelic to a roots-reggae. Stage props, catchy tunes, and smart lyrics make this seven-member group a sure-bet for a fun Saturday night out. We don't want to miss it.
December 8, The Southern, 9pm, $8




Rough poetry
Don't come to a reading by poet Lisa Russ Spaar expecting gentle words. Spaar is "known for unveiling erotic lyricism in the quotidian," writes one reviewer for Publishers Weekly online. Spaar, a decorated UVA English professor whose work has been published in highly regarded periodicals from the Yale Review to the Paris Review, reads from her latest book of poems, Vanitas, Rough, on Saturday and is sure to draw a crowd of those who've been inspired by her to create their own poetry or who have simply been moved by what she's written.
December 8, New Dominion Bookshop, 10:30am, free



Mysterious art
For the past six months, UVA art professor Pam Black and recent graduate of architectural history, Lauren Taylor, have collaborated to create a show they've called "Alchemy," which merges compositions created by each artist with architectural renderings created by one of Black's former students, David Malda. The show, which runs through December 29, opens on Friday at Chroma Projects, located in the 400 block of the Downtown Mall, and the end result, says Taylor in a release, is “the careful interaction of two styles, two biographies, two minds, and four hands.”
December 7, Chroma Projects, opening reception 5:30-7:30pm, free

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Liz Fitz Darcy
Saturday December 8th
Crozet Mudhouse
Showtime 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Crozet based indie rockers featuring local luthier Ray Verona. Acoustic duo Chris & Laurel open.