A scene from the Flynn Creek Circus at the Capitola Mall
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Flynn Creek’s astonishing circus, a Foo Fighter at Moe’s and a very domestic B9

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

We have an abbreviated version of our stalwart weekly newsletter for you this week, largely because we’re approaching that period when everyone’s social calendar comes to a grinding halt for family time. Enjoy the holiday grog of your choice, and eat something for which you’ll punish yourself in January. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Now, on with the show.

The logo for Baine's Nine


Not a ton going on this weekend, so we offer up our special, one-time-only … um, domestic version of our weekend guide, the B9:

  1. Call your Aunt Peggy. Listen to her talk about her sciatica. Give her some empathy. She deserves that.
  2. Find, or make, at least one weird ornament, and then put it on the tree without saying anything. See if anyone notices.
  3. Buy the 7-year-old next door a jar of maraschino cherries. Loosen the jar lid for her. Don’t tell her parents.
  4. Have at least one conversation with a loved one about their favorite cozy socks. Express plenty of sock envy.
  5. Put on the 49ers game (with the sound down) on Christmas Eve. Pretend it’s only on for background. Don’t take your eyes off it.
  6. Play that Bing Crosby album for the ninth time. You won’t hear it again for a year.
  7. Make a weak, vaguely salacious joke about mistletoe. Everybody’s expecting you to do it anyway.
  8. Let the kid play video games all day long if he chooses to (and he will). Limits can wait for tomorrow.
  9. Say “I love you” to three people, at least one who will be completely shocked. Mean it.

Don’t forget about Lookout’s searchable BOLO events calendar for when you are ready to get out of the house. And for more advance planning, check out my carefully curated and constantly updated guide, Down the Line, for the staggering riches and amazing choices awaiting Santa Cruz audiences. It’s our look ahead at the best shows, concerts and events through the rest of the year at clubs, stages and venues all over the county.

The circus is here

A scene from the Flynn Creek Circus at the Capitola Mall
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

There is at least one must-see public performance event happening this week. It’s called the Flynn Creek Circus, and it’s performing under the big top on the south end of the vast parking lot at the Capitola Mall.

Flynn Creek is a Mendocino-based group of performers specializing in acrobatics, namely trapeze, rope climbing, balancing, mime, juggling, aerial arts, contortion, knife throwing and trampoline. They give all that and more in a frankly astonishing show that runs through Jan. 1.

The show is built around a theme called “Winter Fairytale,” and it draws from various wintry motifs from a winter witch to a goofy Pegasus to mischievous bunnies, though we should note here that Flynn Creek does not use animals in its show — unless you count humans dressed as animals.

All the theatrical elements are cool (in more than one sense of that term), and the kids in attendance when I saw the show really loved the fake snow and the ersatz snowball fight that followed it.

But the real draw here is the amazing athleticism of the various acrobats, presented in a kaleidoscopic display of skills you’re simply not going to see much of anywhere else.

The show opens with one of those Wait-how-does-she-do-that? displays of agility of balance on the low wire, and ends a couple of hours later with a trio in bunny outfits on the trampoline that amounted to a funny and joyful celebration of the momentary suspension of gravity.

A scene from the Flynn Creek Circus at the Capitola Mall
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In between, “Winter Fairytale” serves up one act after another, each one that has you convinced it can’t be topped for sheer wizardry, until the next one comes along.

Indoors, the big-top tent creates a magical cavelike space, with most seating coming at tables, cabaret-style. The performers greet you at the door, help you find your seat and are there to accept your congratulations afterward.

It’s all small-scale, intimate, sophisticated and genuinely bedazzling, appealing precisely to audiences who are accustomed to the elegant and artistic showmanship of Tandy Beal & Co., and the Pickle Family Circus.

Get out to see “Winter Fairytale” before it strikes on New Year’s Day. It’s perfect for the family — though the troupe is presenting a couple of “adults only” shows. So, hey, how about taking the kiddies on Christmas Eve, and then checking out the grown-up show New Year’s Eve?

A Foo Fighter live

My friend and Lookout photographer Kevin Painchaud was at Moe’s Alley earlier this month to see guitarist Chris Shiflett, formerly of the punk band No Use for a Name, who’s now with a band you might have heard of called the Foo Fighters. Here’s Kevin’s report:

It was a packed crowd. There was an energy in the air. I made my way to the side of the stage so I could take photos of Chris as he played. I squeezed my way up front and once I got situated, something caught my eye: A woman was holding a knitted Chris Shiflett doll. The woman behind me had driven from Nevada just to see this show.

Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighters fame performs at Moe's Alley
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

At 9:30 p.m. sharp, Chris walked onstage. There was a drum set behind him, but no one else. He plugged in his guitar and grabbed the mic and told us how two of the members of his band got COVID. He shouted to the crowd, “I HATE CANCELING SHOWS!” He then explained that he was able to have the backing tracks play through his iPad while he and his drummer played live. The next hour and a half was filled with rocking country and honky-tonk songs. Many people were singing along. Between songs, Chris entertained the crowd with stories about how he became a part of both No Use For a Name and the Foo Fighters. Now a father of three, he also often talked about fatherhood, the fun times of having homeschooled kids during the pandemic — and that how no matter how glamorous it is being a guitarist for one of the biggest rock bands in the world, his kids still think he’s not cool.

Earworm of the Week

Well, it’s Christmastime again, and if you have little kids in the house, you know the unique challenges of getting them to bed on Christmas Eve. After all the hype and holiday cheer and bad music, it’s all come down to this night. As a parent, at that moment, there’s still just one more song to play after you’ve heard all the Mariah Carey you can stand for one lifetime. It’s called “Lullaby,” and it’s from the uniquely funny songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, “LW3” to all his fans. As its title suggests, it’s a pretty song, but its sentiments are anything but twinkly. “Shut up and go to bed,” it begins. “I’m sick and tired of all of your sob stories.” It’s what a harried parent wants to say, but in the sweetly dreamy melody of a lullaby. It’s easy to learn on guitar, too. Give it a shot. Think of it as your kid’s first Christmas present.


Where in Santa Cruz County Am I?

So how well do you notice the little things when you’re out and about across Santa Cruz County? We’ll post images from places that are accessible to the public somewhere in Santa Cruz County. You tell us where it is, as specifically as you can … or, better yet, send us your own photo of the same thing.

a cartoonish dog carved into stone

This is actually the logo/mascot for a familiar local business, not too far from a local high school. What is it?

a caricature of a man with eyes bugling and tongue lolling

Last week’s answer: Applause to you if you ID’d the comically exaggerated image of the surfer dude above as the work of the great local illustrator Jimbo Phillips. Phillips was one of many artists who were recruited to do murals for the Sea Walls mural project in the fall of 2021. Jimbo’s googly-eyed surfer can be seen trying to avoid an enormous blood-red squid at the mural on the Lenz Arts building, which you’ll get an eyeful of heading toward downtown on River Street.

Jimbo Phillips mural on River Street

That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints, or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.