The Jefferson Oxford Obtains Resort Status

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The Jefferson, the new 18,000 square foot event venue about two miles outside Oxford city limits off Hwy 6 east, has been granted “Qualified Resort” status by the Mississippi Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

This means that the resort itself can serve beer, wine and spirits rather than hiring a third-party vendor with a license to serve alcohol. The venue was initially denied resort status in February but appealed to the state to gain approval.

The venue features reclaimed materials, including exposed steel beams, wood floors throughout, a 40-foot bar, old brick and entire walls made of barn doors.



The reclaimed materials have been acquired over the years, as owner Tom Green is in the business of dismantling old structures and reclaiming the materials. The venue is modern in its structure and amenities but has the character of an older building inside. There are several spaces which can be used separately or together, and it overlooks an eight-acre lake. It was the site of this year’s L-O-U Chamber gala event in May, which doubled as The Jefferson’s grand opening.

“We very much appreciate the warm welcome The Jefferson has received from the Oxford community. Having resort status is a critical step in becoming a premier event venue in Oxford,” said owner Tom Green. “We anticipate that many local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, caterers, florists, event planners, party supply companies, and others in the hospitality industry will also benefit as we host events.”

The venue’s website can be found at  email:


From Staff Reports

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Oxford Children’s Chorus Sets Open Rehearsal and Auditions

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The Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Singers in grades 4-6 are invited to attend an open rehearsal of the Oxford Children’s Chorus at 4 p.m. Monday (Aug. 22) in the choir room of the University of Mississippi Music Building. Singers who wish to join are welcome to audition immediately after rehearsal.

The Oxford Children’s Chorus builds musicians through collaborative music-making. Singers build music literacy skills that will last throughout their lifetimes.

Each rehearsal includes time developing music reading and writing skills. Concerts highlight singers’ musical development and their production of beautiful, expressive singing.

Each rehearsal is planned to foster growth through fun, lively and challenging musical activities. Professionally trained musicians help young singers develop basic musicianship skills, including reading, writing, singing and harmony, under the leadership of Andy Paney, UM associate professor of music education.

The chorus rehearses 4-5:15 p.m. Mondays. Tuition for the semester is $35. There is no commitment and no cost to come to the open rehearsal Monday.

More information is available at

Staff Report by the Ole Miss News Desk

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M-O-D DVD Sites Offer a Cinematic Feast for Movie Buffs

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The M-O-D squads are offering a new way to satisfy movie buffs’ burning desires.

They’re treasure chests of classic chestnuts and films of all manner at Manufacture-on-Demand sites: sound and silent, classic and cult, musicals/comedy/drama, made-for-TV movies, TV series, and documentaries. They include remastered classics and Blu-ray to tempt film buffs.

Library Journal estimates there are 2,000-plus M-O-D [Manufactured-on-Demand] titles available – many never released on Blu-ray, a number not previously released on disc. There are new titles released weekly. There’s original package art, but don’t expect booklets or bonus material. There can be trailers and cartoons. Widescreen movies are shown in their proper aspect ratio and formatted for 16X9 TV screens. Closed captions and subtitles are rare except on films recently released.

Some resurfacing titles have been “lost” forever, so the world of M-O-D can be a virtual film buffet. Initially, the offerings were outdated “off-the-shelf” items. Prices for these DVD-R discs burned to order are reasonable. More often than not you can hit upon a sale. The studio site archives usually have enough information so you know what you’re buying.
Items often ship within three days.

Since Warner Bros. pioneered M-O-D seven years ago, more or less to do something with the huge hunk of M-G-M library they purchased when M-G-M, as those of a certain age remember it, ceased to exist, their can claim the old boast of having more stars there are in the heavens The Archive has grown from a few “deep catalog” titles that Home Entertainment didn’t deem economically sound for mass distribution to more than 1,500 titles. However, WB, famed for their dedication to film restoration, began remastering M-O-D titles for the DVD and Blue-ray HD age.

To visit the online catalog, visit the Warner Archive Collection at

The site address says “shop,” and there’s plenty of film-related memorabilia (Batman, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Superman, even the Suicide Squad). For M-O-D selections, click on Warner Archive.

The Collection covers a vast array of tastes. There’re lots of titles you may wonder “Why” about, but for every one of those there are Batman, Superman, film noir galore [such as The Big Sleep and Out of the Past], and vintage Astaire and Rogers musicals and other gems [such as 42nd Street, Kismet, Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings, and the newly-available The Unsinkable Molly Brown (starring Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Debbie Reynolds in a rousing performance).

There’s no shortage of megastars — Bogie and Bacall, Cagney, Davis, Hepburn, Grant , Taylor, and extraordinarily popular M-G-M singing lovers who really disliked each other, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in a two volume/ eight film collection [which includes Rose Marie and Naughty Marietta); or top directors – and Hitchcock thrillers [Suspicion, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, and The Wrong Man], and John Ford’s post-Pearl Harbor saga They Were Expendable (starring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery — in a 1080p HD transfer).

There’s a helpful Search option, with many of the M-O-D selections available in Blu-ray. After a thorough search, here are unique options:

Cinema Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood (Turner/PBS; 2009; 90 minutes) – From 1933 and 1939, over 800 Jewish members of the German film industry fled the Nazis and for the U.S. and Hollywood. Soon they had a massive impact on American cinema in comedy, drama, horror, and, especially, film noir. Narrated by Sigourney Weaver and told through film clips, interviews, photographs, and rare archival footage including home movies, Cinema’s Exiles explores directors Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann, actors such as Garbo and Peter Lorre, and composers Miklos Rozsa, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Franz Waxman. Once in Hollywood, these raised money so others could escape. The German expressionists gave rise film noir. There are clips from such enduring cinema as The Big Heat, Bride of Frankenstein, High Noon, Ninotchka, Sunset Boulevard, and The Wolf Man. Actors recreate some voices, but
those heard as themselves are Dietrich, Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, Heddy Lamarr, Lorre, Lubitsch, Ann Sheridan, and Wilder.

Six by Sondheim (HBO; 2013; 86 minutes) – A quite candid look at Sondheim, as revealed through the performance of six of his songs, and by the man whose ground-breaking work redefined musical theater – one that leads to a deeper understanding of him. “Everybody has problems,” he says. “Nobody goes through life unscathed. If you write about those things, you’re going to touch people.” Directed by James Lapine, the film weaves Sondheim interviews with those of Yvonne de Carlo, Dean Jones, Larry Kert, Ethel Merman, Mandy Patinkin, and Bernadette Peters. Darren Criss, America Ferrera, and Audra McDonald sing classic tunes, including “Being Alive,” “I’m Still Here,” “Opening Doors,” “Send in the Clowns,” and “Something’s Coming.”

Bogie and Bacall movies

To Have and Have Not (WB; 1943; 100 minutes) – Howard Hawks’ masterpiece, loosely adapted from Hemingway novel with an assist from Faulkner, remastered for its Blu-ray debut adds even more sizzle to Bogie and Bacall’s first pairing. Bacall, still in her teens, as lounge singer and French resistance sympathizer, sets off sirens with famed “whistle” line; but Bogie matches bravado scene after scene as she wraps him around her little finger. He segues from pickpocket in WWII Vichy France to smuggler to hero as he transports a fugitive on the run from Nazis. Walter Brennan, Hoagy Carmichael, and Dolores Moran co-star. The uncredited score is by legendary Franz Waxman.

The Big Sleep (Warner Bros.; 1946; 114 minutes) – Raymond Chandler gumshoe Philip Marlowe tackles blackmail, following a film noir trail of murderers, pornographers, rogues, spoiled rich, and other denizens. Director Howard Hawks serves it up in brisk, hard-boiled style – screenplay is co-written by Nobel Laureate William Faulkner. There are snappy characters, none more so than Bogie and Bacall. The Blu-ray doubles your pleasure with two versions: the 1946 theatrical version, with additional scenes of incendiary Bogie/Bacall chemistry, and the 1945 pre-release version. Dorothy Malone, Martha Vickers, Regis Toomey, Western legend Bob Steele [in his tough guy period], and a standout Elisha Cook Jr. are featured. Great Max Steiner score.


Dark Passage (WB; 1947; 106 minutes) – The duo’s third pairing is a bold and surreal noir fable – in a crisp 1080p HD transfer – about a prison escapee trying to prove he was framed and the mysterious dame who aids him. Director Delmer Daves lends a surreal air by keeping the con‘s face unseen for film’s first half, only revealing it post plastic surgery. Sparks fly between B & B. Agnes Moorehead, cheated out of an Oscar nod, nearly steals the show as a flighty femme fatale.

Bonus features: Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers: The Story of Dark Passage; and cartoon, Slick Hare, starring Elmer Fudd and Bugs, has Bogie ordering rabbit but Fudd has a tough time getting Bugs in the pot.

From Master Director John Ford

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (WB; 1949; 103 minutes) – 1080p HD Blu-ray Technicolor and sound remaster – Ford captains the middle film of his acclaimed “Cavalry Trilogy,” based on stories by James Warner Bellah. John Wayne (40, playing 60) is a widowed captain , on final assignment before being mustered out, escorting commander’s wife
and niece through hostile Indian territory (Monument Valley, Utah) as he makes a bid for peace between warring tribes. Joanne Dru, Mildred Natwick, Harry Carey Jr., John Agar, Ben Johnson, and Victor McLaglen (The Quiet Man) co-star. Duke was cheated out of an Oscar nod. Oscar-winning cinematography by Winton Hoch.

Stage to Screen

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (WB; 1966; 131 minutes) – Blu-ray debut of Albee’s bitter tale of aging couple on the rocks in more ways than one who use a young couple to fuel emotional pain against each other. Not for the faint of heart. Directed by Oscar-nominated Mike Nichols. Stars Oscar-winning Elizabeth Taylor in daring high drama, Richard Burton (giving as good as he gets), George Segal, and Oscar-winning Sandy Dennis in her shining hour. Film, Burton, Segal, and Nichols were Oscar-nominated; film, stars, Nichols, were Golden Globe-nominated.


The Green Slime (Japan, U.S., Italy; Toei Studios/M-G-M; 1968; 90 minutes) – original widescreen format; digitally remastered – Even judged against low standards, it doesn’t get any cheesier than this – but it’s so bad, it’s good. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who inspired Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s schlockiness, it’s a campy Sci-Fi story of astronauts disembarking from space station to nip a giant asteroid in the bud. They return with gooey green mess that has mind of its own. Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel headline.

Film Buffs and Historians Alert

The Archive is a treasure trove of long-forgotten and some long-thought-lost silents, films caught in the transition from silent to sound, and early talkies:

The Merry Widow (M-G-M;1934; 89 minutes) – Newly remastered – Lehar operetta gets Ernst Lubitsch’s sophisticated, frothy touch in this story of a kingdom in jeopardy of losing its biggest tax payer, who resettles in Parisian splendor to marry. Count Danilo has other plans for her. Jeannette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier had a blast making this in the pre-Hays Code days before filmmakers were stymied. Samson Raphaelson (The Jazz Singer, The Shop Around the Corner [source for Bock/Harnick She Loves Me], and Suspicion) and Ernest Vajda (Chocolate Soldier, Marie Antoinette; later a Broadway playwright) loaded script with earthy entendre. Edward Everett Horton and Una Merkel romp it up as the king and queen. There are other Merry Widows worth mentioning and available at Warner Archive: Erich von Stroheim’s 1925 silent take, starring Mae Murray and dashing silent idol John Gilbert; and the studio’s lavish 1952 Technicolor opus starring Lana Turner – yes, that’s right – and Fernando Lamas.

The Man and the Moment (WB; 1929; 75 minutes) – Thought long lost. Silent giants Rod La Rocque and Billie Dove star in this risqué comedy – a beautifully restored example of how silents made the transition to sound by synching dialogue, music, and sound effects to the Vitaphone discs [pre-sound on film]. Thin plot has millionaire pursued by goldigger put her off by marriage of convenience. Yes, of course, love blooms. Gwen Lee costars.

The Archive has a virtual feast of films of late silent film idol Ramon Novarro, rival to Valentino and Fairbanks. The silents, especially Ben-Hur (1925), were his heyday, but he made an easy transition into sound. Did you know he could sing? His name was so big that he continued working into his late 60s and brutal murder in 1968. Watching these films, it’s amazing he, like Valentino, was considered the virile male who made women – and some men – swoon. However, to say the least, Novarro had gusto in spades.

Devil-May Care (1929; 97 minutes) – His all-talking debut, a romantic musical (M-G-M’s earliest) Napoleonic adventure about how solder eludes the firing squad and find his heart captured by a lovely Royalist who double crosses him right into the arms of her cousin. Dorothy Jordan and Marion Harris are the dames. Film featuring a two-color Technicolor ballet sequence scored by future Oscar-winning composer Dimitri Tiomkin.

Other worthy Novarro escapades: In Gay Madrid (1930; 82 minutes) – Singing again (tunes by Xavier Cugat), the idol charms his way into women’s hearts as Spanish playboy; Son of India (1931; 73 minutes) – An accused diamond thief is exonerated by an American to whom he pledges eternal debt, then segueing 10 years later, with his one of India’s wealthiest men, he proposes to the man’s sister, but the family cannot accept him; Laughing Boy (1934; 79 minutes) – comic romp with Novarro as a singing Navajo who romances Mexican spitfire Lupe Velez in film loosely based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Oliver La Farge; and, among many others, The Cat and the Fiddle, (1934; 88 minutes) – has Novarro paired with Jeanette MacDonald as struggling composers and live-in companions singing tunes from the Kern-Harbaugh musical comedy – including “The Night Was Made for Love.”


Ellis Nassour is an Ole Miss alum and noted arts journalist and author who recently donated an ever-growing exhibition of performing arts history to the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the best-selling Patsy Cline biography, Honky Tonk Angel, as well as the hit musical revue, Always, Patsy Cline.

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Mississippi Pot Roast: Watch & Try at Home the Recipe That Has Taken Pinterest by Storm

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This pot roast looks amazingly tasty. Watch and let us know your thoughts by posting comments below.

4 lbs chuck roast.
1 (1 ounce) envelope ranch dressing mix.
1 (1 1/4 ounce) envelope au jus mix.
1⁄2 cup butter.
4 -5 pepperoncini peppers.
fresh ground pepper, to taste.

Russ Jones is the Editor-In-Chief for He can be reached at

2016 Art-er Limits Fringe Festival in Full Swing for Saturday

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fringe festival

“Do it once, it’s an event. Do it twice, it’s annual. Go for a third time, and it’s a tradition!”

Yoknapatawpha Arts Council successfully held the Iron Bartender contest on Thursday night with Snackbar as the winner and the annual Secret Show on Friday night with a large turnout for the flashy show.

Now today is the coup-de-grace as the festival features numerous events from 9 a.m. to midnight all over Oxford. If y’all haven’t bought a button for an all-inclusive access nor the tickets, we have the schedule of free events going on today! The schedule is as follows:

From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at The Shelter on Van Buren, there is a Blind Book Exchange featuring new and gently used paper books donated by Square Books and Lafayette County-Oxford Public Library. The books are wrapped so good luck and enjoy the surprises!

At the Powerhouse Gallery from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. there will be coffee and donuts served with an invitation to come catch Pokemon for the PokemonGo app. The festivities are in full swing by 10 a.m. at Armory Pavilion.

The Oxford Maker’s Market opened at 10 a.m. and will be going on until 5 p.m. at the Armory Pavilion. There at the Armory Pavilion will be two interactive art activities: showing what makes you you through a piece of yarn and what you want to be when you grow up with a piece of chalk. At 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Angela King will be demonstrating how she makes glass beads that she uses to make jewelry at the Pavilion, too. YoknapaTaco is at the Pavilion to serve lunch, too!

At noon at Armory Pavilion, Jake Wood will play music as University of Mississippi Art Department creates an interactive chalk activity. From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Andrew Delmastro will play music. After will be the El Be Bop Kid from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

From 3 p.m to 4 p.m., y’all can buy a “tomato” to throw at comedians performing at the Armory Pavilion.

Late afternoon and night will be jam-packed with fun for those who has either all-inclusive button for festival events and headliners or festival-access button.

From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. there will be a relaxed dance workshop for all ages via Intersect Dance Collective Workshop at the Powerhouse. At the same time, the Shelter on Van Buren is hosting Oxford Writes: Writer’s Roundtable for writers of all genres and experience to listen to insights from local writers and conduct a short writing exercise.

From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Powerhouse will be a showing of “Breastmilk: The Movie” at Powerhouse Theatre. At the same time, the University Museum will host a workshop featuring insider tip from the editor of DIME Entertainment Magazine on how to get publicity as an artist.

Then from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Powerhouse, Ash Rexford will teach a juggling workshop so the children and adults can learn from a professional artist who has trained to perform with circuses.

Then at 5 p.m. at Powerhouse Theatre, actress Kayleigh Graham presents “Happy Days” by Samuel Beckett which is a play in two acts featuring Samuel searching for the meaning of existence as he looks into the relationships that bind one person to another throughout time and space.

Then the Powerhouse Theatre will lighten up from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a modern dance duet by Intersect Dance Collective. Around the same time, the Shelter on Van Buren will host Laff Co Presents Down in Front which shows a performance inserting dialogue that performers think should have been written for the movie.

The headliner event from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Powerhouse Theatre will feature Selia Something as she presents her latest project: Circus Something. Working with her husband and partner in performance, Igor Something, Selia will present an unforgettable circus-style performance as she teaches a little on how to make magic happen.

At the same time, the Shelter at Van Buren will team up with Oxford Film Festival to present George Kuchar’s Hold Me While I’m Naked.

Then from 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Powerhouse Theatre will present Somerset O’Neil, Valkyrie Flame, Coco Rose, Mae Oui with MC Katrina Coleman for a burlesque show featuring “jokes, jiggles and a lot of sparkles.” From 11 p.m. to midnight, the Powerhouse Theatre will close the night with performance art and music by 3 Brained Robot.

Are y’all ready? Let’s have fun today!

For questions or comments, email

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UM Offers Spanish for Health Care Professionals

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Next month, the UM Communiversity program will offer a short series of classes on ‘Spanish for Health Care Professionals.’

Next month, the UM Communiversity program will offer a short series of classes on ‘Spanish for Health Care Professionals.’

Health care professionals in the Oxford and north Mississippi area can enhance communication with their Spanish-speaking patients through a specialized workshop created especially for them. Next month, the University of Mississippi’s Communiversity program will offer a short series of classes on “Spanish for Health Care Professionals.”

Local health care professionals can learn terms and phrases that will be helpful when working with Spanish-speaking patients in various clinical situations.  The classes are taught by UM Pre-College Programs Counselor Ari Lugo.

“Due to the amount of people in our community who do not speak English at a high proficiency, it is crucial for them to be understood and to understand instructions when it comes to their health care,” Lugo said.

Instructor, Ari Lugo

Instructor, Ari Lugo

To help medical office staff, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and physicians learn to bridge the communications gap, the class will begin with the basics of Spanish pronunciation and then move right into simple words for everyday topics, such as question words, colors and so on. With the basics covered, participants will discover more about how to ask about pain, symptoms, medical histories, insurance, patient feelings and terminology for parts of the body, diets, medical care and treatment.

The workshop will meet on the Oxford campus in Lamar Hall, Room 133, with sessions taking place Sept. 13, 15, 20 and 22. Each session runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.  The cost for all four sessions is $85.

“When a medical professional tries to understand or communicate with a patient in their first language, I think it helps to lower the anxiety of the patient,” Lugo said. “Patients can be a little more comfortable and hopefully have the assurance that the doctor’s office or hospital personnel really care and that they are trying to communicate to help make healing possible.”

Communiversity programs are open to anyone in the community, including retirees, Ole Miss students and family members of all ages. To register for this course, visit or call 662-915-7158.

Courtesy of Pam Starling and the Ole Miss News Desk



Cool Off With Two Must-See Films — Hell or High Water and Florence Foster Jenkins

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Two of the films opening Friday might be said to be an early kick off of the time of year when the studios release the “big guns,” films they hope attract award nominations. These two, Hell or High Water, an off-beat indie, and Florence Foster Jenkins, surely will.

Oscar winner (Crazy Heart) Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, True Grit remake, Starman) is back and giving one of his best performances ever, as a crusty, sarcastic, and foul-mouthed Texas Ranger in Hell or High Water, a modern Western that adds family conflict and surprising twists to the old cops and robbers genre. Three-time Oscar winner and indefatigable Oscar nominee [19] Meryl Streep is back, as engaging as ever – maybe even more so, as the socialite who lived for music but who couldn’t sing – even with Hugh Grant lovingly by her side [while keeping another “side” on the side] in the entertaining, but much too short, biopic Florence Foster Jenkins.

Hell or High Water (CBS Films; 102 minutes) is a sort of back-handed homage to the infamous James Brothers and Robin Hood legend with a Bonnie and Clyde shoot-out that will long be remembered. It’s set in sun-roasted, deceptively sleepy West Texas town that feels dustily authentic [except that the film was shot in New Mexico] where the distinction between honest men and outlaws is often blurred beyond recognition. It’s definitely blurred here.

It co-stars straight out of the galaxies of the Star Trek franchise Chris Pine (Into the Woods) and Ben Foster (3:10 To Yuma, The Messenger) in roles that’ll keep their names on audience’s lips for some time.


There’s also film veteran Gil Birmingham (TV’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and House of CardsThe Lone Ranger, Twilight), in undoubtedly the best role of his career. Though unbilled in the opening credits, veteran Texan stage and screen actress Margaret Bowman, has a steal-the-movie cameo as a no-nonsense waitress – in a bit reminiscent of the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces, that’s been generating buzz since Cannes.

Hell or High Water, probably the sleeper film of the year, is from a superb original screenplay by actor [he has a cameo as a cowboy] Taylor Sheridan (Sicario script; actor, TV’s Sons of Anarchy, Veronica Mars; upcoming directorial debut, Wind River) and directed by Scotsman David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Starred Up).

This is one of those films that grabs you at the very beginning and never lets you snooze or run up the aisle for popcorn. Hell or High Water is a collision of the Old and New West. It approaches hit-movie-status in how it’s told.

Two brothers – Pine, a straight-living good ol’ boy, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Foster, a hot-headed, just-released con with a loose trigger finger and revenge on his mind – become inept bank robbers of branch after branch of the bank that brought their mother to destitution and an early death and which is about to foreclose on their land. Of course, the bank’s been withholding a secret: the farm is a virtual Saudi-like oil reservoir.


In the tradition of Robin Hood to the rescue, these modern-day cowboys become bank robbers. The stick-ups are part of “an intended non-violent last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen.” But when revenge leads to murder, the brothers find themselves in the crosshairs of relentless “weathered as an old fencepost, creaky as a front-porch floor” Texas Ranger Bridges, who’s within hours of retirement age and wants his last rodeo to be consigning the thieving varmints to Death Row if it’s the last thing he does. And it almost is.

In spite of the clock ticking away to high noon, he sets about doing it the old-fashioned way – by the book and the law-and-order code he’s lived by, with his put-upon Indian side-kick, Birmingham.

There’s an adrenalin-laced shootout worthy of one at the OK Corral only with getaway cars [which they have an ingenious way of getting rid of] instead of horses, and assault rifles replacing six-shooters. Though pumped with 21st Century armour and a swat team, in the end it’s the trusty old Winchester that ends the day in semi-triumph. Then comes the twist you don’t see coming and ultimate showdown.

Hell Or High Water has been called “a cinematic cousin of sorts” to the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, “because it’s equally mellow and raging at the state of the world.” However, with Bridges constant racial teasing slurs and dark humor, the film goes way beyond that with Sheridan’s stellar character study of the Texas Ranger and the brothers. And when they rob banks, you know where the audience sympathy lies.

Bridges says he’s long been a fan of Westerns. “My father [Lloyd Bridges] did some terrific Westerns, including High Noon. Whenever he did one, I loved getting into his costume and walk around in his boots and hat. I’ve also made Westerns. I read Taylor’s script and it rang true. It was written by a guy who knew what he was talking about. Then I found out his uncle is a Texas marshal.”

He admits he didn’t know much about the Texas Rangers “In preparation, I read [S.C. Gwynne’s] Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History about the last great Comanche Indian chief [Parker] and the beginning of the Texas Rangers.”

To help Bridges and Birmingham bond, director Mackenzie suggested that they tool around in their patrol car and “just jam. That led to a very long improvisation. He shot two or three hours. We had a ball, but very little’s in the movie. That was a valuable way to get into the characters.”

For almost 40 years, Meryl Streep has portrayed an astonishing array of characters in a career that, sadly, cut short her theatrical ambitions but blazed a path of incredible artistry in film/TV. She’s won three Oscars from a total of 19 nominations [the most for any actress/actor], 28 Golden Globe nods with eight wins, and two Emmys.

Many consider her “the greatest living actress.” In her return to serious film roles, after Ricki and the Flash and what amounted to a cameo in Suffragette, headlining the biopic Florence Foster Jenkins (Paramount/Pathe/BBC Films; 100 minutes), her performance as “the world’s worst singer” should add a few more honors.

Helming the production is three-time Oscar nominee Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena, My Beautiful Laundrette). The film returns Hugh Grant to the screen as the aristocratic but not so highly regarded British Shakespearean actor St. Clair Bayfield [a co-founder of Actors Equity] as FFJ’s manager/protector and second husband.

Though his journals, housed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, seem to claim they were actually in a “common law” relationship, theirs was a unique romance. He enjoyed the comforts FFJ’s money could buy, but he was singularly devoted to her, even if he had a woman on the side, and kept her living happily in the bubble of her deeply held delusions until … well, you’ll soon find out.

In the stellar featured role of FFJ’s accompanist Cosme McMoon, constantly making adjustments to compensate for her tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes, is film and TV star Simon Helberg, best known for 10 seasons on CBS’ mega hit The Big Bang Theory as Howard Wolowitz. Veteran Irish actor John Kavanagh has a couple of walk-ons as legendary conductor Toscanini who doesn’t mind being the recipient of FFJ’s largesse, but as evidenced by a very clever piece of dialogue re: attending one of her operatic soirees, isn’t about to encourage her folly.


Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the life of the 30s New York socialite, who died in 1944 at age 76. She had been a popular child prodigy pianist and it was a love of music that led her to follow her dream of becoming a singer. Sadly, though the spirit was willing, the vocal chords were not.

During WWII, New York audiences, including battalions of military, were thrilled to hear FFJ’s excruciatingly off-the-mark warbling. She was so enthusiastically generous that her loyal friends and beneficiaries were unwilling to tell her how horrible she was. A couple of the elderly rich in the film seem to be mesmerized by her calamitous arias – but, from the looks of them, they may be deaf. Though many ridiculed FFJ, others found what she did uplifting and she developed a huge cult following.
Because of complications from a social disease and the draconian treatments that followed, which caused progressive deterioration to her nervous system, what great vocalizations FFJ hears in her head is tuneless to the point of derision from others. St. Clair has found quite a comfortable niche for his talents, but his main job is to protect ailing Florence from the awful truth.

Cosme must accompany FFJ as if she’s Lily Pons. It’s not until she decides to rent Carnegie Hall for a recital that the public-at-large discover her lack of rhythm, pitch, and tone. But, as she tells St. Clair, she did play Carnegie Hall – and she got there by paying a lot of accomplices [a couple may surprise you] tons of money to lie.

In spite of the need for fine tuning, FFJ amazingly gained a huge cult following. Salon audiences at her tableaus in hotel ballrooms were struck by her sincerity and fearlessness and wowed by her ornate, self-designed costumes. Her intimate concerts of Verdi, Brahms, and such arias as Mozart’s “The Queen of the Night” from The Magic Flute and the “Indian Bell Song” from Lakme by Delibes, were must-hear/see events filled with celebrities and musical legends such as Pons, Caruso, and Cole Porter.

Streep, who was familiar with FFJ from hearing her best-selling [and still selling] record of swoops and hoots of arias that segued into descending trills, at drama school, says, “I saw Florence as a woman who was not only funny and vibrant but also powerful for her times. She joined and endowed dozens of clubs, even created one of her own. It was the era when professions weren’t open to women. To keep busy, women of means did charitable works. Florence was a philanthropist and great patron of the arts, which helped her move up the echelons of society.”

She often claims “I can’t sing that well,” but Streep is a trained vocalist who appeared as Hallelujah Lil in 1977’s short-lived English version Broadway revival of Weill-Brecht’s Happy End and won a 1981 Obie for Elizabeth Swados’ Alice in Concert at the Public, but she had to undo everything she knew to capture FFJ’s inimitable voice.

“I submersed myself in the details,” she explains. “I thought it would be a piece of cake, but it was much more difficult. Florence tackled some of the most difficult arias in the canon of operatic divas performances. For the Carnegie Hall sequence, we thrilled our captive audience with so much more than you hear in the film.” [Maybe the home entertainment release will have some of the unheard as bonus material.]

Streep worked with vocal coach Arthur Levy “in the art of almost good but definitively bad singing.” They started by doing the pieces properly, “then, we went off into the landscape of mistakes. I once heard Irving Berlin playing his music and singing along and he was wildly off pitch! That made me think that maybe there can be that disconnect even in some very accomplished musicians.”


As to why FFJ insisted on singing when she was making an impact on society in many other ways, Streep says, “That’s the mystery of the creative impulse, which can turn people into obsessives. Florence was a person who kept something we have as children: that quality where, even when you can’t do something well, you hurl yourself into the imagining of it and take delight in the doing. It’s the purest, most moving, meaning of the word amateur. She sang for her friends and hand-picked audiences — the exception being the Carnegie Hall performance. She loved music and I love the delight she took in it, and try to convey that in the film.”

If you saw the recent art house hit, the lavishly-produced Marguerite, starring acclaimed French star Catharine Frot as a fictional stand-in for FFJ, you’ll see Florence Foster Jenkins covers the same situation. However, Marguerite is more comedy while, thanks to Streep’s poignant portrayal, imbued with light-hearted absurdity and genuine tenderness.

Florence Foster Jenkins digs deeper [and could have dug even further] to add something movingly human beneath Florence’s urge to perform no matter the alien sounds she creates. She reinforces her understanding of FFJ’s psyche late in the film in quite a moving sequence with Helberg in his low-rent flat at the back of an alley.

Nothing was shot in New York. Frears claims, “You couldn’t make this film in New York. It doesn’t look like the 1940s anymore.” [Has he never visited the Lower East Side, East and West Greenwich Village, and luxe area of the Upper East Side ?]. Liverpool, interestingly, stood in for 40s New York. Standing in for Carnegie Hall was London’s Hammersmith Apollo Theatre, while New York salon sequences, such as those at the Ritz Carlton and former Commodore and Park Central, were re-created in the Art Deco ballroom of London’s Park Lane Hotel.

Florence Foster Jenkins lived in a world of opulent glamour and ostentatiousness even in time of war. Production designer Alan MacDonald was responsible for recreating her unique slice of Manhattan. Costumes are by Oscar nominee (The Queen) Consolata Boyle.

Meryl Streep, well-padded and with aging make-up and wigs, has found a crafty human side to FFJ and in Florence Foster Jenkins creates a comic but loving ode to creative inspiration and those long-lasting illusions of grandeur that joyously transcend reality.


Ellis Nassour is an Ole Miss alum and noted arts journalist and author who recently donated an ever-growing exhibition of performing arts history to the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the best-selling Patsy Cline biography, Honky Tonk Angel, as well as the hit musical revue, Always, Patsy Cline.

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Shh! Secret Show Returns This Year as a Headliner for the Art­er Limits Fringe Festival

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Secret Show 2014 (Photo by Bill Dabney)

Secret Show 2014 (Photo by Bill Dabney)

We can’t tell you what will happen and we can’t tell you where it will happen ­ yet. That’s the secret.

The only thing we can tell you is the Secret Show will happen on Friday, August 12 and the location of the show will be revealed on Friday morning to ticket holders. The annual event is now in its third year and continues to constantly evolve.

The Secret Show Committee came together with the purpose of redefining the assumptions that comprise the stereotypical art events. The committee is composed of local artists who are challenged to create a show that connects the audience with their art hands-on, in-your-face, fully-interactive manner.

“The Secret Show is about breaking down the barrier between the artist and the audience,” explains Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “This one night only event will mix art, food, music and libations all with the chance for guests to be part of several live creative processes.”

The previous incarnations of the Secret Show featured a blind art auction with guests winning a work of art by offering the most creative non­monetary bid, designing unique paper airplanes to win tickets to Florida, and puppet doormen. Each year the committee invites local artist to join the secret society that creates the event. This year the show will focus on the film, television and the performing arts guaranteeing that everyone will be part of the show.

The Secret Show, one of the headline events for the Art­er Limits Fringe Festival, will be held Friday evening, August 12th. Tickets for the event are $10 and benefit the United Way, or enjoy the entire Secret Show and Fringe Festival’s 50 events with All Inclusive Button, $45.

Proceeds from this event go to benefit the United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County. For more information about or how to buy tickets to the Secret Show and other events during the Art­er Limits Fringe Festival, visit

For questions, email

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EatingOxford: Iron Bartender Contest Kicks Off Fringe Fest

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The third annual Art-er Limits Fringe Festival will showcase 50 events in four days around the Oxford Square, according to Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

Kicking off the event on Thursday, August 11, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. will be the Iron Bartender competition, an event held at The Powerhouse, sponsored by Cathead Vodka and New Regional Planning Oxford, that pits eight local bartenders against each other in an effort to win attendee votes for best cocktail.


“It’s like Iron Chef, but for bartenders,” said Andrews. “The bartenders are provided with basic mixers and a mystery case of spirits; then they have to use their skills to impress attendees and win votes.”

Other fun events happening during the four-day Art-er Limits Fringe Fest, which takes place from August 11 through August 14, include tours of historic sites around Oxford; a Blind Book Exchange at Shelter on Van Buren; a Secret Show; an Art Auction at The Powerhouse; Storytelling workshops; burlesque; contortionists; jugglers; belly dancers; comedy acts; juggling; Oxford Maker’s Market; music; craft demonstrations; home-brewed beer competition at Oxford Growler; Sip Until Seven at the Armory Pavilion and more.

Tickets to Fringe Festival headliner events such as the Iron Bartender competition and Secret Show are $10 each, or all-exclusive buttons, which get you into all 50 events, cost $45 (discounts given to Arts Council members). For more information and tickets, visit or call 662-236-6429.

liz headshot

Liz Barrett Foster is the EatingOxford editor for, an award-winning business journalist and author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History. Liz ran the popular restaurant information site from 2009 to 2015. Liz can be reached at

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Itawamba Crossroads Ranch to Help Build Better Assisted Living for Young Adults with Special Needs

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In Fulton, Mississippi, Renae Bennett, a mother, had a dream to advocate young people with special needs. She was able to make this come true by founding Itawamba Crossroads Ranch. Crossroads is a special project taken on by the CREATE foundation.

The pottery is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

The pottery is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

After Bennett’s son sustained a traumatic brain injury and they dealt with years of frustration from various institutions, Bennett built her dream to change the face of assisted livings for young adults with special needs. She said her goal is to provide a happy, healthy and secure environment for everyone. Her vision with Crossroads also includes a 100-percent privately funded, residential community for these individuals to thrive in.

To help fund the project, Crossroads has been making and selling pottery. 100 percent of the proceeds goes to the ranch. The pottery is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe. The prices range from as low as $10 and as high as $100. The price depends on the size of the pottery piece and how detailed it is.

100 percent of the proceeds from sale of pottery goes to the ranch.

100 percent of the proceeds from sale of pottery goes to the ranch.

The pottery can be purchased directly from the ranch. It’s also sold at S&W Pharmacy in Fulton and Joyful Creations in Tupelo. Once the website is done, people can purchase it online as well. Crossroads is also working to sell their pieces in other stores.

Currently, 42 acres have been designated through donation for the site of the ranch. Architectural blueprints have been drawn for the central lodge and resident cottages. A comprehensive business plan, outlining financial and developmental phases is now in place. Landscaping plans have also been obtained for the area, which will be known as the Prayer Garden.

Crossroads plans to include a lodge for group meals, an education center and gathering place, single detached cottages for residents, an organic garden complete with a greenhouse, and equine-assisted therapy.

pottery skills depot

The Skills Depot is currently the only building finished at the ranch. It is the hub of the facility and also where the pottery is made.

“I’m excited to report the Skills Depot is now complete,” said Bennett. “It’s the area in which residents meet for occupational therapy rooted in real life skills, as well as practice social interaction with each other and volunteers.”

Crossroads is raising funds to get the Lodge built with a goal to start building in the spring of 2017. They still need $55,000 to meet their goal of $130,000. Once that project is complete, the building of the cottages for the adult living will begin.

This is a drawing of what the Lodge will look like upon completion.

This is a drawing of what the Lodge will look like upon completion.

This past April, Fulton native and the second baseman for the Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier, acted as liaison to help secure a donation of $20,000 from the Major League Baseball organization.

“Our fundraiser, dubbed ‘Denim and Diamonds’, was held on April 2 at Sheffield Manor,” said Bennett. “The singular event far exceeded expectations by yielding a net of $78,500.”

For more information about the pottery or the ranch in general, contact Renae Bennett at or call 662-585-3334. To mail a monetary donation, send it to: Itawamba Crossroads Ranch at 716 Airport Road, Fulton, MS, 38843. Donations are also accepted online through the ranch’s GoFundMe page at

pottery 5
pottery 4

Paige Henderson is a 2016 graduate of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She can be reached at

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Oxford Film Fest Community Film Looking for Extras

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Firemax is about a superhero who saves people in Oxford.

Firemax is about a superhero who saves Oxford from villians.

The Oxford Film Festival is producing its newest addition of the community film, Firemax, and will need extras for a large scene on Saturday, August 13.

Taking part in the Art-Er Limits Fringe Festival, the experience is designed to allow for people in Oxford to take part in the creative process of making a movie.

Firemax is directed by Rory Ledbetter and produced by Melanie Addington and the Oxford Film Festival. The movie is about a superhero that must save Oxford from villains. A light-hearted comedy, the movie is family friendly.

Extras of all ages are needed. If a minor, an adult must check you in during filming.

Extras are asked to email Melanie Addington by Thursday, August 11 to receive more detailed instruction at

Extras will be part of a scene on the Courthouse Lawn on Saturday, August 13, filming at 9:00 a.m. and ending before noon. Extras must wear comfortable clothes that they would wear to an arts fair and clothing should have no logos on them. Check in on Saturday will be Shelter on Van Buren beginning at 8:00 am and no later than 8:30 a.m.

Artists are also needed to take part to showcase their art in the fair. Contact Melanie Addington if your artwork could be loaned for the scene.

The movie will premiere on Wednesday, February 15 as part of the 14th annual Oxford Film Festival to be held February 15 to 19, 2017.

For questions or comments, email us at

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Lewis Black Brings Comedy to the Ford Center

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Lewis Black will perform Aug. 26 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Lewis Black will perform Aug. 26 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

For the first time ever, the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi will host a comedian – and not just any comedian, but the “King of Rant” himself, Lewis Black.

Black will take the Ford Center stage for “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26. Tickets are $50 for the orchestra level and $40 for the parterre, mezzanine and balcony levels. Student tickets are discounted to $20, courtesy of the Student Activities Association.

Tickets are on sale at and at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union. Student tickets must be purchased in person with a UM student ID.

With a trademark style of comedic yelling, the critically acclaimed comedian makes audiences laugh at the absurd aspects of everyday life, which include current events, social media and politics. His animated finger-pointing at anything and everything that irritates him exposes hypocrisy and madness in the world.

“We are very excited to host Lewis Black at the Ford Center and give the community the experience of a comedian,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “We hope the students will take advantage of this affordable, unique opportunity to cap off their first week on campus.”

Black has performed across Europe, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. His appearances include “The Daily Show,” “Larry King Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” in addition to appearances on CNN and MSNBC.

He also voiced the character “Anger” in the Academy Award-winning animated film “Inside Out.”

He also adds theater to his list of accomplishments, as he’s written more than 40 plays that have been produced around the country.

This show contains adult content and language and is recommended for individuals 18 and older.

Courtesy of Christina Steube and the Ole Miss News Desk

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