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Science Museum’s Omnifest to screen 5 films; Common Good Books is for sale

Tornado Alley
Courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota
“Storm Chasers” star Sean Casey and a team of researchers in customized vehicles set off to surround tornadoes and gather weather data in “Tornado Alley.”

At the moment, the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omnitheater is the only movie theater in the state running large-format film on a daily basis. It’s one of the few remaining theaters in the world where film arrives in canisters the size of tractor wheels.

That era is ending. And the Science Museum is giving it a grand farewell.

For the 20th birthday of Omnifest, its popular annual salute to giant-screen films, the museum will screen five films it had a hand in producing. (It’s the largest museum producer of giant-screen films.) And all five will be actual films.

Later this year, the theater will convert from a giant-screen film projection system to a digital laser-projection system. When the conversion is complete, the Omnitheater will become one of the first IMAX Laser Dome theaters in the world. The very first opened in San Jose, California, just two months ago, in November 2018.


The new system will deliver better contrast, brightness, clarity and color. And it will bring more new films – available only on digital – to the Science Museum’s ginormous screen.

But enough geeking out. This year’s movies are:

“Ring of Fire.” Volcanoes! This Science Museum of Minnesota original production features the eruptions of Mount St. Helens and Japan’s Sakurajima and the birth of a new volcano in southern Chile.

“Journey to Space.” Giant-screen views of Earth; the deployment and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope; how the Space Shuttle launched and assembled the International Space Station and more.

“National Parks Adventure.” Thanks to the government shutdown, this is not a good time to visit our national parks in person. Instead, you can go to the Science Museum (with its unlocked bathrooms and regularly emptied trash bins) and see 30 wild places, from Yellowstone’s geysers to Devil’s Tower.

“The Greatest Places.” This SMM original production travels to Tibet’s Chang Tang Plateau, the icebergs of Greenland, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and four more dynamic landscapes.

“Tornado Alley.” In which “Storm Chasers” star Sean Casey and a team of researchers in customized vehicles set off to surround tornadoes and gather weather data, because they’re out of their minds.

From Jan. 4 through Feb. 28, the five films will run in rotation during regular museum hours. FMI and tickets.

Geeky P.S.: Here’s a video about the Omnitheater from 2010.

Common Good Books is for sale

“Common Good Books is now available for sale,” read the subject header on Wednesday’s email. Not quite the fanfare of 2012’s opening at Grand and Snelling in the heart of the Macalester College community. Originally located (for six years) at the corner of Selby and Western, below Nina’s Coffee Café, Common Good had relocated to a space with more room, more light and more students.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Keillor said, “I opened Common Good Books because I loved the bookstores I knew around the U, Perrine’s and McCosh’s and Heddan’s and Savran’s. And now I’m leaving town and am busy writing a book of my own so it’s time to turn over the business to someone else. The world is full of wonderful independent bookstores and needs every one.”

Common Good Books
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
Common Good Books is located at Grand and Snelling in the heart of the Macalester College community.
By “leaving town,” Keillor apparently means St. Paul. The Star Tribune reported that Keillor and his wife have moved to Minneapolis.

The creator and former star of “A Prairie Home Companion” has been mostly out of the public eye since November 2017, when MPR and parent company American Public Media Group cut their business ties with him as they investigated a report alleging inappropriate workplace behavior. Late last year, Keillor performed several sold-out shows at Crooners in Fridley with former APHC pianist and music director Rich Dworsky.

The picks

Friday at the Turf Club: Button Poetry. Button’s first-ever show at the Turf Club features sets from Bernard Ferguson, Neil Hilborn and Lydia Liza. Ferguson is a Bahamian poet living in New York; he is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and has published in the Best New Poets 2017, among other anthologies and journals. Liza is a singer/songwriter/guitar player/former Bomba de Luz member who has shared the stage with the Goo Goo Dolls, Atmosphere, Dessa, Chastity Brown and others. Hilborn is a College National Poetry Slam champion and cofounder of the Macalester literary magazine Thistle. His first full-length book, “Our Numbered Days,” is available now. 8 p.m. doors, 8:30 p.m. show time. 21+; ID required. FMI. Tickets $15 advance, $17 day of show.

Opens Friday at the Gremlin Theatre: “The Father.” Translated by Christopher Hampton, French playwright and novelist Florian Zeller’s award-winning play has been described as “a savagely honest study of dementia” (Guardian). We see the world through the eyes of André (the marvelous Craig Johnson), an old man, but still a man of his own mind, whose signposts are disappearing. Ellen Fenster directs. With Miriam Schwartz, Peter Christian Hansen, Olivia Wilusz, Matt Wall and Emily Grodzik. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($28; under 30, pay half your age). Runs Thursdays–Saturdays through Jan. 27.

Land O’Lakes Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show
Land O’Lakes Kennel Club
At Saint Paul RiverCentre, 103 breeds will compete for awards in the Land O’Lakes Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show.
Friday through Sunday at Saint Paul RiverCentre: Land O’Lakes Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show. If all dogs belong to a single species, why don’t they all look like dingoes? You might ponder this great mystery as you stroll this year’s Land O’Lakes show, where 103 breeds including (new this year) the Azawakh, a tall, elegant West African sighthound, will compete for awards. Meet the breeds (and the breeders), watch dogs compete for Best in Show, take a tour and buy treats for your pup at the market. 8 a.m. until 4–6 p.m. (end times vary). FMI and ticket prices ($9 adults).


Saturday at Crooners: Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson: The 1940s Songbook. Maybe songs like “I’ll Never Smile Again” and “Sentimental Journey” are your thing. Or maybe you’re curious as to why they’re still around. Nobody sings them like Maud Hixson, for whom singing is always about history. And nobody accompanies her like her pianist husband Rick Carlson. We say from experience: They’re perfect together. You might make this a dinner show; a full menu is available, with quiet-as-a-mouse table service. In the intimate Dunsmore Room. 6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15).

Starts Sunday at the Trylon: Dennis Hopper: American Nightmare. We have always thought Hopper was a singularly scary dude. Not in his early days, maybe, but starting in the 1970s for sure. For all of January, on Sundays through Tuesdays, the Trylon will feature Hopper in some of his darkest roles: as Kansas in “The Last Movie,” which Hopper also directed (starts Sunday, Jan. 6), Father in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” (Jan. 13), criminal Tom Ripley in Wim Wenders’ “The American Friend” (Jan. 20), psycho Frank Booth in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” (Jan. 27) and Clifford Worley in Tony Scott’s “True Romance” (also Jan. 27). FMI including trailers, times and tickets ($8).

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/03/2019 - 09:28 am.

    This looks like the best Omnifest in several years. An annual membership would be a good investment.

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