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Austin Zoo presents Boo at the Zoo

Austin Zoo presents Boo at the Zoo

Photo courtesy of Austin Zoo

Boo at the Zoo is a Halloween-themed, family-friendly evening at the zoo featuring a haunted house, haunted train ride, and a musical puppet show. All guests are encouraged to dress in costumes.

Photo courtesy of Ventana Ballet

Ventana Ballet presents Undead, Haunted House of Dances

Ventana Ballet will presents yet another eerie twist to its fan-favorite, Undead, Haunted House of Dances. Horrifying hipsters, exiled ex-wives, and slapstick sidekicks are just a few of the spooky characters rounding out the company’s immersive reimagining of the classic ballet Dracula.

This year, the audience will decide the fate of these poor, unfortunate souls. Pre-show hauntings begin in the bar area before guests are summoned by the Witch into the Hall for their official invitation to join her “fang club.”

Photo courtesy of Mobile Loaves & Fishes

Mobile Loaves & Fishes presents Community Cinema

Mobile Loaves & Fishes presents Community Cinema

The Community Cinema will present screenings in a safe, socially distanced setting at Community First! Village. Popcorn, candy, and drinks will be available for purchase before the movie begins (card only). There will also be food available for purchase via pre-order.

Schedule of events (click on titles to RSVP)

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Comedy and intrigue pair perfectly in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Movie Review

The murder mystery genre is one that never really goes out of style, but only if it keeps up with the times. One of many issues with Kenneth Branagh recently reviving Agatha Christie’s works is that he hasn’t updated the stories at all, leaving them feeling very old-fashioned. Writer/director Rian Johnson brought the genre into the 21st century with 2019’s Knives Out, something he continues with aplomb in the pseudo-sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is, like everyone else in mid-2020, struggling with the isolation of the pandemic. He gets a lifeline when he receives an invitation from billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to join him and five of Bron’s closest friends – Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), and Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) – at his private island in Greece for a murder mystery-themed birthday party.

What happens on the island is best left experienced by the viewer, but suffice it to say that it involves over-the-top opulence, intrigue, jealousy, double-crosses, murder, and, naturally, Blanc lending his unique perspective to everything that takes place.

If the first Knives Out was a whodunit with lots of entertaining elements, Glass Onion could be considered a comedy that just so happens to have mystery at its center. Johnson has loaded the film with characters and situations that are ridiculous, but not so exaggerated as to be off-putting. Absurdity rules the day, but in a way that complements the story instead of being jokes-for-jokes’-sake.

The group of friends, representing a wide variety of professions, at first seems to be an odd combination, but as their history is gradually revealed, the tighter they become. The ingrained dynamics that were at play with the family in Knives Out are somewhat missing here, but Johnson and the actors imbue the characters with just enough detail so that the hold they have on each other feels real instead of contrived.

One of the unexpected pleasures the film offers is the number of off-the-wall celebrity cameos it contains. Setting the story early in the pandemic is not a crucial part of the film, but doing so allows Johnson to include a Zoom call with perhaps the least-expected celebrity quartet imaginable. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s been in every movie Johnson has made, makes perhaps his funniest, if most invisible, appearance.

Craig, who’s been begging to get away from James Bond for years, is once again a delight. As he’s shown as Blanc and in 2017’s Logan Lucky, if you pair him with a Southern accent and the freedom comedy provides, the result is magic. The rest of the cast does well, with Norton and Monáe especially standing out.

Glass Onion is so good that you can easily see Johnson returning every few years with a fresh cast; in fact, a third film is already planned for 2024. Other than Blanc, Johnson is not relying on the same tricks this time around, indicating his creativity knows no bounds.

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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will be in select theaters for one week starting November 23. It will debut on Netflix on December 23.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Daniel Craig in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Favorite stationery store and workshop celebrates 7 creative years in East Austin

A CUT ABOVE

What started as a single-person card-making Etsy shop has led to a thriving stationery store and workshop studio in East Austin. Pei Sim founded The Paper + Craft Pantry, which celebrated its seventh anniversary earlier this month, in 2015 as the next step to expand her two-year-old card design business. She is the sole designer of the shop’s in-house stationery line that is also printed locally.

Since the shop’s opening, their products have expanded from their famous card wall to subscription boxes, and as of this holiday season, their very first stationery advent calendar. The shop regularly releases products for special occasions such as Valentine's Day, Lunar New Year, and Christmas. In addition to stationery, the shop also provides home goods such as candles, crystals, desk supplies, chocolates, and snacks.

Like many small businesses in Austin, The Paper + Craft Pantry was no stranger to difficulties during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when in-store shopping saw a steep decline, the shop had to reinvent the way they provided customers with their well-loved stationery. The shop’s often sold-out monthly subscription box helped bridge that gap and is now in its third successful year of operation. The box is hand-curated by Sim and occasionally features exclusive products that are available to subscribers before being released in-store or online.

Another successful product line is their collaboration with fellow small business Archer & Olive. Archer & Olive is a stationery company that provides tools to improve mental wellness through journaling and creativity. Sim designed over 10 exclusive notebook cover designs that launched in 2021 and 2022, most of which are now sold out.

The shop doesn’t just fulfill stationery needs – it also hosts monthly classes in the workshop studio. Some classes are taught by Sim and others are taught by local or visiting artists. Popular workshops include watercolor painting, candle pouring, and leather bookbinding. The shop hosts seasonal workshops as well, such as Reindeer Shag Cake Decorating and Holiday Floral Arrangements.

The Paper + Craft Pantry has always been active within the creative community in Austin. Just last month, the store hosted a Fall Festival Market with several local vendors, and in November, it participated in weekends 2 and 3 of The Austin Studio Tour. Additionally, as a way to prioritize giving back to the Austin community, The Paper + Craft Pantry donates a portion of the proceeds from its in-house stationery line to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Black Mamas ATX.

Amazon rolls out new electric vans in Austin for holiday delivery season

electric avenue

Amazon CEO/occasional space traveler Jeff Bezos is doing his best to supplant a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole as tops for holiday gift delivery.

His latest move: Amazon is rolling out more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles, designed by electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, ready to make deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S. On the Texas good list: Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Bezos' juggernaut began deliveries in Dallas in July, along with Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

These zero-emissions vans have delivered more than 5 million packages to customers in the U.S., according to Amazon. The latest boost in vehicles now includes Houston and Austin, as well as Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York, Oakland, California; Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon; Provo, Utah; and Salt Lake City.

Plans for the Amazon and Rivian partnership call for thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030.

“We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation, in a statement. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning—that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

This all comes as part of Amazon's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, as a part of its The Climate Pledge; Amazon promises to eliminate millions of metric tons of carbon per year with it s commitment to 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, press materials note.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to invest more than €1 billion over the next five years to further electrify and decarbonize its transportation network across Europe. This investment is meant to spark innovation and encourage more public charging infrastructure across the continent.

“Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian, in a statement. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road. They continue to be motivated by our combined mission and the great feedback about the vehicle’s performance and quality.”

A little about the vans: Drivers’ favorite features include a spacious cabin and cargo area, superior visibility with a large windshield and 360-degree cameras, and ventilated seats for fast heating and cooling — a must for Texas summers ... or winters, for that matter.