Being a movie buff, I'm more than a little excited about two flicks opening today — "Sweeney Todd," the Tim Burton musical starring Johnny Depp as a murdering barber, and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." If I've got to pick just one for this weekend, I'll make it the comedy, "Walk Hard," since I've been a huge fan of John C. Reilly's for years.

I'm likely to hit the hockey game on Saturday night, as the Cottonmouths take on the Fayetteville Fire Antz at 7:30 p.m. (There's another chance on Christmas night, when they play the Knoxville Ice Bears.) Tickets ate $11-$21. Details: 706-571-0086.

And I can't believe it's almost Christmas and I haven't made a pass through what my wife calls Candy Cane Lane, where practically all the houses in the neighborhood are juicing up fo Christmas. It's coal in the furnaces, not the stocking, for Georgia Power. The houses are around Vultee Drive, north of Britt David Road. While I'm out, I might just arm myself with the map of lights you can find right here at to check out some other stars of wonder around town.

— Brad Barnes


As a teen, I developed a fascination with ice skating that was driven by everything but the activity's athletic merit.

From the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding debacle to Oksana Baiul's brush with the law, skaters at the time were drama queens and I wanted to be right up there with them.

Part of me still holds that obsession — maybe that's why I can't wait to grace the ice Sunday at the Columbus Civic Center, 400 Fourth St. You can skate 1-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. The fee is $7, plus $3 if you rent skates. 706-653-4460.

How will I have time to do basically all my Christmas shopping and make room for recreation? Easy — I'll get other people to do my work for me.

Throughout the weekend, there will be volunteers wrapping presents at multiple locations throughout town. Try Peachtree Mall, 3131 Manchester Expressway, where Habitat for Humanity volunteers will wrap your gifts for a fee. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.

Or, take an even easier route by taking your friends out and telling them they'll each get a drink as a Christmas present. We're not talking Coors Lights, though.

Bring them to Houlihan's, 800 Front Ave., where you can indulge in one of my favorite local cocktail offerings — mini martinis, in flavors ranging from key lime pie to guava.

— Sonya Sorich


Those words appeared on a very memorable billboard for a shopping mall from when I was overseas. Nothing but a white background with a single finger pointed straight at you and the words — You need Hep 5 — imprinted in red letters.

A good message for this, the last weekend before Christmas. Just exchange the words "Hep 5" with "commercial area in Columbus without shopping drama" and you're on your way.

Here's a few choice selections for those of you who take advice from Internet:

1) Stay away from Columbus Park Crossing. The time has past when you can get in and out of this place, and all it holds for you now is headaches and angst. I suggest sticking with stores such as Office Depot near The Landings for last minute shopping. It's close to other commercial areas, but the traffic won't be near as hellish.

2) The Columbus Public Library on Macon Road. I know you shouldn't borrow library books and give them as gifts, but they're cheap.

No, I'm joking, really. Check out the used book store in the library. You may think I'm tacky for buying used books as gifts, and you'd be right. But seriously, people, you're the ones who waited until the weekend before Christmas to do your shopping.

3) Liquor stores are the ultimate in quality Christmas shopping. They're scattered across the city, you can find specific spirits in holiday packages and the prices are reasonable.

See if they have any umeshu. It looks like you need it.

— Alan Riquelmy