THE HOT 5
An opinionated to-do list
By Christopher Schobert

September used to be the cruelest month. It meant back to school, summer’s over, and the weather is changing. Then I grew up, and it didn’t really bother me anymore. In fact, I love September now, as it’s filled with killer events, and, for a sports lover, is fan-darn-tastic: the true start of the National Football League season, Sabres’ preseason, and baseball heading into its postseason. Of course, many of the month’s coolest events are covered in our arts previews. And several options take place outside of the area.

Toronto will have a September for the record books. Besides the TO Film and Virgin Music festivals, there is a scheduled concert from the long-in-hibernation My Bloody Valentine. So, as a tribute: My Bloody September Hot 5. Be my valentine, and read on.


1. Bills home opener
The Buffalo Bills haven’t made the playoffs for the last six seasons in a row, a more-than-half-decade of futility surpassed only by the Arizona Cardinals and tying us with the Detroit Lions. (Both Arizona and Detroit are National Football League laughingstocks. So what does that make Buffalo?) That means the home opener has become tantamount to our playoff game—the day Bills fans wait for patiently, through draft and training camp, through preseason and cuts, through tailgating and alcohol poisoning—in anticipation of the slight hope that an opening day win can bring. Last year’s home opener against the Denver Broncos was a grim day all around. It was the tragic afternoon of Kevin Everett’s injury, a truly frightening moment that made the game’s end result—a nauseating last-second field goal loss—pale in comparison. But there’s always next year … bringing us to Seattle at the Ralph on September 7. As usual, there is a great deal of optimism surrounding this year’s model of the Buffalo Bills, and there might even be reason for it—Kawika Mitchell, Marcus Stroud, and Leodis McKelvin could make a significant impact on defense, as could the return of the “Poz,” Paul Posluszny. And happily, the game has long been sold out, meaning lazy cheapskates like me can watch on HD at home.
Sunday, September 7 at 1 p.m. at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park; www.buffalobills.com.

2. New York Power Authority’s Wildlife Festival
It’s a wild, wild life at the New York Power Authority’s annual Wildlife Festival. But that’s what makes it fun. The fest features rare animal species, birds of prey, primates, reptiles, and more. Believe it or not, this is the twenty-third year for the event, which offers a chance to see these incredible animals outside of, say, the Buffalo Zoo. I can’t imagine a more family-friendly event for the month, so indulge your Crocodile Hunter fantasies.
Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista, 5777 Lewiston Rd., Lewiston; www.nypa.gov, 286-6661, or 1-866-NYPA-FUN.

3. Curtain Up!
Rent the tux, buy the dress, memorize the schedules, and prepare to party very, very hard, because yes, it’s Curtain Up! (Exclamation point is theirs, not mine.) This has become a true rite of autumn, a sign of the change in seasons, and yet another indication that Buffalo’s theater scene is thriving, whether Studio Arena’s heart is beating, or not; hopefully it will, at the very least, beat with a slight arrhythmia. (To be a season, or not to be? Perhaps by Curtain Up! time we’ll have an indication one way or another of the theater’s fate.) It is an opportunity for theaters large and small to draw in large audiences of locals, and if these Western New Yorkers happen to be enjoying themselves, so be it. All of Main Street is a stage on September 19.
Friday, September 19 at Buffalo’s Theater District, Main St.; www.curtainupbuffalo.com.

4. Babel: Chinua Achebe
I can vividly recall reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in high school, and despite the fact that this masterpiece of fiction was published in 1958, its story of Nigerian life has lost none of its power. In fact, its reputation has continued to grow. This makes Achebe an ideal choice as Babel’s 2008–09 opener. This year’s lineup is clearly Godfather: Part II to last year’s Godfather—just as good, and possibly even a bit better than its predecessor. In addition to Achebe, there is Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) on October 29, Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis—best animated film of 2007, that) on April 1, and, to close the series, Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) on April 17. What we have here, folks, is a new tradition, a literary treat for a city that has long loved the written word.
Thursday, September 25 at 8 p.m. at Hallwalls, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo; www.justbuffalo.org or 832-5400.

5. Aspiring Artists Art & Wine Celebration
Aspire of WNY’s core belief is a great one—“that children and adults with developmental disabilities have the right to realize their full potential and live as independently as possible.” Hear, hear. On September 5, Western New York can pay tribute to the great things Aspire does, enjoy some truly inspiring art, and raise a glass (or two) at the Aspiring Artists Art & Wine Celebration. The night will feature the work of some of Aspire’s talented artists, along with wine tasting, live music, food, and a live auction.
Friday, September 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Aspire, 2356 North Forest Rd., Getzville; 505-5514 or www.aspirewny.org.


The worst summer movie Christopher Schobert ever spent his hard-earned money on was Batman and Robin. Hey, we all have our skeletons in the closet …


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