Culture watch

A Pug For All Seasons

What’s the first word that comes to your mind when I tell you that there’s a new children’s holiday book coming out featuring a cute dog and her canine pals who help Santa save Christmas? Chances are, the word is “lame.” If it were any other book you’d be right, but Leni the Pug: The Comet Christmas Caper is easily one of the coolest-looking books you’ll see this holiday season. It’s stunning, really.

Written by New York-based author Keith Fiore and brought to life by Asheville-based artist, illustrator and web animator Alexandru Sacui, Leni the Pug tells the story of the ever-hungry, ever-cheery dog heroine and her lively pack of city dog pals, who must find Santa’s reindeer Comet after the jolly old elf crash lands in Central Park (Mr. Kringle might have had a bit too much liquid holiday cheer, it seems).

The 96-page book appears to be as much a collectors’ item as a children’s sleep aid, as the first edition is a full-color hardback on high-end Japanese art paper with a “gift wrap” style slip cover. The downside to all this high quality is that the book isn’t even remotely cheap, and a single copy will set your holiday budget back $34.50, not counting shipping.

Before you buy, you should really check out the book’s Web site,, which is a mini-masterpiece itself. And, as long as you’re online, it’s probably worth checking out illustrator Alex Sacui’s other work (such as his graphic novel spanglias) at

Moon Europa Nearly In Orbit

Don’t mark your calendars just yet, but the latest word on local sci-fi flick Moon Europa is that the film may be ready for theaters in early February. At least, that’s what director Chris Bower hesitantly revealed at the Moon Europa party during the Asheville Film Festival. The makers of the post-apocalyptic love story also screened an impressive new trailer for the film, which has yet to appear in their official Web site. Moon Europa was named the “Best Locally Produced Film” by Xpress readers in our 2006 Best of WNC contest, along with Asheville the Movie and Rank Strangers. None of the three are complete. Learn more about the film at


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