The Weekly Wire: This Week's Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 3/4Visual Arts: Older GloryWhether the new president is Obama or Reagan or Jackson, America has always been a place for renewal. Culled from Yale's permanent collection, the traveling show Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (through May 25) is inescapably a history lesson. Over 200 paintings, photographs, and objects represent the years between (circa) 1600 and 1893, from colonial days through Reconstruction. Big names represented include Paul Revere, John Trumbull, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, and (into the photographic era) Eadweard Muybridge. It's a lot to take in, perhaps too much, grouped into galleries by theme, not strict chronology. I'd suggest you bring your own theme to this counterclockwise immersion in Americana. For instance: During nearly 300 years, the means of artistic production advance from commissioned oil paintings and pewter pieces for the very rich to lithographs and engravings for a literate, emerging middle class (hello, Currier & Ives) to daguerreotypes, photographs, and newspaper cartoons (including Thomas Nast) for the general public. Democracy, as we know, was proceeding parallel to the arts and technology. Though America hardly seems a perfect union after you've walked these few hundred paces. Midway through the pageant, one of the objects that grabbed me is a small wooden chair, handmade circa 1870 by a former slave named Dick Poyner. You wouldn't give it a second glance at Ikea. But here it's something remarkable and enduring: a seat, a platform, a beginning. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $9–$15. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 3/5Stage: Believe the HypeIn an age when Paul Blart: Mall Cop is blurbed as "The Funniest Movie of the Year," you have reason to be skeptical when I say that No Dice is unlike anything you have ever experienced in a theater—or anywhere, for that matter. But it is. The show is a four-hour re-enactment of transcribed telephone conversations, performed in a style suggesting bad Midwestern dinner theater, using comedy, dance, and music. Yet even that description is like calling The Godfather just another movie about the Mafia. No Dice was created by Nature Theater of Oklahoma, one of New York City's hottest avant-garde theater groups. (In its current show, one man performs Rambo: First Blood in its entirety onstage. Awesome.) Here, No Dice will be staged through Sunday in a half-finished office building on Eastlake, and the ticket includes a sack dinner prepared by the artists. When I saw the show in New York, an empty warehouse became a sort of playground for overgrown hipsters (including artistic directors/performers Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper). No Dice is joyful and childlike one moment, unsettling and sinister the next. There is no plot. Mundane office tasks are performed. Mel Gibson's take on Hamlet is discussed. And believe it or not, the time really does fly by. (There's a 30-minute intermission, too.) If tickets for the New York run hadn't been so hard to come by, I would've gone two or three more times. At just $6 an hour, it's the best entertainment deal in town. On the Boards, 1100 Eastlake Ave. E., 217-9888, $24. 7 p.m. FRANK PAIVABooks: Land and LossImagine Pakistan in the decades before 9/11 and Al Qaeda, post-colonial and nearly feudal in its divide between rich and poor, its past wealth seeping like water into the sand. One landowner divides his time between Lahore and his various farms out in rural Punjab. Around him revolve a constellation of spurned wives, supplicant in-laws, thieving property managers, adulterous servants, heroin addicts, bandits, and honest peasants. In his excellent collection In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton, $23.95), the Western-educated Daniyal Mueenuddin allows major characters to die in one story, then loops back years in another to let them observe from the periphery. Writing with strict economy, he preserves resources. Just as land and money shift from one party to the next over the years, Mueenuddin re-allocates the narrative among his cast as their fortunes rise and fall. Some stories you may recall from The New Yorker. In all of them, love and prosperity are like the crops—flourishing in one season, gone the next. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFRIDAY 3/6Film: Screen SketchesHe built our acclaimed downtown library, and he's the subject of a new documentary. Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect anchors NWFF's ByDesign 09 festival (through March 12), which celebrates graphic design. (Richard Meier and other starchitects are interviewed in the film; why do we guess that no humble opinions from Seattle will be solicited?) Appearing in person tonight will be members of the Kansas City–based design studio MK12. If you don't know their work from the very cool credit sequences for Quantum of Solace and Stranger Than Fiction, they'll be showing and discussing clips from their eight-year history. Other highlights include the doc Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight (Mon.–Wed.), about the guy who branded New York magazine and created the famous "INY" ad campaign. You could say he invented the emoticon before there was an Internet. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLERPhotography: Exposed and ConcealedHere in America, we're used to seeing half-naked women everywhere we look. But Korean women are taught to value modesty, and their exposure to these images is mainly through Western media. "We hardly use words like 'sexy' or 'hot' [to describe women]," photographer Ok Hyuan Ahn tells me by phone from Chicago. "Those words are only for American celebrities." With that in mind, Ahn traveled to Seoul and asked her subjects to pose the way they'd seen in our movies and magazines. These women—most in their 30s and married—stare at the camera head-on, their bodies draped over couches or sprawled on the floor. Though they're fully dressed, their facial expressions and body language radiate embarrassment and tension. (I felt uncomfortable just looking at them.) The awkwardness is genuine in this portrait series, and the poses are foreign. The exhibit Identity, Costume, Cliché: Korean Photography Today continues through March 27 with work by Chan-Hyo Bae and Suk Kuhn Oh. Photographic Center Northwest, 900 12th Ave., 720-7222, Free. Reception 6–8 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTFilm/Music: 25 for Those Over 21Drinks will be served (cash bar) and music played (the Fred Roth Revue) between the two blocks of short films being billed as Rawstock V. Have we seen all 25 titles? Of course not. But we're dying to see the sixth installment of Mitch Magee's very droll Mr. Glasses short comedy series, in which he plays a Philip Johnson–like superarchitect. (He just wants to bring rigorous design principles to us little people, OK?) Among five flicks previewed, Humpday director Lynn Shelton stars in a bittersweet Gen-X ensemble piece, Moving, directed by Megan Griffiths for SIFF's Fly Films program last year. Better are two undead-centric shorts: the Danish Zombie Western (it's Sergio Leone enacted by puppets; yes, puppets); and the Australian I Love Sarah Jane, in which suburban kids cope with the massacre of their parents. This one—surely the seed film for a feature—is more like Steven Spielberg meets 28 Days Later, only teen hormones prove more powerful than the zombie virus. (Doors open for cocktails a half-hour before the 8:45 p.m. screening.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, $20–$23. 8:15 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSATURDAY 3/7Paleontology: Bone Yarns"You know what's even cooler than Triceratops?" Dwight asked Jim, when the latter recalled a fond childhood memory in a recent episode of The Office. "Every other dinosaur that ever existed." You're way off, Dwight! Though less fierce and intimidating than T-Rex, the hulking three-horned herbivore of the late Cretaceous period was a fascinating creature. And Triceratops is this year's featured beast at Dino Day!, the Burke's annual exhibition of dinosaur discoveries for all ages. Visitors will learn about its eating habits, size, and lifespan, and see recently excavated fossils from dozens of different dinosaurs. Children can get their hands dirty, too, with drawing activities, dinosaur dress-up, and fossil-finding games. "Cool" is subjective. If it were alive today, Triceratops might even get an invite to Dunder Mifflin. Because I hear Pam is a big fan. Burke Museum, N.E. 45th St. and 17th Ave. N.E., 543-9681, $6–$9.50. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. NEIL ESTEPTUESDAY 3/10Music: Black Keys ReduxIf you haven't heard Dan Auerbach's first solo record yet, I'll save you the suspense: Yes. In most respects, Keep It Hid is almost indistinguishable from Auerbach's two-man band the Black Keys. There's no mistaking his soulful howl for anyone else's. Yet there are differences. Keep It Hid is what the Keys might sound like if Auerbach and Patrick Carney decided to add a full band behind them. (On this tour, Austin band Hacienda is backing Auerbach.) And this disc is more adventurous than the Keys, incorporating a more diverse range of folk, country, and soul influences. It moves beyond Auerbach's penchant for O.G. blues and psychedelic stoner rock. But still, Keep It Hid succeeds for the same reason the Keys do: because Auerbach mines the best of old-timey American roots music, mushing together harmonic folk ballads, blues rhythms, Doors-like organ freakouts, and fuzzy guitar solos like so much sonic Play-Doh. Instead of the ugly mess that can result from trying to do too much on a single record, Auerbach creates a balanced sound that's informed by nostalgia without drowning in it. Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 720-7222. $20–$22 (all ages). 8 p.m. SARA BRICKNER

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