The Weekly Wire: This Week's Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 3/18Books: Left-Wing LuchadorWho would win in a battle between Spider-Man and Batman? Between Godzilla and T-Rex? Or better, who would prevail in a grudge match between Rush Limbaugh and Scott Simon? Now that the excitement of last year's election is past, I want to see the de facto leader of the GOP, radio's dominant conservative voice, stripped down to sumo attire against the progressive avatar Simon, who's visiting town courtesy of Seattle Arts & Lectures. Simon's topic is "Leaping From Journalism Into Fiction: Making It Up Is Hard," which undoubtedly bears upon last year's Windy City: A Novel of Politics (Random House, $24). But enough about the book. Let's hope Simon throws away his prepared text tonight to talk headlocks and wrestling holds, how to leap off the turnbuckles Mickey Rourke–style, and when to deploy a folding metal chair against Limbaugh. Rush is quicker than he looks, and Simon will need to be on guard against the razor blades his adversary conceals within his rolls of fat. I recommend Simon wear the traditional masked costume of the Mexican luchador, NPR logo on his cape, for both the lecture and the fight. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 621-2230, $20–$60. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 3/19Performance Art: Window DisplayersArt students Sol Hashemi and Jason Hirata met their freshman year at the U-Dub and instantly became best friends. Their quirky collaborative show, "Please Stand By; Stand By Me" (Thurs.–Sat., through March 28), breaks their friendship into two parts with different viewing hours. Daytime visitors can see photographs and video installations documenting them in mundane activities like eating dinner by headlamp. At night, you can watch from the sidewalk as Hashemi and Hirata take residency within Punch Gallery—performing, making new art with a fog machine, and sleeping. Viewed through the large glass windows, the scene resembles an avant-garde frat house, with the boys' dirty socks, food remnants, and even an empty fifth of Crown Royal strewn across the floor. When Hirata noticed me eyeing the empty liquor bottle, he quickly noted, "Um, Sol drank that." After all, a good friend gives credit (and blame) where it's deserved. Punch Gallery, 119 Prefontaine Pl. S., 621-1945, Free. Noon–5 p.m. and 9 p.m.–8 a.m. ERIKA HOBARTFRIDAY 3/20Theater: Do Sass BackParents just don't understand, yet they have all the power. But kids turn the tables in That Night Follows Day, a performance piece by English avant-gardist Tim Etchells based on interviews he did with Belgian schoolchildren—who then enacted their parental complaints and denunciations. Vancouver, B.C.'s Theatre Replacement is bringing the show—and its 17 performers, ages 8 to 14—to Seattle via train, as artistic directors James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto recently explained by phone. Of Etchells' scripted list of grievances, says Long of his young cast, "It didn't take a lot of explaining, because these kids have a real understanding of what these words are about—they're speaking to their mom, they're speaking to their grandmother, they're speaking to their teachers." Etchells, a parent himself, inverts the usual discourse of authority, in which elders talk down to youth. Now we're forced to sit and listen to them. Yamamoto says their performers "totally bought into the concept of the play, the overall idea of the play, which is that [power is] flipped." So did Vancouver moms and dads absorb any new parenting lessons from seeing their kids' onstage critique? "Not that they'd admit to," Long says with a laugh, adding that kids now quote lines from That Night to their parents. "And they do it to us, too." On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, $18. 8 p.m. (Also: 2 and 8 p.m. Sat.) BRIAN MILLERFilm: The Green Grass of YouthHarvard Beats Yale 29–29 relates how the undefeated 1968 Harvard football team met undefeated Yale and, trailing by 16 points with 42 seconds left in the game, scored twice to confound its archrival with a tie. Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty, then a Harvard undergrad, was an eyewitness to "The Game," as this Cambridge miracle was dubbed, and his account is enjoyably steeped in ambience and ambivalence. As interviewed by Rafferty, the Crimson are definitely more salt-of-the-earth—or at least less preppy—than the Bulldogs. Harvard lineman Tommy Lee Jones is on hand to intone the requisite '60s clichés with exquisite sanctimony, and a very young Meryl Streep makes an unexpected cameo, albeit in a photograph. The talking heads are intercut with The Game—an excellent way to watch it, especially as the first half consists of Yale crushing the vaunted Harvard defense. Yale draws a few penalties, calls a bizarre time-out, and fails to adjust for an onside kick, but it's a disputed instance of pass interference that cues the movie's Zapruder moment. Brian's Song, Jerry Maguire, and The Longest Yard notwithstanding, Rafferty's no-frills annotated replay is the best football movie I've ever seen: A particular day in history becomes a moment out of time. (Not rated, 105 minutes; runs through Thurs., March 26.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. J. HOBERMANSATURDAY 3/21Stage: You Bet Your LifeActor Frank Ferrante explains his fascination with Groucho Marx thusly: "I grew up a follow-the-rules boy in a Catholic school taught by nuns in Pasadena," he says by phone from California. "He [Marx] was the first Mr. Politically Incorrect. He was a brash wise guy who took swipes at anybody in power. I found his comedy exhilarating." So much so that Ferrante has spent the past 24 years portraying Groucho, most notably in his touring show An Evening With Groucho. In this fast-paced 90-minute performance, he employs one-liners, anecdotes, songs, and improv to bring to life an unnervingly authentic Groucho. (Of course, Ferrante is no stranger to ad-libbing, being a regular with Teatro ZinZanni.) Ferrante warns that he, as Groucho was during his pre-Hollywood years on the vaudeville stage, is relentless when it comes to picking on audience members: "The people in the front row are the ones I mess with most. Someone walking in late or nodding off, even sneezing...nobody's off-limits." Northshore Performing Arts Center, 18125 92nd Ave. N.E., Bothell, 425-489-6015, $15–$24. 8 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTVisual Arts: The FuriesThough Portland painter Gregory Grenon's new show (through March 29) has been labeled "Calm Interior/Raging Storm," a better slogan for these 20-odd female portraits would be "Hot, Scary Chicks I'm Glad Not to Date." Seriously, these women are frightening. Yet also alluring in a beautugliful kind of way. Using old doors and windows (and even a porthole), Grenon applies bold oil hues to glass. His subjects seem to glow from within, like they've got embers where their hearts should be. These are studies in luminous malice, yet rendered without misogyny. Are these women harpies or muses? Maybe a little of both. Haughty, poised, defiant, certainly not the weaker sex—these figures compel our gaze, yet don't appear too happy about their power. And if you should ever meet one in a bar, buy her a drink first, then run. Traver Gallery, 110 Union St., Suite 200, 587-6501, Free. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSUNDAY 3/22Music: Scruffy TroubadoursLast fall, crusty French pop duo Herman Dune played Seattle for the first time in six years. That Triple Door gig was a far cry from my first encounter with the band—in the dank, smoky basement of a Parisian dive bar, Le Popin, where this bearded, balding guy (David-Ivar) strummed a battered guitar. Accompanied by Neman on bongos, he sang quirky, poignant songs about the usual things—failed relationships, travel, accidentally stepping on his favorite album (Sticky Fingers). Though the band's associated with the New York City anti-folk scene, it sounded like a French-accented, lo-fi cross between Jonathan Richman and David Berman. And like everyone else at Le Popin, I was completely enchanted. Herman Dune's new album, Next Year in Zion, contains the same unusual, unusually moving manner of songwriting, now filled out with a sassy horn section. Tonight, however, David-Ivar and Neman will perform the usual way: alone, letting the songwriting speak for itself. Jack Lewis and Angelo Spencer open. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. $10 (21 and over). 8 p.m. SARA BRICKNEROrthography: S-U-S-P-E-N-S-E-F-U-LIt's hard to think of any low-tech, old-school American institution less likely to have caught pop-culture attention than the spelling bee—yet it has, as the subject of a rash of recent films, a Broadway musical, even adult spinoffs. (In the recent monthly bees at Re-bar, I managed to do a bit worse each season.) Docs like Spellbound do a fine job of recreating a bee's drama, though to really feel the competition's agonizing intensity—one wrong letter and you're heading home—you should see it live. Sixty kids from King and Snohomish County schools will meet in today's regional bee, a feeder for the venerable Scripps National Spelling Bee, launched in 1925. The last speller standing will go to Washington, D.C., in May to vie against other teen savants, where only words like succedaneum, autochthonous, and xanthosis will stand between them and victory. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, Free. 1 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

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