The Weekly Wire: This Week’s Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 4/22Music: Middle ManThe son of literary lion Larry McMurtry, James McMurtry hails from Texas, and rarely leaves. If you're a James McMurtry fan who lives in or around Austin, you might catch 100 gigs a year. If you're a James McMurtry fan who lives anywhere but in or around Austin, you might catch him once every 100 years. This is fitting, as McMurtry is one of those rare artists whose work is so grounded in a particular region that when he leaves it's as though the land he's invaded has been given a jolt of electroshock therapy. McMurtry is a lanky, hairy Texan who sings the songs you'd expect to hear coming from a lanky, hairy Texan. His voice is deep and quivering, his rhythms rollicking, his guitars fuzzy, his lyrics poignant and textured. He's a macho man who doesn't take himself too seriously, and a yellow-dog Democrat to boot. He makes music for life's forgotten truck drivers, welders, and mill workers, fighting to hold onto a slice of blue-collar Americana that becomes ever more elusive every day. He is to Texas what Springsteen is to Jersey or Mellencamp is to Indiana, with a sliver of the fame and twice the talent. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. $15 (21 and over). 8 p.m. (Also Thurs., April 23.) MIKE SEELYTHURSDAY 4/23Stage: Point/CounterpointIn a way, the story of Georges Seurat and the creation of his pointillist masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is the ideal subject for Stephen Sondheim. Not because of his wry, un-gooey sensibility or his lyric-writing gift, but because of his musical style. As Seurat did with specks of paint, Sondheim likes to build big things out of lots of little ones. So many of his songs are accretions of pithy, cellular phrases—even his most popular slow ballad, "Send In the Clowns": "Isn't it rich?" [rest, rest] "Are we a pair?" [rest, rest] (The song was tailored specially for Glynis Johns in A Little Night Music; not a formally-trained singer, breath control, and thus long arching melodies, were not her strong suits.) Sondheim's patter songs, too, are rat-a-tat chains of do-zens-of-ti-ny-lit-tle-pin-prick-syl-la-bles—"Bit by bit, putting it together," as his title character sings in Sunday in the Park With George, his luminously cerebral 1984 fantasy, with James Lapine's book, on the origin of La Grande Jatte and the making of art. In Act 1, Georges' work gets between him and his mistress Dot. In Act 2, another George, Dot's great-grandson, navigates the art world of the '80s. In the 5th Avenue Theatre's production, opening tonight and running through May 10, computer projections will help recreate the painting in an effect that's had critics gushing. 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900, $22–$91. 8 p.m. (not 7:30). GAVIN BORCHERTFilm: The Chosen MoviesBesides Obama's recent seder in the White House, what other good news for the Jews do we have to report? There's the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, which runs through Sunday, May 3 at several venues. The fest opens tonight with a Tom Douglas gala at the Palace Ballroom, preceding The Little Traitor (based on an Amos Oz novel). Set in 1947 Palestine, where British rule is about to end, it's a gentle, nostalgic account of a bookish boy's friendship with an English soldier (Alfred Molina, always a treat). Some two dozen other titles are on the schedule (see, which also returns a few favorites from SIFF last year; in the festival's second week, look for Stalags (about 1960s concentration-camp fetish porn!) and Strangers (a love story largely improvised and shot on the streets of Paris during the 2006 World Cup). This week there's also a Seattle Jewish Chorale performance (6 p.m. Wed., Cinerama) and a live comedy night featuring Cory Kahaney (5 p.m. Sun., Cinerama). Related: goy-turned-Jew comic Yisrael Campbell tells jokes for a living in the documentary Circumcise Me (1 p.m. Sun., Cinerama); he comes across as something like the Orthodox Lewis Black. Like countless Jewish comedians before him, he says that jokes "are a valid way of dealing with pain." On which subject, he should meet my wife. Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., 800-838-3006. $50 (most other screenings $8–$11). 5:30 p.m. (cocktails at Palace Ballroom) and 8 p.m. (movie). BRIAN MILLERFRIDAY 4/24Film: Holy FoolishnessIn his new Bird Song (through Thursday), Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra makes a deliberately clumsy pageant from the Bible story of the three kings who journeyed across the desert and sea to salute the baby Jesus. Shot in rich, almost gorgeous black-and-white, Bird Song is less about the gifts of the magi than the play of light over barren, nearly lunar landscapes. Wrapped in bedsheets and wearing pasty crowns, the three kings occasionally recall the Three Stooges. After a while Serra shifts his attention to the object of their quest: Mary (Victòria Aragonés) and Joseph (film critic Mark Peranson, whose dryly comic accompanying documentary on the project, Waiting for Sancho, runs through Sunday at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m.). Holed up in the middle of a barren, rocky nowhere, Mary's holding a bleating lamb; Joseph's mumbling in broken Hebrew. Their baby is unseen but referred to: "He peed on me," Mary remarks. Throughout, Serra remains an intractable practitioner of droll minimalism. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. J. HOBERMANSATURDAY 4/25Visual Arts: Pasta-MaticTwo years ago, Corin Hewitt locked himself inside a cramped, cluttered room-within-a-gallery at Portland's Small A Projects. He had a refrigerator, stove, groceries, various cooking implements, several cameras, and images of Native American baskets to copy (along with some Goodwill wicker as well). The peculiar culinary results are documented in "Weavings: Performance #2" (through October 18), dozens of photographs jumbled on the walls. You can scan them in any particular order, or no order at all. His "pasta baskets" were created via "intention, accident, and improvisation," said Hewitt during a recent Seattle visit. In his small, ad-hoc kitchen space, not unlike a darkroom, cooking became an analogy to photography—the materials changed with time, melted, shifted in form. Snapshots of his source materials include frozen blocks of peas and blueberries gradually thawing on the counter. Elsewhere, fruit gently decays. Photography, like cooking, is a durational process—how long you open the aperture, how long you process the negative, how long you boil the fettuccini. Hewitt's images are all essentially documentary still lifes that explore the boundary between "the perishable versus the inert." One day, when fresh, you can eat that woven tricolor pasta. The next, when dried out, you can photograph it. And on the third, it's ready for the trash—or the gallery. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $15. 10 a.m–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSoccer: Mrs. Hobart-LjungbergUntil recently, I only knew the names of two soccer players: David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the game has gotten a lot more interesting for me now that a former Calvin Klein underwear model (!) is playing for the Seattle Sounders FC. I'm madly in love with Freddie Ljungberg. That smoldering stare, the adorable Swedish accent, the sexy tattoo of a panther climbing up his torso...sigh. I've been told that he's also the former captain of his home country's national soccer team and a pretty decent player. Talk about ideal boyfriend/husband material! At 5'9", Freddie is a little shorter than the guys I usually go for, but I'm willing to make an exception for an athlete who trumps both Becks and Ronaldo in hotness. I love you, Freddie! Call me! Date me! Marry me! (Oh...and go, Sounders! Tonight's opponent is the San Jose Earthquakes—not hot at all.) Qwest Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 682-2800, $20–$85. 7:30 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTDance: Merce and MoreSpectrum Dance Theater made a perfect choice when it added Merce Cunningham to this"Icono-Clan" program. The 90-year-old choreographer has been breaking rules since the beginning of his career, as a student at what was then the Cornish School. An early and fervent convert to chance operations and the chaos we find in the natural world, his radical movement and staging choices perplexed—and eventually enchanted—audiences around the world. More than any other artist, Cunningham opened our eyes to the vast possibilities of movement in time and space. Spectrum will perform his Landrover from 1972—the beginning of the dance boom in the U.S. and a prolific period in Cunningham's development. Works by Gus Solomons, Jr., who danced with Cunningham before striking out on his own as a dance maker, and Spectrum director Donald Byrd, who did the same with Solomons' troupe, fill out the bill, like a family tree of outliers. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510, $15–$29.50. 7 p.m. (Also 5 p.m. Sunday.) SANDRA KURTZMONDAY 4/27Books: Cruel SpringYes, it's been 10 years since Colorado teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot their way into the national consciousness. Fifteen died and several were critically wounded in the April 22 attack recounted in Columbine (Twelve, $26.99). Author Dave Cullen was a Denver journalist who followed the original story, then spent years delving into the case files and police records. The comprehensively reported Columbine is narrative nonfiction in the tradition of In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song, and Cullen's chief news development here is to reveal the stunning incompetence (and subsequent lies) of the local sheriff's department, which had plenty of prior cause, and citizen complaints, to be monitoring the two future killers. (Both were already in the criminal-justice system for theft; and Harris essentially broadcast his plan in advance on the Web.) Plenty of outcast teen males, and even some well-adjusted ones, have violent fantasies. What pushed this duo past the tipping point? Cullen calls Harris a full-blown psychopath, yet Harris' strict family won't be interviewed; Klebold was just a weak follower. Like Leopold and Loeb before them, these youths had a fascination with Nietzsche and delusions of grandeur; and the so-called "Trench Coat Mafia" never in fact existed. Cullen scrupulously interpolates the interrupted lives of students, teachers, and lawmen, to prevent the murderers from completely dominating the book. Yet look at their legacy: It's 10 years later, Cullen reminds us, and the nation's gun laws are no different. Ten years later, and there have since been 80 (!) school shootings in the U.S. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow