The Wire: This Week’s Notable Events

Thursday 6/11Visual Arts: Tiny and TawdryJonah Samson was surprised when the folks at G. Gibson Gallery considered posting a warning to visitors about the sexual imagery in his work. "I never thought of it as being offensive in any way," he tells me over the phone from Vancouver, B.C. "But there are so many layers to the way society reacts to sex." Samson assembles and paints miniature sets that he then photographs. His playful new series, "Pleasantville," depicts tiny figurines having raunchier sex than Gene Simmons in his heyday. In Porn Set, for example, a well-manicured lawn is taken over by a man directing a couple to have sex atop a car. Samson—a family doctor by day—wouldn't necessarily decorate his office with these dioramas, but he thinks they're easier for viewers to accept because they don't involve actual people. "Most of these figures are only an inch tall, so it looks funny if they're having sex," he says. "But we draw strange lines between what's entertaining and what's controversial. I'm not sure people would laugh if this were done on a larger scale." Also included in the group show, "View Master," are photographs by Lori Nix and Grace Westron (through July 11). Oh, and there's no advisory about the small sexual content. G. Gibson Gallery, 300 S. Washington St., 587-4033, Free. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTFriday 6/12SIFF: Writer, Beware!Barbet Schroeder delivers a delicious genre movie rooted in Japanese crime fiction. The first 10 minutes of Inju, the Beast in the Shadow are a stand-alone distillation of such books—rich in blood, revenge, and vile villains committing unspeakable acts. After that gruesome treat, we meet smug French crime writer Alex (Benoît Magimel), who fancies himself an expert on the Japanese authors who've influenced him. Traveling to Japan with his new best seller, he tries to meet a reclusive demon author who's never appeared in public. Naturally the mysterious master resents the usurper, who falls for a lovely teahouse girl (Lika Minamoto) with a mysterious scar on her back and a taste for kinky sex. (Conveniently, she speaks French; though some dialogue's in English, too.) To better understand the sensei's twisted mix of pleasure and pain, Tamao tells Alex, "you need first-hand experience." And this being a film by Schroeder (Single White Female, Reversal of Fortune), that means S&M, which only draws Alex deeper into his obsessions. This is the kind of movie that openly and enjoyably winks at its conventions, where the know-it-all Alex can declare that his rival has "blurred the line between fiction and reality!" Oh, really? By the time Alex reconsiders whose story he's in—well, let's just say that the pen can be a fatal instrument. Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., 324-9996, $8–$11. 4:15 p.m. BRIAN MILLERBooks/Zombies: Bloody EnglandIn his surprise bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk, $12.95), Seth Grahame-Smith's gory modification of the Jane Austen original, both men and women are judged as much by their social propriety as by their skill in the martial arts. With a wink and a skillfully wielded red pen, Grahame-Smith weaves B-movie horror camp into the source text, making the Bennet sisters not only the comeliest damsels in the countryside, but the deadliest as well. Studies with a Shaolin master in China help the sisters stay alive and vanquish their undead foes, who routinely stampede into the balls and social gatherings where Mrs. Bennet so hopes her daughters will find husbands. (Girls, wouldn't you like to put down your weapons and practice wifely submission?) But Elizabeth Bennet, the best warrior of the lot, isn't having any of that. Because surely as Mr. Darcy advances, so too, do the zombies. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7:30 p.m. (Also: University Book Store, 4 p.m. Sat.) SARA BRICKNERStage: Passport StampedeIn Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg is Jules Verne's 19th-century British superhero in possession of a curious superpower: the ability to overcome the inconveniences and impediments of travel. He can make tight connections without breaking a sweat. Like any good superhero, he comes equipped with character flaws (punctiliousness bordering on mania), a trusty sidekick (his loyal French servant Passepartout), and a nefarious foe (the bumbly but travel-thwarting Detective Fix). The five-actor cast deftly and comically renders no fewer than 34 multiethnic roles during Fogg's breathless, wager-driven blaze around the globe. As priggishly fearless Fogg, Ryan Childers is part Bond, part Tintin; his unwavering determination (and bribes) endear him to everyone he meets, including the lovely lady he (well, actually Passepartout) rescues from a flaming pyre in India. Chauvinism abounds and nobody escapes Verne's cultural jibing, but Fogg & Co.'s steamship and railroad journey results in a kind of maturity that jet-setters (and modern space tourists) rarely attain. (Through June 20.) Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., 781-9707, $10–$33. 8 p.m. MARGARET FRIEDMANSaturday 6/13Art Cars: Garage ShowEven during a recession, Bellevue is full of expensive cars—Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes, the occasional Ferrari. But nothing you'll see on the street resembles the jalopy New York artist Seth Kinmont is assembling as part of his residency (through July 3) at Open Satellite. Two exist only as models and sketches on the walls. The third is called Vis a Vis, and it's an electric-powered, self-propelled wooden buggy riding on cart wheels built by an Amish craftsman. (Passengers will sit facing one another, eye to eye, hence the name.) The trim is decorated with monetary and stock-table symbols—the kind your grandfather might've read during the '20s, before the Great Depression. "Vehicle" is the name of Kinmont's show, a term that can be understood in more than one sense: transport, certainly, but also a means of financial exchange, conveyance, or investment, and the container of a body headed to the grave. During a walk-through with the friendly California-raised artist, he cites influences ranging from The Wall Street Journal's financial pages to SoCal go-kart culture to the hot-rodders of Tom Wolfe. The unbuilt 100mp two-seater he calls "open casket. It's such a death trap—it's perfect." He also calls Vis a Vis a "hearse," and hopes to get a city permit to drive the vehicle around the block when it's completed, the interior to be lavishly upholstered in vintage materials. And unlike a Maserati, he explains, this electric car got him a $3,500 tax credit back in New York. See—good art pays dividends. Open Satellite, 989 112th Ave. N.E., 425-454-7355, Free. Noon–6 p.m. BRIAN MILLERClassical: Spiritual SoundsSeveral years ago, I auditioned for a local choir that performs English choral music from the time of Henry VIII. (My jaw dropped when the first season of The Tudors featured Thomas Tallis, one of the most talented composers of that era, as a recurring character.) The audition included a little sight-reading—specifically Arvo Pärt's The Woman With the Alabaster Box. For measures on end, the score requires you to hold the same note, then switch to a new one and hold that. Sight-reading isn't my strong suit, but my first thought on seeing the Pärt, rather than some trilling Handel piece, was "Cake!" It wasn't. Pärt, a living and active Estonian composer, uses the human voice in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance, but with a distinctly modern feel. The Renaissance Singers, conducted by countertenor Markdavin Obenza, are young and talented enough to pull off an entire evening of Pärt's work, which requires incredible vocal stamina. No warbling sopranos here—just pure tones that build to unexpected and wrenching climaxes. But the human voice won't be this evening's only instrument; the program also includes the Berliner Messe, with Matthew Piel playing Trinity's All Souls Memorial Organ. Trinity Episcopal Church, 609 Eighth Ave., 973-7528, $12–$17. 7:30 p.m. LAURA ONSTOTBooks/History: Boomtown PrideBefore Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, or even Boeing, there was the Klondike Gold Rush that began in 1897. And Seattle's port-town provisioning of the miners basically established this city. Alaska, in a sense, put us on the map. Thus the 1909 extravaganza documented in the photo-history Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Washington's First World's Fair (HistoryLink, $29.95) by Alan J. Stein and Paula Becker. Today they'll show and discuss images from extensive local archives at MoHaI and the UW—which incorporated much of the Olmsted Brothers' A-Y-P design into today's campus. The tourist rides, pseudo-educational displays, and international pavilions are all gone, of course. (My favorite: The Upside Down House.) But their spirit lives on in Seafair each year and in the Seattle Center remnants of the 1962 World's Fair. Before it was cool to scoff at growth (or worry about economic busts), Seattle was proud of its sudden boomtown prominence. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, Free. 2–4 p.m. BRIAN MILLERMonday 6/15Music: Kweller Goes CountryWhen Ben Kweller came charging onto the scene with his 2002 debut, Sha Sha, a light, listenable pop album rife with mainstream potential, no one predicted that the Texas-bred indie-pop kid would eventually come around to his country roots. It'd be easy to write off the twangy lilt of Kweller's fourth and latest record, Changing Horses, as the result of another indie-rock Johnny-come-lately taking an abrupt interest in Americana and fancying himself another Gram Parsons. Conor Oberst did it. Why not Ben Kweller? But listen to Changing Horses with an unbiased ear, and you'll be hard-pressed not to bounce along to this endearing interpretation of country conventions. Jones St. Station opens. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St. 324-8000, $18–$20 (all ages). 8 p.m. SARA BRICKNER

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