The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 11/25Photography: Emptied RoomIn a gallery that's about to close after a 22-year run, the images by local photographer Michael Van Horn are appropriately empty and forlorn. There are traces of people who've left or might re-enter the frame; their handiwork includes Post-It Notes affixed to a parked car's windshield, a bit of directional tape left on the ground, a glowing sign facing a vacant parking lot where no one will read its message. There's an airless mood of melancholy to these large color prints. Study them too long and you feel as though the gallery space around you has been emptied of people, too, like a void facing a void through a frame. Also on display, work by fellow staff members of the UW Photomedia Program: Paul Berger, Rebecca Cummins, and Ellen Garvens. (Through Dec. 5.) Benham Gallery, 1216 First Ave., 622-2480, Free. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFRIDAY 11/27Stage: Ghost StoriesACT launched a new production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in 1976, coincidentally Seattle Weekly's founding year. Our critic William Dunlop then called it "largely a vehicle for John Gilbert," one that might be "continually revised and readjusted" to become an annual event. That was 33 years ago, and the play is still going strong. Like PNB's Nutcracker, it's a family favorite and holiday cash cow that helps float the theater for the rest of the year. To be sure, Gregory Falls' adaptation has had tweaks and trims over the decades, and changing times help give the play new topicality. In Reagan's '80s and the booming late '90s, Scrooge was like one of those arrogant tech barons and dot-com millionaires. During today's recession, we can all identify with humble Bob Cratchit, terrified of losing his job. And what about universal health care for Tiny Tim? Opening night, Kurt Beattie returns after a decade to the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge, alternating with R. Hamilton Wright; both are credited as the show's co-directors. (Through Dec. 27.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, $22–$47. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERDance: Winter MusicTchaikovsky was not enthusiastic about his commission to write music for Nutcracker, which Pacific Northwest Ballet is staging for the 26th holiday season in a row. In 1891, ballet composers were expected to turn out disposable oom-pah fluff, and Tchaikovsky's 1877 Swan Lake music had been criticized, essentially, for being too interesting. Nor did it help that choreographer Marius Petipa gave him a pages-long, rigidly specific scenario—16 bars of this, please, now 64 of that. But Tchaikovsky did relish the chance to scoop rival composers by using a beguiling instrument that had just been invented in Paris: the celesta, basically a glockenspiel played by a piano keyboard, which created a sensation in the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." The ballet's fairy-tale setting let him put his skill at orchestral color to magical use. And when he conducted eight of his dances, the "Nutcracker Suite," at a symphony concert months before the ballet's premiere, they proved hugely popular (as they did a half-century later in Fantasia). But my favorite Nutcracker number is the pas de deux, in which Tchaikovsky was able to work up a simple descending scale into a full-on orchestral orgasm. And my favorite Tchaikovsky spoof: Beatles producer George Martin, realizing that the opening strain of "All My Loving" is Tchaikovsky's pas de deux upside-down, arranged the song, hilariously, in Nutcracker style for Magical Mystery Tour. (Through Dec. 30.) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 441-2424, $24–$123. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTFilm: Girls on the VergeCult movies should be mistakes, not intentional. In his 1977 feature debut, there's no indication that Nobuhiko Obayashi meant for House to appear—three decades later, to non-Japanese viewers—completely insane. But it is: batshit, Technicolor, fairy-tale-meets-softcore-porn insane. Seven teenage schoolgirls visit a creepy old mansion inhabited by the spinster aunt of heroine Gorgeous (all the girls are similarly type-named); there they begin to disappear Ten Little Indians–style. But who's killing whom, and why, are the least interesting questions about this effects-saturated dreamscape. Gorgeous is in love with her dashing father and despises his evil fiancée (whose hair and dress are permanently aflutter with a wind machine). Her schoolmates have a crush on their teacher, and her aunt is still pining for a soldier who died in WWII. All that thwarted love leads to flying heads, flashbacks, severed limbs, a ravenous piano, a demonic cat, and a tidal wave of blood. Obayashi crams every scene of House with giddy, gaudy visual excess; it's like Douglas Sirk on acid. (Through Wednesday.) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, $6. 7 and 9:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSATURDAY 11/28Football: Crapple CupIn spite of their dramatic early-season victory over then-highly-ranked USC, the UW Huskies are 3–7, eighth in the Pac-10, and out of bowl contention. Meanwhile, the WSU Cougars are 1–10, winless in the Pac-10, and causing many to wonder why they don't join the likes of Idaho in the Big Sky Conference. Sound familiar, other than the beating-USC part? It should. Despite a healthy Jake Locker and the off-season acquisition of two of the highest-paid employees on the state payroll, head coach Steve Sarkisian and pro-wrestler-esque defensive coordinator Nick Holt, the Huskies have managed to continue their decade-long streak of misery. Sure, were it not for a couple of heartbreaking losses to Notre Dame and UCLA, the Dawgs would have as many wins as losses, and the season might be considered a success. But coffee is for closers, and Locker, Sark, and Holt are looking pretty sleepy right now. The annual Apple Cup duel with the atrocious Cougs should not be the biggest game you play after Thanksgiving, guys. At least the frat parties should be fun afterwards. Husky Stadium, 3800 Montlake Blvd., 543-2246, $70. (But seriously, you should be able to score tickets for about half that, if not for free, by trolling the tailgate lots shortly before kickoff and flirting with drunks.) 3:30 p.m. MIKE SEELYMONDAY 11/30Music/Comedy: Plastic Trees and Spiked CiderLike a lot of people, my opinion of the holiday season teeters between fondness and revulsion. Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart had me positively giddy that Christmas was around the corner. Then I went to Best Buy last week and wished Jesus had never been born. Judith Owen and Harry Shearer know the feeling. For the past few years, the married music/comedy duo has led holiday sing-alongs that celebrate both the warmth and the awfulness of the season. There could hardly be a better pairing for this: British-born Owen possesses equal parts wit and musicality—imagine a female Randy Newman, only much prettier—while Shearer, famed for This Is Spinal Tap and his voices on The Simpsons, is a rare breed of funnyman—intelligent, hilarious, creative, and musically gifted. (Lucky bastard.) In their hands, certain holiday songs are treated tenderly, others satirically. And as at any good Christmas gathering, you in the audience will be forced to join in, like it or not. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, $30. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN J. BARRStage/Television: Baltimore's FinestFor Seattle fans of HBO's brilliant crime series The Wire, a tutorial from writer Richard Price is like having Obama campaign manager David Axelrod come talk politics. A novelist (Clockers) and screenwriter (The Color of Money), Price didn't create The Wire, but he wrote some of its best episodes, including season three's "All Due Respect," which he'll screen and discuss tonight. To refresh your memory, Officer Ken Dozerman (Rick Otto) gets shot, which leads to a discussion about whether heroin should be legalized. It's not such a preposterous notion coming from such a complex and nuanced show. Or from a writer who's freely copped to his '80s cocaine habit. He sees both sides of the issues, with sympathy for the flawed Baltimore cops and the occasionally righteous dealers. Then on Tuesday, presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures, Price will give a talk called "True Bones," on the autobiographical roots of his fiction, with stops in the Bronx and the Lower East Side. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $7. 7:30 p.m. Also: Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., 621-2230, $25–$70. 7:30 p.m. Tues., Dec. 1. LAURA ONSTOTFilm: Both Sides of the BorderThe Berlin Wall came down a year after Wings of Desire opened in Seattle, when our Roger Downey wrote that Bruno Ganz and his angelic cohort were "well-disposed to suffering humanity, although more as observers than helpers, giving new heart to someone who's open to their influence, but either unable or unwilling to save someone already over the lip of despair." So, too, was Germany divided at the time, and Wim Wenders' acclaimed film is thus an apt choice to begin the "Divided Cinema" retrospective of Cold War movies from the DDR and GDR. Five other titles and two symposia are also part of the series, which runs through December 16. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 p.m. (Repeats Tues.) BRIAN MILLER

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