The Weekly Wire: The Week’s Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 12/16Books: Messenger in a BottleTwo decades after his death in Port Angeles, Raymond Carver (1938–88) is being reassessed with his unabridged, original draft stories and a new biography. His belated success in the '70s stamped an entire generation of American writers in his minimalist mode. Fine—write as he wrote, but don't live as he lived. In Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life (Scribner, $35), Carol Sklenicka relates how Carver was already a mean drunk with a teen bride and two small children by the time he left Yakima to seek his fortune with a typewriter. It was a long time—and many bottles—coming. His second wife, Northwest poet Tess Gallagher, had the good fortune to arrive with the sobriety and good reviews, making him considerably easier to live with. Others can debate how much credit editor Gordon Lish deserves for pruning Carver's prose into his signature style. Some may prefer the long versions in the Library of America's new Raymond Carver: Collected Stories (I favor the Lish reductions). But few would've preferred to meet the man during his tumultuous first 40 years instead of the calm last 10. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERBooks/Politics: The Conservative CougarLong before Ann Coulter became the poster girl of modern conservatism, an equally strong-willed and outspoken lioness held sway over the GOP. The subject of Jennifer Burns' new biography Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford, $27.95) might not have done so well on cable TV, but she wrote best-sellers that any Beltway pundit would envy today. And Rand's novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still studied by devotees of her extremely libertarian, anti-herd philosophy. Her acolytes, Alan Greenspan famously among them, still occupy posts in think tanks and Republican staff offices. Yet the Russian Jewish immigrant (1905–82) was no ally of the uptight Christian right; she was a movie-mad youth whose "Objectivist" credo owes much to Hollywood formula. (Inside each of us, you see, is a great hero trying to escape the shackles of the mediocre society around us; it's like Plato's allegory of the cave crossed with The Matrix.) And Rand was also a cougar who didn't let marriage prevent her from pursuing and bedding younger men. Rowr! Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 12/17Visual Arts: Imaginary EvidenceIt's hard to disprove a negative, and local artist Eugene Parnell couches his show "Bigfoot Is Probably Real" with uncertainty and Northwest myth. In fact, he invites you to provide the evidence that Sasquatch may yet roam the forest. Oversized, strap-on wooden feet, like giant sandals, allow visitors to lay fresh tracks on an earthen bed on the gallery floor. An audio station and note-card testimonials describe Bigfoot sightings, real or imaginary. There's even a fright room, where terrifying encounters may or may not take place. A sculptor and taxidermist, Parnell practices what's sometimes called, with tongue in cheek, cryptozoology—the science of creatures that never existed but should have. Yet he's also a serious folklorist, a curator of tall tales we'd like to be true. The facts and the forensics may not be true, but that's because we don't want conclusive proof. Mythology should remain murky, like a distant, shaggy figure glimpsed in the woods. (Through Dec. 31.) Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Pl. S., 296-8674, Free. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFRIDAY 12/18Film: "You Don't Smell Like Santa!"In the surprise 2003 Christmas hit Elf, Will Ferrell embraces the cutesy confection of its plot. As Santa Claus doles out presents at an orphanage, a wee human crawls into his sack of toys, winds up at the North Pole, and is subsequently raised as an elf. Eight zillion sight gags constitute the first act, in which a giant-sized Ferrell bangs his head into low ceilings, squats on miniature crappers, and botches even the most remedial toy-making duties. Ferrell finally discovers he's the bastard son of James Caan, now a distant, terse Manhattan publishing-house exec. Innocent, syrup-swilling Ferrell then goes to big, bad NYC, meets Zooey Deschanel, and hilarity often ensues. So frantic, off-the-cuff, and self-aware in his ad-libs, Ferrell owns the movie the way Santa owns Christmas. (Directed by Jon Favreau, rated G, 97 minutes, continues through Wed.) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684,, $6. 7 p.m. ANDREW BONAZELLISATURDAY 12/19Paleontology: The Upside of ExtinctionThe good thing about massive species extinction is all the cool bones left behind, as Denver paleontologist Kirk Johnson will show in his selections for Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway, which also includes colorful illustrations by Alaska artist Ray Troll. Both will attend today's exhibit opening and join Burke curator Elizabeth Nesbitt in a discussion of all things dead and fossilized. Your kids will love it. Troll's artwork is based on the 5,000-mile fossil-hunting road trip he took with Seattle native Johnson through the American West. Here in Washington, they found the remnants of giant mastodons and mammoths, ferns as tall as telephone poles, petrified forests, ground-dwelling birds the size of Smart Cars, and something known as "Archaeotherium, the Killer Pig," whose fearsome reputation speaks for itself. (Through May 31.) Burke Museum, N.E. 45th St. & 17th Ave. N.E., 543-5590, $6–$9.50. 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. T. BONDStage: Weather ResistantLast December, with the city crippled by a snowstorm and professional theater companies postponing shows left and right, Blanchet High School staged its shrewdly economical A Christmas Carol, The Musical for six performances that drew substantial audiences to the Moore (in light of the circumstances, anyway). Seattle Theatre Group, which books the hall, was impressed. So STG program director Jason Ferguson called Mo Mershon, the head of Blanchet's theater department, and told her, "Why don't we look at doing a partnership? I can offer it to our subscribers and give it more exposure. It deserves it." It's like High School Musical, only true! Such a co-production may be commonplace in some circles, but it's virtually unheard of for the likes of Blanchet, even in an age when some high-school musicals boast budgets on par with the pros. With songs by Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast), the 1994 Dickens-based show is a proven draw, snow or no snow. The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 877-787-4849, $18–$23. 2 and 7 p.m. (Repeats Sunday.) MIKE SEELYBooze: Just Say No to NogThe prospect of family visits, shopping, and planning holiday events can be overwhelming this time of year, which is why local humorist and tippler Kerry Colburn has authored Good Drinks for Bad Days: Holiday Edition (Sasquatch, $12.95). In it, she pairs seasonal disasters, like inappropriate office-party hookups, with the proper remedy—e.g., the "What the Hell" gin martini, infused with apricot brandy. (More than one of those, and you may find yourself making out with your boss.) And don't worry if you blow your shopping budget on booze this evening, since Colburn is joined by Seattle wordsmith Jennifer Worick (Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style), who'll show you how to stitch and improvise affordable, handmade gifts. Then order another round. Hotel 1000, 1000 First Ave, 957-1000, Free (21 and over, no-host bar). 4 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTUESDAY 12/22Visual Arts: Layer by Layer by LayerIn ordinary woodcuts, you print the separate layers of color from different blocks. In the exquisite, intricate landscapes by Siemen Dijkstra and Gordon Mortensen (both solo artists), they employ the reduction woodcut method. This means one block and much whittling, as the surface is carved a little deeper for each successive layer of color. And when you're done, you can't make any more prints; the block is finished. In some of his prints, California-based Mortensen made 60 (!) separate reductions, creating an almost photographic level of detail and color separation—yet all created by hand. Dijkstra, a younger Dutch artist, documents the changing seasons and low European light of his homeland. The work of both is marvelously tactile and textured. And the forest scenes remind you from whence they came. (Through Jan. 30.) Davidson Galleries, 313 Occidental Ave. S., 624-7684, Free. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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