The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 3/24Books/Environment: Less Impact WomanThe phrase "viral video" usually inspires a shudder of revulsion (see: "Two Girls, One Cup"), but Seattle-raised environmentalist Annie Leonard scored a very different kind of hit with the 2007 YouTube short she's now expanded into a book. The Story of Stuff (Free Press, $26) is like the macroeconomic companion volume to Colin Beavan's No Impact Man: Rather than making herself the guinea pig in a living-with-less experiment, Leonard patiently explains why the rest of us are living with more. Meaning more than we need, more than we can afford, more than natural resources can support. Her video, a cheerfully animated takedown of the consumer cycle, has been used in classrooms, and her book now supplies the footnotes and supporting graphs. Still, the former Greenpeace activist doesn't present herself as an academic: The Story of Stuff is Leonard's friendly polemic against the excess waste and toxic by-products of our super-sized shopping habits. And her message is delivered without too much finger-wagging and guilt-mongering, which ought to further endear her to a hometown audience already converted to recycling, reusing, co-housing, and backyard chicken-raising. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 3/25Sports: Prelude to a Kick"YOU-CALL-THIS/M-L-S???" was the taunting chant from the Portland section at March 11's demoralizing charity soccer match at Qwest Field, which drew over 18,000 fans to stand in the rain to watch their Timbers (who won't join Major League Soccer until 2011) best our Seattle Sounders in a soggy canapé to the season formally opening tonight. One goal won them the game, though we outplayed them; it's just that all our shots seemed to land squarely, securely in their keeper's arms, as if a mother were tossing him her child. Since successful labor negotiations last weekend forestalled a strike, we'll be playing the Philadelphia Union, this season's expansion team, in their debut. Be sure to join the rowdy "March to the Match" at Occidental Park at 5 p.m. Qwest Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 877-657-4625, $25–$95. 6:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTDance: Look Both WaysAt most dance shows, the division of labor is pretty clear: The audience watches and the dancers perform. But in too, dancers Amy O'Neal and Ellie Sandstrom will be watching as well, their eyes on a video montage of 30-plus artists, including Reggie Watts, David Dorfman, and Corrie Befort. O'Neal is acting as choreographer and instigator here, but she's followed closely by Sandstrom, a dancer who was fierce long before Project Runway took the fangs out of the word. O'Neal's work combines funky moves with structural precision; Sandstrom is as sensual as she is scary. This is definitely one of those times when you come to see the artists, no matter what they're doing—or whom they're watching. (Through Sat.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $12–$15. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZFRIDAY 3/26Comedy: Level HeadedWyatt Cenac has no use for foolishness, no cause for raised voice or bugging eyes, no need to yell punch lines about bitches this, hos that. He doesn't really seem upset about anything, which is part of his sleepy, sneaky charm. He'd been kicking around the comedy circuit for years (writing for King of the Hill, among other credits) before landing a prime perch on The Daily Show two years ago. (Brought on as a political correspondent, he complained about the endless 2008 campaign, "How does something this dull not get canceled?") Even when dispatched to cover Tea Party rallies or the financial crisis, he doesn't get too riled up. His attitude is one of droll, if misplaced, concern. Sure, some credit-card companies are jacking up their rates on distressed consumers; but, Cenac sympathetically reasons, "Bank of America has a sick child, too. Its name is Merrill Lynch." He's droll, he's funny, and he even showed a romantic side in the recent indie Medicine for Melancholy. Just don't expect him to get too excited about his own success. (Through Sat.) Parlor Live Comedy Club, 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Suite 300, Bellevue, 425-289-7000, $25–$35. 7:30 & 10:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFestivals: House of BounceNo, it's not too soon to start feeling sad and nostalgic about the Fun Forest, which will remain for the duration of the annual Whirligig! festival, but not much longer. (The Chihuly Museum we'll worry about next year, if it gets built.) But never mind the scourge of overpriced glass—Whirligig! is for kids, with activities and events for toddlers up to preteens. Face painting, clowns, and crafts are offered; and the rides range from super-sized inflatable slides (for older children) to a gentler, cordoned-off area in the Center House for those age 3 and under. (Behold: The House of Bounce!) Tickets are sold a la carte or as an all-day pass, and the prices are very family-friendly. What you spend on food is a different matter, and admission is separate for the monorail, Pacific Science Center, Children's Museum, Space Needle, and (sniff) Fun Forest. (Through April 11.) Seattle Center, 684-7200, $1.50–$7.50. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. T. BONDSATURDAY 3/27Radio: Drawing Blood in the HeartlandMore Bill Maher than Norman Rockwell, Garrison Keillor can poke fun at liberal institutions (food co-ops, say, or our multiculti-driven squeamishness about Christmas) as blithely as he passionately upholds its ideals. Those he calls "the politics of kindness" in his inspiring breviary Homegrown Democrat, copies of which all my nieces and nephews—all inarguably above average—are going to get as they reach voting age. (Two of them are being brought up in Keillor's hometown, Anoka, Minn., currently represented in Congress by the freakishly paranoid Rep. Michele Bachmann. Go figure.) He may be disdained by the right, but for real Keillor-loathing, you have to look to the amusingly unhinged left, which simply cannot tolerate being satirized. But he's actually more pointed in "The Old Scout," his column, than on his A Prairie Home Companion radio show (in its 36th season), which begins a two-Saturday stand of live broadcasts from Seattle this afternoon. Brandi Carlile is this week's musical guest, Nellie McKay next week's; they join the usual mix of music, comedy, and news from Lake Wobegon. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 1-877-784-4849, $28–$82. 2:45 p.m. (Repeats Sat., April 3.) GAVIN BORCHERTSUNDAY 3/28Stage: Avian Socialism"Folk and Literary Fairy Tales" set the theme for this edition of Short Stories Live, directed by Kurt Beattie and performed by a roster of his ACT talent. On the traditional side of the menu are three works by the Brothers Grimm. On the literary side is "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde, an 1888 parable that has a migratory swallow help a benevolent statue redistribute wealth in a town riven with economic inequality. (Beneath his witty, pleasure-seeking persona, Wilde was a committed socialist.) Covered with gilt and jewels, the statue asks the swallow to fly out and survey the once-happy town he once ruled. At each report of suffering, he commands the bird to pluck out a ruby, or peel away a gold leaf, to aid those in need. But their philanthropy comes at a cost: The tired, dutiful swallow needs to winter in Egypt to survive, and the statuary prince is soon stripped of all ornament. Down below, selfish civic leaders complain "How shabby the Happy Prince looks!" and—note the Wildean irony—"As he is no longer beautiful, he is no longer useful." So how does the story end? Is altruism rewarded or punished? You'll have to go to find out. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $10–$15. 4 p.m. T. BONDMONDAY 3/29Visual Arts: Treasure CoveUp on the eighth floor, hidden by a wonderful bent-metal screen by Glen Alps, the library is showcasing other items from its Northwest Art Collection; and the small alcove would be packed with visitors if it were located in the Tashiro Kaplan Building. On view are one sculpture and a dozen-plus paintings, all of them good. There's a lovely little coastal landscape from Kenneth Callahan, painted in oil in 1943 and strongly suggestive of the San Juans. Nearby is a charcoal study of a woman's head that Mark Tobey executed as a demonstration during a series of 1948 library lectures; more polished is one of his signature orange suns (from 1961), fog-shrouded and diffuse, cold beneath its crackling gray surface. Paul Horiuchi's Thrust Fault (1960) is no less emblematic: a paper collage of torn, granite-shaded panels that becomes a rockslide in thinnest relief. It's also nice to be reminded that Doris Totten Chase was a painter before she turned to sculpture and video. Less well-known are the traditional woodcuts of Chinese-born Fay Chong; his simple Drydocked manages to suggest fishing communities on both sides of the Pacific. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, Free. 10 a.m.–8 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTUESDAY 3/30Film/Ventriloquism: One-Man ConversationsA documentary about ventriloquists—or "vents," as those in the trade call themselves—sounds like a Christopher Guest mockumentary, a put-on. But anyone with a memory extending back to '50s or '60s TV programming, and later the Johnny Carson show, and still later Soap, will find the documentary I'm No Dummy unexpectedly fascinating. On the '70s sitcom parody Soap, for instance, that possibly insane blonde guy with the dummy he couldn't control is Jay Johnson, who recently earned a Tony Award for his stage act. He and other present masters of the craft are knowledgeable interviewees, with a strong personal connection to the early TV pioneers. (Old television clips, including the famous Señor Wences, are amazing.) The circle of vents is small and tight-knit, and also likely shrinking. After the form graduated from vaudeville to nightclubs to early TV networks (which needed cheap programming), ventriloquism appears to be receding to regional theaters and Branson, Missouri. If not quite a lost art today, in a few more decades I'm No Dummy may serve as a eulogy for ventriloquism. But to prove the skill isn't dead yet, Tom Noddy (and his dummy) will perform before the screening. SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, $8–$10. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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