Books: Brother, Can You Spare a Tax Break?
Though he lives near the Beltway, What's the Matter With Kansas? author Thomas Frank is more than passingly familiar with our mossy corner of the country. In his new book, Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right (Metropolitan, $25), he cites local Tea Party activist Keli Carender's "Take my money!" assault on congressman Norm Dicks three years back, a YouTube moment that signaled an abrupt shift in GOP tactics. After the Republicans' sweeping 2008 electoral losses, Frank argues, the party adapted an aggrieved tone of "market populism"—as if it were Wall Street bankers, not Tom Joad, being driven out of the Dust Bowl. Excess government, not deregulation, was suddenly the cause of the financial crash. He describes former congressman Brian Baird being shouted down as a Nazi at another Tea Party ambush (one reason, perhaps, Baird declined to run again). And later, while researching this book, Frank finds himself up in Port Townsend, pondering how the term "socialist" has been redefined to mean anyone who can't afford lobbyists or a Super PAC. Pity the Billionaire is admittedly a clip job, one that spends too many of its (few) pages debunking Glenn Beck and Atlas Shrugged. Its real villains are the oligarchs now passing themselves off as John Does in pursuit of ever more tax breaks and even less government oversight. There's a fitting irony to the location of Frank's Port Townsend studies: a Carnegie library, funded by that once-despised billionaire of the pre–income tax era. To which, of course, the Koch brothers would like to return. Only without the libraries. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER
Comedy: Funny by Either Name
DUE TO WEATHER, ROSS'S JAN. 19 PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO SUN., FEB. 19.
Is it Jeff or Jeffrey? With his regular celebrity roasts on Comedy Central, we've known the comic as Jeffrey Ross. But if he prefers the shorter, punchier iteration for his Jeff Ross Roasts America tour, who are we to argue? He's funny by either moniker, especially when trashing figures like Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen. And lately Ross has been expanding his humor to topics as much as people—not a bad idea, since you can only climb so far down the celebrity ladder until you run out of rungs. (Sample, while roasting David Hasselhoff: "What are the odds an alcoholic gets cast in a show about a car that drives itself?") In fact, to demonstrate his new political engagement, Ross visited the Occupy L.A. protesters last fall to roast Wall Street. "I've never been in the 99th percentile of anything," he marveled at the motley throng. "Is this a protest or a Phish concert?" And though he praised the cause and claimed solidarity with its free-speech rights (because, he noted, "I talk shit for a living"), he couldn't resist tweaking his audience a little bit. "As a Jew," he said, "it's particularly hard for me not to side with the banks." The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $26. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER
Dance: Three for 2012
Cast the First Rock in Twenty Twelve, the title of Whim W'him's new show, is fairly literal, since choreographer Olivier Wevers is offering a trio of fresh creations. thrOwn is about "righteous cruelty" and retribution, with images of punishment—flogging, electrocution, and stoning—rendered with the articulate virtuosity that is becoming Wevers' kinetic signature. After such a harsh vision, we need a little sweetness, and he supplies that with La langue de l'amour, a new solo for Chalnessa Eames. Last is a gender-shifted version of the romantic pas de deux, this time featuring two male dancers, from August Bournonville's Flower Festival in Genzano. (Through Sun.) Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 800-838-3006, whimwhim.org. $25–$30. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ
Dance: Waltz This Way
Seattle Dance Project's newest work, Brahms Afoot, harks back to other iconic stagings of his beautiful waltzes by George Balanchine and Mark Morris. And SDP founders Tim Lynch and Julie Tobiason know the music well: They acquired their Brahms/Balanchine heritage during their years at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Similarly, choreographer Penny Hutchinson danced in several of Morris' more modern Brahms adaptations. Those two different traditions just add to our curiosity—what will this newest version look like? As part of the company's Project 5 program, SDP is also bringing back Edwaard Liang's atmospheric To Converse Too and Kent Stowell's jokey B6, alongside last year's mysterious Planes in Air by Molissa Fenley and a jazzy new work by Jason Ohlberg. It's a very full evening for the group's fifth season. (Through Jan. 29.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org. $20–$25. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ
Film: The Red Menace, in Black-and-White
Given all its awards and (likely) Oscar nominations, the neo-silent melodrama The Artist has introduced modern filmgoers to Hollywood before the catastrophe of sound. If the picture earns an Academy Award come February 26, it'll be a fitting coda to this year's Silent Movie Monday series, which carries an Oscar theme. First of the four titles being screened is Tempest (1928), which won an Oscar for its art direction. Organist Jim Riggs will accompany this star-crossed romance, set in czarist Russia, in which a low-born officer (John Barrymore) falls in love with a princess far above his station. Unlike the handsome hero of The Artist (played by Jean Dujardin), matinee idol Barrymore actually jumped the sound barrier quite nicely—he had a stage-trained baritone voice. (Other actors referenced in The Artist, like Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and John Gilbert, didn't fare so well.) And Tempest is topical in other regards, too: As the imperial regime gives way to the Bolsheviks—those same collectivist class warriors the Republicans love to warn against!—our hero is given a second chance to win his now-disgraced paramour. Other titles in the series get better: Street Angel is followed by The Last Command and Wings. (Mondays through Feb. 13.) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 784-4849, stgpresents.org. $34 (series). 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER
Film: A Stranger in the House
The second feature from Seattle filmmaker Matt Wilkins is, like his 2004 Buffalo Bill's Defunct, about the frailty of human bodies, minds beset by age and stress, and the strains on a family whose equilibrium is upset. Marrow, however, is more visually resonant and emotionally rich—in every way more accomplished. Centered on one household almost to the exclusion of the outside world, it focuses on the fraught relationship between single mother Frances (Frances Hearn) and her often exasperatingly rude and surly son Wiley (Wiley Wilkins, the director's son). Meanwhile, the shadow of Frances' recently deceased father haunts the house through her hazy memories. The unsettling authenticity of untidy lives and frayed nerves is remarkable, if not exactly commercial (Marrow had its premiere at SIFF last year). Wilkins is at his best churning up the volatile emotional space in scenes that rise and fall unexpectedly and authentically. Parents, certainly, will relate to Wiley and Frances' many arguments over hygiene and housekeeping. But no matter how they bicker, groping through disappointment and anger, there are genuine moments of connection and love. (Through Wed.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 329-1193, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$9. 8 p.m. SEAN AXMAKER