The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events


Books/Bikes: The Cycle of Judgment

To follow BikeSnobNYC on Twitter or his blog, you gotta know the lingo. He's visiting Seattle for a BRA (book-related appearance) to promote The Enlightened Cyclist: Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled Transcendence (Chronicle, $16.95). And he'll be pedaling with fans on a group ride to the reading—departing from 20/20 Cycles at 5:30 p.m.—on his own folding bike, which is neither a Brompton nor a fixie nor made of "crabon fiber." During that leisurely ride, the perennially nonplussed blogger also known as Eben Weiss will chat with followers, take lots of photos of bicycle infrastructure (as seen at, look for unusual cockpits (the handlebars and shifters), dis-courage speeding among the Freds (weekend racers), perhaps consume an "epic burrito," and decry any signs of smugness among his peloton. Snob, as he's sometimes called, is all about the ever-keener edge of judgment: The more minor the distinctions among cyclists (SRAM Red or Dura-Ace? Bamboo or titanium? This Schleck brother or the other Schleck brother?), the more ridiculous their debates. Because, as his satire reminds us, the only thing worse than hearing bicyclists complaining about motorists—and vice versa—is bicyclists complaining about fellow members of their tribe. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Film: Running to the Grave

Two years before director Carol Reed and cinematographer Robert Krasker turned the Vienna sewers into an inky labyrinth in The Third Man, they transformed Belfast's back alleys into an equally ominous maze for a different fugitive. Instead of Orson Welles, it's James Mason on the run in the 1947 Odd Man Out, being screened for SAM's Thursday-night series "Shadow Street: The Best of British Film Noir." After a botched IRA heist leaves a cashier dead and Mason's Johnny McQueen shot in the shoulder, the Irishman becomes the object of a city-wide manhunt. Everyone in Belfast knows his name and face. Some treat Johnny kindly, offering drinks and aid, but none can shelter him long for fear of the British police. Bleeding, hallucinating, he lurches from an old bomb shelter through the cobblestone streets, avoiding the lamplight, clinging to the walls. As the rest of his gang is shot or arrested, he's a man totally alone, tormented by his crime, trailed by barking dogs and bounty-seekers. He's a living ghost, halfway to the grave, and the Irish already speak of him as a near-mythic figure of the past. One mad artist seeks to paint him, seeing in Johnny's eyes "the truth about us all. He's doomed." Tending to the patient, a quack doctor's reply sums up the movie's mood: "So are we all." (The series continues through May 24.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3100, $53–$59 series, $8 individual. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Baseball: Clean Slate

Typically, hope springs eternal at a baseball team's home opener. Last season is a distant memory, the wins and losses aren't yet piled high in either column, and even the most mundane match-ups feel fresh and exciting. The Mariners, however, aren't your typical team. These are the guys who routinely lose 90 games and haven't made the playoffs since 2001. (As the ads used to say, "You gotta love these guys!") It might be spring, but hope is getting hard to come by. Nevertheless, this weekend's three-game stand against the Oakland A's marks the return of baseball season in Seattle. Neither team is likely to hoist the World Series trophy in October, but it's still a special occasion, because the outcome is irrelevant. What matters is the chance to visit the ballpark and watch Ichiro hit and Felix pitch for one more year. Safeco Field, 1250 First Ave. S., 346-4001, $20 and up. 7:10 p.m. KEEGAN HAMILTON

Dance: Strings Attached

Donald Byrd takes a certain delight in making audiences uncomfortable, and in his reworking of Petruchska for Spectrum Dance Theater, he's running true to form. The 1911 original Ballets Russes production featured a tour de force performance by Vaslav Nijinsky as a puppet who achieves humanity only to die of a broken heart. Byrd's contemporary version sends us all to a sadistic nightclub in the company of heartless puppet boys and girls. Performed in and around the Madrona Dance Center, with the Stravinsky score adapted for accordions and dancers mixing among the audience, this promises to be a very dark carnival. (Through April 22.) Madrona Dance Center, 800 Lake Washington Blvd., 325-4161, $20–$25. 7:30 p.m. & 9 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ


Classical: Victim of Fate

The most astonishing performance I ever heard of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4 was a recording of a Trinidadian steel band hurtling through the perpetual-motion finale from memory. (It's customary for bands to include orchestral transcriptions in their repertory—so much for the notion that classical music has nothing to offer non-Europeans.) The carnivalesque joy of that finale is the culmination of a huge emotional journey from the opening movement—tempestuous, troubled music penned in and shouted down by intimidating fanfares. Written in the wake of Tchaikovsky's doomed six-week marriage (he was gay, she was neurotic) in the summer of 1877, the sweepingly dramatic and colorful symphony invites speculation. Was it confession? Therapy? An escape into fanciful musical scene-painting, or an attempt to describe in sound the emotional buffeting he'd just suffered? Dig into the Fourth this afternoon as the Seattle Symphony, led by Peter Oundjian, plays it in a multimedia "Beyond the Score" presentation narrated by KING-FM's Steve Reeder (and alongside music by Rouse and Dvorak, with no presentation, Thurs.–Sat. evenings). Benaroya Hall Third Ave. & Union St., 215-4747, $17–$82. 2 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT


Books: The Real Hunger Game

Even as Myanmar/Burma shows sign of cracking, North Korea's three-generation dictatorship remains solid and inscrutable to journalists like Blaine Harden, who covered East Asia for The Washington Post. Today based in Seattle, he found an unlikely source for his Escape From Camp 14 (Viking, $26.95): a young man named Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean prison camp. His parents, political prisoners, were forced into an arranged marriage. Shin was raised in a slave colony whose residents would do anything for food—lie, cheat, betray friends and family, anything to fill their bellies. Conditions are as brutal as you'd expect; in one horrific episode, young Shin watches a teacher beat a girl to death in class. (She just kneels and submits, as they're trained to do.) Later, family members are also killed before his eyes. Barely literate, with no knowledge of the world beyond the electric fence, Shin begins to dream of escape, not out of heroic principle but desperate hunger—he craves meat. North Korea's gulag system, estimated to hold some 200,000 inmates, is like a Skinner box that stunts and shapes the mind. Before Shin's 2005 escape to China, one of his few benefactors "explained that the world was round." A few years later, living in the U.S., he's giving a talk at Google. Tonight, as Harden will explain, Shin's assimilation to the West has been difficult—one extraordinary case study from among the 24 million who might one day merge with the south. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Stage: Now and Forever and Forever . . .

While grumpy old T.S. Eliot gradually fades from the canon, with poetry of little interest to undergrads hoping to interview at Microsoft or Amazon, his enduring legacy may actually be . . . yes, Cats. You couldn't make a Broadway musical out of The Waste Land or The Hollow Men, but his '30s doggerel about persnickety felines? Sure, that's exactly what Andrew Lloyd Webber did in 1981—and who needs a plot when you've got furry thespians yowling out songs on a stage dressed to look like a giant junkyard? Sounds crazy, but the smash hit ran for some two decades in both London and New York, and it's been touring near-continuously since its inception. You can call Cats cheesy, but just try to get Lloyd Webber's songs out of your head. The lack of a plot is actually an advantage of sorts—there's no complicated story to follow. There's also no linguistic or cultural barrier to entry, and, further, the costumes appeal to kids. And maybe, just maybe, when they get a little older they'll be curious about this Eliot fellow and download mp3s of him reading his poetry—yes, there are lots—onto their iPhones. (Through Sun.) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $20–$70. 7:30 p.m. T. BOND

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