The Weekly Wire: The Week’s Recommended Events


Film: Not So Tough

With his two Oscars and worldwide brand awareness, it’s hard to remember how—between Pulp Fiction and his days as a cocky video-store clerk—Quentin Tarantino was just another unknown young indie-film talent of the early ’90s. And in outline, his 1992 debut, Reservoir Dogs, didn’t really sound that novel or promising. It’s about a botched diamond heist, which we never see, told from before and after the muddled middle. There were elements of Rashomon, graphic torture, and a long, self-indulgent speech on the meaning of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” delivered by the out-of-his-depth actor Tarantino. Yet Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax put its muscle behind the newbie writer/director, a terrific cast quickly signed on (Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, etc.), and the film got a white-hot launch amid the snows of Sundance. Not yet 30, Tarantino would never be young and unknown again, though he always had a veteran’s confidence and a precious grasp of elliptical storytelling. Reservoir Dogs is full of flashbacks, secrets, reveals, and reversals, but you never lose the narrative thread. It’s a simpler film than Pulp Fiction, which killed at Cannes and made Tarantino a household name, and the ending is perhaps more satisfying for that reason. It all comes down to Mr. White (Keitel) protecting Mr. Orange (Roth). Beneath all that blood, there’s a tenderness and loyalty among Tarantino’s thieves and outlaws—one reason he’s surpassed and outlasted his forgotten peers from the ’90s. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, $6–$8. 7 & 9:30 p.m.


Stage: Bagpipes in the Desert

The adage that war is hell is not nearly enough to describe Black Watch, based on interviews with soldiers who served in that Scottish regiment of the British Army in Iraq. Now touring the U.S., the award-winning National Theatre of Scotland drama storms through nearly two hours of an intermissionless, pensive theatricality as thick and rich as the occasionally impenetrable accents. Though no musical, the show is full of song, dance, noise, and whatever else will open eyes and ears to the complexity of war. These soldiers feel boredom, bewilderment, fear, and—perhaps most of all—a generations-old national pride in answering the call of your country. Playwright Gregory Burke and director John Tiffany also deftly integrate the history of Scottish military service and its attendant colonial politics. But the piece is neither a dry lecture nor a plaid nostalgia piece. Beginning with an ex-soldier who leads us into a pool hall where he and his mates are questioned about the war, Black Watch quickly moves into a flashback when a blade rips through the pool table and soldiers emerge from its depths. The more naturalistic details are just as memorable—as when two soldiers sit with their pants casually down around their ankles, battling nothing but the desert heat, musing that the movie of their predicament should be called Sweating Without Moving. They’ve been promised glory and heroism, but end up with the realization that it’s simply “our turn to be in the shite.” (Through May 5.) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $21.25–$55. 7:30 p.m.

Baseball: Ground Chuck

Simply put, the Mariners are one of the most hapless franchises in the history of professional sports. And for all but eight of the team’s 37 major league seasons, Chuck Armstrong has served as its president. As hundreds of Armstrong’s organizational colleagues—players, managers, even owners—have come and gone, voluntarily or otherwise, he’s somehow weathered the storm. Armstrong’s survival, however, is an injustice. We suspect he’s persevered because, unlike in politics, the office of president is a somewhat murky one in baseball, where the general and field managers typically suffer consequences either glorious or perilous, depending on the team’s success. But the Mariners have been so bad for so long that it’s time Armstrong—the one constant—is marched to the guillotine, a fate that pales in comparison to the one endured for decades by Mariner fans. And tonight those fans will faithfully gather for the first of four games against the visiting Los Angeles Angels (through Sunday). Safeco Field, 1250 First Ave. S., $15–$90. 7:10 p.m.


Dance: Fresh Timber

Choreographer Maureen Whiting has a way with a prop, whether it’s honey dripping onto a dancer’s face, a mechanical egg-laying chicken, or—in her newest work—hunks of a sequoia tree. About That Tree is, as you might imagine, about a tree. But it’s also about how we either do or don’t grapple with obstacles in our lives. Over the course of rehearsals, the tree in question has gone from a supple framework full of greenery to a brittle mass, shedding detritus all over the floor. By the end of the run, it may just wind up in the compost bin. Whiting’s tree joins work by Seattle choreographer Shannon Stewart and the Green Chair Dance Group from Philadelphia in Velocity’s SCUBA series, a program designed to get artists out on tour. When SCUBA travels back east, Whiting will have to find another tree on the road. (Through Sun.) Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., 351-3238, $12–$18. 8 p.m.


Stage: The Force Is Strong With This One

In what sounds like a nerd-boy’s career fantasy, Charles Ross makes a living by performing his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. The Canadian actor created the frenzied solo show—in which he performs all characters, from Yoda to Princess Leia, in a one-hour stint—with director TJ Dawe over 12 years ago. Ross has since performed the George Lucas–approved piece thousands of times across four continents. (For variety, there’s his One-Man Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Seriously.) Says Ross by phone, “I appreciate what it means to be a true geek, in the most positive sense. Someone who loves something—Star Wars, NASCAR, sewing, etc.—so unabashedly that they’re willing to wear their heart on their sleeve. Geekdom is ownership. For my own part, I’m a true geek in that I love what I love. People who come to my show are often like-minded. They have a deep love for Star Wars.” Whether or not that love will extend to Disney’s add-ons to the series remains to be seen, but Ross won’t count it out. “I’m in awe of the staying power of Star Wars.” The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, $20–$25. 7 & 10 p.m.


Books: Hoosier Fate

Though billed as a novel, Brian Kimberling’s first-person Snapper (Pantheon, $24.95) functions more like a series of interlocking stories and anecdotes from the swamps and cheap grad-student housing of Indiana. His protagonist, Nathan, is, like the author, a professional birdwatcher and ecologist. Nathan is also a little too brainy for the Hoosier State, and perhaps too loyal to his post-collegiate slacker friends. He’s also stuck on a girl who’ll never marry or be faithful to him. He can’t have Lola (not for long, anyway), so he studies her—like one of his birds, each one specialized to live in a particular environment (rather like Nathan himself). Indiana, which Nathan calls his “own lifelong imbroglio,” is a peculiar ecosystem with no comfortable niche between “the smugness of university towns stocked with out-of-state migrants and the bewildering willful irrationality of the native retrograde reprobates.” Nathan has a love/hate relationship with the place, and Kimberling gives you the rich details for each side of the argument, pro and con. Possibly for that reason, the author now resides in Europe, far from the bogs and meth labs and strip clubs that defined him. Also, he’s that much farther away from the snapping turtles than can bite off your thumb. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, Free. 7 p.m.

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