The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Susanne Antonetta

Though the Mommy Lit—and even the Adoption Mommy Lit—category is a crowded one, Antonetta’s new memoir, Make Me a Mother (Norton, $18.90), manages to stake a solid place on the shelves. The Bellingham writer’s account of adopting a Korean baby boy is filled with the anxieties, setbacks, and joys common to this kind of story, yet is remarkable in its erudite examination of the word “adoption” itself. She also explores the rich history—from the Romans to the early American West—behind the practice of caring for a child not biologically your own. Also unique to the book: her bucking of the assumption that parents who adopt do so largely because of the inability to conceive. As Antonetta and her husband go from loving Jin to being in love with him, she gets immersed in her own eccentric family history—and finds herself becoming a mother to not just her adopted child, but to the aging parents with whom she’s had a deeply conflicted relationship. Make Me a Mother is an unflinching, deeply honest, and impeccably researched read that should appeal to all parents. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, Free. 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Rising From Ashes

This coming Sunday marks the Cascade Bicycle Club’s 40th Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island; given such a generally mild winter thus far, some are packing away the Völkls and bringing out the Cervélos to ride. And should you need a little extra motivation if the forecast is freezing rain, tonight’s benefit screening of Rising From Ashes, a recent documentary about the riders of Team Rwanda, will put things in perspective. Produced and narrated by Forest Whitaker, this powerful film unfolds over six years from the time when mountain-bike industry pioneer Tom Ritchey first visited Rwanda. A dozen years had passed since the Hutus’ 1994 genocide against the minority Tutsi, and the country was still in a fragile rebuilding stage. Bicycles, used mainly for transport, were also being raced; and Ritchey brought along his friend and former pro racer Jock Boyer. An 18-year-old trounced the middle-aged pair—and everyone else—in one such race; from that, the idea of a national team was hatched. His life back home a shambles, Boyer stayed behind to coach the squad. His athletes, to put it mildly, are not complainers. His most talented rider, Adrien Niyonshuti, lost six of his brothers and 60 members of his mother’s clan during the genocide; the film follows Niyonshuti’s unlikely path to the London Olympics. All ticket proceeds tonight benefit the Rising From Ashes Foundation, which supports Rwandan cyclists, and CBC’s own Major Taylor Project, which promotes riding among minority youths. Film producer Peb Jackson will also attend a pre-screening reception. SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996,, $10–$12 ($50 for early show’s VIP reception). 6:45 & 9:30 p.m.

Vikesh Kapoor

Those seeking a balm after the recent passing of Pete Seeger will find it in Portland’s Kapoor, who opens for Eleni Mandell tonight. Kapoor burst onto the Northwest folk scene last year with a collection of original songs titled The Ballad of Willie Robbins. His songs are steeped in the folk tradition that Seeger carried from the prewar era into ’60s counterculture, but Kapoor isn’t as direct a musical descendant of the famed banjo-picking civil-rights activist as is, say, Ani DiFranco, who plays the Moore on Saturday (see page 29). In fact, until just a couple of years ago, the slight 28-year-old Pennsylvania native most likely didn’t even know who Seeger was. Kapoor came to folk music through a Johnny Cash LP he bought at a garage sale as a joke; and his styling is so eerily reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s denim years that it would come off as a little naive if his songs weren’t so vivid, his poetry so lucid. Like Cash, Dylan, and DiFranco before him, Kapoor carries the spirit of Seeger, which is really just the act of playing songs about the people for the people. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, $12. 8 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 21

A Little Night Music

For such a fragrantly enchanting musical, this 1973 Tony winner displays a near-Schoenbergian attention to subcutaneous structure; the sophistication of Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics acts as a bittersweet metaphor for game-playing artifice in matters of the heart. The dramatic personae form a neatly interlocking pattern of romantic triangles, which resolve at a Swedish country estate during the long, long twilight of Midsummer’s Night, and the score is a dance suite of variations on triple time: waltz, gigue, mazurka, sarabande, polonaise, even the rippling harp triplets underlying the show’s most popular number, “Send In the Clowns.” This last is sung by Desirée Armfeldt, one of musical theater’s greatest roles for actresses past ingenue age—and she even gets the hero at the end. (Through March 9.) SecondStory Repertory, 16587 N.E. 74th St. (Redmond), 425-881-6777, $27. 8 p.m.

Elizabeth Kolbert

In the long run, we’ll all be dead. That’s just one of the takeaways from Kolbert’s latest eco-disaster tome, mostly adapted from her reporting in The New Yorker, where she’s assigned to what I call the-Earth-is-going-to-hell beat. And yet she’ll find a receptive, well-scienced Seattle audience for The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Henry Holt, $28), no creationists or climate-change deniers in the crowd. The double appeal to her globe-trotting dispatches—in which she follows field scientists from Iceland to Peru—allows us both the vicarious pleasure of traveling with her and the grim confirmation that, yes, we’re heating up the planet enough to ensure our own future demise. None of us will personally be here to experience it, of course, only the heirs to our selfish genome. Extinction, Kolbert reports, is cyclical: Species diversity has peaked and crashed five times before, according to the fossil record, with causes including ice ages and meteor strikes. Our present peril is man-made, of course, as Kolbert also explored in her 2006 Field Notes From a Catastrophe. (Again: She, and we, just can’t get enough of the disaster stuff.) Whether human civilization finally ends with a bang or a whimper ultimately doesn’t matter so much as the diagnosis here. What makes Kolbert’s latest book—and its recent companions, like Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World Without Us—so fascinating to us morbid rationalists isn’t exactly schadenfreude; it’s more like attending our own funerals. This is how it will all end, says Kolbert, as we clever humans systematically engineer our own erasure—along with most other species—and leave the Earth in the capable paws of rats, ants, fungi, and other more-deserving survivors. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m.

Independent of Reality

One of the pioneers of the Czechoslovak New Wave, Jan Němec’s reputation fell in the shadow of the more internationally celebrated Milos Forman, Ivan Passer, Věra Chytilová, and Jiří Menzel. His poetic, impressionistic style defied the state dictates of social realism, and his 1966 satire A Report on the Party and the Guests—not in this six-film series but available on DVD—incurred the wrath of the authorities. Forbidden from making films, Němec went into a 15-year exile that ended only after the Iron Curtain fell. This retrospective begins tonight with his debut feature, Diamonds of the Night (1964), a Holocaust drama about the nightmarish ordeal of two young men who escape a transport train en route to a concentration camp. His contribution to the 1966 anthology film Pearls of the Deep (7 p.m. Sun.), a showcase for young Czechoslovak filmmakers, is gentler, a bittersweet portrait of old age and the harmless lies of an adventurous life. The series also includes his 2009 Ferrari Dino Girl (7 p.m. Tues.), which incorporates documentary footage of the 1968 Soviet invasion that Němec shot at great personal risk, then smuggled out of the country; 40 years later, he returned to retrace his escape route, interpolating old and new footage of that perilous journey. (Through Wed.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$11. 7 & 9 p.m.

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