The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 1/27Books: The Boys of Late SummerSome of us who played Little League baseball still cringe at the memory of taunting parents, chin-tickling fastballs, and the "fat kid," a head taller than the rest of us, who sent every pitch over the deepest outfielder. And most who played Little League quit by the time they reached high school; unless you're a star, there's not much future in it, not much fun. But in retrospect, there were also coaches like Jesse Katz, a Los Angeles journalist who coaxes his young son into the sport he once played. The Opposite Field (Crown, $25) is both Katz's midlife memoir and a manual for baseball dads who dare to take on the Little League establishment, as Katz did in his predominantly Hispanic and Asian suburb. In short order, he goes from father to coach to commissioner of a league full of disgruntled parents, sweetheart concession deals, fractured families, hidden infidelities, criminal mischief—and, oh yes, kids happily playing baseball. The child of Portland liberals (including former mayor Vera Katz), Katz's own journey takes him from Bennington to Nicaragua to East L.A., where he becomes a gang reporter and marries into la comunidad. He's a Jewish gringo, doubly suspicious in the eyes of many. Yet he incorporates all those doubts, and his own, in an extremely readable, engaging tale. (No surprise that Katz shared two Pulitzers at The Los Angeles Times.) The book's candor, generosity, and tolerance should be a lesson for any parent coaching any sport here in the Northwest. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., 366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 1/28Film: The Agony and the Ape-stasy"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Need we say more about our favorite post-apocalyptic film of 1968? In Planet of the Apes, the late Charlton Heston stars in his second most iconic role (after Ben-Hur), with Roddy McDowall surprisingly recognizable and effective under that Oscar-winning monkey makeup. Tautly directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Apes belongs to the sci-fi genre of Earth-gone-wrong. It's also a cautionary environmental movie, a parable of de-evolution, a sly satire against racism, and a bit of a Vietnam picture, too. Astronaut Heston and his crew, spun forward in time to a planet they don't recognize, are quickly captured and humiliated by a foe whose society seems primitive in comparison to their own. There's a lot of hubris in Heston, one of America's physically proudest and most graceful leading men, and he has it all beaten out of him by the movie's famous ending on the beach. 1968 was a year of crisis in the U.S., and Apes suggests—in its hugely entertaining popcorn fashion—that mankind might deserve its self-inflicted ruination. Screened on Blu-ray as part of SIFF's weekend sci-fi fest, tonight's double feature includes Terry Gilliam's underrated 1995 12 Monkeys (at 9:15 p.m.). Friday brings 2001: A Space Odyssey, followed by a double feature of The Man Who Fell to Earth and Logan's Run on Sunday. SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, siff.net. $8–$10. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFRIDAY 1/29Comedy: Don't Stay Classy, KathyKathy Griffin performed four consecutive stand-up shows at the Paramount the last time she was in Seattle—all of which sold out. D-list celebrity? I think not. Yet the loudmouth comedienne, who recently began shooting the sixth season of her Bravo hit reality show My Life on the D-List, continues to insist she's a Hollywood bottomfeeder. She's full of it. But that doesn't make her shameless antics—tweeting that she's carrying Levi Johnston's baby, "accidentally" dropping the F-bomb while co-hosting CNN's live New Year's Eve program with her BFF Anderson Cooper—any less hilarious. Griffin is sure to be even more outrageous when she takes the stage tonight and Saturday, fully aware that she's safe from the wrath of television censors. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org. $42.50–$72.50. 8 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTArchitecture/Film: Modern Lens ArtistJust about everyone in Eric Bricker's documentary Visual Acoustics seems to love Julius Shulman, including (adorably) the unstoppable old gent himself. What's not to like? Ninety-three years old at the time of filming, the great photographer of modernist architecture was still working, laying down the law, and running around in red suspenders to bask in his celebrity. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, the doc shows off the stark beauty of flat-topped Southern California homes—with their pools and low couches designed by architectural titans from Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry—and then shows how they've been re-interpreted and romanticized by Shulman. Though he dismissed contemporary Los Angeles as "a pile of junk," the passionate early environmentalist believed in the integrity of things in their natural place—preferably, the desert. Enjoyable as it is, Bricker's giddy hagiography could have used a little pushback, especially in the matter of Shulman's airy dismissal of the postmodernism that, he claimed, forced him into "retirement." Shulman died last summer at 98, doubtless sounding off as he went. If Visual Acoustics doesn't make you envy his life and legacy, you haven't been paying attention. (Through Thursday.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. ELLA TAYLORDance: Where Many Are GatheredSeattle Dance Project's spring show looks like one of those big family gatherings where your parents and cousins meet your girlfriend for the first time. Then the neighbors crash the party. SDP founders Tim Lynch and Julie Tobiason used to dance classical works for Kent Stowell when they were at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Now they're commissioning dances from the likes of postmodernist Mark Haim, whose work is more likely to show up at On the Boards. "Project 3" offers new dances from both choreographers, as well as from New York City Ballet alum Edwaard Liang. Beyond those three premieres, the company will dance revised versions of the rock-'n'-roll-influenced In Another Land by the UW's Betsy Cooper and James Canfield's Because. It promises to be a busy evening. (Through Feb. 6.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org. $25. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZSATURDAY 1/30Visual Arts: Everything Must GoMost artists are unemployed, or underemployed, or in search of day jobs. But few make their lack or loss of vocation central to their art. In his notes for the Neverland installation, Marc Dombrosky explains that each work was inspired by an unhappy move to Vegas, where he promptly lost his job. (Also lost that day—Michael Jackson, whose legacy figures in a few small objects.) Boxes and furniture blankets hint at a life in upheaval. But more affecting are the scraps of paper Dombrosky found with notes and doodles and lists on them. In the manner of Found magazine, they suggest small, sad narratives of interrupted lives—lost chapters in a book you'll never read. Then Dombrosky sews over the old script, making it more permanent. Thus, "Learn to fucken park Stupid" [sic], shopping lists, and an inventory of videos to rent that includes Val Kilmer and The Salton Sea. These forlorn remnants are like written reassurances to their anonymous authors. Dombrosky may've landed on his feet, but we'll never know how the others made out. "Everything will be okay," one note reads. We hope so, but we also doubt it. (Through Feb. 20.) Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave. S., 323-2808, platformgallery.com. Free. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERMusic: Sunny and FunnyGustafer Yellowgold is yellow and animated, but the comparisons to Spongebob stop there. Gustafer is an alien visitor from the sun who now lives in a cottage in the woods of Minnesota. He has a purple pet eel named Slim (short for Slimothy); one of his friends is a pterodactyl; another is a dragon named Asparagus. He smashes cakes on his kitchen floor when he's not hanging out with a trio of emotional bees. But Gustafer isn't just a cartoon. The creation of New York musician/illustrator Morgan Taylor, Gustafer has a live show that has opened for Wilco and the Polyphonic Spree, giving him way more street cred than Barney. He actually looks more like Oblio from Harry Nilsson's The Point; and Taylor's '70s-sounding soft-rock songs are very Nilsson- or Beatles-esque. Performing this morning as part of the Children's Film Festival, Taylor will combine cartoons and music. His mellowed tunes are touching, almost absurdist expressions of Gustafer's wonderment at life on Earth. On "Birds," he sings, "I'm always shaking hands with the birds/And I've never caught any germs." Kids will dig it. And their parents needn't worry about compromising their cool. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, childrensfilmfestival.org. $10–$12. 11 a.m. E. THOMPSONTUESDAY 2/2Classical: HomecomingOne of contemporary music's favorite legends—right up there with Philip Glass driving a cab for a living while his Einstein on the Beach was being performed at the Met—is that the Kronos Quartet paid for its first commission with a bag of doughnuts. The piece was by Seattle composer Ken Benshoof, and the quartet's first concert, with that and works by Bartok, Crumb, and Webern, took place at North Seattle Community College with current Seattle Symphony cellist Walter Gray as one of the founding members. That was in 1973. Since then, the Kronos' career as just about the only chamber ensemble in America that even approaches household-word status has been based on its insatiable championing of new music—with over 650 commissions and a repertory that embraces Thelonious Monk, Thomas Tallis, Sigur Rós, and Bollywood composer R.D. Burman. For this Eastside concert, the current lineup of David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, and Jeffrey Zeigler will play music by John Zorn, Terry Riley, and others. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland, 425-893-9900, kpcenter.org. $50. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

 
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