The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 2/16 Books: The River of Time In our present age of irony and gimmick lit, Bainbridge Island writer Jonathan Evison has bravely set out to write an old-fashioned sort of novel, in the tradition of Steinbeck and London. Furthering his ambition in this fictional history of the Olympic Peninsula, he divides the book into two eras: the late 1890s and 2006. West of Here (Algonquin, $24.95) begins with an expedition trudging up the Elwha River Valley, which will soon be dammed. It ends with the imminent removal of that dam—as is true in real life. Between those two points, a great deal happens to a great many characters, and an index would've been helpful—besides the maps of Port Bonita (think Port Angeles) and its rugged environs. Evison's chapters are short, and they often end in cliffhangers, which helps to pace the 500 pages. Though as you follow some of the same families across a century's divide, you wish for him to settle down and make camp, to spend more time with one or two souls. Then there's the question of an overarching theme, a tradition lately revived by Jonathan Franzen. Still, you keep reading. And if this muscular, colorful novel coalesces into anything, it's the community of memory—history recollected from a dozen or more perspectives, which finally yields a pattern. As stated by a sage Native American healer, "Our memories are not ours alone. Our experience belongs to all that is living, and all that has ever lived." Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. (Also: University Book Store, 7 p.m. Thurs; and Third Place Books, 7:30 p.m. Fri.)  BRIAN MILLER THURSDAY 2/17 Dance: Gobsmackers There are all kinds of virtuosity in dance—some are dressed in the classical symmetry of ballet, while others come from a wilder source. When Crystal Pite brought her company Kidd Pivot to OtB two years back, the audience was gobsmacked by its special take on virtuosity. The dynamite performance technique, propelled by powerfully challenging choreography that bordered on dangerous, left the audience breathless. Pite's new work, Dark Matter, draws inspiration from the unexplainable elements of physics, to make dancing that is almost unbelievable. (Through Sun.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, ontheboards.org. $20. 8 p.m.  SANDRA KURTZ FRIDAY 2/18 Cabaret: Heart Clicks If the rule of thumb is that you wait three days to call a girl, how long must you wait to send her a friend request on Facebook? "You can't meet a nice girl and friend her at 3 a.m." So says Mark Siano, the man best known for producing eclectic variety shows everywhere from El Gaucho to Re-bar. "You look desperate, you look creepy. If you become friends with her later, that's OK, but you still can't 'like' the photo of her wearing a low-cut dress, because that's creepy, too." Such are the issues that Siano and friends address in Modern Luv, a satire on romance in the social-networking era, featuring original music by Siano, sketch comedy, and dance. If you've ever Googled your crush's name or sent a text message during a date, songs like "Up in Your Inbox" and "Leave Your Phone Alone" are sure to sound familiar. Get ready to LOL. (Through Sat.) The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, thetripledoor.net. $18–$21. 7 and 10:30 p.m.  ERIKA HOBART SUNDAY 2/20 Music: Math Rocker In the tradition of They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton—a former programmer turned musician—began his career in the mid-'00s by posting one song per week on his website. And like TMBG's, the songs were poppy, smart, clever, and extremely nerdy. Where most singer/songwriters dabble in love and politics, Coulton waxes lyrically on sci-fi, math, and video games—subjects that pluck the heartstrings of cube dwellers everywhere. He quickly developed a rabid fanbase and went on to collaborate with fellow hipster-nerd John Hodgman and receive masthead status as "Contributing Troubadour" in Popular Science. To some, Coulton is gimmicky. But when his songs turn personal ("You Ruined Everything," about his newborn daughter), he's at his best, displaying an ironic wit that echoes Shel Silverstein and an intuitive sense of melody rarely heard outside of XTC records. The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, thetripledoor.net. $25–$30. 7:30 p.m.  BRIAN J. BARR Food: Cruel and Delicious On his Vashon Island daily farm, Kurt Timmermeister produces high-quality cheeses available for sale all over Seattle at places like Picnic and DeLaurenti. But before he was ready to make cheese, Timmermeister first had to build his farm. And before he was able to do that, he had to reclaim the land, clearing it himself like the pioneers, except with fewer kids. Eventually, Timmermeister was able to take a frightful plot of real estate, so undesirable that even Oscar the Grouch would refuse to inhabit it, and turn it into a dreamy agrarian fantasyland where fairies drink dew out of acorn caps and rainbows smile from the sky's face. All of which he relates in Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land (W.W. Norton, $24.95). The book isn't really a how-to manual; if anything, it shows how not to go about a career in agriculture. (Before he sold Café Septieme and moved to Vashon, Timmermeister didn't even own a car.) Timmermeister remembers that nature is cruel, and if we don't kill and eat animals, they'll kill and eat us. Anyone who's ever attended the secret dinners hosted at Kurtwood Farms can see the livestock he slaughters through the dining-room window. Connection to the animals we eat is central to his outlook. "Pork is not abstract," he says. "There's an animal that has to be slaughtered." Eagle Harbor Book Co., 157 Winslow Way E., 842-5332, eagleharborbooks.com. Free. 3 p.m.  THE SURLY GOURMAND MONDAY 2/21 Film: He's a Complicated Man Do not be fooled by the date. While the Blue Moon's video-screened double features generally run on Tuesdays, tonight's blaxploitation tribute is a worthwhile exception. First up is the original 1971 Shaft. He's a complicated man, and Richard Roundtree's turtleneck-wearing "spade detective" became an undisputed icon of the '70s. But is he a nice guy? Well—not exactly. "I love you," his girlfriend coos. "I know" is his self-satisfied reply. The man keeps two groovy bachelor pads, one in Harlem for his main lady, the other in the swinging Village for the white chicks who dig him. Following is the SIFF-favorite blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite. Co-writer and star Michael Jai White treats this material deadpan-straight, recreating the stilted lines, stiff acting, cheap lighting, and leaps of plot logic that plagued the poor sons of Shaft. And though the hugely buff White, as the kung fu-kickin', multiple-lady-lovin' ex-CIA agent Black Dynamite, is no Leslie Nielsen, he has his moments. When a ghetto lovely says that he never flirts or smiles, he responds from beneath clenched jaw and fixed, immobile moustache: "I am smiling." Blue Moon Tavern, 712 N.E. 45th St., 675-9116, myspace.com/bluemoonseattle. 21 and over. Free. 9 p.m.  BRIAN MILLER

 
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