The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 10/5

Books/Stage: Dr. Lizardo

Chances are you think of him as a killer: the Emmy-winning kind who enlivened Dexter on Showtime, or perhaps the tongue-in-cheek kind who stole Cliffhanger right out from under Sly Stallone's mountain. Of course, you may also have tender feelings toward him: the same ones that crossed his hangdog face as the woebegone, married loan officer who falls for Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment; the same ones that, playing Hollywood's first sympathetic transsexual in The World According to Garp, fueled his fervent protection of feminist nurse Glenn Close. And then there are all those seasons he played an alien on Third Rock From the Sun. I could go on and on about John Lithgow, but it will be more fun to hear him answering KUOW host Marcie Sillman's questions about Drama: An Actor's Education (Harper, $26.99), a memoir filled with facts as quirky as his career on stage and screen. For example: Coretta Scott, before she married Martin Luther King, babysat the future actor. And who knew that Midwestern kid would grow up to have a heated affair with Liv Ullmann? "We all have our secrets and we all have our deceptions," he recently told The New York Times. "Acting at its best is all about deceiving people, and this makes it all the more interesting to us." Sure. But being bonkers in Buckaroo Banzai helps, too. University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 N.E. 43rd St., 634-3400, bookstore.washington.edu. $10 (free with purchase at University Book Store). 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

THURSDAY 10/6

Visual Arts: Fighting Words

The work of New York artist Glenn Ligon is rooted in popular language and iconography. From the beginning of his career in the '80s, he's been sampling the words of disparate figures like Charles Dickens, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Pryor. He transforms their phrases into flatly ironic yet combative statements about being black in America. As with Andy Warhol or Jasper Johns, there's a meeting of formalism and cultural appropriation in his printmaking. Sometimes a two-word phrase will hover softly on a canvas; elsewhere a verbal motif is starkly repeated until it becomes an abstraction. In one series, Ligon removes Pryor's words from the arena of comedy and stencils them on painted canvases—stripping away the laughter and revealing the bitterness. Equally famous is his transformation of Gertrude Stein's phrase "negro sunshine" into neon signage—the fraught old language is almost physically invested with new meaning. No wonder the Obamas have Ligon's work hanging in the White House. (Through Nov. 12) Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., 624-0770, gregkucera.com. Free. Opening reception 6–8 p.m. BRIAN J. BARR

Stage: Pornography of the Soul

The intensity of Angélica Liddell's first performance in the U.S. will likely knock you flat out. Her stage presence, and uncompromising confrontation with both material and audience, are close to terrifying. To be translated into English for the first time, Te haré invencible con mi derrota is nominally a work about the late cellist Jacqueline du Pré. But as the Spanish performance artist draws her own blood and carves away at a series of cellos lying on the floor, it becomes more an endurance contest—for Liddell, as she runs pins into her arms and hands, and for us, as we watch her do it. As she says of her work, "What I do is some kind of pornography, the pornography of the soul; for I tell what cannot be uttered or confessed to." (Repeats Fri. & Sun.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, ontheboards.org. $25. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ

Music: Oh L'Amour!

Go ahead and put the synth-pop label on Erasure, though it doesn't hint at even a fraction of the swirling, glittery fabulousness that they've been producing since 1985. While a slew of one-hit wonders of the '80s got lost with silly dalliances on the dance floor, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke wrote songs celebrating the epic possibilities of a long night in a club spent going bump-bump-bump. They heard ABBA in the fun, fond way that critics missed, then donned Frida and Agnetha drag for the video to their "Take a Chance on Me" cover. And they knew genuine love when they heard it—think of "Oh L'Amour"—but could tweak the hell out of it, too. Today, in Lady Gaga's oddball romantic pop, you can hear Bell's influence (think of the orgasmic build on "Love to Hate You.") And put Bell, by the way, in the choice company of Freddie Mercury and Jimmy Somerville as men unafraid to voice what many might consider a feminine emotiveness. The duo is touring in support of Tomorrow's World. Its lead single, "When I Start to (Break It All Down)," finds Bell declaring "I believe in sweet surrender." Thank God for that. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.com. $45. 8 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

FRIDAY 10/7

Film: Blood and Snow

In the annals of scary movies, The Shining (1980) is something of an art-film anomaly, since director Stanley Kubrick emphasizes the long build-up so much more than Jack Nicholson's final ax attack on his snowbound family. The swooping aerial shots, the Big Wheel pedaling down endless hallways, the dull talk of canned goods and Indian burial grounds, the thumping tennis ball—they lull you into a kind of dream state. There's a primal, fairy-tale quality laced with Oedipal conflict as this household of three is fatally divided. It matters less if Nicholson's blocked writer is demonically possessed (or Indian-cursed or evil reincarnated or whatever) than that he's simply a bad father—rough and impatient with his young son, cruelly dismissive of his wife (Shelley Duvall), selfish in his writerly ambitions. (Stephen King is never kind to his fellow scribes.) A failure at the typewriter, his imagination turns inward, rotting inside its own topiary maze. If King's book manifests more of that horror, Kubrick lingers upon its latency and origins. (Through Wed.) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, central-cinema.com. $6. 9:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

SATURDAY 10/8

Books: The Long Tail

The years of research for Art Spiegelman's two-part Pulitzer winner filled countless notebooks, sketchpads, and audiotapes, much of it crammed onto the companion DVD to MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic (Pantheon, $35). Maus and Maus II, which redefined modern comics, address both the Holocaust and the artist's own struggle to adapt his Polish family's near-extermination into graphic form. Spiegelman began his first Maus sketches in the early '70s, not long after his mother's suicide and his own time in a mental ward. Here we see those early outlines and read the transcripts of his father's interview tapes (or, if you can bear it, listen to the DVD version). A long-form interview with archivist Hillary Chute helps elucidate Spiegelman's meticulous method, as he frets over Yiddish translations, repositions dialogue bubbles, and weighs the "architectonic rigor" of panels on each page. Why was Maus published in two parts (1986 and 1991)? Because, Spiegelman explains, he wanted to reach the wider public before the '86 animated movie An American Tail—about Jewish mice escaping imperial Russian pogroms (long preceding WWII). Tonight, in one of only three stops on Spiegelman's national press tour, super-librarian Nancy Pearl will be his onstage interlocutor. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, spl.org. Free. 6:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Nightlife: Reagan Era Redux

If the fashion and pop music of today indicate anything, it is that the '80s are back in full force. Spawned in Portland, the '80s Video Dance Attack embraces the notion by throwing shindigs featuring the decade's most awesome anthems. Attendees—encouraged to dress in period attire—can sing and dance to Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, and Madonna while VJ LeeAnimal streams those music videos on 10-foot projector screens. "These parties get as loud as a rock concert, but they are definitely not about being the cool kid," says 80sVDA company manager Travis Labbe. "They are about throwing down to the music from your high-school and college days." In other words, you finally get to put to use the Salt-N-Pepa lyrics you memorized and that neon mesh shirt you never thought would come in handy again. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $8–$10. 9 p.m. ERIKA HOBART

TUESDAY 10/11

Books: Sci-Fi Survivor

Ernest Cline has earned a living in lots of different ways. He donated plasma, gutted fish, worked as a clerk in a video store where he had infinitely better taste in movies than his customers, and even played the role of a condescending tech-support worker. A few years ago, he walked away from all that glamour and glitter to become an Austin, Texas, spoken-word artist and screenwriter. In 2007, his film Fanboys hit a nerve and became a cult hit. Now Cline has taken his writing in another direction and penned a novel, Ready Player One (Crown, $24). Given his penchant for the offbeat, this is not just any novel. It takes place in the near future, when people spend most of their time in virtual worlds instead of the bleak reality that surrounds them. Protagonist Wade Watts spends his time in OASIS, a virtual world where three keys have been hidden. Anyone who finds them will win a huge fortune. But the game's creator hasn't made it easy. If players take a wrong step in OASIS, it might be their last. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. OLIVIA FLORES ALVAREZ

 
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