The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 6/14

Books: And the Answer Is . . .

There will be beer. There will be whiskey. There will be pizza. And there will be a sensational DJ: El Toro (Kurt B. Reighley) tonight at the Sunset. But what's unusual is that there will also be an author, Judy McGuire, aka Seattle Weekly's own Dategirl columnist. And rather than simply read passages from her exhaustively researched and wildly entertaining new The Official Book of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll Lists (Soft Skull, $15.95) McGuire will stage a trivia contest ("How many rockers croaked via autoerotic asphyxiation?") and give away prizes to the most knowledgeable attendees. Stick around after Kurt and Judy's Variety Show (as we surely will), pay a modest $8 cover, and you can also hear some of Seattle's finest local twang, performed live by Shelby Earl and Mark Pickerel. (Amy LaVere's also on the bill.) You can bet McGuire will sign your book, and you can also read an exclusive advance excerpt at seattleweekly.com. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 6–8 p.m. MIKE SEELY

Music: Faithful Fretwork

The Beatles have the world's most covered and coveted songbook; the airwaves are so saturated with covers that they can sound like white noise. (Occasionally something truly terrible, like PM Dawn's "Norwegian Wood," gets your attention.) Local jazz-guitar icon Bill Frisell has heard all that crap, yet dared to sample the John Lennon side of the canon for last fall's release on Savoy Jazz, All We Are Saying, a tender and thoughtfully adapted collection of 16 songs you know so well, including "In My Life," "Nowhere Man," and "Julia." They're both familiar and sublime. Opening the album, "Across the Universe" is gorgeous, infusing iconic hooks with elegant guitar harmonics and dreamy resonance. Frisell's delicate rendition of "Julia" weaves expert improvisation into the arrangement; he applies graceful finesse to the classic melody. He respects Lennon and the Beatles too much to attempt any sort of reckless rearrangement. For this four-night stand (through Sunday), he's backed by Tony Scherr, Greg Leisz, and Kenny Wollesen. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729, jazzalley.com. $26.50. 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Books: Cresting on His Laurels

It seems awfully clichéd to call a veteran writer an old lion, but Frank Deford actually looks like one. Now in his mid-70s, Deford's still got the muttonchops, thin mustache, and towering physical—and intellectual—stature to embody the king of the sports-journalism jungle. And now he's written a whimsically titillating and ruthlessly self-deprecating memoir, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25), which he opens with the suggestion that memoirs are an exercise in self-aggrandizement. People don't bat an eyelid when the Sports Illustrated legend wears sweaters, suits, ties, and button-down shirts in Easter-egg colors, whereas they mock TV basketball sideline reporter Craig Sager as a wannabe pimp for sporting such loud and proud finery. The regal Deford can (probably) drink you under the table, write you under the table, and think you under the table, but Over Time makes clear that he knows luck has plenty to do with where he is today—licking his wrinkly paws while a harem of subservient cats hunt down his supper. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, spl.org. Free. 7 p.m. MIKE SEELY

FRIDAY 6/15

Film: Strange Obsessions

Welcome to the uniquely surreal world of Czech animation genius Jan Švankmajer. Unsettling, often grotesque, always imaginative and vivid, his stop-motion studies are built out of a distinctive blend of hand-carved puppets and dolls, found objects, decaying food and vegetation, and dead animals and insects. All are blended into the mundane reality of his repressive socialist (and later post-Soviet) world. Mixing media like a dream-weaver, he creates images so primal and grossly sensual that their subversive political satire has usually escaped censors' notice. His herky-jerky animation is alienating, unnerving, and weirdly beautiful—filled with creations that appear to have crawled in from another dimension. Švankmajer worked in shorts for 20 years before making his first feature in 1989, the nightmarishly creepy Alice (as in Wonderland), which begins the retrospective tonight. All six of his features, including the creepy fairy tale Little Otik (2000) and his live-action Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), will screen from 35mm prints. (Through Thurs.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$10. 8 p.m. SEAN AXMAKER

Film: Marital Horror

Think Rosemary's Baby reimagined as David Cronenberg bio-horror through the lens of European art cinema. In the 1981 Possession, Isabelle Adjani abruptly leaves her husband (Sam Neill), son, and lover to become both mother and mistress to a dark demon she spontaneously births in the midst of a nervous breakdown in a Berlin subway. Adjani is all twitchy, rabbit-like nervousness in her erratic spiral, while Neill obsesses over her mysterious behavior like a man possessed. Polish-born director Andrjez Zulawski claims he was inspired to make this film by the emotions that bubbled up during his divorce. It's not hard to see: Both Adjani's and Neill's characters become so unlikable that only the sheer madness of their struggle keeps us watching. This story of demons and doppelgängers is an uncomfortable mix of heady psychodrama, raw emotion (via hysterical shouting matches and intense, bug-eyed performances), and exploitation weirdness, the latter courtesy of special-effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi's nightmarish love child. The film was cut by 45 minutes for its initial American release, then restored for home video a few years ago. This is the first time the complete version has been seen in U.S. theaters. (Through Sun.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$8. 8:45 & 11 p.m. SEAN AXMAKER

Comedy: Above It All

Brian Posehn has made a comedy career out of being underestimated. He's a big galoot often lurking in supporting roles (The Sarah Silverman Program, Just Shoot Me, The Five-Year Engagement, etc.), but never the star. Jason Segel may get the lunky comic lead roles, but not him. So the mountain-tall (6 feet, 6 inches) Posehn has made his . . . er, distinctively bald, jowly, hangdog appearance into a strength. He's always silently looming at the periphery of a scene. He quite literally looks down on the comic commotion, the hubbub at his feet. And though he visually presents as a slacker, he's anything but. In addition to writing and directing for TV, he tours regularly as a stand-up comedian—and will be recording tonight's two shows. In the past, Posehn made hay of his not-quite-ironic love of heavy metal, but he's also a serious foodie (of the food-truck persuasion) and a proud sci-fi geek. As he said on a recent Conan O'Brien appearance, "I'm a giant, giant nerd. I'm a big Star Wars fan—the old Star Wars. I hate the new Star Wars." Of George Lucas' add-on trilogy and his tinkering with the original three movies, he vented, "I'm still that guy. I still get mad at that stuff. I look on it as betrayal, as if my uncle tried to rape me." The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $15–$17. 8 & 10:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

 
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