The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 6/20

Books: Rounds and Shots

Whatever happened to that Jarhead guy, Anthony Swofford, after the success of his 2003 Gulf War memoir and the subsequent 2005 movie? Well, he admits, there was an unsuccessful stab at a novel, a lot of women, plenty of cheating on women ("I was a Zen master at infidelity"), much drinking, and a fair amount of drugs. Swofford is unsparing about his shortcomings in his new memoir Hotels, Hospitals and Jails (Twelve, $26.99), but he's not really its main subject. Instead it's the testy relationship he has with his dad, a Vietnam War vet slowly succumbing to lung failure, that drives the book forward. Not all of it is good; Swofford is often grasping with his prose, but then he'll turn around and mock his Hemingway tendencies. Hotels is anecdotal, almost a little black book, but it feels heartfelt and honest. Some vignettes, like drunk-driving his BMW into a tree, stand on their own as short stories. Even better is the account of how his grandparents met in '40s Alabama. Later, Swofford writes, "My father built a roof of shame for his family to live under." In place of the shooting war he missed in the first Gulf War, he gets an ongoing war with his pa, starting in childhood and lasting through his hard-living 30s. And when the two pack into a Winnebago ("the truth machine") for road trips together, you can guess their destination: Reconciliation, 271 pages ahead. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

THURSDAY 6/21

Cabaret: Proud Before Pride

What Sandra Bernhard does best is being herself—hence the new album and touring show, I Love Being Me, Don't You? She has a gift for self-awareness, which allows her to both wallow in celebrity culture yet roll her eyes—and lash her tongue—at its excesses. And she has no patience for a certain gay icon-come-lately. "She's very concerned for her gays," says Bernhard of Lady Gaga. " 'How are my gays? My little monsters? Are my gays OK?' Fuck the gays. We've got disposable income, fabulous taste, gorgeous homes, great restaurants. What about the straights and their Tevas? The gays are fine." I Love Being Me also finds Bernhard ruminating on everything from Angelina Jolie to Grindr, but it really is a music album; and she's in better singing voice than ever. Backed by a four-piece band, she's still using her eclectic musical taste to enhance her often wistful, comic storytelling in surprising ways. In L.A. earlier this month, she managed to work in Neil Sedaka's cheesy 1975 chart-topper "Laughter in the Rain," Bruce Springsteen's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and a legitimately roof-raising rendition of the Carol Channing standard "Before the Parade Passes By" from, yes, Hello, Dolly! The songs may change, but you should prepare yourself for a performer at the top of her game who lets nothing pass her by. (Through Sat.) The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, tripledoor.net. $30–$60. 7:30 & 10:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

FRIDAY 6/22

Film: He Captures the Castle

Hayao Miyazaki is much more than Japan's Walt Disney. He combines epic vision, animist mythology, environmentally conscious subtext, and a dedication to hand-drawn animation maintained in the face of the digital revolution. Miyazaki believes that children deserve stories with depth and emotional complexity, as well as imagination and excitement—and that's what he delivers. Along with his most celebrated films (the magical My Neighbor Totoro, his environmentalist epic Princess Mononoke, his dark fairy tale Spirited Away), Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and The Masters of Studio Ghibli offers some adventures waiting to be discovered. For younger audiences, the delightful Kiki's Delivery Service features a strong, plucky young heroine building her self-esteem. For slightly older kids are the grand adventures Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky, spectacular fantasies drawn from the director's private mythos. For another sensibility, check out the eccentric My Neighbors the Yamadas, a comic strip–style family comedy that translates quite effectively to suburban America. It's directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata. All 15 titles will be screened from 35mm prints, in both dubbed and subtitled editions. First up tonight is Howl's Moving Castle, in English, followed by the subtitled Castle in the Sky. (Through July 5.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $5–$10. 6 & 8:30 p.m. SEAN AXMAKER

Dance: Flour Power

The stereotype of butoh includes very, very serious dancers, covered in rice flour and doing painful movement really slowly. But while the dance form, originally developed in postwar Japan, does have a tradition of deeply felt, emotional work, any concert that includes a dance titled Can't Sleep Clowns Will Eat Me—with music by Screaming Jay Hawkins!—has to make room for a sense of humor. Featuring a half-dozen butoh choreographers, the group show 30/30 will have some serious stuff, and some of it might be painful, but there will be some laughs in there, too. Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., 325-8773, daipanbutoh.com. $20. 8 p.m. Fri. (and Sat.) SANDRA KURTZ

SUNDAY 6/24

Pride: The New Normal

Gratifyingly, the Seattle Pride Parade seems to be established downtown where it belongs, after years of internecine bickering over whether it should get out of the Capitol Hill ghetto. Now all we have to do is make it interesting. The mainstreaming of gay culture inevitably means the dulling of whatever edge Pride weekends had; what once was a defiantly raised fist is now lawn chairs in the shade. Even this year's political battle, with same-sex marriage rights on the November ballot, is a struggle toward coziness: Rah, rah, domesticity! Not that I want the clock turned back—gee, if only we were more oppressed, Pride would be more charged with meaning. That the whole thing's grown stodgy is something to celebrate, I guess; we're slowly winning the fight not to be unusual. Now the parade is no more subversive than Veterans Day in Cedar Rapids, and the festival is basically the Bite of Seattle with less food and better abs. Parade: 11 a.m. from Fourth Ave. & Union St. to Denny Way, ending at Seattle Center, where festivities follow from noon–8 p.m. Free. seattlepride.org. GAVIN BORCHERT

TUESDAY 6/26

Books: Loss Leader

Why is Kerry Killinger not in jail? I read Kirsten Grind's comprehensive new account, based on her reporting for Puget Sound Business Journal, in a weekend. Monday morning, I was no less angry. The Lost Bank (Simon & Schuster, $27) relates how Killinger assumed control of the small, regional, conservatively run—but fun, in a banker's kind of fun—thrift called Washington Mutual, founded in 1889. You know the rest of the story in outline, and Grind supplies the granular detail as to how WaMu grew and grew, expanded into subprime mortgages and liar loans, briefly attained Killinger's goal of becoming the Costco of banking via "the power of yes," then blew up with the 2008 real-estate bubble, becoming the largest bank failure in U.S. history. (No government bailout for you, WaMu!) Today a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Grind spreads the balance sheets from wall-to-wall. Even if she never got face time with Killinger, she dutifully interviewed those who worked under the weirdly vanilla, nonconfrontational leader—and the guy who hired him, to his everlasting regret. Another ex-WaMu'er tells Grind he came to see adjustable-rate mortgages as an evil product, but they were approved by a surpassingly bland, opaque CEO. (One who walked away with $22 million in severance, it should be noted.) There has to be morality to moneylending or, failing that, regulation. Absent both controls, Killinger turns out to have been exactly the right man for his times. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m BRIAN MILLER

 
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