The Week’s Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 3/27

Books/Comedy: Magna Cum Martin

With his trademark easel drawings and deadpan humor, stand-up comedian, author, former Conan O’Brien writer, and occasional Daily Show correspondent Demetri Martin could be the poster boy (man) for the new guard of comedy. He’s artistic (he sketches), he’s musical (plays the guitar), he’s educated (Yale), and he incorporates all these skills into his routine, whether he’s dryly explaining his stick figures (that Do and Don’t bit) or talking up his latest book. He’ll do just that today for Point Your Face at This: Drawings (Grand Central, $12.99) before his sold-out engagement at the Showbox (though a second 9:30 p.m. show’s been added). He’s one of the lucky ones, too: His handsomeness just makes his peers, like Zach Galifianakis, look like the (funny) schlubs they are. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 4 p.m.

THURSDAY 3/28

Books/Booze: Drinks and Leaves

Browsing the shelves of a liquor store, Amy Stewart sees plants in every bottle: Gin is distilled from grains and infused with herbs, spices, citrus, and flowers; whiskey is also distilled from grains (and sometimes corn), and aged in wooden barrels; bitters are infused with roots and seeds; and garnishes range from cured olives and pickled onions to citrus peels and preserved cherries. From bottle to bar, according to Stewart, there’s a botany lesson available in every glass. In The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin, $19.99), she explores the history of fermentation and distillation and the origins of many spirits, introduces readers to dozens of plants used in drinks, and offers 50 cocktail recipes. From cover to cover, she describes the histories of plants from sugar cane and sorghum to cacao and lavender, how they grow, and where or when they were first combined or turned into spirits. This book is a garden guide first. It just so happens that all the plants featured are inextricably tied to booze. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., 366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com. Free. 7 p.m. SONJA GROSET

FRIDAY 3/29

Film: Escape Artistry

Morris Engel and his collaborator (and future wife) Ruth Orkin are hardly household names, but you could make a case that they’re the spiritual parents of the modern indie cinema, birthed with their 1953 Little Fugitive. Shot guerrilla-style (with Ray Ashley its third co-creator) on a minuscule budget with non-actors, the leisurely film follows the adventures of a 7-year-old boy (Richie Andrusco, cast right off the streets) when he runs away to Coney Island. Engel designed a portable 35mm camera that he could strap to his shoulder and take into the crowds on the Coney Island midway, giving him intimacy and flexibility without the need for a support crew. A fellow New Yorker and aspiring filmmaker by the name of Stanley Kubrick was so impressed with the lightweight camera that he rented it for his next film, Killer’s Kiss. Sure, Little Fugitive is a bit precious, but it’s also sweet and endearingly innocent; its immediacy helped launch DIY cinema outside Hollywood, and its production style became a model for directors including John Cassavetes and François Truffaut. Its easy rhythms, normal-sounding dialogue, and naturalistic acting set the template for American independents for decades to come. (Screened from a new print; runs through Thurs.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$10. 7 & 9 p.m.

Comedy: Free Laughs

Fans will know Dana Gould from his past contributions to The Simpsons, characters like Cupid’s brother on the legendary Ben Stiller Show, or observations of the weird on his podcast The Dana Gould Hour. Launching out of the Boston and San Francisco club scenes in the ’80s, Gould pioneered a loose and thoughtful comedic style now dubbed alt-comedy. Today a prolific writer and performer who dissects life and society through his act, Gould’s satire topples the traditional pillars of society: marriage, children, aging parents, politics, religion, and more. He’s making a stop in Seattle to record a new one-hour comedy special, I Know It’s Wrong, likely to be sold directly from his website (danagould.com) later this year. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St. Free; must RSVP via tblus.com/danagould. 7 & 9:30 p.m.

Film: Are You Talkin’ to Me?

Martin Scorsese’s mob opus GoodFellas provides an appropriate opening to the 10-film Epic De Niro retrospective. Though not in the series, Silver Linings Playbook recently gave Robert De Niro one of his best roles in years; his Oscar-nominated role as a fearful, OCD father unable to cope with his mentally ill son is a tender, 180-degree turn from his Irish hoodlum in GoodFellas (1990). His Jimmy Conway can never be a made man, unlike Joe Pesci’s volatile Tommy, as we learn from apprentice mobster Henry (Ray Liotta). Perhaps because of this ethnic exclusion, Jimmy is one cold bastard. After his crew makes a huge score with an airport robbery, the other mooks start buying cars and minks. To protect their secret (and enlarge his share), Jimmy starts killing off his old compadres without compunction. Henry can’t believe it—Is there no honor among thieves?—and soon becomes a target himself. The closer Henry gets to his old mentor and the center of the mob, the more he apprehends the danger in what seemed such a glamorous, loyal fraternity. Jimmy’s credo goes like this: “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” And if you cross him, he’ll kill you. Even so, there’s an unlikely sentimental connection between De Niro’s roles here and in Silver Linings. GoodFellas is also one of the rare films in which De Niro cries—though Pesci’s sociopath doesn’t deserve his tears. Other titles in the series include Taxi Driver, Heat, and Jackie Brown. (Through Thurs.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $6–$11. 7 p.m.

Stage: The Blob

“It’s sort of purplish-grey,” says 20-something Colby, a recent mom, “and it’s skinny, so skinny, except for its head, which is immeasurably huge. I laugh. It’s all a big joke.” It, in fact, is Colby’s baby, “sort of like a jellyfish” with one blue-green eye and fur. Yet Smudge, a modest but effective 2010 play that opens tonight, is not all laughs—although its Emmy-winning writer Rachel Axler (The Daily Show, Parks and Recreation) knows how and when to work plenty of them into what’s essentially a dark anxiety play. Colby (Carol Thompson) is, to say the least, not amused by new daughter Cassandra. Husband Nick (Ashton Hyman), however, is charmed and dewy-eyed over his one-eyed offspring. Yet he throws himself deeper into his work at the Census Bureau with his brother Pete (Noah Benezra), a blowhard who details the alarming effects that Rocket Popsicles have on his morning poop. Directed by Erin Kraft, Smudge is the kind of intimate, off-center entertainment at which WET often excels— a surreal three-person contemplation of how easily the idea of a perfect . . . anything can, in a moment, be shred into so many pieces, like the clothes Colby angrily snips to better accommodate her bouncing baby blob. (Through April 22.) Washington Ensemble Theatre, 608 19th Ave. E., 325-5105, washingtonensemble.org. $15–$25. 7:30 p.m.

 
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