The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Throwing Muses

Since arriving on the scene in the 1980s, Throwing Muses has had a reputation as a highly literate rock band. So perhaps it’s no surprise that its latest album was released by a book publisher (It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins). Purgatory/Paradise is in fact a book and an album, comprising what must be the longest liner notes in rock history: Each of the 32 songs is accompanied by an essay by Kristin Hersh explaining its inspiration. And while it could be easy to dismiss this as yet another value-added gambit contrived to get people to buy physical copies of music again, Hersh’s touching punk prose (no capital letters and ample use of the word “cuz”) is often as poetic as her lyrics. With its beautiful nature photography, the 64-page Purgatory/Paradise becomes a sort of riot grrrl coffee-table book, if riot grrrls have such things. The music itself, the band’s first new material in a decade, is vintage Throwing Muses, despite the absence of Tanya Donelly. And yes, it is available to stream on Spotify—no reading required. The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, thetripledoor.net. $30–$35. 7:30 p.m.

AWP Conference 2014

I know what you’re thinking: What could possibly be more fun than this national gathering of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs? All these whining MFA types with massive student loans and without jobs or the ability to write something actually useful—like code, maybe? But still, these poets, essayists, novelists, journalists, and crafters of verse will not be deterred. Perhaps their sheer stubbornness in the face of penury is worthy of our respect. And if not that, you could at least buy them a beer or three at some of the many offsite readings and gatherings that are open to us, the unlettered, unwashed, unpublished members of the general public (mere readers, in other words). Some of these AWP attendees are actually local writers we know and endorse, like Peter Mountford, author of the new novel The Dismal Science, who’ll read with friends at Chop Suey (8 p.m. Thurs.) And our former colleague, memoirist Domingo Martinez (The Boy Kings of Texas), will talk about the living hell that is a writers’ colony (The Alibi Room, 7 p.m. Thurs.), where sex and alcohol are all that those miserable, confined scribes have to avoid the actual business of writing. Other offsite literary topics include Bruce Lee, porn, comics, Denise Levertov, and Theodore Roethke, whose old watering hole, the Blue Moon, will host the AWP’s concluding verse-a-thon (5–9 p.m. Saturday). Official AWP panels and functions take place at the Washington State Convention Center (Wed.–Sat.) Various locations, awpwriter.org.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Seattle Symphony

Mozart must have had some reason for dashing off three full-scale symphonies—his last and greatest, it turned out—in the summer of 1788, but no one’s since been able to prove what that was. (One of his letters mentions a concert series, from the proceeds of which he was planning to repay some loans.) He was never in the habit of composing for anything other than immediate practical need, and throughout his career had readily abandoned half-finished works when performance plans fell through. Even less likely was he to revise works unless he had to, so the fact that the Symphony no. 40 exists in versions with and without clarinets suggests it got a hearing of some kind. (“Oh, we’ll have clarinets for the concert? Hang on a minute, I’ll add them.”) Still, we’ll probably never know just why these pieces—the lyrical and witty no. 39, the pulsatingly passionate no. 40, and the majestic and thrilling no. 41—came to be. And we’ll surely never unlock the mystery of Mozart’s preternatural compositional speed: The three works are dated June 26, July 25, and August 10. SSO conductor emeritus Gerard Schwarz leads the triptych tonight. (Also 8 p.m. Sat.) Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 215-4747, seattlesymphony.org. $19–$76. 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Sync Music Video Festival

MTV used to be the only way for kids to watch music videos. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, any jerk with a camera, a computer, and a song can upload his work to YouTube. Or, increasingly, we watch band videos in little boxes in our Facebook feeds. For musicians and video directors alike, the challenge is to keep our Twitter-addled minds focused for the whole four minutes of a song. Yet good work has been done, as you’ll see in this video showcase featuring the likes of Don’t Talk to the Cops, Sera Cahoone, Monogamy Party, Shelby Earl, Tennis Pro, Cumulus, Iska Dhaaf, Tea Cozies, and Hey Marseilles. You can also hear from the talented local directors behind the camera: Emily Denton, Jordan Albertsen, Ryan McMackin, and Stephan Gray will join our own Mark Baumgarten in a panel discussion about the changing form and reception of music videos. Additionally, a select jury of film- and music-industry professionals will grant a Best Director award, with the proceeds to fund the winner’s next project. SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $10–$15. 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 2

Three Dollar Bill Academy Awards Party

Ellen’s hosting, making tonight’s Oscar telecast all the gayer. This annual fundraiser benefits both Three Dollar Bill Cinema and the Gay City Health Project, and the party is always a fun time—like the Super Bowl for the LGBT community. (And now that the Winter Olympics’ ice-skating commentary of Johnny Wier is over, what else is there to watch?) Hosted by Robbie Turner, this ninth annual shindig will feature hors d’oeuvres, a no-host bar, an Oscar-ballot contest, and door prizes. But the real prizes always go to those with the quickest quips at the antics on screen. Categories will naturally include: Worst Dress, Most Flagrant Beard, Obvious Hairplugs, Secretly Gay, Glitter Patrol, Somebody Punch Ryan Seacrest, Clearly Stoned But Keeping It Together Nicely, Worst Speech, and He/She Did Not Really Just Say That, Did They? On TV, among ABC’s crew of red-carpet jackals, it’s worth paying attention only to what Tim Gunn has to say, so don’t be shy about sharing your opinions. Fred Wildlife Refuge, 127 Boylston Ave., threedollarbillcinema.org. $35–$400 (21 and over). 4–9 p.m.

Monday, March 3

Endangered Species Project

This periodic reading series is designed to showcase forgotten texts, plays that are too big, too baggy, too musty, or simply too weird for full stagings. Maxwell Anderson’s 1933 political satire Both Your Houses launched ESP three years ago, and this is an encore presentation of a Pulitzer winner that became dated very fast after FDR and World War II. Back in the day, Roosevelt had just come into office, the Great Depression was raging, and domestic politics had been dysfunctional—if not outright corrupt—since the collapse of the progressive movement. Anderson’s plot, about an idealistic young congressman trying to stop pork-barrel spending, shows some of the same impulses behind Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Meet John Doe: a disgust with politics-as-usual and a plea for the interests of the average voter (or “the forgotten man,” as FDR would describe him). The central irony of Maxwell’s comedy is that Rep. McClean hopes to shame his pork-happy colleagues by encouraging ever more earmarks—roads, bridges, dams, something for everyone! But his Congress is incapable of shame, and its members gladly go along with McClean’s profligate plan. Today, of course, spending is a dirty word—if it benefits those who voted against you. Eight decades ago, political enemies were united in pork. Leslie Law and Kathryn Van Meter direct the staged reading, which features a dozen familiar faces from local theater companies. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org and endangeredspeciesproject.org. $10–$15. 7 p.m.

 
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