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March 11, 2014 at 7:53am

5 Things To Do Today: Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, "Mandela," female arm wrestling and more ...

King's Books in Tacoma carries the ultimate guide to all things kitten.

TUESDAY, MARCH 11 2014 >>>

1. The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee - the title of a blog run by kitten wrangler and crafter Laurie Cinotto - is also the title of Cinotto's new book, loaded with practical kitten tips and awesome photos. At 7 p.m., King's Books throws a book release party with a special appearance by feline supermodel Miss Wylla Stout. King's will be selling The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee as well as collecting pet food donations for the emergency pet food bank at the Humane Society.

2. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the big screen adaptation of the late South African President's 1995 autobiography of the same name, is the latest from director Michael Chadwick. Chadwick and screenwriter William Nicholson had a very daunting task before them. Could they really condense some 77 years of Mandela's life into a movie with a theater-friendly running time and still do the man justice? Jared Lovrak is happy to report that they could, and they did it beautifully. Read his full review here, then check out the film at 1:45 and 7 p.m. in The Grand Cinema.

3. Rolling Stones tribute band Tumbling Dice perform at 6:30 p.m. in the Red Wind Casino.

4. CLAW - short for the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers - is a growing arm-wrestling scene, mixing competition with bawdy exhibitionism, with leagues as far afield as New York, Austin and even São Paulo, Brazil. The documentary CLAW: The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers retells the birth pains of the collective, shares the shattered bones, and recognizes the joyous political empowerment that comes out of grabbing hands. The Olympia Chapter of The Collective Ladies of Arm Wrestling - "OLYCLAW" - is generate interest and garner support for its fledgling league by screening CLAW at 7 p.m. inside Le Voyeur.

5. Lowmen Markos is an orchestral "post-rock" group from Seattle who will focus on noise, drone, metal and psychedelia at 9 p.m. inside Northern. Shadows and Vanguard also join the all-ages bill.

LINK: Tuesday, March 11 arts and entertainment in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

March 10, 2014 at 7:39am

5 Things To Do Today: Photographer John Arsenault, author Brandon Stogsdill, James Coates and more ...

Photographer John Arsenault's "5:36pm" and other photos on display at Kittredge Gallery on the University of Puget Sound campus.

MONDAY, MARCH 10 2014 >>>

1. The exhibitionFor You! in Kittredge's Small Gallery premieres selections from photographer John Arsenault's newest body of work, which opens today at 10 a.m. The images in the exhibition reveal Arsenault's fascination with the mundane and how the unexpected can be amplified by readily accessible digital technology. Using the Instagram app, Arsenault isolates exquisitely beautiful details of flowers, adding a 21st-century twist to 19th-century precedents and ideas about art and aesthetics.

2. Today looks like an awesome day for a noon, free guided bird walk at the Adriana Hess Wetland Park. No experience necessary; binoculars are available to borrow. No RSVP required. 

3. Ready for a success story ... in story form? At 17, Brandon Stogsdill was arrested, tried as an adult for assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to four years in prison. While in prison, Stogsdill vowed to change. When he was released, Stogsdill enrolled in college and began a career in psychology. Today he works as a youth mental health counselor. He tells the story of his transformation in his book, The Boy with the Gun: From Incarceration to Higher Education, which he'll discuss and sign at 7 p.m. in the Lakewood Library.

4. James Coates performs original tunes and classic rock hits at 7 p.m. in the Steilacoom Pub & Grill

5. Maia Santell and House Blend will fill The Swiss with blues and jazz beginning at 8 p.m.

LINK: Monday, March 10 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia events

March 6, 2014 at 7:48am

5 Things To Do Today: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," wine and chocolate, author Brett Lawrence, Globelamp and more ...

The story of Big Daddy and his devious family members arrives on the Harlequin stage in downtown Olympia tonight.

THURSDAY, MARCH 6 2014 >>>

1. Give Harlequin Productions an A for ambition in tackling Tennessee Williams' masterful Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winner is still a sizzler, with words one does not use in polite company even after decades of Williams' tweaks and revisions. This romp through the Seven Deadly Sins (avarice, lust, envy, greed, pride, sloth and gluttony, for those keeping score) hits the stage at 8 p.m.


March 4, 2014 at 7:49am

5 Things To Do Today: Fat Tuesday, "Sweet Dreams," book readings and more ...

Southern Comfort Promo Girls will be at the Harmon Tap Room tonight.

TUESDAY, MARCH 4 2014 >>>

1. The Harmon Tap Room hosts a Fat Tuesday party with the Southern Comfort Promo Girls, a best mask contest with $50 prize money (7 p.m.), an all-you-can-eat Southern style buffet ($15), commemorative 18-ounce chalice for $10, Jello shots, beads, prizes, swag and more from 6 p.m. to close.

2. The vibrantly filmed Sweet Dreams (the Rwandan landscape is breathtaking) is a powerful entry in the list of documentaries charting the country's rebirth, illustrating the unexpected ways the human spirit reinvents itself after enduring the unthinkable. Catch it at 1:45 and 6:40 p.m. at The Grand Cinema in Tacoma.

3. Portland, Ore. novelist Cari Luna will read from her debut novel, The Revolution of Every Day, which was named by the Oregonian as one of the Top 10 Northwest Books of 2013. D. Foy will give a sneak preview of his forthcoming debut novel, Made to Break, which recently made Flavorwire's list of 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2014. Both readings will happen at Orca Books in Olympia, which goes down at 7 p.m.

4. Hosted by Ralph Porter every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., Ha Ha Tuesdays at Jazzbones offers a string of comedians and drink specials.

5. The 1230 Room probably has you at "$4 lemon drops," but you also may be interested in the downtown Olympia club's Tuesday deep, tech and progressive house night "Deep Tuesdays." It launches at 9 p.m. with drink specials, no cover and resident DJs Alex Bosi and Evan Mould.

LINK: Tuesday, March 4 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

March 2, 2014 at 8:25am

5 Things To Do Today: Oscar parties, author Glen Retief, The Esoterics, Howie Mandel and more ...

We snuck into The Grand Cinema's Oscar Party VIP room last year.

SUNDAY, MARCH 2 2014 >>>

1. The Academy Awards are tonight. There's plenty of speculation about who's likely to win, along with conversation about who's worthy of the awards. Team Walkie Talkie has our money on American Hustle or 12 Years A Slave. Speaking of the golden naked dudes, there are not one but two local venues at which you can put on your Oscar Sunday best and savor the festivities with hundreds of other cineastes. The Olympia Film Society rolls out the red carpet at 4 p.m. in front of the Capitol Theater. The Grand Cinema opens its Oscars party at 5 p.m. in Tacoma's Theatre on the Square


February 26, 2014 at 7:38am

5 Things To Do Today: J.A. Jance chat, glass artist Erich Woll, co-existing with coyotes and more ...

J.A. Jance / photo credit: Mary Ann Halpin Studios

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26 2014 >>>

1. The descriptor "New York Times Bestselling Author" isn't exactly what it used to be. James Patterson literally craps bestsellers. Then again, if becoming a bestselling author was easy we'd probably do it ... you know ... instead of pounding out sentences late into the night for little to no recognition here in our Volcano-issue cubicle in Building 3 at Northwest Military Headquarters. Author J.A. Jance has published like a gazillion mystery and crime novels. She's a legitimate New York Times Bestselling Author, not to mention a half-time Seattleite. Jance's newest book in the Ali Reynolds series - Moving Target - was released Feb. 18. Jance will speak and sign books at the University Place Library at 7 p.m. Free tickets to the event are available from the library in advance.

2. Seattle-based artist Erich Woll will be working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop as a visiting artist from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The residency was awarded to Woll as part of his Juror's Choice prize, which he received for his piece "How Often Do You Get Burned" at the 2013 Red Hot Auction and Gala. Currently designing another piece for Bellevue Arts Museum, Woll will hang all week in the Hot Shop to continue working on the project, entitled "Mistakes Will Be Made."

3. The folks at Pour At Four wine bar in Tacoma's Proctor District dig Powers Winery in Kennewick. Apparently the wines pour well across the board and are priced favorably. Drop by between 5:30 and 8 p.m. for complimentary tastes.

4. One of our favorite Far Side cartoons, by Gary Larson, depicts a pair of grizzled cowboys sitting around a campfire at dusk. One is handing the other a cup. The caption reads, "More cappuccino, Raoul?" Yes, times are changing. We have to co-exist with coyotes. How? Good news: The city of Gig Harbor, along with West Sound Wildlife Shelter, will host a presentation to discuss co-existing with coyotes, offering fun facts about coyotes and information about living in safety and harmony with these intelligent animals from 6-8 p.m. in the Gig Harbor Civic Center.

5. Larry Wayne Gatlin is an American country music singer/songwriter. He is perhaps best known for teaming up with his brothers Steve and Rudy in the late 1970s, becoming one of country music's most successful acts of the 1970s and 1980s. Hear a little history when the trio performs at 7 p.m. at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton.

LINK: Wednesday, Feb. 26 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

February 24, 2014 at 2:42pm

Nerd Alert! Portlandia, War Horse, Stalingrad, J.A. Jance and Oscar parties!

Start pickling your celery and concocting celery-based cocktails, because "Portlandia" returns to IFC at 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb 27.

Dreaming of the '90s, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


Portlandia's fourth season of gentle sketch satire at the expense of the PNW begins on IFC at 10. They should totally put a bird on that.


February 24, 2014 at 7:38am

5 Things To Do Today: Cinco de Mayo, Hambone Blues Band, experimental jam ...

MONDAY, FEB. 24 2014 >>>

1. It's been 50 years since the Civil Rights Act and the country is witnessing a renewed attack on voting rights, the re-segregation of public schools, gentrification, mass incarceration and entrenched job discrimination. Have something to say? University of Puget Sound organizations Black Student Union, African American Studies, Resident Student Association, and Spoken Word and Poetry Club host a "Civil Rights and Peace" poetry reading in celebration of Black History Month from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Tahoma Room at the Commencement Hall on the campus the University of Puget Sound.


February 10, 2014 at 11:05am

Nerd Alert!: "RoboCop" and the definitive history of Dungeons & Dragons

Dumbed-down shoot-em-up … Robocop. Photo credit: StudioCanal/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Courtesy of your friends at Omni Consumer Products, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


My colleague the Rev. Adam McKinney saw fit to neglect Wednesday's reboot of RoboCop in last week's Nerd Alert column, and I imagine it's because - like me - he doesn't think it'll be any good. Some movies don't need to be remade. The trailers make this new version look like a borderline-competent, dare I say interchangeable, action movie, but they don't show a hint of satirical wit. That was what made the '87 original stand out. God knows it wasn't all those obscenely gory squib hits; it was the worldview that demanded them. Director Paul Verhoeven, as subtle as a brick in the eye, reveled in violence and amorality with a wink so obvious even teenagers could tell he was kidding. I know the difference between violence and ironic violence is a subtle one, but the problem here is, it might be so subtle the reboot's director, José Padilha, didn't realize it was there. On the other hand, he did study English literature at Oxford, so maybe I'm selling him short. In other words, perhaps I'd buy his movie for a dollar after all. I mean, it's not like any of us thought The LEGO Movie would be worth a flip.


Because I don't have HBO and I'm not a shameless scofflaw, today's Blu-ray and DVD release marks my first opportunity to watch Season 3 of Game of Thrones. I have successfully, one might say miraculously, avoided all spoilers. Ergo, all I know is some people will be killed, red is not the luckiest color in Westeros and nameless wenches will bare their breasts. Like, a lot of them. All the damn time.

If you're a geek of a certain age, chances are you spent many if not most Friday nights tossing 20-sided dice, absorbing Domino's pizza, and pretending to be a 10th-level Elf Druid with your friends. Yes, I'm talking about Dungeons & Dragons, the role-playing fantasy game you came to know and love as D&D. Unfortunately, I was a Jehovah's Witness at the time, and we were forbidden from playing the game. (Apparently it opened our minds to demonic attack by making us want to be thieves or assassins for a living. I know. That didn't work out, largely because it's hard to major in assassination and/or thievery in college. Phoenix online college doesn't count.) Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered the game's co-creator, Gary Gygax, self-identified as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

That's just one of many thousands of interesting factoids in Playing at the World, a book by game enthusiast Jon Peterson - and it's buried in a footnote, no less! This nautical anchor of a tome offers the definitive history of D&D and its wargaming forebears, then contextualizes it by recounting the study of game simulations since chess.

I'm not a book critic. I'm a theater critic. I don't want to be a book critic. I write books myself, so the last thing I want is to unload the uric acid of skepticism into yet another pool in which I myself am swimming. (That's called a metaphor, lads.) But when the publisher of this August 2012 release offered me a copy to peruse, I was too big a nerd to say no. The fact is it's like reading a doctoral dissertation. On the minus side that means it has the mass and density of a neutron star. Not a detail is missed. But on the plus side, not a detail is missed!

This guy really does know his stuff. After three weeks of intense effort I'm about 100 pages into his 630-page book, plus appendices. It won't make you or anyone else a better RPG player. It won't teach you strategy - though it does touch ever so briefly on modern game theory - but it will fascinate you for hours on end. It includes, for example, a thorough retelling of the early history of published science fiction and fantasy, during which Peterson makes a compelling case for the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island on early genre fiction (by way of H. Rider Haggard). But I digress! Bottom line: if you're an RPG fan, Playing at the World will be an indispensable addition to your nonfiction library.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may the Rite of Rebirth bestow blessings of Bahamut upon you. I have a plus-seven against dragons and wyverns!

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Books, Screens,

February 4, 2014 at 8:25am

5 Things To Do Today: "The Armstrong Lie," Marissa Meyer "Cress," tango lessons and more ...

In "The Armstrong Lie," filmmaker Alex Gibney witnesses Lance Armstrong's betrayal up close and personal.

TUESDAY, FEB. 4 2014 >>>

1. The Armstrong Lie is the latest from prolific, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, (whose prior work includes We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and many others). The film chronicles professional charlatan/cyclist Lance Armstrong's fall from grace after the revelation that his superhuman athletic prowess owed to a level of pharmaceutical pseudoscience reminiscent of something out of a Michael Crichton novel. Read Jared Lovrak's review of The Armstrong Lie in the Music & Culture section, then check it out at 2:10 and 6:30 p.m. at The Grand Cinema.

2. Pour at Four wine bar in Tacoma's Proctor District hosts Ross Andrew Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery. Mickel has been heralded as one of the top winemakers in the state garnering great ratings and awards. Enjoy complimentary tastes of Ross wines from 5:30-8 p.m.

3. Best-selling author Marissa Meyer has captured our imaginations in the first two books of her Lunar series. She uses her craft to weave together classic fairy tales with science fiction suspense in Cinder, a cyborg princess adventure based on Cinderella, and Scarlet, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and her journey with a street fighter named Wolf. Book three of the series will introduce Meyer fans to Cress, a brilliant Rapunzel-type hacker and perhaps the world's last hope against an evil Queen. All three tales, though separate, share intertwining paths within the same futuristic universe.  The release of Cress will be celebrated at 7 p.m. in the Karen Hill Phillips Center at Pacific Lutheran University. The author will be on hand to sign books and tell a fairy tale or two as only she can do. Read Jackie Fender's full feature on the Cress release party on our Walkie Talkie blog.

4. The ecstatic pulse of the tango: It moves with a painterly look, an exotic atmosphere and the irresistible and insinuating rhythms of the music. That said, the boundaries in tango are very strong. What was inappropriate 60 years ago in an Argentine form is still inappropriate today. Touching your partner on purpose below the solar plexus is not acceptable. There's no tummy-to-tummy contact. People connect with an embrace that is not sexual; it's a sensual embrace. And it lasts only as long as the music lasts. If that doesn't turn you off, BackStreet Tango teaches a beginner Argentine tango class on Tuesdays concentrating on the elements of the dance for relaxed free flowing movement. It's cool if you're single. 

5. The 1230 Room probably has you at "$4 lemon drops," but you also may be interested in the downtown Olympia club's Tuesday deep, tech and progressive house night "Deep Tuesdays." It launches at 9 p.m. with drink specials, no cover and resident DJs Alex Bosi and Evan Mould.

LINK: Tuesday, Feb. 4 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

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