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March 3, 2015 at 7:41am

5 Things To Do Today: "National Gallery" film, Tap Tasting Tuesday, Chinese New Year ...

Frederick Wiseman's lengthy "National Gallery" doc takes a provocative stroll in and about the famed British art museum. Tag along today at The Grand Cinema.

TUESDAY, MARCH 3 2015 >>>

1. Frederick Wiseman's three-hour documentary about Britain's National Gallery is a rather sly house of mirrors, in which we watch a film and, within that film, we watch others gaze at a painting, while also joining them in that act. Not to be outdone, many of the paintings - their subjects commissioned portraits, or figures of myth and Christianity - stare just as intently back at us. National Gallery screens at 1 and 6:20 p.m. in The Grand Cinema.

2. Pop by the Harmon Tap Room today for their Tap Tasting Tuesday special. Sample four, 5-ounce beers paired with four small bites for only $10 from 5 p.m. to close. Helluva deal, especially for those indecisive types.

3. Yielding, softness, centeredness, slowness, balancing, suppleness and rootedness are all characteristics of the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi. They are evident in names of the movements, like "Cloud hands," and in the movements themselves. The principle of Tai Chi can also be summed up in the title awarded to its founder, "a spiritual man who has attained the Tao and is no longer ruled by what he sees, hears or feels." Ring in Chinese New Year 2015 at the Tumwater Timberland Library with a program for all ages, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Olympia Tai Chi & Kung-Fu Club will perform the traditional Lion Dance and demonstrate Tai Chi and the martial art of Kung-Fu.

4. Jerry Miller was named one of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone above Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Winter and Randy Rhoads. The Tacoma native has enjoyed a rich career sharing the stage with countless musicians including members of the Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana. Miller hosts an open jam at 7 p.m. in Dave's of Milton.

5. TCC@TCC! - a group of Tacoma Community College communications students raising money for local tutoring nonprofit write@253 - has teamed up with the Tacoma Comedy Club for a benefit comedy performance at 8 p.m. Write@253 provides after-school homework hope to kids in underserved Tacoma neighborhoods.

February 23, 2015 at 1:05pm

Nerd Alert issued for The Lazarus Effect and Neill Blomkamp vs. Alien

"The Lazarus Effect": When a team of research students mapping the human brain accidentally kills one of their own, they unwittingly unlock a deadly force by reanimating their colleague.

Rethinking that bite of Weyland-Yutani cornbread, 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.

FRIDAY, FEB. 27

The Lazarus Effect stars Mark Duplass, Donald Glover and Olivia Wilde, three actors I like. There is nothing else to highlight about this picture. It's a horror movie. You know: a horror movie. It's every contemporary horror movie. Will a woman's eyes turn jet black as she makes asthmatic exhaling noises? Will a character record supernatural events on a 1990s-era camcorder? Will our hero be startled by the lunging reappearance of a pet? Do I even need to answer these questions? It's about oh who cares. Y'know, now that I think about it, a movie about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead has serious potential as a horror movie. The Lazarus Effect, however, does not.

A recent trending headline on Facebook read, "Joyland Amusement Park: Kansas park's stolen clown found in convicted sex offender's home, police say." That headline is scarier than anything in The Lazarus Effect. That headline, in fact, is scarier than anything I've ever seen ever. It should be made into a horror movie starring Mark Duplass, Donald Glover and Olivia Wilde. Then, it should be buried and the earth around it salted, because nothing that evil should be allowed to exist. A year later, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover and Olivia Wilde could be given their own sitcom about life on the set of a run-of-the-mill horror movie. That sitcom would be charming. It'd also be scarier than anything in The Lazarus Effect.

It was recently announced that Neill Blomkamp will direct a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece of interstellar grotesquery, Alien. Blomkamp is the South African-Canadian auteur (based in Vancouver, B.C.) behind Elysium, the modern genre classic District 9, and next weekend's promising Chappie. Before that, he was lead animator for Dark Angel on Fox. His promo shorts for Bungie/Microsoft's Halo almost netted him a feature set in that techno-militaristic future. When funding for Blomkamp's Halo fell through, we were denied his take on a 'verse that owes a ton to James Cameron's 1986 sequel Aliens, which both Blomkamp (and I) admire deeply. While Chappie was going through post-production, Blomkamp concocted ideas for a sequel that'd feature Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and Michael Biehn's Hicks, despite the fact that both characters were killed in Alien3. (Ripley was reanimated in the ill-fated four-quel Alien: Resurrection.)

Over the last 18 years, the Alien franchise has fallen on hard times. Scott returned to that domain in his sporadically entertaining Prometheus, yet ignored the so-called "Xenomorph" parasite designed for him by Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger. Thanks in large part to its pop-cultural ubiquity, the Alien now seems scarier in claustrophobic computer games than in amplified blockbuster cinema. While Blomkamp's concepts offer glorious fan service, it should be remembered that Cameron's sequel owes much of its success to how far it strays from its predecessor. While Scott made a locked-mansion slasher film in space, Cameron wrote and directed a Vietnam-style combat movie in which the villains were undeniably slaughter-worthy. So what scares us now? What kind of Alien movie should Blomkamp make? I think it's clear we need to see something new, but something that flows logically from where we went in at least the first two films. (I, for one, would be happy to retcon this series by ignoring everything since 1986.) I think the solution underlies John Hurt's memorable demise aboard the Nostromo, Jeff Goldblum's dive into the gene pool in the 1986 remake of The Fly, and Sharlto Copley's degeneration in District 9. So what scares us now? Why, the realm of the medical.

So why won't that cut heal? Am I catching a faint, putrid whiff of sub-enamel tooth decay? Did I spend too many hours in a tanning bed? As we get older, and God knows we Alien fans have been doing that, it's the slow ruination of our bodies that keeps us up nights. I think it's time for the Xenomorph to crawl back under our skin.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and remember to nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens,

February 22, 2015 at 9:26am

5 Things To Do Today: Academy Awards parties, "The Miracle Worker," Bob Rivers, DJ Qualifi ...

In the immortal words of "Unforgiven" - “deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” Enjoy the ceremony as part of a lively conversation about contemporary movies.

SUNDAY, FEB. 22 2015 >>>

1. Thanks to The Grand Cinema in Tacoma and Olympia Film Society in Olympia, you can not only stroll the red carpet in your Sunday finest, you might also win one of several fabulous prizes. Show up to Theatre on the Square in a movie costume (Death to Smoochy, anyone?), and you could snag 250 bucks. That'd buy a crap ton of popcorn! Another prize up for grabs is a "Golden Ticket" good for movie admission any time till the next Oscar ceremony. Both events feature great food and drinks, and remember, your odds of winning an Academy Award of your own this year are exactly as good as Jennifer Aniston's or Daniel Oyelowo's! You'll be in beautiful company, in more towns than one. Megastar selfie! Read Christian Carvajal's full feature on the 87th Academy Awards parties in Tacoma and Olympia in the Music & Culture section, then arrive at the Theatre on the Square or Capitol Theater at 5 p.m.

2. Nena Curley was 14 years old when she performed the role of Sarah, one of the blind girls, in the Lakewood Playhouse 2003 production of The Miracle Worker. Twelve years later, Curley is the stage manager and production manager for the theater company's current production of The Miracle Worker, William Gibson's inspiring 1959 drama about blind, deaf and mute child Helen Keller and teacher Annie Sullivan's extraordinary efforts to communicate with her, which hits the stage at 2 p.m.

3. The Gig Harbor Film Festival folks are also hosting an Oscar Party at 4 p.m. in The Hub in Gig Harbor. Dinner will be served as well as red carpet pictures and a champagne toast. The Hub will have a big screen and all the other dialed into the red carpet and the Oscar ceremony. The Gig Harbor Film Festival will have film directors on hand and other local celebrities. Your $50 ticket helps finance this year's Gig Harbor Film Festival.

4. Seattle radio personality Bob Rivers will host a night of Northwest comedians at 8 p.m. in the Tacoma Comedy Club.

5. If you are looking for a crunk, trapped out, hustle-music haven then check out Champions every Sunday at 9 p.m. DJ Qualifi keeps the beats bangin' - deep bass, booty music, trap music, D-Boy/Girl music. ... All. Night. Long.  This is officially one of the spots to hit if you want to appear like you're in a 2015 rap video. Twerkin' will happen. Yeah, Champions is a hole in the wall type bar/club, but it is where Tacoma rocks on a Sunday.

February 19, 2015 at 6:49am

5 Things To Do Today: Michael Powers, Molecular Gastronomy, Tacoma Playing Cards, DJ Slimrock ...

Jazz guitarist Michael Powers plays tonight at the University of Puget Sound.

THURSDAY, FEB. 19 2015 >>>

1. Seattle's prestigious Cornish College of the Arts stole jazz guitarist Michael Powers from the San Francisco Bay area, where he emerged in 1982 graduating Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor of fine arts in Composition and Performance. While at Cornish, Powers was molded by composers Gil Evans and Sam Rivers, bassist Gary Peacock, pianist Art Lande, and trombonist Julian Priester. However, his style was also influenced by a diverse group of musicians that includes Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Charlie Parker, George Benson, Stanley Jordan, Miles Davis and Kevin Eubanks. Ah, that explains why we find his CDs in the blues, rock and funk sections. Powers will headline a special Black History Month concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Rotunda at Wheelock Student Center on the campus of University of Puget Sound.

2. Have you had shots of mango-vodka purée served in hollow spheres of frozen vanilla water? How about wild rice puffed like popcorn and seasoned with black truffle dust, then tossed in liquid nitrogen so that when you ate it, you breathed smoke? Professor Jeff Grinstead from the University of Puget Sound Chemistry Department and Chris Keil, co-owner and craft cocktail chemist at Hilltop Kitchen and Marrow in Tacoma, will explain how such dishes are created during their "Molecular Gastronomy & Alchemical Cocktails: The Science and Art of Food & Drink" presentation from 6-8 p.m. at the Tacoma Art Museum. Arrive prepared to taste fake caviar, miracle berries and liquid nitrogen ice cream.

3. Created in 2012, the Tacoma Playing Cards Blue Deck featured 54 Tacoma locations and stories created by some of Tacoma's best visual artists. The second Red deck featuring 14 artists hit the street at the end of last year. You may have appreciated these incredible images while playing your favorite card game, but you'll have a chance to see the Tacoma Playing Cards Red Deck on a much larger scale and have a chance to meet the creative force behind the works. An artist reception with giveaways and small bites will be held from 7-9 p.m. at Bluebeard Coffee.

4. Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Square, will lecture on "An Eyewitness Account of the Egyptian Revolution and the Downfall of a Regime"  as the speaker for Pacific Lutheran University's second biennial Ambassador Chris Stevens Memorial Lecture. At 5 p.m., PLU will hold a free public screening of The Square in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, followed by a free public lecture by Noujaim at 7:30 p.m.

5. DJ SlimRock spins soul, funk and more beginning at 9 p.m. inside The Brotherhood Lounge.

February 18, 2015 at 10:28am

Nerd Alert issued for the Academy Awards and "Force Majeure"

Michael Keaton pours all of Batman's simmering disquietude into a different form: that of Riggan Thomson, a has-been actor who hopes to reclaim his reputation by staging an ambitious Broadway show.

The Academy Awards

In a refreshing change of pace from Oscars past, the Academy Awards, this year, are full of nominations for off-kilter films, instead of the usual Oscar-bait pablum. There are no films that aim to create a post-racial society (looking at you, Crash) or dazzle gullible audiences with good special effects (seriously, go back and watch Avatar). Instead, the two movies that have inspired the most feverish Oscar talk are some of the most ambitious films of the past decade: Boyhood and Birdman.

While it's more or less a foregone conclusion that the awe-inspiring, 12-year-long experiment that is Boyhood will win Best Picture, Birdman is such an audacious achievement that I doubt anyone would begrudge it winning the top prize. Still, both films have their lovers and haters, which might make an upset possible. Selma is a more than deserving film to get Best Picture, but it's been overshadowed - both by flashy performances and political debates - by the three other biopics in the nominations: American Sniper, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.

The most heartening story of the 87th Annual Academy Awards has to come down to Michael Keaton's performance in Birdman and J.K. Simmons' in Whiplash getting nods from the academy. Both of these veteran actors have spent years being unacknowledged resources in Hollywood, bringing amazing to performances to movies time and time again. If there's a god in this world, both will take home their respective prizes. This being the Oscars, though, we can never count on those old fogies to do the right thing.

As usual, The Grand Cinema will be hosting Tacoma's premiere Oscar party at the Theatre on the Square, Olympia Film Society's bash is at the Capitol Theater and the Gig Harbor Film Festival folks will be at The Hub in Gig Harbor. Get your Oscar pools ready.

Force Majeure

Speaking of things getting snubbed at the Oscars, one of the biggest surprises at the announcement of the nominees was the conspicuous absence of Force Majeure, which was considered a shoo-in for a nod for Best Foreign Language Film. The Swedish dark comedy explores the aftermath of a father abandoning his wife and children when an avalanche strikes. After everyone survives unscathed, Force Majeure shows the consequences of cowardice.

The filmmakers filmed themselves watching the television at the moment that they found out they weren't going to be nominated, in a video that has now gone viral. The director, Ruben Ostlund, positively loses his shit and takes off his clothes, weeping. It's not clear whether or not this is real (and, seeing as how it mimics a scene from the film, I'm guessing not), but it's a potent demonstration of how much this can mean to some of these artists.

Force Majeure plays Tuesday, Feb. 24 at The Grand Cinema.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Tacoma,

February 17, 2015 at 7:15am

5 Things To Today: Marty O'Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra, Jammin' with Jerry, chili contest, The Fun Police ...

Marty O'Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra will provide the soundtrack for the St. Practice Day party at Doyle's tonight.

TUESDAY, FEB. 17 2015 >>>

1. We've said it many times: Practice makes perfect. Doyle's Public House in Tacoma's Stadium District lives by this adage. Every 17th of the month, the watering hole hosts St. Practice Day, a trial run at its annual, massive St. Patrick's Day party. It's a warm-up, if you will. Our page-a-day Lucky Charms Quotes desk calendar tells us there's one more month until St. Patrick's Day, which means this month's Practice Day includes the 10 Jameson drinking finalists drawing for plane tickets to Dublin, Ireland. Marty O'Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra will keep the party rooted in a gator-bait bayou beginning at 8 p.m.

2. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), an 18-year-old Polish orphan raised in a convent, is preparing to take her vows to become a nun when her Mother Superior tells her to visit her only living relative, her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza). The chain-smoking, world-weary Communist Party insider shocks her niece by informing her that her real name is Ida, and that her parents were Jews murdered during the Nazi occupation. Together they travel into the Polish countryside to dig up - literally and figuratively - the truth of what happened to Ida's parents, exploring the legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of living under communism along the way. See it unfold before your eyes when Ida screens at 6 p.m. in The Grand Cinema.

3. Moby Grape was one of the most versatile San Francisco rock bands to emerge out of the summer of love. Sadly, through a combination of inner turmoil and bad management decisions, the mighty Moby Grape broke up in 1969. However, their debut album is still considered one of the best of all time by many critics, in part because of the nimble fingers of guitarist Jerry Miller. Miller was named one of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone above Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Winter and Randy Rhoads. The Tacoma native has enjoyed a rich career sharing the stage with countless musicians including members of the Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana. Miller hosts an open jam at 7 p.m. in Dave's of Milton.

4. After a brief respite from holidays that are improved by the consumption of mass quantities of alcohol, we have arrived at another doozy: Fat Tuesday, and the kickoff of Mardi Gras. It is always my suggestion to avoid the crowds during amateur nights like St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve, but if you insist on subjecting yourself to hordes of unruly revelers, you can do worse than catching a Fun Police show while you're at it. One of Tacoma's quintessential bar bands, The Fun Police always put on a hell of a show, with their dizzy folk-punk that incorporates elements of Americana and ska. Boasting a million members that will cram onto the Half Pint Pizza Pub's tiny stage at 7:30 p.m., the Fun Police promise a glorious mess of a show, with the Chrono Bats in tow.

5. Fans of chili: Raise your spoons and rejoice! The best chili cooks in town will dish out samples while vying for the coveted Northern Pacific Coffee Company Special Award. A panel of judges will crown the Judge's Choice award winner. Tastings will be available beginning at 8 p.m. Expect discounted beers.

February 13, 2015 at 7:33am

5 Things To Do Today: Skrill Meadow, artist Glory Cancro, Air Supply, "My Bloody Valentine" ...

Skrill Meadow performs at Deadbeat Olympia record store tonight. photo courtesy of skrillmeadow.bandcamp.com

FRIDAY, FEB. 13 2015 >>>

1. We were surprised and delighted to hear the latest from Skrill Meadow, the one-man band of Markly Morrison. Private Memories is an album of straight-up slow jams, albeit jams coming directly from one shitty tape machine to your ear. Despite his limitations, Morrison embodies the consummate frontman, reeking of sex and brimming with confidence, even if it may be buried beneath layers of tape hiss. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Skrill Meadow in the music and Culture section, then catch him with Jupiter Sprites and Grey Waves at 8 p.m. in Deadbeat Olympia record store.

2. Join Metro Parks Tacoma for their annual pre-V Day Wine and Chocolate event at the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at 5:30 p.m. A $30 ticket includes an opportunity to sip on wine and champagne paired with chocolate covered strawberries and truffles while you mingle among glorious floral decorations. Live music will also be onsite. Must be 21 and over to attend. Tickets can be purchased at the conservatory or the Metro Parks main office. For more details, call 253.591.5330.

3. Inspired by her love of Da Vinci's anatomical studies - visceral, instinctive, deep rooted - a necessary part of our human makeup, artist Glory Cancro presents "Music, Tea & Art" from 7-10 p.m. at Mad Hat Tea Company. "I wanted to do something for Valentine's Day and the body parts seemed to fit," says Mad Hat co-owner Maureen McHugh. Singer/songwriter Riley Egge and friends will provide the soundtrack for the art show.

4. "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" was a 1983 fixture on pizzeria jukeboxes across the country. That ballad, warbled by Russell Hitchcock of Australian soft-rock stalwarts Air Supply, was written by songwriting powerhouse Jim Steinman and actually features two members of the E Street Band. It remained at #2 for three weeks, boxed out of the top spot by another Steinman opus, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." It was a freaking epic time on the radio. And if none of this means anything to you, then you, my friend, are not in your mid-40s. But for some of us, the sound of Air Supply is the sound of first love. So here we are, Air Supply, the ones that you love, just when we thought we were over you, 8:30 p.m., Emerald Queen Casino.

5. Twenty years after a Valentine's Day tragedy, a small town prepares for its annual holiday dance. When a box of candy arrives containing an eerie warning and a blood soaked heart, the townsfolk realize that this Valentine's Day romance is as good as dead ... AND SO ARE THEY! My Bloody Valentine will be Reverend-Joe Duncan's final Friday Night Frights film at the Blue Mouse Theatre. Expect prizes, goodies and screams, beginning at 10 p.m.

February 12, 2015 at 7:36am

5 Things To Do Today: Stringband Mayhem, bicycling film, Oly Old Time Festival, "The Sunset Limited" ...

The Blackberry Bushes Stringband perform at The Swiss restaurant and Pub tonight.

THURSDAY, FEB. 12 2015 >>>

1. The Blackberry Bushes Stringband, Wild Rabbit and Renegade Stringband will bring their stringband mayhem to The Swiss at 9 p.m. - part of a larger tour, informally dubbed "The Winter Tour of Stringband Mayhem," which has the three bands visiting eight Northwest cities. There is a strong roots music scene in the Northwest that spans the whole spectrum from traditionalists to those using traditional elements in more modern pop or rock influences. The Blackberry Bushes (Seattle), Wild Rabbit (Bellingham) and Renegade Stringband (Portland) span that spectrum. The Blackberry Bushes perform mostly original material, but they'll keep a thread of bluegrass and old-time going through their show. Wild Rabbit is a little more pop. Renegade is a little more traditional.

2. Explore the social change, events and people that can lead to a bike-friendly city through an interactive free screening of AfterMass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland at 6:30 p.m. in The Grand Cinema. The movie will be followed by a community discussion on how changes can happen in Tacoma. Free tickets are available at The Grand on a first-come, first-served basis.

3. The seventh annual Oly Old Time Festival kicks off tonight with a square dance featuring the Grizzle Grazzle Tune Snugglers and Evie Ladin calling from 7-9 p.m. at The Olympia Ballroom. What will follow will be several of the country's best purveyors of traditional Appalachian and old time American music Friday through Sunday. For the full schedule, visit olyoldtime.weebly.com.

4. Working Class Theater NW presents its second full-length production, Cormac McCarthy's The Sunset Limited, exploring religion through the dynamic lens of American race relations, at 8 p.m. in the Tacoma Youth Theater space, 924 Broadway. Directed by Tim Samland and starring local actors Aaron Bredlau (White) and Jack House (Black), The Sunset Limited opening scene begins immediately after Black rescues White from jumping in front of a train. From that chance meeting, the two men explore the depths of faith and conviction that have led them down such opposite paths.

5. Here's a worth hip-hop show. Rashan Amad of Oakland's The Crown City Rockers and Sleep of Oldominion will perform at 10 p.m. in Le Voyeur's back music room.

February 10, 2015 at 10:44am

Nerd Alert! Kingsman, Fifty Shades of Crap, Saturday Night Live, Valentine's Day movies!

"SNL" debuted in 1975 with Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, Lorraine Newman and Gilda Radnor. Photo courtesy of Facebook

In a van down by the river, 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.

FRIDAY, FEB. 13

This weekend brings two movies I think are worthy of your attention, and one that is worthy of your derision. First, let's talk about Kingsman: The Secret Service, a nutball actioner from Matthew Vaughn of X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass fame. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as its over-the-top villain (because the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision Jackson v. Rickman decreed every movie has to do that now) and Colin Firth as a swanky British superspy. It's been screening and earning raves around the Western world for months. It's kind of like 20th Century Fox knows it has a good thing going. So why, then, is Kingsman debuting in February? Why not? Are you complaining? Would you rather see Jupiter Ascending? I thought not.

The Last Five Days is a musical romance debuting in select U.S. markets, though probably not in South Puget just yet. The advance word says Anna Kendrick is terrific, the movie itself maybe better as a play. Still, if you've never caught this charming two-hander in a theater, perhaps Kendrick's appeal and actual vocal chops will pull you on board.

Or hey, maybe you have zero taste and you're drooling for Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah. I hate it that much. "Mr. Grey will see you now!" Not if I see him first. Variety reports it's the fastest selling R-rated movie in Fandango history, while film critic Kim Kardashian tweeted, "OMG it's sooooo good!!!!! (sic)" If the movie is anything like the book, however, nooooo, it's not!!!!! It's fifty shades of crap. By way of elucidation, check out my 1783-word dissection of the book, helpfully entitled "Fifty Shades of Crap." Do you understand what I'm saying? This book is crap. I hated it THAT MUCH. And if you go see its unwarranted film adaptation, and GOD KNOWS YOU WILL because TAKE THAT, CIVILIZATION AND RATIONALITY AND BESIDES, BY THE WAY, THERE IS NO GOD, then you'll get exactly what you deserve. Also, have fun being eaten by your cats Mr. Pawpaw Patch and Jeffrey when you die of cookie dough consumption and Al-Qaeda-level sexual frustration.

SUNDAY, FEB. 15

Dozens of Not Ready for Prime Time Players past and present will assemble for Sunday's 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live on NBC, well within prime time at 8. Producer Lorne Michaels says a significant portion of the show is devoted to new performances, instead of the clips and highlight reels E's been running every weekend. Frequent guests Alec Baldwin, Jon Hamm, Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken will return, and Eddie Murphy makes his first SNL appearance in three decades. Even Bill Murray, Jack Nicholson and the much-maligned Chevy Chase will show up. You can bet your Schweddy Balls it'll be a good time.

I've often felt "SNL cast member" would be my dream job, but when I reflect on the talented people who've auditioned and failed - Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Geena Davis, Zach Galifianakis, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Hart, Lisa Kudrow and Aubrey Plaza, among many, many others including 13-time guest host John Goodman - I think I'd have a better shot if I tried out for Chippendales.

Finally, a word on that Whitman's-Sampler-scented, Hallmark-approved celebration known far and wide, to those who can still stomach it at least, as VD. I for one have been dumped on two different Valentine's Days, which took me a few decades to overcome. I'm fine now. Thanks for asking. The point is some of us are still leery of making a big deal of February 14th, even if we happen to find ourselves consciously coupled at the time. So to you, my fellow star-crossed lovers, I offer sweet, romantic movies to throw on your Netflix queue and watch at home. Take a breather from the Nora Ephron-penned standbys this year. Instead, order a heart-shaped pizza and check out The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a pastel-hued '60s musical in French starring quite possibly the most beautiful woman who ever acted in front of a camera, Mlle. Catherine Deneuve. Speaking of French, perhaps you've never seen Amélie or La Belle et la Bête - quel dommage! His Girl Friday boasts a killer script, and multiple Oscar winner It Happened One Night is a must-see for any self-respecting cineaste. My wife and I nestled into (500) Days of Summer and Silver Linings Playbook, and Say Anything ... has aged as gracefully as Deneuve. If you really want an excuse to drag out the fur-lined handcuffs you received at your bachelorette party, Secretary leaves Fifty Shades in its disciplinarian dust.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and doggone it, may people like you.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Holidays,

February 10, 2015 at 7:11am

5 Things To Do Today: Oscar nominated documentary shorts, CRAVE: An Early Glimpse of Spring, Classical Tuesdays ...

Gabriel Serra Arguello's "The Reaper (La Parka)" is artfully shot, but frequently stomach churning images make it a difficult (but at times beautiful) watch.

TUESDAY, FEB. 10 2015 >>>

1. Oscar nominees for Documentary Shorts will screen at 1:45 and 6:45 p.m. at The Grand Cinema. A film of startling intimacy, the elegiac Joanna follows a mother diagnosed with terminal cancer, and focuses mostly on her conversations with her precocious 5-year-old son. The sometimes harrowing Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 spotlights the critical work being done by the counselors at the Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, New York, as they attempt to provide support to veterans contemplating suicide. In the heartrendingly empathetic Our Curse, director Tomasz Sliwinski documents his and his wife's struggles caring for their infant son, who has a rare, and potentially fatal, breathing disorder. Christian Jenson's White Earth chronicles life through the eyes of three children whose fathers' work in the oil fields of North Dakota. And Gabriel Serra Arguello's The Reaper (La Parka) follows a worker at a Mexican slaughterhouse.

2. The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory says the flowers are blooming; the birds are chirping; more and more frequently the sun peeks through the glass dome. So, the Conservatory will open "CRAVE: An Early Glimpse of Spring" at 10 a.m. with featured flowers azaleas, cyclamen, tulips, clivia, cymbidium orchids, assorted species of winter blooming orchids, vireyas (sub-tropical rhododendrons) and oxalis (purple shamrocks).

3. Commencement Bay Haiku will meet at 6 p.m. in King's Books to read haiku or one page of haibun (prose with haiku), as well as discuss various aspects of haiku, haibun, or haiga (a painting, sketch or photo with haiku). It's not easy to convert the innards of your soul into scrawled words on paper and then wax rhapsodic as judging eyes stare at you. You have our permission to use this haiku at King's: "At the tractor pull / We shared super nachos, Coors / Belched each others' names."

4. In appreciation of these 10 years that the Slavonian-American Benevolent Society has opened their lovely hall for the Classical Tuesdays in Old Town Tacoma concerts, the 6 p.m. concert will featuring music of the Croatian and the Balkan regions. Clare Petrich, owner of Petrich Marine Dock in Tacoma, will lead the night off with a presentation "From Old Town, Dalmatia to Old Town, Tacoma ... And Back Again: An Ancestral Journey to Croatia." At 7 p.m., the female a cappella group Dunava will be followed by Dave & the Dalmatians band.

5. Moby Grape was one of the most versatile San Francisco rock bands to emerge out of the summer of love. Sadly, through a combination of inner turmoil and bad management decisions, the mighty Moby Grape broke up in 1969. However, their debut album is still considered one of the best of all time by many critics, in part because of the nimble fingers of guitarist Jerry Miller. Miller was named one of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone above Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Winter and Randy Rhoads. The Tacoma native has enjoyed a rich career sharing the stage with countless musicians including members of the Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana. Miller hosts an open jam at 7 p.m. in Dave's of Milton.

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