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April 23, 2015 at 9:56am

Nerd Alert issued for Star Wars trailer, Wayzgoose, summer movies ...

Wayzgoose! Letterpress and Book Arts Extravaganza will roll out April 25 at King's Books in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, 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.

It seems this good thing must soon come to an end. Nerd Alert will be taking an indefinite break after Rev. Adam McKinney's version next week, as the Weekly Volcano passes through an editorial life change. Think of it as graduation from college. No more keggers for you, kids; cultivate a taste for chardonnay. Or something. I don't know. I'll contemplate it as I wait in line for Avengers: Age of Ultron tickets. A word to the wise: they're available now. Most theaters will start screening the movie on April 30, the night before official opening. I predict it'll earn over $210 million. In other words, it'll boast the most lucrative opening weekend of all time, a record it'll hold for exactly seven and a half months. Enjoy that Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, amigos.

FRIDAY, APRIL 24

No matter who's performing the melancholy Dane or where, one goes into any production of Hamlet with the luxury of confidence. That's because it's the greatest single play ever written in the English language, perhaps in any language. Director Sikander Sohail promises his take on the rottenness in Elsinore Castle will be "apocalyptic, revolutionary, and dangerous." Put us down for "to be."

HAMLET, 7:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat., University of Puget Sound, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, $6-$8, 253.879.3100

Actually, this is a big month for theater all over the South Sound. Continuing from last week are two manic comedies: The 39 Steps at Lakewood Playhouse and The Fox on the Fairway at Tacoma Little Theatre. The former runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2 through May 10, the latter Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2 through May 3. Next month brings equally diverse offerings, including The Language Archive from Pulp Productions at Evergreen State College (opening May 1), Pinocchio at Olympia Family Theater (May 15), Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre (May 22), and a find-your-fate musical adaptation of Drood at Lakewood Playhouse (May 29).

SATURDAY, APRIL 25

Dozens of artists from Olympia and Tacoma will converge on King's Books for its 11th annual Wayzgoose festival. Bring any fabric item to be screen-printed by UPS students. Steamroller printing will also return, as will CLAW, the Cartoonists' League of Absurd Washingtonians. By popular demand, the event stretches an extra day this year, so watch for Godrun Aurand of Washington State Book Restoration and Jeremy Gregory of Candy Teeth Creative on Sunday.

WAYZGOOSE! LETTERPRESS AND BOOK ARTS EXTRAVAGANZA, 11 - 4 Sat. and Sun., King's Books, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, free, 253.705.0760

Finally, let's look ahead to geeky summer entertainment. TV premiere dates include May 28 for Louis C.K. Live From the Comedy Store on FX, June 4 for Hannibal on NBC, June 12 for Defiance on Syfy and Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, June 21 for True Detective on HBO, June 28 for Falling Skies on TNT, and July 17 for Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix. The Strain will return for season 2 on FX, though no exact date has been confirmed.

On the big screen, set your calendars for Muppet documentary I Am Big Bird: the Carroll Spinney Story on May 6, the his-and-hers double whammy of Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 on May 15, the Poltergeist reboot and (much more promising) Tomorrowland on May 22, temblor San Andreas on May 29, Jurassic World and SNL documentary Live From New York! on June 12, Terminator Genisys on July 1, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation on July 31, Josh Trank's darker take on Fantastic Four on August 7, and Netflix's first cinematic feature, the Yuen Wo-Ping wuxia sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, opening August 28.

Assembling this column has been a blast, folks. I mean that. May the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may there be no fate but what you make for yourselves. Live long and prosper.

April 11, 2015 at 7:27am

5 Things To Do Today: Dockyard Derby Dames, Gray Sky Blues, Caspar Babypants, Kurupt & Kokane ...

Brat Capone will be battling on the flat track tonight. Photo credit to Travis Tigner

SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2015 >>>

1. Remember in high school, how your best friend had the coolest sister? You know, the one who loaned you her smokes and bought you beer with her fake ID and laughed at dirty jokes? She's still cool as hell, and now she's skating for the championship Saturday. Tacoma's original roller derby league - Dockyard Derby Dames - will roll onto the track for their final bout of their ninth season at 6 p.m. in the Pierce College Health Education Center.  First up, the Trampires battle the Whidbey Island Rollergirls. Then, reigning champs, the Marauding Mollys, take on the fearsome green machine, the Femme Fianna, for the Championship trophy while hundreds of spectators jump around and scream their lungs out. Grab a spot on the bleachers, or if you're really up for it, hang in the beer garden, where your own protective gear is probably a wise idea, and enjoy a night of good ol' fashion bruising. After party to follow at The Fan Club.

2. The good folks at the Gray Sky Blues Music Festival have programmed a full afternoon and evening of entertainment in three different venues to follow the Tacoma Grand Floral Daffodil Parade. They've selected artists who produce what they consider "some of the finest blues west of the Mississippi." Listening to Teddy Lee Hooker, we're inclined to agree. Check the lineup: 

  • THE EMILY GARDNER BAND, MAIA SANTELL AND HOUSE BLEND, THE CD WOODBURY BAND AND TEDDY LEE HOOKER, 1-7:30 p.m. Sat., April 11, The Swiss Restaurant and Pub, 1904 S. Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, $8-$10, 253.572.2821
  • KING KOM BEAUX, LITTLE BILL AND THE BLUENOTES, BLUES COUNTY SHERIFF AND JERRY MILLER BAND, noon-5:30 p.m. Sat., April 11, The Harmon Brewery & Restaurant, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, free, 253.383.2739
  • THE DEAN REICHERT BAND WITH TEDDY LEE HOOKER AND MAIA SANTELL, 8-11 p.m. Sat., April 11, B Sharp Coffee House, 706 Court C, Tacoma, $5, 253.292.9969

3. Chris Ballew, lead singer for mid-'90s Seattle alt-rock outfit The Presidents of the United States of America, has a pair of Grammy nominations under his belt. His hit singles "Lump" and "Peaches" are fixtures on rock radio. So it's amusing that Ballew reentered the public consciousness, not as a middle-aged headbanger, but as children's music performer Caspar Babypants. His eight albums for tots since 2009 have featured artists as diverse as Krist Novoselic and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Mr. Babypants is a hot commodity among hipper parents, with numerous shows in Portland and Seattle (and on KEXP) over the last two weeks alone. Read Christian Carvajal's full feature on Caspar Babypants in the Music & Culture section, then catch his show at 2:30 p.m. inTumwater High School.

4. White-hot playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis penned The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,  a seriocomic meditation on free will set in a limbo night court beyond time. Its characters are all your Gospel favorites, including Uncle Pino. Wait ... what? This production, directed by 2015 grad Grace Caruso, comes courtesy of Saint Martin's University Theatre Department, and hits downtown Olympia's State Theater at 7:30 p.m. "The subject may be religion," notes critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times, "but questions are encouraged. Thank Heaven...at least the person in charge is the class cutup."

5. "Legendary" is not a word to be tossed around, but I can't think of a better description for West Coast rap/hip-hop legends Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound and Pamona-bred hookmaster Kokane, and their "West Coast Party." Kurupt is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest, having made nearly a dozen visits in the past few years. Kokane now calls the Puget Sound home. Kokane is second only to Nate Dogg (RIP) in terms of his notoriety for lacing chorus on hooks. From their platinum-selling heydays to today, they both have maintained legendary status as lyricists. Represent that D-P-G at 9 p.m. in the Cultura Events Center.

April 10, 2015 at 7:07am

5 Things To Do Today: One Night of Queen, Beerbalation, Romeo et Juliette, Brian Lynch ...

"One Night of Queen," performed by Gary Mullen and The Works, will hit the Washington Center's stage April 10. Photo credit: Property of A.Behn/Copyright 2011

FRIDAY, APRIL 10 2015 >>>

1. The great Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town, Tanzania (then the Sultanate of Zanzibar) and was raised Zoroastrian near Mumbai. At age 24, he joined guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, formerly of the band Smile, and named their new enterprise Queen. Thanks in large part to his astonishing vocal range and power - he could easily cover four octaves from bass low F to soprano high F - he was an international star less than five years later. Gary Mullen, on the other hand, was born in Scotland around the time Queen released its first album. He remembers seeing a live performance of "We Are the Champions" when he was four. His wife and mother entered the mild-mannered computer salesman and cancer survivor in a British reality show called Stars in Their Eyes. There, his impression of Mercury's "It's a Kind of Magic" launched him toward a season win in 2000. He assembled his touring band, the Works, two years later. Out of makeup, Mullen looks and sounds nothing like Freddie Mercury; but put a wig, mustache and tight costume on him, and he morphs into a veritable Prince of the Universe. See One Night of Queen at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington Center.

2. Top Rung Brewing Co. celebrates their first anniversary with a Beerbalation, kicking off today and run through Sunday. Today, they will release their first bourbon barrel-aged beer - Bourbon Barrel Aged Pyrolysis Imperial Stout. Expect dark and malty flavors with notes of coffee and chocolate boosted with a smooth bourbon finish. Expect live music, commemorative glasses, games and beer from 2-9 p.m.

3. We could've easily featured Roméo et Juliette (it's OK, you can call it Romeo and Juliet, we won't tell) in our music section, because it goes without saying opera lands like a wet noodle in the absence of stirring music. If there's one thing Tacoma Opera boasts, it's capable singers. Opera San Jose resident artist Christopher Bengochea lends his powerful tenor to Roméo, while Ksenia Popova, who did lovely work as Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, portrays Juliette. (Spoiler alert: they won't see their paper anniversary.) Tacoma Opera favorite Ryan Bede returns as hotheaded Mercutio. The lush, romantic score's provided by Charles-François Gounod, best known for takes on Ave Maria ("a meditation on Bach") and Faust. Keep an ear out for gorgeous duets and the lilting waltz "Je veux vivre." Non-French-speakers, have no fear: supertitles are provided at the 7:30 p.m. performance inside the Pantages Theater.

4. Australian stand-up comedian Aamer Rahman will be the featured performer at a comedy show aimed at issues of race and social justice at 7 p.m. in The Evergreen State College Longhouse. Rahman, whose ancestors hail from Bangladesh, began his comedic rise as half the award-winning cult comedy duo, Fear of a Brown Planet. His act focuses on politics, racism, the War on Terror and Batman.

5. There are events we in the musical promotional game could never have expected to see. This is one of those events. An otherwise noteworthy jazz musician, Brian Lynch, has cemented our interest in an upcoming concert by adding ... a juggler. This juggler is Henrik Bothe. He's performed all over the country. Garrison Keillor said, "Henrik is one of the few jugglers that have ever succeeded in performing on the radio." What Bothe's enthusiastic brand of physical comedy has to do with jazz, we have zero idea, but we doubt we even care. It's jazz and juggling, people. It's an Afro-Cuban-influenced, Grammy-award-winning trumpeter who's played with everyone from the Buena Vista Social Club to Prince, together with plates on sticks. This is the epitome of win-win. It's chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott. Throw in the Puget Sound Jazz Orchestra, and hell, you've got Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott and waffles. On sticks! Catch the show at 7:30 p.m. in the Blue Mouse Theatre.

April 6, 2015 at 4:02pm

Nerd Alert issued for Game of Thrones, Ex Machina, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot ...

What we saw in the Game of Thrones Season 5 trailer is Varys wants Tyrion to help Daenerys take the Iron Throne. Of course, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Photo courtesy of HBO

Struggling through the Voight-Kampff test, 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.

THURSDAY, APRIL 9

Louie, one of TV's best and least predictable series, returns for season 5 at 10:30 on FX. A half hour before that, FX debuts one of TV's most soon-to-be-cancelled shows, The Comedians with Billy Crystal and Josh Gad.

FRIDAY, APRIL 10

Sooner and more fully than we comprehend, artificial intelligence will be woven into our daily lives. Some experts predict the next two decades will see the advent of a machine and/or uploaded sentience equal to or surpassing our own. Today's gay and trans civil rights movements will give way to the struggle to understand and empower synthetic personalities. It'll be a true paradigm shift, a transformative moment in the way we define personhood. It'll unravel centuries of assumptions about what it means to be alive and aware. Religion, art, law, philosophy, indeed, every avenue of human thought and self-identity will be challenged by this societal horizon some have rightly defined as a "singularity." No one alive can see beyond it to the other side.

In the meantime, of course, we'll keep right on making slick popcorn movies about how robots who look like hot chicks want to take over the world. Ex Machina's scoring highly on RottenTomatoes.com, and HAL knows we could use something halfway intelligent to cleanse our collective palate after Furious 7. Hey, maybe it'll be three-quarters-of-the-way intelligent like It Follows!

Also on Friday, 13 episodes of Marvel's Daredevil, aka The Man Without Fear, debut on Netflix, the Network Without Standards and Practices.

SATURDAY, APRIL 11

White-hot playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis penned The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a seriocomic meditation on free will set in a limbo night court beyond time. Its characters are all your Gospel favorites, including Uncle Pino. Wait ... what? This production, directed by 2015 grad Grace Caruso, comes courtesy of Saint Martin's University Theatre Department. "The subject may be religion," notes critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times, "but questions are encouraged. Thank Heaven...at least the person in charge is the class cutup."

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, 7:30 p.m. April 11 and 14-18, 2 p.m. April 12, State Theatre, 204 4th Ave., Olympia, $7-$12, 360.438.4506

SUNDAY, APRIL 12

When last we left our Westerosian heroes and villains, a certain Lannister was having a bad day on the crapper, another was enjoying an unexpected sea cruise, and Cersei was mastering level-23 bitchcraft. The last two episodes of season 4 finally lived up to Game of Thrones's promise, balancing oversize visual spectacle against compelling adventure and character development - with nary a brothel boob in sight, no less! Here's hoping David Benioff and company keep this spectacular train on the rails as it speeds past George R. R. Martin's literary source material.

Speaking of lit, today marks the 20th anniversary of Barnes & Noble (1530 Black Lake Blvd.) in Olympia. Expect author signings, story readings, princesses on the loose, and other fun moments throughout the day.

TUESDAY, APRIL 14

Timothy Olyphant hangs up his Stetson as Justified rides into the sunset, leaving Harlan County, Kentucky to its own drug- and violence-addled devices. That's a real county, by the way, though the series has never shot a minute of footage there. I bet Harlanites are super proud of their depiction on screen.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and always pay your debts.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Theater, Olympia,

April 1, 2015 at 5:42am

5 Things To Do Today: Walk Tacoma, "TCC 50th," Doug Benson, aerial show in a bar ...

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba / Sithi uhm ingonyama

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1 2015 >>>

1. On National Walking Day, why not get up off your booty and commune with Tacoma on foot? Downtown On the Go hosts another Walk Tacoma event. At lunchtime, the organization will lead a walk through Tacoma's Stadium District. Participants will join Melissa McGinnis from Metro Parks, former Tacoma mayor Bill Baarsma and Exit133.com and Tacoma Runners founder Derek Young and learn about the history of Wright Park, residential complexes adjacent to the park and Stadium High School. The first 250 walk participants will receive a swag bag. There is no need to pre-register for the event, simply meet in at the south side of the park on Sixth Avenue near the lion sculptures.

2. Tacoma Community College opens their "TCC 50th Anniversary Art Exhibition" today with a 4-6 p.m. reception in The Gallery. Meet the artists, have a snack and celebrate 50 years of art education at TCC.

3. Puyallup River Brewing Alehouse will be pouring Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Bitburger Pilsner on draft, as well as some special beers in the bottle. It's Import Night at the downtown Puyallup taproom from 6-9 p.m.

4. San Diegan Doug Benson has been performing standup comedy since 1986, when his buddies dared him to hop on the stage and do three minutes. He's released seven comedy albums, starred in the movie Super High Me, and costarred on everything from Friends to Mr. Show with Bob and David. If Wikipedia is to be believed, he appeared as a visible extra in Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and backup dancer(!) in Captain EO. In 2009, thanks to a jokey appearance on Fox News's Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, Benson scored something of a coup by pissing off the entire government of Canada. Benson drops by the Tacoma Comedy Club at 8 p.m. This isn't an elaborate April Fool's Day prank, by the way. He really will be there. We checked.

5. The Brotherhood Takes Flight aerial show is back, featuring Charly McCreary and others taking to the air with whimsy, strength and artful grace at 8 p.m. in The Brotherhood Lounge. The performance above the drinking crowd is just plain beautiful. A dance party with DJ Fir$t Lady follows.

March 27, 2015 at 6:29am

5 Things To Do Today: The Cutwinkles, station wagons, "In a Dark Dark House," Tobi Stone's Texture Band ...

The Cutwinkles will rock The Valley tonight.

FRIDAY, MARCH 27 2015 >>>

1. Without slipping into needless hyperbole, we're just going to go ahead and say The Cutwinkles are a Tacoma institution. Formed at the Tacoma School of the Arts about a decade ago, they established themselves as a genuinely unique entity in these parts. Armed with an unhealthy preoccupation with video games, The Cutwinkles specialized in goofily theatrical pop-punk odes to Super Mario Bros. and dragons. They are always marked by a sense of humor and playfulness that stands out against the typically serious garage rock, meta, and folk that tend to dominate the Tacoma music scene. Catch the band with The Fabulous Downey Brothers and masonaspron at 8 p.m. in The Valley.

2. Who can forget the Griswold's infamous green and wood-paneled Wagon Queen Family Truckster in National Lampoon's Vacation flick? Remember the tricked-out Ectomobile in Ghostbusters? Baby boomers across the country wanted to call shotgun and ride with Brady kids in their Plymouth Satellite. Station wagons are an American automobile icon and a symbol of the family road trip. There are few vehicles that conjure up the delight of the family vacation as the great American station wagon. A collection of the sleekest, shiniest, top-of-the-line wagons will make their debut at America's Car Museum today.

3. Longtime musicians Ben Fuller and Justin McDonald will team up for a 7 p.m. show at Treos in Old Town Tacoma. Fuller's brother, Ted "Ten Fingers of Doom" Fuller, is rumored to join the show.

4. Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House, presented by Theater Artists Olympia at 8 p.m. in The Midnight Sun Performance Space, takes place 20 years after the summer that set the course for two estranged brothers lives - reunion to uncover the secrets and lies that have shaped them into the men they've become: One a hand-to-mouth blue collar man struggling to find fulfillment, the other a wealthy attorney caught in the grip of self-destruction. As the brothers soon discover, old habits are hard to break. Slowly, surgically, each has to learn the truth from the other, while trying to keep their own demons buried. This play contains discussions of child abuse, sexual abuse, violence, incarceration, and brief homophobic and ableist language.

5. Saxophonist/composer Tobi Stone has composed an evening of original music in homage to her mentor, late jazz saxophonist Bert Wilson, at 8 p.m. in The Washington Center. Stone's Texture Band blends African grooves with jazz harmonies. The septet features Samantha Boshnack on trumpet, Naomi Siegel on trombone, Tobi Stone on saxophone, from Japan Sumi Tonooka on piano and from west Africa Masa Kobayashi on bass, Thione Diop and Etienne Cakpo on drums.

March 24, 2015 at 1:14pm

Nerd Alert has been issued for Emerald City Comicon, Rock Candy Burlesque, Scientology, "Interstellar" ...

Jewel Staite of "Firefly" joins the geeky goodness in Seattle this weekend.

Pouring one out for Xenu in his electronic mountain trap, 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, MARCH 27

Sadly, Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood), Morena Baccarin (V, Homeland) and Jenna Coleman (the lovely and charming Clara Oswald) had to bow out of appearances at this weekend's Emerald City Comicon. The event recovered, however, by adding Jewel Staite and Gina Torres of Firefly. Also in attendance: Hayley Atwell (aka Agent Carter), Kurt Busiek (Astro City and Marvels), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Grant Imahara of Mythbusters, Lucy Knisley (Displacement and Relish), STAN LEE, Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Bruce Timm (DC's animated series), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and dozens of other folks you'll recognize or should. The second level of the Washington State Convention Center will be devoted to gaming tournaments, including a dozen demos. Genre authors Kevin J. Anderson, Greg Bear and Michael A. Stackpole offer informed advice to new writers. A kids' area includes a costume parade, a workshop devoted to clay animation, and a visit from Emperor Palpatine's feared 501st Legion. For superhero, sci-fi and fantasy geeks all over western Washington, this weekend-long festival is annual home base.

EMERALD CITY COMICON, Friday through Sunday, Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle, $10-$295, 888.372.3976

The shamelessly sentimental comedy I'm directing for Olympia Little Theatre, Charles Morey's Laughing Stock, is about a summer of rep plays at a star-crossed theater in a refurbished barn in New England. The year is 1993, as "The Playhouse" struggles through rehearsals and performances of Dracula and Hamlet, with Murphy's Law in full effect and love and chemical fog in the air. Here is my promise to you, the consumer: if you laugh harder at any other play this year, I will personally buy you a Coke.

LAUGHING STOCK, 7:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through April 19, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia, $8-$14, 800.838.3006

An unsettling drama from Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty) reunites a pair of estranged brothers two decades after devastating childhood events In a Dark, Dark House. It's not a musical. It sure ain't a comedy. It is, however, perfect for the dark, dark Midnight Sun Performance Space, and for avant-garde Theater Artists Olympia. Christopher Rocco directs. There will be trigger scenes.

IN A DARK, DARK HOUSE, 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, through April 11, 2:30 p.m. April 12, Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, $15, 360.259.2743

SATURDAY, MARCH 28

The self-described "legendary sexpots" of Olympia's Rock Candy Burlesque celebrate their third anniversary with host Tyler Lockwood, special guests Bananas Foster and Mae Zing, and cake, if you know what I mean. (I mean cake. I like cake. Count me in.)

ROCK CANDY BURLESQUE: A TIME FOR CAKE-PAST, FUTURE AND PRESENTS!, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Rhythm & Rye, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia, $10-$13, 360.705.0760

SUNDAY, MARCH 29

HBO and documentarian Alex Gibney take on the Church of Scientology in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, based on Lawrence Wright's jaw-dropper of a book and debuting tonight at 8. Our lawyers inform us Scientologists are a fine organization of people who haven't been duped by a schlocky extended space opera con of a pseudo-religion. Also, our fondness for that noble body should in no way be attributed to its propensity for devastating lawsuits.

TUESDAY, APRIL 1

Christopher Nolan's mind-expanding masterpiece Interstellar, which gives 2001: A Space Odyssey a run for its monolith as best hard-SF epic of all time, arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD. April Fools! Oh, Interstellar does hit video today, but its screenplay is light-years from being as clever as it thinks (and, frankly, declares) it is. That third act in the LSD library is rather a mess. I did like the cameo and robot.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you attain the full glory of the state of Clear.

March 20, 2015 at 6:34am

5 Things To Do Today: Jonny Lang, Scott Cossu, The Rusty Cleavers, Ex-Gods ...

Jonny Lang will rock the Emerald Queen Casino tonight.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20 2015 >>>

1. Fargo, North Dakota native Jonny Lang has had five albums in the Billboard top 50. He recorded his first blues guitar album, Smokin', at the tender age of 14. Two years later came Lie to Me, an album that went multi-platinum and earned raves from major critics. After a Grammy nomination for Wander the World in 1998, he won the award for Turn Around. He's toured with Aerosmith, Blues Traveler, B.B. King, the Stones, and other iconic artists. Lang's most honest testimonial came from fellow singer and guitarist Jimmy Thackery, who admitted, "He plays so good I want to break his fingers." Yowza. Catch his show at 8:30 p.m. in the Emerald Queen Casino.

2. In college, Scott Cossu immersed himself in the music of Ecuador, living in the Andes Mountains and Chota Valley while furthering his ethnomusicology studies.  He then alchemized his amassed knowledge into records with shamelessly cheesy titles like Emerald Pathways, Stained Glass Memories and, simply, Mountain. Cossu's a laudable pianist, and his compositions have a playful precision to them. While his lite jazz isn't for everyone, in some circles such as the South Puget Sound Community College, Cossu's type of music is seeming less and less like a guilty pleasure, and more like an unexpected muse. Cossu performs at the college's "An Evening of Fine Jazz and Northwest Cuisine," featuring chefs Treacy Kreger and Christine Ciancetta, at 6:30 p.m. Stottle Winery will provide the wine for the evening. It's going to rock. Softly.

3. Olympia Family Theater presents Our Only May Amelia, adapted from the Newberry Award winning novel by Jennifer L. Holm, at 7 p.m. It is the coming of age story of a 13-year-old who is being raised on an isolated farm as the only girl in a family of seven brothers. In 1899, life on the Naselle River in Southwest Washington was hard for anyone, but especially for 13-year-old May Amelia Jackson, the only girl in all of the Naselle settlement. There is not another girl in her neck of the woods with whom to play or commiserate.

4. Wingman Brewers will introduce the Old Plank Pils to the world at 8 p.m., a beer head brewer Ken Thoburn and crew brewed especially for Tacoma punkgrass band, The Rusty Cleavers, who will perform at 8 p.m. during the beer release party. For full details, check out our New Beer Column.

5. Mahnhammer was a stalwart in the Tacoma metal/rock scene, but in 2014, they switched things up by swapping out their drummer and changing their name to something equally thunderous: Ex-Gods. Catch the band with Griever and Strange Wilds at 9 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge as part of the Bleak Outlook Vol. 3 festival.

March 19, 2015 at 6:14am

5 Things To Do Today: Tacoma Art Bus, "Talk Radio," Diynosaur, Ben Union ...

Angela Jossy leads her Tacoma Art Bus on its five-year-anniversary tour tonight. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 19 2015 >>>

1. The iconic Tacoma Art Bus tour, hosted by Duchess of Downtown Tours, is a guided tour that runs on the third Thursday of the month. The evening tour visits various art exhibits throughout Tacoma, and celebrity tour guides, games, prizes, swag and good eats are signatures of the trip. Launching from 734 Pacific Ave. in downtown Tacoma at 6 p.m., the Art Bus will celebrate its five-year-anniversary with a tour of Spaceworks Tacoma, Why Adam Studio, Happy Belly Restaurant + Juice Bar, Washington State History Museum, The Blue Octopus, The Modern Cottage Company, The Forum and the Museum of Glass. Read up on the Tacoma Art Bus here, then grab details of tonight's tour here.

2. Washington State Parks turns 102 years old today, and visitors are invited to help celebrate by getting out to enjoy a state park for free.

3. Before there was Howard Stern, before there was Rush Limbaugh, before there was Tom Leykis, before there was Mike Malloy, there was ... Barry Champlain, the fictional protagonist of Eric Bogosian's 1987 play Talk Radio, the story of Cleveland's controversial late-night radio host infamous for slinging insults at callers. Now Tacoma Little Theatre revives the work via its "Off-The-Shelf Reading" series where local directors and actors bring scripts to life. Tonight's 7:30 p.m. play reading will be directed by Jen Ankrum.

4. Made up of three people apparently named Funkasaurus Rex, Swagadactyl and Velocityraptor, Diynosaur aspire to electronic mavericks from multiple generations like Jean Michael Jarre, the Books, and Fatboy Slim. Catch the band with Infantry feat. Lil PDF, Kybele and Piff at 8 p.m. in Deadbeat Olympia record store.

5. He's not the new king of pop yet, but Ben Union makes a pretty good Adam Levine. Union frames his prodigious and rock solid talent - soulful vocals, a danceable funk groove, irresistible pop hooks - with passion and showmanship. Imagine the music of Maroon 5 and Train being forced occasionally through the Red Hot Chili Peppers backbeat, grabbing Fred Hammond's soul and then pumped out Levine's larynx, and you have a pretty good idea of the kind of sound Ben Union and his band can produce. While most of Union's songs don't stray too far from the characteristic blend of funk and soulful rock, some of his best moments are the more mellow tunes, such as "Angeles" - which will most likely be front and center at 9 p.m. when Union will perform at The Swiss.

March 13, 2015 at 7:23am

5 Things To Do Today: Jake Shimabukuro, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, New Kingston, Freeway Park ...

Whether he's covering Pink Floyd and the Beatles, playing a Hawaiian traditional, or writing one of his own elaborate pieces, Jake Shimabukuro has gained the respect of musicians and fans around the globe. Press photo

FRIDAY, MARCH 13 2015 >>>

1. We encountered Jake Shimabukuro through his much-admired rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," a piece that went viral in YouTube's infancy. Since then he's toured with Jimmy Buffett and played the West Hollywood House of Blues, B.B. King's Nightclub in New York, Bumbershoot and popular TV and radio talk shows. He's a household name in Japan, where he's the ambassador for Hawai'ian tourism. His instrument has only four strings with little sustain and can cover a mere two octaves from middle C up, but that's close to the range of the average human voice. Thus, Shimabukuro has all of the popular music at his disposal. Read Christian Carvajal's full feature on Jake Shimabukuro in the Music & Culture section, then catch the ukulele virtuoso at 7:30 p.m. in the Pantages Theater.

2. Andrew Gordon, the actor-playwright who co-authors and produces mystery nights for his company, Open Road Productions, at Pellegrino's Italian Kitchen in Tumwater. His latest is an all-new musical, Murder Beyond the Stars, at 7:30 p.m. Andy, you have the floor: "It's set at the 26th annual Journeycon, a celebration of the TV show Journey Beyond the Stars back in the '90s. The convention takes place 26 years after the show ended disastrously. The two leads weren't speaking to each other. Something terrible happened, and that's to be revealed. The producer has decided to bring back the show as a movie, but instead of hiring the old cast, he's going the Chris Pine route. He went with a new, young, idiot actor, whom the script describes as all teeth and no brains. I don't think I'm giving away secrets when I tell you someone dies. Of course, everybody looks at least a little like a suspect."

3. From the manic mind of comic Steve Martin comes the offbeat comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Set in Paris at a bar known as The Lapin Agile (The Agile Rabbit), Martin imagines a meeting between a young Pablo Picasso and a young Albert Einstein, two men who will transform the 20th century. Pablo, Al and their friends meet at The Lapin Agile to eat, drink and change art and science forever. Tacoma Little Theatre draws open the curtain at 7:30 p.m.

4. The father-and-sons quartet New Kingston are of rasta heritage, but the Pantons are second-generation Americans who drop laid-back jams like "Today" and "La La La" in a Brooklyn accent. They're a bashment, in reggae slang, meaning a party in progress. Their lyrics are socially conscious, but don't worry too much about that right now. Instead, close your eyes and sip cocktails on a beach in your mind at 8 p.m. in Jazzbones. In fact, I hear Jazzbones makes a ranking rum punch. New Kingston will urge you to "puff it and pass it" - but even in Washington, you have to wait till you get home for that. One love!

5. Seattle quartet Freeway Park offers up angular noise-pop accompanied by the manic preaching of frontman Graham Isaac. When you eliminate singing from your band, the onus then becomes dangerously focused on the strength of the words and the music. Isaac's deadpan reading of his wryly funny lyrics serves as a handy counterpoint to the jittery guitars. Catch the band with Coast Culture, 100 Ounces and Godfish at 8 p.m. in Deadbeat Olympia record store.

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Arresting Power is at 6:30 (even though it's a good idea to get there early).

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