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The Weekender: Sarah Vowell, Hip-hop for the Homeless, and The Devil v. C.S. Lewis

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Luvva J walks on a Puget Sound beach.

Luvva J walks on a Puget Sound beach. Luvva J/Myspace

Sarah Vowell at a 2009 book signing in San Francisco.

Sarah Vowell at a 2009 book signing in San Francisco. Pip R. Lagenta/Flickr (CC)

Sarah Vowell  Described by Vanity Fair as “queen of the literary hipster nerds,” Sarah Vowell makes a stop in Seattle this weekend, a city full of her loyal subjects. An essayist, journalist, and author, Vowell is perhaps best characterized as a “social observer.” She mixes exploration of American history with chatty personal anecdote and deadpan humor, most recently turning her wry lens on the America’s imperial colonization of Hawaii in her book Unfamiliar Fishes.

While primarily considered a writer, Vowell makes numerous talk show appearances and is perhaps most beloved for her radio work as a contributing editor on This American Life. This may be due in part to her distinctive voice, self-described as being “straight out of second grade. I come across so young and innocent and harmless that I have been carded for buying maple syrup.” The interview portion of the evening will be conducted by Luke Burbank, Seattle radio personality and panelist on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. According to Vowell’s Facebook page, dress code for her events is “NPR-chic,” a style most of our readers should be able to pull off.

If you go: Neptune Theatre, 1303 Northeast 45th St, March 10, doors at 7 pm, show at 8 pm, $32.50, $21 UW students


C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters  C.S. Lewis’ satiric epistolary novel, dedicated to his friend and fellow theologian J.R.R. Tolkien, sides the audience with the devil. The devilishly cunning and smooth-talking Englishman Max McLean (with whom there is a post-show talk-back) plays Screwtape, an undersecretary in Satan’s “lowerarchy.” The show plays out like a series of sermons as Screwtape dictates letters advising his nephew, Wormwood, on how to best tempt a human “patient” to serve their dark lord.

One need not be Christian to appreciate C.S. Lewis’ work any more than one need be Christian to appreciate The Lord of the Rings — human foibles, like demons, are the same regardless of the religion they come cloaked in. Appropriately provocative and witty (he is The Devil, after all) Screwtape reveals our lives’ everyday evils, reminding that “the safest road to hell is the gradual one.” After sold-out runs in New York and Los Angeles, Seattle theatregoers have a one-day shot at seeing the devil get his comeuppance — just make sure the demons don’t follow you out.

If you go: The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine Street, March 10, doors at 3 pm and 7 pm, curtain at 4 pm and 8 pm, $28-$89


Cascade Orienteering Club Night O’  Orienteering is the closest you may ever come to being on the Amazing Race or lost in the wilds of Mordor with nothing but a compass and a map and your own wits. Originally developed as a land navigation training exercise for military recruits, orienteering is an official sport at the World Games and has developed many variations and somewhat of a cult following. Basically, it’s the most epic sport short of gladiatorial combat. Participants are given a topographical map marked with a series of numbered control points, which they must find in order, recording their visit with an electronic punch stick. The fastest person to complete the course wins.

Cascade Orienteering Club’s spring/summer series kicks off this Saturday with night orienteering at North SeaTac Park. Participants choose between three courses of varying lengths (1km to 4.7km) and may compete as a team or alone. The event is sure to have you ripping through blackberry bushes and churning up muddy underbrush as you learn that the shortest distance is not as the crow flies, but as the orienteer runs. So slip on some spandex and your running shoes. May the best navigator win — just don’t forget your compass or your headlamp.

If you go: North SeaTac Park, S 128th St & 20th Ave S, March 10, registration 6:30 pm-8 pm, course opens at 7 pm, $6-$11


Leonardo Live  Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, which opened at London’s National Gallery in November, was a once-in-a-lifetime art experience you already missed. Almost. This weekend, thanks to SIFF, you can visit the film version: Leonardo Live, directed by documentary filmmaker Phil Grabsky, and presented again in Seattle after several February showings brought it back by popular demand. 


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