Seattle Weekender: Invasive species, a love triangle at SIFF, and Seattle's best funk

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

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Seattle funk band Wheedle's Groove was recently featured in a documentary of the same name.

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

Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman: "Why We Broke Up," the new book written by Daniel Handler — aka Lemony Snicket — and illustrated by Maira Kalman, explores an event that many have experienced, but, perhaps out of sheer embarrassment, few want to remember: the high school romance.

The story explores the intense and short-lived relationship of two seemingly opposite high schoolers falling in love: junior Min Green, an artsy girl with aspirations of becoming a movie director; and senior Ed Slaterton, a basketball player and math whiz. Min finds herself explaining to Ed why they are breaking up through a box full of souvenirs. The souvenirs, all lovingly illustrated by Maira Kalman, tell stories themselves: bottle caps, movie tickets, a love note, a comb from a motel room, and a condom wrapper among other objects.

The authors will speak and sign books at the event, which is hosted by University Book Store. As an added bonus, each ticket comes with a copy of the book.

If you go: Seattle Central Library, 1000 4th Ave, Jan. 27, 7:30pm, $22, more info

Me-Kwa-Mooks Park Volunteer Event: Here in Seattle, we're spoiled by nature. In addition to the awe-demanding views of water and mountains, we boast over 400 city parks and more than 40,000 city-maintained trees. We don't even have to leave the "concrete jungle" to be in nature. Which is why you should help EarthCorps restore and preserve Me-Kwa-Mooks Park this weekend.

Me-Kwa-Mooks, which means "shaped like bear's head" and which was what the Nisqually people called the West Seattle Peninsula, is a 20.2 acre park with a dense forest. Unfortunately, while the forest provides a home for a variety of wildlife, it has also fallen victim to invasive species, which is where you, the volunteer-to-be, steps in.

Volunteers will help remove invasive species, plant native plants, and take care of past forest restoration sites. It's a good excuse to get out of the house and feel productive on your weekend, all while making a nice contribution to the world. With only a ten percent chance of rain, there's really no excuse not to go.

If you go: Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, 4503 Beach Drive SW, Jan. 28, 10am-2pm, Free, more info

Wheedle's Groove: Not too many people in the world equate Seattle's music scene with soul. Grunge, indie, folk, even jazz, sure. But soul? "Nah," one might say. But Wheedle's Groove is pure, hard evidence to the contrary. A group cobbled together from musicians straight from Seattle's soul scene in the '60s and '70s, the band blasts the horns, the drums, and the vocal pipes, delivering a raw, suave sound. And, as Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie put it in the documentary Wheedle's Groove, they're not just some piece of cute, forgotten nostalgia. It's "actually really f___ing good."

This Saturday, listen to them croon while you treat yourself to some nice wine and pasta.

If you go: Vito's Restaurant and Lounge, 927 Ninth Avenue, Jan. 28, 9:30pm, Free, more info

A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem: Stranger columnist David Schmader is out with a new solo play, directed with fellow Stranger alum Matthew Richter, and it is at times strange, at times sad, and always comical. In fact, other than the fact that the play is a response to his depression after learning he has HIV, the play is an exploration of comedy, from the absurdity of YouTube videos to a more serious, cosmic comedy. As Crosscut writer Katherine Luck puts it, David Schmader "is morbidly fascinated by 'found' comedy: those moments in life where things go so cosmically awry that the only possible response is laughter."

If you go: Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 4, 8pm, $20/$15 for students, more info

Norwegian Wood: Adapted from Haruki Murakami's book of the same name, which itself was titled after a song by the Beatles, Norwegian Wood follows the story of a young college student, Toru Watanabe, as he struggles with his attraction to two largely disparate girls: Naoko, a childhood friend whom he has shared pain with and has devoted his heart to; and Midori, a bold, much more outgoing woman whom he meets at college. 

French-Vietnamese director Tran Angh Han is tackling a large, complicated piece of work with this film and he certainly succeeds in retaining the melancholy mood of the book. The cinematic visuals of the movie are soft and sensual, employing scenes of nature to help express the deep, confused feelings of the characters, and drawing the viewers into the midst of Toru's complicated love triangle.

If you go: Siff Cinema at the Uptown, 511 Queen Ave N, through Feb. 2, $10/$5 Siff members/$9 youth, more info


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