Thursday, Nov. 1
‘King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’
Kids today have it so easy. In my day, videogames were an unwinnable struggle against mighty forces. Example: Donkey Kong. Even if you rescued the damsel, he’d get her again, and this time he’d be stronger and faster. There was no victory to be had, only continued survival and a few more points in the bucket. These days, games like Halo 3 teach kids that the world is finite and logical, and that victory is clear and attainable. And World of Warcraft? It’s more social networking site than hardcore videogame, making it really just the rich man’s CB radio.
As the documentary “King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” shows, those early videogames were more like pure expressions of skill. The film follows two serious gamers as they battle for the Donkey Kong world record. One (42-year-old Billy Mitchell) has made a nice career out of his skill with the joystick. The other (30-something Steve Wiebe) is risking his marriage and mortgage to pursue his dream of being the most respected Donkey Kong player in the world. —Alan Abbott
Floyd Theatre, U of L
2100 S. Floyd St.
$2; 6 & 8:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, NOV. 1
Stories and memories from Romantica singer Ben Kyle’s upbringing in Belfast informs the band’s latest album, America. But you wouldn’t guess that listening to Kyle’s carefree melodies, which know no specific homeland, and form the backbone of the group’s easy, breezy sound.
“The writing has always been fluid and intuitive,” said Kyle, who recorded and produced America in a Minneapolis studio the members built themselves. “Growing up with Irish music, I still really have that ‘Irishness’ — that definitely comes out in the material.”
America was a lesson in avoiding overproduction and maintaining an organic feel. “I didn’t want to overproduce it. My problem was that I was maybe ready to let go of it too early.”
Nashville indie-folk singer Mando (pronounced MON-dough) Saenz opens the all-ages show. Saenz, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, gigged heavily in Texas and borrows patches of Alejandro Escovedo’s earlier projects (Rank and File) on his album Watertown. —Mat Herron
The 930 Listening Room
930 Mary St.
$5; 7:30 p.m.
Day of the Dead events
It’s time to honor the dead. Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day and Nov. 2 is All Souls’ Day. These Roman Catholic holidays, combined with Aztec traditions, produce the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos,” a celebration full of festive, joyful remembrance.
The UzoMa Gallery (1813 Frankfort Ave., 895-9805), with the art exhibit “Dia de los Muertos: Celebrating Life & Death,” will hold a reception/costume party on Thursday (the show runs through Nov. 27). Artists featured are Aron Conaway, Hallie Jones, Paul Nelson, Melissa Wilson and Carol Quint. The after-party is a film screening by artist MAEzelle at the Sixth & Oak Studio Collective, 530 W. Oak St. ($4 at the door includes a drink ticket, $3 with costume). There are also voodoo-inspired art doll workshops on Saturdays in November.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (715 W. Main St., 589-0102) will host a festival with food, fire dancers and music by Marlon Obando during Nov. 2’s First Friday Gallery Trolley Hop. There’s a public altar that’s open to anyone who wishes to add mementos, plus “Day of the Dead” photographs by Geoff Carr and skeleton works by Danny Dutton.
Carr’s studio/gallery, Carr + Waite Studios (221 S. Hancock St., 540-1168), has more photographs from his “Day of the Dead” series on First Friday as well. His studio partner, Caroline Waite, also has her new mixed media assemblages on display. —Jo Anne Triplett
FRIDAY, NOV. 2
Returning to aid the “Kentucky Homefront” radio show is Anne MacFie, who says the concert won out over bungee-jumping off Natural Bridge, which is, like, awesome … when deciding how she would celebrate the Day of the Dead.
From the sounds of it, MacFie isn’t exactly feeling her age. “I’m still writing songs and film scripts, still performing, still driving a mile for every buck I earn folk singing, and eating that ‘cold pizza for breakfast in a motel room,’” she says. “I still love life.”
Joining her is Dick Albin, her longtime musical partner from the ’70s and ’80s, as well as Nancy Johnson-Barker and her band, Kentucky Standard, keyboardist Steve Lyon from the Strange Music Ensemble, and Slade, Ky., songwriter and ER doctor Neville Pohl.
“Kentucky Homefront” is broadcast every Wednesday night on WFPK-FM. —Mat Herron
St. Andrew United Church of Christ
2608 Browns Lane
$10 suggested donation; 7:30 p.m.
Louisville Ballet’s ‘Visionary Forces’
In recent years, the Louisville Ballet has heated up a zesty buffet of dance from contemporary choreographers each autumn and spring. LEO considers these the most exciting offerings of the season (even if the company’s ambitions have sometimes exceeded its ability). This weekend, the company presents two potentially zesty courses on “Visionary Forces.” One is a new piece, with music by Beethoven, created for the company by a rising choreographer (cited as one of Dance Magazine’s 2007 Ones to Watch). Helen Pickett, who reportedly reads works of philosopher Immanuel Kant and ponders the cognitive relationships to movement, danced for more than a decade with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. The other piece is the company premiere of Twyla Tharp’s “The Golden Section” (the finale of her 1981 full-length dance “The Catherine Wheel”) with music by David Byrne. This physically demanding work with spectacular leaps and full-throttle motion has been performed extensively in recent years by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater under the tutelage of former Tharp dancer Shelley Washington. Given that Washington has been working with the company on this, the Louisville dancers should be able to master the material. —Elizabeth Kramer
Kentucky Center, Whitney Hall
$21-$76; 8 p.m. (Fri.), 2 & 8 p.m. (Sat.)
Sunday, Nov. 4
Louisville team on ‘Amazing Race’
A team representing Kentucky on a nationally televised reality program … and both have all their teeth and speak intelligently? Imagine that. In fact, Louisvillians Kynt Cothran and Vyxsin Fiala, with their androgynous makeup and bright pink hair (courtesy of Kaleidoscope Hair Salon in the Highlands, where both work as receptionists), are one of the most stylish couples ever to appear on CBS’s “Amazing Race,” and I’d venture to say most reality shows of late (with the exception of Marcellus from “Big Brother 3”). Kynt and Vyxsin pride themselves on being a part of the Louisville goth scene and make no bones about glamming it up. “Kynt’s probably the only contestant on the ‘Amazing Race’ to bring along a flat-iron,” Vyxsin tells me over the phone last week, adding that the team’s biggest concern, besides completing the daily tasks and challenges the show presents, was picking out outfits and doing their hair and makeup in what little time they had.
“We hope to use this as a platform to help break stereotypes and misconceptions of both Louisville and the goth community,” Kynt says. “We’re the first goth couple on TV, and we’re from Kentucky. There’ll be no twang, no trucks, no coal mines …”
The 12th “Amazing Race” starts Sunday on CBS. I was unsuccessful at prying out many show details from the two, but if you’d like to try, Vyxsin waitresses over at Ramsi’s and Kynt’s at Texas Roadhouse. —Sara Havens
CBS (Insight channel 5)
Saturday, Nov. 4-10
Festival of Contemporary Writing
When an institution holds a festival full of free events, your spider-sense might interpret it as an exercise in branding. But then the list of participants rolls out — and there’s just too much to the good to not play along. Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing is starting up on Saturday, and the roster of readers who come to the podium are selling the value of participating in a literate life — whether it’s as novelist, poet, screenwriter, memoirist or reader. Mind, any of those roles can be enhanced by signing up for Spalding’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program — but you can read the brochure on the way out, because the roster’s full and the festival’s busy for an entire week. One big-gun appearance of note is by Bobby Moresco, who won an Oscar for the screenplay of “Crash.” (Note: Moresco’s appearance, as well as readings on Nov. 8, will be at the Gallery, 16th floor of the Brown Hotel on Broadway.) But you also get MFA program director and local novelist Sena Jeter Naslund, just back from dining at the White House during the National Book Festival. Catch Spalding’s Web site for the appearance schedule. —T.E. Lyons
Monday, Nov. 5
Comedians of Comedy Tour
Laugh it up, funny man. The Comedians of Comedy Tour returns to Louisville for an evening of antics, hijinks and assorted yucks. The brainchild of Patton Oswalt, the tour features the leading lights of the alternative comedy scene, meaning that instead of a bunch of safe, unfunny shtick concerning airplane food and the differences between the genders, you can expect genuinely hilarious stand-up about being a disaffected curmudgeon trying to make sense of it all. Or in the case of Maria Bamford, funny voices. Brian Posehn, Bamford and Oswalt are all back, rounded out by Doug Benson. If you think performers like David Cross or Sarah Silverman are funny, you should probably enjoy these folks as well. —Jay Ditzer
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
$17 (adv.), $20 (door); 8 p.m.
Through Nov. 10
‘Let Go the Handle Bars’ by Art Snake
The guy’s been busy. Self-taught artist Rodney Hatfield, better known by his moniker Art Snake, has more than 30 new works on view at Swanson Reed Contemporary on Market Street, with an additional 15 paintings displayed at its Bardstown Road location.
Swanson Reed and Hatfield have a long association dating back to 1989. It’s been a profitable relationship, since there are many collectors who value his largely abstract folk-art style. This dual-location exhibition is displaying the most new works Hatfield has ever shown in Kentucky, making it the perfect way to celebrate Swanson Reed’s silver anniversary. —Jo Anne Triplett
Swanson Reed Contemporary
638 E. Market St.
Swanson Reed Galleries
1377 Bardstown Road