Don’t know what to do this week? We’ve got you covered. Here are this week’s five top picks for entertainment in the Yakima Valley.
■ “Free Trip to Egypt”
The critical consensus on Ingrid Serban’s film-slash-social-experiment “Free Trip to Egypt” is that it’s a good-hearted if somewhat simplistic statement about the power of good-faith human interaction. That’s enough for me to want to see it. The documentary is based on Canadian-Egyptian Tarek Mounib’s efforts to bridge cultural gaps by offering a free trip to Egypt to a diverse group of Americans who consider Islam a threat. It’s a small sample size, but it works. And with the divided state of the world in 2019, it’s nice to think that’s still possible. It’s showing at Yakima Cinema for at least one more week.
At first I wasn’t sold on Upstate, the Americana harmony group playing the Hackett Ranch. They’ve got a nice, easygoing musical style built on solid playing and honeyed vocals. But so do about a billion other bands doing similar things. Then I took a minute to listen to their song “Marietta,” a not-as-simple-as-it-seems post-relationship open letter of a song. It’s a well-observed take on the balance between emotional sophistication and emotional, well, emotion. After hearing it, I revisited some of Upstate’s other songs and discovered similarly sharp writing I’d overlooked. They’re a band that rewards close listening.
■ “Hometown Teams” opening reception
The role of sports in American society is so multifaceted and dynamic that it almost defies characterization. On their most basic level, sports are just games, diversions. But they’re also venues for people from disparate backgrounds to find some form of exchange. They’re community builders. They bring people together. But they also reflect the cultures within which they take place. That makes sports a viable lens through which to examine every aspect of society, from the way we deal with race and gender to the way we view power and privilege. Sports, then, are not trivial. This traveling exhibit from The Smithsonian Institution touches on all of that while also just featuring a whole bunch of way-cool sports stuff. Give it a look.
■ “10x10x10xTieton” opening reception
Noon-4 p.m. Saturday; Mighty Tieton Warehouse, 608 Wisconsin Ave. in Tieton; free; www.mightytieton.com
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: The annual “10x10x10xTieton” exhibit, in which every work of art must be smaller than 10 inches in any dimension, is always among the year’s best. There’s something about the size constraints that spurs creativity and ingenuity. It’s counterintuitive, but it seems as though curbing an artist’s freedom with arbitrary rules actually leads to more, rather than less, weird and wild experimentation. At least in this very specific instance. Anyway, you’ll be knocked out by the ways artists think inside the box.
■ Kris Tinkle
Kris Tinkle, a New York-based standup, has cultivated a kind of pessimistic-verging-on-angry persona with albums like “Maybe I Don’t Feel Like Smiling” and “Not My Cup of Tea.” But unlike so many comics who mine that vein, he does not appear to be a jerk. He’s not confrontational or combative so much as just frustrated. And, man, that is a relief. The yelling-man thing has been done to death by other comics. It just doesn’t get the same returns anymore. But a guy talking dejectedly but amiably about the ways life has beaten him up? That’s always been relatable and always will be. And Tinkle is very good at that.
— Pat Muir