Some of you may have been lured to the cat show at the Expo Center a few months ago, enticed by the promise of a cat obstacle course. And what did you find there? Oh, there were cats at the cat show. And yes, there was an obstacle course at the cat show. But do you think the two had anything to do with one another? If you said no, then you know your pussies. All I saw were petrified felines, the cat-owner equivalents of horrified soccer moms, and the loneliest obstacle course in North America.
But then again, we weren't at the Portland Home Show with the Friskies Cat Team! Flash, Harley, and the rest of the Friskies crew are the Harlem Globetrotters of the cat-show circuit. The team takes the stage in a fun, furry seminar to let you know how you can get your cat off its lazy ass at home and make it into a lean, mean, slam-dunking, treadmill-running machine. Veterinarians and feline nutritionists transform a living-room set into an inconspicuous cat playground, and give you tips like feeding your cat on elevated surfaces so little Frankie has to jump all over hunting his dinner. But whatever... The Friskies Cat Team features cats playing basketball! Screw Air Bud—I'm with Team Friskie! CHAS BOWIE
Friskies Cat Team at the Portland Home & Garden Show, Portland Expo Center, 2060 N Marine, Thurs-Sat at 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, Sun at noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, $8
This ain't your garden-variety fashion show. The aptly titled On A Limb, By A Thread features two performances/fashion shows by artist/designer Alison Sumner. The first, "Strange Fruit," uses African American models/performers wearing Southern belle and Elizabethan-inspired clothing, and—yikes!—blackface. Embarrassment? Valid appropriation of a PC untouchable? There's only one way to know for sure!
The second half is titled "The Phantom Sensation and the Sound of Music," inspired by both the Julie Andrews vehicle and the phenomenon of amputees who still have the sensation of missing limbs, as well as the ability of twins to sense each other's states. Both amputees and twins are used as models in this piece, wearing clothing made from curtains—á la Maria.
But the curiosities don't stop there. Thread also features a live performance of Gregorian chants, and additional fashion pieces by designers like Jacob LaValley, Yahroe Hill, and STF&MRK (Stephanie Green and Mark Stronczek), exploring everything from Ragged Dick to wedding dresses to chain link.
Also on display will be toddler couture from Seaplane, Brodie Large's framed works of local designers accompanied by undressed models ("not modeling"), and contributions from SF's Anastasia Schipani. Weird enough? MARJORIE SKINNER
Gallery 500, 420 SW Washington, Suite 500, Thurs Oct 6 (installations through Oct 21), 8:30 pm, free
Although none of the following four writers share much in terms of themes or even genres, they do share looming superstar personalities! t
The week kicks off with the uber-sexy Zadie Smith, whose latest novel On Beauty remarkably outdoes her debut White Teeth. Like a skilled hiphop artist, Smith constructs a dark and funny story by sampling and mixing all genres under the sun, from the snappy and urbane to proper Elizabethan prose. First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th, Thurs Oct 6, 7:30 pm
On Saturday, Patti Smith—THE Patti Smith—storms into town to read from a collection of her poetry, Auguries of Innocence. What is perhaps most amazing about Smith is that she's emerged from her hard-CBGB-rocking days not as a jaded, aged punk, but refreshingly bright- eyed and curious. Powell's, 1005 W Burnside, Sat Oct 8, 3 pm
The following day, Dan Savage reads from his simultaneously blasphemous and tender memoir, The Commitment (see Feature, page 9). Powell's, 1005 W Burnside, Sun Oct 9, 7:30 pm
Finally—WHEW!—the week of superstar writers wraps up with Rick Moody following several self-appointed visionaries in his novel The Diviners. Just as Moody thoroughly explored the sexual and political landscape of the mid-'70s in The Ice Storm, he undertakes an odyssey into our nation's most recent and confused era, the years after Election Day 2000. Powell's, 1005 W Burnside, Tues Oct 11, 7:30 pm PHIL BUSSE
On an impromptu trip to the Oregon State High School Dance Team Competitions last spring, the Telegraph Arts Collective saw an amazing thing: squadrons of teenage innocents throwing their hearts into flashy, upbeat, and surprisingly intricate movement routines. Inspired by the energy and commitment on display, the group vowed to bring such an event to a more grown-up Portland crowd. This Sunday, their vision bounds to glorious life in the form of Got Freedom? Get Awesome!, perhaps the most well-named event of the year.
Got Freedom? features eight teams of dancers led by an impressive array of local choreographers, including Monster Squad's Tahni Holt, 10 Tiny Dances honcho Mike Barber, and SpugMotion's Sinead Kimbrell. Working under the theme of, naturally, "Got Freedom? Get Awesome!" these dance masters each chose from a hundreds-long list of songs off of official Got Freedom? Get Awesome!'s house band Karaoke From Hell's website, gathered a loyal crew of movers and shakers, and prepared to throw down, high-school style in front of a panel of celebrity judges. Sporting flashy, sequined outfits designed by local designers like Aster Park and Kat Manock, the Got Freedom? teams will blow your mind with, as Telegraph aptly puts it, "the sugary sweat of dance rivalry." Talent is not required—only heart. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS
Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, Sun Oct 9, 9 pm, $6, www.telegrapharts.org