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The 2014 Fall Culture Guide: Lit and ideas

The 2014 Fall Culture Guide:  Visual Art |  Music |  Lit and ideas |  Family food and festivals |  Theater and dance

So, how's your schedule look next week?  And the week after that?  And the week after that?   Whether you're an art-lover, a dance aficionado, a foodie or a live music fan, our culture guide's got the goods for one very busy fall.  And we mean busy in a good way - this year's calendar is brimming with sights, sounds and tastes to engage, inspire and entertain you.  Enjoy.

Sept. 3

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What’s Henderson, chopped liver?

You gotta love any discussion of local history that assumes the Strip is its own quasi city. That’s Eugene Moehring’s take in Reno, Las Vegas and the Strip: A Tale of Three Cities, 1945-2014. The acclaimed UNLV historian looks at the forces — corporate gaming and megaresorts, changes in morality and leisure time — that shaped Nevada’s three most important metropolitan areas. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Sept. 9

The right’s wrong stuff

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In her University Forum lecture The Radical Right Has a Radical Plan: What Taking Back the Country Really Means, author Claire Conner (Wrapped in the Flag) recounts growing up as the daughter of a Bircher big shot, and analyzes the regressive aspirations and tactics of anti-government zealots and religious hard-liners. (SD) 7:30p, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Sept. 11

How much worse can it get?

Every day another batch of grim headlines — from Nigeria, from Russia, from Iran — reboots our planet-spanning anxiety about the condition of our species. For Blood, Sweat & Tears: Life on the Front Lines of the Human Rights Struggle in Russia, Nigeria, and Iran, the Black Mountain Institute has recruited a top-notch lineup: Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright; Iranian dissident Azar Nafisi, author of the best-selling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran; and Russian journalist Masha Gessen, who wrote a biography of Vladimir Putin. Moderated by Michelle Tusan, a UNLV human rights scholar, it promises to be eye- and mind-opening. (SD) 7p, free, UNLV Student Union,

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Sept. 13

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the poetry reading

If you’re a poet and you wanna throw it, 5/5+ is for you: You get five minutes to read your best stuff, then buckle in for five minutes of immediate, no-BS feedback from the audience — including other poets. BOOM! Reading and workshop in one. (SD) 3p, free, Books or Books, 5/5+ on Facebook


Sept. 18

Wait — sassy and sexy romance is an option?

If you prefer your romance sassy and sexy — instead of brooding, clingy and drama-addicted, like the rest of us — authors Tera Lynn Childs and Crystal Perkins have an evening for you. It’s called An Evening of Sassy and Sexy Romance with Tera Lynn Childs and Crystal Perkins. Sassy heroines! Sexy guys! Childs (author of the City Chicks series) and Perkins (The Griffin Brothers series) will host games and sign books. (SD) 7p, free, Clark County Library,


Sept. 21

Welcome to Mobtown!

Once you’ve read the excerpt of Tod Goldberg’s Vegas-set novel Gangsterland on Page 42, you’ll be fully prepped for this reading and book-signing (pre-publication reviews have been gaga). No scribbling introvert, Goldberg is antic and hilarious in front of a crowd. (SD) 3p, free, Clark County Library,


Sept. 22

A real wake-up call

You ever log on to the Internet at 3 a.m. to find just a crackling test pattern? Of course not. The Internet never sleeps — and maybe it’s why we seem as sleepless as ever. Many experts blame ubiquitous screens and omnipresent media for modern insomnia, but scholar Lee Scrivner points out that people have always worried about technology triggering mass insomnia. For instance, the Victorians worried that electric lights and nighttime trains spelled the end of sleep. (I always thought they were kept awake by the panicked thought that someone somewhere was having sex.) Scrivner explores society’s history of anxiety about insomnia in Becoming Insomniac: How Sleeplessness Alarmed Modernity. (AK) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium


Sept. 23

I’m with the banned

An open letter to censorship: Hey, big fella, hope this finds you well. I’m sure you’re busy snatching Huckleberry Finn from impressionable kids, to keep them from encountering words they’d otherwise only hear at school, in the streets and on the Internet. But if you have time, you’re invited to Uncensored Voices: Celebrating Your Freedom to Read, which kicks off Banned Books Week (Sept. 22-28). This event will highlight the graphic novels you’ve been trying to block from libraries, schools and bookstores. It’ll be fun, informative and, if we’re lucky, they’ll serve cookies afterward. Hope to see you there! (SD) 7p, free, Clark County Library,


A poet you don’t know yet (but should)

Unless you read lots of lit journals, you likely haven’t heard of Kansas City poet Bridget Lowe (1) — there’s a reason Black Mountain Institute calls this its Emerging Writers Series. That’s a good reason to see her: Be an early convert. (SD) 7p, free, UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium,


Sept. 30

Send in the clown

Jerry Lewis has led such an outsized life — in showbiz, in large-scale philanthropy, in Gallic adoration — that An Evening with Jerry Lewis might make you wonder if an evening’s enough. What to expect? “Stand-up comedy, unforgettable gags, trademark vignettes,” plus movie highlights and even some singing. Part of the Audi Speaker Series. (SD) 7:30p, $24 and up, The Smith Center,


Oct. 1

That’s sick

We can’t improve much on the descriptive juju of this lecture’s title: The Immune System and Sepsis Under the Microscope. Sepsis infections are a serious problem in Clark County (and all over the place). Hear more from Barbara St. Pierre Schneider, of UNLV’s department of nursing, and Charles C. Caldwell, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. (SD) 7:30p, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Oct. 2

You don’t look a day over late-century

The zoomy, charmingly retro style of residential architecture known as mid-century modern has an enthusiastic following in Las Vegas. You’ll know why after Paradise Palms: A Mid-Century Modern Neighborhood, a discussion of the city’s first master-planned luxury community. Part of the Library District’s Las Vegas Stories series. (SD) 7p, free, Clark County Library,


Oct. 2

What rhymes with Steensen?

She’s back! Poet Sasha Steensen, a graduate of the first class of UNLV’s creative writing program — class of 2000, represent! — returns in Black Mountain Institute’s new Alumni Reading Series. Now professoring at Colorado State, Steensen has published three books of poetry, including the award-winning A Magic Book. (SD) 7p, free, UNLV’s Greenspun Hall auditorium,


Oct. 15

The cookie says, “I told you so”

Learning is living — sure, that sounds like wisdom you might extract from a fortune cookie. Well, this time, heed the cookie. As UNLV sociologists Takashi Yamashita, Jennifer Keene and Erick Lopez will tell you in the University Forum lecture The Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Well-being, lifelong learning is beneficial to your well-being, whether you’re a student, mid-career striver or retiree. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Welcome to Booktown!

“Actor writes book” is the “dog bites man” of publishing: so frequent it’s not newsworthy. But in the case of actor B.J. Novak (2) (The Office, Inglorious Basterds), stop the presses: His best-selling One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is actually worth a mention, funny and with a heart — it prompted the New York Times to dust off the descriptive “droll,” which had its peak Times usage back in 1876. Novak’s reading kicks off the 2014 Vegas Valley Book Festival. (SD) 7p, free, Clark County Library,


Oct. 18

A whole day for books? Let’s do this every year!

A reading by author Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) caps the 2014 Vegas Valley Book Festival. This day-long readapalooza will feature talks on literary fiction, genre writing, baseball lit and essays, as well as an extensive program of children’s and young-adult literature. Among the featured writers: Onetime Las Vegan Charles Bock, Sylvia Day, Tracy Wolff, Leslie Jamison, Dinah Lenney and more. If you love books, or like books a lot, or just want to be friends with books, you gotta be here. (SD) Begins at 9a, Fifth Street School,


Oct. 20

Space in your face

We live most of our lives in and around buildings, but we don’t give enough thought to the influence the built environment has over our bodies and minds. The UNLV School of Architecture’s 2014 Klai Juba Wald Lecture Series will open your eyes to the function of the forms around you. On Oct. 20, MIT architecture professor Nader Tehrani discusses urban design. Other lecture dates: Chris Reed, Oct. 27; Gregg Pasquarelli, Feb. 23; Marlon Blackwell, March 23. (AK) 6p, free, Fifth Street School


Oct. 21

The plane truth

Forget aliens; Area 51 is also fascinating as the sorcerers’ workshop wherein America’s weapons-tech brainiacs sharpened aerospace’s cutting edge. In The Evolution of Area 51, former head of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame Thornton Barnes will use videos and insider accounts to explain the history and function of the “secret” base. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


The Sands of time

From the Tropicana to the El Cortez, lots of Vegas resorts these days are aiming for that classic Vegas vibe. Their inspiration: The Sands, home of the Rat Pack and endless font of Sin City hepcat mythology. In The Sands: A Place in the Sun (3), historians Larry Gragg, Eugene Moehring, Su Kim Chung and Michael Green will discuss the rise and fall of fabled hotel-casino, from the Copa headliners of its heyday to its demise at the hands of the megaresort craze. (AK) 1p, free, Nevada State Museum


Nov. 6

There will be a test afterward

Nevada will still be sweeping up Oct. 31’s sesquicentennial confetti when writer and Mob Museum content director Geoff Schumacher takes the Jewel Box Theatre stage to identify and interpret Key Turning Points in Las Vegas History — pivotal moments from 1844 to the present. This is part of the Library District’s Las Vegas Stories series. (SD) 7p, free, Clark County Library,


Nov. 10

A shameful number

It’s easy to be blasé about a number like 29 million; modern life is full of huge figures. But when you learn that’s the number of people enslaved in the world today, it takes on a stark hugeness. In the University Forum lecture Human Trafficking and the Narratives of Modern Slavery, Loyola University professor Laura T. Murphy, director of the Modern Slavery Research Project, will discuss the stories of those who’ve escaped, stories that aggregate as what she calls “the new slave narrative.” (SD) 7:30p, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Nov. 13

Happy birthday! *Blows silent, discreet noisemaker*

The reopening of the Clark County Library in November 1994 marked more than a mere expansion. The Michael Graves-designed reboot signaled the graduation of the facility from traditional library to full-fledged community center, with the addition of two theaters, conference rooms and even accommodations for art exhibits and cultural events. Celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the library’s rebirth with refreshments and nostalgic photographs. (AK) 6p, free, Clark County Library,


Nov. 13

Get your swerve on

Fruitful things often happen when history and literature meet: March, for instance, Geraldine Brooks’ Pulitzer-winning novel about the decamped father in Little Women; or Stephen Greenblatt’s literary history Swerve: How the World Became Modern, another Pulitzer winner. That book lends its title to this talk between Brooks and Greenblatt: To Swerve or Not to Swerve: How Literature Navigates the Past. (Our vote: swerve!) Sponsored by Black Mountain Institute. (SD) 7p, free, UNLV Student Union,


Nov. 17

Gender the vote!

Isn’t it weird to read a sentence like this: “One hundred years ago, Nevada’s male voters finally allowed Nevada’s women to vote …” Did you flinch at “allowed,” too? The story and the people — of both genders — behind Silver State suffrage is the subject of 45 Years in the Desert: Nevada Women’s Long Journey to the Ballot Box, by scholar Dana R. Bennett. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Welcome to Funtown

David Sedaris (4), that exemplar of NPR-friendly satire, comes to town on the heels of his latest best-seller, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. Smiles, everyone, smiles! (SD) 7:30p, $46 and up, The Smith Center,


Nov. 24

For compete’s sake!

Excess testosterone: not just a concern for male athletes. Rules often prevent women from competing if they have naturally high levels of the hormone. Many compensate with potentially risky medical procedures. In Just Games: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Testosterone in Women Athletes, Rebecca M. Jordan-Young of Barnard College, Columbia University, challenges the scientific and ethical bases for these athletic policies. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,


Dec. 3

It’s raining the truth up in here!

Gird yourself for Christmas dinner with Uncle Jasper, the family climate-change denier, with this talk by UNLV physics professor Michael G. Pravica. When Uncle J. quacks, How can we have global warming with all these doggone snowstorms?, you can bust out the facts you’ll pick up from Global Climate Change: What’s Going On? Pravica will examine the relationships between climate change and such phenomena as the polar vortex and drought. So clam up and open your present, Uncle Jasper; it’s a wallet. (SD) 7:30p, free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum,