The immigrant experience can be divisive -- many immigrants live with two homelands, two cultures and two languages. Cristina Garcia's novel Dreaming in Cuban certainly does. The novel's perspective shifts back and forth between Cuba, where Celia del Pino lives, and Brooklyn, where her daughter, Lourdes, and granddaughter, Pilar, have moved. Pilar shares neither her grandmother's devotion to Cuba nor her mother's hatred for the revolution. "Most days Cuba is kind of dead to me," says Pilar. "But every once in a while a wave of longing will hit me and it's all I can do not to hijack a plane to Havana." While hijacking is not a recommended therapy for homesick immigrants, the sentiment of longing for a motherland or a mother tongue is understandable. The new Irene H. Ruiz Biblioteca de las Americas' Living on the Border Readers' Circle hosts bilingual discussions open to the public. Rather than set up a book club with works by Latino and Latina authors for English speakers only, the library staff decided to round out the perspective and make the group bilingual, giving members of the Latino community a chance to enjoy the books and participate in either English or Spanish. Tonight's 6:45 p.m. discussion of Dreaming in Cuban is the first Readers' Circle meeting to be held at the new library branch, 2017 West Pennway. For more information, call 816-701-3655.
The Fellowship of the Ring won't be released until December, but trailers are already showing. J.R.R. Tolkien fans who feel as though theaters are teasing them with all-too-brief glimpses of the legendary Middle-Earth will have to take what they can get for a few more months. Tonight at 7, Theatre for Young America gives its only evening performance of The Hobbit (see Stage). As a warm-up for the movie, fans can watch as little ones (about half the height of humans) set out to reclaim their rightful treasure from a fire-breathing dragon. Without the special effects of cinema to bring Tolkien's vivid imagery to life, this production may just be another tease, but fantasies thrive on going unfulfilled. Theatre for Young America is located at 4881 Johnson Drive in Mission; tickets cost $6. For more information, call 913-831-2131.
As part of an annual drive to raise funds, KCUR 89.3 (our station for NPR news) is having a record sale at 4825 Troost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The station advertises a good stock of blues, classical, jazz, rock and world music; we imagine that because the jazz shows that used to air on weeknights went classical, the supply of jazz records available for sale will be astounding. Everybody's a winner: Classical music fans can turn on the radio at night, jazz fans can buy the records cheap and play the music themselves. A lot of the records have been donated by KCUR listeners, so public radio devotees need not fear; purchases made at this sale can only help. For more information, call 816-235-2869.
Works at The Late Show, 4222 Charlotte, are both fun and disturbing. It's hard to know whether to laugh or run away. Doing both at the same time is almost certain to get you institutionalized or at least spark significant concern for your emotional well-being; still, in the case of landscape artist Barbara McCreery's work, neither response is entirely legitimate without the other. McCreery has created three-dimensional scenes ranging from Martha Stewart taking a walk to a cat being electrocuted by telephone wires. One of the more complex images depicts a congregation of mourners made out of cigarette packs (the women in the choir are made of Virginia Slims) crying for one of their own who has been laid to rest with abundant Camel Cash. One guy who can't quit sucks in his cheeks, his lips puckered around a real cigarette butt. Behind them is a reminder: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." But a lot of people do want, and if the recurring theme of smoking in McCreery's work reflects how she keeps from doing it herself, we commend her originality. Her works are on display alongside paintings by Jay Norton and a rotating group show called No Sweat, open from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-531-8044.
Songcatcher, showing at Tivoli Cinemas, 4050 Pennsylvania, includes a short appearance by locally based singer/songwriter Iris DeMent. Although she was born in Arkansas, DeMent spent most of her childhood in suburbs of Los Angeles and found her way back to the Midwest as an adult. This movie tells the story of Dr. Lily Panleric, a snooty British woman who crosses the Atlantic in 1907 looking for the roots of American music. She wants to learn about traditional music, but the people who play it won't truly accept her into their midst until she gives up her assumption of superiority. While reviews of the movie have been mixed, the musical performances, including DeMent's, have been almost unanimously well-received. For more information, call 816-561-5222. To get into the bluegrass frame of mind before heading over to the theater, a trip to the Grand Emporium, 3832 Main, may be in order. Monday nights are Brother Ike's Rural Grit Happy Hour, during which harmonicas, washboards, banjos, mandolins and even guitars abound from 6 to 8. For more information, call 816-531-1504.
For many outsiders, the name "Leavenworth" inspires knee-jerk thoughts of jail stripes. But at the Carnegie Arts Center, 601 S. Fifth Street in Leavenworth, visitors can see works from five different studios operating in the Leavenworth community from 1858 to 1968 that unveil a view of Leavenworth from the inside -- or from the outside, if the prison is your frame of Preference. The photographs, from the Everhard Photographic Collection, are on display through the month of August. For more information, call 913-651-0765.
My Fair Lady, the famed musical about a distinguished professor who is determined to teach a woman with a cockney accent to speak like a lady, is playing at Starlight Theatre, 6601 Swope Parkway, at 8:30 tonight. Most fans know the musical from the movie version starring Audrey Hepburn and can sense the pronunciation lesson swelling into song as Hepburn repeats, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain." Never mind the story's dated premise that molding a woman into a perfect lady by smoothing out her vowels is somehow romantic. Times have changed, but for reasons that transcend Audrey Hepburn's performance, audiences still enjoy this musical. For more information, call 816-363-STAR.