On Thursday, it’s Life in Hell, Mary Todd Lincoln, Keith Hennessy and Andrew Sarris

Matt Groening is on our minds today. So is Randee Paufve. And Keith Hennessy. And for sad reasons, movie critic Andrew Sarris, who died yesterday at 83.

Akbar & Jeff make a connection.

Today, the news began to circulate that Matt Groening’s “Life in Hell” cartoon strip, the enterprise that gave us our first warning that a new comic subversive was on the loose, will cease in July. ArtsWatchers know that Groening grew up in Portland, right? And we often claim him as one of ours, but “Life in Hell” was inspired by Groening’s move to Los Angeles in 1977, and really, despite the names and locations in “The Simpsons,” it’s a response to Hollywood and LA, too, mostly. Still, to me at least, there’s was always something “Portland-y” about Akbar & Jeff, Binky & Sheba & Bongo. Fortunately, “Life in Hell” wasn’t especially topical, so we can happily consume old strips, collected in many volumes, with great pleasure and even surprise because, come on, that was a LOT of strips!

Randee Paufve spent some quality time in Portland, though she’s based in the Bay Area, and she returns this weekend for “So I Married Abraham Lincoln,” which takes its contours from the life of Mary Todd Lincoln (as the title suggests) and mixes words, music and movement in original ways. Paufve is inventive like that. (You can look at the highlights on YouTube below.) The concert details: 8:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Conduit, 918 SW Yamhill Avenue, Suite 401, Portland. Tickets are $14-$17.

While we’re talking about weekend events, PICA is presenting a weekend Symposium with Keith Hennessy. I started to describe Hennessy as a “performance artist,” which wouldn’t be wrong necessarily, though he’s also a choreographer, but like any performance artist worth his/her salt, he’s also an astute culture critic. The Symposium is an excellent forum for his activities and interests. It will include a solo performance tonight of “Crotch” (yeah, probably not for the kiddies, as you can tell from the video below), panels, conversations and public rehearsals of new work, much of which considers the present-day economy and its intersection with queer politics, at least from what I was able to gather. It’s nearly all at PICA’s palatial new digs, 415 SW 10th Ave, Suite 300, Portland, and it’s free. The Dill Pickle Club and PICA are combining for “The Oh So (Queer) History of Portland” tour, as part of the Symposium. It begins at 11 am Saturday, lasts until 1 pm, and costs $10. Pre-registration is required.

As a teenager in New Jersey, I “discovered” the Village Voice, which meant I discovered Andrew Sarris, which meant I never looked at movies the same way again. Movies, I learned, could be serious business with serious stuff at stake. It didn’t keep me from being shocked the first time I saw “400 Blows” (“You can DO that in a movie???), but Sarris gave me a way to think about such movies, once I’d settled down. That great generation of Voice critics was the best. I’ll miss Andrew Sarris.

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