Food safety, lion research and election results in U’s Headliners lineup

Amy Kircher

Food fraud, lions and election results are the first three topics of this year’s Headliners, the University of Minnesota’s popular current-events series now in its 11th year. Featuring experts from the university’s various colleges, the series zeroes in on the who, what, why and how from an insider’s point of view. Each talk is followed by a moderated Q&A.

As always, the U doesn’t announce the whole season of seven speakers at the start, because the series is (duh) about current events. But here’s what we know so far.

Oct. 6: Amy Kircher, DrPH, director of the Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI), will talk about “Protecting Your Lunch: Food Fraud and Adulteration.” Add to the usual worries about horse meat instead of beef the latest concerns: food adulterated as acts of sabotage and terrorism. The FPDI is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence; Kircher has an extensive background in Homeland Security Defense.

Craig Packer

Nov. 3: Craig Packer, Ph.D., director of the Lion Research Center, will speak on “Beyond Cecil: Lions, Conservation, and Controversy.” Last year around this time, the killing of Cecil the lion by a Minnesota dentist was blowing up the Internet. Most people are probably unaware that the U has a Lion Research Center, but it does, and the outspoken Packer runs it. He’ll share key findings from his decades of research and outline radical new approaches for conserving lions and Africa’s last great wildlife refuges.

Dec. 1: Kathryn Pearson, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science, will discuss “One for the Record Books: 2016 Election Results and the Implications for Governing.” By Dec. 1, the election will be almost a month in the past, and Pearson will have things to say about it, as will a lot of people.

Kathryn Pearson

All Headliners events take place Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul campus. The speakers for February-May will be announced later. Individual tickets are $20, a series subscription is $80. FMI and registration.

Help Kickstart a bookstore?

Sometimes I’m pelted by Kickstarters and never want to see another Kickstarter ever again, but then one comes along and it’s so good and worthy that I just have to share.

Back in May, Minneapolis publisher Milkweed Editions announced it would open a new bookstore at Open Book in late June or early July. Now they’re saying this fall, and they need help – not to open, they’re totally committed to that (they have the space and the staff), but to stock their shelves with a strong and varied inventory from the start.

I like this Kickstarter because 1) it’s Milkweed, a nonprofit indie publisher; 2) Open Book is the largest literary center in the United States but doesn’t yet have a bookstore; 3) the new bookstore will be on the street level of the same building that houses the Loft, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Milkweed’s own offices (handy!); 4) it will carry new books by new authors from other nonprofit indie publishers – the poetry, short fiction, experimental and creative nonfiction that don’t get much or any shelf space at so-called “normal” bookstores or especially chains, 5) it will offer the kind of personalized service that makes you feel special and excited about books and reading, 6) if you’re close enough, it will deliver books to you by bike, even in winter.

They’re asking for $25K within 30 days. The rewards are fun. Examples: If you pledge $1,000 or more, they’ll name a big, floor-to-ceiling bookcase after you, with a plaque. Pledge $125 or more and you’ll get a subscription to Milkweed’s fall list – eight books.

The picks

Now at the Plymouth Playhouse: The Church Basement Ladies in “Rise Up, O Men.” The Church Basement Ladies are back, and this time they’ve let the roosters into the henhouse. For the sixth and latest installment of the long-running, hugely popular series, original cast members Janet Paone, Greta Grosch and Dorian Chalmers return as Vivian, Mavis, and Karin. The men include original cast member Tim Drake as Pastor Gunderson, Jeff March as Karin’s husband Elroy and Peter Colburn as neighbor Carl. The new musical comedy is written by Grosch and Dennis Curley, with Graydon Royce as contributing writer and co-lyricist. (Royce will retire soon as theater critic for the Star Tribune.) FMI and tickets ($29-$40). Through Nov. 13, when it makes way for “Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas” and returns Jan. 5, 2017 for another three months.

Photo by Paul Nixdorf
The “Rise Up, O Men” cast, left to right: Tim Drake, Jeff March, Peter Colburn, Greta Grosch, Dorian Chalmers, Janet Paone

Tonight in someone’s living room in Minneapolis: Punk-Ass Classical VI. A concert of new music by people who hit, pluck, strum and touch things. Zeitgeist’s Heather Barringer plays Morton Feldman’s “The King of Denmark,” Jack Langdon and Joshua Weinberg perform new compositions for harp, and Toby Ramaswamy and Mark Engelmann, keyboard and percussion, present their new composition. At 1064 21st Ave. SE in Minneapolis. 7:30-10 p.m. FMI.

Opens Friday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Southside with You.” Be a fly on the wall during Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date. Parker Sawyers (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Tika Sumpter (“The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Ride Along”) star in the 2016 Sundance romantic drama from director Richard Tanne. FMI including showtimes, tickets and trailer. Ends Sept.8. Tip: $5 Tuesdays.

Saturday at the Guthrie: Open House. Hang out and play at Big Blue. This free, open to the public, all-ages event offers self-guided tours, stories told by Guthrie artists, a mask-making station, a mini-class for teens and adults, theatrical magic on the thrust stage, selfies with costume pieces and props, and (best part?) the chance to be in the space without running to your seat before a play or running to your car after. Plus, until 1 p.m., the Mill City Farmer’s Market is right outside. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Saturday at Studio Z: Nicole Mitchell. Jazz at Studio Z closes out its 2015/16 season with a bang: a rare Twin Cities appearance by revered flutist and Doris Duke Artist Nicole Mitchell. Founder of several ensembles including Black Earth, Ice Crystal and Sundial, she is regularly named Top Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. A longtime member of Chicago’s hugely influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), she served as its first woman president. Now based in California, where she teaches at UC-Irvine, Mitchell will give a master class (a regular part of Jazz at Studio Z programming) at 6 p.m., then perform at 7 p.m. with pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Jeff Bailey and Davu Seru on drums. FMI and tickets ($10 advance, $15 door).

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