"The Life and Times of James 'Thunder' Early"
Center for Documentary Studies—Mark Anthony Neal, a professor at Duke University, has written extensively on African-American music and culture, including What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity. Here, he will examine the character of James "Thunder" Early from the musical and film Dreamgirls. Thunder was the successful singer who took on the Dreamgirls as his backup vocalists, but he was soon overtaken by their celebrity. He appeared to be based on big figures in soul music of the time, like James Brown, but there are nuances that point to him as both a tragic figure and hero of immense proportions in any realm. Neal will explore Early's life and legacy in this talk, "The Life and Times of James 'Thunder' Early: A Meditation of Soul and the Chitlin Circuit." The free event, which is part of Duke Performances' Soul Power series, starts at 7 p.m. —Chris Toenes
Griffith Theater, Duke campus—As part of its 2008 film series, the Kenan Institute for Ethics presents four films that touch on ethical issues about sex, gender and relationships. Knocked Up is first in the series, in part because of its freshness and fun factor. "We chose a film that was in people's collective memories and one that was lighthearted to start off with. Some of our later films (Fight Club, Notes on a Scandal, In the Bedroom) have heavier subject matter," says professor Suzanne Shanahan. But as humorous as the hook-up and stoner subculture illustrated in Knocked Up is, the film still touches on some deep issues—unwanted pregnancies, mismatched romance, immaturity in relationships and casual sex—that Shanahan wants to put a magnifying glass up against. "We're looking at a film that reflects our society's casual sex practices and hook-up culture. We want to explore those issues, discuss the practice of hooking up, the relationships that stem from the act, and ask if it all can be done with integrity," says Shanahan. —Kathy Justice
A 35 mm print of Knocked Up screens at 7 p.m. tonight. Refreshments and a discussion led by professor Suzanne Shanahan and Ada Gregory of the Kenan Institute for Ethics follows.
Super Fat Tuesday
Fishmonger's—While those outside of Catholic Creole cultures would love to get in on the Mardi Gras action, the reality is that the term refers to two things anathema to America's Protestant culture: gluttony, and gluttony on a working day. So, most Mardi Gras parties around here tend to happen on Saturday, leaving it to Durham's Traction to mix business with pleasure: They'll be watching the Super Tuesday results upstairs in the oyster bar, starting at 7 p.m. Join them for Cajun food, king cake, oysters and booze as the votes come in. —David Fellerath
Fishmonger's Seafood Restaurant and Market is located at 806 W. Main St. in Durham.