In intelligent falling (1.7)

The Force surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. It also sends mini wooden racing cars hurtling down 32-foot tracks. On Sunday, Jan. 7, kids can learn about this mysterious Forcegravityand harness it for their own custom-built racers at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Since October, the museum has been graced with the fanciful kinetic sculptures of Brooklyn-based artist Steve Gerberich. He’s in town this weekend to teach a master class of sorts: the Gravity Racer Workshop. In true “Gerb-O-Matic” fashion, the wood and metal cars will be gussied up with “magic markers, hot glue, surplus bits, and odds and ends.” Kids can unleash their potential energy in either of two sessions, from 1-2:30 p.m. or 3-4:30 p.m. The class is $25 for one child and one adult; advance registration is required (call 220-5429 ext. 313). For more information, visit Marc MaximovIn silver screens

Dedicated moviegoers who have been frustrated by the slow turnover at the local art house know that the New Year finally ushers in a rollout of films beseeching the favor of awards voters. This weekend, in a theater near you, two films that have found favor with local and national critics make their long-awaited Triangle debuts. Director Alfonso Cuaron‘s riveting Children of Men conjures a not-so-distant dystopia in which women have grown infertile and humankind faces the brink of extinction. Star Clive Owen’s herculean effort to surreptitiously ferry the only known pregnant girl to safety represents hope’s last vestige. Meanwhile, writer-director Kelly Reichardt‘s Old Joy is the story of two old friends, Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London), who reunite for a weekend camping trip in the Cascade Mountains outside Portland, Ore. The film is a mere 76 minutes long, but the physical and emotional landscapes it paints act as an elegy for a generation of thirtysomethings who aimed higher than any before but perhaps grew up too fast. Neil MorrisIn reporting the news and observing the truth (1.9)

When we last heard from Tim Tyson, he was writing a lengthy News & Observer article examining the racial turmoil in Wilmington in 1898 and the newspaper’s role in it. On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Tysonacclaimed author, professor and historianwill read from his work and perform a writing exercise at the Inter-Faith Council Community House. Tyson is the author of the critically acclaimed Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power and the editor of Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy. His most recent work, the award-winning Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story, illustrates Tyson’s continuing desire to examine African-American freedom movements. Thursday’s event is part of the ongoing Orange County Literacy Council’s Visiting Artist Series to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. IFC is located on 100 W. Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill. The event runs from 8-9 p.m. For more information, call 967-9900 ext. 385 or visit Iesha BrownIn old art for a new year (1.9 ~ 2.13)

Although this week will feature an unusually quiet First Friday in Raleigh, there are several notable art gallery openings. Gallery C‘s newest exhibition, titled simply Broderson, features some never before seen works by an acclaimed Tar Heel artist, culled from the estate of Robert Broderson and other collections. Broderson, a graduate of Duke University, taught art at his alma mater and N.C. State. His works can be seen in the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute, just to name a few. Broderson, who died in 1992, was best known for his figurative paintings that explored the human being and the human spirit. The exhibition will run through Feb. 13, with an opening reception and talk by Carol Broderson, Robert’s widow, this Friday, Jan. 5 from 7-9 p.m. Gallery C is located at 3532 Wade Ave. in Raleigh. For more information, call 828-3165 or visit Also open to visitors during First Friday is Artspace, located at 201 Davie St. in Raleigh, which is hosting a reception and gallery walk from 6-10 p.m. There are current and opening exhibitions in Galleries 1 and 2 and in the Upfront Gallery. For more First Friday events, see page 26. Iesha BrownIn alternative fibers (1.9)

Hemp is synonymous with controversy. While industrial hemp is a major fiber in such countries as England and China, the plant’s relationship to marijuana has resulted in American farmers being outlawed to grow it. For perspective on this, check out the free screening of Hemp and the Rule of Law at Kings Tuesday, Jan. 9. The documentary traces the history of hemp and the controversy, and includes free food and open discussion on the issue. The event begins at 7 p.m. at 424 S. McDowell St., preceded by an Independent Voices screening. Zack SmithIn quintuple threats (1.6 ~ 1.7)

Calling the members of the Red Clay Ramblers triple-threats is to sell them a couple threats short. First and foremost, there’s the group’s genre- and decade-hopping live performances, multilayered affairs in their own right. Then there are the plays they write and star in, the collaborations and the soundtrack work, not to mention Bland Simpson’s books (most recently, The Inner Islands: A Carolinian’s Sound Country Chronicle, published last fall by UNC Press). I bet they all are great cooks, too. This is the first of a two-night stand, with both evenings promising to be early highlights of the 2007 American Roots Series. Both shows are at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 6 and 3 p.m. Jan. 7. Tickets are $15-$17. Rick Cornell