It's no surprise that Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel, Life of Pi (new in paper), became a best seller last year. His story of a 16-year-old's 227-day ocean ordeal, trapped in a life raft with a Bengal tiger (!) from his family's zoo, is compulsively readable. Young, resourceful Pi is like Robinson Crusoe, with the tiger his man Friday. Each has to learn from the other, forming an inter-species community on what spiritually minded Pi calls "God's ark" (which is only 26 feet long). Pi is a promiscuous believer of three creeds (Christian, Muslim, and Hindu) whose maritime adventure is both a trial of faith and a tale of deliverance. 7:30 p.m. Wed., May 28. $5. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 206-652-4255. BRIAN MILLER
Once upon a time, Air Supply sang, "You're every woman in the world to me/you're my fantasy." Today, 50 Cent proudly proclaims, "I am into sex, I ain't into makin' love," and Justin Timberlake promises, "Girl, gonna have you naked by the end of this song." Justin and 50 Cent play to thousands of hyperventilating females in sold-out arenas all over the globe, while the once-buoyant Supply are relegated to outlying casinos and county fairs. How are we to believe, then, that romance is anything but dead? Ah, but tonight's Emerald Queen show just may bring it back from the grave. Return to a time before irony with "Making Love Out of Nothing at All," "All Out of Love," "Lost in Love," and "One That You Love" (we are sensing a theme here) and float away on the sweet, sweet river of Russell Hitchcock's vocals as he promises you that this is, really, "Now and Forever." Feels better already, doesn't it? 8:30 p.m. Fri., May 30. $20-$40. Emerald Queen Casino, 2024 E. 29th St., Tacoma, 888-831-7655. LEAH GREENBLATT
When the Wachowski brothers commissioned four superstar artists of Japanese anime to create short films based on themes and characters from The Matrix, they handed these usually TV-bound directors budgets they'd only dreamt of. Visually and technically, the results are uniformly stunning. As drama, the Animatrix episodes have their ups and downs, but even the downs are admirably ambitious. And the best episodesChung's rendering of a robot's acid trip; Morimoto's exploration of the borderland between mundane and magical in a child's mindare instant masterworks. If this film doesn't bring anime into the world cinema mainstream, nothing will. Part of SIFF. 9:30 p.m. Sat., May 31. Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St. SIFF info: 206-324-9996. ROGER DOWNEY
Ah, spring at last. Green sprouts bursting up everywhere. New kitties and puppies and bunnies. Cabin-feverish Seattleites spilling outside, bathing in radiant sunshine. Balmy evenings suffused with the rosy glow of sunset. Gee, I sure could go for a few Masses of the Dead right about now, couldn't you? We're in luckthree local choirs are performing requiems this weekend. Two offer Fauré's serene 1888 meditation: the Cascadian Chorale (Saturday) and the Northwest Chamber Chorus (Saturday and Sunday). Fred Coleman conducts the Seattle Choral Company in the popular Requiem of John Rutter (pictured), plus music by Britten and Vaughan-Williams, on Saturday and Sunday. See classical etc. calendar, p. 64, for details. GAVIN BORCHERT
Last month we received a press package from the folks at the Smith Tower asking us to include them in our May 21 Summer Guide. "We have not been listed in your 'Observation Tower' section for the past couple of years," they wrote, "probably because no one told you we are open." Well, another Summer Guide came and went last week, and we realized, too late, that we had again left the Smith Tower out of our "Observation Tower" section. This week we remedy that oversight. Folks, the observation deck at the Smith Tower is without doubt one of the coolest attractions in Seattle. Thirty-five stories up, the deck offers wraparound views of the city (well, except looking north, where it's dwarfed by all the ugly monoliths that rose up in its wake). And the gorgeously restored interior of the landmark (built in 1914 and for decades the tallest building west of Chicago) is even cooler. May we suggest paying a visit this summer?
10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. $6, $4 ages 6-12, free for kids under 6. Second Avenue and Yesler Way. 206-622-4004. MARK D. FEFER