Bogie and Bacall to David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries

What to do Friday.

MusicMike SternOne of the few lasting, reassuring links to what fusion was before it sank into the mire of smooth jazz, Stern's one of the handful of modern jazz guitarists (along with Scofield, Frisell, and Metheny) with an instantly recognizable sound. For 20 years he's been issuing regular recorded updates of his tried-and-true formula—power-funk shuffles like "Jean-Pierre," the tune he screamed onto the scene with during his first tour with Miles; shivery ballads as shamelessly sentimental as his funk is riotous; and various permutations of swing and other syncopated taints. With him on record, and on tour, is the Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, whose voice provides a nice woody contrast to Stern's metallic shredding, and the fantastically out-of-control drummer Dennis Chambers. Bob Franceschini is on the horn. For a taste of the good old fusion days, before syncretic jazz split between the pap and the pretentious, Stern—just nominated for a Grammy, by the way, in the Best Contemporary Jazz Record category for his Who Let the Cats Out—is always a welcome visitor. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729, www.jazzalley.com. $24.50. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 7–Sat., Dec. 9; 7:30 p.m. Sun., Dec. 10. MARK D. FEFERTheaterThe Santaland Diaries Seattle Public Theater brings to life David Sedaris' infamous tale of Christmas misery, with satisfying results. Easily the most sardonic voice in American nonfiction writing, Sedaris riotously details the horrors and triumphs of working as an elf at Macy's during Christmas. As "Crumpet," Sedaris was at the mercy of voracious New York shoppers yet still found time to trick patrons into believing Cher was sitting in Santa's chair and flirt with cute male elves. "Crumpet" eventually changes his name to the less jolly-sounding "Blisters," but Sedaris manages to find a glimmer of Christmas spirit in his thankless job. Craig Doescher reprises his role as Sedaris and channels just the right amount of flippant, sarcastic attitude to pull off this memoir-style monologue. The transitions are nicely paced and give a sense of chronology to the narrative; scenes are punctuated by blackouts and an intercom voice announcing either the number of days until Christmas or break time for the elves. Admittedly, the idea of staring at one person for an hour and a half is not entirely appealing, but Sedaris' gift for writing and humor never fails to capture an audience's attention. Seattle Public Theater, 7312 W. Greenlake Dr. N., 524-1300, www.seattlepublictheater.org. $14–$24. 9 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Dec. 24. TIFFANY WANFilmKey LargoTrap a ruthless gangster with some ordinary joes, and you've got The Petrified Forest, which established Humphrey Bogart's movie career. Twelve years later, he's the hero of John Huston's Key Largo (1948), with Edward G. Robinson now cast as the heavy. Largo is also a stage piece, quite loosely adapted from Maxwell Anderson's hit play, with Hemingway's To Have and Have Not grafted onto the end. (If you're going to do a mash-up, steal from the masters.) What makes the slow-burn claustrophobia so effective is Bogie's air of shame, his reluctance to take action against the psychopathic Robinson and his gang. There are allusions to how Bogie didn't show enough courage during World War II, and how he's trying to atone for that now by visiting a fallen buddy's Florida family (father Lionel Barrymore; attractive young war widow Lauren Bacall, then Bogart's wife). He's a shell-shocked vet, in other words, before anyone heard of post-traumatic stress disorder. In part, this explains Huston taking such liberties with Anderson's 1939 play; he saw combat firsthand while making his documentary San Pietro and makes Bogart a shaken survivor of that battle—a man not ready for another fight, but one who recognizes a tyrant on home soil. Grand Illusion Cinema, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, www.grandillusioncinema.org. $5.50–$7.50. 7 and 9 p.m. Fri., Dec. 8–Thurs., Dec. 14. BRIAN MILLERMusicVery Merry Imaginary BashIndie-pop webzine mavens Three Imaginary Girls made their list, checked it twice, and lined up an evening of indie rock, roll, and 'raoke for those both naughty and nice at their tongue-twisting Very Merry Imaginary Karaoke Bash. Two hometown heavies—Sub Pop and Barsuk—kick off the night, filling stockings with sets from low-key popsters Fruit Bats, the big-voiced Tiny Vipers, and a rare live appearance by the U.K.'s enigmatic Jim Noir. We all know 'tis better to give than to receive, however, so turn it up with your own version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at Rockstar Karaoke alongside a slew of local bands like Night Canopy, Math & Physics Club, Iceage Cobra, the Pale Pacific, the Trucks, and more. The holiday treats don't stop there—enjoy the aural gifts while sitting on the lap of Long Winters frontman John Roderick! The jovial banter king is slated to play "Indie Rock Santa"—perhaps clad in black Cons with scruffy beard in lieu of polished boots and waves of white. Crocodile Cafe, 2200 Second Ave., 441-5611, www.thecrocodile.com. $10. Show at 8 p.m.; karaoke at 9:45 p.m. AJA PECKNOLD

 
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