1 "So a Magician, a Blonde, and a Donkey Walk into a Bar . . . " That's the theme being embraced by local poets Nicole Hardy, Marjorie Manwaring, and Sally Ashton. Richard Hugo House, hugohouse.org.1–4 Seattle Symphony Mahler's voraciously grand Symphony No. 5, a Gerard Schwarz specialty. Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org.1–4 The Shipment Young Jean Lee's disquieting show about stereotypes and race. On the Boards, ontheboards.org.1–Nov. 14 Tim Roda Trained at the UW (though no longer a local), the photographer has made his own family portraits into eerie tableaux in past shows. Greg Kucera Gallery, gregkucera.com.2–6 Alien Ridley Scott dusts off his sci-fi gem from 1979, which actually had its world premiere at SIFF that year. (Can you believe it?) Get ready for that toothy worm to spring out of John Hurt's chest again, and for Sigourney Weaver to hunt the damn thing down. SIFF Cinema, siff.net.2 Capitalism: A Love Story Hot on the heels of the financial meltdown, Michael Moore returns to terrorize security guards in the lobbies of New York investment banks. Area theaters.2 Craig Ferguson The charming Scottish talk-show host is also a published writer and produced screenwriter. Tonight he'll pour his brogue into memoir, reading from American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.2–25 Tryst A psychological thriller set in Edwardian England. Bathhouse Theater, seattlepublictheater.org.2–Nov. 15 Abe Lincoln in Illinois Robert E. Sherwood's 1939 play, covering 20 years of American history, won the Pulitzer Prize. Sheila Daniels directs the sprawling work, which continues Intiman's "American Cycle." Intiman Theatre, intiman.org.3–Jan. 3 The Old, Weird America The Frye explores "Folk Themes in Contemporary Art" and outsider artists in general, taking a cue from writer Greil Marcus' book. (He will, coincidentally, appear at Seattle Central Library Oct. 29 with his New Literary History of America.) Frye Art Museum, fryemuseum.org.3–7 Local Sightings Film Festival And by "local" we also mean Vancouver, B.C., Portland, and points beyond Puget Sound, as Northwest directors from all corners screen new work. Northwest Film Forum, nwfilmforum.org.3–Dec. 31, 2010 Vortexhibition Polyphonica This rotating group show promises to "experiment with a fluid structure" from objects among the Henry's permanent collection. Artists EV Day and Takashi Murakami are among those featured. Henry Art Gallery, henryart.org.4 Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers Beethoven's Ninth, the piece that drove A Clockwork Orange's Alex mad. Beware the Ludovico Technique! First Free Methodist Church, osscs.org.5 Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Bach, Beethoven, Kernis, and Stravinsky from this fabulous conductorless ensemble. Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org.5 Ralph Nader He killed the Corvair. He lobbied for seatbelts and saved many lives. And he helped spoil Al Gore's chances in 2000. His new book, sarcastically titled, is Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! Elliott Bay Book Co., elliottbaybook.com.6 Sherman Alexie Recent winner of a National Book Award, he reads from his new story collection, War Dances. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.6 Langdon Cook His blog about food foraging, "Fat of the Land," was named the city's Best Food Blog by Jonathan Kauffman in our Best of Seattle® issue this year. His new book has the same name but, Cook promises, offers "99% new material." (He'll be at the Bellevue U Bookstore on the 20th.) University Book Store, bookstore.washington.edu.7 Margaret Atwood The incredibly prolific Canadian, so fond of dystopian futures, returns with The Year of the Flood, set after an environmental catastrophe. (See: Gore, Al.) Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.7 Annie Proulx Known for The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, among others. Benaroya Hall, lectures.org.8 Richard Dawkins He of The God Delusion now attacks the anti-evolution camp in The Greatest Show on Earth. UW Campus, bookstore.washington.edu.8 James Ellroy Blood's a Rover is the latest crime fiction from the famously hyperkinetic neo-noir novelist, guaranteed to talk a mile a minute. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.8–10 Paul Taylor Dance Company Even after 50-plus years as a choreographer, he can still pull the rug out from under audiences. Meany Theater, meany.org.8–31 Zastrozzi: The Master of Discipline Gothic mayhem, by way of Shelley, in this 1970s play. Balagan Theatre, balagantheatre.org.9 Nick Hornby Mr. High Fidelity comes to town with his latest, Juliet, Naked, about life and love among music fans. Sure to be a movie. Central Library, spl.org.9 A Serious Man The Coen brothers look back to their Jewish roots in suburban Minneapolis, where families and sexual mores are falling to pieces in 1967. Area theaters.9–25 Spectrum Dance Theater Donald Byrd has remade Spectrum in the six years since hearrived, and this fall the company performs a series of retrospectives. Madrona Dance Studio, spectrumdance.org.9–Nov. 8 Rock 'n' Roll How Lou Reed and company inspired those trapped behind the Iron Curtain, in Tom Stoppard's prize-winner. Kurt Beattie directs. A Contemporary Theatre, acttheatre.org.10 The Met: Live in HD Another season of opera-at-the-movies opens with the fiery Karita Mattila as Puccini's Tosca. Pacific Place and other area theaters, metopera.org.10–12 Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective Pegged to Seattle Rep's production of The 39 Steps, this weekend mini-fest features gems like Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Rear Window. And, yes, The 39 Steps. SIFF Cinema, siff.net.10–18 The Esoterics "Mysterium" explores the changing seasons through a new choral work by Donald Skirvin. Various venues, theesoterics.org.10–Nov. 1 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's pop/Biblical musical. 5th Avenue Theatre, 5thavenue.org.10–Jan. 31 Robert Sperry: Bright Abyss The late Northwest artist (1927–1998), known for his innovations in ceramics, is the subject of a retrospective. Plus related films. Bellevue Arts Museum, bellevuearts.org.11, 18, 25 Waterlines Stokley Towles revives the performance piece about our water supply that he did this spring in Volunteer Park, this time at his Noodleworks studio. 802 Sixth Ave. S., stokleytowles.com.11 Philharmonia Northwest Michel and Sara Jolivet premiere a concerto for piccolo and contrabassoon—possibly the world's first? St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, philharmonianw.org.12 Tracy Kidder Always looking for uplift amid hardship, the author of Mountains Beyond Mountains follows a refugee from Burundi who aspires to be a doctor in Strength in What Remains. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.13 Star Wars: In Concert Guys, grab those light sabers. Gals, bun your hair. This multimedia presentation employs a colossal LED screen and full symphony orchestra. Anthony Daniels—the actual man inside C-3PO!—provides the narration. Key Arena, seattlecenter.com.13 Sarah Vowell Back again. Her attempt to make colonial history fun in The Wordy Shipmates is now in paperback. University Book Store, bookstore.washington.edu.14 Peter Maas Drive your Prius or ride your bike to learn about the evils of petro-capitalism in Crude World. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.15–Nov. 15 Obama on My Mind This musical, a hit in London, visits a small-town campaign office during a recent election. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, langstonarts.org.15–Nov. 21 Cafe Nordo Avant–dinner theater? The surreal tale of the chicken on your plate, acted out as you eat. Theo's Chocolates, cafenordo.com.15–Jan. 31 Michelangelo: Public and Private Drawings made for the Sistine Chapel and other work from Casa Buonarroti arrive in this big touring show. Seattle Art Museum, seattleartmuseum.org.15–April 11 Alexander Calder More than 40 pieces, many of them from local collectors Jon and Mary Shirley, with emphasis on the late 1940s. Seattle Art Museum, seattleartmuseum.org.16–24 The Ghost Game: Dead Gods The Anunnaki Project offers "aerial dance theatre, delectable desserts, and grisly, interactive storytelling." Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, cabiri.org.16–25 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival The annual fest celebrates its 14th year with a host of queer features, shorts, and docs. Multiple venues, threedollarbillcinema.org.16–Nov. 29 If You Give a Mouse a Cookie What happens? They expect government handouts at the expense of hardworking taxpaying Americans, that's what!!! Seattle Children's Theatre, sct.org.16 Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak's children's classic has been adapted by screenwriter Dave Eggers and director Spike Jonze; expectations are high, but the early word is mixed. Area theaters.17 Chitresh Das Dance Company Das is an international master of kathak, a powerful and rhythmic form of Indian dance. It's all about the beat, and his San Francisco–based company matches his intensity. Meany Theater, meany.org.17 Kevin Smith A Q&A with the fanboy-favorite filmmaker of Clerks, Dogma, and the slightly less well-received Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Benaroya Hall, ticketmaster.com.17–31 Seattle Opera Conspicuous consumption: No opera heroine dies more stylishly than the tubercular Violetta in Verdi's La traviata. McCaw Hall, seattleopera.org.19 Tim Egan The Seattle-based New York Times columnist, who struck gold with The Worst Hard Time, is back with The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America. Elliott Bay Book Co., elliottbaybook.com.20 Trio M The annual overflow of riches that is the Earshot Jazz Festival kicks off this week. Among the highlights is this trio of terrific improvisers, led by always-arresting pianist Myra Melford. Seattle Asian Art Museum, earshot.org.20–24 Puppetry of the Penis What amazing shapes you can make with your little friend. Look! It's Keith Richards! ACT, acttheatre.org.20–Nov. 22 Emma Literature's most charming control freak, now onstage. Book-It Repertory Theatre, book-it.org.21 Barbara Ehrenreich The Nickel and Dimed author has a bone to pick with Tony Robbins in Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. Central Library, spl.org.21 Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet A great pan-Afro-Cuban pianist brings a multiculti quartet to the Earshot Jazz Fest. Triple Door, earshot.org.21–Nov. 14 Measure for Pleasure A modern take on a bawdy Restoration romp. ArtsWest, artswest.org.22–25 Chamber Dance Company The resident company at the UW, specialists in reviving long-lost work, take a cue from the current hard times and present dances by a group of U.S. choreographers who came together in the 1930s. Jane Dudley's Harmonica Breakdown looks like a Dorothea Lange photo come to life. Meany Theater, meany.org.23 Martín Espada The Brooklyn-born Latino poet launches Seattle Arts & Lectures' 2009–10 poetry season. Benaroya Hall, lectures.org.23 Amelia Hilary Swank chases her third Oscar for portraying a heroic female—in this case, pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart—who tragically and mysteriously...oh, maybe we shouldn't give away the ending? (Oddly, Daron Hagen's same-title take on the story premieres at Seattle Opera next May.) Area theaters.23–Nov. 21 The Believers In Jim Bovino's play, metaphysics, allegory, social commentary, and more, with enough comedy to bind the dry ingredients together. Annex Theatre, annextheatre.org.24–Jan. 31 Eirik Johnson: Sawdust Mountain A smaller selection of his photoreportage from our declining timber industry was seen at G. Gibson Gallery this spring. Johnson gives his subjects on the Olympic Peninsula and elsewhere a stoic, mossy fortitude. Henry Art Gallery, henryart.org.24–Jan. 31 Polaroids: Mapplethorpe The dead photographer (1946–1989) is honored via the nearly dead Polaroid format. Look for portraits of his pals like Patti Smith and Marianne Faithfull, plenty of S&M imagery, flowers, and bullwhips. Henry Art Gallery, henryart.org.26 Stephen Sondheim & Frank Rich The giant of American musical theater (Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George, etc., etc.) chats with the Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist. Buy tickets immediately. Benaroya Hall, benaroyahall.org.26 Ed Viesturs The Bainbridge Island mountaineering legend has topped Mt. Everest more times than most men climb Mt. Si. He'll show slides and discuss his new book, K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain. Town Hall, townhallseattle.org.27 DXARTS Cutting-edge music/video work from UW artists. Meany Hall, music.washington.edu.27–Nov. 1 August: Osage County Dad disappears, Mom grabs the whiskey bottle, and the family goes crazy in the 2008 Pulitzer winner by playwright Tracy Letts. Broadway icon Estelle Parsons leads the cast. Seattle Repertory Theatre, seattlerep.org.29–31 Seattle Symphony Psycho, with Bernard Herrmann's strings-only music—arguably the most memorable film score ever—performed live. Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org.30–31 Sonic Tales More hallucinatory music/movement explorations by the Degenerate Art Ensemble. Moore Theatre, themoore.com.30–Dec. 6 Opus Members of a once-rising string quartet bicker and clash after a performance debacle. The 2006 play was written by Michael Hollinger, a former professional violinist. Seattle Repertory Theatre, seattlerep.org.