The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 11/3 Comedy: The Laugh Olympics With 32 comics in this year's Seattle International Comedy Competition, competing in two weeklong rounds to reach the finals, it's hard to handicap the favorites from the comedy fodder. Tonight's opening event features a dozen national acts and four locals: Jay Hollingsworth, Sean Ottey, Derek Sheen, and Travis Vogt. Because we like his face, we'll be rooting for Vogt, a doughy, self-deprecating regular at the Laff Hole. A binge drinker who claims to be willing to mix "absinthe and shoe polish," he bemoans the age of political correctness. "You can't even go up to a woman and compliment her on her breasts at Safeway anymore," Vogt complains. Another problem? The store expects him to wear pants. And since the holidays are near, Vogt may return to a favorite old topic: the recriminatory titles of those Charlie Brown TV holiday specials. Who wants to watch You Ruined Yom Kippur, Charlie Brown? Venues for the 22 following shows range from bars in Bellingham to a casino near Tacoma to the Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square; the final week concludes at the Moore on Nov. 28. The Vera Project, 305 Harrison St. (Seattle Center), seattlecomedycompetition.com. $11. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Visual Arts: Backyard Cosmology In a recent Huffington Post interview, New York artist Ethan Murrow declared, "The things I keep returning to are failure and obsession. It seems to me that there is a fragile line between reckless obsession and brilliant success. My work resides in this area, applauding ridiculous pursuits and cringing at ill-fated experimentation." His new series of large graphite drawings, called Will Be Snaring Meteorites, celebrates just such a fanciful, ridiculous quest. His wife, Vita Weinstein-Murrow, is the model and protagonist of this whimsical adventure, which has her employing ropes, pulleys, and other homebuilt contraptions to capture what may only be Wiffle Balls and other round plastic toys. We all can't afford to go into space to find meteorites, and Murrow's backyard expeditions are a lot more fun. (Through Jan. 5.) Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Ave. N., 652-5855, winstonwachter.com. Free. Artist reception: 6 p.m. BRIAN MILLER THURSDAY 11/4 Dance: Living Legacy Since its founder's death almost 20 years ago, the Martha Graham Dance Company has been carving a middle ground between the preservation of Graham's work and heading in new creative directions. This program combines several of the choreographer's implacable early dances into a multimedia presentation called Prelude & Revolt. It's followed by three recent works inspired by Graham's classic solo Lamentation. Although she was known for her darkly emotional choreography, Graham had a sly sense of humor, and in her Maple Leaf Rag, which closes the program, she turned a satiric eye on her own passionate style. (Through Sat.) Meany Theater, UW campus, 543-4880, uwworldseries.org. $20–$46. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ FRIDAY 11/5 Film: A Wanted Man Directed by the estimable Jacques Tourneur, set in a lost America of neon signage and out-of-town newsstands, the 1956 Nightfall is not only a nifty late noir, but a model of economical filmmaking—well-sketched atmosphere, deft characterizations, and a 78-minute run time. "You're the most wanted man I know," the young, sultry Anne Bancroft tells beleaguered hero Aldo Ray, an ordinary guy who's under constant, mysterious surveillance and is also being tracked by a pair of implacable desperados. Occupying 48 hours, the action shifts from the bright lights of Hollywood Boulevard to the snowy wilds of Wyoming—a pristine landscape that serves to emphasize the hero's innocence. The cocktail-lounge pickup is adroitly staged, the action climax is expertly choreographed, and a fashion-show set piece is worthy of Hitchcock. Aspiring filmmakers should take notes. (Through Thurs.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. J. HOBERMAN Dance: Ms. Eclectic With some choreographers, an evening of their work is an essay in sameness, slight variations on a single theme. A program of Twyla Tharp, however, is most definitely a mixed bill. For this year's All Tharp show, Pacific Northwest Ballet offers a pastoral romp set to Brahms, a discordant examination of emotional dysfunction, and a bubbly, vaudeville-tinged entertainment. But while on the surface these three dances are totally distinct, they share a wickedly complex approach to structure and an articulate use of ballet vocabulary. Not many choreographers make you feel smart while you're laughing out loud—Tharp is one of the few. (Through Nov. 14) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 441-2424, pnb.org. $27–$165. 7:30 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ SUNDAY 11/7 Video Art: Shout-Free TV In his installation Harry Shearer: The Silent Echo Chamber, the veteran comic actor cuts the volume on some of cable TV's most vociferous talking heads. Here are Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others in blissful, bored silence. Shearer has long been fond of culling the satellite airwaves for the pre-broadcast waiting, the interval before the camera clicks on and the shouting begins. These are unguarded moments of yawning, hair-combing, and tie-straightening—the "unvarnished depictions of human behavior," says Shearer. It's true, and whether you vote Republican or Democrat, there's something calmly reassuring about John McCain sipping cheap coffee or Joe Biden scarfing down a cookie. Lou Dobbs doesn't seem quite such a demagogue when hushed; he's more like a serene, shiny Buddha. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other politicians are glimpsed on the nine video monitors. But the star is Anderson Cooper, so hyperactive and fidgety before his camera cue that, in his tight black T-shirt, he appears to be leading an aerobics class. Henry Art Gallery, 4100 15th Ave. N.E., 543-2280, henryart.org. $6–$10. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. BRIAN MILLER MONDAY 11/8 Books: In the Pink Gynecologist Lissa Rankin regularly gets drunk-dialed by girlfriends who ask her questions they would never ask their own doctors. Inspired by these awkward calls, she solicited more such questions from friends, family, and Facebook and Twitter users for What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.99). The response was overwhelming, allowing the Bay Area physician to answer inquiries ranging from the curious (Do some women really have teeth in their vagina?) to the serious (is it OK to drink an occasional glass of wine while pregnant?). Rankin avoids passing judgment, instead sharing helpful but often hilarious insights about our nether regions. If there's something embarrassing you'd like to ask in person, tonight's event includes cocktails to help provide some liquid courage. Or you can submit written questions anonymously by inserting them inside a stuffed vulva. It won't bite. Parlor Live Collection, 700 Bellevue Way N.E. (Lincoln Square), 425-289-7000, parlorlive.com. $25 (includes book). 4:30 p.m. (Also: Arundel Books, 1001 First Ave., 7 p.m. Tues.) ERIKA HOBART TUESDAY 11/9 Graphic Arts: Trawling for Puns Alaska artist Ray Troll hit on a good idea in the '80s, which was to mock our Northwest love for salmon, and from that he spawned—sorry!—a cottage industry of illustrations, coffee mugs, and T-shirts that are now familiar from Dutch Harbor to Portland. He's both an ichthyologist and an inveterate punster; an illustration called Hook, Line and Thinker, for instance, takes the figure by Rodin and places a fly rod in his hand. Yet it's not all fish and wordplay in his colorful collection Something Fishy This Way Comes (Sasquatch, $19.95). Like his fellow naturalist/cartoonist Gary Larson, Troll finds much to amuse at the intersection between man and beast (or pan and feast, if you prefer): overcrowded fishing holes, fishermen weighed down by too much gear, overconsumption, and human vanity. And, like the short, cyclical lifespan of our precious salmon, death is a constant presence in Troll's whimsical panels. In one poster image, people cavort in the sun with fish and other living creatures; yet beneath lie the fossils and bones of all those who came before—the fertilizer stack to which we'll all be added. "Life is good," reads the inscription, but "death is not bad." Burke Museum (UW Campus), 453-5590, washington.edu/ burkemuseum. $6–$9.50. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Books: Not So Unfortunate Writing under the nom de plume Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler is the mad scientist behind the 13 volumes of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The tridecology's dark, tongue-in-cheek humor has made it a favorite of both kids and adults, but it's also pegged him—unfairly—as just a children's-book author. (Albeit one who's sold more than 50 million copies, a nice problem to have.) But that's the dilemma he'll address in tonight's Seattle Arts & Lectures presentation, "Why Does Lemony Snicket Keep Following Me?" He'll also take questions from the audience and field queries from Sherman Alexie, who also knows how to write smartly for different age groups. Where did Snicket come from? Handler devised the pen name to write prank mail to newspapers, pretending to be outraged over trivial news items, obituaries, and classified ads. Look who's laughing now—today Handler could probably afford to buy an entire newspaper chain. Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., 621-2230, lectures.org. $15–$70. 7:30 p.m. FERNANDO SIOSON

 
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