The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 3/16 Food: Life, Death, and Bacon People can (and do) say a lot of things about chef Grant Achatz and his Chicago restaurant Alinea. There are those who claim it is the best restaurant in America right now, and one of the best in the world; the place where the soul and direction of cuisine will be decided for the next generation of chefs and restaurants. They say that once there was Chez Panisse, then the French Laundry, and now Alinea, and that these three restaurants, taken together, say everything worthwhile there is to say about professional cooking in America and the path it has taken. On the other hand, there are still plenty of people for whom the very first thing that comes to mind when they hear the name Alinea is "bacon on a swing"—the half-dismissive, half-accurate description of the dish which for a long time defined Alinea and its place on the cutting edge of modern cuisine. In his new memoir, Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat (Gotham, $27.50), Achatz and co-author/business partner Nick Kokonas talk about all that—about food, about inspiration, about the rise of Alinea and what's coming next, and the stage-four tongue cancer that nearly killed Achatz while he was at the top of his game. Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Ave., 441-5542, tomdouglas.com. $45–$55. 7–9 p.m. JASON SHEEHAN THURSDAY 3/17 Festivals: A Wing and a Dare After seven years, you know the drill. The annual spring Moisture Festival comes in two flavors: matinees are for kids (clowns, trapeze artists, silly costumes, etc.), while late-night shows are for grown-ups (revealing costumes, burlesque, double entendres, etc.). But in both its G-rated and R-rated iterations, the fest is a great way to catch up with a bevy of Seattle (and visiting) cabaret artists all under one roof. At the main venue in Fremont, the Zebra Kings will serve as the house band for most shows. Onstage—and overhead—will be performers like Aviatrix, an all-girl troupe of retro-style wing-walkers who, without benefit of actual biplanes, cavort above you in flapper attire. Also on tonight's bill are sultry singing quartet Caela and the Dangerous Flares and Carla Ulbrich, who specializes in songs about oddball topics. For example, what to do if you're in love with a Klingon. We're guessing that one is safe for the kids. Ron W. Bailey and Simon Neale are your emcees. The talent changes almost every night, so you may need to go twice to see even half the artists. Note that satellite venues include ACT (March 25–27), the Georgetown Ballroom (April 1–3), SIFF Cinema (April 4), and Vashon Island's Open Space (April 8–9). Fremont shows run through April 10. Hale's Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., moisturefestival.org. $10–$20. 7:30 p.m. T. BONILLAFRIDAY 3/18 Dance: Meet the Octopus My dictionary only has three definitions of "contemporary," but Pacific Northwest Ballet has four in its Contemporary 4 program. In-house choreographer Paul Gibson (The Piano Dance) and visiting rising star Alexander Ratmansky (Concerto DSCH) are both searching for ballet's future by extending the path blazed by Balanchine and other 20th-century innovators. Also on the program: Modern dance icon Mark Morris laces his Pacific with sly rhythmic jokes and deeply satisfying musicality. The wild card is a premiere by German guest choreographer Marco Goecke, whose day job is with the Stuttgart Ballet, but whose most recent freelance job for PNB director Peter Boal was the angsty adolescent Mopey (with a score by C.P.E. Bach and the Cramps). This time, in the new Place a Chill, he's working with music by Camille Saint-Saëns. Expect a galaxy of detailed gestures and swirling hips—preview excerpts look rather like an octopus patting its head and rubbing its belly. (Through March 27.) McCaw Hall, 301 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 441-2424, pnb.org. $27–$105. 7:30 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ Stage: Life During Wartime You either have to hand it to Intiman for being a risk-taker or call the place completely bonkers. In the midst of its financial crisis, the company chooses to open its 2011 season with a production of Arthur Miller's 1947 All My Sons, hoping to tap into the play's universality by resetting it in Seattle's Central District and peopling it with an African-American cast. A similar experiment with Death of a Salesman at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center back in 2005 proved Miller's characters and colloquialisms to be, sorry, very white. And yet his themes will resonate with anyone possessing the guts to embrace them. At this moment in history, as we fight two wars abroad, the gripping All My Sons teaches a tougher and timelier lesson than Salesman. The Keller clan, headed by wheeler-dealer patriarch Joe (Broadway veteran Chuck Cooper), has lost one child to war, and may lose the other when that son wakes up to what it means to get ahead in business. Cracked airplane cylinder heads from the family factory serve to expose greed as an American birthright; Miller sees the faulty parts as lethal fissures in a country whose citizens fail to recognize what they owe one another. Valerie Curtis-Newton, head of directing at the UW School of Drama, here makes her Intiman debut. Let's wish her, and the theater, better futures than the Kellers. (Previews begin tonight; opens March 25; runs through April 17.) Intiman Theater, 201 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 269-1900, intiman.org. $25–$55. 8 p.m. STEVE WIECKING TUESDAY 3/22 Books: He Hearts the '90s Neil Strauss was once a well-respected, even influential, music writer for The New York Times. Then he wrote a book, The Game, about apprenticing to a sleazy pickup artist, co-authored porn star Jenna Jameson's autobiography, and essentially destroyed his reputation. What to do next? Celebrity interviews for Rolling Stone. And now this anthology, Everyone Loves You When You're Dead (It Books, $16.99). Which, it must be admitted, merely consists of celebrity-interview outtakes, making the book sound far less entertaining than it actually is. With its beads-on-a-string chapter associations (Thom Yorke mentions R.E.M.; the next section is on R.E.M.), Everyone Loves You is perfect nightstand reading, with 228 very short chapters. (Or bathroom browsing, if you must.) It's also a document of Strauss' best, favorite years, the '90s, a riffy history of a decade now already churned into frothy VH1 nostalgia. Dave Navarro, Oasis, Korn, Perry Farrell, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, Marilyn Manson . . . Jesus, did we actually once listen to them? And do we care what they said to Strauss back in the day? Still, though Strauss appends some life lessons to the end of his tome, you hardly get the feeling he cares either. Everyone Loves You is a good-natured compendium of random humor and fairly constant stupidity among its famous subjects. And to be fair, Strauss is still a working journalist devoted to his craft. Even a decade after leaving the Times, he's still bitter about the copy editor there who wouldn't let him reference Garth Brooks' pee break. Because micturition just isn't as funny. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, bookstore.washington.edu. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Stage: Gotta Dance! A motherless boy trapped in impoverished County Durham gives up boxing and, against all odds and his miner father, liberates himself through ballet and several songs composed by Elton John. You'll be considered some kind of child-hater if you don't leap to your feet at the end of Billy Elliot the Musical, the British-born stage hit that had critics on both sides of the Atlantic embarrassing themselves with superlatives. (Those adverse to uplift be warned: The kid—played by five different actors—actually flies at one point.) The original 2000 movie Billy Elliot, written by Lee Hall (who also provides the musical's book and lyrics), is indelibly moving source material. And who wants to argue with 10 Tony Awards, right? For true theater buffs, this touring production also features another lure: warm, wonderful Faith Prince, a genuine Broadway star ever since she comically wheezed her way through "Adelaide's Lament" in the famed 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls. She plays Billy's valiant dance instructor Mrs. Wilkinson, who also teaches his town a lesson in tolerance. And another warning: She might just win over the shameful skeptics, too. (Previews tonight; opens Wed.; runs through April 3.) Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $22–$75. 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

 
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