The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

FRIDAY /6/17 Arts & Disco: Art Under the Stars Once a year, when the cyclone fencing goes up at Olympic Sculpture Park, and you hear the revelers and music inside, smell the food, and mildly resent that you can't get in, SAM's annual fund-raiser gala, Set the Table for SAM/Party in the Park, might have you feeling excluded. But why? You could be inside that fence for the private event—and for a very good cause. The ticket price may be steep, but it's an all-in extravaganza of cocktails, food (by Ethan Stowell, Isaac Norbe, and other prominent local chefs), and music. For latecomers on a budget, the 8 p.m. post-dinner portion of the evening is cheaper ($75–$100), but an excellent value, as the OSP becomes Seattle's nicest open-air concert venue. After live sets from the Paperboys, Curtains for You, and Hey Marseilles, the DJs (including Dave Hernandez of the Shins) will turn the whole park into a disco beneath the stars. Those too shy to dance can enjoy the late-night snack food, watch a squad of glowing hula-hoop performers, or try the mini–golf course designed by those Smash Putt guys. Or, if you're really thrifty, you could bob off the shoreline in your kayak, listening to all the fun. But wouldn't you really rather be inside for once? Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave., 654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org. $250 per person (21 and over). 6 p.m.–midnight. BRIAN MILLER Comedy/Marty Gras Few art forms are as hit-or-miss as stand-up comedy. And by "hit-or-miss," we mean mostly misses. Anyone can tell a joke, but to keep an audience of hundreds or thousands grinning for a half-hour routine is tough, tough stuff. That's why it helps to have an expert curator like Marty Riemer. Best known for his exploits as a longtime KMTT disc jockey, Riemer has always carved out time—be it during The Mountain's long-running "5:20 Funny" segment or by booking touring comics as guests on his morning podcast (martyriemer.com)—for laughs. Now in its seventh year, his :20 Funny Festival features the uniformly hilarious lineup of Tom Papa, Gary Gulman, Dan Naturman, and Owen Benjamin, with a portion of the gate benefiting Operation: Sack Lunch, which provides outdoor meals to the homeless and hungry. But perhaps Riemer's greatest claim to comic credibility is that he hails from Auburn, which boasts the highest per capita rate of crass mudflaps in King County. And is there anything funnier than a mudflap with a stripper silhouette on it? No, there's not. Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $28–$75. 8 p.m. MIKE SEELY Stage: When Musa Met Sheri Yussef El Guindi's 2008 play Language Rooms dealt with Arabic-speaking U.S. translators and the strains of working in a Gitmo-like interrogation facility where they, too, fell under suspicion during the War on Terror. Now comes Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World, a romantic comedy that would seem like a total change of pace for the Egyptian-born local playwright. Not so, he says, referring back to Language Rooms. "All my pieces have elements of comedy to them. This is also about traveling to a new world and trying to fit in . . . in a different genre." Musa is an Egyptian cabbie who falls for Sheri, an American waitress (the play's only U.S.-born character). Though Pilgrims deals with assimilation and culture clashes, says El Guindi, "I think I was in the mood for something a little lighter and less fraught. I would say this is my first flat-out romantic comedy. I don't mind genres—it's like going to a Thai restaurant or a Mexican restaurant." Indeed, whether as a diner, a writer, or a filmgoer, El Guindi is no snob. For example, he adds, "When Harry Met Sally is really a quite funny, decent romantic comedy." (Previews begin tonight; opens June 23; runs mostly daily, except Mon., through July 17; see acttheatre.org for exact schedule.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676. $15–$37.50. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER SATURDAY 6/18 Festivals: Let Your Fremont Flag Fly Ah, the Fremont Fair. That weekend when hippies run free, painted, naked people mount bicycles, paradegoers park their cars and block my driveway, costumed Batmen and fairy princesses ramble the streets, and I sit back and drink $2 mimosas at Roxy's all day without shame. The highlight as always will be today's Solstice Parade (at noon), which showcases the usual eccentric floats, costumed dancers and musicians, and decorated cars. The always-eclectic live-music lineup features artists who mostly traffic in funky, get-down music—Fly Moon Royalty, Hot Bodies in Motion, Luc & the Lovingtons—that'll match the festival's freewheeling spirit just right. There will also be plenty of ways to spend your money, with 300-plus street vendors offering everything from elephant ears to organic cotton T-shirts to henna tattoos. And to up the squee factor, on Sunday (which also happens to be Father's Day), a Dads & Dogs Parade will march down the street (2:30 p.m.). For me at least, all those puppies will be a lot more visually appealing than the naked hippies from the day before. But you kids will probably dig both processions—furry and furless. Downtown Fremont, fremontfair.org. Free. 10 a.m.– 8 p.m. (11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) ERIN K. THOMPSON Dance: Double the Classwork The standard line we get nowadays is that people should be "lifelong learners," but that's been true in the dance world for years. Even seasoned professional dancers are still students, taking class every day. Likewise, choreographers remain in constant practice, showing every experimental step or hard-learned lesson whenever they create a new work. To close its season, Pacific Northwest Ballet today presents a pair of shows that illustrate this state of educational affairs. The afternoon School Performance features tykes taking their first steps onstage and talented young PNB trainees graduating to contracts with companies around the country. In the evening, the Next Step program offers choreography from eight current company members stretching into a new phase of their careers. And both shows are accompanied by another group of gifted students, the Seattle Youth Symphony. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 441-2424, pnb.org. 1:30 p.m. ($15–$65) and 7 p.m. ($10–$20). SANDRA KURTZ Books: Gen-X Memories, From A to Z Yesterday's forgotten cultural ephemera become today's precious nostalgia. Just as Boomers cherish hula-hoops, Howdy Doody, and Elvis, Gen-Xers are starting to mine the Carter–malaise era for lost childhood treasures. In that revivalist spirit, Gael Fashingbauer Cooper founded a blog (in 1999) that's now become a book, Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes, and Trends of the '70s and '80s (Perigree, $12.95). In it, she and co-writer Brian Bellmont celebrate and speculate about dead brands and obscure trends centered around "the cultural sweet spot of 1977–1983. That's when we were really starting to notice pop culture." Thus, their alphabetical entries include the mystifying popularity of the Weebles toys, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo, Pop Rocks (rumored to have killed the child actor "Mikey" from those Life cereal ads), and TV's The Electric Company. If those names don't elicit a little shiver of recognition, you're too old or young for the book. But for her demographic cohort, Cooper explains, "Back then, we had much more of a shared community, because you only had five TV channels. You didn't have 500 cable channels. We all watched the same commercials and played with the same toys. Whereas now, kids might not see any of the same shows as their classmates." Gen-Xers may be the last to share such a community in kitsch. With less playtime for children today, now hunched alone over video games and iPhone apps, will they feel the same nostalgic yearnings in 30 years? "I'm not sure, says Cooper. "The phones don't seem as cuddly or goofy. I'm sure they'll feel the same way about SpongeBob." Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park, 366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com. Free. 6:30 p.m. (Also: University Book Store, 7 p.m. Mon.) BRIAN MILLER Coffee: Bonding Over Beans Even before this weekend's Northwest Coffee Festival (which features demos, tastings, and live music), caffeine addicts are getting jacked on the associated Coffee Crawl, making stops at dozens of neighborhood coffee bars and espresso stands. One is Dubsea Coffee in White Center, whose owner, Sibelle Nguyen, is hosting an event called "Cultural Stories of Coffee" (3 p.m. Fri.). She opened the place for people to come together. And isn't that the true magic of coffee—to share a conversation or form a bond, with a little white cup and saucer as the mediators? Nguyen will feature speakers from The Trusted Advocates Association, a local cultural organization that promotes dialogue among ethnic groups from around the globe. (See nwcoffeefestival.com for other Crawl participants.) Then, perhaps with a new friend, you can sample beans from Zoka, Stumptown, Caffé Vita, and other roasters at Seattle Center, where food and a beer/wine bar are also part of the festivities. Seattle Center (Fisher Pavilion), 305 Harrison St. $12–$15. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. today and Sunday. JULIA WATERHOUS

 
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