The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 8/1

Comedy: In With a Bang

Anything but an ordinary TV chat show, IFC's Comedy Bang! Bang! has built on the podcast success and eccentric questioning of its host, Scott Aukerman. He started CB!B! over a decade ago as a stage show, with most of L.A.'s alt-comics dropping by; after various name changes, it then became a podcast with still more boldface names visiting; now it's a comedy tour augmented by his regular TV guests, Paul F. Tompkins and James Adomian. (Sorry, but Reggie Watts won't be joining them, though half the show will be recorded for future podcast.) Aukerman favors a long, loose, conversational style of comedy. Improv and absurd nonsequiturs gradually creep in, but never with fanfare. (Kurt Braunohler of IFC's improv comedy show Bunk will open.) The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org, $19. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

THURSDAY 8/2

Music: The Scorpion's Kiss

Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish neo-noir Drive was a critical and popular hit last year for several reasons. Men loved the cars, heists, and hit men. Women loved Ryan Gosling as the steely, Steve McQueen–like wheelman in the satin scorpion jacket. Then there was the dreamy '80s Europop score, composed by former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez and augmented by synth-pop artists DJ Kavinsky and CSS frontwoman Lovefoxxx. It proved so popular that now we have The Drive Tour, which features College (Frenchman David Grellier) and Canadian pop duo Electric Youth, who collaborated on Drive's signature song, "A Real Hero." That pulsating, dreamlike tune recurs throughout the film—most memorably in the breathtaking elevator scene where time stands still and Gosling kisses Carey Mulligan (cue mass female swooning). Last time I was in Los Angeles, I played the song on my car stereo while driving downtown at night, just to gauge the effect. It was magically transportive. Seeing the musicians perform it live should be the next best thing. (With Anoraak.) Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005, chopsuey.com. $13. 8 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON

FRIDAY 8/3

Film: Crime Pays

It was the year after Watergate, in the thick of the Vietnam War, and Americans were fed up with corruption and lies. Yet the second biggest movie released in 1973 (after The Exorcist), winner of seven Oscars, was all about crime and deception. The robbers were the good guys, and they were stealing from a rich golfing gangster (Robert Shaw) during the height of the Great Depression. It helped, of course, that the two con artists were played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman, but the success of The Sting goes beyond star power and David S. Ward's clever script. Directed by George Roy Hill, The Sting is very much a platoon movie, a guys-on-a-mission flick. Newman carefully assembles his crew, and they execute their long con with practiced precision. The Sting is a movie about competence and loyalty—how a bunch of small-timers pull off one great score. At the time, Detroit couldn't make decent cars and Nixon had just declared "I am not a crook." Though set during hard times, The Sting nostalgically celebrates the old American can-do spirit. There's a cheerful camaraderie in larceny, a partial reprise of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (also directed by Hill). And there's a pride in living outside the law. Says Newman, "There's no point being a grifter if it's the same as being a citizen." (Through Thurs.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$8. 6:30 & 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

SATURDAY 8/4

Dance: Some Like It Quiet

The Japanese Garden in the Arboretum is already a wonderful place to slow down, but when butoh artist Joan Laage and her ensemble perform there in Wandering and Wondering, you'll be able to feel your blood pressure drop and your shoulders un-kink. The garden is designed for contemplation, which makes it a natural setting for a butoh performance, the eccentrically beautiful 20th-century Japanese dance form that can take slowness to an entirely new level. Laage's thoughtful exploration of that environment makes us all more aware of our feet on the ground, our head in the sky, and the rest of our body somewhere in between. Seattle Japanese Garden, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E., 684-4725, seattle.gov/parks. $4–$6. 1 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ

Seafair: Some Like It Loud

And then a shrieking cut through the sky, the afterburners lit, the children screamed, and the men remembered how Top Gun once made them want to fly, too. (But instead: a career in IT.) Yes, it's that time of summer: Seafair Weekend, with the hydros practicing on Friday, racing today and Sunday, and the Blue Angels swooping overhead. Leave town and go hiking if you want peace and solitude. Otherwise drag your inner tube and ice chest full of beer down to the lake and submit to the sunburn, group inebriation, and hearing damage. Many other planes and even a few helicopters will fill the sky south of I-90, but for us the highlight comes at 1:40 p.m., when the six U.S. Navy flyboys perform their routine. You can still be opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while gasping in awe at the aerial acrobatics. Are taxes too low and military spending too high? Sure, but c'mon—that pilot is flying his aircraft upside down just a few feet above the water! Tell me you're not impressed. Tell me that rumbling in your chest—caused by the massive twin engines of the supersonic F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets—can be achieved by revving the engine of your Prius at a traffic light. I don't think so. Stan Sayres Memorial Park, 3808 Lake Washington Blvd. S., seafair.com. $10–$40. 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. T. BONILLA

Opera: Girl of the Golden East

Of Puccini's two forays into Orientalism, Madama Butterfly is the one that makes a stab (ha ha) at realism—or at least at verismo, the overheated Italian subgenre that tried to show a grittier side of life while still giving audiences the high C's they craved. But the other, Turandot, is pure fairy tale: based on a 1762 commedia dell'arte play adapted, in turn, from an ancient "Thousand and One Nights" legend. Butterfly designers almost always attempt to plausibly recreate a Japanese house (paper screens, Mt. Fuji in the distance, etc.); Turandot designers are limited only by their budget. (Smoking opium while sketching is recommended.) André Barbe's sets and costumes for Seattle Opera's production, opening tonight, look appropriately over-the-top—drenched in blood-red, naturally, for this tale of the virginal princess who, vowing never to wed, kills any spousal candidate who can't answer three riddles. Asher Fisch, who's worked miracles with the Seattle Symphony in Wagner and Strauss, conducts; sopranos Lori Phillips and Marcy Stonikas share the title role; and Antonello Palombi and Luis Chapa alternate as Calaf, the tenor hero. He's the character who gets the opera's soaring signature tune, "Nessun dorma"—and also gets to be judged by an audience who all know the aria by heart. Hopefully we'll treat him less cruelly than Turandot treats her suitors. (Through Aug. 18.) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 389-7676, seattleopera.org. $25 and up. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

 
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