UW SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL
UW's annual fest is four days of ambitious dance, drama, lectures, and many other forms commingling in an expansive way that suggests how much the arts can say and do in a world that encourages disciplines to flourish together. This year's theme, Spheres, explores the idea of literal and metaphorical circles, and the festival should come around to some exhilarating epiphany if its stellar lineup is any indication. Featured performances include: a retrospective of the innovative works of vivid experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage; Chamber Dance Company (pictured, with Peter Kyle and Maria Simpson) ruminating on the circular works of choreographers like Isadora Duncan; a staging of Three Days of Rain, the '90s Pulitzer nominee about family secrets by 2003 Tony winner Richard (Take Me Out) Greenberg; and the Kronos Quartet's potentially dazzling Northwest premiere of Sun Rings, a music experience incorporating striking visual design and sounds collected by an astrophysicist from various missions to outer space.
Wed., July 16-Sat., July 19. Various prices and UW venues. University of Washington campus, 206-543-4880 or www.summerartsfest.org for complete info. STEVE WIECKING
My three favorite scenes in the Coen brothers' 1987 kidnapping romp involve variously textured surfaces. The first is when the Dobermans go skittering and careening on a supermarket's linoleum floors while chasing diaper-stealing fugitive Nicolas Cage (pictured with Holly Hunter). The second is when Cage raises his fists overhead in the trailer-home brawl and scrapes his knuckles on the popcorn ceiling. The third is when he claws his fingernails into the dirt while being dragged from beneath a car by Randall "Tex" Cobb. It's slapstick, but the Coens understand that for comedy to work, it has to hurt. As such, Arizonaonly their second filmmay be the last pure comedy produced by the ever more glum and mannered duo. But Cage's dim, sweet felon takes all the abuse because he's so in thrall to the fierce, child-hungry Hunter. Or, as he says, "I'm in dutch with the wife." (PG-13) Sunset Sat., July 12. $5. Fremont Outdoor Movies, North 35th Street and North Phinney Avenue, 206-781-4230. BRIAN MILLER
India's Kathak dance-drama is full of stories about the gods, told through a detailed kind of mime that combines literal and symbolic gestures. One dancer portrays several different characters, switching age, gender, and motivation instantly. Nagar (below), a guru at the National Institute of Kathak, can play them all: She transforms herself into both the seductive Krishna and the young girl who waits for him, eyes wide with anticipation. Through her rich mime and powerful dynamics, Nagar is able to create an entire world on her own. 8 p.m. Sat., July 12. $15. Town Hall, Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street, 206-522-4404. SANDRA KURTZ
In these days when technology can let a guy in his den sound like a 40-piece orchestra, the less-is-more approach favored by Austin's Spoon can almost be called quaint. Hand claps, piano, tambourine, and even a startlingly dignified human beat-box were thrown into last year's highly lauded Kill the Moonlight, resulting in what may be the catchiest pop record to never grace the pop charts. Describing their songs as stripped-down, however, isn't meant to lump them in with the rapidly fading garage-rock revival sceneMoonlight is so crystal clear you can practically count the number of strings guitarist/beat-box peddler Britt Daniel is strumming at any given time. And unlike any easily photographed "movement," Spoon's brand of bouncy, thoughtful rock can only be labeled timeless. 8 p.m. Sat., July 12. $12 adv./$14. Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 206-628-3151. CHRIS BARTON
Hey, lard ass! It's time to lace up your trail shoes, grab some energy bars, and buy a trail-park pass. Summer's only one-third over, so it's still not too late to learn from Beyond Mount Si (Adventure Press, $17.95), the latest guidebook from the affable, ever-fit local outdoors author (Kissing the Trail, etc.). He'll show slides and debate the virtues of the 70 hikes selected in this new volumeincluding the always-popular Granite Mountain (Exit 47 off I-90), which receives four little peak icons to suggest its degree of difficulty. Perhaps using a GPS (way points are included with the maps and descriptions), Zilly rates Granite's cumulative elevation gain at 4,000 feet, a bit more than older, out-of- date guidebooks. It's "as steep as any Six Flags roller coaster," he writesand about as crowded on weekends, so get an early start. 7 p.m. Tues., July 15. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 206-634-3400. BRIAN MILLER