Year of the Rabbit, Chuck Palahnuik, and More




I've been rooting for Ken Andrews to break through to the masses for the last decade; I've also been rooting for Strom Thurmond to croak, so maybe all good things do come to those who wait. The ex-Failure frontman has the sweetest Cobain-goes-to-Cali rasp, but despite an impressive knob-twiddling résumé (Creeper Lagoon, Tenacious D, Sense Field), his own brooding, romantic space-rock has never beamed in the larger audience it merits. Year of the Rabbit is a poppier, more accelerated, less psychedelic update of the Failure sound, but I'm not holding out for that Leno handshake. 7 p.m. Thurs., July 24. $8 adv. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 206-286-1312. ANDREW BONAZELLI




It seems Seattle's becoming the new breeding ground for musicals, what with Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, and, now, John Moe's tale about "a sock, a lamp, and a vacuum cleaner who become rock stars." All right, so Moe's 50-minute family comedy The Big Time sounds humble, but the former writer for KUOW's Rewind (pictured, top) did get a rock star (Chris Ballew, pictured, below) to provide the tunes. Formerly performed at FringeACT, Big Time appears with Chris Jeffries' invigorating Vera Wilde, a 2002 Empty Space show within a show about a daring acting troupe putting on a musical about Oscar Wilde and a Russian anarchist. Both shows need money to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and both are worth a second look. Big 5 p.m. $6-$8. Vera 8 p.m. $10-$12. Sat., July 26. Nippon Kan Theatre, 628 S. Washington St., 206-768-1030. STEVE WIECKING




A wager: If Glen Berger isn't one of the American theater scene's most respected writers by the next decade, I'll sit twice through every pretentious wank by every fringe playwright currently trying to emulate him. Berger has what most ambitious young artists would kill for: the ability to be off-the-chart unusual and still say something of universal resonance. The former Seattleite's gemlike Off-Broadway hit Underneath the Lintel concerned a lonely librarian who proves the existence of God via an overdue book. Glowworm, his latest, is narrated by a dreamy stuffed goat trying to survive the pains of reanimation. It'll be worth the trip south to hear it read as part of Just Add Water/West, Portland Center Stage's annual works-in-progress fest. 8 p.m. Sun., July 27. $7-$10. Winningstad Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland, 503-274-6588. STEVE WIECKING




Those magnificent men on their cycling machines have been racing around Francethis year, in road-melting heatfor a total of 3,350 kilometers as the Tour de France marks its centenary. Texan Lance Armstrong is trying to win his fifth in a rowonly four men have won five. Check the fabulous, vacation-planning scenery (châteaux, fields of sunflowers, ancient ruins), the wondrous Tour history (angry mobs, gunplay, and, just last week, demonstrators blocking the route), and the marvelous drama and melodrama of the cycling. The survivors of the world's most demanding sporting event will bask in the grandeur of the finishing laps on the Champs Élysées in Paris. 11 a.m. Sun., July 27. KIRO-TV, Channel 7. JOANNE GARRETT




I hate Portland. I hate everything about that mild-mannered, get-along, enlightened-planning, growth-capping, public-transit-riding faux metropolis on the Willamette River. (The monorail? That's Portland thinking.) I don't care what Tim Egan writes in The New York Times or Bill Dietrich in The Seattle Times. If it's so great, why don't they live there? But Chuck Palahniuk is a different matter. A wildly imaginative novelist (Fight Club most famously), he's no weeny, wonky intellectual, and his slim new guidebook, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, amounts to a muscular defense of his hometown. 7 p.m. Tues., July 29. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 206-634-3400. BRIAN MILLER

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