The Magnetic Fields

Also: This Whole American Life, The Designated Mourner, The Chairs, and Pinups and Pop Realism.




It's appropriate that a guy as besotted with old-school songwriting as Stephin Merritt (pictured, second from left) has written a few standards of his own, dividing them among several projects: Gothic Archies, the 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, and most famously, the first and best of his aliases, the Magnetic Fields. The new i (Nonesuch) isn't as consistently excellent as its predecessor, which is sort of amazing when you consider that i follows 1999's 69 Love Songs, which was three CDs long. But if the concept is a little goofy (the songs are presented in strict word-for-word alphabetical order and all begin with the letter—you guessed it—"i"), there are a few brilliant moments, none more so than "It's Only Time," which deserves to be the future first slow dance of many a gay marriage as soon as 51 percent of the electorate gets its head out of its collective ass. 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 12. $24 adv./$26. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 206-443-1744. MICHAELANGELO MATOS




Those of us who listen to NPR on the weekend but remain curiously immune to the folksy charms of A Prairie Home Companion have found frequent solace in This American Life. Nearly a decade old, TAL supports the same general idea as PHC—that America's true identity lies in its smaller stories, and storytelling is the best way to unite such a diverse country—but delivers the goods in a hipper, funnier package. Tonight's ConWorks panel puts TAL staffer Jake Warga alongside the pros of local public radio, including KUOW's Patricia Murphy and Marcie Sillman, for a chat about how radio stories go from initial concept to final cut. 7 p.m. Wed., Nov. 10. $5. Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave. N., 206-381-3218. NEAL SCHINDLER




Credit director John Kazanjian and his revitalized New City Theater for fighting to hold on to what's important to them. This staging of Wallace Shawn's testy talkfest was supposed to open at the Empty Space, but Kazanjian and company moved it to New City when Fremont's finest venue announced its financial woes last month. It's a timely piece meant to cut deep—three characters confront the death of intellect in, ahem, an unnamed quasi-fascist nation—and Kazanjian has a superlative cast (Mary Ewald, Jack Clay, and Peter Crook, pictured left to right) that should be more than capable of slicing us to the bone. Opens Thurs., Nov. 11. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. (no shows Thurs., Nov. 25–Sat., Nov. 27). $8 for Empty Space subscribers and ticket holders, $15 general. New City Warehouse, 2110 Airport Way S., 206-271-4430. STEVE WIECKING




Fairly early in his career, dancer/choreographer/director David Gordon (pictured, left) began developing "Chair," an obsessively thorough catalog of everything the human body can do with a folding chair. Throughout his career, he's often returned to the chair, calling it "the perfect partner" for its functional integrity and lack of ego, so it seems inevitable that he's now directing a production of Eugene Ionesco's classic absurdist play. Gordon and his longtime collaborator, wife Valda Setterfield (right), appear as the oddest of couples in a new translation of the text by Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold. 8 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 11–Sat., Nov. 13. $12–$22. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 206-217-9888. SANDRA KURTZ




Creepy-cute, lowbrow art—call it what you want, but the stuff on the walls of Roq La Rue and places like La Luz de Jesus gallery in L.A. has slouched into the stodgy art world. Roq proprietor Kirsten Anderson has just edited a new book, Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, which surveys an art movement that holds wide-eyed children, velvet paintings, gross-out comics, and tiki kitsch in high regard. Anderson will celebrate the book launch with a new exhibit, "The Pin-Up Show," a collection of Betty Page–inspired nekkid ladies by, among others, Lisa Petrucci, Miles Thompson, Michiko, Erin Norlin, and Kirsten Easthope (whose "Cherrybomb" is pictured here). Opening night features music courtesy of the Fraus and DJ Johnny Hot Rod. Reception 6–10 p.m. Sat., Nov. 13. 2–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun. Free. Roq La Rue, 2316 Second Ave., 206-374-8977. ANDREW ENGELSON

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