The Weekly Wire: This Week’s Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 8/5Stage: Shakin' It for YahwehWhen most people think "Jewish comedienne," Sarah Silverman comes to mind. And that's unfortunate, because Sarah Silverman is not funny. That's right: My name is Sara, I'm Jewish, and I do not like Sarah Silverman. There. I said it. Fortunately, we ladies of the tribe finally have some new comedic role models in Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad, a mutable bevy of trash-talking, kvetching, burlesque-dancing females. Which sounds iffy, but believe it or not, these women—seen on Comedy Central and HBO—know how to work the schmaltz angle without crossing over into "just plain bad." Their sketch comedy bits can be hit-or-miss—like SNL's aren't?—but the racy R-rated dance numbers, stand-up comedy, and spoken-word portions of the show will compensate. While it's ultimately a Jew-centric show, all you goys will still enjoy it, so long's you familiarize yourselves with Jewish holidays (you know, other than Hanukkah) and terms like "tzimmes" and "schvitz." Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, $15–$18. 7:30 p.m. SARA BRICKNERTHURSDAY 8/6Books: Orbiting Around the TruthRemember in 2006, when Pluto was "robbed" of its planethood by the International Astronomical Union? People were aghast at the news, saddened about a planet they hadn't thought twice about since elementary school. Maybe that's because the media reported the story wrong, says Chris Mooney, co-author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (Basic Books, $24). Perhaps the distant ball of ice was never really a planet to begin with, but had been overhyped by the press and thus misunderstood by the credulous public. Previously the author of The Republican War on Science, Mooney again blames the "anti-science" George W. Bush, politics, movies (e.g., Dante's Peak versus Volcano), and a growing animosity between scientists and fundamentalists. Then there's the broader failure of education. Among the many amusing and downright embarrassing stats in the book: Half the U.S. adult population isn't aware the Earth orbits the sun once a year. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, Free. 7 p.m. CHANTAL ANDERSONVisual Arts: 2-D VistasThe built environment goes abstract in Eddy Radar's acrylic-on-canvas paintings displayed in Manmade Landscapes. A runway, perhaps in Frankfurt or San Francisco, is translated into line and color. Primary yellow directionals mark the tarmac with sweeping rings, while an airplane tail casts army-green shadows. The view is from the plane itself, as these images are reconfigurations of photos Radar took during her travels. The colors are opaque and often muted (with lots of grays and greens); though there's some perspective in these works, everything seems flattened into two dimensions. Elsewhere, a golf-course vista becomes a clean, minimal, unpopulated green expanse. And the close-up of a baseball field is so reduced to its essential geometry that none but a die-hard fan would recognize it as such. With Maria Frati's nature-inspired prints in the upstairs gallery, through August 29. Gallery 110, 110 S. Washington St., 642-9336, Free. Reception: 6–8 p.m. ADRIANA GRANTFRIDAY 8/7Outdoor Music & Art: Olympic Sculpture PartyWho hasn't wanted to party in between the giant Oldenburg typewriter eraser and the Calder eagle? That's exactly what you're invited to do at this SAM Remix event, which offers walking tours with local artists, spoken-word performers, comic-book artists, dancing, and music. The latter will turn the PACCAR Pavilion into an open-air summer disco, with DJs including Rena Jones, Filastine, and Lusine. Also on the bill: Seattle's Breakdancing Ninja Clan. And if you need any more incentive to attend, the first 100 guests get in for free. Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave., 654-3121, $5–$10 (18 and over). 8 p.m.–midnight. MALIA MAKOWICKIFestivals: Much Ado in SLUThere's nothing like hot, sweaty people gathering on a summer day to celebrate their neighborhood. Hence the South Lake Union Block Party. Festivities will include food vendors, a farmers market, a burger-cooking competition, a wine-tasting area ($12), and a beer garden. On the music stage, Benjamin Doerr, Grand Hallway, and members of the Maldives will be among the featured acts. Then at dusk (around 9:00), an outdoor movie will be projected, chosen by a recent online poll (already concluded), so you can stick around for Waiting for Guffman, Footloose, or Raising Arizona. Come sweaty and leave happy—and you can ride the SLUT for both ends of the trip. South Lake Union Discovery Center, Denny Way & Westlake Avenue North, 342-5900, Free. Noon–11 p.m. BRITT THORSONSATURDAY 8/8Film: MagneticAs Blu-ray, VOD, your TiVo, Hulu, and YouTube–streaming iPhones push old technologies further into obsolescence, now may be the last chance to celebrate the humble video cassette tape, which revolutionized home viewing during the '80s. The humble, durable, half-inch magnetic medium is the subject of tonight's Viva VHS! tribute, sure to include found-footage oddities along with selections from the vaults of Scarecrow Video—chosen by the knowledgeable staff of a store founded long, long before the advent of DVD. Back in '88, when Scarecrow took its present name, Cocktail, Big, and Rain Man dominated the box office. But we're guessing tonight will feature more obscure stuff from that year (and others), which require the touch of the rewind button when they're done. (Ah, the tactile pleasures of nostalgia.) Don't tell me you've forgotten about Phantasm II already? With an early role for James LeGros? Wait, I'm sure I've got my copy lying around here someplace... Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSUNDAY 8/9Video Art: Manufactured MindscapesA woman in fishnet stockings, styled with bangs that suggest Anna Karina, lounges around a Shanghai apartment. Men in Mao suits come and go, play cards, and wait nervously. They're like a gang of petty criminals hiding from the cops—unless too timid (bored?) to commit an actual crime. In a second video by Yang Fudong, a man and his doppelgänger repeat parallel gestures, mimic movie stars, and dance, while a woman occasionally joins the bossa nova in their high-rise apartment. Again, the tenor is boredom, lassitude, stasis, waiting. Things are more industrious in the facing gallery at Business as Usual: New Video From China (through Oct. 4). In the first segment of her 20-minute triptych, Cao Fei documents workers in a giant light-bulb factory, like the first shot of Manufactured Landscapes. The next interpolates fantasy figures, ballerinas and other dancers, onto the factory floor; and the third simply comprises worker portraits set to rock ballads sung in phonetic English. The two galleries depict different responses to China's relentless growth: Yang's subjects seem lost in cinematic reverie, shunning the economic reality outside their door; while Cao's workers participate in the boom, by necessity if not choice. They have their dreams, too, but light bulbs still need to be made for customers an ocean away. Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave. N.E. & N.E. 41st St., 543-2280, $6–$10. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. BRIAN MILLEROpera: Voice of a GoddessOne of the pleasant shocks of Seattle Opera's 2000 production of Wagner's Ring was the first appearance of mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Wotan's wife and thus sort of the First Lady of the gods (literally a diva). She brought the part a bold, soaring voice and a commanding presence and fearlessness—which she's since shown here in other all-out roles like Carmen and Aida's Amneris. (Not to mention the comic heroine Isabella in Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers.) After having been named SO's Artist of the Year this past season for her Amneris, Blythe is back as Fricka. Frankly, this somewhat unsympathetic role needs someone of her star power: Fricka's more than a bit of a scold (as you'd be, too, if your sister got traded for a castle). And with Wotan (Greer Grimsley), she has to carry one of the four-opera cycle's notorious longueurs, their 45-minute conversation in Act 2 of Die Walküre. But she made the scene riveting in 2000 and 2005, and will this year, too. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 389-7676, $302–$1,508. Opening night: 7 p.m. (Cycle I through Aug. 14; Cycle II, Aug. 17–22; Cycle III, Aug. 25–30.) GAVIN BORCHERT

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