The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 12/23Music: Hits for the HolidaysThe best pop stars know how to turn on the charm for the holidays. No one does "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" like the Boss. "Blue Christmas" remains one of Elvis' most soulful performances. And has David Bowie ever been more heartwarming than when he sang "The Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby? Now it's your turn, with the Xmas Pops Sing-Along, to accompany holiday-themed music videos like Run-DMC's delightful "Christmas in Hollis," the Waitresses' irrepressible "Christmas Wrapping," or the Beach Boys' endearingly cheesy "Little Saint Nick." Stranger versions of traditional carols come from Billy Idol's No. 1 Rebel Christmas Album. And beware the cute/horrifying Olsen twins' performance of "Jingle Bells," complete with a rap breakdown ("You look good in a popcorn string/Shake these silver bells and make them ring"). Games and outdoor caroling will also provide an opportunity—finally!—to publicly belt out "All I Want for Christmas Is You," "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," or, everyone's favorite, Wham!'s "Last Christmas." Because nothing spreads holiday cheer like George Michael offering you his icy, broken heart. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, $8 (21 and over). 9:30 p.m. E. THOMPSONVisual Arts: Bubble VestA quintet of artists mount separate installations in "Cultural Transcendence," a curator's conceit that doesn't really unify the five galleries. In one, a video montage addressing the illegal internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In another, CG-created (false) memories of a childhood day spent near Mt. Fuji. Local Brent Watanabe hooks up an animated bird to a hand-cranked Victrola (very kawaii), while Portland's Horatio Law projects the faces of Chinese infants adopted by white Oregonians on a screen sewn from fabric petals. Lovely, but meaningless unless you read the explanatory placard. The biggest, most impressive gallery houses an interactive audio-visual vest of lights by South Korean artist Eunsu Kang, a Ph.D. candidate at the UW. In the dark room, as she recently demonstrated, LEDs in the palms of a long-sleeved jacket—cabled to the ceiling and driven by computer algorithms—trigger responsive pink bubbles projected on the floor and ceiling. By waving the arms or flapping the sleeves, a burbling, watery soundtrack shifts in sync to the scattering, careening bubbles. (It's a little like Surround Sound in a movie theater.) Stand still, and they whirl and eddy like a pond gradually calming. AV feedback is also created when the LEDs are directed at each other, or at the body wearing the high-tech vest. Kids accustomed to Wii will love the installation, called Shin'm, while adults may be too shy to try. Where is the culture being transcended here? Kang's work is cool enough that you won't care there's no answer. (Through Sept. 19.) Wing Luke Asian Museum, 719 S. King St., 623-5124, $8.95–$12.95. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 12/24Visual Arts: Navigating by MemoryThis ongoing winter group show "The There" seeks to bring the outdoors indoors. Among 10 local artists featured, Patte Loper places an incongruously colorful, cheerful '70s-style geodesic dome amid bleak gray wreckage. It's like a vacation home in a future apocalypse. Her smaller pencil sketches of abandoned huts in Antarctica are no less forbidding, suggesting the frigid hardships of Shackleton, Scott, and Perry. Jesse Burke's large-format print of a forlorn farmhouse in a snowy field conveys the same vernal desolation. But the show's standout is a map: William Powhida's huge, pencil-illustrated scroll Everyone I've Ever Met (That I Can Remember). If geography is the common theme here, a sense of place, Powhida reminds us that places (like faces) are often defined by imperfect recollection. The boundaries and features we ascribe to a favorite landmark may blur in the years after our visit. The there isn't fixed or permanent. And it may be unrecognizable on our return. (Through Jan. 2) Platform Gallery, 114 Third. Ave. S., 323-2808, Free. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERPageantry: Satan's on His SleighThe supposed innocence of the Blue Moon's sixth annual Christmas Pageant and Midnight Mass begins and ends with the timing (Christmas Eve) and title, which turns out to be so tongue-in-cheek that tongue and cheek can no longer be discerned from each other. "Basically it's a Satanic parody of the whole Christian pageant," explains Blue Moon owner Gus Hellthaler. It's also "the drunkest midnight mass you've ever seen in your life," says Blue Moon booker Jason Josephes, who came up with the concept. Hellthaler explains that the event is "more performance art than a straight musical performance"—but there will certainly be music, courtesy of the Christmas Belles and others. Additionally, Josephes promises that the evening's proceedings will feature "a face-off between Jesus and Satan," a puppet show, $4 eggnog cocktails, and a pre-show happy hour with DJ Country Mike, who will be spinning Christmas classics. But even in light of this potential spectacle, it's hard to imagine this event will be more debauched than the Moon's traditional all-day happy hour on Monday, Jan. 4 (mark your calendars). It will commemorate, in Hellthaler's words, "the passing of St. Thomas Aquinas Carr," the outgoing city attorney, whom the Blue Moon blames for its near-shutdown in 2006. Blue Moon Tavern, 712 N.E. 45th St., 675-9116, Free (21 and over). 7 p.m.–2 a.m. (or thereabouts). MIKE SEELYFRIDAY 12/25Film: Tinsel and BourbonWorking from a story by the Coen brothers, director Terry Zwigoff's 2003 Bad Santa is calculated to affront anyone who holds the holidays sacred. It is vile, hateful, and—for most of its 90-odd minutes—utterly soulless. That said, I can't imagine chortling so heartily, and guiltily, at a blacker black Christmas comedy. Billy Bob Thornton plays a self-loathing, foul-mouthed, alcoholic safecracker who annually dons white beard and red suit for his criminal MO: He and his elfin cohort (Tony Cox) loot a department store every Christmas Eve and live large for the rest of the year. Whoomp, there's your plot. Bad Santa simply follows Thornton's misanthropic human wrecking ball through affluent Phoenix suburbia. (Rated R, 98 minutes, repeats Sat.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935,, $5–$7.50. 11 p.m. ANDREW BONAZELLISATURDAY 12/26Comedy: From the 206 to the 718"I did the Paramount, I did the Moore. I felt like I was done with Seattle." So says comedian Daniel Carroll from his new digs in Astoria, Queens. But he's not really done with our city. He's taking over Comedy Underground for a Boxing Day homecoming show, to be joined by a half-dozen local performers—some recognizable from his old People's Republic of Komedy days. Speaking by phone, and pausing his daytime viewing of Sweet November (for material, he swears!), Carroll explains how his February move to New York has been a sink-or-swim experience in that city's ultra-competitive comedy scene. "It's amazing and terrible at the same time," he muses. "There's comedy in every borough." Already he's played some of the better clubs in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, he's encountered the dreaded Williamsburg hipsters and found them to be "pussies" compared to those back home: "Capitol Hill hipsters are so much more intense than Brooklyn hipsters," he says. "Not only are they [in Seattle] hip, but they're mad at you for not being as hip as they are." And Carroll is enjoying his reprieve from the chilly cult of Seattle nice—New Yorkers actually talk to one another on the sidewalks, he notes approvingly. Then there's the stimulating supply of potential joke fodder: "I like a shitty cabdriver. I really enjoy it when I see a crazy street person." Not like here, where people are silently embarrassed and disapproving. Comedy Underground, 109 S. Washington St., 628-0303, $15–$20 (21 and over). 8 and 10:15 p.m. BRIAN MILLERClassical: Rejoice GreatlyIn the chorus "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" in his Messiah, Handel sets the syllable "born" to a chain of 56 rapid notes—which actually can make you sound something like a woman in labor if you don't read ahead in the score and pace your breathing. Just a little tip from someone who's participated in one of the popular Sing- and Play-Along performances that dot the holiday season. Karen P. Thomas leads one tonight at University Unitarian, and the Northwest Chorale hosts one Tuesday in Shoreline. Bring your instrument (and a music stand), or come to sing; bring a score if you have one (Thomas suggests the Novello edition, the NC prefers Schirmer), or pick up a loaner at the event. Though most of Messiah's text deals with Christ's life and death—the work was in fact intended for Easter—the radiance and sparkle of the Nativity section has made it a Christmas tradition. And if the later stuff about stripes and iniquity and worms destroying this body can be a bit of a downer, it's less so if you're singing it yourself. University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. N.E., 800-838-3006, $10–$15. 7 p.m. (Also: St. Dunstan's Church of the Highlands, 722 N. 145th St., 522-9853, $15. 7 p.m. Tues.) GAVIN BORCHERTShopping: Hair of the Retail DogBoxing Day is, for good reason, one of the biggest and best shopping days of the year. The inventory may be picked over, but downtown retailers including Macy's are desperate to clear their shelves and restock for the post-Christmas doldrums. Prices are slashed accordingly, and your competition from hung-over, late-sleeping, shopped-out consumers is greatly diminished. So get up early, wear comfortable shoes, and prepare yourself for a bargain-hunting bonanza. Remember, the money you save today will allow you to stockpile gifts for the new year—the coming 12 months of birthdays, weddings, and bar mitzvahs. Or, if you're really cheap, next Christmas. Because it's never too early to start planning for the holidays. Macy's, 1601 Third Ave., 506-6000, Spend what you will. 7 a.m.–11 p.m. T. BOND

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