The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 3/11Books: Wine-Dark SeasIt shouldn't be so surprising that Zachary Mason is a computer scientist, since his literary debut messes with the code of an old stalwart. His ingenious The Lost Books of the Odyssey (Farrar Straus Giroux, $24) offers 44 short alternative chapters to the saga of Odysseus' return home to Ithaca from the Trojan War. Some are like commentaries on the Odyssey; others twist and reimagine the bickering gods, neglected wives, and quarrelsome warriors of Homer's epic poem. Odysseus suffers identity theft and builds a robot Achilles out of clay. Penelope happily remarries and forgets about her husband. The Trojan War never ends, and the Odyssey itself is discovered to be the corrupt transcription of a long-lost chess match. Some of these episodes are bizarre, but Mason isn't attempting a postmod deconstruction of the source text. Apart from some cheeky footnotes, he shows a deep appreciation for the stately language being appropriated. ("Time hissed by like the black arrows whose shadows darkened the plain before Troy.") And perhaps the book's greatest accomplishment is to make you want to go back and read Homer again. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFashion: Passport to StyleHot on the heels of the ready-to-wear presentations in New York, Milan, and Paris, design students will be showing their own stylish creations at the Art Institute of Seattle's 12th annual fashion show. As always, the entire production—lighting, set design, etc.—is handled by AIS pupils. This year's theme is "Wear in the World"—right on trend, since global is now hip in a huge way. The trend can be traced back to Yves Saint Laurent's safari jackets in the '60s. And today, cutting-edge designers like Proenza Schouler and D&G have embraced the international look with a zest, sending vibrant ikat prints in blues, oranges, and reds down the runway. Tonight, guest emcee Kendra Todd (of The Apprentice) helps promote Seattle's rising sartorial talents. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 382-7877, $20–$30. 8 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSONStage: More, More, MoreJust as some banks are too big to fail, some cultural events are too big to describe. In briefest summary, this year's Moisture Festival spans five venues through April 4, with no fewer than two dozen performers practicing puppetry, burlesque, trapeze acts, juggling, comedy, variety, bubble-blowing, and...well, space doesn't permit such an exhaustive list of titillation (for adults) and amusement (for families). What you do need to know is that the extravaganza launches tonight with its Grande Varietè show at ACT (through Sun.), then moves to Hale's Palladium (March 18–April 4), with side trips to Vashon Island, the Georgetown Ballroom, and SIFF Cinema before returning to ACT. The talent comes from as far away as Scotland and China and as close as Seattle (e.g., The Aerialistas, Baby Gramps, and Dr. Calamari and Acrophelia of Circus Contraption). Live music is always part of the show, and you can enjoy a beer during the run in Ballard. In its seventh year, the Moisture Festival has no use for brevity. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, $20. 7:30 p.m. T. BONDFRIDAY 3/12Comedy: Rambling ManUntil co-starring with Judi Dench in the 1997 Mrs. Brown, Billy Connolly wasn't considered much of an actor. But the role, confidante to Queen Victoria, gained a second U.S. following for the sobered-up Scottish comic. He originally became a huge star in the UK via raunchy, serpentine monologues mixing everyday topics—like finding carrots in your vomit after binge drinking—with political rants (against Margaret Thatcher, Tories, etc.). He's both wrathful and good-natured, laughing at his indignation. In one long rant, he wonders if suicide bombers have instructors ("I'm only gonna show you this once..."), and mocks the idea of being rewarded with a bevy of virgins in the afterlife. Having the same awkward encounter over and over again, he says, "That's torture! Give me two good whores!" His current show crashed the computers when tickets went on sale in London, and the reviews were glowing. Connolly doesn't so much deliver jokes as arrive at them after long conversational rambles. And they are always worth the wait. Bagley Wright Theatre, 155 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 443-2222, $45. 8 p.m. (Repeats Sat.) BRIAN MILLERMusic: Way Out EastJazz has been syncretizing since it started. And while some of the multiculti fusions of recent years seemed driven more by downtown fashion than sonic potential, the cross-border approach—at its best—is doing a lot to keep jazz interesting. An outstanding case in point is saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, whose trio, known as the Indo-Pak Coalition, melds Indian motifs and avant-hard-bop into something brilliantly compelling. Earshot fans will be familiar with the Boulder-bred saxophonist from his visits with pianist Vijay Iyer, but the sitar-guitar/tabla format he's working with here opens up space for him to really connect. The conceptual never displaces the emotional in this band, which features beautiful, on-edge guitar work from Rez Abbasi. It's an adventurous booking for a venue like the KPC, and deserving of support. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., 425-893-9900, $16–$20. 8 p.m. MARK D. FEFERSATURDAY 3/13Film: Misery and MirthThis year's Seattle Jewish Film Festival is splitting off the opening party (Thurs. at the Palace Ballroom) from tonight's opening-night feature Ajami—not a bad idea, since the Oscar-nominated film is a bit of a downer. Written and directed by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, it's one of those nonlinear, back-and-forth crime flicks that shows you a murder, then circles back to when the victim was happy and alive. It's a little bit Tarantino, a little bit Paul Haggis (Crash). With many characters and subplots, the unifying force is money (or the lack thereof), as an Arabic family in Jaffa falls into a blood-money debt that can only be paid, of course, in blood or money. (Nominated for an Oscar, Ajami opens in theaters on April 16.) Through March 21, the festival's lighter fare includes forbidden romance, jazz patrons, puppy love, sumo wrestling, teen angst, and 20-somethings who can't commit. (And, yes, depressing documentaries if you insist.) SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, $11–$18. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLERComics: Live Long and ProsperGrab your light saber and glue on your pointy Spock ears. It's the eighth Emerald City Comic Con. And, yes, the rumors are true: The roster of guests is led by Leonard Nimoy, who'll be signing autographs at $65 a pop. Also in attendance: über-artist Stan Lee, whose Marvel Comics characters have earned billions at the box office (via Spider-Man, Iron Man, and company). Elsewhere, among the booths where art and memorabilia are sold and signed, look for Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets), artists from Pixar, and the guys behind the animated TV series Ben 10. Also of note: Seattle author Ben Thompson will discuss his book Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters and Military Commanders to Ever Live. And prominent among the comic-book publishing booths will be local shop Fantagraphics, whose Tim Lane designed our cover this week. (Through Sunday.) Washington State Convention Center, Eighth Avenue & Pike Street, $25 or $35 (weekend pass). 10 a.m.–6 p.m. T. BONDMONDAY 3/15Music: Sweet HomecomingAlt-country icon Dave Alvin has a thing for the ladies. Musically, that is. One of those ladies is Seattle's own Christy McWilson, who after a decade spent singing for local band the Picketts was convinced by Alvin to strike out on her own. The two solo albums Alvin produced for her—The Lucky One and Bed of Roses—showcased McWilson's silver bell of a voice, which has that rare mix of rural twang and urban class. She can send shivers up your spine with her brassy resonance and lull you into sedation with a coo that is like a cross between Linda Ronstadt and Chris Isaak. It's been a while since McWilson has graced local stages (having put her career on hold to be a mom). So marking her return by sharing the stage with Alvin should be a real treat. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, $20 (21 and over). 8 p.m. BRIAN J. BARRTUESDAY 3/16Books: Pavement TalesA first-rate journalist who likes to immerse himself in his reporting, Ted Conover collects several past assignments in The Routes of Man (Knopf, $26.95). He gets behind the wheel, or rides shotgun, to peer through the windshield in China, the West Bank, Peru, Nigeria, and other locales. Along the way, he ponders how highways promote the spread of AIDS (especially via truckers in '90s East Africa), follows the mahogany trade from the rain forest to Manhattan, and considers how snowbound villagers in Ladakh would benefit from an all-season road that Western tourists decry. One man's Shangri-La is another's rural ghetto; the difference between the two is written in asphalt. (In China, this theme closely relates to Peter Hessler's recent Country Driving.) All roads are conduits of information, and Conover their recorder. To connect these previously published accounts (in The New Yorker and elsewhere), he writes short interstitial sections you can easily skip. Like truck stops on a road trip, they aren't worth remembering. All that matters, for Conover and the reader, is the next trip. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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