The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 8/25 Opera: Jealous Much? Verdi was all but retired when librettist Arrigo Boito gave him a pared-down, fat-free version of Shakespeare's Othello (Boito even trimmed the H in the title). It inspired the composer to the highest peaks he'd yet reached in tragedy: his greatest love duet, greatest tenor/baritone duet, and greatest soprano solo—the devastating "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" that Desdemona sings just before Otello murders her. Yet there's at least one good reason Seattle Opera hasn't staged the piece since 1987: The title role is one of the most emotionally and vocally grueling tenor parts ever written. Your plan B is to see it as part of the opera broadcast series sponsored by Columbia City Cinema, in a 2008 Salzburg Festival performance with Riccardo Muti conducting. YouTube clips suggest it's a pretty smoldering performance. (Continues Wednesdays through Sept. 29.) Rainier Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3515 S. Alaska St., 721-3156, $15–$20. 4 & 7 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT THURSDAY 8/26 Circuses: Believe the Hucksterism Nineteenth-century circus owner P.T. Barnum had an enterprising spirit, silver tongue, and anything-goes approach to advertising—he allegedly coined the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute." In honor of the showman's business acumen, here are some numbers to consider. 100,000: The number of pounds of pachyderm on display in Barnum's FUNundrum!, which opens tonight. 65: The miles per hour that seven bikers in the Spherical Miracle act will be racing their motorcycles around a 16-foot-diameter steel globe. 30: The number of feet above the ground performer Andrea Ayala-Raffo will hang from a steel cable—suspended by her hair. Zero: That's what you'll feel like if you miss this spectacle. And should a phobia of clowns, a distaste for cotton candy, or some other lame excuse make you doubt the circus' appeal, consider another Barnum quote: "More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing than by believing too much." (Through Sat.) Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett, 866-332-TIXX, $18. 7:30 p.m. REBECCA COHEN Food/Books: Cookin' It Old-School New York blogger and chef Georgia Pellegrini is disdainful of tags like "local" and "sustainable" (she calls them condescending) and distrustful of USDA standards for organic food. In Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95), she instead focuses on artisanal food, which she defines as "dishes created and brought to the table from the surrounding countryside and imbued with local character." Among her heroes are an earthy and eccentric fungus forager from the Hudson Valley; a Denver distiller who created the first original whiskey recipe since Prohibition; a French fig grower who recommends jujubes as an aphrodisiac; and Seattle's own Jon Rowley, who'll also appear tonight. (The legendary seafood expert cooked homemade ratatouille for Pellegrini—no relation to fellow Northwest food icon Angelo Pellegrini.) Pellegrini's writing can get a tad hammy; in an olive orchard, she muses "that I am tasting and living time." And though she's very much a modern media creature, with a Twitter feed and a TV show (Girl Hunter) in development, Pellegrini clearly venerates these aging artisans. She wants to keep their traditions alive in a world where, as an Irish potato farmer says of the younger generation, "If they can't buy it and microwave it, they're going to starve." Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, Free. 7 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON Fairs: From FarmVille to Farm Perhaps even more synonymous with the end of summer than Labor Day is the Evergreen State Fair. The annual event in Monroe offers carnival rides, mouthwatering food, an "Evergreen Idols" talent competition, and daily concerts by the likes of Los Lobos and 38 Special. (Also still working: Howie Mandel.) Visitors can enter pie-eating contests, text-messaging competitions, and chili cook-offs. Or let your baby crawl in the so-called "Diaper Derby." If Facebook's FarmVille is the closest you've come to real livestock, then the fair's interactive activities will offer a refreshing alternative—a chance for future locavores to collect eggs, milk cows, and pick apples. Kids will also have a chance to pet horses, pigs and...dinos? Yes, Days of the Dinosaurs is a 10,000-square-foot exhibit featuring 15 motorized replicas of the primordial beasts, including a lifelike velociraptor and tyrannosaurus. For a more traditional fair experience, visitors can brave the amusement-park rides or watch expert horsemen—and women—compete at the rodeo. (Through Sept. 6) Evergreen State Fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave S.E., Monroe, 360-805-6700, $7–$10. 10 a.m.–10 p.m. CELINA KAREIVA FRIDAY 8/27 Comedy: Sing Dirty to Me It's easy to be cynical about comics who release music albums, thanks to cringe-inducing efforts by the likes of Jimmy Fallon and Eddie Murphy. But an exception can be made for Margaret Cho. Her new Cho Dependent is charming yet provocative, featuring musical collaborations with Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco, and Tegan and Sara. Still, for her Seattle show, Cho plans to stick to her trademark raunchy, politically charged stand-up. "I can't stop doing that; that would be weird," she assures me by phone from Provincetown, Mass., where she's prepping for her national tour. "I did a record, but I'm still a stand-up comic." Fine, but here's hoping she takes a break between jokes to perform her hilarious parody of Mickey Avalon and Dirt Nasty's "My Dick." Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, $25.50–$42. 7:30 p.m. ERIKA HOBART Film: Back in Blue Doesn't James Cameron already have enough of our money? Since his 3-D smash Avatar grossed around $2.7 billion worldwide, making it the biggest movie of 2009, does he really need to push a "special edition" cut back into theaters? And yet that's what he's doing, with eight minutes of new footage, and I completely support the idea. Late August through Labor Day is a traditionally dead period at the multiplex, so why not revisit Cameron's eco-epic? If you can get past a few New Age excesses (e.g., the hand-holding "Kumbaya" reanimation scene), the film is a model of clear plotting and action, making pretenders like Inception look muddled indeed. Cameron seamlessly fuses computer effects and human players into an intricate, dazzling vision of the year 2154, when mercenaries from Earth have colonized a jungle planet to rape its resources. Sam Worthington is the wheelchair-bound soldier who inhabits a 12-foot-tall blue avatar sent to infiltrate the locals in the name of science (represented by Sigourney Weaver) and conquest (Stephen Lang). Naturally he falls in love with a native princess—and the ways of her people, who live in graceful, networked harmony with their world. The battle between ecotopians and human marauders is inevitable. Violence is part of nature, too. Even if Cameron's green ideals feel dated, he still loves a good fight. (Through Sept. 21.) Pacific Science Center IMAX (and other theaters), 200 Second Ave. N. (Seattle Center), 443-2001, $16.25. 1, 4:30, 8, & 11:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Visual Arts: Out of the Kiln, Onto the Roof With its financial and management problems behind it (we hope), BAM is launching an ambitious new show with a rooftop party tonight. The BAM Biennial: Clay Throwdown! exhibition will feature 34 Northwest artists, including about a dozen from our state, all pushing the boundaries of traditional pottery. You'll be able to meet some of the locals, like Yuki Nakamura and Arun Sharma, and perhaps dance with them, too. DJs Dr. Lehl & Port-a-Party will be spinning tunes before the guided tour inside. (The winners of two $5,000 juried prizes will also be announced.) Then head back to the roof for the cash bar and complimentary finger food; there, under the stars, things will get a little louder as the Hurricane Lanterns perform. (Through Jan. 16.) Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, 425-519-0770, $7–$10. 5–9 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSATURDAY 8/28 Food: Where Dragons Dance Traditional Asian markets are held in the cool evening hours, with street vendors hawking food, drink, and entertainment. The Night Market in the ID happens but once a year, and you don't want to miss it. Also, skip lunch (and maybe breakfast) before sampling from booths offering Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese cuisine. There'll be grilled corn, shaved ice, and coconut drinks. Full already? Get out your wallet to shop, with items from jewelry to yoga wear to video games on sale. After a martial-arts demo, the Lion & Dragon Dance will fill the street with a wave of color and rhythmic drumming. Pixar's delightful animated family movie Up—with subtitles in Spanish, not Mandarin—will be shown at dusk. There's even an anime costume contest. A few blocks away, the festival overlaps with Uwajimaya's Natsu Matsuri Summer Festival (noon–8 p.m.), with food vendors in the parking lot, taiko drum groups, and a tofu-eating contest. Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave. S., Free. 6–11 p.m. ADRIANA GRANT The Occult: Message From Beyond? Morris Graves died nine years ago. Or did he?!? That's what'll be determined tonight by The Mystic Sons of Morris Graves, who'll conduct a séance to reach the late Northwest artist (1910–2001) on his centenary. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended for the event, with Kirk Charles presiding and Ajar West playing the suitably spooky theremin. Before the occult activities commence, be sure to see the final day's display of Graves artifacts by Charles Krafft, Matthew Kangas, and others (Graves included). The echt-Masonic certificates and imagery nod to Graves' long-standing interest in mysticism, Zen Buddhism, and animism. These tongue-in-cheek Sons revere an eccentric, reclusive artist who left no sons, who encouraged no cult, who refused to join any clubs or serve in WWII when drafted. Famed in the '40s, he left the Northwest in the '50s. But if the Sons are correct, his spirit is with us still. Rock|DeMent Visual Art Space, 306 S. Washington St. (Vandenbrink Community Room, Tashiro Kaplan Building), 860-5193, $13. 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Parks: All-Day Recess School starts again in just a few weeks. But as disheartening as that may be for the kids, there's still time for them to live in denial at the Big Day of Play. Seattle Parks and Recreation is organizing the day of activities to "encourage creative unstructured play opportunities." What that jargon translates to, among other things, is a three-on-three basketball tournament, a chance to try sailing on Lake Washington, and a performance by Recess Monkey, three Seattle teachers who school the youth in rock. There's also a 5-kilometer run and free food samples from PCC. (Bonus: In a park this size, sneaking back for seconds at the sample cart will probably be a lot easier than in grocery aisles.) And there'll be no need to begrudge the kids their fun—the festivities are open to the young at heart of all ages. Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way N.E., Free. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. REBECCA COHEN

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