The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 10/20 Comedy: Mr. Monotone Before Twitter there was Steven Wright, who in the early '80s condensed his Tonight Show jokes into pithy absurdist haiku, delivered in severe deadpan without setup or biographical embellishment. (For instance: "I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.") His stage presence was to have no stage presence, a kind of Zen detachment from his material. Despite his comical Jewfro, Wright refused to do anything wacky, to make any kind of physical investment in his jokes. He didn't sell the laugh, as his peers Jay Leno and Robin Williams did so profitably. For that reason, perhaps, he never hit it big, never got a sitcom, has never done more than a few supporting roles in movies. His monotone delivery was a minimalist rebuke to '80s excess; if you didn't get the humor, you just weren't listening carefully enough. Three decades later, Wright is still doing more with less. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, $27.50–$37.50. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Food: Dishing About Dishes Pleasure. Sustenance. Family. Culture. Science. These are just some of the topics to be addressed at tonight's roundtable discussion, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Food." Hear what it means to a troupe of Seattle authors—all with new books out—to think and write about cuisine. Perhaps the biggest name on the bill is Ethan Stowell (Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen), chef and owner of four highly rated restaurants (including his new Staple & Fancy). You'll also hear from the creators of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (Shauna and Danny Ahern), Greg Atkinson (The Northwest Essentials Cookbook), and Kim O'Donnel (The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook). These professional gourmands will gather for a casual talk, with wine and apps. Ask them anything you like. Even moderator Amy Pennington has a book out, Urban Pantry, in which she talks about that hot new old-fashioned fad, canning. Palace Ballroom, 2030 Fifth Ave., 441-5542, and $25. 7 p.m. ADRIANA GRANT THURSDAY 10/21 Film: Island Girls Resistance is futile. Don't even try not falling for these adorable twin lesbian political-activist farmer/folksinger/comedians from New Zealand. "On paper, they should not work," says one talking head in the documentary The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (screening as part of the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, which continues through Sunday). Jools and Lynda Topp sing like the Everly Brothers, look like k.d. lang (in plaid flannel), crusade like Joan Baez, and bring to life onstage a flock of campily satirical, Little Britain–style characters—when they're not working their family farm. Some of those characters, like drag-king everyguys Ken & Ken or socialites Dilly and Prue Ramsbottom, sometimes take over, appearing at county fairs and charity teas and fooling people who might not know the Topps' shtick. If NZ's a reasonably gay-friendly country now, it was a hard-won battle. Part of the victory is due to the Topps, on the ramparts for decades, and their "healthy, rural, cheerful cowgirl image." A gay who can wrangle sheep is a gay every Kiwi can relate to. Admiral, 2343 California Ave. S.W., 938-3456, $10. $7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT Dance: Recurring Memory It took Pat Graney 10 years to develop the individual works in her Faith Triptych, now being revived in a single performance (with intermissions between each hour-long section). Watching the whole sequence of Faith, Sleep, and Tattoo is like seeing a collage of old home movies—you remember the people and what they were doing in the '90s, but also who you were when it was first happening. Graney's work often has the disoriented feeling of a dream, with simple movements holding significant meaning. Tiny household objects can trigger a big emotional resonance. You come away from the theater knowing a little bit more about the artist, but also much more about yourself. (Through Sun.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, $20. 7:30 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ FRIDAY 10/22 Stage: Women on the Verge An elderly matron on her deathbed reflects on the pain and pleasure of living—including remembrances of a philandering husband and gay son. Edward Albee has long since confessed that his Three Tall Women, a 1994 Pulitzer winner, draws on his own strained family ties. It sounds depressing, but the play's ultimately a witty, wrenching quest for "the happiest moment," as Albee finally phrases it. In a bracing bit of theatricality, Women has its dying heroine—simply called A—interact with herself at various prior ages (thus B and C). After commanding the lead of the Rep's worthy Wit staging, Megan Cole lends her stentorian presence to the matron, A. Local favorites Suzanne Bouchard and Alexandra Tavares represent the woman in, respectively, her meditative midlife and idealistic 20s. They're guided by director Allison Narver, whose eye and ear for human frailty—proven in New Century's Orange Flower Water and ACT's Eurydice—make her arguably the tallest woman in a formidable crowd. (Through Nov. 28.) Seattle Repertory Theater, 155 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 443-2222, $10–$47. 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING SATURDAY 10/23 Comedy: The Roots of Schrute Growing up in North Seattle, Rainn Wilson recalls being "a comedy nerd." Today a star on The Office, where he portrays power-hungry Dwight Schrute, he remembers "watching the old Monty Python shows and taping them directly off the TV by holding a cassette audio recorder up to the television. This was pre–video recorder. Anytime there was a Monty Python movie playing at the Neptune . . . we would [go]. I would walk down to Aurora Village, [where] I think I saw Airplane! three times the week it came out." Tonight, Wilson returns to his comedy homeland in a benefit show for the Mona Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit that "scours the world for educational initiatives—home-grown educational initiatives, grassroots schools—that are already working. Then we provide financial support for their needs." The Office, Wilson notes, has returned him to another childhood comedy fixation—sitcom ensembles. "I loved Barney Miller, and Taxi was a big favorite of mine. I remember on Bob Newhart, I loved the comic supporting characters more than Bob himself. I never dreamed that you could make a living at that. Then I got the theater bug. I did plays for 10 years in New York. I didn't see a correlation between acting in plays and [sitcoms]. Then I started having some success in L.A. and realized, 'This is my roots! This is what I grew up watching and obsessing over!'" Tonight, says Wilson, "I'm not gonna do sketches. I'm gonna goof around with the audience. I've squirreled away about 27 jokes over the years. And most of them will just get groans. But that's OK, because I have this truly funny guy, Craig Robinson, to help; and then I have some really talented musicians to back me up." Namely: The Presidents of the United States of America, Sean Nelson, and Eric Corson and John Roderick (of The Long Winters). Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-STG-4TIX, $27.50. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Food: Painting the Town Brown The Northwest Chocolate Festival is a dieter's worst nightmare. Featuring chocolatiers from across the country, it offers a weekend's worth of tastings, lectures, and classes. (Ever wanted to learn to sculpt a three-foot chocolate centerpiece for your next party? Here's your chance!) You can also mold your own truffles, whip up a spicy mole sauce, purchase cocoa-butter beauty products, and ask industry experts questions—like why the hell your chocolate bar turns white when stored in the fridge. Things get even more decadent at tonight's 21-and-over Chocolate Masquerade Ball, where attendees are encouraged to dress in costume for live music, dancing, local wine and chocolate pairings, and—wait for it—flowing chocolate fountains. (Through Sun.) Seattle Center (Northwest Rooms), 305 Harrison St., 684-7200, $12.50–$15. 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. (Ball: 7 p.m.–1 a.m., $20.) ERIKA HOBART Visual Arts: Depicted as Charged "I'm fascinated by history," says Seattle artist Chris Crites, but not its heroes or noble events. Instead, in our Washington state archives, he explains, "I'm one of the few odd people who goes in there looking for old mug shots. They're all public domain." And it's the 90-odd faces of old felons that stare back at you in his new show "Yard Waste and Toilet Paper"—brown paper bags and cardboard rolls being the humble materials on which he repaints the perps' somewhat stunned faces. They're not convicted criminals yet, but in the attached records and booking slips (which he sometimes also recreates), "I get to read and discover what they've been charged with . . . the horrific and the completely mundane." Thus one glum woman is being booked for the unlikely crime of arson; another guy is charged with killing his livestock before a bank auction. (In today's economy, Crites notes, this is like trashing your house after you stop making mortgage payments.) Most of his subjects are culled from the '40s and '50s, and most from the Northwest, a period when men wore hats and ties and women wore skirts, even if they were about to enter jail. These hopheads, shoplifters, and adulterers cling to their dignity as the flashbulb pops. (Ends Oct. 30.) Rock|DeMent Gallery, 304 S. Washington St. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 778-3157, Free. Noon–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Sports: Balls of Fury! The Mortal Kombat of ping-pong will pit local stars against top-level athletes at the Seattle City Table Tennis Championships, which promises literal balls-to-the-wall tabletop action for the entire weekend. The tournament is open to competitors in 15 age brackets and skill categories. Prepubescents and octogenarians alike will have the chance to compete for more than $2,400 in prizes. (The prize last year? A homemade trophy made from a net-height measurer, a ball holder, and a paddle-rubber cleaner. Classy.) Last year's champ, Michael Wang, may attempt to defend his crown in the open men's category (the final is a best-of-seven series). Fans are invited to watch during each day's final round; tonight includes the high-school singles. Get your paddles ready! Green Lake Community Center, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. N., 684-0780, $2. 7 p.m. (Sunday open singles finals at 3 p.m.) FERNANDO SIOSON

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