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Short List: May 22 - 29 

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Spotlight: Sat., May 25 — Exhibit

All the hoopla over that nesting pair of bald eagles along the Mon, in Hays — and their presumably adorable eaglet — obscures the fact that not all birds of prey are so revered. Take vultures. They won't win any beauty contests, and feasting on carrion isn't a ticket to Animal Planet celebrity. (Has anyone ever put a vulture on money?) But without vultures to eat, say, dead cattle, populations of feral dogs and cats would boom, and diseases like rabies would spread. That's just what's happened in parts of Asia, where vulture population cratered thanks to a drug ranchers fed cattle. This eco-knowledge and more is embedded in Talons!, the otherwise upbeat and fast-paced new indoor live-flight show at the National Aviary. Imposing creatures like a male and female Eurasian eagle-owl sweep overhead; a lightning-quick Lanner falcon snatches from mid-air a snack tossed by trainers like Aviary manager of animal training Cathy Schlott (pictured). Along with a couple hooded vultures (native to Africa), peregrine falcons and even the common crow figure into the show, complete with its own "forest" set, light and sound show, and video projections. Talons! has two shows daily starting May 25. It's all enough to make you want to hug a vulture. Bill O'Driscoll Noon and 2:30 p.m. daily. 700 Arch St., North Side. $5 plus Aviary admission ($11-13). 412-323-7235 or www.aviary.org

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Thu., May 23 — Music

Like Sondheim? You'll get a lovely earful at Side by Side by Sondheim, the ever-popular musical revue newly staged by Pittsburgh CLO. It's 34 songs from classic shows like Company, Follies and Anyone Can Whistle, plus selections from works the Broadway master co-composed, like Gypsy and West Side Story. Tunes including "You Must Meet My Wife," "Broadway Baby" and "Send in the Clowns" are performed by a cast of four: Billy Hepfinger, Daniel Krell, Caroline Nicolian and Broadway vet Lenora Nemetz. A summer-long run starts tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 7:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 18. CLO Cabaret, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $34.75-39.75. 412-456-6666 or www.clocabaret.com

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Thu., May 23 — Comedy

Tonight, comedian John Henton visits the Steel City for the first of six shows this weekend at Pittsburgh Improv. Starting in 1993, Henton swapped the comedy-club audience for a laugh track in a sitcom stint that included roles in Living Single and The Hughleys, but now this Cleveland native revisits his standup roots. In recent routines, Henton picks apart topics such as parental discipline, rap songs and weird stuff on the news. Olivia Lammel 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., May 26. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, West Homestead. $15 (subsequent shows are $17). 412-462-5233 or www.pittsburgh.improv.com 

Sat., May 25 — Words

Pittsburgh-based Creative Nonfiction marks its 20th year as a top outlet for true stories, artfully told. Today, the quarterly's founder, Lee Gutkind, welcomes working and aspiring writers to the inaugural Best of Creative Nonfiction Conference with a talk titled "Why True Stories Matter." Afternoon panels Downtown include talks about the craft and business of creative nonfiction, with local luminaries including memoirist Jane Bernstein; nurse and author Theresa Brown; and Creative Nonfiction managing editor Hattie Fletcher. In writerly fashion, the day ends with a happy hour. BO 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (Registration for Sunday's workshops is closed.) $150-165. Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Ave., Downtown. www.creativenonfiction.org

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Sat., May 25 — Fireworks

Not that there'll be any shortage of them this summer, but you can likely get your largest and most concentrated dose of fireworks at today's Pyrofest. The annual Hartwood Acres show includes live music and food along with the flashing and booming of several different expert pyro groups. Bands include Cello Fury and The Clarks. Fireworks highlights include "Rock Love II," a sequel to last year's climactic display, and a show by Spain's Ricardo Caballer Ricasa, the internationally acclaimed outfit whose credits include the closing ceremonies at the 2000 Sidney Olympics. BO 3-11 p.m. Middle Road, Hampton Township. $13-60 (free for kids 6 and

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  • Art by Crista Pisano

Tue., May 28 — Art

Few art movements are as closely identified with a single landscape as is the 19th century's Hudson River School Painters. Its heirs include Crista Pisano, who lives near New York's Hudson Valley and paints in some of the same locations as her artistic forebears. Working in oils, in plein air and on a small scale, she's also inspired by scenes in North Carolina, the Adirondacks and coastal Maine, and by the marshes of Connecticut. An exhibit of Pisano's work, titled Marshes, Mountains, and Fields: Small Landscapes, Big Views, opens today at Box Heart Expressions. A public reception with the artist is set for June 1. BO 11 a.m-6 p.m. 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-687-8858 or www.boxheartgallery.com

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Sat., May 25 — Stage

In 2005, Nathan James debuted his solo show Growing Pains, about coming up black in Pittsburgh, amidst street violence, in the 1990s. The spoken-word work then lay dormant for some years. James himself kept busy: The Kuntu Repertory Theatre alum attended grad school for acting, remained a top-ranked slam poet, acted on The Wire and was singled out by The New York Times for his work in a production of Strindberg's Easter. But last year, following the killing of Florida teen-ager Trayvon Martin, something angered James: He'd watched mainstream rappers rally to the cause of jailed rap star Lil Wayne while remaining virtually silent over outrages like Martin's death and the controversial execution of Georgia inmate Troy Davis. In hopes of offering a more socially conscious vision — and with the help of a fellowship from the August Wilson Center for African American Culture — James revived and retooled Growing Pains. A few poems remain from the original, but now there are more stories and characters, and James says the piece is structured better. The 75-minute show includes autobiographical material about growing up in Beltzhoover, uneasily poised between street life and the arts, and scenes with fictional characters like "Venom," a posturing rapper. In October, James performed Growing Pains at the prestigious United Solo Theater Festival, on New York City's Theatre Row. On Sat., May 25, the revamped Growing Pains gets its Pittsburgh premiere as part of the Wilson Center's annual First Voice Festival. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Sat., May 25. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $10. 412-258-2700 or www.augustwilsoncenter.org

Tue., May 28 — Music

If you were touring with Stanley Turrentine nearly 50 years ago, you qualify as a jazz legend. But drummer Roger Humphries went on to do much more, and he's still doing it. From classic recordings with the Horace Silver Quintet to sessions with everyone from Lionel Hampton to Nancy Wilson, Humphries is nationally celebrated, and known locally as a music educator. At 69, he remains a mainstay of the scene, anchoring weekly jams at CJ's Lounge, in the Strip. Tonight, Humphries holds down the early slot at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's free weekly JazzLive series at Downtown's Backstage Bar. If you want more, the late show features renowned bassist Dwayne Dolphin. Next week, the series moves outdoors, to Katz Plaza, for the summer. BO 5-8 p.m. (Late show: 8-11 p.m.). 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

Wed., May 29 — Talk

This week, Pittsburgh Glass Center hosts world-renowned contemporary glass artists Janusz Pozniak and Christopher McElroy. Tonight these artists-in-residence break from teaching week-long classes to discuss their work with the broader community of collectors and artists. This is a chance for glass-art junkies to interrogate the masters and find out what moves them to create their strange and striking sculptures. The weekly talks continue the Center's weekly summer lecture series. OL 6 p.m. 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship. Free. 412-365-2145 or www.pittsburghglasscenter.org

Thu., May 30 — Stage

"And in general music is a terrifying thing! What is it? I don't understand it. What is music? What does it do? And why does it do what it does? They say music exalts the soul. Nonsense, it is not true!" The protagonist of Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata was undone by a tune — one that suggested that his wife was cheating with an old friend of his. But was she? Pozdnyshev, the stranger on this train, tells his story again in Irish playwright Nancy Harris' stage adaptation. The play's Pittsburgh premiere, from Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, features Martin Giles as Pozdnyshev, and Beethoven's music performed live by Juan Jaramillo and Alaine Fink. Alan Stanford directs; the first performance is tonight. BO 8 p.m. Continues through June 22. Henry Heymann Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $25-48. 412-561-6000 or www.picttheatre.org

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