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Short List: Week of November 12 - 19 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF TOM ALTANY
  • Courtesy of Tom Altany

There is familiarity and comfort in visiting the same coffee shop every morning, or eating lunch at the same café. What happens when our routines are disrupted is the focus of Attack Theatre's Incident[s] in the Strip, which premieres Nov. 13-21 at the dance troupe's new Strip District home, in Pittsburgh Opera's headquarters. Recurring sequences of images -- "systems," company member Liz Chang calls them -- populate Incident[s]. Attack's five dancers perform them to a new composition by Attack's musical director, Grammy nominee Dave Eggar, in characteristic athletic and attacking movement style. Rather than portray fictional characters, such as carnival performers, as they have in recent shows, here the performers play themselves, re-living everyday paths like the route to work. Incident[s] explores what drives its characters, and their human interactions, before introducing a series of "incidents" that will irrevocably alter them. The incidents, says Chang, are not sensational, but more subtle human encounters, like a lovers' spat. (Chang, 27, sees parallels in her own life. A ballerina growing up, Chang left dance for the chemistry lab after high school. But an incidental encounter with a modern-dance teacher at Drexel University set her on a new path that led to Pittsburgh and Attack Theatre.) Another twist involves the venue -- and the Strip itself. For the show's first half, the audience will occupy risers, looking down on the dancers. But during intermission -- featuring free beer and JJ Byers' video exploring the Strip from the perspective of skateboarder (and Attack drummer) Chuck Palmer -- the audience and dancers will swap places, with the dancers on the risers for part two. Steve Sucato Fri., Nov. 13-Nov. 21. 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. $15-25. 412-394-3353 or www.attacktheatre.com

 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF TRUDY O'NAN
  • Courtesy of Trudy O'Nan

Thu., Nov. 12 -- Words

Stewart O'Nan grew up in Pittsburgh, watching cartoons and George Romero movies. He left to become an engineer, and quit that to be a writer. His short-story collection In the Walled City won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 1993, and his first novel, Snow Angels, became a movie. His latest novel, Songs for the Missing, follows a family searching for a missing daughter. O'Nan, now of Connecticut, discusses the book and signs copies tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Melissa Meinzer 7 p.m. 2705 E. Carson St., South Side. Free. 412-381-3600

 

Thu., Nov. 12 -- Stage

The tale of a family more ruthless and duplicitous than Arrested Development's corrupt Bluths, The Little Foxes opens at Pittsburgh Public Theater tonight. With familial blackmail and betrayal in the name of the holy dollar, Lillian Hellman's 1939 classic has been adapted into an opera, and also a film starring Bette Davis as the treacherous Regina. Acclaimed local actress Helena Ruoti plays the role tonight in the Ted Pappas-directed production. Lucy Leitner 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 13. O'Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.50-55. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

 

Thu., Nov 12 -- Rock

If it isn't already, tonight's show at Smiling Moose makes a case for Minneapolis as our frozen-north math-rocky sister city. Two bands from there play, Zebulon Pike and Self-Evident. The latter is described fittingly in Losing Today as "how Rush may have sounded had they formed 30 years later and been weaned on a diet of Fugazi and Q and Not U." I mean, Self-Evident has lyrics about hearing your own voice with tape delay ... and that's halfway to "Spirit of Radio." Also on the bill are locals Coal Miner and Abrelos Ojos. Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com

 

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Fri., Nov. 13 -- Stunts

Though less prestigious than clown college, the Not Quite Pittsburgh Juggling Festival offers lessons on such neglected arts as unicycling, stilt-walking and, of course, juggling. With vendors offering the latest in jester paraphernalia, the two-day sequel to last year's successful Sewickley gathering of aspiring fools features such games as quarter-juggling and "three blind ball." Also, Bill Roddy demonstrates juggle art, creating Jackson Pollock-esque works by juggling items that paint in mid-air. LL 6 p.m. Also Sat., Nov. 14. Quaker Valley Middle School, 201 Graham St., Sewickley. Donations accepted. www.allinjest.com

 

Fri., Nov. 13 -- Rock

It's November, and punks all over the city know what that means: A.D.D. Fest. The yearly tradition dates back to the dark days before the Mr. Roboto Project, but has been held there as long as the venue has existed (which, by the by, is 10 years). Check out 11 new bands (OK, that's not part of the tradition -- inflation, perhaps?) play 10 minutes apiece, and celebrate 10 years of Roboto. The bands: Forest Dweller, Broken Neck, Secret Tombs, Ragweed Season, Virgin Birth, Cottonballman, Heartless, Coal Miner, Tay-Sach, Dire Wolves and Twin Towers. Art by Adam Pecharka will be displayed too. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 722 Wood St., Wilkinsburg. $5-10. All ages. www.therobotoproject.org

 

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Fri., Nov. 13 -- Music

Chicago's Pillars and Tongues isn't a rock band, per se: The trio deals in something verging on jazz, but often remains more in the realm of ambience, or even meditation. The band, at The Nerve tonight, plays improv -- slowly unfolding improv that takes its time to find a direction. Fans of low-key free jazz, ambient, and even intense poetry (at times the band's album, Protection, is slightly reminiscent of Daniel Higgs) can enjoy moments of beauty and clarity in the music. AM 9 p.m. 500 Dargan St., Bloomfield. 412-951-0622

 

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Fri., Nov 13 -- Rock

Drivin' N Cryin' may have started out in Atlanta way back in 1985, but the band's blue-collar hard rock with heart is still front-and-center on its latest, Great American Bubble Factory. The album kicks off with "Detroit City," a tribute in sound and sentiment to the supercharged garage of The Stooges and MC5. "I want you settled in, riled up, loaded for bear and somewhere out there on the road in search of the great American dream," says singer Kevn Kinney of the new album. Tonight, though, he'd rather you be at Thunderbird Café, where Drivin' N Cryin' performs along with opener Silent Wire. AJ 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $15 ($20 day of show). 412-682-0177 or www.thunderbird.net

 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF ARUP
  • Courtesy of Arup

Sat., Nov. 14 -- Art 

Cecil Balmond isn't technically an artist. But his H_edge may fool you. A structural engineer, Balmond is known for merging his mathematically based discipline with architecture to create uniquely aesthetic mechanical works that also suggest organic forms. On display starting today at the Carnegie Museum of Art, H_edge consists of 6,000 aluminum plates that appear to hang from the ceiling, but are actually standing on the floor. Light boxes add the illusion of animation. LL 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through April. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $11-15. 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

 

Sat., Nov. 14 -- Music

Bringing a brown-bag lunch to the opera seems a bit like driving a monster truck to a red-carpet event. But that's exactly what Pittsburgh Opera suggests you do. Every second Saturday, the Opera's resident artists perform a lunchtime revue of opera and Broadway hits for an audience munching on either their own culinary creations or the organic specialties from Strip District neighbor Right By Nature. Pre-ordered gourmet lunches start at $9 for adults and $5 for kids, but the culture is absolutely free. LL Noon. 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. 412-281-0912 or www.pittsburghopera.org

 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF ERIK ROSE
  • Courtesy of Erik Rose

Sat., Nov. 14 -- Dance

Bodiography Contemporary Ballet presents its annual showcase of local dance, music and art. Multiplicity '09 opens with music by Cello Fury (with former members of Cellofourte), and includes a display of work by sculptor Eric Rose. Bodiography members then join guest artists Claudia Morris Lawrey and Ilana Suprun Clyde to offer an eclectic array of dance works sampling ballet, modern and jazz styles. Program highlights include the latest from Bodiography artistic director Maria Caruso, a tribute to breast-cancer survivors called "No More Bad Hair Days." Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Also 2 p.m. Sun., Nov. 15. Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $12-15. 412-521-6094, x5

 

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Mon., Nov. 16 -- Words

Junot Diaz's Pulitzer-winning first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, transports readers into the unique spaces inhabited by Dominicans, Americans, immigrants, city kids, fat kids and nerds. The language there and in his short stories -- published in magazines and in the collection Drown -- combines slang, English and Spanish to a disconcerting and intoxicating effect. The Dominican-born MIT writing professor is also noted for activism around Haitian and Dominican labor and immigration, often teaming with author Edwidge Danticat. He visits the Carnegie Lecture Hall tonight for the Drue Heinz Lecture Series. Melissa Meinzer 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-25. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org 

 

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Tue., Nov. 17 -- Music

Before you dismiss Shotgun Party as another half-assed nostalgia act trying to recreate old country-and-western, hear us out. The Austin band, fronted by velvety-voiced Jenny Parrott, does retro country, and does it well, but isn't just in it for the sound. Parrott's simple but clever songwriting stands out where so many lesser bands are content to recycle old tropes and boring rhymes; the songs on this year's Mean Old Way are a cut above even the solid effort the band turned in on its self-titled debut. Charismatic, energetic and poetic, this is one party you'd be wise to crash tonight at Howlers. With Leo Rondeau, The Armadillos and Beagle Brothers. AM 8 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-0320

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