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Short List: May 22 - 29

Everything Is Terrible! visits the Melwood; fireWALL Dance stages its first full-length show; Box Heart Gallery goes modern+contemporary; and Jarmusch's Dead Man screens at the Hollywood.

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SPOTLIGHT: Sun., May 25 — Screen

We are currently at peak '90s nostalgia. We also have no shortage of artists sampling and recontextualizing ready-made bits of audiovisual material from every time and place they can think of. But very few of these artists can maintain the balance between humor and intelligence quite as well as the gang behind YouTube sensation and unlikely touring company Everything Is Terrible! Nic Maier, a.k.a. Commodore Gilgamesh, is one of the video artists for the project. "We take old VHS tapes from the '80s and '90s and remix them into a psychedelic and comedic mashup," he says. But in most cases, the majority of the psychedelia comes from the source material itself. Nic and his band of plunderers just make tweaks, stretching out highs and tightening lows to point out just how hilariously absurd these clips are. This tour, they're presenting two new compilations, a collection of so-bad-it's-good stand-up comedy called Comic Relief Zero and EIT! Does the Hip Hop, a retrospective of what Nic describes as "corporate rap, used to sell stamps and Egg McMuffins," where the commercialism and the history of the music "cancel each other out in kind of a yin and yang situation." It should be smart, funny, subtly political and, well, terrible! Dan Willis 8 p.m. Sun., May 25. Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland. $10. 412-681-5449 or theaters.pittsburgharts.org

Thu., May 22 — Stage

Let's make this plain — because Johnny Cash would have. Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, getting its Pittsburgh premiere courtesy of the CLO Cabaret, is not a bio of the Man in Black, nor does it mimic a concert. Rather, performers in Richard Maltby Jr.'s 2006 show use Cash songs like the title tune, "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Daddy Sang Bass" to illuminate scenes of characters moving through life. The first performance of this summer-long production at the Cabaret at Theater Square is tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 7:30 p.m. Show continues through Aug. 17. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $39.75-44.75. 412-456-6666 or www.pittsburghclo.org

Fri., May 23 — Talk

Creative Nonfiction, the Pittsburgh-based literary magazine that has won the support of writers from Dave Eggers to Dear Sugar's Cheryl Strayed, hosts its first annual Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference starting today at Oakland's University Club. Along with discussions of craft, an entire day will be devoted to independent and digital publishing. Featuring lectures from magazine founder Lee Gutkind and National Book Prize winner Dinty W. Moore, the conference hopes to put some control back into the hands of unpublished writers. Dan Willis 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Continues through Sun., May 25. 123 University Place, Oakland. Single-day registrations start at $125. 412-688-0304 or www.creativenonfiction.org

Fri., May 23 — Stage

Point Park University's Playhouse Jr. has spent 65 seasons entertaining young people. Appropriately, it's closing this big anniversary year with a modern classic about geeky kids on the edge. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's Tony-winning 2004 musical about six kids trying to put all the letters in the right order for cash, all while seeking to please their parents. Four selected audience members also get in on the fun in a show the New York Times called "irresistible" and "refreshingly hand-crafted." Zeva Barzell directs this new production, recommended for audiences ages 13 and older, which opens tonight. BO 7 p.m. Show continues through June 8. 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $7. 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

Firewall Dance theater at off the wall performing arts center
  • Photo by Heather Mull

Fri., May 23 — Dance

Brand-new dance troupe fireWALL Dance Theater presents its first full-length show. On the Rox depicts six characters in a cocktail lounge, each of whom tells his or her story in dance. The work, created by the dancers and choreographer/dancer Elisa-Marie Alaio, is one of the first to take place at the likewise newly rebranded Off the Wall Performing Arts Center (formerly Off the Wall Theater). On the Rox will be performed six times over two weekends, starting tonight. BO 8 p.m. Continues through May 31. 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. $5-20. 724-873-3576 or www.insideoffthewall.com

Fri., May 23 — Screen

"The Race to the Coffin Comedy Tour," goes its press release, "is the collective efforts of five young comics from Pittsburgh who believe their ambition and potential exceed their life expectancy." The DIY tour boasts that it "has yet to make a dime." But John Dick Winters, Alex Stypula, Jesse Irvin, Tim Ross and Shannon Norman have made a DVD. And tonight they premiere this standup-comedy special, titled Social Suicide Pact, at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room. The ticket price includes a DVD and (for those of age) complimentary beer — always helpful in social-suicide situations. BO 8 p.m. 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland. $10. racetothecoffin@gmail.com

Sat., May 24 — Fireworks

Pyrofest returns for Memorial Day weekend. Not to be confused with Pyrotopia (the fire-arts festival earlier this month), Pyrofest is straight-up fireworks and live music. The Hartwood Acres gates open at 3 p.m.; fireworks start at 5:30 p.m. with some daylight displays. Bands including Johnny Angel & The Halos and Brooklyn-based alt-country act The Defibulators lead to the big after-dark shows, which include a production by Spain's Ricardo Caballer Ricasa Fireworks. The capper is the world premiere of "Whole Lotta Love," a "pyro-musical" set to popular love songs. BO 3-11 p.m. $14-70 (free for children under 6). Hampton Township. 800-854-4705 or www.pyrofest.com

box heart gallery
  • Art by Mark Loebach

Sat., May 24 — Art

Tonight, Box Heart Gallery holds its reception for modern+contemporary, an exhibit exploring the multiplicity of modern artistic vision through works by five very different emerging visual artists from across the country. New York's Jennifer Satterly presents selections from her solo exhibit Luxe, a collection of photorealistic oil paintings that depict luxury goods ranging from tastefully understated to downright ostentatious. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh artist Mark Loebach offers a retrospective of his pan-American pastel-colored landscapes. Also showing works are Cara Livorio, Melissa Kuntz and Daria Sandburg. DW 5 p.m. 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-687-8858 or www.boxheartgallery.com

Magenta POP: Pittsburgh
  • Art by Ivette Spradlin and Jason Snyder.

Sun., May 25 — Art

You don't normally see art photography displayed outdoors, but some local photographers and the folks at Toronto's Magenta Foundation, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Fairmount Pittsburgh have found a way. The second installment of Magenta POP: Pittsburgh features work by Lori Hepner, Ivette Spradlin and Jason Snyder, displayed on bus shelters and even on the sidewalks in Downtown's Triangle Park, just across from the hotel. Using special durable materials, Hepner offers her series "Code Words"; Spradlin bases her "The Oval Portrait" on an Edgar Allan Poe story; and Snyder makes a "Wetplate Portraiture Statement." The work's up — and down — all summer. BO Liberty Avenue, Downtown. www.downtownpittsburgh.com

BNY Mellon's JazzLive

Tue., May 27 — Music

BNY Mellon's JazzLive concert series and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust present jazz saxophonist and flautist Eric DeFade tonight at the Theater Square Backstage Bar. The Grammy-winner and Carnegie Mellon Jazz Ensemble director is seasoned, to say the least. Born and raised by musicians in Pittsburgh, he has gone on to tour with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Band and legendary blues-jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson. He's returning to his hometown to showcase his improvisatory prowess in a quartet featuring local talents Tom Wendt, Alton Merrell and Tony DePaolis. DW 5 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

Pittsburgh Glass Center

Wed., May 28 — Talk

Is there anything more relaxing than knitting? What about knitting with 2500°F glass? The Pittsburgh Glass Center hosts a series of free weekly lectures throughout the summer, and tonight, you can hear Carol Milner discuss her "knitted glass" technique, where interwoven strands of wax are casted to produce glass sculptures where filaments appear to be knitted together. Also speaking is Janusz Pozniak (pictured), who will describe his work with artists around the world, including Dale Chihuly. Workshops with visiting lecturers are also available throughout the summer. DW 6 p.m. 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship. Free. 412-365-2145 or www.pittsburghglasscenter.org

Thu., May 29 — Screen

From indie touchstones like Down by Law to his latest, the witty contemporary-vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch has long proffered a distinctive vision. Still, he might never have topped Dead Man, the 1995 revisionist Western starring Johnny Depp as a clueless Cleveland accountant who finds himself pursued by hired killers on the 19th-century frontier. Gorgeously shot in black and white, with a haunting electric-guitar score by Neil Young, the film is by turns surreal, hilarious, frightening and poetic, and features a terrific performance by Gary Farmer as a Native American named Nobody. The Hollywood Theater screens Dead Man four times this weekend, starting tonight. BO 7:30 p.m. Also 10 p.m. Fri., May 30, and 7 and 10 p.m. Sat., May 31. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $6-8. 412-563-0368 or www.thehollywooddormont.org

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