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Short List: November 25 - December 3

Food-sustainability author Simran Sethi; the Kill Tony comedy podcast; Suite Life, a Billy Strayhorn tribute; and Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng

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FREE EVENT: Wed., Dec. 2 — Words

Simran Sethi always loved food, but it wasn’t until she read a 2002 interview about world hunger with agricultural expert Anuradha Mittal that she learned that food could be political. “I started to pay attention to the longer stories around food, and not just how it’s made in my kitchen, but the stories of the farmers and where it comes from,” says Sethi by phone from New York. Since then, Sethi has been committed to food sustainability. The award-winning San Francisco-based journalist and documentarian, an associate at the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute, hosted the Emmy-winning PBS documentary A School in the Woods. This week, Sethi visits Pittsburgh for two readings. Her new book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, explores the global loss of agricultural biodiversity, which has reduced the majority of our food to five ingredients: corn, wheat, rice, palm oil and soybeans. Ninety-five percent of the world’s calories come from only 30 species. This makes the few species we do grow susceptible to climate change and disease, which can wipe out entire species. “I wanted to tell the story of this loss through [foods] that meant something to me,” she says. Kelechi Urama 7 p.m. Wed., Dec. 2 (East End Book Exchange, Bloomfield; www.eastendbookexchange.com) and 5:30 p.m. Thu., Dec. 3 (Welker Room, Chatham University, Shadyside; www.chatham.edu)

Fri., Nov. 27 — Screen

It’s aimed at kids, but there’ll surely be grown-up film fans in the house when the Harris Theater screens classic holiday shorts. Today, and continuing on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20, Pittsburgh Filmmakers offers these 30-plus films dating from 1901 to the 1990s, including rarities from Thomas Edison’s studio and vintage animations from masters like Max Fleischer and Ub Iwerks. The Harris programming, part of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s seasonal Kidsplay events on the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, also include arts and crafts and a reading room in the theater downstairs lobby. Bill O’Driscoll Noon-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 20. 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. www.downtownpittsburgh.com

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Fri., Nov. 27 — Marketplace

If shop you must, where better to spend your alternative Black Friday than in a former mall? The ninth annual I Made It! for the Holidays, Pittsburgh’s nomadic pop-up indie craft market, decamps today and tomorrow at Nova Place, on the North Side, previously known as Allegheny Center Mall. Check out wares from some 100 artists from the region, most selling handmade goods with a contemporary feel (and many crafted from recycled or repurposed materials). Those offerings are supplemented by vintage and curated goods from the Neighborhood Flea. While browsing for clothing, jewelry, housewares, artwork and more, don’t forget the craft activities for kids, the free entertainment, or the de rigueur food trucks. Bill O’Driscoll Noon-8 p.m. Also 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., Nov. 28. 100 South Commons, North Side. www.imadeitmarket.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL G. WIEGMAN
  • Photo courtesy of Paul G. Wiegman

Fri., Nov. 27 — Exhibit

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ popular Winter Flower Show and Light Garden returns for another magical run. Starting tonight, the outdoor Light Garden boasts a spectacular display of lights and custom-built props, and, in the glass house, the Winter Flower Show brings Christmas classic “Deck the Halls” to life with colorful poinsettias, LED light arrangements, and a massive evergreen in the Victoria Room. In the Serpentine Room, children can search for tiny troll figures hidden throughout the displays. Kelechi Urama 5-11 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 10. One Schenley Park, Oakland. $11-15. 412-622-6914 or www.phipps.conservatory.org 

Fri., Nov. 27 — Comedy

On Deathsquad.tv’s popular video podcast Kill Tony, comedians do a one-minute set that’s then critiqued live by a panel of comics; the feedback can be brutal (“Eric, you’re pretty much unbearable”). The Los Angeles-based show is seeking 7 to 10 Pittsburgh comedians to sign up for tonight’s tour stop at Arcade Comedy Theater. Afterward, at Arcade’s late standup show, check out the comedy chops of none other than Kill Tony host Tony Hinchcliffe and Deathsquad.tv founder Brian Redban themselves. They’re joined by Pittsburgh’s own Aaron Kleiber. BO Kill Tony: 8 p.m. ($10). Standup show: 10 p.m. ($15). 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20 for both shows. 412-339-0608 or www.arcadecomedytheater.com

Sat., Nov. 28 — Shopping

Some will find it ironic that Small Business Saturday was founded, in 2010, by American Express. And why, after all, do you need a special holiday (let alone a corporate imprimatur) to patronize your friendly neighborhood storefronts? But in case you do, today is it. Dozens of local businesses are official participants, and some establishments are offering special treats (like the free samples, live music and more at Pittsburgh Public Market, in the Strip). Small Business Saturday is also your sanctioned lull between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, not to mention Leftovers Sunday. BO www.shopsmall.americanexpress.com

Sat., Nov. 28 — Stage

Maybe it’s her charming British accent, but preschoolers go whole hog for Peppa Pig. The star of her own animated Entertainment One series on Nick Jr., Peppa and her friends are big enough to warrant their first U.S. theatrical tour, which hits the Byham Theater for one show today. Peppa Pig’s Big Splash, an extravaganza built around a fundraiser to repair the nursery’s leaky roof. Expect singing, dancing, interactive fun and plenty of mud. BO 5 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $37.25-52.25. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK SIMPSON
  • Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson

Sat., Nov. 28 — Music 

Of all the local tributes to Billy Strayhorn in this, the centennial of his birth, tonight’s is the first in a theater named partly for him, and located around the corner from Homewood, where the famed pianist and composer grew up. The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater hosts Suite Life, a benefit concert featuring Grammy-winning trumpeter Sean Jones and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. This celebration of Duke Ellington’s collaborator on tunes like “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Lush Life” also features Anqwenique Wingfield, one of Pittsburgh’s most in-demand vocalists. Admission is “pay what makes you happy,” and proceeds from Suite Life benefit the Strayhorn Legacy Fund, supporting the Kelly-Strayhorn’s youth and family programming. The concert is preceded at nearby Hotel Indigo by the Lush Life Masquerade, a masks-and-boas ’do complete with buffet and beverages; tickets include priority seating for the concert. BO Masquerade: 6-7:30 p.m. ($100-175). Concert: 8 p.m. (7 p.m. mixer; pay-what-makes-you-happy). 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

Mon., Nov. 30 — Stage

The Dramatists Guild is the national professional association of playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists, and it’s got a Pittsburgh contingent. Tonight, the Guild and City Theatre present their first-ever evening of curated readings by local playwrights. A diverse line-up of talents reading excerpts of their work include Scott Barotti, Tameka Cage-Conley, Kim El, Amy Gijsbers van Wijk, Levi Jelks and Paul Kruse. The program, organized by Guild regional rep Gab Cody and City’s Claire Drobot, includes mixing time, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. BO 6-9 p.m. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. Free 

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Tue., Dec. 1 — Talk

One of China’s best-known expatriate dissidents speaks at City of Asylum tonight. Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught lawyer and human-rights activist who has been blind since infancy and who was illiterate until his late teens. In 2012, he made international headlines when he escaped house arrest in his home country and fled to the U.S embassy in Beijing. Chen, 44, now lives with his wife and two children in the Washington, D.C., area. Tonight, he will read in Chinese (with an interpreter) from his memoir The Barefoot Lawyer. BO 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. reception). 330 Sampsonia Way, North Side. Free. www.cityofasylumpittsburgh.org

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Thu., Dec. 3 — Party

The National Aviary hosts Night Before Christmas, a one-of-a kind holiday event. This family-friendly night is packed with fun, seasonal activities, such as a holiday movie in the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater, popcorn, storytime with Mrs. Claus and the penguins, and a chance for attendees to get up-close-and-personal with wintery owls and nutcracking macaws. Guests can also make decorated ornaments to place outside and feed wild birds. KU 5-9 p.m. 700 Arch St., North Side. $13-14 (free for children under 2). 412-323-7235 or www.aviary.org

Thu., Dec. 3 — Outdoors

Explore Pittsburgh’s beautiful fall landscape during Venture Outdoors Woods Run Top to Bottom: Urban Fitness Hike. The advanced-level hike begins at the top of Observatory Hill, where participants will work up a sweat by heading down Riverview Park’s trails and following Woods Run to the Ohio River. At the end of the four- to five-mile hike, return to the Allegheny Observatory for a scenic nighttime view of the city. KU 6-9:30 p.m. 159 Riverview Park, North Side. $8-12. 412-255-0564 or www.ventureoutdoors.org


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