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Vodka, Vampires & Vikings

Stephin Merritt and Daniel Handler: Absinthe makes the heart grow... what was it? See Monday. (Photo by Michael Wilson)

FRIDAY, October 20

Must be 21 to read the following paragraph:

The lovely and fair folks of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Los Angeles hold their Annual Vodka Tasting. Sip the colorless liquor distilled from equally colorless potatoes or grains with these astonishingly colorless people. Many vodka connoisseurs tout Russian vodka as the original, but any Swede over 21 will boast that Absolut vodka is among the world’s finest, and they are putting it up to the test against 10 other world-famous brands. No flavored vodkas allowed. Yes, meatballs will be served. Call for resv. & location; Fri., Oct. 20, 6 p.m.; $39. (310) 393-9893.

SATURDAY, October 21

Now that you’ve mastered drinking like a real Swede, you are ready for the 24th annual Fall Scandinavian Festival. This year’s theme is “Once Upon a Time .?.?. Tomorrow .?.?. The Tale Wags the Dog,” which means, if this press release is to be believed, that everyone is invited to “share and enjoy stories told in music, mime, movement, dance and drama.” Yes, it really said “mime.” Arts & crap, costumes, more meatballs, kiddie stuff and a Nordic bar will all bring Scandinavian culture to life, as will, for some reason, World Cup Volleyball. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, 919 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., Oct. 21, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; $6. www.asfla.org.

For those of you who need more stress in your weekend, there’s RACE/LA. You and a partner are sent out on a fast-paced, clue-solving adventure all over the city. Since for many of us, that describes a normal weekday, this may not be your cup of tea. Call for registration info; Sat., Oct. 21, 9:30 a.m.; $140 per team. www.racela.com.

You’ll have to make a decision this weekend. There are two fantastic shows happening at the same time: The Decemberists, who, if you can get past the hype, are a welcome throwback to storytelling bands like Supertramp and ELO, and I mean that in the best possible way. Then there’s also the dilemma of not going to The Detroit Cobras, who, even though they mainly do covers of old ’60s garage rock songs, sound like nobody else with their refined ferocity. What a choice. Decemberists: The Wiltern, Wilshire Blvd. & Western Ave., L.A.; Sat., Oct. 21, 9 p.m.; $23.50. (213) 388-1400, Detroit Cobras: The Key Club, 9039 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Sat. Oct. 21, 7 p.m.; $15. (213) 480-3232.

SUNDAY, October 22

Where were you in ’62? If you were hanging out at Barney’s Beanery with Dennis Hopper, Ed Ruscha, Robert Longo, Frank Gehry and all those guys, you may spot yourself in the upcoming documentary Cool School: How L.A. Learned to Love Modern Art. The film is about the famous Ferus Gallery and will be released in 2007. Artists Ed Moses and Larry Bell play host to Ferus on Film: The Birth of the L.A. Art Scene 1957–1967. Works by the aforementioned artists, along with many others, will be on view, and there will be live jazz, a slide show, food, drinks, auction and tons of reminiscing. Sun., Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m.; Berman/Turner Projects, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; $75, $140 per couple. (213) 413-9200.

MONDAY, October 23

Putumayo World Music has done it again with Acoustic Africa, a collection of profoundly rich and beautiful songs that gently scream Serengeti at sunset. Three of the album’s performers come to town for Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa Tour with Habib Koité, Vusi Mahlasela and Dobet Gnahoré. This is a rare event, and should not be treated like just another Decemberists/Detroit Cobras show. El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Mon., Oct. 23, 8 p.m.; $29. (213) 936-6400.

Bring a kid, or just act like one, for Lemony Snicket Presents and Signs A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Thirteenth: The End featuring Stephin Merritt. In what is surely the longest event title of the week, you will not only get a reading by Mr. Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, but Merritt will perform songs from The Tragic Treasury with Handler as the Gothic Archies. Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., W.L.A.; Mon., Oct. 23, 6 p.m.; free, but you need to buy the book and get a ticket at Book Soup. (310) 659-3110 or www.booksoup.com. Also at the University of La Verne (wherever that is) on Oct. 24.

TUESDAY, October 24

What would you do if you were invisible? Here’s what one genius on the Internet says: “I would go into fansy restaruants and stick my dick in people drinks. I would go to football games and knock the ball out of the QB’s hand right before a throw. Eat for free.” Claude Rains has much different ideas in The Invisible Man, the 1933 version directed by James Whale. Skip work and go. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Tues., Oct. 24, 1:30 p.m.; free. (310) 440-4500.

WEDNESDAY, October 25

Move over, Rachael Ray, there’s a new home-entertainer in town. Amy Sedaris, actress, writer, sister of David, comes to town promoting I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. She explains the title:“Hello, and I like you — this is what you say when you invite someone into your home without having to say it out loud.” Her “helpful” tips include instructions on removing vomit stains, which concludes with “or just toss it, chances are you’ve stained it before.” Her recipe for cupcakes goes, “Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, ’cause I’m doing something wrong.” Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Wed., Oct. 25, 7 p.m. (310) 659-3110.

THURSDAY, October 26

It’s vampire season. Here are two primers to teach how you too can catch one: The Fearless Vampire Killers (Roman Polanski, 1967) and Return of the Vampire (Lew Landers, 1944). One has Roman Polanski, the other Bela Lugosi, both good vampire names. Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thurs., Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-FILM.?


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