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20 stellar things to do in NYC this week

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Winter Jazzfest 2016 at various locations, times and prices; Wed 13–Jan 17

WJF, a perennial highlight of NYC's annual jazz calendar, hosts its signature Greenwich Village marathon on Friday 15 and Saturday 16, preceded by two kick-off events—Dutch jazz-punk outfit the Ex at LPR and jazz-funk ensemble leader Kamasi Washington at Webster Hall—and one encore gig with sax quartet Rova.

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival at Village East Theatre; Thu 14–Jan 17; 2pm; Free–$65

This fest is dedicated to flicks inspired by the pioneering sci-fi writer, who authored iconic works like The Man In the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Anatomic Sheep? Check out shorts and feature films that deal with time travel, artificial intelligence, morality and beyond at this packed fan fest, which features a panel discussion on Amazon's new The Man In the High Castle series and screenings of films including Sympathy For the Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment. 

Metz + Bully at Bowery Ballroom; Wed 13; $18

Exuberantly unhinged noise-punk trio Metz blew many minds, if not speakers, with its incendiary self-titled Sub Pop debut back in 2012. The Toronto band returns to New York this year to air some tunes off last year's fittingly titled II, joined by Nashville grunge-rock outfit Bully, which echoes ’90s acts like the Breeders.

The Exponential Festival at various locations; Wed 13–Jan 22; 2pm; Various prices

Brooklyn finally gets its own January theater fest with this new one, in venues all over the borough. The works constitute the best of BK, including some pieces that have been produced before—so if you missed Title: Point’s horror-comedy Biter (Every Time I Turn Around) or Eliz Bent's Toilet Fire, here’s your shot. The big news is the return of Jessica Jelliffe and Jason Craig, the duo behind Banana Bag & Bodice. After too many seasons away from New York, they're bringing LongYarn to the Bushwick Starr; this inclusion raises the fest to a higher power. 

Ask Me Another at The Bell House; Mon 11; 7:30pm; $20

Dig into trivia, brainteasers, kooky comedy and music at a live taping of the beloved NPR radio show with host Ophira Eisenberg. Each month features special guests from the quirkiest corners of the media, including past VIPs Paul Feig, Brad Bird, Adrian Tomine and Lucy Lawless. This week, George Takei takes the stage.

Drunk Spelling Bee at The Creek and the Cave; Tue 12; 10pm; Free

Spell Mississippi without slurring a letter during this boozy event hosted by comics Jake Flores and Blake Midgette. The walking dictionary will get a P-R-I-Z-E, but everyone's technically a winner—it's a free comedy show, dammit! 

Yoko Ono, The Riverbed at Andrea Rosen Gallery; Tue 12–Jan 23; 10am; Free

Before she became famous as the woman who supposedly broke up the Beatles Ono was a Conceptual Art pioneer of considerable repute; in fact, she met her future husband, John Lennon, when he dropped in to see a show of her work at a London gallery. Since then she’s developed a career as a musician in her own right while also returning to her art. 

Circus Now at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; Thu 14–Jan 16; 8pm; $35–$59

Six neocirque troupes from Europe and North America are featured in this annual Skirball showcase, hosted by Sxip Shirey. Acrobatic Conundrum (U.S.) and Oktobre (France) are featured on January 14; on the next two nights, Sweden's Water on Mars and England's Barely Methodical Troupe share bills with with Canada's Andréane Leclerc/Nadère arts vivants (January 15) and the U.S.'s Aloft (January 16).

New York Jewish Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater (at Lincoln Center); Wed 13–Jan 26; noon; $14

Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum have teamed up for the 25th edition of this enormous festival event, which features screenings of noteworthy new pics like Natalie Portman's writing/directing debut A Tale of Love And Darkness and Joey Kuhn's intimate romance Those People, along with retrospectives of classics like Welcome to the Dollhouse, featuring director Todd Solondz and more. With up to five screening per day, this jam-packed fest makes it worth it to play hooky and skip out to the movies.

ComedyJuice at Gotham Comedy Club; Tue 12; 9:30pm; $15

This revered weekly show features lots of worthy local stand-ups and often one or two big names. Previous guests include Todd Barry and Kevin Hart.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opens at 8am, daily; Skate rental $15–$19

Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $19 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your time on the ice, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Celsius. If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours. 

Ice Skating at the LeFrak Center Mon 11–Jan 31; 10am; weekdays $6, skate rentals $6

Prospect Park's massive new arena transforms from roller-rink to ice-haven come wintertime, with outdoor and indoor ice-skating and figure skating, hockey, curling and bromball. The walk through the park's foliage is worth the price in admission. At Lakeside at Prospect Park;      

Escape Games NYC Mon 11; Various times; $26–$50

Immerse your team in a labyrinth game that tests your wit, strategy and cunning. In packages Outer Space and Detective Story, you'll have to solve puzzles and tests to find your way out of a mysterious room. Each private experience can host two- to six-player teams. Brace yourself.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman at the New York Historical Society; Thu 14; 6:30pm; $34

With a big-screen debut just months away and seemingly endless merchandising for fans of all ages and genders, Wonder Woman may be more relevant now than ever. But what brought this feminist powerhouse into comic book pages in 1941? New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore reads from her historical account of how William Moulton Marston, inventor of the lie detector, designed an icon for the ages based on the women he shared his life with, Olive Byrne and Elizabeth Holloway Marston. 

Kweendom at The Unicorn; Thu 14; 8pm; $5

Gay columnist Bobby Hankinson presents a monthly storytelling show starring a rotating roster of LGBT comedians and writers. This week's guests include Kaitlyn Holland, Julio Torres, Alex English and UCB's Pat Regan. Net proceeds go to benefit Streetwise and Safe, a local organization for LGBT youth of color.

The School: Heather Heart + Alex Gardel + Ben Jenkins at Bossa Nova Civic Club; Wed 13; 10pm; Free

This one's for all the kids who are down to party on a weekday! True School is bringing solid DJ sets to Bossa Nova Civic Club on what might be your typical “school night.” Headlining the night is Brooklyn's OG techno DJ Heather Heart. From producing and editing the monthly zine Under One Sky—devoted to creating a global network for underground rave culture—back in 1991 to co-founding Sonic Groove records and spinning at the legendary Storm Raves of the '90s (alongside Frankie Bones and Adam X), Heart has been an integral part of the New York techno scene. Support comes from Alex Gardel and Ben Jenkins.

Prototype: Opera/Theatre/ Now at various locations; Mon 11–Jan 17; 3pm; $25–$75

HERE and Beth Morrison Projects prove that thrilling opera continues to bloom as their festival returns for a fourth season that ranges across venues, genres and boroughs. This year's lineup includes Angel's Bone, Du Yun and Royce Vavrek's tale of heavenly beings enslaved on Earth; David T. Little and Vavrek's dystopian-future family story Dog Days; the U.S. premiere of The Last Hotel, a creepy piece by Donnacha Dennehy and Once book writer Enda Walsh; and Sága, a multimedia installation by Belgian band Dez Mona that moves through ancient Norse forms to find a way of expressing modernity.

ChamberFest 2016 at Paul Hall (at the Julliard School); Thu 14; 7:30pm; Free

Juilliard students take on John Zorn's knotty string quartet Cat O'Nine Tails and ensemble pieces by Ravel and Villa-Lobos in tonight's installment of the free winter festival.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume” at Discovery Times Square; Mon 11–Jan 31; 10am; $27.50  

Enter fan Valhalla and feast your eyes upon more than 70 impeccably preserved original costumes from the first two Star Wars trilogies, along with seven pieces fromThe Force Awakens. You’ll be able to see yourself reflected in Vader’s helmet, wish you were Naboo royalty when passing Queen Amidala’s regal gowns and cringe in disbelief at Princess Leia’s bikini. Just try to keep your arguments over midi-chlorian counts to a minimum. 

B.Y.O.V at the Garret East Mon 11; 7pm; Free

The only thing that could ruin a perfectly good night out other than spilling your drink on the cutie by the bar is a crappy DJ (especially one who is too pretentious to take requests). Luckily, the Garret lets you B.Y.O.V. (bring your own vinyl), so you can dance and groove to your favorite jams. 

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