Arts Desk

Don’t Be Bored: Stories, Smut, and Outer Space

Author Michael Ondaatje

These days there are oodles of opportunities to get your story on in D.C., and tonight may be one of the best: Story League is hosting its second all-out story showdown at the 14th Street Busboys & Poets. Contestants only get seven minutes to drop a scintillating chunk of prose on the topic of unsolved mysteries. Thereafter a panel of judges—including author Carolyn Parkhurst, WaPo reporter Scott Higham, and performance artist Regie Cabico—will assess their worthiness. Winner takes home a $100 prize. 9 p.m. $10. Advance tickets available.

READINGS ET AL.

Author of The English Patient—and the man indirectly responsible for the world's crush on Ralph Fiennes—Michael Ondaatje reads from his latest book, The Cat's Tabletonight at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. 7 p.m. $12 in advance; $15 at door; or two free tickets with purchase of the book at Politics & Prose.

As part of its 2011-12 Hothouse on H reading series, Theater Alliance brings a pay-what-you-can presentation of Anthony Neilson's dark one-act comedy The Night Before Christmas. In sum: A London roughneck finds a Christmas elf breaking into his warehouse; he binds him to a chair, then calls his buddy to help him interrogate the little guy; a local prostitute named Cherry shows up; things get R-rated. Don't bring the kids. 8 p.m. at the H Street Playhouse.

If you saw Lars von Trier's Melancholia and are now sick with paranoia that another planet is hurtling toward Earth, tonight's program at the Hirshhorn could quell your nightmares: "A Grand Tour of the Solar System" promises a glimpse into fascinating outer-space discoveries gleaned from the Cassini spacecraft. 6:45 p.m. $30.

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