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This Week in Buffalo: Smart people saying smart things

TED Talks are firmly in Buffalo's vernacular; it's rare that you'll receive a blank stare when TEDxBuffalo is mentioned.

The beauty of these 18-minute presentations is their brevity; our ever-dwindling attention spans can cope, and if one topic is too dull, there's an entirely different idea ready to be delivered by the next speaker.

People with a passion for ideas are often the most interesting, too, given their willingness to think outside the box. This year's topics include concussions, cockroaches and gut bacteria, for example, which should all immediately spark questions in your mind.

TEDxBuffalo: Resilience, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.). Less than 100 tickets remain; select general admission tickets are available for $20 or $30, which includes parking.

The News' New Buffalo reporter Caitlin Dewey has written meaningful journalism - such as the transformation of a West Side neighborhood, the city's digital deserts and the fragile state of the Fruit Belt - since making the trek here from the Washington Post, but she will veer away from traditional news media for her TED talk.

The focus of her 18-minute speech will be on online disinformation and conspiracy theories, a realm many dive into head-first. With the wealth of sources and platforms now prominent, sorting through a deluge of information to find the truth is a tricky task.

[Photos: Smiles at TEDxBuffalo 2017]

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Fantasia with Robin Thicke, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Tickets start at $55.

I will be honest and admit that I thought this was the production of "Fantasia" starring Robin Thicke, which naturally both confused me and piqued my interest. But in truth, Fantasia - in this instance - doesn't refer to the old Disney animation feat; she's a Grammy-winning R&B singer who triumphed in the third season of "American Idol." I probably should have known that.

Thicke performed in the area last year, at Seneca Niagara Casino, but he's known for more than just "Blurred Lines" (thankfully). He's had some misfortune recently, too, as his Malibu home burned to the ground in the California wildfires.

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Eric Wood's Flights and Bites, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at 500 Pearl's W XYZ Bar. Tickets are $100 in advance.

Beloved former Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood will host his fund's annual Flights and Bites, a business-casual event at a cool new venue. Admission includes pub food and two flights, with live music from suave Chris Ferrara & the Common Good; the event benefits the Oishei Children's Hospital, where an office for Wood's fund is located.

Two years ago, the event raised more than $57,000, according to Jonah Bronstein's report. Look back at Smiles from 2017 and 2016, too.

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Hayden Fogle's record release, 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.). Tickets are $18 in advance, $23 at the door.

Guitar wonder Hayden Fogle - who shined in a March feature by Jeff Miers - will release his debut album Thursday with another gig; the 19-year-old's album was recorded live at a sold-out Tralf Music Hall earlier this year.

This time, though, Fogle will come with a full horn section, a guest drummer and Vin DeRosa, with whom Fogle won Memphis Bound and participated in the International Blues Festival in 2017. Check out the artist's Facebook profile for a listen to some of his music.

[Related: Fogle in Miers' piece on organ donation and the music scene's support]

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Barktober Fest, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at Sportsmen's Tavern (326 Amherst St.). Tickets are $10 in advance.

How often does the zydeco music sub-genre and needy pets go together? Probably not often, so Monday is a rare example. The Pet Emergency Fund - financial support for veterinarians across the Niagara Frontier - will benefit from a strong bill at Sportsmen's, with Davey O., the Middlemen and Black Rock Zydeco (8:15-9:15) all rolling through sets.

Also know: Sportsmen's has veteran-focused Red, White, Rock 'n Blues scheduled for Thursday.

[Related: Read about Davey O.'s songwriter series in Akron]

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A Toast to Literacy, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Resurgence Brewing Co. (1250 Niagara St.). Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door.

Kudos to Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara for promising "heavy hors d'oeurves" for Tuesday's event; there's little worse than expecting a decent snack and winding up with four red grapes and three squares of fancy cheese.

Admission includes two drink tickets, too, plus a wine and liquor toss, a raffle of gift baskets and live music. The brewery's usual slew of games - life-sized Jenga, pinball and Connect Four - are also good for a duel among friends.

On a serious note, literacy is vital to understanding the world and connecting with others, and the local organization already works with 300 adult learners, many of whom are trying to break a daunting generational cycle.

[Related: An Eritrean refugee's success with Literacy New York]

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Theater thrills Thursday: Two quality productions include "Prescription Murder: Columbo" by Desiderio's Dinner Theatre, a highly rated production with a mid-December run; and "Young Frankenstein" by O'Connell & Company, described by reviewer Melinda Miller as "big, brash and wacky" and based on a Mel Brooks work. They both run all weekend - but the latter is in its closing phase at the company's new home at the Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons.

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The Event: Celebrating Business Excellence, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at Salvatore's Italian Gardens (6461 Transit Road, Depew). Tickets for high-top tables only remain available, ranging from $99 to $125.

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce will recognize several wide-ranging businesses - extending beyond Amherst - through an awards ceremony Monday. Frey Electric, ECMC, Murals of Buffalo, LocalBoys Restaurant Group, National Fuel and West Herr are among the recipients; cocktails, food stations and bountiful networking opportunities will be key for attendees.

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Pour It Forward, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at Community Beer Works (520 7th St.). A $10 donation is encouraged.

A happy hour fundraiser to assist refugees and asylum seekers runs Thursday on the West Side, as coalition Te Vemos and Jewish Family Services join forces in a low-key setting. Door prizes, an alluring tater tot bar and $5 CBW beers are perks, while the cause is that many of Buffalo's refugee programs, like JFS', are in danger of closing due to reduced admissions into the U.S.

[Related: Resettlement agencies urge President Trump to keep U.S. open to refugees | Another Voice chimes in]

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6 more events to consider for this week

UB Downtown: Imagine LaSalle at Chef's Restaurant
Rust Belt Comedy Showcase at Nietzsche's
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live at Riviera Theatre
The Bat's 80th anniversary at Explore & More
Creekview Fall Fest in Williamsville
A Conversation with The News' Bob McCarthy at the History Museum

Note: Bob is a funny, talented journalist with a terrific laugh.

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5 events to look forward to this weekend

Taking Back Sunday at Buffalo RiverWorks
'90s Rise Again Halloween at Thin Man Chandler
Witches Ball at Statler City
Andy Grammer in Town Ballroom
Benny the Butcher at Showplace Theatre

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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