October 16, 2002




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8 Days a Week

Nov. 27-Dec. 4, 2002

MADAME TUSSAUD'S SHOULD have a room devoted to Singin' in the Rain, with Gene Kelly and his tight pants in mid leap, Donald O'Connor dancing up the walls, Debbie Reynolds in that cute pink Coconut Grove outfit, and – most important – Amazon woman Cyd Charisse in mid slither, acting as a foil to the cutesy Miss Reynolds. Before that happens, though, you can see Stanley Donen and Kelly's cotton candy-hued extravaganza in all its Technicolor glory. It's the movie's 50th anniversary, and the Castro Theatre is showing it in Dolby Digital for the first time ever, so you won't miss a note of "Make 'Em Laugh," "Broadway Melody," or – for better or worse – the milk-and-cookies romp "Good Mornin," a sequence that makes Charisse's bad-girl presence such a sexy antidote to the movie's wholesome but feisty heroine. The film is about love, stardom, talkies, and scandal, and if cynical viewers open their minds and think of the experience of watching Singin' in the Rain as kind of like going to the circus, everyone'll have a damn good time. Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2, 4:30, 7, and 9:20 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, S.F. $4.50-$7. (415) 621-6120. (Dina Gachman)

Nov. 27


Lend a hand For many folks, Thanksgiving means little more than a chance to gather with family members and inhale as much turkey, dressing, and pie as humanly possible. For others, it's a day that might be as bleak as any other, if not for Tenderloin Tessie's Holiday Dinners. For the past 25 years, the organization has provided sit-down Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals to the elderly, homeless, lonely, and disabled, as well as families with and without children – and since it's an all-volunteer group, it's seeking community members to help out with this year's feasts. Today, help in the kitchen and set up; Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, help prepare, serve, and clean up after the meals. Today, 4-7 p.m.; Thurs/28 and Dec. 25, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin, S.F. Free. (415) 637-3550 or (415) 922-0422. (Cheryl Eddy)

Nov. 28


Give thanks After the tryptophan wears off, the sugar rush from all that cranberry sauce kicks in, and the visiting 'rents start to close in with well-intended "advice," flee to the Alley Catz Thanksgiving Party. Hosted by the self-described "only weekly club night in the Castro for women," this party for females and friends boasts DJ Éclat spinning danceable '70s and '80s rock and disco, plus some seasonal additions like turkey-themed snacks, Wild Turkey specials, and more. 8 p.m.-2 a.m., Pendulum, 4146 18th St., S.F. Free. (415) 863-4441. (Eddy)

Nov. 29


Dolled up This Thanksgiving weekend the members of Diablo Ballet – and we with them – have every reason to be grateful. Early in the fall it looked as if the company might have had it. But a concerted effort – and cash from a lot of people who didn't want this experiment in small-scale ballet to go belly-up – saved the season. Co-artistic director Nikolai Kabaniaev's smart reworking of Leonid Massine's La boutique fantasque, a story about toys acquiring lives and minds of their own, now exists in one- and two-act versions. The piece, with frothy but excellent costumes by French painter Guy Buffet, debuted last year. If you want to take small children, go to the shorter matinees; they'll get their fill of antics, music, dancing, and having to sit still. Through Sat/30. Noon and 3 p.m. (one-act production), 8 p.m. (two-act production), Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek. $15-$38. (925) 943-SHOW. (Rita Felciano)

Set it off We've been sitting on our butts all week, so why not start the weekend by sweatin' on the dance floor? S.W.A.T. presents DJ's Fridays at the Top, an ongoing club hosted by resident DJ Nikola Baytala, featuring the finest in local and worldwide talent in house music culture. Tonight the bar is raised even higher when the club presents two notorious underground house DJs from Sweden, Tony Senghore and Martin Venetjoki (Panhandle, Horehouse, Moody). Catch this show while you can, as aficionados of house agree these artists represent the next level in the genre. 10 p.m.-2 a.m., Top, 424 Haight, S.F. $5. (415) 864-7368. (Chad Mitchell)

Wax on Finally disproving the "green cheese" theory (and possibly the lunar landing-hoax conspiracy, though that's debatable), an honest-to-goodness chunk of the moon goes on display at 'Moon Madness,' a new exhibit at Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center. The rock – estimated at 3.3 billion years old – hails from a part of the moon known as the Sea of Rains and was scooped up on the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. The rock and others like it have helped scientists delve into the origins of our solar system, as well as the important gravitational relationship between the earth and the moon. In honor of its alien visitor – to be housed in a special case that'll no doubt offer Area 51-style protection – the Chabot plans a variety of special events, including an "Antique Rock Roadshow" (Dec. 4, 4-7 p.m.) that'll allow visitors to bring in stones for identification and "appraisal," among other activities. 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (center hours: Tues.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; noon-5 p.m.), Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline, Oakl. $5.50-$8. (510) 336-7300, www.chabotspace.org. (Eddy)

Nov. 30


Fooling around In the same way that a person doesn't have to be Christian to enjoy and learn from A Christmas Carol, the latest play at A Traveling Jewish Theatre – Moonwatcher: A New Tale of Chelm for Chanukah – is a musical that looks to delight people of all faiths (and all ages). Created by ATJT ensemble members Aaron Davidman, Corey Fisher, and Eric Rhys Miller, the piece is set in Chelm, a burg famous in Jewish folklore for being the "town of fools." Aptly, the silly yet endearing population – including titular character Menachem the Moonwatcher, who runs into trouble just before the start of Hanukkah – comes to life onstage via giant puppets, masks, clowns, and a score by David Hoffman that mixes klezmer, jazz, Middle Eastern music, and other styles. Added bonus: the performances all start at early, kid-friendly hours, so even the littlest theatergoers can enjoy the show. Through Dec. 29. Previews tonight and Sun/1, 7 p.m. Opens Mon/2, 7 p.m. Runs Wed.-Sun., 7 p.m. (also Sun., 2 p.m.), A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida, S.F. $12.50-$25 (Thurs, pay what you can). (415) 399-1809, www.atjt.com. (Eddy)

Dec. 1


Digital trailblazer "Maverick," "avant-garde," "radical" – all words to describe filmmaker Jon Jost, a doin'-it-my-way, self-taught artist who has spent the past 30 years writing, photographing, editing, and directing narrative films (including Sure Fire and Frame Up), shorts, essays, and other works. Jost's evocative, experimental style is familiar to film-festival and rep-house junkies, but not so much to mainstream crowds (his best-known work is probably All the Vermeers in New York, his requiem for greed, art, romance, and the 1980s). An American who did time in the 1960s for resisting the draft, Jost now lives in Europe, where in recent years he's embraced digital technology with great enthusiasm, leading to some adventurous creative results. A recent D.V. creation, Six Easy Pieces, screens tonight – with Jost in person – at an event sponsored by the San Francisco Cinematheque. 7:30 p.m., San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. $4-$7. (415) 552-1900. (Eddy)

Voices carry On their new Heart Beat, their fourth CD since forming a group in 1988, the six women of Vocolot perform a Yiddish song of resistance from Spain, an adaptation of a traditional Appalachian tune, a Brazilian song of praise, a Ladino love song, a South African freedom anthem, and more than a half dozen stirring original compositions by founder Linda Hirschhorn. Like Sweet Honey in the Rock (an obvious touchstone), Vocolot accompany their soulful a cappella singing with hand percussion, weaving scintillating rhythms through their virtually orchestral harmonies. Drawing on various pop, jazz, and cantorial vocal traditions (and languages), these "Yiddish Divas" – Hirschhorn, Alison Lewis, Ellen Robinson, Judith-Kate Friedman, Jennifer Karno, and Elizabeth Stuart – make music that advocates and embodies peace, resilience, reconciliation, and the notion that "we will drown the enemy with our singing." 7:30 p.m., La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk. $18. (510) 849-2568. (Derk Richardson)

Dec. 2


For heaven's sake A despondent World War II-era British pilot bails out of his flaming plane with no parachute, only to land, improbably alive, on the seashore below. Seems the Angel of Death lost sight of him in the fog, and by the time reps from the great beyond pick up his trail again, the pilot's fallen in love and doesn't want to go. What happens next is the reason 1946's A Matter of Life and Death (directed by Brit standouts Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and also known by the alternate title Stairway to Heaven) is included in the Pacific Film Archive's "Trials and Film" series – only this courtroom is not on Technicolor earth but in the afterlife, which is filmed in beautiful, luminescent black and white. For some reason this excellent film is not available on DVD, so take the opportunity to see it on the big screen. The program also features an accompanying lecture by UC Berkeley professor Carol Clover. 3 p.m., PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft, Berk. $4.50-7. (510) 454-1222. (Eddy)

Dec. 3


Fresh choice Eleven years ago, at the Conservatory of Music in Trontheim, Norway, five avant-garde musicians veered away from their free jazz path and wandered into a thicket of Bulgarian folk music. Led by Stian Carstensen, a multi-instrumentalist who plays accordion, banjo, guitar, kaval, and fiddle, Farmers Market retains its passion for improvisation but channels it into the idiosyncratic meters and scales of traditional Balkan village dance and wedding music, tossing in dollops of bluegrass, heavy metal, and pop vocal harmonies as fancy dictates. Building a reputation for musical virtuosity and wacky shenanigans (akin to those of 3 Mustaphas 3 and Holland's Willem Breuker Kollektief, perhaps), Farmers Market features drummer Jarle Vespestad, guitarist Nils-Olav Johanson, bassist Finn Guttormsen, and former Bulgarian circus saxophonist-clarinetist Trifon Trifonov. Toids open. 8:30 p.m., Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berk. $10. (510) 525-5054. (Richardson)

Dec. 4


Hot stuff Whether you're a randy art enthusiast or just plain randy, get off at a benefit for SomArts Cultural Center, the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline, and the Web site Artist Resource (www.artistresource.org). Nude models, cabaret dancers, erotic poets, and a foxy DJ provide salacious entertainment as part of the sixth annual One Night Stand, presented by ARTworkS.F. The first hour includes a wine tasting session and a preview of an exhibition of naughty art by John Abrahamson, Fernando Reyes, Sue Averell, Bruce Meisner, and other local artists. The main event is a no-holds-barred erotic bacchanal, with entertainment by Kitten on the Keys and Mr. Tinkler, a fashion show by Felicity Fetish, and much more. 5-6 p.m. (VIP preview, $15); 6-9 p.m. (event, $10), SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, S.F. (415) 673-3080, www.artworksf.com. (Cynthia Dea)

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