From Rowdy Roddy Piper to metaphor jugglers: some irreverent picks for Litquake 2011
LIT Once again, the raucous, two-week Litquake festival is set to liquidate our shores with the mighty crack and crash of living language. Dazed authors and reeling poets will grace our lesser known alleyways; literary agents and bookstore owners will awaken satisfied on the curbs of our better sex clubs. Kindles will be hijacked, asses will be signed. Some actual writing may get done.
And yet, while the larger events justly command the spotlight (opening party "The Devil's Lexicon" on Fri/7, New Directions 75th anniversary party on Tue/11, infamously drunken unofficial closing blowout Litcrawl on Sun/15), there are a host of smaller and satellites events that tap into the true flavor of contemporary literature. Below are some attractive-looking ones. (Unless noted, more info can be found on these functions at www.litquake.org .)
This two-part event is the quavering blood and guts of Litquake: an unabashed free showcase of some of the most cutting-edge talent on offer. Rhyming or Not: Bay Area Poetry (Sat/8, 1 p.m., free) shores up the verse side of things, while Golden Gate and Beyond (Sun/9, noon, free) props up the prose. This year's theme is, "to explore writing in extreme circumstances and from deep within the mind—defined in terms spiritual, physical, or cybernetic." I'm bringing popcorn.
Sat/8 and Sun/9, Variety Room, 582 Market, SF.
OK, this isn't officially a part of Litquake — but the 'quake also spawns a slew of satellite events, so let's just shake things up. Christine Beatty is tearing up the transsexual literature circuit with her memoir, "Not Your Average American Girl," which tells her fascinating story from growing up hippie, serving in the military, hooking in the Tenderloin, engineering software, and much more. It's a great slice of Northern Californiana.
Sat/8, 8 p.m., free. Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission, SF. www.sexandculture.org 
I know next to nothing about this night except that it takes place at one of my favorite bars, Vesuvio, and involves some very interesting writer-personalities, like Jack Boulware, Beth Lisick, Missy Roback, and Frances Stroh. I hope it's Jell-O wresting, but I'll be happy with a good ol' round of slams and shots.
Sun/9, 4 p.m., free. Vesuvio, 255 Columbus, SF.
Am I terrified of an expert on metaphors who is also a juggler, and who illustrates his points by "juggling balls as well as words"? I am kind of terrified of this person! And yet, I find the promise of respected writer James Geary's lecture almost too tantalizing to resist. Should I let my prejudices keep me away, or should I let the wild carnival of knowledge commence? Right now, it's a toss-up.
Sun/9, 4 p.m., $5–$7. Z Space, 450 Florida, SF.
You either have come to accept that teenagers are rightfully taking over this world, or you need to look up this little thing called the Internet. Of course, teens have maliciously kept most of the best recent fiction writing to themselves, via "young adult" books. (If I'm addicted to Hunger Games does that mean I'm young forever?) Popular teen fiction writers Simone Elkeles, Becca Fitzpatrick, Michelle Hodkin, and Moira Young come together to dish their secrets.
Mon/19, 7 p.m., free. Books Inc. Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, SF.
Will the six authors — including Ladipo Manyiko and Shawna Yang Ryan — who were asked to "look deep into the heart of the flaky soul and emerge with original short stories on the theme of failing to commit" even show up? Now that would be some performative literature right there. If you're stood-up, you'll at least have the Lone Palm's excellent cocktails for succor.
Mon/10, 7 p.m., free. Lone Palm, 3394 22nd St., SF.
The gays do love to fuss about their tops! This party-slash-gathering of LGBT writers in the fab Joe's Barbershop has already become a Litquake fixture for lit queens and their chasers, and proof that our community's writing talent hasn't been sucked into Grindr chats and Dinah missed connections.
Tue/11, 9 p.m., free ($5–$10 suggested donation). Joe's Barbershop, 2150 Market, SF.
Boxing, schmoxing — the real money melon for sports book fans of the last two decades have been professional reminiscences of flamboyant flings in the ring. I mean, c'mon, Rowdy Roddy Piper, people: what more titillation do you need (besides a kick in the rear from the Iron Sheik's pointy-toed shoes?) Writers Alia Volz, Rick Luxury, Alan Black and many more cactus clothesline this important body of work with tributes and testimonials.
Fri/14, 7 p.m., $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.
"Alternative self-guided walking audio tour" purveyors Invisible City combine music, words, sonic landscapes, and historical information to create realtime experiences that map the ethereal onto SF streets. Latest work "Everywhere Man" is a mystery that whose clues are divulged while participants ride cable cars throughout the city. This sounds too, too cool, especially for first-time visitors.
Sat/15, 2 p.m., pre-order accompanying map and podcast at www.invisiblecityaudiotours.org  for $15. Meet at the cable car turnaround, Market and Powell, SF.
The North Bay literary scene gets some incredible shine at this event, which takes place on the houseboats of Sausalito. Move from one houseboat to the next and experience samplings of such topics as "Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Tall Tales from the Boat Dwellers" on Boat #134, SMITH Magazine's "Water, Fire, Rocks: Life in Six Words" on Boat #42, and "Vanda Marlow, Poetry Faerie" on Boat #12 (actually a restored World War II landing craft.) Get saucy, Sausalito. Literally.
Sat/15, 1 p.m., $25 advance. Private houseboat pier (for exact location email firstname.lastname@example.org ), Sausalito.