Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Serious games

Powerful First Person Shooter is uncomfortably timely
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Two weeks before the world premiere of Aaron Loeb's First Person Shooter, a play that explores the controversial relationship between video games and violence in the aftermath of a Columbine-like school shooting, Virginia Tech suddenly made the subject almost too relevant. SF Playhouse and PlayGround, the coproducing companies, considered a postponement — according to excerpts from e-mails between the theater's cofounders, the director, and the playwright, which were reprinted in the program — but in the end went forward with the opening. Read more »

All that she wants

Deborah Slater's quietly atmospheric The Desire Line
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DANCE Deborah Slater's new The Desire Line is as quietly atmospheric as it is rambunctiously explosive. It is also a lot of fun as you catch glimpses — a hand holding a foot, a striped tie, a letter, teacups — of Alan Felton's figurative paintings, reproduced in the Dance Mission Theater lobby, that inspired this fine hour-long piece. But Slater isn't interested in imitating the portraits of these self-absorbed narcissists. She wants to dig below the canvas. Read more »

May day

History runs up against a wall in America Tropical
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The May Day rampage of the Los Angeles Police Department over peaceful protesters and journalists at an immigrants' rights march lends an undeniable immediacy to America Tropical, a new and at times poignant chamber opera by composer David Conte and librettist Oliver Mayer that addresses the legacy of racial and class exploitation built into the very fabric of the City of Angels.

The compact 60-minute work, which premiered April 27 at the Thick House under the auspices of San Francisco's Thick Description, takes its cue from América Tropic Read more »

Myth mash

God of War II
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God of War II

(Sony Computer Entertainment; PlayStation 2)

GAMER The sequel to the best game of 2005 may not be the best game of 2007, but that's only because Shadow of the Colossus ruined all games for all time by boiling adventuring nerdery down to an unheard-of, almost new-age minimalism. That game ruled. Read more »

Prints charming

In a new SoMa location, Electric Works is building the Land of Yes
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PREVIEW If only it were prix fixe. The lamb curry wrapped in crystallized mint leaves sounds delectable, but the butternut squash ravioli catch your eye first. Then you notice that one of the items on the menu is made entirely with ingredients from the chef's garden. The choice is obvious. As you munch on homegrown multicolored heirloom tomatoes, conversation turns to how much is in our own backyards. Read more »

Wild Tigers, Painted Bird

All hail no-budget costume work
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COSTUME One gray Garfield sweatshirt; a blue wool sleeveless sweater with little birds and a white sheep stitched on it; clean Chuck Taylor high-tops; an orange Kawasaki motorcycle T-shirt; a little red hoodie; a beige suede vest with tassels. These are some of the clothes sported by Logan (Malcolm Stumpf), the gender-jumping cusp-of-teens boy at the center of Cam Archer's debut feature, Wild Tigers I Have Known.

"At that age you aren't concerned with what other people think. Read more »

Locals only?

Not For Tourists Guide to San Francisco may not be for residents either
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BOOK REVIEW Not for Tourists Guidebooks has just released the fourth edition of its Not for Tourists Guide to San Francisco. Besides having a mad grip of inaccuracies, the title is problematic: this tome is definitely not not for tourists.

The first thing I found wrong with the book was its only foldout map. It's a highway map, which is weird, since most city dwellers tend to stay clear of the damn things. They're for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd and, uh, the tourists. Read more »

Mi viva loca

Viva Pinata
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Viva Pinata

(Microsoft; Xbox 360)

GAMER When I grabbed Viva Piñata at the store, I hoped the game would inspire my Xbox 360 to a greatness beyond its current status as a sleek, expensive bookend that plays DVDs. Viva Pinata's premise might be described as Pokemon: Capitalist Edition — you are a pinata farmer in charge of creating a garden that will attract a multitude of brightly colored pinatas, which you will have to tend and breed in a totally G-rated way. Read more »

The pigs are alright

A convo with the creators of Hot Fuzz
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FILM Rejoice, fans of smart, sharp, genre-tweaking comedy: Hot Fuzz — the latest from Shaun of the Dead writer-director Edgar Wright, cowriter-star Simon Pegg, and costar–slacker extraordinaire Nick Frost — has arrived. Pegg plays a London supercop whose makes-everyone-else-look-bad ways get him shunted to a small town where policing is limited to underage drinking and escaped swans. Or is it? Read more »

Meeting acute

Gore Vidal lands an interview with Timothy McVeigh in Edmund White's Terre Haute
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REVIEW In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, one of the only voices raised on behalf of understanding Timothy McVeigh — that is, as someone slightly more complicated than a Hollywood-style incarnation of pure evil — was that of Gore Vidal. Vidal insisted on pointing to the obvious: the bombing of offices that included the local headquarters of the FBI and the ATF — although utterly cruel and misguided in leading to 168 deaths — was not arbitrary wickedness but a carefully considered act of revenge. Read more »