His Boy Ellroy In 1958, when he was still a young boy, James Ellroy's mother was strangled. (A kind adult even took a picture of young Ellroy after hearing of her death; it graces the cover of a recent issue of Granta.) Today, Ellroy is one of the leading lights of contemporary hard-boiled crime fiction. Reinhard Jud's James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction studies the author of The Black Dahlia and the city -- L.A. -- that helped fuel his lurid imagination. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Tickets are $3-6; call (510) 642-1124.

Kill Scrappy Doo Though Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper helmed The Funhouse, the most memorable thing about the movie is Sylvia Miles' face, an amazing vision that surpasses any prosthetic mask. Still, the film's carnival setting makes it perfect fodder for the Sick and Twisted Players' latest horror/comedy hybrid, The Funhouse: Starring Scooby Doo. A hint: The murderer probably would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling kids. The show -- a benefit for the company's next production, the humongous rabbit thriller Night of the Lepus -- plays at 9 p.m. (9 and 11 p.m. on Saturday) at Bernice Street Playhouse, 21 Bernice, S.F. Admission is $10; call 826-5358.

march 23
Oh Pedro! Here's Night + Day's special mini-minicapsule review of the new Pedro Almodóvar movie: fantabulous. The second day of Lark Theatre's weeklong "A Tribute to Pedro Almodóvar" features two of the Spanish director's early works (Dark Habits at 1 p.m.; Pepi Luci Bom at 3:30 p.m.); two of his Carmen Maura vehicles (What Have I Done to Deserve This? at 5:15 p.m.; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at 7:15 p.m.) and the recent, misunderstood media critique Kika (at 9:30 p.m.) at 549 Magnolia, Larkspur. Tickets are $4-6; call 924-3311.

Who Loves Ya, Baby? Take a chrome-domed crooner, pair him up with a 16-piece big band, and you have Vise Grip and the Ambassadors of Swing. Mr. Grip has been described as "Cab Calloway meets Jimmy Durante and the Penguin." He pays tribute to the first of those three characters at 8 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club (where his first show was introduced by Paul from the Diamond Center), 1025 Columbus, S.F. Tickets are $15 (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy opens); call 474-0365.

More Indie Rockers With the Blues The Grifters are four guys from Memphis, Tenn. As their Sub Pop press kit boasts, their average age is about twice that of Silverchair's. Their new album -- Ain't My Lookout -- is their most immediate to date, and it features lots of that call-and-response vocal and guitar dynamic that's taking the indie rock world by storm. Rex and Portashrine open for the Grifters at 10 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. Tickets are $8; call 621-4455.

Jeepers Creepers In Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, a psychiatrist with a cartoon German accent defines scopophilia as "the morbid urge to gaze." Other Cinema's six-part "O Scopophilia!" series begins with "Gays Gaze," a program of shorts about the ravenously hungry homosexual male eye. The screening includes the Bay Area premiere of Isabel Hegner's Eye to Eye, a 20-minute essay on Robert Mapplethorpe's fetishization of black males; it also includes Black Sheep Boy by local luminary Michael Wallin. The lights go down at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890.

Mr. Mike During his 12-year stint as the leader of the Waterboys, Mike Scott made epic, anthemic music with a class that Irish contemporaries like U2 lacked. Now, Scott is on his own; he plays all the instruments on his first solo LP, 1995's Bring 'Em All In. The guy who wrote "The Whole of the Moon" performs (along with Jane Brody) at 8 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, S.F. Tickets are $22.50; call 541-0800.

Press Release of the Week "Troubled Vixens TV Show" bills itself as an "ambient television-studio-cum-mental-clinic" that offers "emotional support, counseling, and unspeakable acts of debauchery for those who find the rites of passage to happy and responsible adulthood a long (sometimes lasting into their 30s), tortuous road to emotional hell and destruction, littered with chronic indecision, shoplifting, wrecked cars, lip gloss, alcoholism, and rampant acne." Enrique will perform scenes from their new play, The Possession of Mrs. Jones, at the show; Robbie D., Omewenne, and Marzipan will also grace the stage. The fun begins at 9 p.m. at Somar Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission and therapy is $5-10; call 824-8844.

march 24
Father of the Underground Along with James Broughton, Sidney Peterson initiated the S.F. avant-garde film movement in 1946 with The Potted Psalm. Over five decades, the now-90-year-old artist has developed his own witty style of surrealism while maintaining ties with his initial creative home, the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Peterson shows The Lead Shoes and other films and discusses his career at 7:30 p.m. at S.F. Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 558-8129.

She's the One Music, zines, spoken word, and video are all part of "Punk Women," a benefit for S.F. Women Against Rape. The event -- featuring video by Lucy Thane and music by Cinnamon Imperials, Dirt Bike Gang, and Instant Girl -- starts at 6 p.m. at New College Cultural Center, 766 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $3; call 241-1302.

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