Burning Rubber Americans are still unclear on how to negotiate traffic circles (and around these parts, red lights mean nothing so much as full-speed ahead), but we love the open road, damn it, and few cinematic series convey that with so much enthusiasm as the Pacific Film Archive's "Accidents Will Happen." Car culture gets the green-flag go-ahead with films like The Crowd Roars (July 9), starring Jimmy Cagney as a deadly ambitious Indy car driver, and Two-Lane Blacktop (July 23), with folk singer James Taylor and the Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson, circa 1971, roaming the Southwest in their '55 Chevy looking for street races. Heart Like a Wheel (July 30), a documentary on pioneering woman dragster Shirley Muldowney, and teen racing classics Hot Rod (July 16), Favorite Mopar, and Dragstrip Girl, the last two which play Aug. 27 for Gearhead magazine night, are among the other highlights. The series opens tonight with The First Auto, a 1927 early sound film about the conflicts between a man who owns a livery service and his car-loving son; it screens with the Laurel and Hardy short Two Tars at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant (at College), Berkeley. Admission is $5.50; call (510) 642-1412.
Osaka It to Me The Japanese city of Osaka celebrates its reputation as a commercial and cultural hub when it marks the opening of a new local governmental and business office with a free public entertainment series organized by the "Osaka: Amazing and Amusing" Committee. Shijaku Katsura, Bill Crowley, Kazutomo Maeda, and others perform in "Rakugo in English," a variation on a 300-year-old Japanese comic storytelling tradition that relies on exaggerated vocals and facial expressions to drive home the narration's punch line. The performance begins at 5 p.m. at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, 335 Powell (at Geary), S.F. Admission is free; call 288-3920 to reserve a space. Events continue with a Japanese kite-making workshop 10 a.m. Thursday at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center, 1840 Sutter, and a flying demonstration of the traditional bamboo-framed, fancifully decorated kites 10 a.m. Friday at the Marina Green, S.F. Call 288-3920 for information about these events.)
Tricky, Dick Equal parts Days of Our Lives and Fun With Dick and Jane, with a hint of The Road to Wellville, the musical romantic comedy Jane Loves Dick is the story of a buxom gal who moves to the city to live as more than a simple sex object. Pay attention, because things get complicated after that: Jane moves in with a gay man, Gare, and his straight roommate, Dick, a biochemist and cereal researcher who immediately falls for Jane, who begins dating health food bar owner Bob, who tries to take advantage of Jane, who is saved by Dick and his new super-hormone-strength cereal recipe. The show, a collaboration between Fort Lauderdale's Public Theater and our Victoria Theater, features Ron Johnson (Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun) as Dick, and previews at 8 p.m. (and has an open-ended run) at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 575-0243.
Time's Up An overeducated, underemployed East Coast transplant to San Francisco is the perfectly plausible protagonist in the San Francisco Mime Troupe's new production Killing Time. Young Jacob arrives at his 27th birthday with overdue rent, a college loan in default, a girlfriend on her way out the door, and a rapidly evaporating vision of fame, when he is simultaneously set upon by a ruthless, aging CEO seeking a successor and a bag lady who proclaims herself the angriest woman in the world and who parks herself on his doorstep to reveal the plans she has for him. In its trademark populist style, the troupe sets up dramatic conflict between the pull of wealth and power and the desire to do something socially redeeming. The performance begins at 2 p.m. in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free (donations encouraged); call 646-0639. (Killing Time continues in Dolores Park through Sunday; the troupe's next performance is July 9 at Yerba Buena Gardens.)
Free to Be You and Me If Independence Day is supposed to be about apple pie and Mom, the Ol' Fashioned Fourth of July Alternative Family Picnic expands the definition with apple pie and two moms, or two dads, or one mom, an aunt, and a grandma, or the various other configurations families can take. Comedian Marga Gomez guest hosts this potluck picnic and party put on by the Alternative Family Project. Wise Fool Puppet Intervention will organize a holiday procession and Uncle Sam gets his due with a hat-making contest in his honor. The traditional putting-out-of-the-eye with fireworks has been replaced with milder entertainments like hula hoop contests and sack races, and speechifying takes its regular place. The S.F. Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band, the Dixieland Dykes+3, and Azuquita perform at the picnic, which will be MC'd by Chaz Martinez and begins at 11 a.m. at Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission and Third Street, S.F. Admission is free; call 978-ARTS. For a full schedule of Fourth of July events, see Page 33.