Once, when suffering from a peculiar winter affliction that left me bedridden and sopping for nearly a week, a mischief-minded relative dropped by to offer condolences and reading material. The book was written by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Now, Wittgenstein was an interesting guy -- a very wealthy man who gave away all his money because it was a bother; a Jew possessed by Protestant piety and baptized in a Catholic church; a Viennese who exiled himself to Cambridge; a closeted homosexual who carried on; a conscientious objector who became a decorated war hero during World War I; an apolitical theorist who moved to the Soviet Union to become an "ordinary worker"; and an intellectual genius who chose to garden and teach elementary school. And he wrote only two books, the first of which gave him international acclaim as a philosopher of language and the second of which contradicted everything the first had to say. This was just the sort of logic that my feverish mind needed to send it reeling into some convoluted hallucination involving space travel, lunatic Austrian gardeners, and Bach. Imagine my surprise when the George Coates Performance Works announced a production of Wittgenstein: On Mars, which finds our hero sitting on the red planet questioning the Martians' lifestyle as well as his own views on culture, art, and intrinsic values. If 20/20 Blake: The Visions of William Blake was any indication, this innovative theater company will approach the subject matter with intelligence, wit, and a superb visual and aural aesthetic that makes full use of its six-story neo-Gothic theater. Previews of the show will be held at Performance Works on Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 16-17 and Jan. 23-24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16; call 392-4400.
Now, you ought to be in the mood for a little hula hooping, chair balancing, juggling, tap dancing, magic, comedy, and swing. Jay Alexander's New Swing Circus will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you do the Lindy to the big band sound of Lee Press-On & the Nails. There will be dance lessons at 7:30 p.m.; oddities at 8:30 p.m.; and swing at 9 p.m. at 435 Broadway on Saturday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $12; call 586-1033.
Since the Tick's rise in popularity, everyone and their fucking sister wants to be a cartoon superhero. Sure, it's a great gig -- you can work at night, sleep late, whack people on the head, and get tax exemptions on teeth brightener -- but this is a small town, people. We can only have so many schmucks in blue tights trying to walk old ladies across the street before it gets a little monotonous. We don't need any more multicolored guys with mouse ears and magic wands patrolling Haight Street. We don't need any more caped schmoes with potbellies putting kittens in the tree so that they can look like big heroes taking them out again. (I saw that, and that's no way to get the key to the city, pal.) What we need are a few more sidekicks (folks who will selflessly wash all those stinky Underoos while being ridiculed by their out-of-work big buddies) or, at the very least, a bunch of evildoers who will cause havoc and keep the superheroes out of the bars where they have been boring everyone with their stories of aborted bubble gum theft. Along those lines, a group of concerned citizens has put together a Super Villain Masquerade Ball where dastardly deeds and fiendish plots might be hatched and newcomers can get pointers on wicked duds and a sinister laugh. It'll be fun: brainwashing, puppy mutilation, doomsday-device instruction, superhero slave auction. Note to all superheroes: This is your big chance. If you are a superhero -- Look in the mirror. You will know that you are a superhero if you have a square jaw and are wearing your underwear on top of your pants -- you should probably head down to the Ball because there will be supervillains there at 2050 Bryant on Saturday, Jan. 17, at around 9 p.m. Ticket price is to be determined by the evildoer at the door and I can't give you a phone number because evil doesn't believe in telecommunication.
-- Silke Tudor