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Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Forty years after Sylvia Plath's death, the poet is still a source of fascination. Though the story of her tumultuous marriage to fellow bard Ted Hughes and her suicide has been thoroughly chronicled in academic inquiries as well as her own published journals, poems, and letters, her life and work continue to inspire countless Web sites, not to mention an upcoming film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and a new novel, Wintering, by local author Kate Moses. The latest attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding Plath's final days, the book is set a few months before Plath took her own life in February 1963. Combining extensive research with fiction, Moses delves into the fevered time in which Plath wrote 21 poems in 28 days (the bulk of her magnum opus Ariel and Other Poems) while dealing with her husband's abandonment. Structured to follow Plath's original sequence and selection of poems in Ariel, Wintering goes where biography can't, paying homage to a literary icon without falling into melodrama. Moses reads tonight at 7 at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670.

Thursday, February 27, 2003
It takes more than routine maintenance to repair the lives of three down-and-out characters in 8 Bob Off, a new play by Gary Leon Hill. Bob Plum is a handyman struggling to make ends meet and mend his relationships with his son and various women. One-legged Donna and her conniving husband Bobby, the screwy couple who live next door to the house Bob's refurbishing, are in a similar pickle. The trio eventually become friends and help each other get back on track -- that is, until Bob and Donna engage in a dangerous game of role-playing that threatens their camaraderie. A gritty midlife comedy, 8 Bob Off shows that home improvement is a breeze compared to self-improvement. Performances begin at 8:30 p.m. (2:30 on Sundays; the show continues through March 9) at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $10-37; call 441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org.

Friday, February 28, 2003
Blues-punk duo Mr. Airplane Man is full of surprises. Not only are there no men in the band (not to mention airplanes), but there's also a certain amount of bewilderment that comes with seeing two twentysomething white women play such mean Mississippi blues. Once the initial shock wears off, it's the pair's musical chops that last. The twosome takes its name from a 1959 ditty by Howlin' Wolf, and Margaret Garrett's wailing slide guitar combined with drummer Tara McManus' pulsating backbeats is soulful enough to do the Delta blues legend proud. Despite inevitable comparisons to fellow garage rockers the White Stripes (who were also discovered by Jeffrey Evans, the Memphis-based singer/songwriter who produced Mr. Airplane Man's latest album, Moanin'), the group stands out on its own. Garrett and McManus have come a long way from playing outside liquor stores and train stations in Boston: They've toured with the White Stripes and opened for the Strokes, and now they're poised to take off. Also on tonight's bill are 20 Miles and Greg Foreman; the show starts at 10 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1331 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $7; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.

Saturday, March 1, 2003
Last September, when permit issues prevented the Crucible from hosting benefits, many thought the Berkeley arts facility had fanned its last fire. Happily, the closure was just temporary. Though the warehouse had to move from its original location on Murray Street in west Berkeley, the new Oakland address offers almost double the space in which to play with molten metals or bend neon tubes. Founded in 1999, the nonprofit foundry, metal shop, and sculpture studio has been one of the few places in the Bay Area to learn the arts of welding, glass blowing, and woodworking. Today, at the "Crucible's Grand Re-Opening and Spring Open House," visitors can tour the new space or take a whack at blacksmithing or stone carving. The family-friendly event -- this isn't one of the facility's famed fire feasts -- includes hands-on demonstrations and impromptu lessons. Doors open at noon at the Crucible, 1260 Seventh St. (at Union), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 444-0919 or visit www.thecrucible.org.

Sunday, March 2, 2003
In the early '70s, subscribers to producer Ely Landau's American Film Theatre could see contemporary dramas by some of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century -- on the silver screen. Theater managers dressed up and handed out "cinebills" (playbills for the films), making the experience more akin to a Broadway visit than a trip to a local movie house. The series lasted just two years before distribution problems killed it. Now nine of the 14 movies have been reissued in new prints; they'll screen in film festivals nationwide and at the Castro's revival, "Treasures From the American Film Theatre." Highlights include In Celebration, Lindsay Anderson's adaptation of David Storey's tale of three brothers who return to their childhood home; and Peter Hall's production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, a brutal story about a professor's reunion with his working-class family. The Iceman Cometh, John Frankenheimer's version of Eugene O'Neill's epic drama about barflies forced to confront their demons, screens today at 2 and 7 p.m.; the series runs through March 12 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatre.com.

Monday, March 3, 2003
The "Lysistrata Project," a worldwide schedule of theatrical readings of the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, is a testament to the political power of the Internet. The program grew from its grass-roots origins in New York City's theater community into an unprecedented international campaign. A tale of a group of women from warring states who oppose the Peloponnesian War by withholding sex from their husbands, Aristophanes' play gives new meaning to the hippie anthem "make love, not war." Performances are planned to take place today in every U.S. state and in more than 32 countries. San Francisco's effort includes the "Lysistrata Cabaret," an evening of songs and skits featuring the S.F. Mime Troupe and Killing My Lobster (7:30 p.m. at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822; $20); Thunderbird Theater's Loose Lips Sink Ships (8 p.m. at Goat Hall, 400 Missouri at 19th Street, 289-6766; $5-10); and Ancient Face Theatre's vaudevillian interpretation (8:30 p.m. at AcroSports Circus Arts, 639 Frederick at Willard, 665-7229; $10). Visit www.lysistratabayarea.com for more events.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003
It helps to have friends in powerful places. Singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb got her big break when pal Ethan Hawke asked her to contribute a song to his 1994 film Reality Bites. Though the movie did bite, Loeb's single, "Stay," was a bona fide hit, making her the first unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard's charts. A performer with bookish charm (love the cat-eye glasses and the naming of her band after J.D. Salinger's anthology Nine Stories), Loeb was unfortunately forever linked to Generation X because of the flick. Her folk-rock confessionals aren't groundbreaking, but they're catchy -- and not a bad way to take a walk down memory lane. Loeb performs a solo acoustic set; Will Hoge opens at 8 p.m. at the Cellar at Johnny Foley's, 243 O'Farrell (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 954-0777 or visit www.slims-sf.com.

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