This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Women have been wondering what makes men tick for time immemorial. Boys' Life -- Howard Korder's play about three buddies trying to negotiate the tricky terrain of post-college life in the big city -- gives us some insight, though what it has to say about male identity ain't pretty. Through a series of interconnected vignettes, we learn that the average guy suffers from arrested development and promiscuity (gasp!): Don risks losing true love because he can't keep his dick in his pants; Jack is a hopeless commitment-phobe, despite the fact that he's married with a kid; and Phil is a loser whose desperate vulnerability makes him repulsive to the opposite sex. The female characters are similarly dysfunctional, each one tolerating her lover's behavior out of her own insecurities. When the play was first produced in 1988, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; 15 years later, it still rings true. Boys' Lifepreviews tonight at 8 (and runs through April 12) at Actors Theatre, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 436-9400 or visit www.boyslifesf.com.

Thursday, March 6, 2003
A player in the Bay Area art scene since the 1950s, Frank Lobdell has been compared to Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, and Richard Diebenkorn. The abstract expressionist is most famous for his surreal oil paintings, but his lesser-known figurative works also deserve recognition. More than a dozen of these unfamiliar pieces are highlighted in "Frank Lobdell: Early Figure Drawings," a showcase of rarely exhibited sketches created during weekly drawing sessions between 1959 and 1974. Many of the central motifs -- geometric shapes, phallic symbols, halos, and Paleolithic forms -- that characterize Lobdell's experimental art can be traced back to these practice meetings, where he worked with friends like Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and Nathan Oliveira. In addition to this show, two concurrent exhibitions present a retrospective of sorts: "Frank Lobdell: The Continuity of Creativity" and "The Evolution of Imagery: The Sketchbooks of Frank Lobdell."Both run through May 25 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), S.F. Admission is free-$8; call 863-3330 or visit www.legionofhonor.org. "Early Figure Drawings" opens tonight with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Hackett-Freedman Gallery, 250 Sutter (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-7152 or visit www.hackettfreedmangallery.com.

Friday, March 7, 2003
Never mind the spiky haircuts and the black eyeliner: Neo—new wave quartet Ladytronisn't all glam and no rock. Despite Helena Marnie and Mira Aroyo's robotic-sounding vocals, the English group has heart and soul where other "electroclash" bands sport attitude. Fusing retro beats and chilly synths in tunes reminiscent of the Human League and Depeche Mode, Ladytron brings a futuristic style to its dance-floor-ready mix of disco and electronica. Light & Magic, the band's follow-up to its 2001 debut, 604, doesn't disappoint. Its minimalist soundscapes contrast with catchy, pop-inspired numbers like "Seventeen," complete with tongue-in-cheek lyrics: "They only want you when you're 17/ When you're 21, you're no fun." Simian and Mount Sims are also on tonight's bill, which starts at 9 at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $18; call 474-0365 or visit www.bimbos365club.com.

Saturday, March 8, 2003
Anyone who thinks a night at the theater has to be sedate has never seen any of Howard Barker's plays. One of Britain's most controversial playwrights, Barker is the inventor of "Theatre of Catastrophe," a theory that defines the stage as an arena where neither realism nor politics has a place. Translation: Expect the unexpected. In Barker's dramas, narrative structure, linear plot lines, and traditional character development go out the door. Last Planet Theatre presents his Ursula: Fear of the Estuary, the story of a young woman arranged to marry a mysterious Christ figure. She takes a vow of virginity that a group of nuns tries to talk her out of, and then Mother Superior falls for her fiance. Violence and nudity aside, it still promises to be a wild ride. Don't say we didn't warn you. Tonight's performance starts at 8 (and the play continues through March 23) at SomArts, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $12-15, but if you come dressed as a nun you get $5 off the ticket price; call (510) 845-2687 or visit www.lastplanettheatre.com.

Sunday, March 9, 2003
According to Rose Troche's new film, The Safety of Objects, living in the suburbs is the kiss of death. Like American Beauty, Magnolia, and The Ice Storm, the movie version of A.M. Homes' short story collection paints an unnerving portrait of the burbs, where residents are seemingly one cocktail away from a nervous breakdown. A slice-of-life look at four families, Safetyexplores how adults and kids alike use material goods as a substitute for intimacy. While teenager Paul Gold lies in a coma after a tragic car accident, his older girlfriend copes with a messy divorce. Meanwhile, his mother enters a contest to win a new SUV to please her gloomy daughter, and a neighbor's young son sleeps with his sister's Barbie. Weaving multiple story lines, the character-driven movie (which features an impressive ensemble cast that includes Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney) should leave city dwellers patting themselves on the back. The Safety of Objectsscreens at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center (at Battery), 352-0810; and at the Shattuck Cinemas, 2230 Shattuck (at Kittredge), Berkeley, (510) 843-3456. Admission at both theaters is $6-9.25; see Page 62 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com for show times.

Monday, March 10, 2003
Butoh dancer Ledoh and musician Reverend Markus Hawkins have been known to stop traffic. For the past 10 years, the duo's guerrilla-style performances have attracted crowds at the Tenderloin's annual In the Street Theatre Festival and at various spots around town. Their partnership has also attracted a strong cult following, opening the door for Ledoh (along with lighting designer Ruth Gumnit) to found Salt Farm, a collective in which the members not only perform together, but also play, cook, eat, sew, and build sets together in their Hunters Point studios. In commemoration of Ledoh and Hawkins' 10th anniversary as collaborators, the pair presents Elsewhere Here, in which Ledoh translates Hawkins' hypnotic violin solos into unbridled movement. Shows start today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 621-7978 or visit www.theatreofyugen.org.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Even if you're not new to the city, "Foot!" walking tours can teach you a thing or two about the place we're not supposed to call Frisco. These interactive excursions are an education in local lore and history -- ever wonder how Nob Hill got its name or where Charles Manson used to live? -- but with a twist: Each amble is led by a comedian. (A few hours with the guides is like a night at the Punch Line, minus the bad opening acts and the two-drink minimum.) "Nude, Lewd, and Crude"is a 10-block stroll through North Beach nightlife, touching on the 'hood's reputation as a home to beatniks, strippers, and controversial comics from the 1950s to the 1970s. Trip out over the site where LSD was once manufactured; and pay your respects at the Swiss American Hotel on Broadway, where bad-boy comic Lenny Bruce once fell from a second-story window. The tour takes place today from 6 to 8 p.m., starting at Vesuvio Cafe, 255 Columbus (at Jack Kerouac Alley), S.F. Tickets are $20-30, and reservations are required; call 637-5453 or visit www.foottours.com.

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