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Wednesday, March 12, 2003
To J.D. Salinger fans, Marin author Joyce Maynard committed a cardinal sin when she dished about her affair with the reclusive writer in her memoir At Home in the World. Those same folks might complain that her new novel, The Usual Rules, is also opportunistic, but they would be in the minority of the book's fans. Set against the backdrop of September 11, the fictional story follows the efforts of a 13-year-old as she struggles to move on with her life after her mother dies in the World Trade Center attacks. Looking to escape the overwhelming sadness of New York, Wendy moves to Davis, Calif., to live with her estranged biological father, but she soon discovers that the "usual rules" no longer apply in her new home. The timely subject matter may attract some readers, but it's Maynard's sensitive treatment of a painful event that will keep them turning the pages.The author's reading begins at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.

Thursday, March 13, 2003
Eminem's success in 8 Mile has fostered a seemingly endless craving in Hollywood to make movies with rappers. But we wonder: What differentiates a hip hop film from one that merely stars an MC? Elucidation may come in the form of the second annual Hip Hop Film Fest, a traveling series of movies, music, and after-parties that's as varied as the culture itself. Joey Garfield's Breath Control: The History of the Human Beatbox, for example, explores the history of vocal percussionists, while Rachel Raimist's Nobody Knows My Name focuses on the efforts of female rappers like Medusa and DJ Symphony to gain footing in the boys' club. Tonight's screenings include Word, Tony Greer's documentary on the New York underground hip hop scene (7:15 p.m.) and The Freshest Kids, Israel's investigation of break dancing (9:15 p.m). The festival runs through Saturday at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Clayton), S.F. Admission is $3-$6.50; call 668-3994 or check out www.hiphopfilmfest.com for a full schedule.

Friday, March 14, 2003
Unless you snoozed through your high school English classes, chances are you'll recognize the line "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" from George Orwell's timeless allegory, Animal Farm. Published in 1945, Orwell's short manifesto is a not-so-subtle indictment of totalitarian regimes that has proved prophetic. Custom Made Theatre Company presents its staging of Nelson Bond's two-act adaptation, and though the ensemble cast won't don animal costumes (they'll use face paint to differentiate between the creatures), the production still remains true to Orwell's tale. Animal Farm opens tonight at 8 (and runs through March 30) at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), S.F. Admission is $15-$20; call 262-0477 or visit www.custommade.org.

Saturday, March 15, 2003
New York and Paris may be the fashion capitals of the world, but West Coast designers have certainly influenced the international concept of panache. In fact, Cali has been the birthplace of countless trends: jeans, surf gear, skateboarding attire -- not to mention those pricey Juicy Couture sweat suits worn by J.Lo and every other starlet with too much money in her bank account. Regional trendsetters get their due in "Iconic to Ironic: Fashioning California Identity," an exhibition of more than 100 articles of clothing and accessories. Shaped by the entertainment industry as well as the state's geography and climate, California fashion sense is distinguished by its attention to lifestyle. The exhibit highlights historical garments from 19th-century Levi's to turn-of-the-century swimsuits as well as more modern one-of-a-kind elements like Jennifer Beals' torn sweatshirt from Flashdance. See the show through Sept. 21 at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th St.), Oakland. Admission is free-$6; call (510) 238-2200 or check out www.museumca.org.

Sunday, March 16, 2003
Singer-songwriter Victoria Williams founded Sweet Relief, an organization to help musicians with debilitating illnesses, in 1994, after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Like many artists, she had no health insurance, but Williams had friends like Lou Reed and the members of Pearl Jam; they recorded a tribute album in her honor to help pay the bills. Not all artists can rely on such connections, though. Benefit concerts form the backbone of the foundation, which has so far distributed more than $500,000 to music makers in need. Tonight's show features a rare performance by local alt-country trio Virginia Dare, the Bermuda Triangle Service, and Falsa Baiana. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. at the Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10-$20; call 647-2888.

Monday, March 17, 2003
St. Paddy's Day typically includes the mass consumption of green-tinted spirits, but not everybody needs to tip their hat to Ireland's patron saint by getting tipsy. At the annual St. Patrick's Day Pro-Am Bardathon, those with dreams of becoming the next James Joyce will be too busy spouting a wee bit of the blarney to get tanked. The event's sponsor likens the evening to the "literary equivalent of karaoke," meaning anything goes (as long as it's under five minutes). The night begins at 7 at the SF Center for the Book, 300 De Haro (at 16th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 565-0545. If a liquid diet is on today's agenda, you won't be alone at O'Reilly's St. Patrick's Day Block Party, where thousands of revelers will fly the Irish colors while dancing in the streets. The sidewalk shindig features live Celtic music and Irish fare from 2 p.m. to midnight, outside of O'Reilly's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 622 Green (at Stockton), S.F. Admission is free; call 989-6222 or visit www.oreillysirish.com.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Tuesdays can be slow nights for culture in S.F., but not for Venue 9; the group has had little problem filling its seats on that night ever since Women's Work started in 1996. The brainchild of producer Mary Alice Fry, the bi-monthly series of live performance exposes work by up-and-coming female performers to larger audiences while channeling talent into the annual Women on the Way Festival. Some highlights of tonight's show are Rebecca Pappas' Aqua, a foreboding, athletic modern dance piece for a quartet, inspired by the sulfur pits at Lassen National Park; and excerpts from Like a Christmas Tree, Etel Adnan's play about an American and an Iraqi imprisoned together in Baghdad. Showtime is 8 p.m. (it runs through March 25) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $8-$10; call 289-2000 or visit www.venue9.com.

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