This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Local author Ann Packer's debut novel, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, does the unthinkable: It makes a case for settling in Madison, Wis., over New York City. Packer accomplishes this feat by describing the Midwestern metropolis as populated with beautiful lakes and friendly faces -- though such niceties still aren't enough to keep her narrator from running away to the Big Apple. Twenty-three-year-old Carrie Bell must choose between personal happiness and familial duties when her fiance becomes paralyzed after a diving accident. Faced with remaining in the same place for the rest of her life and taking care of a man with whom she was falling out of love even before he became a quadriplegic, Carrie escapes to Manhattan. Specific as it sounds, Clausen's Piertackles a moral dilemma that has resonated with readers across the country; it's been a New York Timesbest seller and was Good Morning America's first pick for its "Read This!" book club. Not bad for a hometown girl. Packer reads tonight at 7 at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.

Thursday, May 15, 2003
"Love me not for my beauty," Ida No sings, putting her signature über-vibrato to good use. "One day it will surely fade." Climbing around the stage looking like some kind of dark, glittery 1930s nightmare, flashing shiny underthings at every opportunity and generally vamping out, the lead singer of Glass Candy & the Shattered Theatre often has her admonition ignored. Truthfully, a young, skinny white girl leading an angular rock band isn't, by itself, very interesting; we can think of lots of bands like that. To be worth our while, such a glammed-out group had better have something else to offer -- and Glass Candy has plenty. In the song quoted above, "Brittle Women," it turns out that No is addressing her own reflection, revealing not only a freaky perspective twist, but also a critical feminism: The girl has a brain, and she's not afraid to use it. Meanwhile, newish drummer Ginger Peach brings new meaning to the word "spare," apparently not indulging in a single drum fill on the entirety of Love Love Love, the group's first full-length. The Vanishing and BoySkout open for Glass Candy at 9:30 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $8; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.

Friday, May 16, 2003
Journalists are trained to set aside their emotions in the face of tragedy in order to report the news impartially to the public. But even seasoned professionals, like Anne Nelson (who has covered wars in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua), found it difficult to remain impassive during Sept. 11. As a way to deal with her grief, Nelson wrote The Guys, a poignant drama inspired by a fire chief struggling to compose eulogies for eight of his men who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers. Written in nine days, the two-person play is a fictional account of Nelson's experiences helping the hard-bitten fireman pen tributes for "the guys." Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Helen Hunt have played the parts in New York and L.A. For the local production, a rotating cast of stars has signed up, beginning with Sharon Lawrence, formerly of NYPD Blue, and Keith David, recently featured in the films Barbershop and Head of State. Previews begin tonight at 8 at Berkeley Repertory's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison (at Shattuck), S.F. Admission is $10-54; call (510) 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.

Saturday, May 17, 2003
Back in the day (the '20s in Harlem, to be precise), cash-strapped folks held "rent parties," also known as "skiffle" or "boogie parties," as a way to get their friends and family to chip in. Now times are tough again -- all over the country -- so Z Space Studio holds its variation on the fund-raising tradition, a "Rent Walk."Participants in the four-mile stroll from Fort Mason to Baker Beach are asked to plead with their pals for sponsorship the way local performers Josh Kornbluth, Sara Felder, and a host of other artists have done. That way, the Studio can pay its pesky landlords and continue to develop new plays for programs like its Word for Word acting ensemble. The walkathon may just be an excuse for a party, but raising money by celebrating sure beats working overtime. The amble departs at 11 a.m. from the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. A barbecue at Baker Beach follows (with a free shuttle bus back to Fort Mason after the eating frenzy). Call 437-6775 for pledge forms.

Sunday, May 18, 2003
When the inexplicable urge to watch a lighthearted musical hits, Jean-Luc Godard probably isn't the first director to come to mind. Regardless, the cinematic innovator's 1961 contribution to the genre, A Woman Is a Woman, is impossibly enjoyable. Godard's first color film, A Woman was an homage to his then-wife, Anna Karina, who plays a stripper on a mission to make baybeeez. The problem is that her lout of a boyfriend, Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy), isn't up for the challenge -- he'd rather ride his bicycle around the apartment. The good news is that their best friend, Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo) -- are there any French guys whose names don't start with Jean? -- is more than happy to help out. Hard-core cinephiles and Francophiles may be the only ones to get the references to classic French flicks, but we can all be glad to know that Godard isn't merely a depressed bastard. The film screens daily through May 22 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 621-6120 or visit www.thecastrotheatre.com for show times.

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