There are a few things that make this wacky world pleasurable: human companionship, summer vacations, and that delicious gift from the gods -- cheese. If you enjoy nibbling on the good stuff, you'll want to slice yourself an homage to fromage at the American Cheese Society's Annual Festival of Cheeses.
In what may be the country's biggest cheese tasting, our nation's finest artisan, specialty, and farmstead cheese-makers present their most savory samples -- nearly 600 varieties, including goat, Gouda, and Gorgonzola, plus a whole section just for cheddar. Mmmm, cheddar. (Needless to say, this event is not for the lactose intolerant.) Grab some crackers at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway Conference Center, 1500 Van Ness (at Pine), S.F. Admission is $65-75; call 441-4000 or visit www.cheesesociety.org.
-- Sunny Andersen
All That Jazz
With the death of jazz clubs in San Francisco (R.I.P. Pearl's, El Matador, etc.), aficionados are finding their live music options narrowing by the minute. But they can still count on the annual North Beach Jazz Fest to bring on the beat, with five days of performances in venues all over the neighborhood. The music begins Wednesday with "Jazz on Grant," a blowout evening of miniconcerts by 40 bands scattered along Grant Street, and continues until Sunday's boogaloo jazz party in Washington Square Park. Admission ranges from free to $20; call 505-5559 or visit www.nbjazzfest.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Great Belles A-fire
Sometimes, when squares see kids in vintage clothes and classic cars, they think, "Those jerks wish it was still the 1950s." News flash: This is not true. Just ask the ladies of the Hell's Belles Car Club if they want to be housewives when they grow up. You'll get, "Growing up is for chumps!" and a cloud of dust in your face, as they roar away in their 1965-or-older sleds.
Who wants to ride in some boy's car, when you can have your own? Not these girls, who have taken the car-club tradition of charity events and done it one better. Hellraiser III, their benefit for the Larkin Street Youth Center, is the perfect showcase for your hot rods, lowriders, and tricked-out bicycles: an evening at the drive-in! American Graffiti and other greaser-appropriate movies screen at 8 p.m. at 1067 Revere (at Griffith), S.F. Admission is $5; visit www.hellsbellescarclub.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser