This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Part of the pleasant splash-back from rap music's rise is the current poetry rejuvenation. Once an art form dominated by culture vultures, poetry has morphed from arcane to hip. At spoken-word competitions around the nation, youthful wordsmiths correctly grasp that hip hop's rhythmic stanzas are easily transformed into full-blown verse. Locally, nonprofit Youth Speaks is second to none in furthering the literary arts among Bay Area teens, with a roster of events and projects that includes the impressive live poetry CD Bringing the Noise. Youth Speaks celebrates Noise's third edition at the Living Word Festival, a five-day extravaganza of wordy workshops, panel discussions, and performances from noted poets, MCs, musicians, and dancers. The fest begins tonight with a simultaneous poetry slam in two locations starting at 7:30 at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck (at Prince) in Berkeley, and La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck (at Prince), also in Berkeley. Admission is $5-7; call 255-9035 or visit www.newwordseries.com.

Thursday, October 2, 2003
Jeffrey Eugenides' dreamy first novel The Virgin Suicides made waves upon its 1993 debut, and received even more attention after the release of 2000's movie version (which also removed the lingering Godfather III stench from Sofia Coppola's career, but that's another story). The list of acclaimed novelists who produce one amazing book followed by a stinker is long, though -- you listening, Donna Tartt? -- and after nine years without a follow-up, some folks had given up on Eugenides' blazing-hot talent. Yet he had more than just one arrow in his quiver. Last year's Middlesex received a veritable hurricane of critical acclaim and a 2003 Pulitzer. Hear Eugenides read from and discuss his rollicking tale of a hermaphroditic girl who traces her condition through three generations of her Greek-American clan at 7 p.m. at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688.

Friday, October 3, 2003
Sure, we all remember Lisa Loeb -- the singer with the big glasses and one even bigger song, 1994's monster "Stay," from the Reality Bites soundtrack. Loeb didn't remain long in the spotlight: Her three full-length albums produced no chart hits. But it turns out that during all these years we've been ignoring her, Loeb's kept busy, releasing records, touring with the Goo Goo Dolls, playing bit parts on sitcoms, and lending her voice to the role of Mary Jane Watson in MTV's 2003 Spider-Man animated series. And now, as if she has a second to catch her breath, Loeb is readying to host a food-focused reality show with boyfriend Dweezil Zappa on the Food Network. To hype the series, Loeb and Zappa (who's still as blindingly hot as he was in the '80s, ladies) are playing their sweet pop rock live in selected cities, including our own. The show starts at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15; call 522-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.

Saturday, October 4, 2003
They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, but nowhere is this maxim taken more literally than at S.F. Recycling and Disposal, the waste-processing firm whose Artist-in-Residence Program has provided a stipend, a studio, and thousands of tons of raw material to 41 local folks since 1990. Artists are given carte blanche to rummage through the discarded riches at recycling centers and the dump and use their booty to create original pieces that are displayed in city galleries and public spaces for the next year. Today marks the closing exhibition for Packard Jennings, whose project "Cultural Quarantine" provides arch commentary on American culture by examining what we throw away. The show begins at 1 p.m. at S.F. Recycling and Disposal, 401 Tunnel (at Lathrop), S.F. Admission is free; call 330-1415 or visit www.sunsetscavenger.com.

Sunday, October 5, 2003
San Francisco is loaded with tiny-but-talented theater companies that labor in semiobscurity, launching shows in intimate venues and hoping they can get enough bodies in seats to sustain a two-weekend run. But once in a while something catches fire, luring mainstream theatergoers away from big-ticket productions to a show sexy or wonderful enough to linger in our version of off-off-Broadway. Such was the case with Five Flights, the Adam Bock-penned tale of a bird-obsessed dysfunctional family that Encore Theatre Company staged for an amazing six months in 2002. Given the residual heat attached to both Bock and Encore, anticipation is high for their latest collaboration. Thursday, the story of the changes wrought upon a circle of friends when a former child star moves back home, starts tonight at 5 (and runs through Nov. 2) at the Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Carolina), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 821-4849.

Monday, October 6, 2003
Any egghead who's participated in a high-level spelling bee can tell you that the competitions rival an IRS audit when it comes to sheer terror. At stake are glory, money, and the approving attention champion spellers receive from prominent colleges -- potent treats that work contestants up into a positively hysterical lather. Nowhere is the surprisingly cutthroat world of such matches explored with more tension than in the movie Spellbound. The 2003 documentary follows eight contenders, en route to the National Spelling Bee, with Hoop Dreams immediacy, forcing viewers to root hopelessly for them all, be they silver-spooned naturals, sympathetic outcasts, or hard-driving grinds who exchange a social life for a study carrel. It's a nail-biter of a narrative far more compelling than a Hollywood thriller. The reels spin at 7:15 (and again at 9:25) tonight at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Clayton), S.F. Admission is $3-6.50; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.

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