This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
The Ken Kesey the world knows is the Kesey of counterculture hijinks, the guy who made a name for himself writing the best anti-conformity screed ever (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and then gallivanted around the country with his acid-gulping, tie-dyed Merry Pranksters. That kooky Kesey is amply feted in Spit in the Ocean #7, the final edition of the literary magazine he published between 1974 and 1981, in which many of the usual suspects (Hunter S. Thompson, Wavy Gravy, Tom Wolfe) wax rhapsodic over their late friend's brio. But the book's truly touching tributes are written by regular folks such as Patrice Mackey, who reproduces the portrait his 4-year-old daughter drew of Kesey's grandsons, "crying 'cause they miss their granddad." Ouch. Kesey's son Zane and a flock of pals and Pranksters celebrate Spit, the posthumous 2003 release of Ken Kesey's Jail Journal, and the man himself with a book signing and reading starting at 7 p.m. at Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
How is it that we can recognize traits like loyalty and devotion in our pets yet view farm animals as unfeeling chattel fit only for killing? Drawing from scientific studies as well as personal reminiscences, literature, and history, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's The Pig Who Sang to the Moonpunctures that stance with heartrending examples of sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, and cows who demonstrate a sense of humor, parental love, fear, and other so-called "human" emotions. The book affected us the way Fast Food Nation did: If you can get through it without vowing to become a vegetarian, you've got a heart of stone. The author signs copies of Pigand presents a screening of its 60-minute companion film, The Emotional World of Farm Animals, starting at 7 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $3-6.50; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.

Friday, November 21, 2003
There are no gallants in the ironically named Lobby Hero, a play penned by writer Kenneth Lonergan (best known for movie scripts such as Analyze This and You Can Count On Me). Instead, Lobby's true-to-life characters wallow in a moral morass of their own making, caught between what's right and what's expedient. The story circles around Jeff, a loser who's just taken a security guard job in a Manhattan high-rise. When he discovers that his boss, William, is being pressured to provide an alibi for a brother recently arrested for murder, Jeff's torn between revealing what he knows and keeping William's secrets when a pair of beat cops show up to provide provocative pros and cons for each course of action. See the insightful comic drama on its opening night starting at 8 (the play runs through Dec. 21) at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Admission is $34-36; call (510) 843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org.

Saturday, November 22, 2003
Think of it as the staged version of the Norton Anthology of Roscoe Lee Browne and Anthony Zerbe. Pulling together a range of poetry, prose, and plays, these two veterans of stage, film, and television kick off "Evenings at the Geary" (a new series of short-run presentations) with "Behind the Broken Words." The production is the result of Browne and Zerbe's love of performing poetry. The two friends have curated a group of works meant to come alive onstage -- notably, Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "Junkman's Obbligato," "Between the World and Me" by Richard Wright, and work from Edna St.Vincent Millay including poetry and two play excerpts from Conversation at Midnight and Aria Da Capo. The show begins this afternoon at 2 and this evening at 8 (and continues through Nov. 23) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $15-45; call 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org.

Sunday, November 23, 2003
Though Eric Saks first made a name for himself with 1989's Forevermore, a pensive documentary that examined the legacy of America's toxic waste on our environment and psyche, in reality the Los Angeles artist/filmmaker's interests and work are more in line with anti-establishment polemics like Michael Moore's Roger & Methan nature flicks like Koyaanisqatsi. His influential video projects have tackled topics as diverse as the maverick St. Francis, the ironic '90s embrace of tiki culture, and the way digital communications can compromise privacy, with a cockeyed prankster's take on modern sacred cows. S.F. Cinematheque salutes the iconoclastic director at "A Prank Without a Theory Is Merely a Hoax -- Program 3: Hung Up," a collection of Saks pictures (with the director in person) centering around his interest in recorded telephone conversations, found answering machine message tapes, and prank calls. Ring it up starting at 7:30 p.m. at California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St. (near 16th Street and Wisconsin), S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 552-1990 or visit www.sfcinematheque.org.

Monday, November 24, 2003
Tune in to one of those "soft rock" radio stations and you'll have an idea of the exact opposite of the Flying Luttenbachers. The band's undisputed leader, Weasel Walter, often describes his own music in terms some would call negative: "confrontational," "cutting," and "disorienting." To Walter, these are ideals, not insults. While waxing snarly at the state of free jazz, the jodhpur-clad drummer admits that the terms "jazz/metal" and "punk jazz," sometimes used to express the Flying Luttenbachers' style, are relevant terms. His is not music that "takes you away on a vacation with each song" (as the lady on those "soft rock" TV ads says) but rather music that demands you stay right where you are, pay attention, and rise to the challenge of a sonic puzzle. The Flying Luttenbachers are currently a trio, with Ed Rodriguez on guitar, Mike Green on bass, and Walter on drums. The group celebrates the release of Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder, with Numbers, the Monitor Bats, and Curse of the Birthmark also performing, starting at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $8; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.

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