Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Dear Jon Wolanske: There are so many reasons to love you -- your handsome rubber face, your lissome form, your wry delivery, your willingness to tart yourself up in French maid drag and vast handlebar mustaches in pursuit of titters. We go to every Killing My Lobster show just to see you, dearest, and now you've given us the best gift of all -- you're front and center in "Uncle Dickie's Wicked Little Christmas," starring in the subversively giggly one-act play The Night Before Christmas. Sweetcakes, you're perfect for the role of weaselly Simon in Anthony Neilson's dark English comedy. We understand there are two other short-and-funny holiday-themed pieces in the show, but we only have eyes for you. Look for the lady with the yearning expression at 8 p.m. at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (between Taylor and Mason), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 776-7427 or visit www.sffringe.org.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
After Sept. 11, 2001, much was made of the need to restore "investor confidence" and "consumer confidence." The president spoke of his desire for economic self-reliance, and citizens were urged to shop as a form of patriotism. We began to wonder: What's the difference between a politician and a confidence man? We're not sure that just because we give our hard-earned ducats away, things are going to get better. Swede Erik Gandini spent three years investigating similar concerns for his film Surplus: Terrorized Into Being Consumers. From anarchist John Zerzan's call for property damage to the wild excesses of capitalism (did you know you can spend $7,000 on a sex toy?), the movie examines the distribution of resources worldwide and the often coercive forces that keep people trapped at the mall. The screening begins at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 789-8484 or visit www.whisperedmedia.org.
Friday, December 19, 2003
The late-'90s democratization of home and design magazines mostly left us cold -- Real Simple seemed too Martha Stewart, Dwell too ritzy, and Wallpaper just made us feel clueless (not to mention fat). But hipster arts-and-crafts mag ReadyMade is practically perfect. It doesn't splash its pages with pictures of rich people's remodels (hey, we could have an incredible-looking place, too, if we had half a million bucks to throw around!). Instead, its projects are plebeian, cheap, weird (a grass couch? a Dixie cup lamp?), and blessedly within our reach. Get to know your next favorite read at the Indie Mag All-Stars "East Bay Invades West Bay" match, where representatives of some very fine East Bay magazines (Hyphen, Bitch, Oaklandish, Kitchen Sink, and, natch, ReadyMade) read aloud from their publications and teach S.F.'s indie literati a lesson. Listen up starting at 8 p.m. at Adobe Book Shop, 3166 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is free; call 864-3936 or visit www.kitchensinkmag.com.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
At about the same time most Westerners are buying the cocktail mixers and confetti they'll need for their big New Year's Eve night out, traditional Japanese celebrants are preparing to whack the hell out of some rice. The mochi tsuki, or mochi-making events, are a classic part of year's-end parties in Japan, during which strong-armed types bash steamed glutinous rice into the stretchy, chewy sweetened cakes that symbolize the health, happiness, and good fortune each eater hopes will soon come his way. With thunderous taiko drums setting the rhythm for the walloping, the mochi fest is a potent spectacle that finishes with a mouthful of confection, a perfect finale for any holiday soiree. Take a bite at the Holiday Mochi Pounding Ceremonies starting at 1 p.m. in Japantown's Peace Plaza, Post & Buchanan (and again at 4 p.m. in the Japan Center Kinokuniya Building, Post & Webster), S.F. Admission is free; call 421-4373.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
How to describe the Dwarves to those who haven't seen the group live? The stage act combines a smidgen of Iggy Pop's spasmodic hysteria, the crowd-taunting snottiness of the Sex Pistols, the mock-S/M costumes of the Cramps, and the all-out stupidity of Sha-Na-Na. Twenty minutes -- the length of the average Dwarves show -- spent with these lunatics equals the exhaustion power of two hours of nu-metal. Nonetheless, the band's most recent album, 2000's Come Clean, was a wee bit calmer and more melodic than its brutal earlier work. Does that mean the S.F. underground legends have similarly mellowed in person? Bring earplugs just in case when the act headlines an evening at the Bottom of the Hill (with raucous hell-raisers Bottles and Skulls and Zodiac Killers opening) at 9 p.m. at 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.
Monday, December 22, 2003
Innovative composer Phil Kline makes musicmaking easy: You grab your portable stereo and head to the meeting place. There he'll give you a tape or a CD of a single sound -- bells, choir vocals, or other festive noises -- and when you join up with your boombox-toting friends, together you'll create a prearranged piece of music. And since you're all mobile, you're free to stroll along the prescribed route through the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Castro. Kline describes Unsilent Night, which he has put together every December since 1992 in New York and other major cities, as "... like a Christmas caroling party, except that we don't sing, but rather carry boomboxes. In effect, we become a city-block-long stereo system!" We hope our neighbors like the tune. Meet at 6:45 p.m. at Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Participation is free; call (707) 869-2778 or visit www.mindspring.com/~boombox/xmas.htm.