This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
A big group of men can be frightening or funny; ditto for all-male entertainment forms. We're thinking of The Usual Suspects, The Man Show, and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the legendary classical ballet troupe featuring men in tutus and on pointe. There are exceptions, of course: The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus springs to mind as forcefully neither (they have dignity, an item often notably absent from gaggles of the Y-chromosomed). Now along come the Mantasticks to uphold our original theory. We like them 'cause they're definitely in the "ha-ha" category instead of the "aaaaaaaaa!" camp. The ensemble's seven guys have spent a lot of time training with Chicago's famous Second City group, and are big, big stars in their own minds. Typical male behavior. Well, OK, audiences like them, too. See hot man-on-man (-on-man-on-man-on-man-on-man-on-man) action starting at 8 p.m., with a second show at 10 (continuing through Jan. 31), at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $20; call 433-3040 or visit www.mantasticks.com.

Thursday, January 29, 2004
By now, collections of censored news items are a familiar sight at independent bookstores. The question is, why are certain stories still being suppressed? We all know the media should be free to report, you know, the news. Why isn't it? The answers may or may not be in Censored 2004, but the omitted journalism is. Go hear Peter Phillips and the Project Censored group (straight outta Sonoma State University, aka Granola U. Go hippies!), and maybe you'll be able to figure out just what the hell is going on around here. Ralph Nader likes the Project, the American Journalism Review likes it, even the L.A. Times likes it. You're smart: You'll appreciate it, too, starting at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

Friday, January 30, 2004
Could a play about a boy prostitute be boring? We think not. Based on David Henry Sterry's popular memoir, Chicken: A 1-Ho Show details the actor's own life as a teenage male whore servicing wealthy women in 1970s Hollywood. Just back from a ragingly successful run at Scotland's prestigious Edinburgh Festival, Sterry here reprises his many characters: nuns, pimps, innocent girlfriends, and criminals. Teenage guys, listen up: He does not want to tell you how to get into the business. You may think it sounds fun now, but ... well, just go see the show. Apparently, it's unexpectedly funny, so much so that HBO wants to make a series out of it. Chicken is on for one night only, starting at 8 p.m. at Spanganga, 3376 19th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10; call 821-1102 or visit www.spanganga.com.

Saturday, January 31, 2004
We're not convinced that punk can be rocked on an acoustic guitar. Sure, we know several snotty record-store clerks who'd probably say that nothingcan be rocked on the maligned instrument, but Hamell on Trial is proving such purists dead wrong. Ed Hamell, one-man punk band, is often described as "bald" and "loud," sometimes hailed as "godlike," and hardly ever accused of being "machete-wielding," but music writers from Austin to London really seem to dig his guitar-playing. His latest album is called Tough Love, and it leads off with one of the funniest premises for a song we've heard in a long time: God explains what he meant by the Sixth Commandment, exactly. Maybe a light rephrasing is just what lunkheaded pro-death-penalty types need to understand the directive: The song is simply called "Don't Kill." Is it punk? Doesn't matter. Anti-Social Club opens at 9 p.m. at 12 Galaxies (formerly Club Galia), 2565 Mission (at 22nd St.), S.F. Admission is $10; call 970-9777 or visit www.12galaxies.com.

Sunday, February 1, 2004
Not being fans of multi-culti jam bands, wailing Celtic chanteuses, or just about any kind of music produced by musicians wearing Rasta caps, we generally avoid the world music section of record stores, only darting in to snatch a release from one of the Gilbertos, or maybe Manu Chao. But the work of composer/pianist/percussionist Omar Sosa, which combines the mesmerizing instrumentation of Cuba and Africa with sexy, throbbing Latin jazz rhythms, is a big fat exception to that rule. Sosa's lush, soulful sound is the backdrop for Dimension Dance Theater's Stream of Legacies, a performance that draws together the disparate dance styles of the African diaspora and Cuba in honor of Black History Month, with live accompaniment from Sosa and Dimension Dance's drummers. Listen up today at 3 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is $25-35; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.

Monday, February 2, 2004
French documentary filmmaker Nicolas Philibert spent several months in a one-room schoolhouse in the Auvergne mountains, watching a good teacher teach. The result, To Be and To Have (Être et avoir), has repeatedly been compared to the popular doc Spellbound for its observations of children learning. The students depicted in the movie, ages 3 to 11, struggle cutely with life's problems, large and small. The teacher, Georges Lopez, is touchingly dedicated and skillful. Although the picture itself seems like a quality piece of work, we have a sneaking suspicion that teachers who lack quaint villages, soaring mountain views, or a class size of 12 (teachers: Scream now, while you're reading this, rather than during the screening) may feel a little resentful. Our caveat: Remember that the romantic scenario presented by this movie is a carefully constructed image, just like every other work of art. Screenings begin at 2 p.m. (and continue through Feb. 4) at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatre.com.

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