Thursday, September 23, 2004
In the art world, like the rest of the world, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. A curator or gallery owner can find herself catering only to trends or to collectors' predilections. But for the past quarter-century, Martin Muller has resisted these temptations, and the "25th Anniversary Exhibition" at his gallery, Modernism, proves it. The range of styles is impressive, from pop art to minimalism, and the show's long, long artist roster includes none other than Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp. The really amazing thing, though, is that the quality of the art is consistently high, from Mark Stock's calmly pining butlers to Naomie Kremer's spazzy jolts of color. Muller's curatorial achievements are on display through Oct. 30 at 685 Market (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free; call 541-0461 or visit www.modernisminc.com.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Wallace Shawn fans come in many forms, ranging from those who merely appreciate his signature "Inconceivable!" in The Princess Bride to people who have performed most of the plays he's written. If you're anywhere in the middle, you'll probably want to see The Designated Mourner, a piece of Shawn-penned theater. The Last Planet Theatre company got its start several years ago by producing the Wallace Shawn Festival, at which four of the actor/playwright's works were staged, thus placing Last Planet members at the far-gone end of the Shawn-fan spectrum. In celebration of the troupe's new home, the enthused actors have returned to worship once more at the Shawn altar with this production, which examines, as the press materials state, "what it means to completely lose your moral compass." Mourner opens tonight at 8 and continues through Oct. 17 at Last Planet Theatre, 351 Turk (at Hyde), S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 440-3505 or visit www.lastplanettheatre.com.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
We first made Neil Hamburger's acquaintance via Great Phone Calls, an obscure album of sidesplitting calls made by a San Francisco weirdo named Gregg Turkington, who enjoyed ringing up comedy clubs and raving nonsensically about the comic genius of nonexistent funnyman Hamburger. Though brilliant, Turkington's prank-call album didn't ride the same wave of early-'90s kitsch fame as far inferior efforts by outfits like the Jerky Boys. But the local wit soon re-emerged, performing as the laughably bad stand-up comic named -- you guessed it -- Neil Hamburger. To see Hamburger in action is to be both convulsed with laughter and helplessly confused. Does he mean to disconcert his audience by scolding it for laughing at his divorce? Are his wretchedly awful one-liners intended to inspire giggles or blank stares? And what's up with his powder-blue tuxedo? Embrace Hamburger's oddball mystique tonight at 10 and midnight at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $10; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
You have to wonder what Japanese directors were smoking when they came up with some of Godzilla's nemeses. A smog monster? A mammoth shrimp? The colossal flying space turtle known as Gamera? We're not particularly spooked by a super-size version of a lethargic reptile, but Gamera must have hit a nerve in Japan, because the monster's 1966 debut inspired a series of films that rivaled the Godzilla franchise in popularity. Of course, by the 1990s Gamera-mania was long dead -- until director Shusuke Kaneko decided to bring the venerable behemoth out of mothballs, releasing three movies that were widely praised for their breathless action and impressive special effects. See Kaneko's revamps today at the "All Day Gamera Marathon," starting with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe at 2 p.m., in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $12-20 for the trio of flicks; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
Monday, September 27, 2004
Geoff Ellsworth, who's also known as the rock band the Towne Dandies ("I used to have more people in the band, but they got married and had kids and stuff"), is the star of a new "one-man football musical." Seriously: Football Town's plot revolves around several characters preparing for the last big game of the year. "It's kind of a Pee-wee Herman thing, but also Devo-influenced," Ellsworth tells us. Songs like "Gotta Stop the Run," "Can't Score Points Without an Offensive Line," and "Man in Motion (You've Gotta Believe)" drive the narrative -- and almost made us choke on our lunch from laughing so hard. The performer says he played ball in school but "did a lot of running out of bounds, because I didn't like getting hit." Further prodding fails to bring out any bitterness in Ellsworth toward organized sports, and he promises that if he's going to criticize, "I try to veil it under layers and layers of silly stuff." See him and his rock 'n' roll interpretive dance at 9:30 p.m. at Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin), S.F. Admission is free; call 503-0393 or visit www.theeparkside.com.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
We love her for all the things she hates so eloquently: tabloids, stupidity, celebrity sycophants, poor spelling. Her columns in various publications have consistently made us laugh and confirmed our suspicions that the rest of the world is dumb. But we've been wary, too: What if we were to catch her attention ourselves? We'd never survive if Cintra Wilson's cutting wit were directed at us. With that in mind, we feel trepidation about attending her reading and seeing her in person. Her new book, Colors Insulting to Nature, is supposed to be really good -- and extra mean. We love that, but we're scaredy-cats. You? Be brave, starting at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
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