This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Stephen Elliott on John Kerry: "He looks like a President. He's tall and stately. I think he's wearing a wig; in fact, I'd bet a dollar on it." Elliott on John Edwards: "He's glowing. Wow! What a smile. And those teeth ... I want to kiss him, or perhaps run a comb through his golden hair. ... It takes me nearly two hours to realize he hasn't really said anything." Such delicious political commentary is generally found only in The Onion, but hometown boy Elliott has gone and written an entire book filled with the hysterical musings he formed on politicos and their campaigns during a year spent following the candidates from city to city. Smirk along with him -- and perhaps get his thoughts on the recent debates -- when he reads from Looking Forward to It: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the American Electoral Process tonight at 7 at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

Thursday, October 14, 2004
When Jim Henson died, it seemed at first as if Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and all the rest had gone along with him, so deeply did people mourn. And while it's true that Kermit will never again be voiced by the guy who cut up his mother's avocado-green summer coat to make the world-famous frog, the puppeteer's passing galvanized his fans. Few can claim to be as moved as the collection of musicians who go by the name the Dead Hensons. This septet is committed to silliness to an astonishing degree -- it performs the music of The Muppetsand Sesame Street exclusively. From the open road of "Movin' Right Along" to Sesame Street's "Garden," an anti-littering screed, the group's tunes hit just the right note; the Dead Hensons' wide range of instrumentation and general adorableness reproduce the grooviness of those great kid-rock TV shows perfectly. The Undertaker & His Pals open at 10 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.

Friday, October 15, 2004
The Bay Area is a place where citizens are generally delighted to see a costumed group of Pilgrims hunting a guy dressed as a turkey through the BART trains, or a cardboard limousine offering gratis transportation to Saturday night revelers. Were you lucky enough to be an innocent bystander when the members of Idiot Machineroared through with these or any of their other culture-jamming public performances, you've no doubt already made the acquaintance of this arts collective. But if you've missed the group's confuse-and-amuse missions, an opportunity to giggle at a great big bunch of them awaits tonight, as the pranksters present Permanent Side-Project, a video documentary of their antics accompanied by live acts that encourage bold members of the audience to play along. Cast aside your spectator status starting at 10:30 at the Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 896-6477 or visit www.cafearts.com.

Saturday, October 16, 2004
We certainly can't fault the Hermetic Order of Arcana's taste. The local performance group (mostly a bunch of Amoeba Music employees), launching itself tonight on a mission to bring back creepy radio dramas, chose a perfect tale: H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the spooky saga of a New England fishing village overrun by mysterious invaders from beneath the sea. In typical Lovecraftian style, Innsmouth leaves the horrific details of the monsters to the readers' imagination, and the fiends we conjure up in our minds are a thousand times more terrifying than one described in painstaking detail. This reliance on flights of fancy melds perfectly with the possibilities of aural theater, where what you don't hear is often scarier than what you do. Close your eyes and listen to the Order's nine readers orate live tonight, accompanied by an original score and sound effects, at 8 at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 824-8203 or visit www.borderlands-books.com.

Sunday, October 17, 2004
OK, everybody, Jamie Kennedy's going to be at Cobb's tonight, and since the man's so fond of messing with the heads of those around him -- you have seen Punk'd precursor The Jamie Kennedy Experiment on the WB, right? -- we should be ready with a prank for him. Should we all show up naked? Find and bring his high school girlfriends to heckle him? Bark like seals in place of laughing at his anecdotes? No, wait, we've got it: Let's seed the audience with shills who, after each joke, will stand up and patiently explain just why that particular one is offensive to women of color/the height-challenged/those with multiple chemical sensitivities, etc., etc. It'll be great! Now, don't blow our cover. Try to keep a straight face at 8 at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $18; call 928-4320 or visit www.cobbscomedyclub.com.

Monday, October 18, 2004
For a white-boy soul experience as harmonically convergent as the Eagles and as mellow and pretty as Traffic, Etienne de Rocher, that self-described "weird French Southern guy," is just the ticket. A singer/songwriter with Rufus Wainwright tendencies and a voice that recalls 1970s-era post-folk, this one has been slaying audiences in his adopted Bay Area for quite a while now. He's even promised a debut album. Looking for spacey lyrics, shimmery guitars, and the occasional funk-out? Get it right here, hipster. De Rocher appears at "CC's Acoustic Underground Showcase" along with Loretta Lynch, Mokai, and Joe Rohan at 8:30 p.m. at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 552-7788 or visit www.elbo.com.

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