This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
In an era when skeletal models are routinely praised for their "svelte" shapes and women boasting such formerly popular features as hips and soft bellies are considered self-indulgently fat, it's no surprise that many young girls wish fervently to hold onto their angular pre-pubescent bodies. Hysteria over anorexia-boosting "pro-an" Web sites aside, concerns about weight are these days considered a normal part of femininity. But heft consciousness takes a sinister, satirical turn in Schoolgirl Figure, a perverse stage comedy by Wendy MacLeod (The House of Yes) in which a group of high school girls compete to be the thinnest in the class in order to win the attentions of the dreamy BMOC, Bradley, newly single after his ex-girlfriend's death by anorexia. Witness a horrifying -- and reputedly hilarious -- meditation on emaciation from the actors of ACT's Young Conservatory at 7:30 p.m. in the Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), S.F. Schoolgirl Figurecontinues through Saturday. Admission is $7.50-15; call 777-2800 or visit www.act-sf.org.

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Awhile back, it was news that movie audiences go apeshit for the "butt-kicking babe." The line between pornography and militarism is spaghetti-strap thin for the b-kb, and she's attractive to everyone from right-wingers to feminists. Ashkan Sahihi's exhibition "Women of the Israeli Defense Force" plays on this fictional character but brings her to life. The photographs in the show are all of young women, many of them holding machine guns. Their fatigues are tight and their faces are made up. The title of the collection seems intended to recall pinup calendars and Playboy themes, but these kewpie dolls, it bears remembering, are real soldiers whose job may include killing people. The visual tension is definitely worth a look. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. at the Start Soma Gallery, 672 South Van Ness (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is free; visit www.startsoma.com. On Saturday, Nov. 20, the show moves to the Hotel des Arts; see www.sfhoteldesarts.com.

Friday, November 19, 2004
We don't wanna work -- we just want to bang on a drum all day. Apparently our drum-loving forebears felt the same, insofar as almost every part of the world has developed its own style of percussive music. At the Congo Solo and Percussion Festival, performers are encouraged to use an improvisational style to blend drumming traditions from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. As the title indicates, most of the skin-thumpers get onstage all by themselves, but Saturday's show also includes a dance piece by Reconnect Haitian Cultural Ensemble. The beats go on at 8 tonight and tomorrow night at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Do you know someone who needs cheering up? Someone who could use a beautiful song, a goofball guffaw, or a really eye-popping performance by a guy known as the Yo-Yo King? Of course you do! "Dark Kabaret" is your ticket out of depression. This occasional variety show features can't-miss entertainment like cult favorite singer Ann Magnuson (from Bongwater, dude), the nimble vibrating mouth of beat-boxer Kid Beyond, world-class bubble trickster Sterling Johnson, and burlesque troupe the Lollies doing all the law allows. And you'll be even happier to discover that the music for the show is in the extremely talented hands of guitar god Eric McFadden. The shimmies start shaking at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $25-75; call 885-0750 or visit www.musichallsf.com.

Sunday, November 21, 2004
Some weeks ago a friend asked us how we could bear to keep up with the news given the grim state of current events. We answered him with the truth: The Daily Show is our nightly therapy session. Did conservatives sponsor another constitutional gay-marriage amendment? Is the ozone hole growing? One more beheading in Iraq? No matter; Jon Stewart and his hysterical band of fake-newscaster sidekicks make it all seem bearable. Tonight a member of the crew passes through our city: Bespectacled, banjo-playing Ed Helms sloughs off his faux-serious anchorman persona for the zanier stand-up stylings that won him a regular spot in New York sketch-comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade. Brian Malow opens the show at 8 p.m. at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $17; call 928-4320 or visit www.cobbscomedyclub.com.

Monday, November 22, 2004
When we think of the comic strip Bloom County, we automatically think of our favorite character, drugged-out spastic Bill the Cat. Creator Berkeley Breathed is not in town to talk about Bill, though: Currently, it's all about Opus, Breathed's other megastar, a beleaguered penguin whose innocent comments often belie a savant's intuitive knowledge of politics. Recently, we noticed Opus trying to marshal Bill into elected office. Not a good idea, we believe -- but then, ridiculous optimism is one of the penguin's admirable traits. The author reads from Opus: 25 Years of His Sunday Best at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Zora Neale Hurston is something of a lost American treasure: Although adored by academics and fans of her amazing breakout novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the anthropologist, folklorist, and writer isn't known as widely as she could be. Her investigations into African-American culture in the early part of the last century are put to dramatic use in her recently rediscovered play, Polk County. The protagonist, a struggling musician named Leafy Lee, returns to her small hometown in Florida to find life difficult, her community fascinating, and blues music something akin to salvation. Using the vast talents of the cast to incorporate some of those blues into the dramatic action, this production brings the long-forgotten work to life under the lauded direction of Kyle Donnelly. The show opens tonight at 8 (and continues through Jan. 9) at Berkeley Repertory's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Admission is $15-60; call 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.


Calendar submissions can be mailed or delivered to 185 Berry, Suite 3800, San Francisco, CA 94107; faxed to 777-1839; or e-mailed to hiya.swanhuyser@sfweekly.com at least three weeks in advance of your event.

 
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