This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
It beats us why Caitlin Atkinson wants to expose the humiliating moments in her life, but we really like the way she does it. Her large-scale color photographs show carefully posed tableaux of sad, confusing, or awkward situations -- but filtered through Atkinson's intelligent lens, they're also darkly comic. Our favorite from her last show depicted a dismayed Atkinson, standing in a kitchen wearing a vintage apron, regarding a cake pan with deep despair. Her most recent, eponymous exhibition is anchored by a beach scene in which the artist's free-spirited friends have already stripped off their clothes; the apprehension on Atkinson's face is both heartbreaking and hilarious, like all of her best work. See it through Dec. 24 at In Color, 2475 Third St. (at 22nd Street), Suite 251, S.F. Admission is free; call 861-3997 or visit www.incolor2.com.

Thursday, December 2, 2004
When we were little, we thought all drag queens had beards. This impression must have been partially created by those fabulous hippie transvestites, the Cockettes, a performance troupe whose complete disregard for cross-dressing tradition, or any tradition at all, made it awesomely hip in the 1970s. As with so many things from that interesting decade, the Cockettes have been rediscovered by modern kindred weirdos, and are hurriedly reclaiming their glitter-covered pop-culture pedestal. Dear Goddess, please let their anarchic pansexuality uplift the city's spirits again. Tonight's slide show/lecture/party by former bearded lady Pam Tent celebrates the publication of her book, Midnight at the Palace: My Life as a Fabulous Cockette -- we think it's safe to expect inspiring gender-role defiance 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, December 3, 2004
The hours are long. The work is painfully exacting. And you'll probably graduate with a student-loan debt hovering in the six-figure range. But that's just the start of attorney Michael Thomas DePaoli's broadside against his chosen profession in his one-man show, Why You Should Not Go to Law School, a laundry list of complaints that DePaoli counterbalances by establishing the important role counsel plays in the American system of government. The performance has been described as cathartic for those forced to defend their career choice to hordes of haters, but there's an even better reason for fellow lawyers to attend: Sitting in the audience earns a full two hours of continuing legal education ethics credit from the State Bar of California. Listen and learn at 7 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $35; call 392-4400 or visit www.whyyoushouldnotgotolawschool.com.

Saturday, December 4, 2004
The burlesque revival charming audiences here and in NYC is largely a revolt against the boring, airbrushed, silicone-injected look of modern erotic entertainment. Feminism never saw it coming, but it was young women taking that movement's lessons to heart who first said, "To hell with insecurity! I'm gonna shake it onstage!" Ignoring the unwritten rules that intoned, "You must be thin, blond (read: white), and have artificially large breasts before anyone will consider you sexy," these chicks now delight their fans with humor, style, and twirly tassels on bodies that break all those rules. Tonight's show, "PanTease," features the best of these rebel girls: Big Burlesque, Burlesque-esque, the Diamond Daggers, No Knockers Burlesque, and Harlem Shake. It starts at 9 p.m. at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $12-20; call 922-2385 or visit www.848.com.

Sunday, December 5, 2004
We'll say it, since everyone else is too chicken: The Nutcracker is a torturous annual happening that needs a stake through the heart. The one exception is the inclusive, campy, over-the-top "Dance-AlongNutcracker." Here, Tchaikovsky's score is performed by the high-spirited San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, and if everyone wants to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, everyone gets to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. In a similar vein, Larry Marietta conducts the San Francisco City Chorus in the "Sing-AlongMessiah" -- we have nothing bad to say about traditional Messiah performances, but this one sounds like extra fun. The "Dance-Along Nutcracker" starts at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $14-21; call 255-1355 or visit www.sflgfb.org. The "Sing-Along Messiah" begins at 4 p.m. at Lakeside Presbyterian, 201 Eucalyptus (at 19th Avenue), S.F. Admission is $10; call 765-7664.

Monday, December 6, 2004
Plenty of artists think of themselves as uncategorizable, and we applaud them. But you have to be a virtuoso genius like singer/songwriter Mirah to actually outpace pat labels. "Personal and stubborn" is one way she's characterized her own music in the past, and that sounds about right. Add "intelligently poignant" and "righteous, man," and you've got a description of her latest CD, C'mon Miracle. She covers Springsteen, translates her own tunes into French, and has been praised far and wide for songcraft, unselfconsciousness, and a voice that can do no wrong. Simple pop (or just ferociously sweet folk?) songs sound fantastical and complicated, and imply orchestras even as Mirah is obviously on excellent terms with her acoustic guitar. Dear Nora, Willow Willow, and Leyna Noel share the stage starting at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $6; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.

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