Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Unless you're some kind of sick, joyless freak (or a sad allergic person) you no doubt enjoy chocolate's sensory pleasures: sniffing it, eating it, watching it magically transform regular people into slack-jawed sybarites in the midst of a quasi-religious experience. But how much do you really know about the treat so powerful that the Greeks called its main ingredient, cacao beans, theobroma, or "food of the gods"? At "Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!" Brad Kintzer, chocolate maker for exalted Berkeley chocolatiers Scharffen Berger, provides the lowdown on the brown stuff -- its history, manufacturing, flavor notes, and future. Of course, numerous samples accompany the lecture, which begins at 7 p.m. at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln in Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $30-40, and preregistration is required; call 661-1316 or visit www.strybing.org.
Thursday, December 9, 2004
The "Porchlight Storytelling Series" is a venue for untutored regular people to get onstage and try their hand at holding an audience's interest. No scripts are allowed: This is storytelling, not storyreading. But some people have an unfair advantage in this forum, due to their ridiculously interesting lives and enviable accomplishments; many such people have been invited to speak at this month's event (co-produced with the smart and sassy Heeb magazine), "The Martyrs and Miracles Show." Among them are composer, singer, and film curator Jewlia Eisenberg; Mission District novelist Peter Plate (doesn't he count as a professional?); and internationally known DJ Polywog. It seems unjust that these folks lead more fascinating lives than the rest of us -- but in this case, it equals an amazing night's entertainment. The yarns unreel at 7 p.m. at the Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $10; call 431-7578 or visit www.porchlightsf.com.
Friday, December 10, 2004
When an exhausted Sean Kelly decided to close his bustling gallery/theater Spanganga, San Francisco lost an incredibly vital space, one that had hosted everything from plays to sketch comedy to messy "Splosh" sex parties (the participants covered in pancake batter and potting soil). On the other hand, with Kelly's prodigious energies freed from the day-to-day drudgery of running a theater, he found the time to write and stage a brand-new production in collaboration with cohort (and Popcorn Anti-Theater co-founder) Helena Nolan. It sounds hysterical, if Kelly's excited description of it during a Manhattan-soaked bar bull session is to be believed. "It's got ninjas, man!" he emoted. "It's got a programmer who starts losing his fingers, and mad scientists, and lots of stupid business jargon, and PCP, and spray cheese, and ninjas!" Indeed. Measured Cuts continues through Dec. 18 at 238 Capp (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $10-14; call 385-6296.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
If you're lucky, you've had the opportunity to sit in a church frequented mainly by African-Americans and listen to a black gospel choir do its thing. Energized by faith, convinced that the best way to worship God is to sing out straight to heaven, these parishioners produce music that is so passionate, pure, and soulful it'd bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardhearted atheist. Experience exactly what we mean tonight when the powerful gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama takes the stage with the Dixie Hummingbirds (which Ebony magazine described as "the world's greatest gospel group") for an evening of traditional holiday tunes and originals culled from the Boys' best-selling 2004 album, There Will Be a Light. Get inspired at 8 at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California (at Jones), S.F. Admission is $25-60; call 788-7353 or visit www.sfjazz.org.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Now that donning a Santa suit and freaking out tourists is old hat among San Francisco hipsters, where's the iconoclastic holiday celebrant to go to express her seasonal ennui with like-minded culture jammers? Strap on that fake beard and bring your "ho ho hos" to Naughty Santa's Black Market, the annual alternative crafts fair at which one is more likely to find terrifying playthings and drunken artisans than gifts suitable for Grandma. Perhaps some tyke would appreciate a Cement Cuddler, a plushy animal divested of its stuffing, filled with concrete, and affixed with a stern tag warning children not to seek comfort from toys in this hard, cruel world. Load your stocking with perverse creations starting at 4 p.m. at the SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 695-9100 or visit www.naughtysantas.org.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Here's a band that doesn't live up to its name -- at least, not yet. The Famousplays no-frills country music of the Bakersfield Sound variety (that is, the old-fashioned Buck Owens style, a genre now known as "classic country") mixed up with some good old indie rock. So the Famous isn't famous, except among those who've heard the group in action, because practically everyone who's listened to the band's cheese-free, slightly punkified hillbilly jangle thinks it's the greatest. Here's the kicker: A common sight at Famous shows is a guy walking away afterward shaking his head and saying, "I don't even like country music. But they were really good!" Whether fame finds Victor Barclay and Laurence Scott or not, you can be one of those head-shaking guys. The Sensation Junkies, Two Loons for Tea, and Shane Bartell open at 8 p.m. at the Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk (at Clay), S.F. Admission is $5; call 921-1695 or visit www.reddevillounge.com.