Thursday, December 16, 2004
The first time we were exposed to David Sedaris, we got a double whammy: It was the writer himself reading from his autobiography, Naked, with help from his amazingly funny sister Amy, on an audio book. We were driving at the time, and while everyone should run out and buy his books on tape, we can't recommend listening to this one from the driver's seat. The choking, screaming, and prolonged watery eyes from laughing so hard are serious driving impediments. Far safer (and reportedly just as hilarious) is actor John Michael Beck performing in two Sedaris pieces, The Santaland Diaries, which famously describes a holiday shopping season from the perspective of a department store elf, and Season's Greetings, a comedy of Christmas traditions. The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. through Saturday (with shows at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday) at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $17-20; call 820-1565 or visit www.steinbeckpresents.com.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Those familiar with Mark Huestis' productions know what to expect. For everyone else, "A Judy Garland Christmas" is a good example of the cavalcades of fame, talent, drag, and high camp for which this "hostess" is so well loved. This over-the-top event's headliner is Margaret O'Brien, who as a child acted with Ms. Garland in tonight's feature film, the 1944 holiday musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Some producers might book film critic Jan Wahl to interview O'Brien onstage, screen the flick, and call it a night, but not Huestis; he does things big or not at all. As a result, "Christmas" also includes the amazing Connie Champagne portraying Garland in a short holiday-themed concert, as well as Matthew Martin's interpretation of Valley of the Dolls' Helen Lawson singing "I'll Plant My Own (Christmas) Tree," all starting at 7 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $27.50; call 863-0611 or visit www.castrotheatresf.com.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
The Asylum Street Spankers are a fast, witty, and highly talented bunch of string pickers. They're also a band completely obsessed with pot, beer, and sex -- most of the act's original songs, as well as many of its jaw-dropping renditions of vintage tunes, cover one of the above subjects. Hell, even the treacly "Shine on Harvest Moon" winds up dirty in this outfit's hands. The all-acoustic Spankers' shows are notoriously hysterical, raucous happenings, but they're hard to describe: Let's just say that the group calls on the spirits of jug bands, bluesmen, shady ladies, punk rockers, beatniks, and crooners, and leave it at that. Scott Young opens at 9 p.m. at 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 970-9777 or visit www.12galaxies.com.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
If scores of computer gaming enthusiasts congregate in a given place, they'll probably busy themselves swapping Halo 2 war stories and anime pinups, right? Well, if today's "LAN Party" is any indication, they'd probably prefer to do what it is they do best -- that is, sit silently before a computer screen and virtually bash the hell out of their rivals. Since 10 a.m. yesterday local gamers have been furiously competing in Warcraft 3, Unreal, Need for Speed, and other themed blitzkriegs; the battles continue today with an added live attraction -- to-the-death paintball matches! Bring your own computer; play shuts down at 4 p.m. at the SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $20 (plus an extra $2-5 for paintball); call 863-1414 or visit www.ascendancygaming.com.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Fans of fine drag, perk up. If you're like us, you were overstimulated by the Miss Trannyshack pageant (and they say size doesn't matter!) and are longing for a performance of a more intimate nature, with no dip in quality. We strongly advise seeing the Incredible Edie, a girl whose talent and legs seem to go on forever. Seriously, this gorgeous triple threat's singing and dancing are spectacular -- we think you can trust the people who hand out the "Oscars of Drag," the Glammys -- and her acting? Well, several Broadway directors like it, and we know you will, too. Edie goes on at 8 p.m. at the Empire Plush Room at the York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Hyde), S.F. Admission is $20; call 885-2800 or visit www.plushroom.com.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
While it sounds a little like Cinema Paradiso, it's also a ghost story, a love song, and a "cruelly, astringently funny" picture, according to the Vancouver Film Festival. The plot of Goodbye, Dragon Inn uses a neat device, too, involving the screening of a 1966 martial arts flick called Dragon Inn as a movie-within-a-movie. The whole thing is highly figurative: The death of Taiwan's huge old movie theaters and the shared experience of moviegoing are invoked by rain leaking through the cinema's roof, while the gimpy box office girl offers the handsome projectionist her peach-shaped fortune bun. Screenings continue daily through Dec. 23 at 6, 8, and 9:45 p.m. with Wednesday matinees at 2 and 4 at the Roxie, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
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