This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Activists get a bad rap for lacking humor, but it's not always true: Witness the Internet phenom The Meatrix. This short animated film (in which "Moopheus" counsels "Leo," "This is the story we tell ourselves about where meat and animal products come from") made the rounds shortly after The Matrixcame out, and it combines the best of several worlds -- satire, call to action, edutainment. The spoof is just one of 16 shorts screening tonight at the Media That Matters Film Festival; let's hope its cohorts are as good. Humor aside, we do know that some of the other works in this "issue-oriented" collection are much more serious. There isn't anything funny, for example, about the plight of HIV-positive African orphans, but I Promise Africais still well told and prettily shot. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the Bay Area Video Coalition, 2727 Mariposa (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is free; call 861-3282 or visit www.bavc.org.

Thursday, January 27, 2005
Oh, Alton Brown, nerdy-cool scientist of the kitchen, let us count the ways in which we adore you: We love your ability to explain complex cooking physics using Styrofoam balls and toothpicks; we admire your use of unorthodox kitchen tools (hey, a stereo turntable does make an excellent Lazy Susan stand-in when frosting a cake!); we simply cannot get enough of the anti-food-snob recipes you share on your Food Network TV show Good Eats. And we're apparently not the only Alton appreciators out there. The geek-chic chef's 2003 cookbook, I'm Just Here for the Food, sold so well that Alton has returned with another volume focusing on baked goods, fittingly titled I'm Just Here for More Food. Ask him to explain his recipe for homemade Pop-Tarts when he appears today at noon 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.

Friday, January 28, 2005
Have you felt those frigid winter winds that have been sweeping straight down from Canada, through the hilly streets of San Francisco, and right on through your crappy cloth coat? I don't care what the weather reports say about temperatures in the mid-50s; when you're buffeted by one of those freezing breezes it feels like you're in Minnesota rather than "sunny" California. Which is why the nightclub "Isla Caliente" sounds so appealing tonight. Billed as a "tropical escape from winter," the event features tropical cocktails, hula dancing lessons, and two rooms of tunes from steamier climes: Latin house and booty-shaking bass like you'd hear in South Beach juke joints and Caribbean-compliant reggae, dancehall, and hip hop. Wear something scanty (covered with a jacket, of course) and think warm thoughts at 9 p.m. at the Sake Lab, 498 Broadway (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is $5; call 837-0228.

Saturday, January 29, 2005
The art-punk masses are on the move again. At Sara Thustra's "Seven Prints" show, viewers get an eyeful of screen-printed, multicolored anti-war works to please the brain andthe heart. Drawing on inspirations like "the incessant barrage of bullshit that's in our face all the time," Mr. Thustra (yep, Sara is a dude) reminds us -- as a children's mural we spotted recently also did -- "Art makes you feel good!" The artist's calm lines, strong colors, and paper-bag canvases certainly make us feel good. And in the words of Thustra's bio (courtesy of gallery owner and DIY superstar Breezy Culbertson), "[It's a] necessity for us all to live happily and continue to have energy to be in the world in a positive way." The exhibit's opening reception is at 6 p.m. (and the show continues through Feb. 19) at Needles & Pens, 483 14th St. (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 255-1534.

Sunday, January 30, 2005
Last time we saw Tango No. 9, we were trying to have a conversation. We had ducked into some joint to get out of the rain, and we didn't know the combo was scheduled to play. A glass of wine and a cozy tête-à-tête was all we had in mind. Instead, as soon as we got settled, the music grabbed us by the emotional necktie and pushed us up against a sonic wall. Abandoning all desire for chat, we gave ourselves over to the music -- which we liked even before we saw the dancers. The band's name, after all, is no joke: Amazing tango dancers follow the musicians around, the kind who can easily put radiant heat in your pants and a tear of joy in your eye. Tonight's hot-cha show also features silky, sassy torch singer Ruby Iron, starting at 9 at Amnesia, 853 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $7; call 970-0012 or visit www.amnesiathebar.com.

Monday, January 31, 2005
If you shop at independent bookstores, you have a good chance at finding something you like at "Bargain Books for a Better World."The publishers Soft Skull, AK, and Feminist all have titles for sale here. The event is a little more upscale than its name suggests: It may offer low prices, but the volumes themselves are brand-new. No musty used books here, no sir. Fresh art, fiction, nonfiction, erotica, criticism, and more from radical and indie houses are priced to move at this benefit for LiP, an independent magazine out of Oakland. Browse to your heart's content starting at 10 a.m. at New College, 777 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is $2; call (510) 689-3478.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005
"You construct intricate rituals that allow you to touch the skin of other men." The quote appears in block print over a black-and-white photo of what looks like some 1950s fellas enjoying a wacky moment. It's our favorite Barbara Kruger image. Kruger's sharp powers of observation -- along with her slightly absurd sense of humor and serenely unapologetic feminism -- make it clear that she deserves any number of awards; tonight she accepts the 2005 McBean Distinguished Lectureship and Residency at the San Francisco Art Institute. "Your body is a battleground" is the line she's most famous for using in her art -- layered over an image of a woman's face, split down the middle, one-half printed in negative. Would that the piece, which dates from the 1980s, weren't newly relevant. Perhaps that's why it's good to hear her speak now. Kruger's lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Art Institute Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F. Admission is free; call 771-7020 or visit www.sfai.edu.


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