This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The life of a food critic seems enviable. Fine dining every night on someone else's dime? Sounds good to us! But it isn't always easy. Witness Ruth Reichl, who, as eater in chief for the New York Timesin the 1990s, wrote reviews that had the power to make or break Gotham's most important restaurants. To ensure a positive write-up, restaurateurs plastered Reichl's mug all over their kitchens, so that staffers would recognize her and give her a flawless experience. Therefore, to maintain her anonymity, the erstwhile Berkeley hippie dressed up as all sorts of outlandish characters, from a nouveau riche Alabama woman who was consistently mistreated by waitstaff to a sultry redhead whose husband couldn't get enough of her. Reichl's latest book, Garlic and Sapphires, describes such adventures at the table, which she shares tonight at 8 at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $18; call 392-4400 or visit www.cityarts.net.

Thursday, April 14, 2005
A peek inside the Mormon Church has always been hard for nonbelievers to get -- that is, until Confessions of a Mormon Boy, a one-man show by a gay man who just happens to be a sixth-generation Mormon. "While most boys my age wanted to be Donny and marry Marie, I wanted to marry Donny and be Marie!" says writer/performer Steven Fales of his religious upbringing. The father of two's autobiographical dramedy chronicles what he terms his "gay adolescence," which includes being excommunicated, getting divorced, and becoming a drug-addicted male escort in New York City. After all, how else is a struggling actor supposed to pay for child support? The play begins tonight at 8 (and runs through April 24) at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Admission is $20-35; call 861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org.

Friday, April 15, 2005
Used to be, left-wing hardcore punk musicians weren't allowed to have senses of humor. It wasn't cool to laugh or smile or crack jokes; if you did, well, you just weren't hardcore. So while Oakland trio Replicator makes great, harsh, Fugazi-inspired music to scream along to, it's debatable whether its sound can be considered hardcore, because of the fun factor. It might be out of the running because of the slight bounce in Benjamin Adrian's bass, or because of hilarious shit like the Big Lebowski sample on You Are Under Surveillance, the band's first CD, or song titles like "The Frogurt Is Cursed." Its use of synth instrumentation further disqualifies Replicator from hardcore orthodoxy. Why even wonder? Because Replicator is righteously pissed at the injustices that surround us, in a very hardcore way. D.A.R.Y.L. opens at 10 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.

Saturday, April 16, 2005
Sci-fi outrageousness takes over the silver screen tonight as the 1958 B-movie Queen of Outer Space va-va-va-vooms its way into the Castro. Zsa Zsa Gabor stars as just one of hundreds of intergalactic beauties who greet three astronauts after their spaceship crash-lands on the green planet Venus. With the dames in shorter-than-short miniskirts and fuck-me high heels, the hunky Earthlings think they've finally found a place to call home -- until they discover that the gorgeous gals are ruled by a man-hating queen who's killed off the entire Venusian male population. With costumes and sets recycled from Forbidden Planet and so-bad-it's-good dialogue, the whole production is a hoot. Actress Lisa Davis, who played Motiya, shares stories with Jan Wahl before the reels unspool at 7 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5.50-8.50; call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatresf.com.

Sunday, April 17, 2005
Ballet has long had a reputation for uptight prima donnas kowtowing to silver-haired patrons. But choreographer Alonzo King's Lines Ballet has updated the art form with an inventive body of work heralded by the likes of the Los Angeles Times ("the most sophisticated modernism in classical dance"). The Bay Area based company opens its 2005 home season with Satoh, a new piece that accompanies a commissioned harp and violin concerto from experimental Japanese composer Somei Satoh. The press materials describe the music as "a curious fusion of Japanese timbral sensibilities with 19th-century Romanticism and electronic technology." Ask King and Satoh about their creative collaboration at their pre-performance discussion at 6:15 p.m., then watch the show at 7 p.m., in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $15-50; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.

Monday, April 18, 2005
In the optimistic days of midcentury modernism, the homes of the future promised all sorts of useful trappings -- robot housekeepers, self-cleaning bathrooms, and gourmet meals that could be whipped up with the push of a button. Sadly, these innovations still haven't become reality. Even so, the advances of another forward-looking dream, prefab architecture, are slowly coming to fruition. The exhibition "Made Modular" investigates this trend, showcasing models and proposals for boundary-pushing prefab homes in America and abroad. Among the ultramodern pods is the winner of Dwell magazine's contest to design an affordable home for mass production. The show runs through April 29 at the AIA San Francisco Gallery, 130 Sutter (at Montgomery), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-7397 or visit www.aiasf.org.

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