This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Bee Lavender's first mark on the literary scene was her writing in Hip Mama, a hipster parenting zine that proved to gals like us that we could be punk rock and change diapers. But her new autobiography, Lessons in Taxidermy, reveals there's much more to this survivor than extreme motherhood. Here are just some of the characteristic moments from her dramatic life: skin and throat cancer, pregnancy and childbirth, a horrific car accident in which she sustains multiple injuries -- all before she graduates from high school. Through it all, Lavender delivers a clear-eyed perspective and keen insights. Lauren Sanders also reads at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

Thursday, April 28, 2005
The term "furniture dancing" conjures up many images, from gleeful bed-jumping pillow fights to poking a lover on the kitchen table. But Deborah Slater Dance Theater's latest program, "Furniture Dances," puts a much more cultured slant on our childish ideas. Slater has invited a cross-section of local artists to create pieces performed on or inspired by furniture, ensuring some fairly interesting setups. With acts that range from modern danseuse Patricia Jiron to tap dancer John Kloss, the show could present lithe bodies wrapping themselves like pretzels around three-legged tables and lots of clicking and clacking on bentwood chairs. At least, we hope it does. "Dances" begins at 8 p.m. at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-18; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.

Friday, April 29, 2005
As goofy, unpretentious, talent-packed variety shows go, "Be'er Now" has the highest grades in its class. Not only does it have a good-hearted pun right in the name, but it's also a benefit for the Zen Hospice Project, andit boasts something no stage has seen in a long time: Dammit the Wonder Dog, proud owner of shit-disturbing showman Chicken John. This high-IQ duo's act is bound to feature one of them jumping around at the command of the other, but who's to say who wears the pants in that family? In addition to Chicken and Dammit, the evening includes the jaw-dropping lineup of disrespectful accordion gang Polkacide, aerialists the Starlings, contortionist Leslie Tipton, and Sister of Ceremonies MaryMae Himm of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Buddhist beer-drinking starts at 8 at Broadway Studios, 435 Broadway (at Columbus), S.F. Admission is $12-15 (donations above $15 are tax deductible); call 648-4112 or visit www.polkacide.com.

Saturday, April 30, 2005
Our steamy but sweet fantasies of soulful early-1960s amour now have a soundtrack: Lord Loves a Working Man. The band's got a deep brass section anchored by Freddi Price, keyboards happy under the expert hands of Rob Reich, and throbbing guitars manned by Max Baloian, who reportedly conducts using the neck of his axe. These men pour their hearts out in songs that make audience members alternately work up a sweat and hold each other very, very close. But the group's molten center -- the knife in its teeth and the sauce on its meat -- is vocalist Ben Flax, a sugar-dipped, testifying, moaning danger to happy marriages everywhere. Drawing inspiration from vintage R&B and various soul shouters, Lord celebrates the release of its eponymous full-length recording tonight; Harold Ray Live in Concert and Brian Kenney Fresno share the stage at 9 at 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $8; call 970-9777 or visit www.lordlovesaworkingman.com.

Sunday, May 1, 2005
Traditionally, International Workers' Day is celebrated via bombastic marches and long-winded speeches. But as the fun-loving folks who run the new performance venue Counterpulse explain on their Web site, they've "chosen the radical people's holiday of May Day to celebrate the birth of a new community art space." Sounds like a party to us. The artist-run group is an outgrowth of the now-closed 848 Community Space, and is marking its move with a new name and a balls-out bash. The "Counterpulse Opening Party" features politically charged entertainment from the revolutionary all-vocal trio Samsara and the Brass Liberation Orchestra, as well as tunes from the Conspiracy of Beards, an all-male a cappella troupe that croons Leonard Cohen songs. The merriment begins at 8 p.m. at Counterpulse, 1310 Mission (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 626-2060 or visit www.counterpulse.org.

Monday, May 2, 2005
Every villain has a secret weapon. Ours is a poison pen. But for the blind scoundrel in the martial arts action flick Master of the Flying Guillotine, it's a hat-shaped device with retractable blades that is hurled at a combatant's head, resulting in a quick, fuss-free decapitation. A new uncut print of this kung fu classic, which counts Quentin Tarantino among its biggest fans, stars the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu as a one-armed boxer, the intended victim of this murderous contraption. Described by the New York Times as a "delectable cheese fest," the film should provide lots of sliced-and-diced corpses, fantastical costumes, and kung-pow sound effects; it screens at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5.50-8.50; call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatresf.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005
We've always imagined that if we watch enough telenovelas, our horrible high school Spanish will morph into lilting tones that would make any native speaker swoon. Though we have yet to roll our r's in anyone's ear, we like the idea of learning a language through pop culture. At "Manga Mania," author Wayne Lammers suggests that reading Japanese comics is a practical way to learn the country's notoriously hard language. His "real manga, real Japanese" approach uses published comic strips to teach basic pronunciation and grammar. Host Patrick Macias also interviews Frederik Schodt, who wrote Manga! Manga!, about the art form's U.S. explosion. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Japan Society of Northern California, 312 Sutter (at Grant), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 986-4383 or visit www.usajapan.org to RSVP.


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