This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Geniuses, man. They act kooky, wear weird clothes, work their highly intelligent fingers to the bone, and at some point, create stuff that blows your lower intelligence quotient out of the water, hopefully in a good way. In Christopher Felver's film Cecil Taylor: All the Notes, the smart guy in question does all of the above. The MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship winning free jazz musician appears in a dancing-around-in-knickerbockers scene, a making-wise-pronouncements scene, and in many, many scenes in which other musicians sharing a stage with him simply can't keep up. See this Mills College faculty member in rare moments both on- and offstage starting at 2, 3:30, 5, 6:30, 8, and 9:30 p.m. at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com for additional Thursday show times.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
When we first heard the Pixies, we knew this band would influence oodles of musicians. The question was (and still is): Can you have too much of a good thing? A new local combo's answer is a resounding no. Skiffington goes far into Pixies-influenced territory, and the ensuing sound is perfect. Dueling male/female vocals, a deep but spare bass habit, stinging guitar riffs, and too-good-for-punk-rock drumming all aim for the early college-radio sound Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering made famous. But the result is so honest, so buoyantly angry, and, ultimately, so pretty that it's more a shared sensibility than an homage. Ned shares the stage at 8 p.m. at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-2011 or visit www.rickshawstop.com.

Friday, May 13, 2005
Sky-high cover charges and two-drink minimums are the most obvious reasons we often avoid comedy clubs. Before you call us sourpusses, let us remind you of how many times you've sat with a watery cocktail, squirming at the talentless clowns onstage. But with their preternatural ability to make us laugh ourselves silly, the folks of SF Sketchfest have restored our faith in the art of farce. Tonight the merry pranksters unleash "All Tomorrow's Jokes," an evening of alternative buffoonery perpetrated on the unsuspecting bargoers of Polk Gulch. Hosted by Jordan Morris, the event includes Brent Weinbach's seriocomic monologues and irreverent sketch comedy from UC Santa Cruz based troupe Prank the Dean. Shows begin at 9 and 11:30 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $7; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.

Saturday, May 14, 2005
While many of us have been waiting decades to find out why Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side, Shakespeare aficionados have been waiting centuries to get the dish on the feud that drove Romeo and Juliet to their untimely deaths. StarCrossed takes a look at this bawdy back-story with a theatrical production done entirely in iambic pentameter. We won't reveal all the plot twists of this tell-all, but let's just say the histrionics include a smoldering suitor who's flat broke and fraternal twins who are a little too close. But such juicy plot lines aren't the only things that drive the production: Playwright Sharyn Shipley also has an extraordinary knack for scripting Shakespearean couplets and sonnets. Peek inside the Montague-Capulet hostilities at 8 tonight (the play continues through June 4) at the Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $17-20; call 820-1565 or visit www.steinbeckpresents.org.

Sunday, May 15, 2005
There are many reasons we love silent films, among them the flickering image that appears ghostly on the movie screen and the hiss of century-old celluloid as it glides through the projector. But the one thing we've never experienced is the live musical accompaniment that goes along with the imagery. Tonight composer Nik Phelps and piano player Frederick Hodges perform an original score to William Wellman'sWings, the 1927 flick that won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Picture. Oh, and the plot? "It" girl Clara Bow spends most of the movie cavorting around in a nurse uniform. Need we say more? See Wings fly at 8 p.m. in the Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $12.50-15; call 401-7987 or visit www.darkroomsf.com.

Monday, May 16, 2005
Not everyone can get away with publishing a book called What It Means to Be Avant-Garde, but poet David Antin, who's best known for his "talk poems," has done just that. The raconteur has been compared with such giants as Lenny Bruce and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and while we're not sure if we quite agree, his works intrigue us. Antin transcribes his tape-recorded ramblings on life, art, and whatever else comes into his mind, putting them on paper without capitalization or punctuation of any kind. The results are a cross between spontaneous verse and stand-up comedy. The controversial bard's latest offering is i never knew what time it was, from which he reads tonight at 7 at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Though often mentioned in the same breath as its more famous countrymen the Boredoms and the Ruins, Japanese avant-metal band Melt Banana produces speedcore that's clearly its own. Singer Yasuko Onuki's little-girl shrieks are like candy-coated pebbles bouncing on top of Agata Ichiro's pummeling guitars. Onuki claims that her lyrics are in English, but given the superhuman speed with which her bandmates attack their instruments, it's impossible to tell. Even so, fans like Steve Albini, Jim O'Rourke, and John Zorn don't seem to mind. The group is also known to perform twisted covers of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and the Spider-Mantheme song. Das Oath opens at 9 p.m. at the Independent, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 771-1421 or visit www.independentsf.com.


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