The career arc of the Knitters is a wonderful thing. According to the band's faux history section on its Web site, the group transitioned from hillbilly string to bluegrass music in the late '40s, played the Newport Folk Festival in '65, and undertook an "unlikely experiment in punk rock" in the '80s (and, somewhere in there, influenced Johnny Cash). All of which means the musicians are likely to stay in character tonight, since that "experiment" resulted in the bands X, the Blasters, and the Red Devils. Yes, the Knitters are having us on, but a bit of fun is to be expected when Exene Cervenka and John Doe get together to play electrified country-folk. Even so, it still sounds a hell of a lot like X, and their latest, The Modern Sounds of the Knitters, even covers two X gems. Phranc opens at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $25; call 522-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
Thursday, July 21
As wholesome as Americans pretend to be, it's clear that we like our fiction deep, twisted, and inclusive of some criminal element. Incest? Mystery? Gore? We love it all, from the redwood forests to the New York island. This is why we won't be too surprised if D. Travers Scott's novel One of These Things Is Not Like the Others blows up. The plot follows one of four identical brothers back to his small hometown to pick up the pieces after his father commits suicide. Problem is, the father is also identical, and left a claim that one of the brothers was never related to the rest of them. If that ain't American creep-out catnip, what is? Scott reads along with Matt Bernstein Sycamore, author of Pulling Taffy, at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com.
Friday, July 22
Washington Interns Gone Bad is a no-budget political-thriller film made by Jason Buckley on half a crappy shoestring, and it shows: Actors forget their lines, the framing is at times unforgivable, the video is somewhat punishing to look at. But overall, this is the stuff future geniuses make. Sample dialogue -- Republican staffer: "Bitch, I'm gonna give you a beatdown, like George Bush beat Saddam Hussein." Democratic staffer: "You mean you're going to give me a bunch of weapons and then fail miserably in your attempts to get me out of power?" R: "Shut up! I'm gonna fuck you up!" D: "The only thing you know how to fuck is the working class! Ha ha ha!" Elizabeth Croydon is hilariously evil and makes up for many of this movie's weaknesses. Interns screens at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Victorian Peace Center, 1665 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $5; call 864-1978 or visit www.washingtoninternsgonebad.com.
Saturday, July 23
It came as quite a shock: Not only had the virginal Pee-wee Herman been caught wanking in a dirty movie house, but concurrently, he wasn't really Pee-wee! He was known from then on as Paul Reubens, who had long hair and a goatee; all of a sudden, he was a grown man. In a bid to celebrate both actor and character, Paul Reubens Day is a series of events centered around a procession/pub crawl of assembled "-wees." Everything related to either Paul or Pee-wee is welcomed and adored by this bunch, who are, the Web site says, "not afraid or embarrassed by the pleasure we get from both Paul Reubens' work and masturbation." Attendees should be prepared to holler at the "magic word" and are encouraged to create their own personas. Ideas from the past: Punk-wee, She-wee, and Wee-wee. -Wees meet at 1 p.m. at the Gold Dust Lounge, 247 Powell (at Geary), S.F. Participation is free; visit www.paulreubensday.com.
Sunday, July 24
Mike Daisey blazed into the Bay Area last year with a one-man show about his dot-commer years at Amazon. He's back now with some musings on nationalism and student exchange programs in The Ugly American, which chronicles his youthful experiences as a 19-year-old American actor in London. If the premise -- "I went to a foreign land and people didn't like me, just because I am an American. Oh, the humanity!" -- seems fairly familiar, it's worth remembering that now, as always, it's pretty true. Besides, Daisey's supposed to be hilarious, and the story involves a wacky feminist prostitute/thespian. The curtain goes up tonight at 7 (and the show continues through Aug. 13) at Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Admission is $15-35; call (510) 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.
Monday, July 25
The thesis of the film The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear seems to be that over the past 30 years, two different groups of assholes -- neoconservative Americans and Islamic fundamentalists -- have conspired to make everyone miserable. It reminds us of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which society's fear of a secret web of bad guys had characters hysterically realizing, "You can't tell just by looking at them!" The aliens in that movie were a thin disguise for communists, whose beliefs, true enough, were not readily visible. Is it more scary now that zealots on both sides think they can tell who is a terrorist/infidel just by looking? Challenge your own fears and assumptions at screenings, which start nightly at 7 (continuing through July 28) at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.