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This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

Wednesday, Aug 31 2005
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
How did the universe evolve? Beats the shit out of us. For that you need Norman Glendenning, a theoretical physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His book After the Beginning: A Cosmic Journey Through Space and Time is written for the layman, with "interesting derivations and calculations" relegated to boxes at the ends of chapters, although he may have a curious idea of the layman with headings such as "Hadronic era (t = 10-5 to 10-3 seconds)." But take a peek and you'll find easy-to-digest nuggets with nothing more complicated than slightly questionable syntax, such as: "At the beginning, the fire was so intense that nothing in the universe now resembles what it was made of then." Forget the book, though. When's the last time you sat down with a theoretical physicist without having to take notes? Glendenning speaks at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck (at Vine), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 486-0698 or visit

Thursday, September 1, 2005
Gregg Araki is a Rorschach test. Read over the many reviews of Mysterious Skin, the director's latest film about two young men sorting out their lives in the wake of childhood sexual assault, and it's easy to see how the critics arrived at their perspectives: Either the movie is a plum chance to fling right-wing catchphrases like "recovered memory" and "lifestyle" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), or else it's "hard to imagine a more serious or persuasive indictment of the horrors inflicted on children by sexual abuse" (L.A. Times). Likewise, star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not acting at all, or is turning in a truly nuanced, perceptive performance. In fact, depending on whom you read, the point of the film is either to hold a desperately needed mirror to a heinous situation, or merely to shock audiences for the sake of it. Oh, and everyone agrees it's not an easy movie to watch. Mysterious Skin screens at 7:15 and 9:25 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 668-3994 or visit

Friday, September 2, 2005
Vegan thrasher band Uzi Suicide follows the old punk credo of using short, short songs ("Wish You Were Dead You Fucking Snitch" clocks in at about 15 seconds) and violent imagery to upset the soft or the narrow-minded -- hence the name. The Santa Cruz quartet rants and rages in the grand tradition of radical political bands like Minor Threat, plays benefit shows for animal rights activist Peter Young, and writes songs like "Won't Mosh in Your Dojo, Don't Start Fights at Our Show" and "Glenn Danzig Homo = Awesome." Masacre, Hostile Takeover, Hand Over My Daughter Mendoza!!!, Boundry, and Rosenbombs share the stage at 8 p.m. at Balazo 18 Gallery, 2183 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 550-1108 or visit

Saturday, September 3, 2005
Rugged individualism is under attack. Everyone knows that ah-tists need to be alone, to work alone, and to have their egos (and theirs alone) massaged through public exhibition of their work. But three painters, some would say, are trying to exterminate the God-given right of artists to adhere religiously to their own creative visions only, and are trying to replace solitary pursuits with an evil collectivist morass. Craig Dransfield, Maya Hayuk, and Brian Holderman (they don't even seem to know that men and women can't work together!) had a good time making an installation called "Roll Rampant and Free" together in Pittsburgh, so they decided to do "Some Total," a show opening this evening. Witness the downfall of Western civilization as three artists work together, enjoy themselves, and produce good art. The reception starts at 6:30 (and the exhibit continues through Oct. 3) at Giant Robot SF, 622 Shrader (at Haight), S.F. Admission is free; call 876-4773 or visit

Sunday, September 4, 2005
OK, here's the deal: You can go see Annie, but you have to get really high first, and you have to hold up a lighter during "Tomorrow." Sigh. If only. Obviously, you do not use drugs, and obviously, we here at SF Weekly could not possibly encourage a fire hazard during a stage show intended for children. It just seems weird to mount a production of this play and unselfconsciously use phrases like "plucky little redhead" in the press materials -- whoever is responsible should be made to pay somehow. This musical is simply not fit for the consumption of anyone over 12 unless he can endure near-fatal doses of camp; but since you probably have tickets already, you'll know what to do. The PLR treads the boards starting at 2 p.m. (and continuing through Sept. 25) at the Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. Admission is $40-160; call 551-2000 or visit

Monday, September 5, 2005
Winter Soldier is a documentary about a group of Vietnam veterans who came together in the early 1970s to confess. The 125 or so former members of the armed forces admitted, personally, to committing the atrocities that have since been represented in feature films, books, rock music, and any number of other creative outlets; "the horror" of what happened in Southeast Asia is something of a horrible cliché at this point. So how does it happen that Abu Ghraib has been described as "unprecedented"? Involved with the filming of this obscure doc are "Hanoi" Jane Fonda, producer; John Kerry, well-spoken veteran; and Barbara Kopple, the sound technician who would go on to win many Academy Awards. Screenings start nightly at 7 and 9 (continuing through Sept. 8) at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit

Tuesday, September 6, 2005
You know the bit about magicians never revealing their secrets? Jim Steinmeyer is one of those secrets, the man behind the tricks of Doug Henning, David Copperfield, and Lance Burton, among others. You've likely never heard of him because, well, he's a magician. His new book with the virtuosic title The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer" chronicles the exploits of a magician who died in 1918 during an act called Defying the Bullets, which he failed to do. Turns out Soo wasn't the Chinese master he claimed to be, but a middle-aged American and a former conjurer's assistant with a second family and a mistress in London. How'd Robinson pull it off? Well, he was a magician. Steinmeyer reads at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit

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Michael Leaverton


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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