This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

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 www.blackoakbooks.com.

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 www.redvicmoviehouse.com.

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 www.unholythrashbrigade.com.

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 www.gr-sf.com.

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 www.bestofbroadway-sf.com.

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 www.roxie.com.

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