Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Based on the title, the group lecture "Science Is Sexy" seems to have a definitive answer to the question that's plagued geeks since the time of Newton. Let's see if you agree: Is Michael Chorost's life with a cochlear implant -- essentially a computer embedded in his skull that allows him to hear -- sexy? How about Michael Pollan's ethics of eating, revealed in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, or David Ewing Duncan's feelings on the biotech scare, shared in The Geneticist Who Played Hoops With My DNA? Perhaps. But an atom bomb -- that definitely sizzles, and so does participant Richard Rhodes, whose book The Making of the Atomic Bomb won a Pulitzer and a National Book Award. These authors and more appear at 6:30 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $7-18; call 597-6701 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Accordions, tubas, fluegelhorns, and glockenspiels are now, incredibly, staples of the indie-pop scene. But sometimes it's best to let those versed in an instrument's traditions take the lead, like the many members of the Chico Bavarian Band, who, clad in shorts, play many rousing shows at Oktoberfest by the Bay. The festival starts tonight and, like any good German party, continues for several days, with exhibits, plenty of beer, a marching ceremony, pretzels, sauerkraut, more beer, and more performances from acts such as Musik Verein, Nature Friends Schuhplattler, and the Internationals (also in shorts). Today's "Gemütlichkeit Night" admission includes a souvenir glass, a beer, and a bratwurst; it starts at 5 (and Oktoberfest continues through Sunday) in Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $5-25; call (888) 746-7522 or visit www.oktoberfestbythebay.com.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Half a ham sandwich and a couple of slaps on the back later, we can say without reservation: Don't eat and watch Uphill Both Ways at the same time. During the comedy troupe's sketch "Mispronunciation Virus," our esophagus was jeopardized. It was worth it, though, because the piece opened with a newscaster announcing the epidemic infecting "San Frankissco." As you might guess, there was a shiitake mushroom joke in there somewhere, but the line that really got us was, "So how's your new apartment in North Bee-atch?" As the title of the group's new show, Four Years and Still Not Famous, advertises, these comedians are small potatoes right now, but who knows what the future might bring? Four Years continues tonight and next Friday at 10 at the Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 401-7987 or visit www.uphillbothways.com.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The love/hate relationship between regular people and rock stars is understandable: The grass is always greener on the other side, right? Still, touring musicians do an awful lot of bellyaching about "the road." They claim it's lonely, and dirty, and alienating. Willie Nelson can't wait to get back on it, but that's just him. At "Highway Tigers," an exhibit of photographs by Alissa Anderson, we plebes can observe the rock life through a musician's eyes. Anderson, a member of Vetiver, which toured with Devendra Banhart & Hairy Fairy, shows us the glamorous gas stations and fabulous ratty vans and, yeah, how cool it is to hang around backstage with a bunch of highly talented folks. The opening reception starts at 5 p.m. (and the show continues through Nov. 6) at the Record Collector, 485 14th St. (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 864-4243.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Modern dance isn't usually associated with either humor or indie rock; because it includes both, EmSpace Dance is clearly unusual. Young choreographer Erin Mei-Ling Stuart has been working with movement luminary June Watanabe, but that doesn't seem to have made her highfalutin. "I find beauty in the gestures of day-to-day life," explains Stuart, whose group is particularly loved for its accessible, hip quirkiness and charm. Indie celebrities the Mountain Goats have contributed a number of tunes for the company to use, resulting in a work called Songs for You, here reset from its well-reviewed 2004 premiere. The "5th Anniversary Performance" also includes the troupe's latest piece, New Monster Avenue, set to a song the Goats wrote just for EmSpace, and the Watanabe-inspired How to See Red. The show starts at 2 and 7 p.m. at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $12-25; call 273-4633 or visit www.emspacedance.org.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Hey, look, it's Rush Limbaugh's worst nightmare! A former Ralph Nader running mate, a loudmouthed left-wing activist, and (picture Limbaugh clutching at the place where his heart should be) a professor teaching native environmentalism classes in Minnesota, Winona LaDuke is pretty much the anti-Rush. Her new book, Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming, is a nonfiction look at the hypocrisy of the federal government that draws on her background in economics, social justice, and being a pissed off Ojibwe. LaDuke wonders: How are people supposed to practice now-protected traditional religions when the foundations of those religions -- say, the Great Salt Lake -- are not protected? Hear this answer and more at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.