This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, November 9, 2005
We're very much in favor of "large and lovely." Bigger is, so much of the time, better, and we're not talking only about human attributes. At "Mayhem," a juried exhibition that doesn't charge an entry fee, any Northern California artist is eligible to submit his stuff. Because so many galleries ask for dough just to look at a portfolio, this show tends to generate a stampede of submissions. This year, the event's curator (some might say "wrangler") is Julie Joyce, who looked at all that art so you don't have to. The very large and very lovely result is an outsize exhibit featuring the work of some 66 artists, one of whom is photographer (and MTV doyenne) Tabitha Soren. "Mayhem" continues through Dec. 10 at Southern Exposure, 401 Alabama (at 17th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2141 or visit www.soex.org.

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Most often described as some variant of "Tina Turner throwing the MC5 down a flight of stairs," the Bellrays mix thumping, garage-y guitar with an element found only rarely in the world of independent rock music: a singer. Not a screamer. Not a howler. Lisa Kekaula is a soul singer, for real, with strong lungs and something to say. The band emphasizes the importance of its live shows in order to partake of the true Bellrays experience. After all, the quartet points out on its Web site, you've got ears to listen with, a brain to think with, and a butt to shake. "The point is," continues the site, "you shouldn't rely on assholes like ME to tell YOU what music sounds like!" So rely on assholes like us: The Black Furies and Chow Nasty open at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthe-hill.com.

Friday, November 11, 2005
Honestly, we don't know all that much about the San Francisco Bicycle Ballet. But really, how much do you need to know to give it a try? Synchronized bikes, choreographed to be watched from above, inspired by Busby Berkeley and marching bands: Even if the SFBB sucked, it would still be hilarious. Besides, given the dedication of the bike-riding freakazoids in this town, it'll be a smooth, rehearsed thrill ride. Will there be costumes with tall hats? Or a bunch of scruffy messenger types swilling Tecates? We can't tell you, but we do know that the Gallimaufrey Orchestra, Spoke Tones, Jimbo Trout, Decibelles, and many others play beforehand. The music starts at 7 p.m. at Dogpatch Saloon, 2496 Third St. (at 22nd St.), S.F. Admission is $8; call 864-2588 or visit www.sanfrancisco-bicycleballet.org.

Saturday, November 12, 2005
Usually, birds of a feather flock together -- especially in the music world. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you won't catch an indie rock fan at a reggae show, or a rockabilly guy at a Middle Eastern oud concert. Thank golly for that one percent of us who are inveterate border crossers, like Toshio Hirano, a Jimmie Rodgers loving "yodeling cowboy from way out East." Hirano is one of the many attractions at Cowapunka!, a benefit for the West Memphis Three, a trio of men convicted of murder whom the prosecutors targeted based solely on their clothing and music choices. Celebrate -- and defend -- nonconformity at noon at Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin), S.F. Admission is $3-10; call 503-0393 or visit www.cowapunka.com.

Sunday, November 13, 2005
When we first heard the name of the event called Crankyfest, we assumed it'd be something we'd attend upon being awakened at 3 a.m. after a long drinking jag. Maybe we'd gather in a room filled with other bad-tempered folks, scratching and complaining and generally itching for a fight. Sadly, we were wrong. In fact, a "cranky" is a primitive, miniature theater in a box: a roll of paper painted with pictures that tell a story, cranked by hand past an open frame. (The person doing the cranking often narrates and provides sound effects, too, like a beatbox with a prop.) At Crankyfest, a handful of theater artists -- including the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew and shadow puppeteer Janaki Ranpura -- integrate this obscure '60s-era invention into their own stage work. The show's producer, the one-named Russell, also leads a DIY cranky workshop. Given that the device is popular with mime troupes and marionette ensembles, we expect to find ornery types only among audience members who've stumbled in unprepared. Get cranky tonight at 8 at CounterPulse, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 626-2060 or visit www.happyfeettravels.org.

Monday, November 14, 2005
Homegrown but world famous: That's the way we like our authors. Amy Tan flaunts a number of other paradoxes as well: poignant and funny, wise and goofy, widely admired as well as gently mocked (in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, a group of boring-looking college students are given the epithet "The Joy Luck Club"). Tan reads from her latest novel, the story of a bunch of San Franciscans lost in Burma titled Saving Fish from Drowning, at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.

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