House of Tudor

Free-speech wrestlers, all-girl boy bands, musical ninjitsu, and a restored Metropolis

During Star Trek: The Next Generation's run, the show's fans delighted in their hatred of the Enterprise's über-wimp, Ensign Wesley Crusher, dedicating countless Web pages to his demise. Since the series' completion, however, Crusher's alter ego, actor Wil Wheaton, has become a veritable champion of cyberspace. As an early member of Mindvox, an Internet service provider for the country's most gifted hackers, and a self-proclaimed libertarian geek, Wheaton has used as a platform to praise nerds, electronic music, Michael Moore, Ralph Nader,, and The Onion, while openly railing against the Bush administration, bowdlerization, “hacker crackdowns,” and, of course, Microsoft and AOL. Over time, Wheaton has won a lot of friends in dimly lit places: Last year, Entertainment Weekly returned from Thanksgiving vacation to find its online poll for “Entertainer of the Year” hijacked and rendered a Wheaton lovefest. Around the same time, Wheaton made his interests known to the wider public by appearing on The Weakest Link to raise money for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties organization devoted to protecting rights in the digital world. Wheaton and EFF had become associated earlier in the year, after a World Wide Web Fights Celebrity Grudge Match ( pitted Wesley Crusher against the giant purple blight that is Barney. While Wheaton defended parody as a legitimate form of public discourse, Barney's lawyers threw a copyright fit, sending cease-and-desist letters to Grudge Match and EFF. The latter told Barney's henchmen to “fuck off” in expert legalese and started a “Hall of Shame” for lawyers who use false claims about copyright law to intimidate computer geeks with a sense of humor.

In celebration of EFF's “Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression,” Wheaton has agreed to re-create the legendary battle onstage. On one side of the ring, representing digital activists, artists, comedians, and hooligans, it's Wiiiiil Wheaton; on the other side of the ring, representing economic fascism, corporate greed, and mind-numbing jingles sung in baby-speak, it's Barney, the reprehensible purple dinosaaaauur. The benefit for “Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression” will be held on Thursday, Aug. 22, at the DNA Lounge at 9 p.m. DDR, Mike Bee, Monty Luke, Kid 606, and Lucretia will perform; Wil Wheaton, Cindy Cohn, and Shari Steele will speak. Tickets are $10, or $50 for the VIP meet-and-greet; call 626-1409.

2Good4U, the Bay Area's only all-girl boy band, presents Dance! Dance! Dance! Explosion!, a variety show based on vague but ridiculous memories of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Bay City Rollers Show, and The Carpenters. Expect tributes to Sesame Street and Solid Gold during the “Wayback Machine”; hold your breath for the balloon-dance routine set to “I Am Woman”; roll the dice and play karaoke craps; win fabulous prizes by guessing the number on Pepper Tumeric's panties; and endure visits from the ghost of Lionel Richie. The studio audience will never be the same. Dance! Dance! Dance! Explosion! premieres on Thursday, Aug. 22, at Spanganga (3376 19th St. at Mission) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 821-1102.

Besides being the first science-fiction movie ever made, 1926's Metropolis was also the most expensive and longest-running European film at the time. In spite of Fritz Lang's spectacular vision and the incredible work of sculptors and actors to bring it to life, Germany's UFA Studios and Paramount Pictures thought nothing of cutting out more than an hour of footage, all but erasing the tale of obsessive love central to the story. This initial butchery, evidently, gave everyone and his mother permission to edit, retitle, and reinterpret the movie (just take a look at Giorgio Moroder's tinted travesty, which includes a disco score featuring Pat Benatar, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, and Billy Squier). No one has ever seen Metropolis as Lang intended. Now, Martin Koerber's digitally restored version attempts to right that wrong by reconstructing the flick from all its existing stock and filling in gaps with eloquently written titles. Nearly 10,930 feet of film (out of the original 13,700) has been restored to pristine condition and put to the original score, making this the most complete rendering ever released. Here, the mad scientist and Hel, the mechanical beauty that drives Metropolis to ruin, take on new dimensions, as does the acting of Brigitte Helm, the 18-year-old who plays the worker girl Maria and the robot. The germination of nearly every good sci-fi movie since can be traced to Lang's prophetic visual aesthetic. The 75th anniversary edition of Metropolis opens on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Castro Theatre (429 Castro, near Market), with screenings at 7 and 9:20 p.m. Tickets are $5-8; call 621-6120.

I first saw Attaboy and Burke crawling through a junkyard, swinging from a teetering pile of twisted bumpers, old tires, and wasted medical equipment like strange characters raised from the candy-colored landfill behind Dr. Seuss' house. They took turns spewing poems about lost girlfriends, bad skin, beneficial sugar, the marvels of nature, and the muddles of humanity. They used beatbox punctuation and graceful, goofy lyricism, leaving me speechless and rubber-footed, standing in the junkyard with my mouth agape, which is not, by the way, the best stance to take in a junkyard. Since then, my home has become littered with books and pins and fanciful creatures crafted in the Yumfactory, the creative atelier and adjunct to Attaboy's brain. I ponder the physical effects of playing with Attaboy toys such as Cootie, Jump Rope Rock, and Maggot Farm (found at a Toys “R” Us near you); I wonder how Ben Burke's cartoons might permanently alter the thought processes of children; I delight in the comic series Goo and pass out the pink, spiny “I Sea Creatures” stickers. Sadly I don't often enough see Attaboy and Burke live. On the most recent occasion, I witnessed the musical augmentation of A&B's linguistic “ninjitsu”: a six-piece, funky, punky, jazzy jubilation that sounded like the implausible coalescence of Soul Coughing, e.e. cummings, Ogden Nash, The Banana Splits, and Salvador Dali. Attaboy and Burke perform with Karmacoda, Stonedays, and Ledenhed at a Nadine's Wild Weekend showcase on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 111 Minna at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 974-1719.

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