The routine sights you probably take for granted -- amazing bay views that seem to pop up around every corner, rows of ethnic shops and restaurants along Mission Street, the cool clanky cable car turnaround at Powell and Market -- are the same attractions that compel visitors to spend thousands of bucks and travel untold miles just to experience our city for a few days. Now the groovy gallery Pond urges San Franciscans to take another look at this place we're so lucky to live in with "This Way Please: Tours of the Everyday," a set of installations that cast a new light on our relationship to the urban landscape.
The exhibit's centerpiece is Fingerprint Maze 2004, a high-tech toy created by Amy Franceschini, David Lu, and Michael Swaine that allows visitors to scan their fingerprints and see them instantly transformed into a 3-D maze that points up the similarities between the labyrinths of the body and those of our city streets. Rachel Hertog's Field Guide to the Mission takes a more naturalistic approach, identifying and describing the flora and fauna of S.F.'s urban jungle with a respect for species like the hardy cockroach and the robust plants that spring up between asphalt cracks. And Kate Pocrass and Patrick J. Kavanagh's faithful poster-size renderings of certain sidewalks -- a takeoff on Pocrass' eccentric guidebook, Mundane Journeys -- remind viewers that there's beauty to be found even on the gum-speckled byways you tread each day.
"This Way Please" is on view Saturday and Sunday at Pond, 324 14th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is free; call 437-9151.
-- Joyce Slaton
'Tis the season for toys, and appropriately enough the Punch Gallery presents "Curious Creatures," a multiartist exhibit of limited-edition figurines. More for display than play, the toys are prototypes of avant-garde products for sale by individuals who want to retain control over creation and distribution. Some riff cleverly on existing novelties (Friends With You's distinctly Beanie Baby esque plush toys), whereas others are unique (MARS-1's robots are like an H.R. Giger painting come to life). See them through Jan. 2 at the Punch Gallery, 155 10th St. (at Howard), S.F. Admission is free; call 845-4739 or visit www.punchgallery.com.
-- Melissa Lane
Shop, Drop, & Roll
The best of both worlds
It would be awesome to be two people. You could be the one who goes to "Rock 'n' Shop" to listen and buy, and the one who gets the hot handmade gifts. Unfortunately, unless you have superpowers, you'll have to choose. Will you swing over to the show, snapping up crocheted bikinis, knitted wrist cuffs, and compliment-gathering handbags while checking out rock bands like the Nads and the Mothballs? Or will you engineer a situation in which your friends and family members attend instead, following your obvious hints?
We know you'll make the right decision, but keep in mind that one of the "Rock" elements is $lotmachine, the all-kid (ages 7 to 10) punk band with a thing for the Ramones and Motörhead. The shoppin' starts at 9 p.m. at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-2011 or visit www.rickshawstop.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Tweaking a prosaic program with mischief in mind
Bane of the business world -- with its mind-numbing cavalcade of bar charts, bullet points, and clip art -- PowerPoint is Microsoft's omnipresent presentation-graphics software. Its stupefaction capacity has caused its banishment from the Pentagon, of all places. But the folks at the Pacific Film Archive, inspired by PowerPoint booster and musician David Byrne, endeavor to take this slide-show version of water torture to new creative heights via "PowerPoint to the People(TM)," an event exploring the artistic applications of this seemingly banal program. Tonight a band of artists presents its works live in front of a panel of judges, including monologuist/Ben Franklin impersonator Josh Kornbluth. The culture jamming begins at 7:30 p.m. at the PFA, 2575 Bancroft (at Bowditch), Berkeley. Admission is $8; call (510) 642-1124 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
-- Mike Rowell
Most of Lea DeLaria's fans idolize her for legitimate reasons: her vast, Renaissance-woman talents in the singing, acting, and comedy worlds; her courage -- she was the first out comedian to appear on television; and her outspokenness. We like that stuff, too, but we like her best because she dresses exactly like an '80s mod, her spiky hair and punk band buttons coordinating perfectly with swaths of black eyeliner and a sharp sports jacket. This notorious Hillary Rodham Clinton lover stars in Once Upon a Mattress, starting previews tonight at 8 (and running through Jan. 2) at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), S.F. Admission is $17-30; call 788-7469 or visit www.42ndstmoon.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser