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Fight Club 

Meet gaming legends

Wednesday, Nov 9 2005
WED 11/9

Battling Retief Goosen at Pebble Beach for three hours while incurring weirdly persistent left-hand numbness is hardly revolutionary. But I was on my bed, playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour on the PSP, and that makes me part of the coup, albeit in a very small, far-too-old-for-this, should-be-out-exercising kind of way. Then again, I've never played massively multiplayer Anarchy Online at a LAN warehouse party. Now that would be revolutionary. Sort of.

Such hype fuels Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby's Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution, but the book is also a fine history lesson on the output of highly intelligent minds. Gamers, should they step away from their controllers for a few hours, will devour it, especially the profiles of game creators John Romero (Doom), Shigeru Miyamoto (Donkey Kong), and Will Wright (Sims), along with low-level Best Buy employee/high-level role-playing wizard David Reber, who spends his nights, unavoidably, alone.

Wright, for one, is startlingly prescient, a man who's not interested in gameplay so much as in modeling the evolution of "everything." The characters in his latest work-in-progress are pre-Big Bang gases; here, players attend to the creation of the universe, much as they now attend to avatars in the Sims. The authors also have much fun with Wright's unnerving gaze, his gift to strangers who ask him inane questions (which, for Will Wright, means pretty much any question). Wright appears with the Smartbomb authors and John Romero at 7:30 p.m. at Cody's Books, 2 Stockton (at Ellis), S.F. Admission is free; call 773-0444 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

Smith College

SUN 11/13

Newly decorated by the French Minister of Culture, Commandeur of the Order of Arts and Letters Patti Smith performs at what presenters from SFSU's Poetry Center call "a rare solo reading." We find that to be something of an understatement, but OK. Punk deity Smith is famous for blending poetry's raw emotion and lyrical sense into rock's rigorous yowling, and her latest book of verse, Auguries of Innocence, takes its name from a poem by one of her heroes, William Blake. Will she read from it? "I'm never sure what I'm going to do until I see what the crowd is like," she says. Find out at 7:30 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $25; call 863-7576 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Ramble On
White's road trip

WED 11/9

In the documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, alt-country singer Jim White packs a broken-down Jesus statue in his beat-to-shit car and sets about the greater South, chatting with locals and musing on the Southern attitude. Gorgeously shot, the movie ambles through back roads and swamps, offering nary a glimpse of any class higher than lower middle (which has garnered him some bad press). Being a music sort, White puts performers right in the landscape, with Handsome Family, Johnny Dowd, and David Johansen (a long road from the hot, hot, hot days of Buster Poindexter) singing in diners and hotel rooms. White says he's "trying to find the gold tooth in God's crooked smile," and his film sparkles with affection.

Searching plays at 2, 7:15, and 9:15 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 668-3994 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

Little People
Homage to the superhero

ONGOING 11/9-26

Chris Cosnowski paints with a solid realism, using figurative sculpture as his subject matter -- which sounds very high-minded until you realize that his models were stamped out of a 1950s assembly line and are often mere inches tall. Cosnowski sets his portraits of little Supermen, army figures, plastic demons, and Fisher-Price Little People, alone or with a fellow toy, on flat surfaces with empty though colorful backgrounds; the works have a bit of iconic drama and remind us of the kinds of devotionals you'd find on a tech worker's desk. They're serious paintings of silly things, and, as the artist says in his statement, "The ridiculousness becomes a point of focus."

"Recent Paintings: Chris Cosnowski" runs through Nov. 26 at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, 210 Post (at Grant), Second Fl., S.F. Admission is free; call 956-3560 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

A Real Cut-Up

SAT 11/12

If you want to learn to cut people open, the Association of Operating Room Nurses wants you. Visit AORN's "Surgical Tools & Techniques" demonstrations and practice taking a very small piece from deep inside a body without ripping up its skin too much. Before you get all grossed out, though, know this: Just as tattoo artists must first work on grapefruit, the scalpel novice is invited to use a pumpkin. The procedure in question is affectionately known as a "seedectomy," but the tools are real. The demos start at 10 a.m. at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina), S.F. Admission is free with museum admission (free-$12); call 563-7337 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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