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House of Tudor 

A polka hall of fame, a reality show about fantasy creatures, and a play that's sure to bomb

Wednesday, May 21 2003
Polka, like jazz and blues, has regional dialects in different cities across America, complete with dogged devotees, specialized Web sites, and elite halls of fame. Cleveland-style polka is derived from Slovenian tamburitza music; Chicago-style polka is largely Polish -- by Polish, in Polish, for Polish; and San Francisco-style polka? Well, San Francisco-style polka is, essentially, absurd. Combining elements of punk, pop, rock, and C&W with the traditional oompah beat, it is the bastard son of the polka world, but it sure knows how to show a girl a good time. As demonstrated by the Cleveland International Records compilation Extreme Polka, it's a style well deserving of its own hall of fame, even if the induction ceremonies have to be held in a pizza parlor in the Castro. And so it is, in this year of the holy squeezebox: The founding members of the San Francisco Style Polka Hall of Fame -- Polkacide, Big Lou's Polka Casserole, and the Squeegees -- welcome the Brave Combo from Texas and the Polkaholics from Chicago for their musicality, personality, and tentative lunacy. Bratwurst pizza for all! Polka exhibits and musicians will be on display during the induction ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, at the Castro's Escape From New York Pizza (508 Castro at 18th Street) at 10 a.m. Admission is free; call 252-1515. Also, Polkacide performs on Sunday, May 25, at the Bottom of the Hill with Hammerdown Turpentine opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 and include all-you-can-eat barbecue; call 621-4455.

From the folks who brought you The Idiot's Guide to the Necronomicon comes RealWorld: Mount Olympus, a reality show about fantasy creatures. What happens when you put five very big gods in one very tiny apartment on the Lower West Side of Olympus? (Very, very bad things, I'll guess.) Meet Anubis, the sweet, well-intentioned, jackal-headed Egyptian god of the dead who, despite his welcome in the airy realm of Ra, could never get out from under the shadow of his domineering father, Osiris; and Baphomet, the Sabbath's slutty, cloven-hoofed goat-crow-babe who got the Knights Templar in hot water (literally) before inspiring Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey, and a whole slew of long-haired guitar noodlers; and Ganesh, India's elephant-faced golden child, so unanimously adored for his problem-solving skills that he's worshipped by Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus throughout Southeast Asia, as well as in the homes of numerous Westerners with a penchant for crystal therapy and nude massage circles; and Cthulu, the brooding creator of chaos, with his unfortunate octopus face and giant claws, who, according to H.P. Lovecraft, will one day rise out of the Pacific Ocean to cause wholesale insanity and mindless violence across the globe before obliterating mankind altogether; and, last but not least, Hades, the often misunderstood son of Cronus and Rhea, who became lord of the Greek underworld after losing a game of roshambo to his brothers Zeus and Poseidon. What happens when Cthulu refuses to empty the trash? Who's got the hots for Baphomet? Who died and made Ganesh boss? Tune in and find out. This episode of RealWorld: Mount Olympus is brought to you by Shadow Circus Creature Theatre, progenitors of disturbing puppet shows for a disturbing world. This screening party will be held at "The Mercury Ball," followed by live musical performances by Galaxxy Chamber and Gun & Doll Show, on Thursday, May 22, at Studio Z at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5-8; call 252-7666.

It's difficult to imagine anyone ambitious, and dare I say foolhardy, enough to stage Stanley Kubrick's satirical tour de force Dr. Strangelove, but with baby-boy Bush still clacking his balls together like a snot-nosed brat on a mechanical horse, the people over at Spanganga thought it was high time we learn to love the bomb again, and, having just completed a successful run of their interpretation of Reservoir Dogs, they were not afraid. Of course, the demands of staging Tarantino -- some guns, some suits, dark glasses, and an ensemble able to challenge the memory of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Steve Buscemi -- are somewhat dwarfed by the pre-apocalyptic vision of Kubrick, which included falling bombs, planes, communism, and deadly fluoridation, expertly blended by the unforgettable Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and Slim Pickens. "The challenge," says co-director Jim Fourniadis, "was to make it our own." To that end, Russian Ambassador de Sadesky is played by Church of the SubGenius fountainhead Hal Robins; Dr. Strangelove is played by Spanganga impresario Sean Kelly; and the role of Major T.J. "King" Kong is reinterpreted by performance artist and DadaFest co-founder M.I. Blue. "The result," says Fourniadis, "is like a very serious Tom Clancy novel mixed with the Keystone Kops." It's much better than that, featuring priceless performances by Bryce Byerly as the sputtering Group Capt. Mandrake, Paul Addis as the gung-ho Col. "Bat" Guano, and co-directors Marcus Solomon and Fourniadis as President Muffley and Gen. Turgidson, respectively. And you certainly won't want to miss Major Kong's last ride. Dr. Strangelove runs Thursday through Saturday, May 22-24, at Spanganga at 10 p.m. Tickets are $11.50-15; call 821-1102.

With a Moog that flirts with early Chicago soul, a jangly guitar destined for a 1960s garage band, a funk-fueled bass, Latin-infused percussion, and the angular, slightly distended lead vocals of a man who could've replaced David Byrne on any of the first four Talking Heads albums, the Watchers seem entirely unlikely to come up with something cohesive, much less good. Not only is their debut, To the Rooftops, very good indeed, but it's also fiercely danceable -- in a spastic, post-punk, I-love-Erase-Errata sort of way. The Watchers open for Dance Disaster Movement on Friday, May 23, at the Hemlock Tavern at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 923-0923.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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