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Night + Day 

Wednesday, Dec 31 1997
December 31
Auld Lanxiety Last year around this time, after the free-flowing bubbly and the hallful of enthusiastic strangers trashed your shoes, and the torrential rains soaked your velvet party dress as you and your date tried and failed to flag down a cab after waiting for a bus that never came, did you silently vow to spend this New Year's Eve doing something mellow? In that case, forget that Cheap Trick is playing the Hard Rock Cafe, and consider these peaceful, meditative options: a 2,100-pound, 16th-century bronze temple bell will be struck 108 times at the 13th annual Japanese New Year's Bell-Ringing Ceremony, an observance of the ancient Buddhist tradition that welcomes a fresh new year by scaring off the 108 mortal desires tormenting humans. In one of a couple of complex theories, the number 108 comes from multiplying the six senses (tongue, skin, ears, etc.) by the six sense objects (taste, touch, hearing, etc.) and then by the three time frames of past, present, and future. The bell-ringing begins at 11 a.m. at the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. The event is free with museum admission of $4-7; call 379-8879. There's usually a hushed but steady hum of traffic at "Symphony of Souls," a sort of spiritual health clinic where anyone can join in the daylong flow of song and dance, treat themselves to a laying-on of hands, or take a slow, contemplative meander around the spiraling path of the labyrinth. "Symphony of Souls," now in its seventh year, begins at 2 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California (at Taylor), S.F. Admission is free (but donations are accepted); call 749-6307. And finally, a light vegetarian communal dinner is followed by an evening of mantra chanting, meditation, song, and a candlelit procession down the spiritual path at the New Year's Eve Ecumenical Service, which begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Integral Yoga Institute, 770 Dolores (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is by donation; call 821-1117. (If, however, you do crave the crowds on this cacophonous night, see our guide to New Year's Eve events on Page 40.)

January 1
Ring In the New With the Old Make good on that resolution to redecorate at the San Francisco New Year's Antiques Show, a mall-like antiques market trafficking in items like Tiffany stained glass lamps and priceless Ming vases. Over 125 national vendors will sell Georgian silver, 17th-century tapestries, and Renaissance furniture and paintings, along with art nouveau and art deco pieces, none of which are technically priceless. Wear comfortable walking shoes and kiss that holiday bonus goodbye. The show begins at 11 a.m. (and continues through Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth & Brannan streets, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call (209) 358-3134.

January 2
Gentleman Jack Jack London, the Bernal Heights-born and Oakland-bred author of Call of the Wild heeded his own call of the wild over the course of his wandering life, riding the North American rails in boxcars, scrounging up dinner from Bay Area oyster traps or "set down" meals in the homes of the well-off, and eventually trekking through Alaska, where his adventures during the gold rush inspired his tales of man and nature in dramatic conflict. Playwright Felix Leon, whose one-person works have profiled Ben Franklin and Henrik Ibsen, uses London's own words from his book The Road as the basis for The Hungry Hobo, a one-man show about London's life. Actor Michael Kinsella, late of Nash Bridges, portrays a young London, the one who did prison time for vagrancy, and who joined an Oakland contingent of the poor known as "Coxie's Army" for their turn-of-the-century trip to Washington to demand that the government fund programs to feed the down-and-out. The Hungry Hobo opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Jan. 18) at the James Moore Theater, Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street), Oakland. Admission is $5-10; call (510) 654-8486.

January 3
Aria Ready? Tosca, Puccini's dramatic love triangle involving a hotheaded diva, her artist lover, and the chief of Rome's secret police, is an international opera company staple and a perennial crowd-pleaser 101 years after making its debut at Rome's Teatro Costanzi. The three-act opera, based on Victorien Sardou's play La Tosca, is set in the time of Napoleon's Italian campaign and is famed for its heart-stopping finale. This winter has turned out to be Tosca season in the city: Before the San Francisco Opera mounts its production of the work in mid-January, the 50-member San Francisco Lyric Opera will open its monthlong run of Tosca, which Artistic Director Frederick Winthrop plans to stage in full, in costume, and in Italian, a boon to intimidated first-time operagoers and opera buffs who like their music in an intimate setting. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. (and continues through Feb. 1) at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 678 Portola (at Woodside), S.F. Admission is $5-12; call 921-7410.

January 4
Short Set Social Circles Adults aren't the only ones who need a holiday hangover helper: The party's essentially over for kids, too, now that they've unwrapped the pretty packages, snuck every last sugary treat, and gotten away with the last of the bedtime extensions. Stave off the post-holiday blahs at the Museo ItaloAmericano's Family Day, where Hazel Jazel's Puppet Theater, with Nola Pardi Proll, performs Nasolungo, which is the story of a princess with a long nose, and which sounds a lot like "Nose-o long-o," strangely enough. Kids can do art projects after the show, which begins at 12:30 and 2 p.m. at the Museo ItaloAmericano, Fort Mason Center, Building C, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$2; call 673-2200 to make a reservation. The International Children's Film Festival screens movies from Argentina, Sweden, Italy, Britain, and points beyond in a series of Sunday matinees; foreign-language film subtitles will be read aloud. Highlights include two new movies based on Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit stories; Little Red Dot, the story of a Canadian-Indian girl and her schoolmates; and three films starring William Wegman's famous Weimaraners Man Ray and Fay Wray. The series begins today (and continues through Feb. 22) with an animated film starring famously sassy redheaded adventuress Pippi Longstocking at 1 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant (at College), Berkeley. Admission is $3.50; call (510) 642-1412.

Die Laughing Comedy comes with a scary edge at a two-for-one show starring sketch group The Lunch Box and performer Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The Lunch Box, comprised of New England expatriates Thessaly Lerner and Mary C. Matthews, follow up a citywide tour of their show That Magic Open Mic with Carnies, an original piece about 12 fic-tional carnival workers, drawn from interviews with actual carnival workers. Peer, if you dare, into the secret life of the midway: Meet the woman who stocks big, stuffed pastel bears at the ring toss; or the man who runs the Zipper, standing around smoking and digging the crud out from under his nails while white-knuckled kids scream for mercy. When Peter Nachtrieb isn't writing and performing with sketch-comedy group Killing My Lobster or doing his site-specific piece Reading and Drinking Coffee on the Larkspur Ferry, he'll become The Amorphous Blob, a man-made creature with a broken heart and a thirst for vengeance. The thrills and chills afforded by the solo's climactic battle scene are matched only by the work's inclusion of puppets. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and repeats Sunday, Jan. 11) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $7-12; call 541-5064.

January 5
The Resolution File Good news for everyone who decided to quit smoking, get more exercise, take up a new hobby, or meet new people in '98. "Smoking Cessation," a support group and educational clinic that provides information on various ways to kick butts, begins at 6 p.m. today at California Pacific Medical Center's Community Health Resource Center, 2100 Webster (at Sacramento), Suite 100, S.F. The cost is $75 for a six-week session; call 923-3155 to register. A Scottish Country Dancing Class, which offers all kinds of opportunities for self-improvement, introduces first-timers to jigs and reels set to fiddle music (students can practice their new moves at an upcoming Valentine's Day dance party). Partners aren't required but dance shoes or tennis shoes are essential for the class, which begins today at 8:15 p.m. at Millberry Fitness Center, Parnassus & Hillway, UCSF campus. Cost is $50 for 10 weeks; call 476-1115 to register.

January 6
'Allo Ali Before there was Robin Williams as the voice of Aladdin there was Fernandel as Ali Baba, in Jacques Becker's 1954 film Ali Baba et les 40 Voleurs, which will be shown with subtitles for all us non-French-speaking types who don't know that the title translates as Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. In this film, the first of a series of French comedies screening at the Alliance Française on Tuesdays and Saturdays in January, Ali Baba accidentally stumbles upon the cave where Abdul and his band of 40 thieves have stashed their ill-gotten gains. Our boy Baba makes off with enough gold to buy the beautiful slave girl Morgiane (Samia Gamal) from his master, Cassim, but Cassim and Abdul plot to exact their revenge on Baba and Morgiane's wedding night. The movie screens at 7 p.m. (and again on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 1:30 p.m.) at the Alliance Francaise, 1345 Bush (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $5; call 775-7755.

About The Author

Heather Wisner


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