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Populist in Green Tights 

Steal from the rich? Omigod!

FRI 8/22

Thrillingly heroic and unabashedly idealistic, The Adventures of Robin Hood is a cinematic communiqué from a kinder, gentler era. Warner Bros.' dazzling sword-rattler from 1938 is resolutely not ironic, self-conscious, or postmodern. If that suggests campy naiveté and Tinseltown treacle, one of the happiest surprises of the year awaits you.

King Richard the Lion Heart is away waging some misguided war, and his opportunistic brother, John (Claude Rains) -- backed by the venal Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) -- has his hand in the treasury, his eye on the king's ward (Olivia de Havilland as the virginal Maid Marian), and his heart set on the throne. John's only obstacle is the bandit of Sherwood Forest, the original rebel with a cause, who employs robbery to ward off starvation among the poor and weak. (I'd like to see Gavin Newsom try to sell "Care Not Cash" to Robin of Locksley.)

The spectacle of Robin and his merry band building friendships based on grudging respect and lofty shared ideals is as irresistible as it is inspiring, while our hero's romantic love for Marian is chaste enough to make Hallmark blush. With the athletic Errol Flynn literally throwing himself into the title role, The Adventures of Robin Hood -- in a ravishing Technicolor restoration -- has a good guy you can root for unreservedly and villains who warrant every conceivable comeuppance. As Hollywood pleasures go, this one is 100 percent guilt-free. The swashbuckling begins at 7 p.m. (and continues through Aug. 28) at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 621-6120 or visit
-- Michael Fox

Strap One On

SUN 8/24

When a plan to string a mile-long chain of bras across the Grand Canyon went kerflooey in 2000, artist Emily Duffy picked up the ball -- the BraBall, that is. Duffy turned 10,000 donated foundation garments into a vast orb that currently weighs more than 1,000 pounds. Now she needs your assistance to finish the job. Women are invited to help complete the Final BraBall Roll-On, at which about 7,000 additional unmentionables are to be attached quilting-bee style as participants are entertained with live music and videos. The sphere gets spinning at 11 a.m. at SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is a $7-20 donation; call 863-1414 or visit
-- Joyce Slaton

Mock Cock Rock

THURS 8/21

At first glance Burning Man seems like tranny heaven. A desert full of open-minded folks who fervently appreciate good costuming? Pack the eyelash curler, Trixie, we're hitting the road! In reality, the searing heat and whipping winds melt makeup jobs and destroy pricey ensembles. So this year the Bay Area's finest cross-dressers entertain on the home front at the "Burning Man/Flaming Queen" strut-fest, featuring the gender-bending rock sounds of Pepperspray, drag king culture-jamming by Fudgie Frottage and Arty Fishal, and Acid Housewife's gleeful cabaret. The vamping begins at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 282-5378 or visit
-- Joyce Slaton

A Message in the Medium

WED-SAT 8/20-23

Is the United States addicted to war? Has the peace dove been shot dead? Though these are the questions raised in the art of Winston Smith, before you indulge in an ironic-sneer-encrusted "Duh!," be warned that Smith's trompe l'oeil collages pose these queries in the language of pop-culture images from the past -- très cool. Joining Smith in "Assemblage & Collage Icons" is sculptor Ronald Garrigues, who seems to wonder about different things, such as, "Can I make an object that is simultaneously phallic and not?" The Varnish gallery opens at 11 a.m. (the show runs through Sept. 20) at 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 222-6131 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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