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'Shroom Boom 

Fungi pop up in Oakland

SAT-SUN 12/6-7

Hunting for mushrooms is something like attending an Easter egg hunt. Fans of luscious fungi frequent the Bay Area's fertile sylvan areas in the misty early mornings, turning over dead logs, checking the ends of tree roots for fairy rings, and running their hands over dirt and loam looking for the telltale bulging and cracking that indicate a perfumed matsutake is ready to emerge. But the search is even harder that it looks: Toxic strains cleverly mimic edibles, identification can be confusing and easy to screw up, and all too often the novice seeker is forced to call a new find an "LBM" (little brown mushroom), fit only for the forest floor.

Luckily for us, the Mycological Society of San Francisco is here to help, with the annual Fungus Fair, a decades-old event during which amateur and pro mushroom fanciers display hundreds of varieties and explore the educational and culinary potentials with expert lectures, slide shows, cooking demonstrations from noted local chefs, and exhibits on everything from classifying finds to medicinal uses. The festival begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street), Oakland. Admission is free-$8; call (510) 238-2200 or visit
– Joyce Slaton

Deco Mecca
S.F.'s magnificent modernism

SAT-SUN 12/6-7

City visitors often remark that many of our buildings resemble each other. No surprises there: This town grew so quickly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the majority of structures were built in clusters, with rows of Queen Anne Victorians giving way to clumps of beaux-arts offices. But for those who know where to look, there are architectural surprises everywhere, from rococo detailing on granite boxes to stunning Arts and Crafts homes hidden away in quiet neighborhoods. And though we might be a bit behind New York and Miami in this regard, our city can even boast gorgeous art deco structures.

See for yourself as you stroll our streets with an expert guide during an Art Deco Walking Tour of San Francisco. Attendees can explore Pac Heights' apartment buildings at 10 a.m. Saturday (meet at Washington & Gough) or 40 prime examples in the Marina at 10 a.m. Sunday (meet at Fillmore & Chestnut). Admission is free-$10; call 982-3326 or visit
– Joyce Slaton

Big Boy's Toys
Not intended for use by children

FRI 12/5

Are you strange? You'll have to be if you want to enjoy the I Hate Cartoons Animation Festival, since nothing about it sounds normal. First off, the films to be screened were made by people like Dan the Automator and Billy Blob. And then there's the live music, including "Sesame Street death metal" by Cookie Mongoloid – bizarre by any standard. But the weirdest thing about this event seems to be organizer/musician/toy designer Attaboy, who celebrates his new not-for-children plaything, the Axtrx, described as "a vinyl figure with four interchangeable mouths." The odd fun begins at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St. (between Broadway and Telegraph), Oakland. Admission is $10; call 334-6978 or visit

– Hiya Swanhuyser

The Sweet Science

MON 12/8

You feel funny. You look dumb, but cute. Your skin clears up. You're in love, and it shows – or so it seems. Are these reactions all in your mind? At "Ask a Scientist," get the straight dope on the psychobiology of romantic attraction from Dr. Thomas Lewis, co-author of A General Theory of Love. The chemistry begins at 7 p.m. at the Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California (at 22nd Avenue), S.F. Admission is free; call 831-5620 or e-mail
– Hiya Swanhuyser


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