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Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Betty and Veronica from Archie Comics used to sum up my knowledge of ladies in the funnies. Fortunately, "She Draws Comics: Great Women Cartoonists" is an education in dames who draw. Culled primarily from local historian and visual pioneer Trina Robbins' personal collection, the exhibit spans 90 years of comic art created by more than 60 female artists. Who knew that women like R.F. Outcault and Grace Drayton were at the drawing boards as early as the 1930s, drafting likenesses of rosy-cheeked infants? Or that during World War II, the number of gals drawing caricatures tripled? "She Draws Comics" chronicles women's influence in the medium, demonstrating how we graduated from sketching cheesy, Harlequin romance—like series to producing rebellious feminist strips that touch on controversial topics like abortion, lesbianism, and sex. The show runs through June 8 at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 227-8666 or visit

Thursday, February 20, 2003
The phrase "Japanese dance" generally brings to mind butoh, the highly stylized form in which white-faced performers grimace their way through exaggerated movements. But Leni-Basso and Study of Live Works BANETO, two of Japan's most popular dance companies, have done a great deal to expand that limited definition. Leni-Basso is the more high-tech: Its multimedia production Finks looks at individual communication using theatrical lighting, video cameras, computer graphics, and sound effects. Artistic Director Akiko Kitamura choreographed the lively piece, coaxing dramatic martial arts—like movements from her performers. BANETO, founded by video artist Tsuyoshi Shirai and musician Yusuke Awazu reflects both of its creators' know-how. In A Time Knit Sweater, they challenge the linear concept of time with prerecorded film clips and soundscapes juxtaposed against live action and voices, all of which combine to mimic the confusing, manic pace of modern life. Performances start at 8 p.m. and run through Sunday at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-20; call 863-9834 or visit

Friday, February 21, 2003
The Erika Shuch Performance Project is new to the local arts scene, but in the short time since its inception in 2001, the troupe has blossomed into a cutting-edge source of dance theater. Shuch is the main attraction, though the compelling mixture of musicians, actors, designers, and dancers has given the company an advantage over the competition. In vis-à-vis, the ESP Project combines drama and humor to tackle the subject of war -- personal and global conflicts. In one segment, the seven cast members evoke images of organized chaos, jumping over stacked chairs and falling into each other's arms. In another, performers tell the theory of evolution through the development of weapons from rocks and bows to guns and bombs. When the piece was first presented last fall as a work in progress, it was already up to snuff; this premiere will likely garner rave reviews. Performances start at 8 p.m. (and continue through Sunday) at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $15; call 558-8118 or visit

Saturday, February 22, 2003
If your idea of experimental electronica is limited to Björk or Tricky, then it's time to dive into Phthalo Records' catalog. Based in Los Angeles, the label was one of the first to push the boundaries of computer-based music. Composer Dmitri Fergadis (aka Phthalocyanine) founded it in 1997 to release his own collection of trippy techno, Navy Warship. Since then, Fergadis has taken the genre in ever more avant-garde directions, championing rising stars like DNTEL and Daedelus as well as local trendsetters such as Kit Clayton and Blectum From Blechdom. These musicians typically require an open mind and more than one listen (translation: They ain't for everybody), but at least the know-it-all behind the register at your neighborhood record store won't thumb his nose if you buy from Phthalo's roster. Find out who's leading the pack in electronica innovation when the imprint's Trouble 10.0 tour -- featuring Clayton, Gerald Wenzel, and Libythth, among others -- rolls into town. The show starts at 9 p.m. at Amnesia, 853 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 970-8336.

Sunday, February 23, 2003
Show biz is one of the few professions in which temper tantrums and emotional outbursts are not only permissible but expected. And The Rehearsal: A One Act Play in Three Acts, Mark Chappell and Alan Connor Hamilton's exposé of the theater world, lends this notion credibility. A sardonic peek at behind-the-scenes shenanigans during the production of a fictional play called The Ear, the comedy reveals what many of us aren't privy to: that the action offstage rivals the drama onstage. While The Rehearsal presents many thespian stereotypes -- the pretentious set designer suffering from visions of grandeur, the self-absorbed director searching for the hidden meaning behind every word -- it does so with self-deprecating wit, not venom. The Rehearsal shows at 7 p.m. (and runs through March 23) at the Transparent Theater, 1901 Ashby (at Martin Luther King Jr.), Berkeley. Admission is $20, or pay-what-you-can on Sundays; call (510) 883-0305 or visit

Monday, February 24, 2003
If you're looking for love, you may put an end to the search after the "Love and Other Difficulties" edition of "Independent Exposure." The post—Valentine's Day installment of the monthly indie film series just might leave you feeling that romance is not only overrated, but also downright dangerous. The showcase of 11 quirky tales takes a cynical look at affairs of the heart, particularly at the desire to demand retribution from former flings: In Danish filmmaker Mehmet Ozcelik's Thirst for Revenge, for example, an older woman binds and gags her ex, then keeps him locked up in a cage as payback for a past offense. Mexican director Roberto Bolado Muñoz also settles scores in Luz en Reposo (Resting Light), a short about a love triangle among a blind man, his devoted wife, and his voluptuous lover. The screening starts at 8 p.m. at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 864-0660 or visit

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Great Neck, a ritzy town on Long Island, was already immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (though it was thinly veiled as West Egg). Now the bucolic location makes another literary appearance in Jay Cantor's sprawling tome Great Neck. In Cantor's portrayal, however, the place is populated not only with WASP-y socialites, but also with Holocaust survivors and radical leftists. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the '60s and '70s, Great Neck is a coming-of-age story about a group of Jewish friends who grow up to join the civil rights and peace movements. The material is right up Cantor's alley; he has fashioned a career of fictionalizing the politics of the latter half of the 20th century in his previous books, The Death of Che Guevara and Krazy Kat. As with any attempt to condense a historical period, Great Neck can be a challenge: It jumps from one subplot to another and runs just shy of 800 pages. But though the novel may be too dense for some, it's worth the effort. Cantor reads tonight at 7 at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit


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