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Visual Assault 

Cartoon cruelty's bleeding edge

SAT 12/6

Remember the Simpsons episode when Marge, fed up with Itchy & Scratchy's cartoon violence, forms the protest group SNUH (Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding, and Helping) and asks producers to exchange mayhem for luv? SNUH would have had a field day with Happy Tree Friends, the Flash animations that mix sweet-faced woodland characters with enough gore to put off Quentin Tarantino. At first glance Happy Tree Friends resembles The Care Bears and other treacly cartoon shows with adorably anthropomorphized animal creatures. That is, until you notice that Sniffles the aardvark is headed for a horrific encounter with a battalion of charged-up ants. Each roughly minute-long episode is capped with an ending that would be unwatchable if it wasn't so damned funny (one shows a big-eyed beaver dancing gaily on the burnt corpse of a fluffy skunk).

One of the rare Internet cartoons to make it through the dot-crash, Friends began as a one-off for a commercial. But then animators Rhode Montijo and Kenn Navarro persuaded Mondo Media to run a series of weekly "minishows," immortalized on the August 2002 DVD Happy Tree Friends Volume #1: First Blood and in Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival (and SF Weekly's "Merry Dismemberment to You, Too," Dec. 24, 2002). Now the gang's back for another outing, with the October 2003 DVD Happy Tree Friends: Second Serving. Meet Montijo and Navarro, and see selections from the new collection, at 7 p.m. at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 824-8203 or visit
– Joyce Slaton

He Is Unusual

SUN 12/7

Welsh superstar Tom Jones has been a staple of the Las Vegas club circuit since the early '70s, but don't expect a typical cheesy lounge act tonight. Almost four decades after Jones became an international sensation with "It's Not Unusual," he's as relevant as ever, gaining new admirers without losing his core fans. Young hipsters who prefer his unexpected collaborations with groups like Art of Noise and Portishead may have their hands full, though – they'll have to contend with the legendary sex symbol's fanatic female followers, known for throwing their panties onstage. Catch Jones tonight at 8 at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $50; call 346-6000 or visit
– Lisa Hom

Tell Me Something Good

FRI 12/5

Will there ever come a time when we hear the opening skip-and-scratch groove of Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" and don't want to rush straight to the dance floor? Originally grabbing attention as the lead singer for '70s band Rufus, Khan went on to a successful '80s solo career. Now she's made the transition to literature, penning an autobiography that moves from her troubled childhood through a stint with the Black Panthers and into her eventual rock stardom (we hope it's as candid as her tunes). Khan signs copies of Chaka! Through the Fire at 4 p.m. at Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore (at Post), S.F. Admission is free; call 346-4222.
– Andrea Renee Goode

The Lynn & Tara Show

SUN 12/7

Remember that kid in your fourth-grade class who had way too much energy? A lot of those kids grew up (if that's the phrase) to be our favorite rock stars. ADD poster child Lynn Breedlove remained restless after kicking punk rock's butt, though, so she wrote an amazing novel. Still on the lookout for trouble, she currently hosts the monthly queer spoken-word event "K'vetsh" with buddy Tara Jepsen – the schoolmate you were afraid of because she was really smart and kinda mean. No telling what they'll get up to, but it starts at 8 p.m. at Sadie's Flying Elephant, 491 Potrero (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $1-3; call 551-7988.
– Hiya Swanhuyser


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