Balkan Roll 

Call it what you will

FRI 12/31

The term "Balkanization" grew out of the Balkan states' historic propensity for violence and fragmentation. But the states now sometimes referred to as "Southeastern Europe" -- Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, mainland Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia, Turkey, and, sometimes, Romania -- have produced more than just confounding maps and warring clans. They've produced a musical culture so rich that it can make your head -- and body -- spin. To prove it, Berkeley's Ashkenaz has been hosting its annual New Year's Eve Balkan Bash for years now, and the lineups keep getting better and better. To ring in 2005, patrons can stomp around to the music of host band Edessa, joined by Bulgarian guest musicians Tzvetanka Varimezova, Ivan Varimezov, and Kalin Kirilov, plus Brenna MacCrimmon from Toronto and Eva Salina Primack from Santa Cruz. As an added treat, Joe Finn and Paul Johnson will throw down Scandinavian and Cajun couple-dance music. It kicks in at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20. For more information, visit Ashkenaz.com -- Stefanie Kalem

12/3-1/4

Lit Happens

Did Mary Norton's classic Borrowers books make you yearn to be three inches tall and live under the floorboards of an English country house? Well, you can't -- but you can take your big body to Orinda Library's Gallery Room and watch a free matinee screening of the film version starring John Goodman and Jim Broadbent (Thu., 2 p.m.). ... Made a resolution to write less poetry in 2005 -- or more of it? Read the last of 2004's batch at the Listen & Be Heard pre-New Year's party, with live band and open mic, at Rafael's Bar & Restaurant, 301 Nebraska St., Vallejo; for details call 707-643-3597 (Thu., 8 p.m.). ... They weren't always that handy with a rapidograph. Today is the last day to see Once Upon a Time, an exhibit at Oakland's Museum of Children's Art (538 9th St.) in which original artworks by noted children's-book illustrators are displayed alongside artworks created by the same artists when they were kids (Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.). ... Between fantasy and reality is ... an illustrated vision-plan book that you create yourself, outlining what you want to achieve in life and how you'll go about it. At Berkeley's Belladonna, She Dances Between the Worlds author Shiloh Sophia McCloud shows how to make the book in the first of three workshops. Fee is $130; for details, call 888-385-6866 (Mon., 6 p.m.). ... Reading: It isn't all about the narrative, character development, and foreshadowing -- not when you're three years old. During Martinez Library's Picture Book Time, kids aged three to five and their handlers can relax and enjoy the shading, crosshatching, and pointillism (Tue., 2 p.m.). ... Calling all bohos: Every Tuesday night is Social Nite at Berkeley's Book Zoo, where droppers-in of every stripe debate, discourse, drink coffee, and party like it's 1956 (Tue., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

Fri 12/31

Difficult Chill

The folks at Eye Candy Entertainment are promising a New Year's Eve "where you and your spouse, date, or friends can relax." And yet, and yet ... their Soul Touch II party at the Lucre Lounge (2086 Allston Way, Berkeley) features entertainment by exotic dancer Jazmyne Allure, who has competed in Miss Black Nude USA and posed for Hustler. The GLBT black-and-white ball will be hosted by R&B singer and rapper TriQui Di, and $30 per individual, $50 per couple includes dinner, appetizers, champagne toast, favors, and souvenir. This is a dressy affair; visit SoulTouch.20fr.com for more deets. -- Stefanie Kalem

Fri 12/31

Free for Y'all

It was good while it lasted, say the owners of the now-for-sale Mile High Club. To celebrate their sweet run of indie-rock and burlesque, they're throwing a free dance club New Year's Eve party. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., dance your urban bohemian heads off at 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland. Oh, and ... know anyone who wants to buy a club? 510-772-7906 or mike@oaklandmilehigh.com. -- Stefanie Kalem

Fri 12/31

They're Swell

Throw another Barbie on the Plough

It's another goddamn New Year's Eve -- and who better to help you ring it in than the Naked Barbies, who can reasonably be expected to play their oh-so-seasonable song with that cheery chorus at the Starry Plough that night? Since forming in 1990 as the Naked Barbie Dolls, the Oakland roots-rock combo has been through a lot of changes: a short-lived name change to the Vagabond Lovers coinciding with a similarly temporary tenure on Monarch Records, and a seemingly endless succession of lead guitarists that seemingly ended three years ago when the quintet decided to just be four like before Dan Vickrey (the man who would be a Counting Crow) started the vicious cycling. But now Ted Keaton, late of the Fitsners, has joined up as fifth Barbie and fifth guitar guy, so we can greet 2005 knowing that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Patty Spiglanin's warm, jubilant wail still rings out loud and clear over the fellas' tight and catchy country-folk-blues-rock foundation, and the band is bidding the old year a hearty get-lost at the ol' Irish pub she used to book bands for, just as it did three years ago or three years before that. Sharing the bill this time is the Pete Best Experience, a Beatles cover band that includes Totally Drum Barbie Dan Lashkoff and former Guitar Magic Barbie Michael Zapruder. After this gig, the Barbies will sequester themselves to record their fifth CD (bankrolled by a mysterious modern-day Medici), so this would be a good time to renew old acquaintance. -- Sam Hurwitt

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