Cavorting skeletons, grinning and waving from beyond the grave -- American horror movies have conditioned us to think they're creepy, but in Mexican culture, calaveras (skulls) are inseparable from the Days of the Dead, a national celebration in which the deceased are remembered and honored. Calaveras will play an important part in the festivities this Sunday, from noon until 4 p.m. at the Oakland Museum. The community celebration takes place in the gardens and is free to the public; the museum will be open for half-price admission.
Kids will find plenty of hands-on activities, including the making of calavera puppets, posters, and magnets, plus face-painting. Ballet Folklórico and Teatro Familia Aztlán will perform early in the afternoon, with various other music and theater performances later on.
Inside the museum, the ofrendas, or altars, are set up a little differently this year. Visitors will need to scout around all three levels to see them all. Guest curator Enrique Chagoya has made the usual mix of art by professional Latino artists and local children even more eclectic by inviting several artists from other cultures to make ofrendas, including Hung Liu, whose work draws on her Chinese roots, and Binh Danh, a Vietnamese Buddhist. MuseumCA.org or 1-888-OAK-MUSE. -- Lindsey Westbrook
Thrash kings in Concord
When a quintet of teenaged Filipino-American cousins started Death Angel in early-'80s San Francisco, their biting guitar, lightning speed, and complicated arrangements helped define the sound of Bay Area thrash metal. But by the early '90s, death metal was on the rise, somewhat usurping the band's popularity and, more importantly, giving a different implication to their name. Lead singer Mark Osegueda left the band (or was thrown out), and Death Angel became the Organization, eventually becoming nothing at all. But the band re-formed in 2001 for a benefit concert, and has now signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Records. They'll head back into the studio in December, but you can see them play at Cadillac Ranch (1655 Willow Pass Rd., Concord), with Thought Crime and Primate. Doors open at 8 p.m. for this 21-and-up show. Tickets cost $20 and are available at Ticketweb.com -- Stefanie Kalem
You've heard of live/work spaces; photo-grapher/painter Op's studio apartment (studio/ apartment?) is more of a live/work/show space. Tonight between 7 p.m. and midnight, he'll open up his Berkeley home (1828 San Pablo Ave., #6, above the Albatross) for the Studio 6 Photo Show. You'll find Op's own abstract (okay, trippy) long-exposure photos (above), the sex-and-violence tableaus of Carla Mathis, Cha Levais' macro-photography (within cemeteries and industrial environments), Jennifer Waicukauski's dreamy pinhole pictures, and the everyday Polaroids of Shane Nash. Bring your own wine and snacks. -- Stefanie Kalem
Tropic of Grenadine
Otto's in the grotto
Forget Halloween. For adult dress-up fun, nothing beats slipping into a gaudy Hawaiian shirt or slinky sarong, cozying up underneath a thatched roof, and drowning yourself in a mai tai -- becoming a refugee in Tiki-land. DJ and Web host Otto von Stroheim understands all about the joys of the '50s-retro phenomenon of Tiki, which is why he holds court once a month (above) on Otto's Forbidden Island at the Conga Lounge (5422 College Ave., upstairs from Rustica, in Rockridge). This Saturday, grab a Gilligan's Island cocktail (banana liqueur, coconut rum, pineapple and cranberry juices), munch on authentic '50s tuna casserole, and dig Hawaiian slack-key guitarist Rick Escobar. Tell 'em the Skipper sent you. CongaLounge.com -- Kelly Vance
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What the Fork - December 20, 11:39 AM