Let It Shine 

It's the Ugly Lamp Contest

WED 6/4

A chick walks into a bar and says, "I've got the ugliest lamp you've ever seen." To which the bartender replies, "No way; I've got the ugliest lamp in the world." Suddenly a third party chimes in from under a half-empty glass: "Yeah, well my lamp is so ugly ..." This is exactly the type of stimulating repartee that inspired the folks at the Executive Inn in Oakland to host their own Who Has the Ugliest Lamp? Contest. It's a totally timely event, given the current craze of do-it-yourself decorating that's given almost everyone an opinion on the subject of household aesthetics. We are bombarded with images of ideal furnishings from a myriad of fancy-schmancy magazines, TV shows, and books. Thanks to people like Martha Stewart and TV shows like Trading Spaces and Crib Crashers, a lot of us have forgone the dinner-and-movie routine on Friday night in exchange for a cup of joe to go and a late-night stroll through Home Depot or IKEA, hunting for the perfect weathered hinges or an exact shade of plum pillow to help give a corner chair more "pop." Isn't it enough that we're judged so thoroughly on our personal appearance? Who cares if your rooms have good feng shui as long as you're comfy and you've got a nice bright lamp to read by? Down with tyranny. This Wednesday, instead of watching the Home Shopping Network, grab a pal and your favorite ugly lamp and let it shine in all its shameless glory. If it's a real doozy, it could win a prize and you'd have yourself a great story to tell someday at the bar. The Executive Inn is at 1755 Embarcadero, Oakland, 510-536-6633. Wednesday, June 4, 7 p.m. in the lounge area. -- Justine Nicole

6/5-6/29

Brand New Jag

Artist Tim Jag has received accolades aplenty for his sculptures, but wait -- looks like papa's got a brand-new Jag. Beginning Thursday, June 5 at 21 Grand, he unveils an exhibition of paintings, large abstract works (the smallest is four feet square) aglow with his trademark synthetic colors and textured with floral print fabric and other "drop-ins." The paintings share the space with a collection of three-foot-high green toy army men sculptures by Monica Van den Dool. There's a reception for the artists (DJ, performance piece by Jag) on June 13. 449-B 23rd St., Oakland. 510-444-7263 or www.21grand.org -- Kelly Vance

SAT 6/7

Niles Away

In 1912, the Niles district of Fremont became home to one of California's very first motion picture companies, Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson's Essanay Studios, where Charlie Chaplin filmed his silent classic, The Tramp. Niles Community Park, however, will be far from silent this weekend, when the politically minded Monster Squad pulls into town, supported by seven bands of its punk brethren: San Francisco's the Pox and the East Bay's Throat Oyster, the Fuzz, Cropknox, and Draw Blank, My Lucky Stars, and the current title-holder for "band name of the week," Fremont's Anton LaVey and the 700 Club. The all-ages action starts at noon. 3rd and H streets, Fremont. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 6/5

Do the Zsa Zsa

Venus envy at the Parkway

Some bad movies are so much fun they live on and on, influencing -- some might say infecting -- future generations. Queen of Outer Space is one, a brainless 1958 drive-in cheapo about a crew of lusty astronauts crash-landing on Venus, a planet inhabited by a race of buxotic and hostile warrior women. Things get sultry when one of the amazons, played by large blonde Zsa Zsa Gabor, falls in love with one of the dudes. You can guess the rest. Queen of Outer Space is the centerpiece of Thursday night's Thrillville Super Sexy Sci-Fi Rocket Roll Show at the Parkway in Oakland (9 p.m.). The live musical portion of the evening is provided by the Phenomenauts, SF's premier hair-and-nosecone band, with selected short subjects -- hosted, as usual, by Will the Thrill. For more info, visit www.picturepubpizza.com or www.phenomenauts.com -- Kelly Vance

WED 6/4

Rock Mountain

Months of music down south

Can you imagine Lou Reed and LeAnn Rimes on the same stage? How about Dennis Miller and Pat Benatar? Lyle Lovett and James Brown? Well, the Mountain Winery 2003 Concert Series can give you a little idea, since all of those artists and many, many others will be in Saratoga this summer, starting with the Moody Blues this Wednesday and Thursday and continuing through October. The historic winery building serves as an intimate backdrop for Willie Nelson, k.d. lang, Gipsy Kings, the Beach Boys, Aimee Mann, Smokey Robinson, the Go-Go's, Chris Isaak, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jonny Lang, Tracy Chapman, George Carlin, Dwight Yoakam, Shawn Colvin, and dozens more. Visit www.mountainwinery.com for a complete schedule. Ticket prices range from reasonably priced to ridiculously expensive. 510-444-TIXS. Gates 5:30 p.m., all shows 7:30. -- Stefanie Kalem

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