Picture Lit 

Tout Tomine in Berkeley

FRI 2/13

Toward the beginning of the new issue of Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve, the protagonist gripes that the audience at a local digital video festival claps for a film just "because it was made by some Chinese girl from Oakland." Lucky for the Berkeley-based Tomine, not everyone is so blasé about the achievements of the East Bay's native sons and daughters. "Something like this new Optic Nerve story is really a literary event -- comics or not -- just in terms of contemporary literature," says Carson Hall, owner of the eight-month-old Signal Books. "A new story by Adrian is, in my opinion, as significant as a new story by Jonathan Lethem or Nick Hornby." Tomine will appear at Signal (1816 Euclid Ave., Berkeley) at 6 p.m. Friday, debuting Optic Nerve #9, which Hall calls "the best thing [Tomine] has ever done." To be published in three parts, it follows a curmudgeonly Japanese-American movie theater manager on his search for perfect love and, of course, for himself. It will be excerpted in the forthcoming McSweeney's 13 (guest-edited by Chris Ware), but you can get your neurotic little hands on it tonight. And while you're at Signal, check out the store's selection -- besides comics and illustrated books, Hall's stock focuses on modern fiction, pop culture, current affairs, history, film and music books, and international newspapers and magazines. 510-843-1816. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 2/13

Heartcore

Eclectic eve at the Plough

You know, Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that Hallmark seems to have made just for calendar editors. On the other hand, some events just seem like they're just using the V-day weekend as an excuse to throw a party (and how dare they?!). Take, for instance, the My Bloody Valentine Bash, a damn fine-looking lineup at the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). Ramona the Pest, She Mob, Ned, the Shut Ins, the Slow Poisoners, the Cones, and I Will Kill You Fucker will make sure you're exhausted -- and probably hung over -- on Valentine's Day, making with the warped pop, the experimental, the dark and ethereal, and even the newgrass till the wee hours. And each band will perform an original song composed expressly for the affair, so it actually is pretty special, huh? 9:30 p.m., $7 cover. For more information, call 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 2/14

Loves & Fishes

What do love and raw fish have in common? Some would say nothing -- but they haven't heard about Sushi for the More Adventurous , going down today from 11 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. at Tilden Park's Nature Area. Bring your hot tamago -- or your kids age 8 and older -- to taste and learn about some of the sea's more exotic flavors. $35 for adults and kids 11 and older, $30 for seniors 62 and up, and $20 for children 8-10. Call 510-525-2233 for registration (required) and nonresident price structure. -- Stefanie Kalem

2/13-2/15

Naked in Big Sur

Horndog scribe workshop deluxe

Wanna spend Valentine's Day learning how to write dirty like a pro? Treat your sweetie to a romantic weekend in scenic Big Sur taking sex-scene-writing lessons from Lisa Palac, founding editor of Future Sex magazine, author of the hot-and-heavy memoir The Edge of the Bed, and producer of the Cyborgasm CD series (audio recordings of couples' ... ahem ... intimate moments). This weekend at the fabled Esalen Institute, Palac is teaching her popular workshop, Getting Naked: Writing the Emotional Truth of Erotic Scenes, for aspiring novelists, screenwriters, and journal-keepers who want to get past their inhibitions, infuse their naughty bits with arousing authenticity, and "create compelling erotic lives for characters in any genre." But no trying out your best lines on the instructor. She's married. Info: 831-667-3005 or Esalen.org -- Rob Blackwelder

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