This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 23

English classes in the United States are a nightmare for some students, a joy or necessary evil for others. But in the Iran of the late '70s, English class for a small gaggle of girls was a secret pleasure, a combination therapy group and dream clinic. In 1981, a professor and director of the SAIS Dialogue Project at Johns Hopkins University, Azar Nafisi, was kicked off the teaching staff of the University of Tehran for refusing to wear a chador. But for two years earlier, she taught Nabokov, Fitzgerald, and Austen in her home, in secret, to a group of seven young women. Their development from wary strangers into friends and allies is a big part of Nafisi's book, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Nafisi appears at Cody's Books (2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) at 7:30 p.m. Call 510-845-7852 for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 24

The leader of Bekka's FROGLAND Orchestra is a composer, lyricist, vocalist, and lover of many things amphibious. And as much as we'd love to tell you that her band is composed of pickerel frogs, spitting toads, tomato frogs, fire-bellied toads, red-legged frogs, and the occasional horned lizard (who has the face of a toad and can, ewww, spit blood from its eyes as far as five feet), it's not. The FROGLAND Orchestra comprises skilled players from backgrounds in baroque, funk, jazz, classical, and Afro-Cuban, helping Bekka to celebrate the spiritual, emotional, and environmental state of Mother Earth and her inhabitants. It performs at 8 p.m. at Epic Arts Studio (1923 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). Suggested donation for admittance is $10. Call 510-644-2204 for further details. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 25

In the first twenty minutes of Liu Bingjian's Cry Woman, we want to throttle the lead character, a mean-spirited, devious, loud-mouthed, trashily dressed Beijing street hawker named Guixang. But slowly, the story and the actor (opera star Liao Qin) work on us. Guixang finds a new racket -- wailing at funerals in a country town as a paid mourner -- and her fake emotions can't keep up with her real ones. It's another remarkable portrait of the resilient, crafty Chinese working class by director Liu (Men and Women), who understands that human nature is not always warm and cuddly. Cry Woman plays one night only, tonight at 7:00, at the Pacific Film Archive as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 26

It's an understatement to say that the world is a stressful place right now. But if you're looking for a new place to vent, head out to the island for a night of loud, angry, all-ages catharsis. There will be Mohawks a-poppin' and limbs a-flailin' at Rooster's Roadhouse (1700 Clement Ave., Alameda) when Texas' Strap-Onz and Krum Bums hit the boards. From San Antonio and Austin, respectively, the two bands are tearing up the West Coast together, bringing their own brand of drunk-on-Lone-Star gutter punk to kids all over their home state, plus California and Arizona. The show starts at 7 p.m. and Strung Up, American Terrorists, and Abuse also play. Call 510-337-9190 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 27

If a baby were born in People's Park in April, 1969, that person would be 34 years old. Would he or she be mayor of Berkeley by now, or in jail, or somewhere in between? How time flies when you're stoned -- the People's Park 34th Anniversary Peace Party and Concert happens all afternoon today (noon to 6 p.m.), a cavalcade of hoopla and folderol hosted by the inescapable Wavy Gravy. Thrill to politicos (Barbara Lee, David Hilliard, and the usual suspects), a skate park, lotsa musicians (including Country Joe McDonald), the X-Plicit Players, and vittles from Food Not Bombs. And naturally, the Bubble Lady will be there. As they say, it's a party like no other. And it's all free. For further enlightenment, phone 510-390-0830. -- Kelly Vance

MON 28

Actors are made, not born. Listen to your inner ham and lunge for fame at a pair of otherwise unconnected acting auditions today and tomorrow. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is looking for five males and four females for its upcoming production of Euripides' The Bacchae. Auditions take place at Berkeley's Live Oak Theatre. It's a non-AEA, community-theater show, but you probably already knew that. Call for an appointment: 415-320-2627. Another costumer in a much lighter vein, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, is on Contra Costa Civic Theatre's schedule. The musical farce has a large cast -- the production needs nineteen men and women, from late teens to seventies. Singing and dancing are part of the gig, but a paycheck is not. Bring sheet music for an upbeat Broadway song, in your key, at 7 p.m. this evening or tomorrow to 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. 510-524-6654 or visit -- Kelly Vance

TUE 29

Many movies have been made about the misadventures of unprepared world travelers -- most of them, for some reason, involving Turkish prisons. Ken Vollmer has injected humor into the mythology with his Wanderlust Survival Guide: Tips and Tales for World Travel. You'll find accounts of Vollmer's escapades, including but not limited to: clinging to his life in a horde of ten thousand Japanese wrestlers; smuggling sheep shit in the French countryside; and waking up in a Bangkok back alley. The book also has lots of practical information on how to purchase a backpack, how much a six-month globe-trot can cost, and more. And it's illustrated by comic artist Ted Naifeh, whose art usually runs toward the darker side of things. Vollmer will be at Easy Going Travel Shop and Bookstore (1385 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). Call 510-843-3533 for details. -- Stefanie Kalem


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