This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 6

It should be a foregone conclusion at this point that women -- American and otherwise -- deserve to speak their minds. But slam poetry is still a male-dominated game, perhaps because the boys' rapid-fire stylings bulldoze right over the more rollicking subtleties of feminine meter. To combat that, Chicken Grease, a monthly hip-hop open mic at the Starry Plough, offers lyrical ladies a chance to flow with comfortable impunity at the Second Annual Amazon Poetry Slam. Though Chicken Grease co-host Karen Ladson will be in Chicago coaching a local slam team at the nationals, Nazelah Jamison (formerly of Spearhead) will be on hand to award $90 in cash prizes, and music will be provided by DJ Agana. The first twenty women to sign up get in free; everyone else pays $5. Sign-up starts at 7:30 p.m., the show starts at 8:30, and all genders are invited to enjoy this event. 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 7

"There's such thing as a normal family? Please, can you define normal?" asks Kathryn McCarty in reference to her new play, The Last Hoorah, a family reunion drama about four estranged siblings meeting as adults. Playwright McCarty's works (When We Danced, Henry Ever After, etc.) have been produced all over the Bay Area, including by Pleasant Hill's Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre, where The Last Hoorah previews tonight at 8 p.m. Helen Means is directing, with Mark Hinds, Andy Stillion, Mary Ann Hayes, and Don Tamblyn in the lead roles. It then opens Friday, August 8 for a run through August 24 at the School House Cultural Center Theatre, 2050 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill. Tickets $10-$12 at 925-676-5705. For mature audiences only. -- Kelly Vance

FRI 8

Feeling guilty about not supporting the arts? May we humbly suggest that you mediate any lapses you may have by checking out a staged reading of Cocktails at Eight, a new play by Lorien McKenna. Tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m., you can attend this Guilty Theatre production at Lafayette Town Hall Theatre, 3535 School St. at Moraga Rd. The screwball comedy harks back to pre-Code Hollywood in its depiction of the surprises and misunderstandings at a birthday party. Alameda-based playwright McKenna is a cofounder of Guilty Theatre, which is part of Theater Bay Area and fiscally sponsored by Brava! For Women in the Arts. The woman-founded company is devoted to cultivating new voices in theater. The reading is directed by Sandi Andersen-Tarica and features a cast of eight. Tickets cost $11-$16. For tickets, call 925-283-1557, and visit THTC.org or GuiltyTheatre.org for further details. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 9

Hairdressing. Hors d'oeuvres. Kimonos. Multimedia. No, this isn't a script excerpt from Stephen Soderbergh's Schizopolis. It's the ingredients that comprise From the Seed, an art opening reception taking place at the fine arts, home decor, and flower shop Bohema, 1527 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. On exhibit is multimedia work by Laura Anderson and Emily DiFonzo, including a collaboration between the two, and the evening begins at 7 p.m. with a fashion show featuring vintage and contemporary garments from the collection of Shirley Nachmann. Later on, there will be a performance of salon owner Terri Varela's brand-new one-woman show about the hairdresser-client relationship. Wine and tasty art-show vittles will be served till 9 p.m., and Christian Arrizmendi will be spinning world and house music. Call 510-540-9876 for more details. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 10

New York-born Molly Picon (1898-1992) was the foremost Yiddish theater actress in the United States, but she also branched out to vaudeville and movies -- in such schmaltzy old-country films as Yidl mitn Fidl and Mamele. She even popped up as a semiregular (Mrs. Bronson) in Car 54, Where Are You? on TV and appeared as "Mrs. Goldfarb" in two of the Cannonball Run flicks. The roles her core audience loved best, however, were ones where she played the feisty, self-reliant shtetl girl, as in the 1923 silent East and West, a cross-cultural mistaken-identity drama-comedy playing today (2 p.m.) at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center. You can't hear her sing, but get a load of that punim. A $2 donation takes you to old Poland. 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, 510-848-0237. -- Kelly Vance

MON 11

Ross Bleckner's spitbite aquatints appear to be pure science, with a twist -- microbes, proteins, and paramecia in brilliant, unnatural color. The etchings of James Brown (no relation) seem equally microscopic and frighteningly organic; you can almost see them squirm. Shades of the Blob. Both artists' prints are on display in a show titled OKTP: From the Studio of Paulson Press, from now until June 2004 at 500 12th St. in downtown Oakland. The exhibits are organized by the Professional Services Division of the Oakland Museum of California, presumably to soothe the souls of the office workers who pass by. Or scare them, whichever comes first. For more information, call 510-238-6836, or log on to MuseumCA.org or OaklandCityCenter.com -- Kelly Vance

TUE 12

While traveling in India in her early twenties, Diana Winston encountered Buddhism for the very first time. She quickly figured out that it was the thing she was seeking, despite not having known she was looking for anything specific at all. After ten years meditating in monasteries and retreat centers in the United States and Asia and one year as a Buddhist nun in Burma (Myanmar), Winston has written Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens. The book is based on techniques Winston perfected while teaching adolescents to meditate in classes, retreats, and school visits, which she's been doing since 1993. Now a teacher at Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society, she stops by Black Oak Books (1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Visit Wide-Awake.org for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

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