This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 


Don't let the rain keep you inside. The East Bay Regional Park District's Wednesday Walks take place every week, gray skies or blue. All ages and abilities are welcome on these fast-paced hikes, to learn the natural and human stories of a different park each week. This week's park du jour is the Alameda Creek Trail, where leader Christina Garcia will lead a longer-than-usual (7.5 miles) trek along both sides of the urban flood channel. Wear sturdy footwear, bring water, dress for the weather, and meet at the Beard Staging Area in Fremont. Directions: From I-880, take Fremont/Alvarado Blvd. exit and go east on Fremont Blvd.; turn left on Paseo Padre Parkway, then left on Whitehead Rd.; follow it to the end and turn right on Beard; the parking lot is at the end of the road. Call 510- 796-0199 for more details. -- Stefanie Kalem


Playing power pop is a surefire way to stay young. Just ask the members of San Francisco trio Spinning Jennies, who celebrated a decade of playing together in mid-December. The band has the strong, sweet stuff down -- the hooks, the heat, and the heart that make Cheap Trick and Redd Kross fans swoon. As wrote in a review of SJ's Peer Pressure, "should [the Posies'] Auer and Stringfellow ever really decide to put their band away for good, 'Tea & Apathy' makes it sound as though the Spinning Jennies could pick up the mantle without blinking an eye." The band plays an all-ages show tonight at the Starry Plough (1301 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) with the Fountain Street Theater Band and San Jose's Stunt Monkey opening. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and cover is $5. 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem


Damon Smith is at it again. Back in July, he performed with Austrian alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist, and singer Tanja Feichtmair; now the bassist continues to give the East Bay a window to the frostier climes of Europe through his collaboration with Swedish alto saxophonist and flutist Biggi Vinkeloe. Vinkeloe has recorded with Barre Phillips, Cecil Taylor, and Peter Kowald; tonight at 21 Grand she joins Smith, local alto sax star Marco Eneidi, and drummer Vijay Anderson (Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra) for a mind-altering free-jazz set. The show starts at 8 p.m., and admission is $6-$10, sliding scale. 21 Grand can be found at 449B 23rd St. in Oakland. For more info, call 510-444-7263. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 10

Certain movie reviewers were unimpressed with Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's Delicatessen on its release in 1991, but that was before we had our eyes opened wide with The City of Lost Children and Amélie. Seen in hindsight, their toonish black comedy comes into focus as a sinister animation peopled by live actors. The French writing and directing duo populated a frantic rooming house with a gallery of gleeful grotesques -- a failed clown (Jeunet-Caro regular Dominique Pinon), a young female cellist (Marie-Laure Dougnac), and a scary butcher, forever waving meat cleavers and hurling knives. Most impressive of all: Jeunet and Caro's amazing visual effects. Delicatessen screens at Long Haul (3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) tonight at 8. 510-540-0151 or -- Kelly Vance

SUN 11

Move over, Friendster -- in New York City and London, the coolest dating and social trend is "silent parties," wherein groups of nicely appointed folks get together and, well, pass notes instead of talking. But it seems to us that this silence thing can be used for something more than macking. Something like, well, inner peace. The Body Temple Institute would love to quietly show you the way during its Silent Meditation Retreat today from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. No previous meditation experience is required, just a desire to escape everyday clatter. Participants will engage in sitting, standing, and walking meditation, conscious movement, and meditative eating in the hushed environs of the Oakland Hills. All this grounding and centering costs a mere $45, so visit or e-mail to register. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 12

Every writer knows the feeling. Some people never get over it. It's been the subject of movies (Barton Fink, Adaptation) and novels (Joseph Heller's Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man). And now it's the focus of a workshop called Unstuck. We're talking about writer's block, ladies and gentlemen. There are methods of unstopping the creative plumbing, so to speak. This evening (7:30 p.m.) at Cody's Books on Telegraph (2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-7852), writing professor Jane Ann Staw, a teacher at UC Berkeley Extension, explains the hows and whys of getting past that particular roadblock to creativity, in a lively workshop format subtitled "A Supportive Practical Guide to Working Through Writer's Block." It's free, although Cody's requests a $2 donation. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 13

This is not exactly your first chance, nor your last, to see the new Jack London mural at Jack London Square, but take a few minutes to check out T. Scott Sayre's outdoor artwork, which depicts Oakland's favorite literary son in appropriate East Bay settings as well as at his Glen Ellen home. Executed by Sayre and his assistant, Kimihiko Ito, the mural decorates the outside wall of Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, an Oaktown legend in its own right. The delightfully divey waterfront bar, which opened in 1883, was a home away from home for the young author and seafarer, and contains an impressive amount of memorabilia, including the tables at which London roughed out notes for his adventure novels The Sea Wolf and The Call of the Wild. A beer bottle's throw away from the saloon sits London's Alaskan cabin, as well. Heinold's is at 56 Jack London Square, 510-839-6761. -- Kelly Vance


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