This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 21

Socrates Cafe philosophy and discussion groups have gone mainstream, especially now that TIME magazine ("All the Right Questions," April 5, 2004) has discovered the phenomenon. So does that mean no more slackers and bearded bohemians wrestling with the thorny dilemmas of modern life over steaming cups of espresso? Will the meetings dumb down, or turn into local branches of the Martha Stewart Defense Fund? Hardly. The Walnut Creek Socrates Cafe is holding up its end of the deal in its biweekly Wednesday night gatherings. This evening it meets from 6:30 to at least 8:30 p.m. at Café La Scala, 1655 N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek. Drop in, grab a drink, and float your proposition. La Scala's phone number is 925-935-7779. Aldo (e-mail: aborromei@earthlink.net) is the discussion leader. -- Kelly Vance

THU 22

Oakland's racial and ethnic makeup is one of the most diverse in the United States, and it didn't get that way by accident, or overnight. For 85 years, the International Institute of the East Bay has been providing legal services, employment training in childcare, job search assistance, social service referrals, resources for victims of domestic violence, and other real-life services to East Bay immigrants and refugees. Celebrate the institute's storied history at an Anniversary Reception tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club (1650 Mountain Blvd., Oakland). The evening will feature a keynote speech by ACLU of Northern California director Dorothy Ehrlich, and activist honorees such as Judge Miriam Hayward and Ted Wang. Ticket cost $75 per person (proceeds of which benefit the institute) and can be purchased in advance by calling 510-451-2846 ex. 324 or by e-mailing hcastillo@iieb.org -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 23

What would you pay to have a little more opera in your life? How does $15 grab you? That's the cost of a general admission ticket to La Casita Bilingue Montessori School's second annual Night at the Opera benefit event. You can even afford to bring the family -- admission is $5 for children age five to twelve, $8 for seniors and students with ID, and free for kids four and under. For that you get tenor Jorge Gomez; his wife, soprano Sara Dieli; pianist Miles Graber; and violinist and mandolin player Leopoldo Caltagirone performing arias from popular opera favorites and Broadway shows. The evening starts at 7 p.m., with a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception and silent auction for gift certificates, art, gift baskets, theater tickets, and more. Proceeds go toward scholarships for low-income La Casita students, and, optimistically, expanding the school into elementary education (currently La Casita offers preschool through kindergarten). Last year's event was such a smash that they had to move this year's from the chapel of the Christ the Lord Episcopal Church to the Pinole Senior Center, 2500 Charles Ave. Info: 510-724-1724 or lcbms@sbcglobal.net. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 24

Every day should be Earth Day. And, when the actual Earth Day comes around, every day kind of is. F'rinstance, here's the Emeryville Earth Day Festival and Street Fair, happening two whole days after the real event. From noon to 4 p.m., the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce is taking over 47th St. and Temescal Creek Park with environmental presentations, carnival games, an Orbitron, the Oakland Zoomobile, a magic science show, barbecue, live music by Motordude Zydeco and Groove.org, and more. It's all free (well, except for the food), and it's all green (again, except for the food). Visit EmeryvilleChamber.com or call 510-596-3782 for further details. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 25

Some things never change. People's Park on a spring Sunday afternoon: throat singers, a Maypole, belly dancers, righteous leftist agitators, a skateboard punk band, clowns, puppets, a bike rodeo, and the park's house band, the Funky Nixons. But the original counterculture ground zero isn't always so action-packed. Today is special -- it's the People's Park 35th Anniversary Circus, starring all of the above plus music by the Beth Custer Ensemble, martial arts demos for kids, Big Brutha Soul, and didgeridoo player Stephen Kent. More entertainment than you can shake a teargas canister at. And it's totally free, man. Just bring clothes to donate, maybe a poem, or any political statements you may have lying around the house. The fun begins at noon today, Dwight Way above Telegraph, Berkeley, Planet Earth. Info: 510-390-0830. -- Kelly Vance

MON 26

Put a little magia in your Monday: Every week, Oakland's premier Latino gay club, the Bench and Bar, presents "Lunes Latinos with Violeta & Aries Travesti Show." When the B&B moves to its new location on Franklin St., a talk show called La Movida will be the Monday night special, but you can still catch this version tonight. The Bench and Bar is located at 120 11th St. Call 510-444-2255 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 27

It was originally titled Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army, but some marketing genius decided at the last minute to change the name of Robert (American Babylon) Stone's documentary to Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, circa 1974, when revolutionaries were ambushing cops, kidnapping rich kids and turning them into bank robbers, and using the money of "fascist insects" to distribute free food to California's poor. Too bad Patricia Hearst didn't participate in the making of the film; if John Waters had made the doc instead, he might have convinced her to tell her side of the story. It's weird, highly watchable fun anyway. Guerrilla plays tonight only (6:30 p.m.) at the SF International Film Festival at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (at Bowditch), just a few blocks from where Hearst was kidnapped. Tickets: $12 from SFFS.org or 925-866-9559. -- Kelly Vance

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