This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 12
American soccer players and fans should be encouraged by the higher caliber of play in the States these days, especially at the professional level of the sport, where it counts. The US national team routinely whipping Mexico is one thing, however, and the spectacle of MLS club teams taking on the club powerhouses of Europe and Latin America is quite another. This evening at 7:30 at San Jose's Spartan Stadium, the Earthquakes tangle with Lisbon's Sporting Club of Portugal -- ranked second in the Portuguese SuperLiga behind FC Porto -- in an international exhibition match. The Quakes, who lost 0-2 to Mexico's Chivas in their last international contest at Spartan, are 7-9-5 against foreign foes since 1996. Maybe this match-up will energize San Jose's MLS campaign. SJEarthquakes.com -- Kelly Vance

THU 13
Hollywood low-budget producer and director Jerry Warren (1925-1988) is notorious among trash connoisseurs for such hilariously awful cheapo productions as Teenage Zombies, Attack of the Mayan Mummy, and Frankenstein Island. In his hands, most of the "exploitation" took place in the advertising and publicity -- what ended up onscreen was usually an afterthought. Some of Warren's most outrageous flicks were his cut-and-paste jobs, in which the thrifty filmmaker bought a couple of obscure foreign films, then edited them together, incomprehensibly, with original footage starring such Warren regulars as John Carradine. That's the case with tonight's "Thrillville" feature at the Parkway Theater, Curse of the Stone Hand, a mishmash of two Chilean horror movies from 1964. Luckily, the Speakeasy Parkway (1834 Park Blvd., Oakland) sells beer and wine. Showtime is 9:15 p.m. -- Kelly Vance

FRI 14
Springtime in the burbs means shorts, barbecues, golf, and ... stage plays about golf? Leave it to the Pleasanton Hotel's uproarious Gibson House Mystery Performers to combine two favorite pastimes -- whack-whack and stab-stab -- into one package, with Par 4 for Murder, the latest murder-mystery dinner theater event at the venerable hostelry (855 Main St. in downtown Pleasanton). Go ahead, dress up in your best Tiger Woods togs (golf attire is encouraged), tuck into your pork loin or vegetable risotto, watch the fairway skulduggery unfold ("a deadly shot to the eighteenth hole!"), grill the performers (figuratively), and solve a murder -- all for $48 per. The show hits into the rough Friday nights through May 28. Reservations are a must: 925-846-8106. Info: GibsonHouse.com -- Kelly Vance

SAT 15
It's not easy being pagan. Organizers of today's free Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration say they're being financially squeezed, and that this year's fest -- the third annual, with the theme "Divine Feminine" -- might be the last. And that would be a pity. Where else are you going to go today and find the Eagle Spirit intertribal drummers and dancers, the Algerian music of Berber Amazigh, a group of practicing druids, and other representatives of "indigenous, Earth-based, and nature-centered traditions" displaying their art, music, dance, theater, and ceremonies for all to see? The parade marshal is fantasy author Diana L. Paxson (Chronicles of Westria). The fun begins at 10 a.m. at Berkeley's Civic Center Park (MLK Jr. Way between Center and Allston) and goes until 5. To learn more, or to offer a pagan a helping hand: PaganPride.org -- Kelly Vance

SUN 16
The East Bay has a reasonably large Japanese colony (Japanese-Japanese, in addition to Japanese-American), but aside from sushi bars there's little in the way of public gathering places. Which is why the Satsuki Arts Festival and Bazaar is so special. Today is the second day of the weekend fest, held at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple (2121 Channing Way, 510-841-1356), and there's entertainment for every taste: koto music by June Kuramoto, the keyboard artistry of Kimo Cornwell from the well-known Los Angeles jazz-fusion band Hiroshima, taiko drumming by Kenny Endo, and Star Search contestant singer Sophie Tamiko Oda. Of course, expect a variety of Japanese food as well, alongside Asian arts and crafts, kids' carnival games, and a silent auction. Today, from noon to 7 p.m. -- Kelly Vance

MON 17
Anyone who regularly meditates will eagerly tell you of the benefits it has had on his or her mind. But now there's cold, hard scientific stuff to back that up. Daniel Goleman will drop into Alcanes High School (1200 Pleasant Hill Rd., Lafayette) to talk about recent collaborations between neuroscientists and meditation practitioners that have suggested that meditation creates lasting, positive change in the brain, including fewer upsets, better immune function, and more. Goleman is the author of Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? and Emotional Intelligence, The Meditative Mind. He speaks in Lafayette tonight from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. as a guest of John F. Kennedy University. Tickets cost $50. Call 925-969-3150 or 800-557-1384 to register. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 18
If you've been meaning to take a long, late lunch and visit the Berkeley Farmers' Market, today is a great day to do so. Not only will the market at Derby St. and MLK Way have all its usual fresh flowers, vegetables, artisan breads, cheeses, olive oil, nuts, and whatnot for sale, but today is the Annual Strawberry Tasting. Yep, it's that time of year already, when all of the market's strawberry-selling growers will offer up samples from one single, sticky table. Maybe the Vital Vittles people will be selling little yellow organic cakes and the goat-cheese folks will have whipped cream, and you can make yourself a hella-Berkeley strawberry shortcake when you get back to the office. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she? Admission to the market is free, and it's open from 2 to 7 p.m. Info: 510-548-3333 or EcologyCenter.org -- Stefanie Kalem

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