There are two things, one imagines, that could drive a real-estate agent to the stand-up comedy stage: Either your days showing property are laugh-out-loud funny, or they're so dead serious you have to conjure up a bellyful of laughter once night falls. Whatever drove the mortgage broker to strap on the Hawaiian shirt and start John DeKoven's Comedy Showcase, it seems to make him happy. The second and fourth Wednesday of each month finds DeKoven hosting a full lineup at Main Street Brewery, 830 Main St., Pleasanton, and tonight is no exception -- well, okay, perhaps it is, since guest host Dan Edwards will be the one welcoming headliner Spiritwalker and supporting chuckle-muffins Maggie Newcomb, Anthony Hill, Howard Stone, and Michael Slack. The giggles begin at 8 p.m., and there's a $5 cover charge. Visit TriValleyComedy.com to get on the mailing list for future lineups.
F. Scott Fitzgerald has been gone a long, long time now, so can we also lay to rest his old saw, "There are no second acts in American lives"? Yes, Viagra, there are second and third and even fourth acts in the 21st century. Take Ruth Brown, who made Atlantic Records an R&B power-hitter with her early hits "Teardrops in My Eyes" and "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean," among others. Brown's star dimmed after 1960, so she worked a day job and raised her two sons. But she returned to music in the '70s, and got into acting on the sitcom Hello, Larry and as Motormouth Maybelle in the movie Hairspray. Her career as a thespian peaked in 1989 with a Tony for the Broadway show Black and Blue, after which she hosted NPR's Harlem Hit Parade and BluesStage, recording all the while. Brown recently had a stroke, but the odds are good on her life having another act -- you can hear her doing the standards of her youth during a three-night stand beginning tonight at Yoshi's at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshis.com
What's better than a bodice-ripper? Why, a bodice-on-bodice-ripper, of course! "Catherine could not forget the woman's eyes. That grey-green gaze had probed into the depths of her soul and left her overwhelmed with puzzling emotions." So begins Anna Furtado's debut novel, The Heart's Desire, the tale of a noblewoman and an herbalist pursuing love in post-Norman medieval England. It's the first book of Furtado's Briarcrest Chronicles; ask her what happens next when she reads at 7 p.m. tonight at Spellbinding Tales, 1920 Encinal Ave. in Alameda. Free. 510-523-1105.
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalist's long-running monthly lecture series is titled, technically, "So, How'd You Become an Activist?" But ever since the 2004 presidential (s)election, the talks have had a subtitle: "So What Do We Do Now?" This evening at 7 p.m. Roy Campanella II, KPFA's new general manager, will be joined by Global Exchange Peace Campaign coordinator Andrea Buffa to share their insight and discuss what the future might bring. Harvard grad (and son of the baseball Hall of Famer) Campanella has produced and directed independent documentaries, prime-time episodes, and TV movies, including the DGA award-winning Brother Future; Yalie Buffa is a member of Code Pink, and a seasoned protester. 1924 Cedar St. Admission is a $5 donation ($3 for students). 415-927-1645.
"But the dank, Moe! The dank!" Don't worry, Carl (or is it Lenny?), they're not getting rid of the dank at the Golden Bull any time soon. But with a bill like tonight, the dive bar might get a little darker. You gotcher wiry screamo quartet Battleship, all packed up and ready to tour the Pacific NW; you gotcher Feather Gong, featuring members of Glass Candy, A-Tension, and 7 Year Rabbit Cycle; you gotcher Cold War; and you gotcher well-named Pants of Total Fire. It all happens at 412 14th St., Oakland, starting at 9 p.m. You have to be 21 and up and, unless you know the band really well, you have to pay $5.
For those of you overwhelmed by the distracting forces of the modern world and wishing for a little, well, synergy, maybe you should check out something called "pervasive play." Pervasive-play games such as ilovebees combine online gaming with real-life action. Last fall, sixteen jars of honey were sent out, containing letters spelling out the name of ilovebees' Web site. Within weeks, millions of nerds -- erm, players -- were furiously scanning news media for clues, and answering ringing payphones as far away as London to hear the latest installments of an old-fashioned serial that eventually led to the introduction of the Halo 2 XBOX game; that game earned more than $125 million in its first day on the market. One of the authors of ilovebees, UC Berkeley grad student Jane McGonigal, will talk about the game at a free lecture this evening at 7:30 p.m. at Cal's Kroeber Hall ATC lab (room 160), in conjunction with an art show based on the game, including complete sets of broadcasts of the drama, up at the university's Worth Ryder Gallery through March 18. How's that for synergy? Opening reception Tuesday, from 4-7 p.m. 510-642-2582.
What's your deepest, darkest fear? Floods? Failed relationships? Fear itself? Chances are, Shotgun Theatre Lab covers it in Monster in the Dark, a collage of works that seems more suited to October with its exploration of the scary stuff, culled from such freaky sources as the Brothers Grimm, Edgar Allan Poe, and that Big Daddy of spine-tinglers, the Bible. Monster marks the beginning of the experimental theater project's second series, and it's a collaboration between Shotgun, foolsFURY Theater Company, and playwright Doug Dorst. Monster in the Dark will be performed Monday and Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. through March 29 at the Ashby Stage, with talkback sessions after each show. $10. Shotgun Players.org, 510-841-6500.
Culture Spy - October 23, 11:07 AM
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Culture Spy - October 21, 9:09 AM
What the Fork - October 20, 3:19 PM