Say what you want about Alameda's quirky, homegrown Frank Bette Center for the Arts -- it has its collective ear to the ground. On any given day, like today, you can stroll into the former store on the quiet corner of Paru and Lincoln (1601 Paru St.) and discover things you might not be allowed to experience at high-gloss, big-city museums. Such as the model and plans for Kevin Kihn's seven-foot-high geodesic dome, or the timely "War and Peace" exhibit, which deals with patriotism on its own terms. The center is open Wednesdays through Sundays. 510-523-6957 or FrankBetteCenter.org -- Kelly Vance
The East Bay is loaded with writers, both unpublished and the other kind. The former group has benefited in recent years from desktop publishing, blogging, etc., but the idea of a tangible book is still powerful. Do you have a best-seller in you? Find out at Choose Your Publisher, a forum, workshop, and book publishers' panel sponsored by the American Society of Journalists and Authors this evening (7 p.m.) at the Journalism Library on the UC Berkeley campus. Five of the Bay Area's leading book editors will be on hand to explain the literary rules of engagement. Admission is $5 for the general public, free for UC students and faculty; reserve by e-mailing email@example.com -- K.V.
Hard to believe, but the Youth Speaks organization has been helping today's kids to speak for themselves for a decade now. What started as a small organization connecting educational workshops to performance-oriented poetry has become a nationally recognized cultural institution whose events have branched out into both sides of the bay. You can hear the next generation of spoken-word artists tonight at Oakland Mic, an ongoing Youth Speaks-affiliated event specifically designed for wordsmiths under 21 to develop their live chops in a supportive (that is, noncompetitive) environment -- the gallery space of Pro Arts (550 2nd St., Oakland). 7 p.m., free. -- Eric K. Arnold
According to The New York Times, the Federal Emergency Management Agency "has done virtually nothing" to help victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita find permanent housing. If we can't count on the government to help people in need, we've got to do something about it ourselves, especially since many national charities soak up as much as 40 percent of donations in "administrative costs." You can help make a difference in the lives of some of the youngest victims, fifteen family members of local musician Ted "Blyss" Gould, who formerly lived in the 7th and 9th wards -- among the hardest-hit areas of New Orleans. These children, aged eleven months to fifteen years, "have lost everything," according to local songstress Femi, who performs with Blyss tonight in a special acoustic benefit at the Bistro in Hayward (1001 B St.). The show starts at 8 p.m., and there's no cover, but a donation of $10 (or more) is requested. -- E.K.A.
Despite the addition of WR Randy Moss and RB LaMont Jordan, the Oakland Raiders got off to a lethargic start this season, losing their first three games. Then injuries to All-Pro cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Derrick Gibson thrust a bunch of young defensive backs into the starting lineup. Still, there are hopeful signs the Silver-and-Black attack is finally beginning to jell. Against the Bills a while back, the Oakland squad amassed 38 points behind Jordan's roughshod galloping, and the recent Titans game saw a 2-TD breakout performance from WR Jerry Porter. The Raiders' biggest test of the season, however, comes today at 1:05 p.m., when longtime AFC rivals Denver, led by suddenly mature QB Jake Plummer, come to the Coliseum for a showdown that could either make or break the season. Expect many points to be scored, and several players to be carted off the field after a particularly hard hit. Visit Raiders.com for more info. -- E.K.A.
Everyone has his or her favorite Steve Buscemi moment. Some people enjoyed the sight of him drilling through an asteroid hurtling through space in Armageddon. Others admire his Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. Still others can't get over Adolpho Rollo, his character in Alexandre Rockwell's overlooked comic gem In the Soup -- a would-be screenwriter mentored by New York gangster Seymour Cassel. All these are wonderful, to say nothing of his many appearances with Parker Posey, or his stint on HBO's The Sopranos. But there is only one film that achieves that true tone of slack hopelessness that distinguishes him from any other comic actor: Trees Lounge, the 1996 comedy written, produced, and directed by Buscemi, in which he stars as Tommy Basilio, the town goof of Valley Stream, Long Island. The scenes with him and Chloe Sevigny in the ice cream van are perfect. Trees Lounge plays Diablo Valley College's film series tonight at 7 (on video). 321 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill. -- K.V.
It's a fairly foregone and inevitable conclusion that the robots will eventually take over, dooming humanity to be their slaves or else suffer the effects of deadly laser beams and titanium-alloy claws powered by high-torque servo motors. After all, this final frontier of technology and humanity has long been prognosticated by sci-fi literature (I, Robot; 2001: A Space Odyssey), Hollywood films (Blade Runner; The Terminator; The Matrix), comic books (Rom: Spaceknight; the Sentinels from X-Men) and even Judas Priest songs ("Metal Gods"). What can be done about a robot-led invasion? Robotics expert Daniel Wilson examines every plausible scenario you can flash a light-emitting diode at involving artificial intelligence and cyborgs in How to Survive a Robot Uprising, and he'll share tips on how not to fall victim to droid death rays, etc., tonight at Cody's on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley at 7:30 p.m. CodysBooks.com -- E.K.A.
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
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What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM