Why Soccer? 

... when you can poker?

Sat 1/29

There have been many attempts at making soccer big business in the United States -- after all, the real football is what the rest of the world is mad for, while Brazil, Brighton, and Cyprus don't understand our fascination with Ronco products. In a brilliant stroke of cross-marketing, the Bay Area Outreach Program's Bay Cruisers have seized upon something our country is currently wild for -- poker -- and will use it to their own nefarious fund-raising ends this Saturday during the Poker Slam 2005. To raise funds for the team (power soccer, by the way, is played by people in power wheelchairs), a donation of $100 is required. That Benjamin buys you entrance to Spenger's Fish Grotto -- all gussied up as a Vegas-style casino -- for an appetizer buffet and Texas Hold'Em tournament play. Plus Chat Crittenden from Survivor: Vanuatu will be in the house to show you how to eat dirt, or something. There will also be a raffle and silent auction, and prizes range from bottles of wine to round-trip tickets on Southwest. The party starts at 4:30 p.m. and the tournament is at 6. BORP.org, 510-849-4663. -- Stefanie Kalem

1/27-1/31

Lit Happens

As a paratrooper on D-Day, Don Glen-Reiland leaped into thin air, plunged into the sea, and climbed ashore to make his mark behind enemy lines in Normandy. His memoir From Darien to D-Day revives the greatest generation's wildest days. Give him the V-sign at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... How much is that original edition of Curious George worth? Brought to you by the Old Oakland Bookmark Society, book appraiser Vic Zoschak presents a talk and will appraise your books if you bring three or fewer to The Bookmark Bookstore (721 Washington St., Oakland; for details call 510-444-0473 (Thu., 5:30 p.m.). ... So the cosmos started how? Let Cambridge grad and Big Bang author Simon Singh explain at Cody's Telegraph, where with a refreshingly un-nerdlike wit he outlines the history of the universe and introduces its major players (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Gianna Ferraro-Evers teaches the young and the restless to create colorful collages just as cute as the ones that punctuate The Very Hungry Caterpillar in "Famous Illustrators: The Wild Side of Eric Carle," her art class for five- to-twelve-year-olds at Altamont Books. Each participant will take home a finished art project, and the $25 fee includes a snack and a Carle book (Sun., 10 a.m.). ... Ten passengers escape a shipwreck by climbing aboard an inflatable raft. Which of them survive to tell the tale, and which go mad and jump overboard? It's a matter of attitude, explains Deep Survival author Laurence Gonzales. Ask him to assess your chances at Black Oak (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). ... Other countries had slavery too, you know. In Bury the Chains, Adam Hochschild recounts how Britain slowly and painfully purged itself of the scourge. Meet the Mother Jones founding editor at UC Berkeley's North Gate Hall Library (Mon., 4 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

Sun 1/30

Winds of Change

A Mighty Wind notwithstanding, folk music is being taken seriously again these days. A few generations after the hootenanny and protest-song boom of the '60s, people are still picking up acoustic guitars and launching broadsides. Right at the top of the curve is the self-proclaimed "Revolutionary Folk Music" band Folk This! The Bay Area trio -- singer Susan Appe, guitarist Marcus Duskin, and former punk rocker Ramsey Kanaan -- drop by Oakland's Mama Buzz Gallery (2318 Telegraph Ave., 510-465-4073, MamaBuzzCafe.com) Sunday afternoon at 1 for some pickin', grinnin', and protestin.' -- Kelly Vance

Thu 1/27

Burden of Proof

DNA testing has changed how we look at capital punishment. Death-row inmates have been exonerated, and new doubt cast on the judicial system. Author and TV anchor Bill Kurtis (Cold Case Files) is on top of the story. Thursday evening (7 p.m.) at the Independent Policy Forum, 100 Swan Way, Oakland, he appears with UCB law prof Franklin Zimring to put The Death Penalty on Trial. 510-632-1366. -- Kelly Vance

Wed 1/26 Warm Housing

The Rural Studio is proof of positivity

Architecture students are like virgins with an itch they cannot scratch, sang Stephen Malkmus in Pavement's "The Hexx," Never build a building till you're fifty, what kind of life is that? But if you go to Auburn University, perhaps you can participate in The Rural Studio program, the subject of a film of the same name. In 1993, Auburn architecture professors Dennis K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee decided to give the future builders of Alabama hands-on experience while also giving them a chance to get to know the value of community service. Participating students move to rural Hale County to design and build homes for poor residents, from blueprint to housewarming, often with plenty of input from the future residents. And these are no Section 8 atrocities -- the seven homes and many community buildings the program has created include forward-thinking designs, energy-efficient systems, and unique building materials (such as wooden shipping pallets, carpet tiles, and windows from multiple 1962 Chevy Caprices). Not surprisingly, documentary filmmaker Chuck Schultz read a New York Times article about the program and decided to capture the story on celluloid. The resulting film was part of the Rural Studio's exhibitions at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, recently won the jury prize for best feature-length documentary at the Festival Internacional de Cinema del Medi Ambient in Barcelona, and has become a key fund-raising tool. Lend a hand yourself when it shows at the American Institute of Architects' East Bay chapter office, 1405 Clay St., Oakland. The film starts at 6 p.m. $1 for full-time students, $5 for everybody else. 510-464-3600. --Stefanie Kalem

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