Reel 'Em In 

Catch of the day

SAT 11/26

The leathery old sea dogs and maritime decor at Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley might seem antithetical to a School of Flirting, but that doesn't faze Susan Rabin, dubbed "the world's foremost flirt." She brings her notorious romantic tutelage to the seafood eatery and unlocks some juicy secrets from her new book, Lucky in Love: Fabulous, Foolproof Flirting Strategies for Every Week of the Year, this Saturday night from 7:30 until midnight -- with a dance party following the flirting instruction. After all, Rabin is also the author of How to Attract Anyone, Anytime, Anyplace, so Spenger's is as good a place as any. The question is: do you really want to attract anyone, anytime? What about those guys hunched over the bar at ten in the morning? On her Web site,, Rabin, who describes herself as "an author, seminar leader, therapist, communications consultant, coach, lecturer, writer, media personality, and internationally acclaimed expert on the art of flirting," emphasizes the subtleties of approach: "Your body is speaking even when you are not. Be aware of what message you're sending." She even offers some helpful formulas: "If you have forgotten to smile, make friendly eye contact, and have positive body language, you may be missing out. Then start a conversation 'QCC' -- open ended Question, Comment, and Compliment." Compliments are important, she says, but only if they are sincere. Her new book offers a flirting tip for every week of the year. Rabin, who has flirted with David Letterman on TV and has given tips to Oprah, Phil Donahue, and numerous other talk show hosts, urges you to "seize every flirting opportunity and find the love of your life." There's always that guy at the bar ...

Spenger's Banquet Ballroom is at 1919 Fourth Street in Berkeley. Adults of all ages are welcome, and the attire is dressy. For more information, call 415-507-9962, or visit -- Sarah Cahill


Lit Happens

Dan the Man

On the year's biggest shopping day, take a break from the frenzied throngs at the mall to join the old-fashioned family-style festivities at San Ramon Library's Holiday Trim-a-Tree, where A Midsummer Night's Dream season is now a distant memory and A Winter's Tale season is about to begin (Fri., 3 p.m.). ... From the-one-that-got-away to living-happily-ever-after, it's Storytelling Night at the Berkeley Art Center (1275 Walnut St.), where live music follows the Rhythm & Muse literary open mic (Sat., 7 p.m.) (signups start at 6:30). ... Children's Book Week lasts all month at Fremont Library. To get your own little piece of it, bring a used children's book in decent condition, put it in the basket, and in exchange take another book for free (Sat., 10 a.m.). ... Blogger-poet Jasper Bernes and art-critic-poet Bill Corbett, both of whom teach their craft, read together in the Maude Fife Room in UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). ... If cold weather makes you crave hot action, check out Poetry Express's third annual "Between-the-Holidays Erotic Poetry" open mic at Priya Indian Cuisine, where attendance gets you 20 percent off dinner (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... White House skulduggery never goes out of style, so Pentagon Papers-leaker and Secrets author Daniel Ellsberg coheadlines with Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy, at PEN West's annual Freedom to Write night at Black Oak (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). ... An aqueduct, a missing person, and the restless hulk of Mount Vesuvius drive Robert Harris' historical thriller Pompeii, up for discussion by El Cerrito Library's Readers Anonymous Club (Tue., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

TUE 11/29

The Road to Bebop

In 1959, photographer William Claxton and ethnomusicologist Joachim Berendt set out on a road trip across America to discover the soul of jazz, an excursion that took them to cities as diverse and widespread as New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, and New York City. Their musical field trip brought them into contact with many obscure, now-forgotten street musicians, as well as now-legendary artists like Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. The resulting book, Jazzlife, was originally published in Germany in 1960, but has long been out of print. Claxton comes to Cody's (2554 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. to celebrate the reissue of Jazzlife -- which now includes a CD of field recordings made by Berendt -- and to talk about his jazzy journey. -- Eric K. Arnold


It Must Be Taj Time

The club is darn near his own living room

Deck the halls with Creole belles. You know the holidays are upon us when the Bay Area legends return to Yoshi's like swallows to Capistrano. Bluesman and musical folklorist Taj Mahal's annual visits to the Jack London Square jazz club have become the stuff of local legend, offering melodic excursions into Afro-Americana, along with Caribbean and Hawaiian tangents, with more earnest storytelling and genuine ad-libbing than you can shake a dog-eared copy of "Stagger Lee" at. If you want to see an example of a musician getting extremely comfortable onstage -- completely within his element, as it were -- then tell a few of your pals or your best gal and come on down. Shoot, Taj done played Yoshi's so many times, the venue is darn near his own living room. Audience members are treated more like home guests than club patrons. Whether you got the blues or just want to hear them, Taj and his bandmates Kester Smith and Bill Rich have got you covered. Tuesday through Saturday at 8 and 10 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. $5-$26. -- Eric K. Arnold


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