This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 30
Arthur Phillips' debut novel, Prague, follows its five expatriate American protagonists through Budapest as they quest for romantic, financial, and spiritual satisfaction, all the while suspecting that their counterparts in Prague are finding these things with more ease and verve. If that sounds like just so much of the same-old-same-old, consider that Phillips -- who readily admits that his book is about irony -- has a résumé full-to-pulsing with quirky writerly cred. Harvard-educated, he spent two years in Budapest himself before returning to his hometown of Boston to pursue an education and career as a jazz saxophonist. But he found love, got married and, since lovin' a music man ain't always what it's supposed to be, Phillips did what any sensible Harvard man would do -- he became a five-time Jeopardy champ. He reads and signs copies of Prague at Cody's (2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) at 7:30 this evening. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 31
Eat, drink, and holler "Olé!" at the tenth anniversary Flamenco Internacional celebration at Berkeley's Cafe de la Paz, tonight through Saturday. All the performances feature two singers from Jerez, Spain -- brothers Antonio and Manuel de la Malena -- and the Emmy-award-winning Yaelisa and her Caminos Flamencos troupe. Joining Yaelisa and the dancers is guitarist Jason McGuire, "El Rubio." A special menu by chef Laurie MacKenzie is in the works, and guests can choose from a 7:15 p.m. dinner show ($55) or a late show with dinner optional ($30 without dinner, $55 with) at 10 p.m. Tickets are available by phone at 510-843-0662. Cafe de la Paz is located in the thick of the Gourmet Ghetto at 1600 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. -- Kelly Vance

When you dance, do your moves have names? Do you favor the freaky chicken, the soup-can jack, or the huggy-bug? Are you more of a reach-for-the-sky, reach-for-the-floor Goth, or a where's- my-wallet-where's-my-keys hippie? Perhaps most importantly, can you get down without being messed up? Explore these questions and many more at Groove Jam at World Yoga, 1530 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Though Groove Jam is just one of many eclectic, smoke-free, and alcohol-free "dance jam" style events throughout the Bay Area, this is the first of its kind on the east side of the Caldecott Tunnel. Contact improvisers, Gabrielle Roth devotees, and other barefoot free spirits are invited to free-form their little hearts out to a revolving cast of DJs, spinning a variety of styles on the first Friday of every month. 8 p.m., $10. -- Stefanie Kalem

Some audiences may know her as Rosy Rosebud the Clown, but writer, performer, and stage director Erica Sodos has at least one more character waiting in the wings. Maybe several more. In her one-woman musical comedy show Nothing Is Sacred, she plays a number of roles: a woman named Assiyah who hears voices, and the voices themselves, including that of an outer space alien named Gorfuglia. Confused? Don't be. The show -- billed as a "playful journey from obsession to self-love" -- is fueled by Sodos' original music and her amazing collection of props. Sodos, Assiyah, Gorfuglia, and the rest of the cast step onstage Friday and Saturday (7:30 doors, 8 p.m. show) at the Jazz House, 3192 Adeline St., Berkeley. Tickets are $10-$15 sliding scale. For more info: 415-289-6561. -- Kelly Vance

San Francisco painter Fred Martin's artwork ranges from the anguished lyricism of My Hands in the Sun (1971) to the warm Italianate abstraction of Venetian Hearts Still Beat (1993). A pivotal figure in the West Coast art scene since the 1940s, Martin was director of the SF Art Institute from 1965 to 1975 and continues to teach painting there while publishing his work and lecturing internationally. Now the East Bay is getting a full overview of The Art of Fred Martin: A Retrospective, 1948-2003. The one-man show -- 137 paintings, drawings, collages, and block prints, including many from the artist's private collection -- is now open at the Oakland Museum of California, through December 28. The museum, at Oak and 10th streets in downtown Oakland, is open Wednesdays through Sundays. -- Kelly Vance

Upon These Boards is a nonprofit theater institute and troupe presenting graduate-level instruction as well as putting on plays, readings, salons, and symposia. They focus "mainly on classical material and adaptations of time-honored works which illuminate the human condition" and, to those ends, the second event in their summer "Art Is Peace" series will be a staged reading of The Inkwell Communiqués. The play by Ignis Fatuus ("foolish fire") depicts what happens when an artist battles the government via correspondence, and continues to do so through three presidential regimes. Randall Stuart stages this reading, which features 25 Bay Area actors and an original score by Katy Stephan, tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. on the Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage (2025 Addison). It's a benefit for Amnesty International, and a $20 donation is suggested. 866-372-6849 or for reservations. -- Stefanie Kalem

Nick Lawrence and Shanna Paulazzo have been teaching West Coast Swing Classes at Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley) for a decade now. So if you want to learn one of the most popular (yes, still) partner dances in the United States, they're the folks for you. There are three new class series starting tonight, and each one comprises two Tuesday evenings. Level I requires no previous dance experience and goes from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.; Level II offers different patterns and syncopations, and goes from 7:45 till 9 p.m.; Level III focuses on a variety of patterns, syncopations, and styling, while concentrating on improving fundamentals, from 9 to 10 p.m. You need not bring a partner to the classes, and the two-week series costs $20 in advance, $22 at the door. or 510-525-5054. -- Stefanie Kalem


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