This week's day-by-day picks. 

WED 26

Belgium. A land known for its pommes frites, its white ales, its Jean-Claude Van Damme, its ... jazz harmonica players? Well, one in particular: the chromatic harmonica player in jazz. As a Django-inspired guitarist, Toots Thielemans shared a bill with Charlie Parker at the 1949 Paris Jazz Festival. But as master of the chromatic harmonica, Thielemans has traded licks with Oscar Peterson, recorded with Quincy Jones, and interacted with Brazilian stars such as Caetano Veloso and Milton Nascimento on his Brasil Project CD. Through Sunday at Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland), he shares the headline spot with pianist and fellow bop aficionado Kenny Werner, backed up by special guests Oscar Castro-Neves and Airto Moreira. Tonight's shows are at 8 and 10 p.m., and tickets cost $20 and $10, respectively. Call 510-238-9200. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 27

The first reaction many people have on hearing the title of Brad Stone's book, Gear Heads: The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports (Simon & Schuster, $14), is: "What robotic sports?" Does he mean video games, Survival Research Laboratories' robot battles, or what? From the book's outline, the main conflict appears to be between tech geeks and merchandising money men. Stone, a technology correspondent for Newsweek, seems to have latched onto a story slightly ahead of its time. Have him explain the whole thing to you when you catch his 7 p.m. reading tonight at Barnes and Noble Bay Street. 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville. -- Kelly Vance

FRI 28

Singing for Peace is a year-old East Bay organization that meets every other week to sing protest songs at Bay Area BART stations. You're welcome to add your voice to the thirty or so who regularly gather. Today's sing-in happens at the Fremont station at evening rush hour from 5:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. All ages, all voices (even bad ones) are invited to "voice your protest and prayers for peace, in harmony, in public." Meet at the turnstile area, and bring friends, percussion instruments, songs, and maybe a sign. Dinner afterward with the group. For more info: 510-525-7082. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 29

The ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, one of the great tragic love stories, has been adapted by Jean Cocteau for his Orphée and turned into a Brazilian samba legend in Black Orpheus -- but it's never before been translated into the world of Mexican narcotraficantes. For his play El Sol Que Tu Eres (The Sun That You Are), writer Anthony J. Garcia focuses on the doomed romance of Rudi and Orfeo, two lovers who get into trouble with the ferocious local drug lord, Narciso, in their village during the Day of the Dead festivities. Playwright Garcia incorporates Aztec and Mayan myths into the story, which resonates with themes of cultural fusion and political revolt, all set to the stirring music of Daniel Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit). El Sol que Tu Eres is presented in a stage reading tonight at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Curtain is 8 p.m. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 30

Last year's inaugural Signal Flow, consisting of works by artists completing their master's degrees at Mills, featured concert pieces for large ensembles, electronic works, robotic installations, theater pieces, and two musical plays. So you can safely expect everything and anything from organic to electronic, euphony to cacophony, and noise to silence from this year's fest, winding down today. In the Music Building, explore Amanda Piasecki's installation all day, and then head to the Haas Pavilion for William Brent's performance. Roddy Schrock and Eric Myers are up in Mills' excruciatingly lovely Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m., and Anne Hege rounds out the evening at 8:30 in the Greek Amphitheatre. All Signal Flow events are free, and Mills College is located at 5000 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland. Call the concert line at 510-430-2296 for complete details. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 31

The socially conscious documentaries of Frederick Wiseman -- Hospital, Welfare, Titicut Follies, Juvenile Court -- were always recognized for their use of film as a tool for social change. Now, he's being recognized as more than just a creator of cinema verité;. In her notes for the Pacific Film Archive's Wiseman series, Juliet Clark claims: "Frederick Wiseman is not only one of America's greatest documentarians, he is one of our greatest makers of movies." Find out for yourself beginning tonight, when the PFA kicks off the retrospective with Wiseman's 1969 Meat (a pre-Fast Food Nation exposé of the meat industry) and High School (1969), one of the most devastating movies ever made about being young. Wiseman is currently in residency at UCB's Townsend Center for the Humanities, where he is lecturing (call 510-643-9670 for info), and he'll be on hand at the PFA (2575 Bancroft Way, UCB) for tonight's show and subsequent screenings. Each and every film in the eighteen-title series is a must-see. -- Kelly Vance


It began with an insult. Enraged by reports that rock chanteuse Chrissie Hynde had made a stink during a PETA protest in a Seattle KFC store, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice fired one across Chrissie's bow: "That bitch has a screw loose all right [Hynde and the Pretenders' latest CD is titled Loose Screw]. I'd like to get hold of her. I'd make her eat a bucket of extra-crispy." To which the always-game Hynde shot back: "No thanks, I'm on a rice diet from now on. Besides, I thought Condi was booked for breakfast in Baghdad for the next two weeks." That tore it. Rice threw down, Hynde responded, and now the two are meeting on the field of honor -- the KFC outlet in El Sobrante (3300 San Pablo Dam Rd.) -- at 3 p.m. this afternoon for a no-holds-barred mud-wrestling match. Unless one of them chickens out. -- William Lloyd Link


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