This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 16

If you ever felt like a slug watching extreme sports at home in front of the telly with a pepperoni pizza, here's your chance to rise up and turn yourself into an adventurer -- and to help some people who could use a hand. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is looking for athletes to compete in endurance sports to raise funds for cancer research, and they're willing to train you for the Desert Duel Duathlon and other events. This evening (6:30 p.m.) at the Four Points Sheraton, 5115 Hopyard Rd. in Pleasanton, Team in Training explains what it's all about with the assistance of coaches, past participants, and cancer survivors. And there are meetings in Concord, Emeryville, and Livermore this week as well. Phone 1-800-788-7246 or visit Teamintraining.com for details. -- Kelly Vance

THU 17

There are quilts -- and then there are Anna Von Mertens' extravagant creations, large color fields of hand-dyed, hand-stitched fabric created to bring science and the outdoors into the bedroom. The California College of Arts and Crafts grad's quilts have been called existential, and in her first solo show at the Berkeley Art Museum, a MATRIX presentation called Suggested North Points, the pieces evoke everything from sunsets to the end of the world -- on a double bed frame. The exhibition is open now through September 7 at BAM. Summer hours are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays until 7 p.m. 2626 Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley. For more info, call 510- 642-0808 or log on to Bampfa.Berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance

FRI 18

What do you get when you combine syrup-slow, kiwi-fuzzy indie rock along the lines of Yo La Tengo and Luna with a pair of left-of-center German guitar savants and a lush, emotional outfit from Toronto fronted by a genetically deaf but soulful singer? An excellent bill of obscurecore that will have you retuning your heartstrings all the way home. San Francisco's Dee Kesler and Tadas Kiselius, aka Thee More Shallows, headline the show. Herman Düne's skewed folk has been compared to everyone from Neil Young to the Mountain Goats, and Toronto-based Picastro, which kicks off the evening's activities, is led through deliciously dreary, Dirty 3/Godspeed You Black Emperor seas of cello and guitar by frontwoman Liz Hysen. The three bands play tonight at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at 2nd, Oakland. The 21-and-up show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $7. Call 510-763-1146 for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 19

Why would a treacherous, nasty, totally brutal thrashcore band from Japan name itself Conga Fury? Basically, to confuse the hell out of you. So if you're looking for samba tonight, look elsewhere. Conga Fury and their fellow countrymen Chainsaw open up for Oakland's own thrash kings Born/Dead, as do the Bay Area's "estrogen-fueled" (read: coed) speed demons Voetsek, Case of Emergency, and Doppelganger starting at 8 p.m. at Berkeley's 924 Gilman. This all-ages show costs $5. Call 510-524-8180 for venue details. And don't say we didn't warn you. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 20

Movies about animals are tricky beasts. Traditionally, one hopes either to educate without being boring or to entertain without being cheesy. Bay Area filmmaker Kamala Appel decided to hedge her bets and do both. The result is Animal Crackers, an "edutaining" work that was filmed and produced entirely 'round these parts: Berkeley, Oakland, San Mateo, Santa Rosa, Sausalito, Walnut Creek, and Año Nuevo, to be exact. The movie, aimed at folks from 9 to 109, blends rotoscopic animation with testimonials from animal experts (including staff from the Coyote Point Museum, Safari West, and the Marine Mammal Center), and more, to detail, for example, the love lives of lemurs, what it takes to be a "cheetah diva," what kind of dreams a stinky river otter might have, and the true meaning of "pecking order." The public premiere happens today at 3 p.m. at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Admission is a mere $5 at the door. Phone 510-814-2400 for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 21

"If you go down to the woods today/You're in for a big surprise/If you go down to the woods today/You'd better go in disguise." That's because today is the day for the Wild Teddy Bear Picnic at El Sobrante Library. Kids and teddy bears naturally go together. Young children three years of age and up are invited to bring their favorite teddies and join in a bear hunt, hear bear stories, and have teddy bear treats. The fun begins at 7 p.m., and Mama and Papa Bears are welcome at the free event. El Sobrante branch library, a branch of the Contra Costa Library System, is at 4191 Appian Way, and is open daily except Wednesdays and Sundays. For more info: 510-374-3991. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 22

Want to check out the natural beauty of Contra Costa County before the cool morning fog lifts? Then the East Bay Regional Parks District would love to invite you on the last of its three Beat the Heat Hikes. From 8 to 10 a.m. today you can enjoy the eucalyptus-shaded meadows, open, rolling grasslands, river shoreline, wooded ravines, and historic former brickworks, grain wharf, and resort of Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline. The free hike will be led by Mike Moran, and since it doesn't contain many inclines, it's especially suitable for beginners. Registration is required, so call 925-757-2620 before the rest of the early birds get the worm. -- Stefanie Kalem

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