This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 13

There's still plenty of time to have a go at the Oak Door Lounge's $500 karaoke contest. Every Wednesday starting at 9 p.m., sing your little heart out for a slot in the December 1 semifinals. From there, you can go to the Dec. 15 finals, and maybe win yourself a Franklin Fivesome and seven hours of studio time. Too nervous? Don't fret. There's technically no charge to compete, but there is a two-drink minimum. The Oak Door is located at 3062 Pacific Ave., Livermore. Call 925-373-0400 or write karaokehotline for further deets. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 14

It may be tucked away in the cozy suburbs, but the Orinda Film Festival dares to dream big. Now in its third year of screening predominantly indie films -- heavy on the documentaries and shorts packages -- in the Orinda Theater and three nearby venues, the fest can claim one or two attractions the multitude of competing film festivals can't. Like the series of shorts, a talent search project founded by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti. Or American Yearbook, a Columbine-style tale of high-school revenge filmed at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. Or the awards ceremony featuring Rawson Marshall Thurber, writer and director of Dodgeball, who happens to be a native of Orinda. That's just a smattering of the 55 programs and 163 films in the four-day event, opening today. Individual tickets are a reasonable $8, students and seniors $5. (Festival Gold Passes are sold out.) For much more information: -- Kelly Vance

FRI 15

What would girl groups -- or groupies, for that matter -- do without Bettie Page Bangs? Just wondering, because three of the five fillies in Thee Merry Widows sport the distinctive 'do. The BDSM angle continues into the band's song list, too, with its new tune, "Cruel Mistress." The self-described "Northern California's original all-female psychobilly band" -- Nikki Nightbreed on upright bass, Mistress Mandy on rhythm guitar, Nishone on lead guitar, Andi on drums, and lead singer Miss Eva von Slut, who doubles on theremin -- wafts into Concord's hard-rock haven Bourbon Street tonight, as the opening act on an extravagant five-band bill toplined by the Misfits. But we know Thee Merry Widows are the reason to get there early. How many of them are actually widows? "None really," swears Eva, "although I have had a few boyfriends that came mighty close there." Show starts at 8 p.m. at 2765 Clayton Rd., Concord. 925-676-7272. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 16

The latest big exhibit at the Chabot Space and Science Center, Dragon Skies, tells the ancient story of China's astronomical accomplishments via such artifacts as armillary spheres, oracle bones, and tonight, harps. For An Evening of Heavenly Harps, the simulated night sky of the Chabot planetarium will be scored by Cui Junzhi on konghou, a Chinese harp with two rows of strings and a bridge which allows the player to bend them. Teaching konghou at the San Jose State University Conservatory, the Chinese-born Ms. Cui is renowned in her home country for combining traditional playing techniques with those of classical pedal harp. To perhaps give some cultural perspective, Diana Stork and Cheryl Ann Fulton will also perform medieval and contemporary music on twin neo-gothic harps. The show at 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland starts at 8 p.m. Call 510-336-7373 for tickets, which cost $12-$15 for the concert only, $20-$25 with science center admission. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 17

If you take a date to go see the new Central Works production, A Step Away, at the Berkeley City Club on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., you can get dinner in the club's dining room beforehand, and even profit from a 10 percent discount on your bill. But is it a good idea to expect romance to bloom from a play in which "Berkeley playwright Myrna Holden plumbs the depths of guilt and desire"? Hmm. Maybe it's best to take in the 5 p.m. show today, when dinner is not an option, and see if you still feel like hanging out afterward. Gary Graves directs, and the City Club is located at 2315 Durant Ave. (between Ellsworth and Dana). Tickets are $8-$20, sliding scale. Call 510-558-1381 for reservations and info. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 18

Aside from careless metaphors flung out by politicians and lazy journalists, Vietnam the actual place is virtually unknown in the marketplace of American culture. Very few ordinary people outside the country's Vietnamese-American communities know anything about the country that supposedly changed the course of world history a generation ago. UC Berkeley's Center for Southeast Asian Studies aims to remedy that, so it's scheduled a rare screening of a Vietnamese domestic narrative movie, Mùa Oi, this evening at the Pacific Film Archive. The 2000 socially conscious drama by director/novelist Dang Nhat Minh, also known as The Guava House, tells the story of a provincial man who has grown up mentally impaired by a fall from a guava tree in his boyhood -- and his love affair with an official's daughter. Director Minh, one of that country's leading filmmakers, will appear in person after the screening for a discussion. Showtime is 7 p.m. at 2575 Bancroft Way on the UCB campus. Info: 510-642-3609. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 19

Pink Lady, Fuji, Royal Gala, Brae Burn, Crimson Gold, and Rome Beauty apples. A variety of Asian pears. Fuyu persimmons. And Bartlett, Olympic, Anjou, Kieffer, and Warren among other European pears. Sound good? These are just a few of the seasonal goodies at the Berkeley Farmers' Market's Fall Fruit Tasting, this afternoon and evening from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Derby Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way market. Sample some of the organic fall fruits at this nationally known natural-food resource. The first taste is free and open to the public. Want to know more? Log on to or phone 510-548-3333. -- Kelly Vance


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