This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 15

Whirlwind SF film scholar David Thomson has a new book out, The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood (Knopf, $27.95). His opinionated Tinseltown chronicles are different from the usual "even-handed," deferential, entertainment industry circle-jerk publicity memos that pass for serious movie criticism these days. For one thing, he isn't afraid to slag successful filmmakers if he thinks they are lightweights (see his appraisal of The Hours). Cinemaniac Thomson, a native of England who graduated from the Old School of movie geekdom so lovingly depicted in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, is one of the last of the true believers in cinema's powers of artistic redemption, and his tales of Chaplin and Thalberg, Nicholson and Wasserman, ripen in the retelling. The author himself will pop up at the new Books Inc. in Alameda (1344 Park St.) this evening at 7 for a nostalgic H'wood gabfest. BooksInc.net or 510-522-2226. -- Kelly Vance

THU 16

For most of 2004, two brothers -- a poet and a chef -- have been feeding friends and other hungry types at their East Bay house. This month, however, they began doing their Ghetto Gourmet Private Diners Club thing in an actual club, the Mile High. Problem is, the Mile High, as you may have heard, may become the Gone Down pretty soon, so tonight might be your last chance to sup on the freaktasty fruits of the brothers' labors. No more than fifty people can come to 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, to indulge in a four-course meal with live music and painting, but every one of those fifty needs a reservation. E-mail gg5grilla@gmail.com to get yours. The dinner starts at 7 p.m. Call 510-654-4549 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 17

Think Caltrans road crews or high-rise construction workers have dangerous jobs? Consider sex workers. Says Carol Leigh of COYOTE, "The sex industry makes a huge contribution and is intrinsic to the economy of the Bay Area, but the laws and stigma punish participants and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to organize for rights and safety within our local sex industries." Today, give sex workers a break and at least listen to their views at the Second Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From 8 to 10 a.m. in front of Oakland City Hall, a vigil and protest take place. Then at noon, at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley (1744 University Ave. at McGee), there's a panel discussion. Similar events are happening all over the world today, and they're all free. Visit SWOP-USA.org -- Kelly Vance

SAT 18

The Boombox Crew wants to take you a few steps forward, a few steps back tonight -- and every Saturday night -- at the Golden Bull. During the recently inaugurated 2080 AD, Boombox label reps Justin Pinkerton (Roots of Orchis, Juan and Justin) and Tommy Fuselang (Run_Return) play tracks from the "'80s to the future, including the '80s vision of the future, and the future's coloration of the '80s." The focus, they say, is for you to get your dance on, so expect everything from Hall and Oates to MF Doom, not to mention lots of sweaty hotties in black hoodies at Oakland's new favorite dive bar. There's no cover, and there are drink specials for special ladies (that is to say, all of them). The Golden Bull is at 412 14th St., and Boombox lives at BoomboxCrew.com -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 19

The unique climate of the Bay Area makes the hills alive with herbs. But any ambler with even an ounce of sense knows not to pick and snack on shrubs and berries indiscriminately. If you want to learn more about herbs than how not to die by eating them, consider attending an herb walk in Huckleberry Botanical Preserve. The class, led by Adam Seller of the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine, starts at the preserve's parking lot on Skyline Drive in Oakland, and will focus on recognizing the medicinal actions of plants through smell and taste, as well as through conventional and clinical clues. It costs $6-$20 (sliding scale) and lasts two and a half hours. See a full list of herb classes and walks at PSHM.org, or call 510-845-4028. Rain cancels. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 20

It's too late to buy $5 tickets for tonight's show at Blake's, formerly known as the "Secret Santa Show" but now known to all far and wide as the Red Elvises show. But it's still only $8 in advance, $10 at the door to check out the Kit-Kat-hawking, Star Search-winning Russkies and their giant balalaika in the intimate basement environs at 2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. The band's surfabilly "rokenrol" is big enough to move a festival audience, so it should tear up Blake's like a Muscovite mama would tear up her teen daughter's credit card. And to up the evening's kook factor, Muppet Show and Sesame Street cover artistes the Dead Hensons open up the show at 9:30 p.m. Visit Ticketweb.com for advance tickets or call 510-848-0886 for further info. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 21

The ancient Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice with Saturnalia, wherein slaves ate with their masters, schools closed, and general revelry ensued. And though we around these parts usually wait till Burning Man to party naked with our supervisors and/or sundry hirelings, you can still celebrate the shortest day and the longest night of the year. There's the Freight Holiday Revue, a family celebration hosted by Bluegrass Music Association Award- and Grammy-winning musician Laurie Lewis, who'll perform with Tom Rozum. Also on the bill: fiddlers Darol Anger and Brittany Haas with flat-pick guitarist Scott Nygaard; pan-Mexican grupo Los Cenzontles; teen a cappella outfit 'Til Dawn; and Santa Claus. (Start time 7:30 p.m., 510-548-1761 or TheFreight.org) For something a little more soul-soothing, try Belladonna's Winter Solstice Ritual and Potluck for Women, where ladies can make garlands, sing, dance, and tell stories. (6-9 p.m., CarolynHuntRituals.com) -- Stefanie Kalem

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