This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 26 If there's one image most Americans have of the Tour de France, it's of bandy-legged cyclists grinding up endless Alpine inclines, straining and struggling, while crowds of onlookers cheer from the roadside. You're sure to see scenes like that in The Tour, Baby!, a documentary made by American cycling fan Scott Coady. According to his Web site, TheTourBaby.com, Coady took a leave from his job, packed up his bike and a Sony digital camera, and covered the 2000 Tour for three weeks, with special attention to US stalwart Lance Armstrong. The Tour, Baby! screens tonight (7 p.m.) at Berkeley High's Community Theater (2223 Martin Luther King Jr. Way), in a double feature with another cycling film, Children of the Dirt -- a chronicle of the 2003-2004 NorCal High School Mountain Biking League season, including profiles of riders and coaches. Admission for this hardcore-cyclist twin bill is $10, which benefits the mountain biking league. Info: 510-325-6502. -- Kelly Vance

THU 27 When Colonel Fairfax is sentenced to death in the Tower of London for sorcery, he hastily weds singer Elsie Maynard, who looks forward to becoming an instantly rich widow. But Fairfax escapes the Tower and then, for some reason, woos Elsie in disguise, disappointing her intended, Jack Point the Jester. Sounds like a typical evening of topsy-turvydom by Gilbert & Sullivan, eh wot? But no, musical theater fans, this is the G&S play that's generally thought of as their "dark" one, the one where we can actually see the characters and their plentiful flaws somewhat realistically. So pocket a packet of Kleenex before you head off to see the Lamplighters' production of The Yeomen of the Guard, or The Merryman and His Maid, which opens this evening (8 p.m.) for a five-performance stay at Walnut Creek's Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, through Sunday. Tickets: Lamplighters.org or 925-943-7469. -- Kelly Vance

FRI 28 The blue light above the Jazz House door may have gone out November 1, but the jazz must go on. Let's face it, if one of the hottest sax players in the Bay Area wanted to pay tribute to the late John Coltrane, you'd find a way to do it, too, with or without a roof over your head. And so 24-year-old tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley will perform Coltrane: A Tribute in trio -- and as this event is being held at 21 Grand (449B 23rd St., Oakland), it's only fitting that it isn't just a musical show: Fruitvale resident Timothy Streuli will be creating his trademark abstract pieces (done largely in primary colors) while the jazz blows. 9 p.m. start time, $10 cover. TheJazzHouse.com -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 29 In case you retained any lingering doubts that Chabot Space & Science Center is the place to let your inner kid out and about -- or the best place to trip out without actually, you know, tripping -- the museum's latest exhibit should put those reservations to rest at last. Mirror Mirror, opening today and continuing through June 5, features curved mirrors of every bent, a flexible, undulating mirror to reflect the wobbliest of worlds, mirror mazes, kaleidoscopes, and more. The exhibit is on loan from Technorama, the Swiss Science Center. Chabot is located at 10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland. Admission to the museum (including exhibits, planetarium shows, and parking) is $9-$13. Visit Chabot Space.org or call 510-336-7373. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 30 Disappointed as we were to discover that a cryptogam has nothing whatsoever to do with mind-altering substances, but rather is "a plant (as a fern, moss, alga, or fungus) reproducing by spores and not producing flowers or seed," we still think The Hidden World of Cryptogamic Plants sounds like a pretty appealing workshop. Especially when we read that, since cryptos reproduce on the sly, their name literally means "hidden marriage." Ooh -- like Keanu Reeves and David Geffen! Learn more about all this illicit flora action when Dr. Glenn Keator presents a slide lecture and then leads a walk in the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden in Berkeley. $40 members, $45 nonmembers; call 510-845-4116 to reserve your space (reservations strongly advised). 10 a.m.-3 p.m. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 31 Many members of Richard Linklater's standard entourage show up in the 2001 animated film, Waking Life, including Wiley Wiggins (the put-upon freshman hero of Dazed and Confused) and Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, having a little pillow chat in some alternate reality between Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Linklater himself even makes an appearance, as does his brother-in-'90s-indie-film-cred, Steven Soderbergh. You'll recognize all of them, thanks to the deft hands of the artists who took Waking Life from its initial, live-action incarnation and transformed it, frame by frame, into a dreamer's-eye-view of the kind of loosely threaded universe Linklater crafted so well in Slacker. Waking Life plays the Pacific Film Archive, (2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) at 3 p.m., accompanied by a lecture by Robert Sharf, as part of the "Seeing Through the Screen: Buddhism and Film" series. $4-$8. 510-642-0808. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 1 The works of Japanese artist Toko Shinoda look at first like etchings, but on closer examination they reveal themselves to be abstractions done in sumi-e, the 3,000-year-old Japanese art form (translated variously as "ink-picture" or "black ink-painting") derived from ancient Chinese calligraphy. Shinoda, who was born in Dairen, Manchuria in the days when it was a Japanese colony, is a Tokyo-based calligrapher who has also perfected the art of abstract sumi-e -- such as Fleeting Dream, an enriched, streaked color field that abruptly tails off into hesitant brushstroke lines. You can see her haunting creations beginning today at Schurman Fine Art Gallery, 1659 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. There's a reception Friday, February 4, 6-8 p.m. SchurmanFineArtGallery.com -- Kelly Vance

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