This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 18
Chris Carlsson didn't come up with the idea for Critical Mass alone, but he was part of the small group of bicyclists who did, and he hasn't missed a single installment of the monthly commutes since they began in San Francisco in 1992. Carlsson talks about the success of the effort at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley, this evening at 7:30 p.m. The Grizzly Peak Cyclists presents the free, wheelchair- and bike-accessible event. Details on wheels: 510-527-0450 -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 19
By 1900, the hop fields of Pleasanton -- where Hacienda Business Park stands now -- were the largest of their kind in the state, with much of the crop being shipped to brewers in London. But ... what the widget is a hop, anyway? Find out about this and more when the Ed Kinney Lecture Series turns its attention to "The Hop Fields in Pleasanton: Let's Go to the Hops," tonight at 7 p.m. at the Museum on Main St. Local architect and historian Charles Huff will join forces with Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill owner Otis Nostrand to talk about the history, makeup, importance, and commerce of hops. Admission costs $5 for museum members, $10 for everyone else. (Memberships available at the door.) Call 925-462-2766 and ask if they'll be serving beer. 603 Main St., Pleasanton. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 20
Some differences are just Irreconcilable. This will become apparent when viewing the Masters of Fine Arts Graduate Exhibition of the same name, now on the walls at the Berkeley Art Museum. For instance, Clinton T. Hensley finds absurdist amusement in constructing mixed-media sculptural graphs that catalogue everything he knows; meanwhile Ehren Tool, a veteran of the Gulf War, has made an installation of ceramic cups with military and other warlike decorations on them -- which he gives away as a gesture. The 35th annual MFA show, curated by Ellen Russell, also features works by Melissa Day (videos about religious faith), Chris Cobb (an installation of books arranged by color, like the one he did recently at SF's Adobe Books), and Jim Gaylord (paintings based on found photographs). It runs through June 19. The BAM Galleries, at 2626 Bancroft Way on the UC Berkeley campus, are open Wednesdays through Sundays. For more info, visit -- Kelly Vance

SAT 21
No matter what you might think, Mama Buzz Cafe is not turning into an oyster bar. Please, no jokes about shucking and jiving in the art world. It's just that Shannon Gregory of the East Bay Oyster Company is bringing in crates of fresh (make that super-fresh) ersters for a little get-together called Fresh from the Sea to You, 5 to 8 p.m. today. The idea is to hang out, have a beer, grab a few oysters, and shpritz them with an appropriate combination of lime, cilantro, and jalapeños; have another beer, and maybe listen to some live music, all in the comfy confines of Buzzland. If it's a success, Mama Buzz herselves promises to make the bivalve-beer-band blowout a monthly thing. 2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Info: MamaBuzz -- Kelly Vance

SUN 22
There's still time to raise the $100 in pledges needed to participate in the breast-cancer-fightin', canoe-and-kayak-paddlin' Support Strokes. Though it may sound like a therapy group for chronic masturbators, the fifth annual event invites both new and experienced paddlers to participate in one of four courses today, all launching from the dock at California Canoe & Kayak, 409 Water St. in Jack London Square, and traveling counterclockwise around Alameda Island. Check-in for the 15.5-mile course starts at 8 a.m., and the launch occurs between 9 and 10 a.m.; check-in for the eight-mile course at 8:30 a.m., launch between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.; check-in for the marathon/race starts at 9 a.m., launch at 10:30 a.m.; and check-in starts at 10 a.m. for the two-mile course, with the launch between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Find out more about participating, volunteering, and donating at -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 23
Ian Burns' paintings and sculptures have an early-20th-century Jazz Age feel to them, as if they might have come off the wall of a bohemian flat in the Village, or been bartered for a feast at La Coupole in Montparnasse. Unsurprisingly, the Oakland artist takes his visual cues from Cubism and similar "ultramodern" stylistic movements of long ago, as in the geometric nude reclining on her bed with open books nearby and a lone candle casting yellowish light on the fantastic purple curves of her body, in one of Burns' acrylics, Contemplation. What better place to relax with a martini and contemplate Burns' "intimism" than at Luka's Taproom & Lounge, the hipster-flipster hangout in a former hofbrau on the corner of Broadway and West Grand Avenue in downtown Oakland's arts belt? The exhibition stays until June 4. 2221 Broadway, Oakland. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 24
"Performance painting" is an appealing alternative to watching musicians watch their shoes, and when the visual art created is actually good, the audience feels a sense of pride at having contributed to the mood of its creation. And tonight, Nancy Ostrovsky is sure to create some doozies when she props her canvasses up in the already visually engaging Cafe Van Kleef. At 9 p.m. the NY-based Ostrovsky, who specializes in depicting jazz musicians and other folks in motion, will paint one eight-by-five-foot canvas, using acrylics on foamcore, to the music of the avant-jazz/electronic Bulkley/Cress Duo. Then, at 10:30 p.m., she'll do another while sitting in with the odd-rock band Ah LaRocca. Both bands feature Patrick Cress, and this is whole crazy thing is his idea. CVK is located at 1621 Telegraph Ave. (next to the wig store -- no, the other wig store), Oakland, it's 21-and-up, and cover is $5. 510-763-7111. -- Stefanie Kalem


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