This Week’s Highlights

Day-by-day picks for the week of September 28-October 4, 2005.

WED 28

We’ve all had our share of, ahem, close encounters, but what about on a molecular level? As biologically engineered, carbon-based organisms, we interact in a relativistic way with the universe and its infinite number of molecules every day. It’s impossible not to; that’s just the way it is. But why is that the way it is? Dudley Herschbach, professor of science at Harvard and winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry, comes to UC Berkeley today and tomorrow for Intimate Encounters with Molecules, two lectures that break down the minutiae of molecular science for general audiences. Today’s program is titled “Taming Molecular Wildness,” while tomorrow’s event addresses “Breaking and Making Chemical Bonds.” Both happen at 4 p.m. at International House (2299 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley). The events are free. K. Arnold

THU 29

From ’60s kitsch icon Astro Boy to Katsu Ôtomo’s 2004 film Steamboy, anime, aka Japanimation, has come a long way. Yet though the motion graphics have become increasingly hi-tech and the storylines more sophisticated, many of the basic themes have remained the same: the battle of good vs. evil, the hero’s quest, and the struggle between humanity and technology. Certain stylistic traits have become ubiquitous to the genre as well, like the big-eyed, small-mouthed characters and Transformer-esque mecha-robots. Anime is fun to watch, but even more fun to draw. And no matter whether you’re planning a career as a graphic designer, or just feeling inspired by Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, you can learn how to draw Akira-like figures at the Anime Drawing class taught by professional illustrator Ken McGhee. The class, open to all ages and skill levels, happens Thursday afternoons through December 15 at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts (1601 Paru St., Alameda); $40 for four sessions. Info: 510-523-6957. — Eric K. Arnold

FRI 30

It has dropped the “Cinemayaat” from the title, but otherwise the Arab Film Festival is back, just as challenging and provocative as ever, now in its ninth annual incarnation at three Berkeley venues — today through Sunday at Landmark’s California Theater, Sunday at Wheeler Auditorium on the Cal campus, and a special student screening tonight (10 p.m.) at the Pacific Film Archive. More than forty films on the wide diversity of Arab life to choose from, including the Sundance-award-winning The Liberace of Baghdad, the Jewish-Muslim love story Waiting for Quds, and Jamal Dajani and David Michaelis’ Israeli-set documentary Occupied Minds. Tickets are $10, seniors and students $8. AFF.orgKelly Vance


There once was a man who fell asleep drunk on BART on the Richmond-Daly City line in the early evening, then kept riding the train, sound asleep, back and forth between the two poles until finally the driver roused him at 1:30 a.m. at the end of the line in Daly City to face a long trek back to Oakland. That particular performance piece probably won’t happens at today’s Art on BART event — in which performers and audience board BART at Civic Center SF, then go to Rockridge and back again, with stops for dance, readings, sound installations, photos, and lunch — but you never know. The daylong interactive tour was “arranged” by “your dutiful environmental stewardess,” Ms. Amber Hasselbring. You must RSVP at [email protected] and bring $5.80 for a BART ticket (plus lunch money), but the event is essentially free — and everyone will receive a book of performance notes, maps, and info on regional ecology. — Kelly Vance


Anyone who’s been there and done that will tell you: it ain’t easy being a single mom. It’s a thankless, difficult job, fraught with peril, stress, and daily acts of personal heroism, largely unappreciated by society. Until now, that is. Katherine Bettis, a twenty-year veteran of photography and a single mom herself, focuses on solo female parents in Single Moms: Invisible Lives, a photojournalistic series that dramatically captures the poignancy of single motherhood, while giving the subjects an identity impossible to deny. Bettis presides over an artists’ talk and slide show today at 2 p.m. at the Central Community Room at the Berkeley Public Library (2090 Kittredge St.). Free. BerkeleyPublicLibrary.orgEric K. Arnold


Live and direct from Mali, a land where music and rhythm run in the veins of the natives, comes Boubacar Traoré. The guitarist plays a traditional finger-picking style that may well be the original blues, passed down from generation to generation by jeli men, aka griots, the keepers of cultural history. The critically acclaimed Traoré, whose influences include Arabian and Afro-Cuban music as well as the Khassonke styles of northern Mali, has been compared to both Ali Farka Toure and Robert Johnson — high praise indeed — and though he’s much more famous in his native land than here, that may all change with the release of his new World Village album, Kongo Magni. Traoré comes to Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) Monday night for two shows that promise to be acoustically infectious. $10-$16; Yoshis.comEric K. Arnold


He is still probably best known for the fatwa issued against him by irate Muslim clerics after the publication of The Satanic Verses, but Salman Rushdie hasn’t exactly been resting on his laurels or using his fame as an excuse for slothfulness. His books include Midnight’s Children, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and the international tour for his new novel, Shalimar the Clown, offers bookish individuals a chance to get up close and personal with the literary superstar. The folks at Cody’s have earmarked Rushdie’s reception, signing, and discussion as the kick-off for their Writers with Drinks series, tonight at 6:15 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club (2315 Durant Ave.). $40 gets you a book, beverages, and hors d’oeuvres. CodysBooks.comEric K. Arnold


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