Geek Out

Comic Con, J-Pop, and Bill Nye are the nerd magnets on tap this month.


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Courtesy UC Theatre

Break out your pocket protectors: It’s revenge of the nerds in September with plenty of geeky excitement. First up, San Francisco Comic Con opens, and it’s the perfect opportunity for the nerds to come out in force to celebrate, enjoy, and talk incessantly about comic books, magazines, toys, games, Star Wars, Star Trek, anime, manga, cosplay, and popular culture. Sept. 1-3, noon-4 p.m., $30-$80, Moscone Center West,  800 Howard St., San Francisco, SanFranComicCon.com.

At the 2017 J-Pop Summit, you can eat pocky, clip Hello Kitty charms to your cellphone, and watch cartoons about neon-haired schoolgirls fighting giant robots in this celebration of everything that makes contemporary Japanese culture so fun and fascinating. Sept. 9-10, $30-$55, Fort Mason Center For Arts & Culture, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Landmark Building C, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco, J-Pop.com.

Bill Nye the Science Guy started as a mechanical engineer at Boeing, but he left it all behind to pursue a career in comedy—and science! Bill Nye was the quirky but lovable geek in the bowtie who, in the ’90s, picked up the esteemed mantle of pioneering kids’ edutainment host Mr. Wizard and went on to demystify the workings of the universe for a whole new generation. Since his beloved eponymous TV series (named, of course, Bill Nye the Science Guy) ended, Nye continues to speak out about scientific inquiry and rational thought, advocating for better scientific education and understanding. Last year, Netflix announced the start of a new Nye series, Bill Nye Saves the World, where the bowtied guru chats with celebrity guests and conducts homebrewed experiments to break down the technical gobbledygook for the average viewer to understand. Save the world? If you were talking about anyone other than Nye, it might just sound a tad hyperbolic. But Bill Nye is poetry in motion—and he just might blind you with science. Science! The man who makes learning fun comes to the UC Theatre in September to make you laugh and to make you think. Sept. 10, 7 p.m., $42.50, UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave., Berkeley, TheUCTheatre.org.

 

Etc.

Courtesy Fear Overload Scream Park

Fear Overload brings ghoulish antics and activities to San Leandro for Halloween.

Get an overdose of fear endorphins at Fear Overload. Hello, boils and ghouls, welcome to the scream park. Not even the Crypt Keeper himself could have said it any better. This spine-chilling attraction features two haunted houses, dubbed the scariest in California. Opens Sept. 30, 7-10 p.m., $25-$75, Bayfair Center, 15555 E. 14th St., San Leandro, FearOverload.com.

Ahoy, matey, tis the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Theme Park. Prepare to have your timbers shivered when these terrifying pirates storm the harbor for six haunted Halloween attractions at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. Landlubbers, beware; you’re in for a scare. Sept. 30-Oct. 31, 7-10 p.m., $30, Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton, PiratesOfEmerson.com.

 

Festivals

Watch out; the ocean’s full of hungry things. That’s why we’d better eat them first at Pittsburg Seafood & Music Festival. Chow down on fish ’n’ chips, battered shrimp, lobster rolls, piping-hot gumbo, and anything else from the dark, dank depths of the sea that can be battered, fried, steamed, or fricasseed. Sept. 9, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sept. 10, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., $11, Pittsburg Marina, 51 Marina Blvd., Pittsburg, PittsburgSeafoodAndMusicFestival.com.

Where does your food come from? Who grows it? What’s real food? The answers can be found at the Oakland Real Food Festival, where attendees can learn the whole process of how food gets from the farm to your table while also enjoying artisan, sustainably sourced, locally farmed and crafted food from boutique food vendors. All street food at the festival costs $8 or less. Sept. 22-24, free, Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland, EatRealFest.com.

The Moraga Pear & Wine Festival is a festival that’s made from 100 percent pear, or, as Stewart Lee might say, 100 percent pears. This family-friendly event features live musical entertainment by DJ RyanO, wine tasting with the Lamorinda Wine Growers Association, pear pies, pear jam, pear tarts, and pear cider. It’s a regular pear paradise. Sept. 23, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free, Moraga Commons Park, 1425 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, Moraga.ca.us.

Courtesy Oaktoberfest

Oaktoberfest goes two days.

Break out your lederhosen and dirndls; it’s time for the biggest celebration of beer this side of Munich. Oaktoberfest in the Dimond brings a taste of the old country’s beer legacy to Oakland with traditional German music and beer, but also celebrates the uniquely East Bay contributions to this sudsy pastime with appearances by local Oakland microbrews, regional wines, and area bands. Sept. 30, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free admission, intersection of Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, Dimond district, Oakland, Oaktoberfest.org.

 

Music

The multi-platinum queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige, is one of the most popular recording artists of the past quarter century and continues to astound. The Paramount Theatre plays host to a stop on her 21-city tour to promote her 13th studio album, Strength of a Woman. Sept. 9, 8 p.m., $39-$225, Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, ParamountTheatre.com. 

CC Music is Entropy

Mary J. Blige plays the Paramount

All the hoboes will put down their bindlesacks, pull on their fingerless gloves, and top hats with the top cut out, and make their way to the Annual Bay Area Harmonica Convergence. Harmonica virtuosos Charlie Wade, Sean Parnell, and David Matthews will be there, too, to wow you with their harmonica prowess. Sept. 14, 8 p.m., $16-$20, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley, TheFreight.org.

They call themselves just an Average White Band, but, really, don’t you think that’s being overly modest? This so-called average band has been a mainstay of heavy get-down funk culture since the ’70s and the infectious R&B anthems like “Cut The Cake” and “Pick Up the Pieces” turn any gathering into a party. This band always gets the groove on. Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m., $34, Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, Yoshis.com.

CC Sven-Sebastian Sajak

Hayley Williams of Paramore mixes emo pop with adult edge.

Paramore started young. Singer Hayley Williams was just 13 when she first met her bandmates at a program for local homeschooled junior high kids. Not everyone had faith that the youngsters’ garage band would be anything more than a passing phase. Even bassist Jeremy Davis was initially certain his prepubescent cohorts would lose interest in the venture before they got anywhere. But they were wrong. Turning their youth to an advantage, Paramore became known for its “young-sounding” vocals and honest but not sulky emo pop sound that explored the actual complexities of modern teenage lives. Over a decade later, the group continues to mature and evolve, their poppy synth melodies taking on a darker, more adult edge. Paramore takes a 180-degree departure from its usual effervescent energy when it plays a concert in Oakland to promote its latest studio album, After Laughter, a study in contrasts that riffs on the upbeat sonic new wave musical style while also delving into dark themes of depression and exhaustion. Heavy stuff! Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m., $38-$75, The Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, ParamountTheatre.com.

 

Theater

The beloved Disney animation Beauty and the Beast returns to the stage with the romance between beautiful, intelligent Belle and the beast who might not be as beastly as he at first appears—also lots of dancing dishware, singing candelabras, and fussy clock majordomos. Opens Sept. 1, 8 p.m., $31-$64, Woodminster Amphitheater, 3300 Joaquin Miller Road, Oakland, Woodminster.com

In the SF Mime Troupe’s 2017 Summer show WALLS, undocumented immigrant Zaniyah Nahuatl sneaks across the border from Mexico so that she can be with the woman she loves. But her lover just happens to be a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official. At the same time, an Irish immigrant and fellow ICE agent is determined to prove her patriotism at any cost, even if it means destroying the lovers’ hearts. Sept. 3, 2 p.m., Sept. 4, 2 p.m., free, Dolores Park, 19th and Dolores streets, San Francisco, SFMT.org. 

Mike@MikeMelnyk.com

Velina Brown, left, is Mary Jones, and Marilet Martinez is Zaniyah Nahuatl in the SF MimeTroupe's WALLS

It’s a real Sister Act when a flamboyant Vegas lounge singer witnesses her mobster boyfriend order his chauffeur whacked and becomes his next target. Luckily, the FBI’s witness protection program has a plan: disguise her as a nun and hide her in a convent. She’ll fit right in, right? Sept. 22-Oct. 22, 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, $22-$40, Berkeley Playhouse, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. BerkeleyPlayhouse.org.

Remember, you need to really emphasize the “O” when you announce Oklahoma!, the classic Western love story between handsome cowboy Curly and local farm girl Laurey. OH!–klahoma. Opens Sept. 29, 8 p.m., $27-$30. Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, Altarena.org.

 

Words

What’s the deal with college football? That’s what Cincinnati comedian, podcaster, and football watcher Tom Segura would ask if he was doing a set about football. He does sets on other things too. His podcast, co-hosted by Christina Pazsitzky, was a finalist for Best Comedy Podcast at the Stitcher Awards, and he just released his third iTunes-topping stand-up album. Sept. 14, 8 p.m., $35. Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, TheFoxOakland.com.

CC LOL COMEDY FROM HOLLYWOOD

Rita Rudner disarms with charm and hilarity and will be in Livermore.

Wacky and charming but also vulnerable and disarming: Rita Rudner has a singular comedic style that gives new breath to old topics as she riffs on the oddities of today’s modern a-go-go world, romance, family, and the supreme importance of cleaning ladies. If they made a cartoon about her, it would be Rita’s Modern Life. Sept. 15, 8 p.m., $19-$39, Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, LVPAC.org.

Some of the top funniest people in the country got their start at this comedy jam, the SF Comedy Competition. Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, and Ellen DeGeneres all braved this stage back when they were fresh-faced unknowns. Who knows which of this year’s hopefuls will go on to become tomorrow’s comedy mega-stars? Sept. 22,  8 p.m., $30. Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, LVPAC.org.

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