Night + Day: Calendar Picks for 5/12

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Harptallica, Saturn Returns, 9pm, $7
Elbo Room - 647 Valencia at 18th St.

If Heaven is full of happy cherubim strumming golden harps, then what do fallen angels listen to in Hell? Harptallica may have the answer. This Louisiana duo covers blackhearted Metallica thrash classics like “One” and “Master of Puppets” on a pair of giant classical harps, turning Kirk Hammett’s guitar leads and James Hetfield’s raw vox into tapestries of sinuous, chiming tones. Sure, it’s kinda hard to bang your head to such delicate strums. But it would be pretty sweet to sneak Harptallica’s version of “Ride the Lightning” onto the P.A. at your local Christian bookstore. Obeying your evil master has never been so seductively melodious. — John Graham

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Augusten Burroughs, 7:30pm
Books Inc./Castro - 2275 Market at 16th St.

Augusten Burroughs has a pair. After years of dancing on the line between memoir and fiction, with all the crazy people in his past coming out of the woodwork to level charges (some in a court of law), he releases A Wolf at the Table, a memoir about his dad, an alcoholic professor. Almost immediately, Augusten's brother was disputing Burroughs' version of events, telling the New York Times that the gun he trained on his father did not hold large-caliber bullets, as the author writes, but BBs. Whoops. Then the Times gets his mother on the phone and asks about the lit cigarette her husband allegedly sailed between Augusten's eyes, along with something about a dog and a vet, and she says they have "different memories." Still, we love Burroughs and his crazy family, mostly because he writes well about them, and even the movie Running With Scissors was OK. And he just got a big cursive tattoo on his forearm that reads Cicatrix manet, Latin for "the scar remains," proving that he's just a big ol' lovable 16-year-old at heart. Consider this a tease before the master of the heightened memoir, James Frey, comes to town with his first novel, which is also his third novel. He's appearing at Slim's with heavy metal bands and Hells' Angels running security, which is kind of embarrassing, but maybe in a good way. --Michael Leaverton

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The Better Half, 8pm, $20-$69
The Hypnodrome - 575 10th St. at Bryant

So two Welsh guys walk into a library, and find a million pounds. Well, not really a million pounds, but its literary equivalent: an unpublished, unknown, early Noel Coward play, Noel Coward being the metaphorical snotty younger brother of Oscar Wilde. That was last year, and the theater world went nuts, as Coward had become one of the most popular playwrights in the English language in the ensuing years As if that were not awesome enough, his "new" one-act play, The Better Half, was written (at age 22) for London's Grand Guignol company, and Grand Guignol is French for "what people used to watch before splatter flicks." Now, San Francisco's own gore-spewing GG company, the Thrillpeddlers, presents its U.S. premiere. The evening also includes a few traditional "terror plays" and a burlesque show, and one of the Welshmen who discovered the Coward play, Dr. Richard Hand (not making that up, it's his real name) is in attendance for the March 21 performance. --Hiya Swanhuyser

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