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 From left to right: Randy Cohen, aka The Ethicist; host of "This American Life" Ira Glass; author Isabel Allende.(Credits below)

Sneak preview of fall's campus attractions
Chocolate and climate change; China and 'Candleflowerdance' . . . and, even more alliteratively, lots of music music music

| 07 September 2005

The new semester at Berkeley is off to a flying start, with September and October jam-packed with events the campus community won't want to miss.

Following is a highly subjective shortlist chosen in consultation with department managers across campus. Details may change, and events will be added - the Graduate School of Journalism, for one, has not yet finalized its roster - so to stay up to date, bookmark the "Critic's Choice" website (see box at right).

Top tickets

The United Kingdom is one of America's staunchest allies, but there is one issue on which its top ministers have very publicly broken ranks with the Bush administration: climate change, which is "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism," according to Sir David King, Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief science adviser. King will discuss global warming in a hotly anticipated free event with Michael Pollan, an award-winning science writer and Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. Sept. 15, 6 p.m., 315 Wheeler Hall

We can all use a little nudge to our moral compass from time to time, and New York Times Magazine writer Randy Cohen,better known as The Ethicist, provides that service to millions in his Sunday column. Cohen will discuss "how to be good," then field a few questions from the audience. Nov. 19, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall

Ira Glass, host of the popular NPR program "This American Life," and comix artist Chris Ware (author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth) will discuss the art of storytelling in an appearance for Cal Performances' Strictly Speaking series. Glass' last event here sold out well in advance, so buy tickets ASAP. Nov. 12, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall

Need a break from feeding your mind? Feed your sweet tooth instead at the Hearst Museum's "The Culture of Chocolate: Tracing the Mystique and Worldwide Journey of Cacao" event. Explore the journey of chocolate from its ancient roots to its role in contemporary popular culture through scholarly presentations and tasting of artisanal chocolate. Oct. 9, 1 p.m., 112 Wurster Hall and Hearst Museum at Kroeber Hall

Isabel Allende, much-loved author of House of the Spirits and 11 other books, will discuss her latest novel, Zorro, a swashbuckler about how Diego de la Vega became the familiar masked man. Allende will talk to Sandy Curtis, author of seven Zorro novels, in a conversation moderated by Harley Shaiken, head of the Center for Latin American Studies. Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave.

There are two big birthdays to note on campus this year: Cal Performances is celebrating its 100th anniversary, as is the music department. Among CalPerfs' special centennial events is a visit by frequent guests the Mark Morris Dance Group, which will perform the world premiere of "Candleflowerdance," set to Stravinsky's Serenade for Piano in A Major. Sept. 22-24, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall

In addition to many events during the semester, Music will celebrate its centenary with a free evening devoted to the department's history, people, facilities, and feats, including presentations by music professors Joseph Kerman and Benjamin Brinner and performances by University Organist Davitt Moroney and the University Chorus. Oct. 21, 4 p.m., Hertz Hall

The annual Cal vs. University of Southern California football game is the most anticipated athletic event of the semester: entering this 2005 season, the Bears were the last team to defeat the Trojans, the two-time defending national champions, which they did in a 34-31, triple-overtime thriller in 2003. Nov. 12, 12:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium

The China pattern

With China poised to become perhaps the United States' first real rival in the superpower club, this semester is tailor-made for those who want to know more about its culture and history. Start with the Red-Color News Soldier photography exhibit already on view at the Graduate School of Journalism: this selection of prints from Li Zhensheng's stunning history of the Cultural Revolution provides a rare inside look at the era. Through Oct. 21, North Gate Hall

The exhibit closes with a panel discussion of this devastating period in China's history. Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m., North Gate Hall

Learn more about the lingering effects of Mao's revolution when Harvard history and political-science professor Roderick MacFarquhar lectures on "Mao's Revolution: What Remains?," followed by a discussion with School of Journalism Dean (and noted China expert) Orville Schell. Oct. 20, time to be announced, Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center

For a slice of modern Chinese life, check out photojournalist Mark Leong's China Obscura exhibit, a stunning portrait of contemporary China - from rock musicians to strippers - unlike any you've seen before. Sept. 8 - Oct. 11 and Nov. 1 - Dec. 9, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton St., 6th floor

In step with China's growing power comes growing tension over the fate of neighbors such as Taiwan. Composer, musician, and activist Sheng Xiang, one of Taiwan's most passionate champions of social causes, will combine modern and traditional instruments, Western rock, and Taiwanese music for Cal Performances and a host of other campus sponsors. Sept. 9, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall

The concert will be followed on Saturday by a film and panel discussion of Sheng Xiang's music, community politics, and environmental justice in Taiwan. Sept. 10, noon, 145 Dwinelle Hall

China's lesser-known neighbors - Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan - may be commonly referred to as "the 'stans," but each has its own rich culture. In Along the Silk Road: Central Asian Cinema, the Pacific Film Archive will present 15 films from all five of the Central Asian republics, plus Afghanistan, in conjunction with the Modes of Contemporary Central Asian Culture conference. Sept. 1-30, Pacific Film Archive

Later in the semester, the Beijing People's Art Theatre - the first Chinese drama company to tour internationally - makes its Cal Performances debut with an undisputed masterpiece of world theater, Lao She's The Teahouse. Nov. 5, 8 p.m., and Nov. 6, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall

Photo credits: Randy Cohen by Kate Weiman; Ira Glass by Richard Frank; Isabel Allende by Lori Barra