Are you ready for some football?!
Yes, after months of the Bay Area waiting, planning, complaining (and eventually registering complaints in the form of lighthearted vandalism), Super Bowl 50 is finally upon us. And while admission to the game and many of its adjacent events is anything but cheap (Red Hot Chili Peppers for $1300 and up, anyone?), it's also true that, should you feel like braving the crowds to check out the weird pop-up football Disneyland of sorts that is Super Bowl City, you'll be rewarded with free entertainment options galore.
Most notably, there will be lots and lots of puppies. Yes, from this Thursday, Feb. 4 through Sunday, Feb. 7, every non-football fan's favorite thing about the Super Bowl is happening live. Ahead of Animal Planet's actual televised Puppy Bowl, a sort of puppy pop-up called the Puppy Bowl Cafe will take place every day from 11am to 8pm at Gott's Roadside in the Ferry Building. (As a friend who works nearby put it: "Okay I'm not mad at the Super Bowl anymore.") Bonus! All puppies are up for adoption -- and at half-off the normal rate, thanks to the East Bay SPCA and San Francisco Animal Care and Control. Details here.
If, on the other hand, you're not interested in going anywhere near a place with the words "Super Bowl" emblazoned on it? We've got you covered, too. Here's this week's Cheap Date.
Wednesday, Feb. 3: Ghost World with Illeana Douglas and Terry Zwigoff at the Alamo Drafthouse, SF. Based on the offbeat, deeply human, and award-winning graphic novel of the same name by Oakland's Daniel Clowes, this 2001 film adaptation by Terry Zwigoff didn't go far at the box office -- but its fan base has only grown as years have passed. It's not hard to see why: young Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanssen perfectly capture the ambivalence and disgruntlement of being 18, while Steve Buscemi plays a very endearing version of Steve Buscemi. Q&A with the director and the underrated actress Douglas will follow. $13.25; details here.
Saturday, Feb. 6: Dilla Day Hip-Hop Celebration at Mighty, SF. Few individuals have shaped the sound of hip-hop over the last two decades like rapper-producer J Dilla -- which is really saying something considering he died at just 32 years old from a rare blood disease in 2006. Everyone from Busta Rhymes to Erykah Badu to Kendrick Lamar to jazz pianist Robert Glasper -- all of whom have penned or performed tributes to Dilla -- would tell you the same. Pay tribute in your own way at this annual party, which takes place in major cities around the U.S. on or around his birthday (Feb. 7). This night includes a slew of West Coast DJs, featuring J Rocc, one of Dilla's closest collaborators. Free before 11am with RSVP, $15 after; details here.
Saturday, Feb. 6: Alicia Keys at Super Bowl City, SF. Okay, sorry, one more for the "it miiiight be worth it to head downtown into that mess" files -- a free show from Alicia Keys, the singer-songwriter-pianist powerhouse who first captured the world's attention with her 2001 album Songs in A Minor, is pretty hard to pass up. Keys' long-awaited sixth studio album is forthcoming in 2016, so if we're lucky, we might get to hear some new material alongside the vocal chord gymnastics of hits like "Fallin'," "Girl On Fire," "No One,"....and on and on and on. You get the idea. Free; details here.
Monday, Feb. 8: East Side Sushi at the Grand Lake Theater, Oakland. This award-winning 2014 film, chronicling the rise of an unlikely sushi chef, has Oakland stamped all over: It takes place there, it was shot there, its writer-director, Anthony Lucero, is East Oakland born-and-raised. So it only makes sense to catch it on the big screen for one last time at Oakland's historic Grand Lake Theater, with a Q&A featuring Lucero to follow. $11; details here.