Before "Maus" won him the first and only Pulitzer Prize for a graphic novel, Art Spiegelman was a "drug-addled youth cartoonist" honing his talent and battling inner demons during the '60s. He compiled his formative experiences into a personal and intimate collection of drawings titled "Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!" Created between 1972 and 1977, Spiegelman reflects on his mother's suicide, his own nervous breakdown and an early version of "Maus." After going out of print, Spiegelman reintroduces "Breakdowns" with a new seven-page afterword that explains his transformation as a cartoonist and a man. Sat. 5 p.m. Free. (Also, look out for fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who will appear here Wed., Oct. 15 to sign his new book, "How to Have Style.") Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 449-5320. http://www.vromansbookstore.com.
It's election night in 2004, and Jake, a recent NYU grad, is hosting a Kerry-Edwards rally at his home. He also plans to win the affection of the girl he fancies. There's only one problem: She and her family have voted for George W. Bush. A hip take on the political movement among young voters, playwright Suzanne Bressler, a Milken High School graduate who teaches writing at Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Sunday school, presents "Asses and Elephants," about the challenges that ensue when bipartisanship and romance commingle in the same living room. Sat. 8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 7 p.m. (Sun.). $20. Through Nov. 3. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (323) 960-7711. http://www.Plays411.com/assesandelephants.
Andy and Norman are a pair of '60s radicals running a liberal magazine in San Francisco. But trouble starts brewing when both men find themselves falling for a super-patriotic, all-American girl next door from Arkansas. Will their political ideologies and friendship ever be the same? Find out in Neil Simon's play, "The Star-Spangled Girl." Sat. 8 p.m. $15-$25. Through Nov. 2. The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (818) 500-7200. http://www.lunaplayhouse.com.
SUN | OCTOBER 12
Gay marriage. Abortion. Alternative fuels. These are only some of the controversial topics that voters will be expected to tackle this November. Need help deciphering it all? L'Dor Vador, the Simi Valley/Moorpark Hadassah group, is lending a hand by hosting a speaker from the League of Women Voters. In the Hadassah Voter Speaker Event participants will have the opportunity to "find out what the bonds, props and measures on the ballot really mean." Sun. 2-4 p.m. $5. Ziegler Morasha Center, 6150 Mount Sinai Drive, Simi Valley. (818) 489-4880. http://www.hadassah.org.
Calling all jazz and comedy enthusiasts. Hip jazz singer Kitty Margolis is set to warm up the stage for everyone's favorite neurotic comic -- Rita Rudner. The Las Vegas Review Journal has called Rudner the best comedian in Sin City. Now Angelenos will have their chance to hear her uproariously funny lament about relationships, men and life when Rudner takes the stage. Sun. 3 p.m. $25-$55. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (562) 467-8818. http://www.cerritoscenter.com.
Relive the songs and sounds of your Eastern European ancestors with the help of Los Angeles' Yiddish Culture Club. The organization is kicking off their cultural season with "Yiddish Folk Songs in Word and Sound." Fan Magid Shalin, cantor at Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, will be part of the program, as will Lilke Majzner, a concentration camp survivor and president of the club. Sun. 2-4 p.m. Free (members), $4 (non-members). The Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club, 8339 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (310) 454-3687.
MON | OCTOBER 13
Nina Paley calls herself "America's best-loved unknown cartoonist." The comic-strip artist-turned-filmmaker has a dazzling and heartbreaking past, with the central drama being a soured marriage and a stint in India that inspired her first feature-length film, "Sita Sings the Blues." Spanning continents and millennia, Paley's remarkable work parallels two women, an American and an Indian, who are unfairly dumped. Set against the backdrop of the ancient Sanskrit epic "Ramayana," which the artist once dismissed as "misogynist propaganda" but upon closer examination found "a blueprint of human suffering," she has told her own story through the vibrant visuals of 2-D animation. Variety called her flick "a delightfully subversive feminist musical ... a viable, vibrant low-budget arthouse medium for adults." Sounds like she won't be unknown for long. Mon. 8:30 p.m. $5-$9. REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles. (213) 237-2800. http://www.redcat.org.
WED | OCTOBER 15
Doug Harvey may be most famous for his LA Weekly art and culture critiques but the secret is out now: Harvey is also a talented artist in his own right. Working in a variety of media -- comics, paintings, film, sculpture -- Harvey uses his unruly, prolific imagination to create art that defies the notion that one "must commit to a single artistic direction." Harvey can count anyone from underground comic artists to Robert Rauschenberg as influences. In the end, Harvey presents audiences with art that exhibits "the wit of an art world insider" in the way that only he can. Los Angeles' post-punk band "Wounded Lion" will play at the opening of "Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey." Wed. 7-9 p.m. (opening reception). Free. Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (regular hours). Through Nov. 26. Los Angeles Valley College Art Gallery, 5800 Fulton Ave., Valley Glen. (818) 778-5536. http://www.lavc.edu.
"L Word" star Mia Kirschner, an actress often cast as the ingénue, digs deeper with a book that reveals the powerful struggles of women and children around the globe who are desperately in need, yet too often ignored. In "I Live Here," her first book, Kirschner describes the humanitarian disasters women and children have to face: the war in Chechnya, ethnic cleansing in Burma, globalization in Mexico and AIDS in Malawi. With the help of renowned comic artists like Phoebe Gloeckner and Joe Sacco, Kirschner tells their stories with both pictures and words. Get your copy signed when the actress/author appears at Book Soup. Wed. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. http://www.booksoup.com.
Calvin "Savage" James was at the height of his boxing career when he was imprisoned for the murder of a Jewish couple. Watch as investigative reporter Solomon "Sol" Eisner sets out to prove that the championship athlete is actually innocent. While "Savage World" is a work of fiction, playwright Stephen Fife admits that the play was suggested by the real-life case of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, "the middleweight contender jailed for years for a triple murder in Paterson, N.J. and ultimately freed." Fife, formerly a reporter for the Village Voice, investigated the Carter case when preparing an article for New York magazine. Wed. 8 p.m. $20. Through Nov. 23. The MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood. (323) 957-1152. http://www.theMETtheatre.com.
THU | OCTOBER 16
Hang your hat and your fruit in the sukkah at the JCC at Milken's communitywide "Sukkot Picnic Under the Stars." After all those interminable High Holy Day services, this holiday is an opportunity to connect with community in the beautiful outdoor air. Bring the whole family for a fun-filled and relaxing evening replete with food, games and activities for the kids. Thu. 6 p.m. Free. The JCC at Milken, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3300. http://www.jccatmilken.org.
CNN, FOX, PBS and NPR are only some of the news outlets citizens can choose from, but sometimes it's difficult to tell whom to trust. "Understanding the Media to Understand Our World" is intended to combat that problem by making us smarter and more sophisticated interpreters of the news. American Jewish University's University Women presents the six-part lecture series taught by Jon Dobrer, which will use current events -- think Election 2008 -- to make its points. Thu. 10:30 a.m. $18 (single class), $75-$90 (series). Through Nov. 20. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1283. http://www.ajula.edu.
A Jewish actor fakes his own kidnapping to awaken his community to the threat of anti-Semitism. Based on a short story by Mexican-born writer Ilan Stavans, "The Disappearance" utilizes dynamic visuals through puppetry and video projection to tell a haunting story about guilt and conscience. The play, which also stars its writer, is presented as part of "Viva!: Celebrating the Americas," a series of programs exploring the connections between Jewish and Latin American cultures. Thu. 8 p.m. $15-$25. Also, Fri., Oct. 17. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. http://www.skirball.org.
FRI | OCTOBER 17
Sink into the sultry sounds of Russian-born jazz vocalist Sophie Milman, who has been widely praised as the most promising jazz chanteuse since Sarah Vaughan. At the tender age of 25, the blonde beauty has traveled the world singing and songwriting, and sold more than 100,000 albums. And it was after immigrating to Israel with her family, at age 7, that she first discovered her passion for the American-born art form. Fri. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $42. Also, Oct. 18. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (714) 556-2787. http://www.ocpac.org.
Artist and scholar Ruth Weisberg, famous for her Jewish-themed art, unveils a startlingly different concept for her newest work: a 20-plus painting meditation on Mary Magdalene. Weisberg, whose education included studying Italian biblical art, examines Italian baroque painter Guido Cagnacci's "Martha Rebuking Mary for Her Vanity," an important work housed in the permanent collection of the Norton Simon Museum. "Ruth Weisberg: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image" traces her three-year exploration of the ancient painting and its themes of repentance and anger, as seen through the context of her own family history and ancestry. The result is an exhibit of paintings, drawings and monotypes that reflect the connection between Weisberg's and Cagnacci's narratives. Fri. Noon-6 p.m. (every day except Tuesday). $4-$8 (free on the first Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m.). Through March 2. The Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 449-6840. http://www.nortonsimon.org.
-- Lilly Fowler contributed to this article