Walking on Water In Vietnam, water puppetry functions both as entertainment and as a way to pass on legends and myths. Hidden by decorated backdrops, puppeteers stand waist-deep in water, manipulating wooden creatures (dragons, fishermen, boats, animals, peasants) so that they seem to dance on the liquid's surface. The ancient art form makes its California debut with performances by the Thang Long Water Puppets Theater of Hanoi; accompanied by musicians and singers, they'll act out 18 fables at 2, 6, and 9 p.m. (through Sunday) at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Tickets are $5-12; call 546-2700.
The Art of Noise Music videos and album covers help experienced artists make a quick buck between personal projects; they also boost the careers of young unknowns. Acknowledging these trends, "Choreographed Spaces: Design for Rock and Roll" shows how rock art plays with form and content, fusing experimentation with pop-culture immediacy. Videos, designs, and graphics by Stephane Sednaoui, David Fincher, Herb Ritts, Rex Ray, and more will be shown; a critical panel featuring Susan and Bruce Burdick, Mike Mills, Green Day video director Mark Kohr, and Colossal Pictures President Drew Takahashi will yak and gab. The visual/verbal shindig lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. at SFMOMA, 151 Third St, S.F. Tickets are $4-8; call 357-4000.
I Hear a Symphony After tenures in Brooklyn and Germany, American conductor Dennis Russell Davies has returned to the Bay Area to perform with the S.F. Symphony for the first time in 13 years. He will use the occasion to unveil Lou Harrison's Symphony No. 3; the program concludes with Gustav Holst's The Planets, a suite that aims to capture the astrological "personalities" of seven planets. The music starts at 8 p.m. (through Saturday) at Davies Symphony Hall, Grove & Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $10-68; call 864-6000.
Touch Me What effect does today's consumer-oriented, media-saturated, technology-addicted culture have on physical and verbal communication? That loaded question provides the start-off point for "Contact," a new exhibition tied to this week's NAAO Conference (see Calendar Listings). Artists including Jordy Jones, Kevin Evensen, MANUAL, and Erin Sax address various phenomena -- AIDS, the Internet, TV -- and their effects on human interaction. "Contact" includes films, videos, paintings, photos, installations, and computer art; you can see them from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Walter/McBean Gallery, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Free; call 749-4545.
You Can Call Me Ray With the Kinks and on his own, Ray Davies has always been a smart and kinky eccentric, so it makes sense that his autobiography -- X-Ray -- isn't your typical rock 'n' roll tell-all. Penned without a ghostwriter, the witty, cranky book says what it wants to say (and no more) about Davies' ambiguous sexuality and other topics. Hear him read from it during a signing from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight, S.F. Free; call 863-8688.
Castle of Horror Part low-grade P.T. Barnum, part low-grade Alfred Hitchcock, director William Castle is known for his marketing gimmicks (Illusion-O, Percepto, insurance against death by fright) as much as his films. Castle flicks sometimes feature hammy fading stars (Strait Jacket casts a tired-looking Joan Crawford as an ax-murderer), but more often than not, cheesy tricks steal the show. The first installment in a tribute to the "King of the B's," The House on Haunted Hill has Vincent Price and Emergo, a special process "more startling than 3-D." (Cheaper, too!) A warning: Watch out for flying skeletons. The screamiere takes place at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
Boogie to Beckett Inspired by the writings of Samuel Beckett, French choreographer Maguy Marin's May B aims to translate the playwright's language into movement. Set to music by Gilles de Binche, Gavin Bryars, and Franz Schubert, the piece first gained attention when it debuted at the American Dance Festival in 1983. Marin's 14-member troupe -- Compagnie Maguy Marin -- will perform it at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $18-32; call (510) 642-9988.
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet Thirty plays in 60 minutes. That's what Chicago's Neo-Futurists offer with "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind," a small sample of the troupe's 2,000 original works. The show's ever-changing moods range from comedy to tragedy, from the personal to the political. Special bonus: If a performance sells out, the audience will be treated to a free large pizza. The supersonic thespiantics start at 8 and 11 p.m. (and continue through Oct. 22) at the Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, S.F. Tickets are $4 plus $1 times the roll of a six-sided die ($5-10); call 972-8077.
Freaky Friday Director Tod Browning achieved fame with his 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. But a year later, Browning's career was virtually ruined by Freaks, a murderous circus sideshow drama that made audiences run -- not walk -- from theaters; ironically, like Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Freaks achieved cult success and critics'-favorite status years after its disastrous opening. Horror expert David Skal (Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show) takes a look at Browning's life and career in Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning. He'll read from and sign the book 6 to 8 p.m. at Dark Carnival Bookstore, 3086 Claremont, Berkeley. Free; call (510) 654-7323.
They're Baa-ack! Yes, Tony Vaguely's Sick and Twisted Players are at it again. Their 25th production and annual Halloween treat is a stage adaptation of the 1982 nuclear-family nightmare Poltergeist. The little blond tyke who played TV addict Carol Anne in the film is no longer with us, but her spirit lives on, thanks to a stage portrayal by the diminutive Tish. The question is: Who will play the psychic midget role? Find out at a special opening-night gala (complete with a Carol Anne look-alike contest) at 8 p.m. at Bernice Street Playhouse, 21 Bernice, S.F. Tickets for the opening-night gala are $15 (regular performances are $8-10 through Nov. 4); call 826-5358.
Great Pumpkin Attention pumpkin eaters: Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin truffles, pumpkin crepes, and pumpkin muffins are available at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. Hungry ears can listen to live jazz, blues, hip hop, country, salsa, and rock by artists like Maria Muldaur, En-V-Us, the Sundogs, and Bakra Bata. A haunted house, giant carved pumpkins, and arts and crafts by over 280 creators will be on hand. Beware: Clowns will be there, too. The festivities last from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (on Sunday as well) on Main Street (between Miramontes and Spruce), Half Moon Bay. Free; call 726-9652.
Harvey the Gazoo Most people know Harvey Korman as a Mel Brooks movie regular and the crankiest member of Carol Burnett's TV comedy troupe. But before Harvey himself became famous, his voice did: In 1965 and 1966, Korman provided the snooty voice of the Great Gazoo -- a tiny creature with a big head -- on The Flintstones. Korman will appear with special limited-edition Hanna-Barbera prints featuring Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, and the Great Gazoo from 2 to 4 p.m. at Animation USA Gallery, 222 Sutter, S.F. Free; call 282-8550.
How Big Is Your Basket? If you want to see small baskets, go see Kim Shuck: She creates Tsalagi Native American baskets the size of a postage stamp. A textile artist of Native American and Eastern European descent, Shuck is an expert at weaving traditional Southeastern style baskets of pounded white ash splint. Right before your eyes, she'll fashion some tiny, tiny, tiny ones noon to 4 p.m. at the Exploratorium's "About the Size of It: A Circus of the Big and Small," 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $2.50-9; call 563-7337.
Over Easy There are plenty of places in the East Bay for artists to present their work, but not so many sites for artists to meet and exchange ideas. Aiming to change this, the Speakeasy Theatre Company is presenting "The First Ever Speakeasy Salon," an evening of art, theater, music, and social interaction. The first installment in a monthly series features new works by solo performers Anne Galjour and Josh Kornbluth. A benefit for Black Pine Circle School, the event lasts from 2 to 7 p.m. at 2016 Seventh St, Berkeley. Admission is $12; call 331-9595.
Reggae Parksplash A two-day celebration, Reggae in the Park features performances by pop hybrid Third World; "dub poet" Mutabaruka; dancehall pioneer U-Roy; and Meditations, a roots harmony trio from Jamaica. California artists include Wendy Shaw, Inka Inka, Amandla Poets, Junglz Apart, and Bateke Bateke. A benefit for Global Exchange, the event lasts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday too) at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Tickets are $10-17.50; call (510) 762-2277.
Krazy Klezmer Dating back to biblical times, Sukkot marks the time of the harvest; spanning seven days, it shifts from repentance and judgment to rejoicing and celebration. Marking the "fun" part of the Jewish holiday, the Festival of the Booths offers food, wine, song, arts, and crafts. A broad variety of klezmer music will be presented on two stages; performers include Limonim (a klezmer orchestra), Adama, and Ellis Island Old World Folk Band. The festival lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Arguello Boulevard (between Sacramento and Washington) and Lake Street (between Arguello and Second Avenue), S.F. A Simhat Torah (6 p.m.) and klezmer concert (7:30 p.m.), both at Temple Emanu-El (Lake and Arguello), will follow. Free; call 346-4561.
Jazzorama This year's S.F. Jazz Festival lasts over two weeks; spread throughout the city, it includes performances by youth groups and tributes to legends like Charlie Parker. The festival's fourth evening, "Jazz With a View," showcases the Bay Area's Splatter Trio -- the avant-garde noisemakers will be joined by European pianist/composer Myra Melford. Solo pianist Larry Vuckovich fills the master of ceremonies role; the show starts at 8 and 10 p.m. at Club 36, Grand Hyatt, Union Square, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 788-7353.
Street Art Presented by Ansel Adams Center for Photography, "Street Gallery" displays poster work by Cindy Sherman, David Levinthal, and other celebrated artists. The show's images were selected for their shared sense of duplicity (translation: None is what it first appears to be). You can see them round the clock at 10 illuminated bus shelters on Market Street and in the Yerba Buena arts district, S.F. Free; call 495-7000 for more information.
Luna Tunes "I don't know what you're saying/But I hate it anyway," Dean Wareham drawls at one point during Luna's new LP, Penthouse. The most lyrically interesting of Luna's albums, Penthouse weds lush yet understated instrumental beauty to wry, melancholy observations about everyday activities. Like most ordinary people struggling through life, Wareham's mind is rarely where his body is: Whether zooming down the freeway ("Heading to Tacoma/ Driving too fast/ Nixon's in a coma/ And I hope it's gonna last") or snoozing at the zoo ("I have seen the chimpanzees/ In the afternoon sun/ It's quiet in the snake house/ And my knees have turned to jelly"), he's usually daydreaming about love gone sour. Hear him at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. Air Miami opens. Tickets are $9-10; call 885-0750.