Mindscape Borrowing the title of an Alfred Hitchcock film, John Sanborn's multimedia installation The 39 Steps connects the life experiences of 60 people; using a touch-screen design, viewers follow story sequences triggered -- like human thoughts -- by words or images. A video experimenter since 1978, Sanborn has collaborated with choreographers (Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones) and musicians (Rayuichi Sakamoto, the Residents). He discusses his latest work at 7:30 p.m. at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $2.50-9; call 563-7337.
Imp of the Perverse David Medalla's autobiography is a nonstop name-dropping fest featuring Marcel Duchamp, James Baldwin, Yoko Ono, Jean Genet, Willem De Kooning, and Salvador Dali, to name just a handful. His art -- discussed in the new book Exploding Galaxies by Guy Brett -- is often deliberately obscure and ephemeral. In one recent Medalla piece, The Flying Mondrians, a squadron of planes projected large, colorful rectangles onto Hawaii's land and sea, transforming the territory into a giant painting. Following an introduction by UC Berkeley art professor Peter Selz, the eccentric "transcendental hedonist" presents a lecture/slide show at 7 p.m. at Banner Arts, 501 Third St., S.F. Free; call 512-7627.
From Queer to Eternity Local writer/director John Fisher is best known for award-winning, critically acclaimed comedies like The Joy of Gay Sex and last year's Medea, the Musical. His latest work, Combat! An American Melodrama, is more serious than silly: The plot follows the struggles of gay soldiers, civilians, and politicians during World War II America. The play premieres at 7:30 p.m. (continuing Thursdays-Sundays through March 10) at Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $4-8; call (510) 642-9988.
Dancing on the Edge One of a series of environmental, spiritual works inspired by 16th-century Indian leader Mirabai, Contraband's Return to Ordinary Life combines spoken word, movement, and live music; it begins at 8 p.m. (continuing Wednesdays-Sundays through March 10) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Tickets are $12.50-18.50; call 621-7797. Contraband's Sara Shelton Mann is also one of five female artists -- Anna Halprin, Margaret Jenkins, Rhodessa Jones, and Ruth Zaporah are the others -- honored in "Edge Makers," part of the "1996 Edge Festival"; the program begins with shows dedicated to Halprin (8 p.m., repeating Sunday) and Zaporah (Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.) at Dancers' Group/Footwork, 3221 22nd St., S.F. Tickets are $10-12; call 824-5044.
Giovanni's Room Recently published, The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni chronicles the writer's artistic approach to feminism and civil rights from the '60s to the present. The latest installment of "On Art and Politics" -- a series of programs benefiting the Women's Foundation -- features Giovanni and fellow poet Janice Mirikitani (We the Dangerous); they read at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $16; call 392-4400.
Don't Need No Education Not the first and not the last British film to rebel against the country's barbaric public schools, 1982's Pink Floyd -- The Wall also hit pay dirt with American teens who loved pot and hated authority. One reason: Gerald Scarfe's trippy animated sequences, remnants of a time when rock albums generated midnight movies and midnight movies generated box office. The Wall screens at an opening reception for an exhibition of Scarfe's art from the film (and other Pink Floyd memorabilia); the party starts at 5 p.m. at Artrock Gallery, 1153 Mission, S.F. Free; call 255-7390.
Pornucopia San Francisco Sex Information is the nation's only free sex-information switchboard (sorry, no phone sex or psychotherapy); it caps 55 hours of volunteer training with a multiscreen showing of porn films, affectionately called "Fuckorama." SFSI recently commissioned performance artist Peter Menchini to produce "Fuckorama" as a public fund-raiser: He's created a 3-D onslaught of film, video, and live performance. Dirty little devils can enjoy it from 8 to 10 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 989-7374.
Science Friction Having written or edited 62 books, 1,700 stories and essays, and a dozen movies, Harlan Ellison certainly qualifies as prolific; he's even turned writing into performance, penning stories in window displays of local bookstores. The science-fiction icon presents a slide show and signs autographs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Tickets are $22; call 227-8666.
Super Tramp Charlie Chaplin began City Lights in 1928; thinking that sound pictures would die out after a few years, he wanted to pay tribute to pantomime and pioneer a new wave of silent films. By the time City Lights was finished (1931), it was the only new film without dialogue, but the tale of the Little Tramp and the blind girl was a tremendous critical and box-office success. (The Academy Awards snubbed it, perhaps because Chaplin refused to kowtow to talkies.) City Lights begins a five-night Chaplin program of 35mm prints at 6:15 and 9:35 p.m. (The Gold Rush screens at 8 p.m.) at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
Mum's the Word Enormous happy-go-lucky Slinkys, giant green garbage bags, and creatures with Silly Putty heads and toilet paper faces have invaded the Bay Area. Yes, Mummenschanz is in town. The 21-year-old Swiss mime trio (Floriana Frassetto, Bernie SchYrch, and Roger Zanetti) has a new show, Parade. They slide, slither, and slouch across the stage at 2 and 8 p.m. (3 p.m. Sunday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $12-24; call 776-1999.
Blood Money "Rhythms of Justice" pays tribute to the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Amnesty Award-winning Nigerian activist executed (along with eight others) by that country's military dictatorship last November. (Though framed on murder charges, Saro-Wiwa's real crime was his struggle against the Nigerian government and Shell Oil's trashing of land and people.) Music (by Prince Ayo), speeches, and a film about Saro-Wiwa are part of the event; a benefit for Nigerian Youths and Partners, it lasts from 3 to 7 p.m. at Kimball's Carnival, 5800 Shellmound, Emeryville. Tickets are $10-15; call (510) 653-5300.
The Odd Couple He's a young, rebellious Marxist who loves beer, women, and Che Guevara. She's a 72-year-old woman with lots of attitude, who talks directly to statues of the saints. They're roommates, and they're the main characters in Basement Refugees, a bilingual (English and Spanish) comedy written and directed by Rodrigo Duarte Clark. Presented by El Teatro de la Esperanza, the show starts at 8 p.m. (continuing Thursdays-Sundays through March 17) at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $6-8; call 255-2320.
Flower Power With a new LP due soon, Tiny Tim is launching another comeback. The question is: Did anyone want him to return? The whiny, greasy-haired troubadour's favorite flower -- the tulip -- also reappears this spring, a much more welcome event. "Tulipmania" features more than 35,000 of the colorful blooms. Flower fans can ogle and smell them at a 10 a.m. tour (through March 10) at Pier 39, Beach & Embarcadero, S.F. Free; call 705-5500.
Bizarre Love Triangle Past radicalism meets current pseudo-feminism in Liza Johnson's Good Sister/Bad Sister, a look at '60s Weather Underground fugitive Katherine Power and '90s rock icon Courtney Love, mediated by Linda Carroll (Power's therapist and Love's mother!). Johnson's short is part of a show called "Women on Women"; works by Helen Stickler, Jennifer Gentile, Sikay Tang, Carolyn Coolie & Rachel Mayeri, and Mari Kono complete the screening, which starts at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 824-3890.
Literary Soundtracks Music by Schumann meets text by Shelley, and music by Liszt is paired with poetry by Allen Ginsberg in "piano and speech," a performance by pianist Eliane Lust and speakers Michael Sternberg, Steve Silberman, Laurie Amat, and Charles Shere. The show -- also featuring works by John Cage and Laurie Anderson and the S.F. premiere of Frederic Rzew-ski's composition for Oscar Wilde's De Profundis -- begins at 4 p.m. at Old First Church, Van Ness & Sacramento, S.F. Tickets are $7-9; call 474-1608.
Goldfish Girl The tale of a 7-year-old girl's quest for the aforementioned critter, Jafar Panahi's The White Balloon was a big winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival. In New York, it's doing boffo box office and generating funny arguments (a recent letter to the Village Voice complains about the paper's psychosexual reading of the snakes in the film). The local premiere at 2 p.m. highlights an Iranian New Year celebration at the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 379-8801.
Spawn of Satan If you think you have neighbors from hell, compare yourself to poor Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby: Not only does she have to put up with cranky Ruth Gordon knocking on her door all day and night, she's got the son of Satan in her stomach, and he has a bizarre craving for raw meat! The 1968 flesh-crawler is part of a Roman Polanski double-bill about demonic apartment dwellers; it screens at 2 and 7 p.m.; The Tenant (with Shelley Winters as a next-door nag) screens at 4:35 and 9:35 p.m. at UC Theatre, University & Shattuck, Berkeley. Tickets are $4-6.50; call (510) 843-6267.
Pasolini Requiem Like Rimbaud, Pier Paolo Pasolini is a poet whose life inspires speculation and myth-making: The new film Who Killed Pasolini? is just the latest in a long string of artworks about the murdered creator. Carlo Mega presents an audiovisual performance of Pasolini's writing and Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads from his translation of Pasolini's Roman Poems at 6:30 p.m. at Instituto Italiano di Cultura, 425 Bush, Suite 301, S.F. Free; call 788-7142.
Slanted and Enchanted A German expressionist and horror classic, 1919's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is also the first cult film: It played in one Paris theater for seven consecutive years, a box-office record that lasted until 1974 and the coming of Emanuelle. The movie's plot -- about an evil figure who hypnotizes people to carry out his plans -- eerily prefigures the rise of Hitler, but the claustrophobic, zigzagging visuals are hardest to forget. Film historian Russell Merritt introduces Caligari and Randy Craig accompanies the film on piano at 6:30 p.m. at Goethe-Institut, 530 Bush, S.F. Free; call 391-0370.
Drink, Puke, and Fight While Jackie Chan makes another bid for U.S. stardom with Rumble in the Bronx, new and old Chan fans can check out 1978's Drunken Master, where the action star drinks a lot, pukes a lot, and fights a lot. Featuring gasoline consumption and ninja-fights-a-go-go, the film satirizes the "discipline" popularized by kung fu icon Bruce Lee; it screens at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at the Lark Theatre, 549 Magnolia, Larkspur. Tickets are $4-6; call 924-3311.