Off the Beaten Campaign Trail Two national political figures bypass regular Republican-Democrat party lines with local talks. Reform Party presidential candidate (and election-year comic relief) Ross Perot addresses the state of the union in a Commonwealth Club luncheon lecture titled "Action This Day." Candace Gingrich, meanwhile, speaks about her book The Accidental Activist, her childhood with half-brother and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and her rapid rise in the gay activism ranks that put her at public odds with Newt's Republican agenda. Perot speaks at 11:45 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel, Continental Ballroom, 333 O'Farrell, S.F. Admission is $32-41; call 597-6721. Gingrich appears at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Light Bookstore, 489 Castro, S.F., 432-0892, and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Gaia Bookstore, 1400 Shattuck, Berkeley, (510) 548-4178. Admission is free to both bookstore appearances.
The Quest for Dick Melville's epic seafaring yarn, starring the most famous whale in history, is revisited in the Ghostlight Theater Company's Hunting for Moby Dick. This production, a comic adaptation of Melville's novel and the letters he wrote during its creation, employs marine rope, bedsheets, big poles, and bottled water to re-create the adventuresome climate of this treatise on nature and the moral universe, as couched in whaling terms. The show opens with a preview at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason, Building D, Laguna & Marina, S.F. Admission is $15; call 441-8822.
Base Hit Jerry Lewis plays the devil in the musical comedy Damn Yankees. Based on Douglass Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, the show revolves around a baseball fan who sells his soul to become the game's greatest player. The Broadway team of Adler and Ross, authors of The Pajama Game, composed the Damn Yankees score, which includes show tune standard "You Gotta Have Heart." The show begins with a preview at 2 p.m. and an opening night performance at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor, S.F. Admission is $32-62.50; call 776-1999.
The Whole Gorey Story Artist Edward Gorey's considerable appeal lies in his witty handling of death, destruction, and gloom -- it's a Gothic property he shares with cartoonist Charles Addams. Gorey, who created the animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery!, launched his professional career in 1953 when he began drawing book jackets for Doubleday, a career that has featured his own collection of over 100 books, including intricate pop-ups and miniatures. The exhibit "Gorey World" displays original illustrations from theater posters, magazines, and books like The Gashlycrumb Tinies, in which children and the alphabet join in a fatal rhyme. The show opens at 11 a.m. (and continues through Jan. 12) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call 227-8666.
Quaff a Brew for Progress Enjoy good beer for someone else's benefit when the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters hosts the the eighth annual Microbrewery Beerfest, at which 20 Northern California independent breweries like Anderson Valley and Gordon Biersch and homebrewing outlet S.F. Brewcraft offer their products for a tasting benefiting the league's work on affordable housing and open spaces. Then tomorrow, the fifth annual MacArthur Park Beer Festival serves up over 75 beers from more than 35 Northern California and Pacific Northwest microbreweries. Tee Fee plays Cajun music and Paris Slim sings the Delta blues as festivalgoers sample beers and barbecue. Proceeds go to the Guardsmen's summer camp programs for economically disadvantaged kids. The Microbrewery Beerfest begins at 6 p.m. in Building A at Fort Mason, Laguna & Marina, S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 896-5550, ext. 311; the MacArthur Park Beer Festival begins Friday at 4 p.m. at MacArthur Park, Front between Jackson & Pacific, S.F. Admission is $35-40; call 398-5700.
Swell on Wheels If a record label can be summed up in stereo, Estrus is the roar of a hot rod engine and the shattering of glass over someone else's head. What might be merely retro in less competent hands gets a garage-punk rock spin, and sounds cooler, louder, and faster in Estrus bands, from surf sets by Satan's Pilgrims to go-go rockers by Girl Trouble. It helps that the bands aren't afraid to laugh at themselves, and at others, as they're ripping up joints worldwide. Five of lo-fi's finest play the Estrus Invitationals 1996 -- West Coast Divisions show: The Nomads, Mono Men, the Makers, Lord High Fixers, and the Insomniacs. The show starts at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 474-0365.
Get Your Kicks Modern dance institution Twyla Tharp mined national culture and an international pool of dancers to create three world premiere works for "Tharp!" The choreographer behind such American vehicles as the film Hair and the Joffrey Ballet-meets-Beach Boys piece Deuce Coupe, Tharp turns her attention in this collection to, among other themes, Shaker hymns (performed by the Boston Camerata) in Simple Gifts and lounge music by Esquivel and Cole Porter in 66, a series of vignettes celebrating the famous highway and the people who've traveled it. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is $18-40; call (510) 642-9988.
Radio Ready Richard Montoya, Ricardo Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza, known collectively as Culture Clash, have taken Miami. The comic, politically minded theater trio that began at Galleria de la Raza in the Mission becomes an entire urban metropolis in Radio Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami, a collection of impersonations demonstrating that Miami isn't just comprised of Cubans and Jewish retirees. Culture Clash's portraits of the Caribbean, Haitian, African-American, and gay communities there point audiences toward forces at work elsewhere in our increasingly segmented nation. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St., S.F. Admission is $12-35; call 487-5401.
True to Form "Did you ever wonder why/ I tried to sock you in the eye?" asks Overwhelming Colorfast in "Shiner," a bittersweet, hilarious ode to tough love, banked by the chorus "Get away, get away, get out of my head." There are echoes of punk's dark and shining past here, of HYsker DY with tangled guitar strings and a longing for beauty. The former Relativity Records band has moved over to Headhunter Records, and to celebrate, they're playing a record-release party for new album Moonlight and Castanets; Mineral opens at 9 p.m. at the Kilowatt, 3160 16th St., S.F. Admission is $6; call 861-2595.
Lunar Tunes The Moon Festival, also known in Asian cultures worldwide as the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrates a bright moon in the lunar cycle and the moon goddess, Chang O, who, legend has it, fled to the celestial body after accidentally swallowing an elixir meant for her tyrannical husband. The thousand-year-old festival gets under way locally with traditional moon cakes in several flavors and the cacophony of taiko drummers and Chinese rock 'n' rollers. Lion and Balinese dancers, pole climbers, and martial arts groups will also perform, and a new element, the Re Festival, will educate kids about recycling through arts activities like origami made from used paper. A children's costume parade launches the festivities at 10:45 a.m. (the festival is also held on Sunday at 11 a.m.) on Grant between California & Pacific, S.F. Admission is free; call 982-6306.
Style Counsel The Independent Style Merchants of San Francisco want to help you get dressed. The group of local up-and-coming clothing designers gives vogue a local angle with S.F.-styley street, work, and nightlife wear at Fastpass '96, a fashion show benefiting Larkin Street Youth Center. From the medieval and psychedelic designs and hemp clothing of Labyrinth Phassions and Costumes to the ready-to-wear clothing and shoe line Futura Double Nought by Phobos and Deimos, the show offers clotheshorses some intriguing options. Doors open at 8 p.m.; the show begins at 9 p.m. at the California College of Arts and Crafts, 450 Irwin, S.F. Admission is $12.50-15; call 289-7998.
Hey Lady! At 6 feet 7 inches, M*A*C cosmetics diva RuPaul is easily one of the world's tallest spokesmodels, and with his 1993 hit "Supermodel of the World," the only supermodel to crack No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The former Atlanta used-car salesman-turned-New York club queen has worked celebrity long beyond one-hit wonderdom with the release of his autobiography, Lettin' It All Hang Out; film and TV cameos (both Brady Bunch movies, Blue in the Face, All My Children); bookings at the Stardust in Las Vegas; and host slots on New York radio station WKTU and VH1's RuPaul Show. Ru celebrates the upcoming release of new album Snapshot with a local show -- doors open at 9:30 p.m. at Club Universe, 177 Townsend, S.F. Admission is $10; call 974-1156.
Swing Shift It may not provide the comedic melodrama that Strictly Ballroom did, but the City Lights Ball, a ballroom dance competition and showcase, can at least promise the thrill of fiery tangos, the agony of broken heels, etc. Take it all in from the sidelines as dancers, who compete in separate skill divisions, go sailing through categories like Pro/Am American Smooth 1 Dance (waltz, Viennese waltz, fox trot, tango). Four-time U.S. champions Victor Veyrasset and Heather Smith, along with British finalists Peta Siddall and Marilyn Benitez, offer exhibition performances. Daytime rounds begin at 10 a.m. (at 9 a.m. for competitors); evening rounds begin at 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for competitors) at the Metronome Ballroom, 1830 17th St., S.F. Admission is $5-32; call 252-9000.
Art for the Short Set Kill the tube and rally the rug rats for Family Day at the University Art Museum, where smarter-than-average kids entertainment includes folk tales told by Awele Makeba; a show by the Prescott Clown Troupe; and international children's films like Kuumba: Simon's New Sound, a film based on the African/Caribbean legend of a boy who invents steel drums to celebrate Carnaval. Youngsters may find a creative outlet in face-painting, or puppet- and hat-making. Some of the art will be put in a time capsule to be opened in 2070. Activities begin at noon at the University Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 643-2194.
The Sign of the Wooster Ever wondered where performance artist Spalding Gray was coming from? Try the Wooster Group. Same with the late Ron Vawter; both men bolstered their skills at the New York experimental theater collective, which was born back in 1975. The group combines classic texts, new material, film, video, dance, movement, and multitrack scoring in its ensemble performances, which speak to the collision of cultures. The present company includes Willem Dafoe, Kate Valk, Peyton Smith, J.J. Johnson, and Artistic Director Elizabeth LeCompte. The group makes its first Bay Area appearance for a presentation and lecture on Wooster's work as part of the "Modus Mondays" series, 7:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call 346-6456.
Howdy, Martians! Now that compelling evidence suggests life on Mars, what on earth should we do next? Norman R. Haynes, of the Mars Exploration Directorate at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Labs, discusses past and proposed exploration of the red planet in the lecture "Future Exploration of Mars." The Mars Global Surveyor, a long-term robotic exploration program from NASA, will go into orbit a year from now, scanning the planet's surface; the Mars Pathfinder will explore and create images of the planet's surface and monitor the weather. Sci-fi writers, boot up your laptops. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park. Admission is free-$7; call 750-7145.
Fishing for Soul De La Soul's not dead; they're alive and well and sending out a sweet-tart, hip-hop groove through mellifluous bass lines on new release Stakes Is High. The threesome meets up with Fishbone, whose soulful and inventive funkified rock past has come sliding into a harder-edged present. Goodie Mob warms up; doors open at 8 p.m. at the Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison, S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 974-0634.