Novel Approach The pain of consciousness is author Joan Didion's specialty, from her short story "Migraine," an excruciatingly descriptive account of a killer headache, to her essay collections Democracy and The White Album, which revealed exposed nerve endings nationwide (with California as an epicenter) during the cultural and political upheaval of the '60s. To this list add Didion's sharply critical review of The Sound of Music, which was never published and which got her fired from Vogue. Literature professor Barbara Nelson interviews Didion onstage about past novels like Play It as It Lays and her first book in 12 years, The Last Thing He Wanted, at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
Full-Stop Hip Hop It could be subtitled "How to Succeed in Hip Hop Without Leaving the Convention Center": Music magazine GAVIN presents "The Sessions Vol. I," an educational seminar devoted to all aspects of the music. The three-day affair features to-the-point panel discussions like "How to Get Signed by a Major Label" and "Cutting Masters on a Demo Budget," plus auditions, talent showcases, and networking opportunities aplenty. Do the Unsigned and Hella Broke guys know about this? Participants include DJ Honda, Q-Bert, Davey D., and Rock Steady Crew, among others. The summit opens at 9 a.m. (also Friday and Saturday) at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, 10 10th St., Oakland. Admission is $30-199; call 495-3200.
Dancing Banshees Elizabeth Kubler Ross' five stages of dying (anger, denial, bargaining, etc., as explicated in All That Jazz) get an updated choreographic treatment in the Dance Brigade's Ballet of the Banshees ... Resurrection! Set against live music by Gwen Jones, text based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the hazards of modern life, the experimental modern movement is guided by the Gaelic folklore figure of the banshee, who provided a spectral conduit between the living and the dead. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Monday) at Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady, S.F. Admission is $13.50-15: call 558-9355.
Think Fast If MTV only played those short, between-video film bits and dropped all of the other, really annoying elements like Kennedy, Singled Out, and most of the music videos, it might be as entertaining as the Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival. Blink and you'll miss the amusing, weird, and thoughtful entries in this nearly 120-minute festival: Each work averages two minutes or less. This is the place to catch Jennifer Schultes' CoAx, a modern horror story involving computer overexposure, or Neil Goldberg's Hallelujah Anyway #1, in which Walt Whitman's poetry is read over a loudspeaker at a used-car lot in Queens. The festival runs at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., S.F. Admission is $5; call 282-4316. The fest repeats Saturday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. at the George Gund Theater, 2625 Durant in Berkeley.
Flight and Fight The 1996 Living Room Festival concludes with the program (Im)Migration, a collection of films addressing culture clashes and identity shifts wrought by relocation. Included in the program are Joan Baker's Promised Land, about the disillusionment of Caribbean immigrants in the United Kingdom and, later, the United States; and Trac Vu's The First Year, in which a displaced teen-ager discovers the States through sex and Kmart. The show airs at 11 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.
Something Borrowed, Something Bleu Nina Youshkevitch, the last surviving dancer to have performed Bolero under the late Bronislava Nijinska, used the choreographer's notebooks and her own experience to help Oakland Ballet reconstruct this Gypsy-themed story ballet, set to Ravel's score. The ballet's '96-97 season opens with this and two other historically significant repertory pieces: The Lilac Garden, Antony Tudor's drama of doomed love; and Nijinska's Le Train Bleu, in which a flapper crowd converges on the French Riviera, within loving re-creations of Coco Chanel's costumes and Pablo Picasso's front curtain. The program begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.) at the Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Admission is $6-36; call (510) 762-2277.
Mad Mad Mad Mad World Dealing with the crazy pace of change inspires Delerium, performance artist Stanya Kahn's one-woman ode to chaos. Through inventive language, charged physicality, and soundbites on pop culture and theft, Kahn fiercely dissects the effects of politics and the media on individuals. Though her work is typically performed solo, Kahn, a Mission dweller, has also collaborated and performed with local theatrical innovators Contraband and CORE. Delerium starts at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at New Langton Arts Theater, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $6-8; call 626-5416.
Equalizing Opportunity Women's Opportunity Week (also known as WOW) offers a wealth of events and resources for women and girls. This weeklong local conference, sponsored by the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and themed "Building Bridges, Making Connections," links women of all ages and stations. Highlights include the U.N. Women's Conference One Year Later, telecast from D.C. today at 11 a.m. at Pacific Bell, 370 Third St.; the Women's Cancer Walk Sunday at 9 a.m. in Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park; and "An Income of Her Own," a business conference for young women Tuesday at 8 a.m. at City Hall, 401 Van Ness. The week begins with a mayoral declaration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Cycles of Women Health Resources Fair at 10 a.m. at the South of Market Community Center, 270 Sixth St., S.F. Admission is free; call 752-2941 for information on all events.