Go Soak Their Heads Anyone who's ever been slighted by Charlotte Mailliard Swig's swanky party list or jabbed by Matier and Ross' Chronicle column finally gets to exact a cold, wet revenge. At the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation Celebrity Pool Toss, partygoers can bid on the opportunity to shove these and other local swells -- Miss Chinatown and skater Brian Boitano among them -- into the hotel pool. Miss Pearl's Jam House provides the hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and Lucy Lee the live music for this event, a benefit for the Tenderloin After-School Program. The party begins at 6 p.m. at the Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy, S.F. Admission is $50; call 776-2151.
Leaving Lestat Author Anne Rice departs from the bloodsucking theme with her latest novel, Servant of the Bones, a biblically influenced tale of Isaiah and Jeremiah and the destruction of Solomon's temple, as told by a genie. Rice became a household name with the "Vampire Chronicles," a five-volume collection that began in 1976 with the publication of Interview With the Vampire; that book, a best seller, introduced the Vampire Lestat character and went on to become a film. Rice's Gothic repertoire includes a trilogy of witch books, but she also writes erotic novels and stylized porn under pen names. Her biographer, Michael Riley, interviews Rice onstage at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
A Merry Go-Around June busts out all over again as England's Royal National Theater stages Rodgers and Hammerstein's love story Carousel, directed by Nicholas Hytner (who did The Madness of King George). Carnival barker Billy Bigelow marries his factory-worker sweetheart, Julie Jordan, and proceeds to disappoint her at every turn. Who says musicals are dated? This is a good one, too, with memorable tunes like "You'll Never Walk Alone" and a lesser-known but rousing number about a clambake. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 10) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor, S.F. Admission is $34-62.50; call 776-1999.
Bite on the Brat Beer and sausage, sausage and beer, and polka music. Oktoberfest, that veritable barrel of fun, offers Americans the rare and appealing opportunity to suit up in lederhosen and stuff our faces with sauerkraut as the autumn chill nips at our heels. This year there are at least two local parties: a Red Cross benefit today, which features hofbrau-style food from local restaurants, beers from several area breweries, and polka tunes by the Golden Gate Blaskapelle; and on Tuesday, the World Affairs Council event, where revelers will be treated to kegs of beer, Bavarian entertainment, and a historical perspective on the festival, which began as a royal wedding celebration in Munich in 1810, and is now celebrated there by millions of visitors. The Red Cross event begins at 7 p.m. at Building A, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $25-30; call 202-0798. The Council event on Tuesday, Oct. 22, begins at 6:30 p.m. (registration at 6 p.m.) at the World Affairs Center, 312 Sutter, Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 982-2541 before Monday for reservations.
Choice Cut In her new movie, Oscar-nominated director Dorothy Fadiman makes the startling assertion that although Roe vs. Wade still protects a woman's right to have an abortion, 80 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion providers. In The Fragile Promise of Choice: Abortion in the U.S. Today, Fadiman follows the declining strength of the famed 1973 Supreme Court decision, exploring violent clashes between pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and the inequality of services delivered to women of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Author Isabel Allende joins guest speaker Dian Harrison, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, at Choice's premiere, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 392-4400.
Ceausescu Meets Churchill Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu may be most remembered for what he left behind after he was ousted in 1990: a glut of orphans and a country in economic and emotional shambles. With Mad Forest, English playwright Caryl Churchill examines the emotional tension in late-'80s Bucharest before Ceausescu's downfall, the disappointment that followed the revolution, and the forces that drove the man and the people who brought him down, while setting up the possibility that a new kind of tyranny may emerge in that unstable region. The show begins with a preview at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 27) at the Little Theater, Creative Arts Building, 1600 Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is $7-9; call 338-1341.
Stitch in Time "Pieces of the Quilt" began as a memorial by actor Sean San Jose Blackman to his parents, both of whom died of AIDS; it has evolved into something larger than even he may have anticipated. With Magic Theater Artistic Director Mame Hunt, Blackman solicited stories from major American playwrights like Angels in America creator Tony Kushner, The Zoo author Edward Albee, and for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf writer Ntozake Shange, with which he constructed a kind of theatrical quilt. He and a company of local artists will perform the collection of short plays against a backdrop of panels from the Memorial Quilt, and proceeds will be donated to the NAMES Project Foundation and to Project Open Hand. The show opens with a preview at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 17) at the Magic Theater, Southside, Building D, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $15-21; call 441-8822. "Git on the Mic!," a spoken word benefit for Blackman's Alma Delfina Group/Teatro Contra SIDA (Theater Against AIDS), features local performers in a poetry slam next Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m. at 1013 Guerrero, S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 642-9461.
Waltz Through Vienna How did an age-old city come to be called the birthplace of urban modernism? The cultural shifts that took place in Vienna at the end of the 19th century are the subject of the two-day lecture and performance program "Vienna Fin-de-Siecle: Nostalgia and the Modern." Soprano Gloria Wood sings the cabaret songs of Arnold Shoenberg, backed by a chamber ensemble, and Dance Through Time presents dances of the era on opening night. Author Carl Schorske moderates lectures on art nouveau, Klimt, Strauss, Nietzsche, and Freud, among other topics, throughout the day tomorrow. Events begin at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 10 a.m.) at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $20-30; call 392-4400.
Holy High Jinks The church takes another hit in David Hare's drama Racing Demon. In the play, the clergy members are fictitious, but the actors in it were given some metaphysical coaching from Grace Cathedral's the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, who helped them sort out motivational questions like "Can a bishop put on his own robes?" The play, nominated for a Tony during its recent New York run, follows a poor immigrant parish in London as Church of England clergymen wrestle with sexual misconduct, ambition, power struggles, and betrayal. Two Sunday matinees (Oct. 27 and Nov. 3) will be followed by panel discussions with area ministers. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 10) at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berkeley. Admission is $12-16; call (510) 436-5085.
The Great Pumpkin Finally Arrives All things pumpkin -- weigh-offs, carving demonstrations, pie-eating contests, treats -- dominate the Great Halloween Art and Pumpkin Festival. The International Pumpkin Association's champion growers join in the Pumpkin Parade, and awards will be doled out to parade participants wearing the scariest, funniest, and most beautiful costumes. Kids can ride ponies and hit up local merchants for treats, but regular street-fair fare from outdoor cafes will also provide sustenance. Live music ranges from Rubberneck's Portland-style Latin funk and the Cheeseballs' '70s disco to jazz and blues from Peter Lamson. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) along Polk Street between Broadway and Filbert, S.F. Admission is free; call 346-9162.
Inclined to Celebrate It's a bit of an upward trudge, but the eighth annual Fiesta on the Hill rewards trekkers with expansive views, plates of Thai barbecue and Filipino pizza, and jammin' live sets by Los Angelitos, Dr. Loco's Rockin' Jalapeno Band, and the Mo'Fessionals. Kids get to pet worms, make masks and hats, decorate baby pumpkins, and have their faces painted; adults get to sink local cops in a dunk tank. The street party begins at 10 a.m. along Cortland between Bennington and Ellsworth, S.F. Admission is free; call 206-2140.
Less Toil, Less Trouble Never mind what's happening on Halloween: What's to wear? The California Shakespeare Festival has a few ideas for people who haven't been plotting their costumes since this summer, and whose time to rent is running short. The fest's annual fund-raising garage sale turns out a couple of hundred costumes, props, and masks from seasons past, some in fairly new condition, others with minor and intriguing flaws like dried splatters of fake blood. Prices start at $1 per item. The sale begins at 10 a.m at the California Shakespeare Festival office, 701 Heinz, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 548-3422.
Is It Live? Citizen Band is a band, but it's a team of engineers and construction workers, too. Over two weeks these techy composers have used building tools and various electronic gizmos to construct a "supertemporal audio structure" in the ongoing public installation Process 3x()x(5)(1+1) (building no. 2). The work culminates with a concert in which Citizen Band plays the gizmos and actual musical instruments as sound generators and guest instrumentalists chime in. The show begins at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $6-8; call 626-5416.
Great Strides Taking a walk through Golden Gate Park this weekend provides the additional healthful benefit of raising funds for the San Francisco Food Bank; proceeds from the 5K and 10K Hunger Walk benefit hundreds of meal programs for low-income adults, seniors, and kids. Participants collect pledges on a sponsor sheet, but the less organized may sponsor themselves by pledging to donate a certain sum for every kilometer they complete. The walk begins at 1:30 p.m. at Marx Meadows, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Call 731-1305 to register.
Word Around Town Downtowners will be reading the writing on the wall, the curbs, the staircases, and the Muni benches when Oakland artist Chandra Cerrito completes her work. Cerrito's geometrically arranged "Word Sculptures," six- to 10-word reflections in rub-on plastic, will be installed for one-week periods and then replaced by new ones at different downtown sites, to provide pause in the Financial District's supercharged workaday world. The sculptures will go up beginning today and continuing through Nov. 24 along Market between Fourth and Steuart streets, S.F. Call 252-2590 for more information.
Act Fast You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder where the time went at PlayGround, a one-night festival of original plays, each of which clocks in at 10 minutes or less and is penned by an emerging playwright. All works are inspired by a single topic (announced Oct. 11), written in six days, and directed by community and professional theater people. The show begins at 8 p.m. at A Traveling Jewish Theater, 2800 Mariposa, S.F. Admission is free (contributions accepted); call 399-1809.
Starry, Starry Night New planets and new galaxies come to light in two local astronomy lectures. Astronomer and astrophysicist Geoffrey Marcy and his SFSU colleague Paul Butler spent eight years collecting data that, after extensive computer analysis, led to the discovery of three new planets, characterized by the pair as "sunlike stars." Marcy will discuss his work and address questions about intelligent life in the universe at "Stars in Our Eyes: New Planets in the Skies," a slide lecture held at 7 p.m. at Conlan Hall, Room 101, City College, 50 Phelan, S.F. Admission is free; call 239-3580. Also that evening, observational astronomer Dr. E. Margaret Burbidge offers insights on how galaxies are formed as she discusses the Hubble Space Telescope discovery of a young galaxy cluster with new stars being formed in its galaxies. The lecture "Distant Star-Forming Galaxies" begins at 7:30 p.m. at the California Academy of Arts and Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $3; call 750-7127.