War of the Words Playwright Peter Weiss juxtaposes concentration camp scenes with courtroom drama in The Investigation, a theatrical treatment of criminal investigations conducted after the Holocaust. The play, staged by the Theater Factory, zeros in on the violence citizens committed under the guise of nationalism. The play opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 30) at SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $8-25; call 487-5122.
Changes One woman's journey to manhood propels David Harrison's solo show, FTM, which refers to female-to-male transsexuals. Harrison, an FTM transsexual himself, knows whereof he writes, although this piece isn't strictly autobiographical: He relays the character's experience during the first year of change through dreams, anecdotes, and memories, splicing the narrative with descriptions of the physical changes the character's mother undergoes as a result of breast cancer. The show opens at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 24) at Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St., S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 861-5079.
Dead Man's Party If Halloween raises the dead, Dia de los Muertos treats them to a good time. In the Mexican tradition, known in English as Day of the Dead, the living honor the deceased by cleaning and decorating graves and assembling altars adorned with photos and mementos, food, candles, and flowers. Local events include two free candlelight processions in the Mission; one begins at Galeria de la Raza, 2857 24th St., at 6 p.m. and winds down 24th Street through Balmy Alley to the Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, where a second procession will begin at 7 p.m. That procession, themed "Familia/Family" and led by Mexican native dancers, will travel past streetside displays and conclude at Garfield Park, at Harrison and 25th streets, where participants may leave gifts and food at altars constructed by local artists. The play Death and the Blacksmith is held at 8 p.m. ($10) and a community dance ($12) follows at 9:30 p.m. at the Mission Cultural Center, 864-1450. Other local activities include the dedication of the Children's HOPE Project HIV mural (1 p.m. in Balmy Alley, between Folsom and Harrison off of 24th Street, free, 863-3762); a fund-raiser for Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center (6 p.m., 50 Balmy Alley, $20, 285-2287); and a costume party with live music and dancing (7 p.m., International Center, 50 Oak, $7.50-15, 206-9620). For more Day of the Dead happenings, see Event Listings on Page 24.
Street Beat Folks are always talking about keeping kids off the streets, but one civic-minded program is putting them back out there. The San Francisco Art Commission Market Street Art in Transit Program will offer a gaggle of teen poets in the monthlong performances series "Talking Drum," accompanied by electronic musician Chris Brown. The poets, culled from workshops Brown conducted at the Vietnamese Cultural Center and the South of Market Cultural Center, perform their own work at 3 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23 at 101 Market. Admission is free; call 252-2590.
Write On Amy Tan and Alice Walker are bullish about being bookish; to celebrate the pleasures of the printed word, they and dozens more literary lions will speak and sign copies of their works, which range from kids books to cookbooks, at the two-day San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. Over 330 publisher and independent bookstore booths plan to set up, and six professional publishing seminars will dispense industry wisdom. Highlights include the panel discussions "What's Up on the Street: Youth Gang Culture Today," and "Women of the Beat Generation," with Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, and others. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also on Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., S.F. Admission is free-$2; call 908-2833.
Hoopla Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the basketball player is a known quantity: He was the first player to score 37,000 points in a career that included play on six world-championship-winning teams. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the author may be a less familiar concept, although Black Profiles in Courage, his most recent book, is also his third. Abdul-Jabbar has chronicled the lives of African-American historical figures like Crispus Attucks, Jackie Robinson, and others in a book aimed at young people, and a youth ticket price of $5 is available, although limited, when KPIX news anchor Barbara Rodgers interviews Abdul-Jabbar at 2 p.m. in the San Francisco Day School Auditorium, 350 Masonic. General admission is $16; call 392-4400.
The Flu Fighters People who lack health insurance or ironclad constitutions need not live in fear of the evil influenza (which came early this year, according to the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern California). For $10, nurses from the VNA's flu prevention clinics will inoculate anyone over the age of 14 who isn't running a fever or feeling ill already. Protection doesn't kick in until two weeks after getting the shot, so the nurses suggest additional prevention tactics like frequent hand-washing and fluid-drinking. The clinics are held in retail outlets like Safeway and Merrill's. For times, days, and nearby locations, call the VNA hot line at (800) 500-2400; information is dispensed through a labyrinthine series of recordings, so have pen and paper ready.
The Fire of Love In Prince Gomolvilas' comedy Big Hunk o' Burnin' Love, a Thai-American man must marry before his 30th birthday to avoid a family curse. Issues of race, gender, romance, and family are hashed out in the ensuing confusion. The Equinox Theater presents a staged reading of the play, a second-place finisher in the California Playwrights Competition, at 8 p.m. at the Cable Car Theater, 430 Mason, S.F. Admission is $4-5; call 267-3949.