Nomad's Land Festival Xinjiang veers from the standard Western tourist route with an emphasis on music of the nomadic Islamic cultures of Central Asia and the Xinjiang Province, a remote region located above Tibet and overlooking one of China's largest glaciers. Musical guest Phoenix Spring Ensemble produces original works with traditional roots, using instruments from China, America, Arabia, and Turkey; members include jazz artist Bill Douglass, Turkish Kanun artist Mimi Al Khayyam, and Arabic percussion player Mary Ellen Donald. Melody of China, a Chinese musicians' collective that plays traditional instruments and music from that country, also performs at the festival, which doubles as a live recording session. Robert Jones of Geographic Expeditions will offer a slide show and discussion of the region, and books about the area will be available. The festival begins at 2 p.m. at Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 282-2994.

Pause for Reflection World AIDS Day/Day Without Art is a time of remembrance, but guarded optimism may be in order this year with the emergence of new treatment strategies. The Bay Area offers several AIDS Day events, including the commemorative program "One People, One Community, One Hope," with a display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, performances by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, live testimony, and information tables, at 1 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium of the New Main Library, 100 Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 487-3032. Paul Timony Diaz performs One AIDSDeath and his work in progress Splash at 4 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St., S.F. Admission is free; call 861-7733. "Passage," a group performance program, begins outdoors with the High Risk Group offering the movement piece Time Is Just a Place and continues with a percussion ritual, video installation, and pieces for flute and piano. The show is held at 6 and 8 p.m. at the Jon Sims Center for Performing Arts, 1519 Mission, S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 554-0402. "Queer Irony," a program of short experimental narrative films followed by a discussion with the filmmakers, plays at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 558-8129. Area stores will donate partial purchase proceeds to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation on Shop for Life Day, held Saturday and Sunday. And across the bay, baboon marrow transplant recipient Jeff Getty speaks at an art auction party, with refreshments, entertainment, and work by over 60 artists, benefiting East Bay ACT UP; the evening begins at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley Store Gallery, 2295 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 568-1680.

december 2
Is There an Eco in Here? The Name of the Rose author Umberto Eco treks westward from his Italian home to discuss his new novel, The Island of the Day Before, the story of a shipwrecked young man who finds himself at the Punto Fijo, a date line in the Fiji Islands that divides one day from another. Eco, a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, has also written scholarly tomes and books of essays including How to Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays. Renee Rothmann interviews Eco onstage at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.

Follow My Leader The path of Buddhist spiritual leader Sun Woo is revealed in "Way of Eternity," a documentary photo exhibit by San Francisco Academy of Art College MFA candidate Young-Soo Ryu. For the last two years, Ryu has followed Woo around town, capturing him on film as he goes about teaching Korean to Korean-Americans; conducting a weekly Buddhist ceremony at Bo Rim Sa, San Francisco's first Korean Buddhist temple; and visiting temple members at home. What does a spiritual leader do all day? Find out when the exhibit opens at the Korean-American Community Center, 745 Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-1346.

december 3
Seeing Stars Writer Wallace Stegner invested much of his work, and his life, in the preservation of the environment. Another fairly well-known environmentalist, actor/director Robert Redford, narrates and will introduce live and in person the documentary Wallace Stegner: A Writer's Life, a portrait of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author produced in the last four years of his life and augmented by newsreel footage from the '30s and '40s. Tickets are supposed to be sold out, but City Arts & Lectures has indicated that more may become available the day of the show. The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $20 ($175 for post-show reception with Redford); call 392-4400.

Riveting Rhythm Tap Dogs may genuinely want to reinvent tap for the '90s, but it's hardly surprising that many viewers are greeting the high-concept show with breathless, giggly exclamations of "Hunky!" or worse. (Scratch that -- there is nothing worse.) The six Australian dancers, all men, do construction work as they tap, building a set from steel and wood and knocking out rhythms with it and on it. Rock and industrial elements meet in this Stomp-like production, in which perfectly adept tapping may be overshadowed by the novelty factor of young guns dancing in snug Levi's. Tap Dance Kid star Savion Glover ought to confer with these boys about the future of the form. Tap Dogs opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Dec. 15) at the Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market, S.F. Admission is $15-38; call 474-3800.

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