Sound and Vision Paintings jump and dancers pause at "Improvisation and Tantra," a butoh, poetry, music, and painting jam in a South of Market warehouse. DJ Cheb i Sabbah creates a global soundscape of music from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as Tibetan Buddhist Lama Ngakpa Chsgyam Rinpoche offers poetry and "hidden words." Norton Wisdom, an artist who left the solitude of studios after painting on the Berlin Wall by the light of East German machine gun towers, paints live, as he's done with Cirque du Soleil and the Balinese National Bamboo Orchestra, while butoh dance master Oguri carves shapes into space and drummer Hamid Drake (of Multi Kulti fame), woodwind player Ralph Jones, and guitarist Federico Ramos get a groove going. The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Crucible Steel Gallery, 2050 Bryant, S.F. Admission is $15; call 789-8079.
Cutting Edge The pace of ER keeps viewers anxious every week, but at this year's Edge Festival, Joanne Nerenberg's GravyTrain Dance Performance Troupe takes some of the edge off with Soft Tissue, a spoof of the emotionally and physically demanding qualities that make medical dramas so popular. Nerenberg and Deke Weaver, who reprises his collection of solo stage and video vignettes on relationships, Girlfriend, are the first performers in a four-week festival that also features dance company Robert Moses' Kin with vocal ensemble SoVoSo, contact improv/commedia dell'arte ensembles Marijoh Danztheater and Force of Flight, and performance artist Tim Miller in Carnal Garage. Performances are split between ODC Performance Gallery and Dancer's Group Studio Theater. The fest's first installment begins at 8 p.m. at Dancer's Group Studio Theater, 3221 22nd St., S.F. Admission is $10; call 824-5044 for a complete schedule.
I'm Too Sexy for My Wet Suit See if Gaultier doesn't try to steal this idea three months from now: In the weekly fashion show "Second Skin: The Latest and Greatest in Protective Clothing," professional models will strut down the catwalk dressed in funky yet functional couture items like "bunny suits," which protect the wearer from contaminated blood spills and toxic waste dumps, and bulletproof vests made from the synthetic fiber Kevlar, which will supposedly stop any bullet short of a 44 Magnum. Emcee Ellen Chang will provide alternately amusing and sobering commentary on the useful properties of the garments and the evolving technology that produced them even as it created a need for them. The show runs at 2 p.m. Saturdays (through May 4) under the skylights at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is free after museum admission (free-$9); call 563-7337.
Get an Earful Kids aren't the only ones who yearn to hear a good yarn, which is why storyteller Rafe Martin, a veteran of the National Storytelling Festival, opens his sessions to listeners of all ages. The author of The Hungry Tigress, Will's Mammoth, and The Monkey Bridge will tell some of his own tales as well as Native American and Buddhist jataka tales at an hour-and-a-half program beginning at 3 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley. Admission is $5-10; call (510) 433-9928.
Of Machinations and Men The genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia gives Christopher Browning's theory on the Holocaust a certain contemporary credence. Browning, an American historian and the author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, tells the history of an inexperienced, middle-aged police unit charged with killing over 30,000 Jews and deporting thousands more, though their commanding officer gave them the option to excuse themselves from the task. Few did, and in his lecture "Ordinary Germans or Ordinary Men? Explaining Holocaust Perpetrators and the Goldhagen Controversy," Browning will argue that conformism, aggravated by wartime fear and the concurrent apathy brought on by sheer repetition, led to the killings; the title refers to the contention of historian Daniel Goldhagen that a virulent, long-standing anti-Semitism particular to Germany created the Holocaust. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake, S.F. Admission is free; call 751-6040.
That's Absurd! If real life isn't ridiculous enough for you, Exit Theater's "Dueling Absurdists Tuesdays" might be. The series begins with two shows running in repertory: "Babes in Beckett," a trio of Samuel Beckett pieces -- Come & Go, Footfalls, and Rockabye -- in which lonely women figure prominently, and Eugene Ionesco's The Painting, a farce about the subjective nature of beauty and art. "Beckett" opens at 7 p.m. at Exit Theater; The Painting opens at 7 p.m. at Exit Stage Left, both at 156 Eddy, S.F. Admission is $8 each (both shows run through April 8); call 673-3847.
Women, Work, and All That Jazz In Selbe, One Among Many, Senegal's first black woman film director, Safi Faye, offers a look at West African women's daily lives, while the Tanzanian film These Hands goes a step further, documenting low-paid women's labor as framed by international economics. They inaugurate Reel Women's "Women Making Movies" March series, which continues with Sambizanga, set just prior to Angola's unsuccessful 1961 uprising against Portuguese colonists in which a young woman searches for her jailed husband (March 11); Passion of Remembrance, a look at race, sex, and class biases among black English youth during the Thatcher era, with The Stronger, an adaptation of the August Strindberg play (March 18); and International Sweethearts of Rhythm and Tiny and Ruby: Hell-Divin' Women, two films about the '40s-era multiracial all-women's jazz band, with the documentary A Great Day in Harlem (March 25). Screenings are at 6:15 and 8:30 p.m. at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., S.F. Admission is $5; call 626-2169.