Telling Tales The Canadian landscape is as much a character in Margaret Atwood's books as any of their characters; it's slipped into her story collections Wilderness Tips and Good Bones and her essays on the changes in her country's composition. But Atwood's status as a social historian has been overshadowed in the States by her reputation as a feminist writer, due to her gripping, Brave New World-ish novel The Handmaid's Tale, the story of religious fanatics bent on creating a "pure" race, which was made into a feature film in 1990. Atwood, a thoughtful speaker and a prolific author with over 30 volumes of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction to her credit, discusses her work at a benefit for the Women's Foundation, a funding program for low-income women and girls in Northern California, at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
Max Attack Sixties kids may find themselves quite at home with painter Peter Max's work, since his style, a kind of whimsical, psychedelic art nouveau done in rainbow hues, made its way into all kinds of public art -- recycling PSAs, music posters, postage stamps, fabric prints -- during that era, and was credited for inspiring the Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine and generating plenty of groovy-looking knockoffs. Critics came to call his style "neo-fauvist" for its echoes of Matisse's vivid palette. Max did a solo show at the de Young in 1970, and painted in the intervening years a number of environmental- and political-cause posters, major magazine covers, and portraits of celebrities and heads of state, including the installation 100 Clintons for the president's inauguration, but in case viewers missed all that, Max's work will be shown at another local solo show (through March 31) at Dyansen Galleries, 799 Beach, S.F. Admission is free; call 388-8009.
Yo, Mark Music is the muse for choreographer Mark Morris, whose early folk dance training continues to unfurl in a fleet-footed kaleidoscope of motion. His lyrical repertoire includes collaborations with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on L'Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and composer Lou Harrison, whose score Morris used for Pacific, part of this weekend's San Francisco Ballet program. The Mark Morris Dance Group, including the shaggy-headed boy wonder himself, will be joined onstage by Morris' most recent collaborator, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, for Falling Down Stairs (costumes by Unzipped's Isaac Mizrahi) and the world premiere of Rhymes With Silver, set to a score by Harrison. Morris' two-week Berkeley residency is broken into two weekends of programs: The first (March 6-8) features the aforementioned pieces plus The Office; the second (March 13-15) features Gloria, Mosaic and United, and others. Week 1 opens tonight at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $32-68; call (510) 642-9988.
Bloody Good Show Inspired by Frederico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding and Monzaemon Chikamatsu's Love Suicides at Sonezaki, Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei's Blood Wine, Blood Wedding is an arranged marriage between flamenco and kabuki traditions. Worlds collide in this imaginary encounter between Lorca's and Chikamatsu's ghosts, who retell their tales in Depression-era Central California. Japanese actor Kyozo Nakamura, a specialist in Onnagata (female role) acting, plays the part of the bride and the ghost of the bride's mother, while flamenco dancer La Tania switches over to play Leonardo, the lover; they'll be joined by eight additional players. Flamenco guitarist Chuscales, futozao shamisen (three-stringed guitar) player Yumiko Tanaka, shakuhachi flutist Masayuki Koga, and shadow puppetry by ShadowLight Productions provide live accompaniment. Theater of Yugen's staging of Blood Wine previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 16) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $15-30; call 392-4400.
Cry Uncle Just when Bob is ready to settle into the business of dying alone, along comes his off-kilter nephew Josh, who simply won't give him the pleasure, in Austin Pendleton's Uncle Bob. Obie Award-winning actor and ACT veteran Gerald Hiken is Bob and former Aurora Theater Company player Kieron Edwards is Josh, the nephew Bob engages in a vicious battle of wits that only temporarily prevents them from admitting an affection for one another. The show opens with a preview at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through March 29) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 826-5750.
Candid Camera Folks have been known to dumpster-dive outside of photo-processing shops to find the kind of work hanging in the exhibit "Secret Histories: An Exhibit of Anonymous Photographic Images." Once a snapshot is removed from the personal context of a photo album and placed, without the benefit of an explanation, alongside unrelated snapshots in the hushed environs of a gallery, one person's family portrait or private moment can become someone else's epiphany, or narrative, or cheap entertainment. The subjects may even be people we know. The exhibit opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and is up through April 18) at Photo Metro Gallery, 17 Tehama, S.F. Admission is free; call 243-9917.
Risky Business If Little Red Riding Hood is playing with Bad Lieutenant, this must be the Enter at Your Own Risk Film Series, organized by independent curator Keith Arnold. The series, subtitled "multiple mires, morals, and meaning," gets right to work on viewers' psyches with David Kaplan's 1997 Sundance entry Hood, a stylish, scary short film for grown-ups, starring Christina Ricci and featuring a wolf seduction scene. Harvey Keitel makes the dramatic progression from pesky detective in Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession to corrupt cop in Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, a cult film with the dubious distinction of having turned even the strongest of stomachs; short film Leash Men breaks up the action with slow-motion found footage. The series continues next weekend with a new print of Michelangelo Antonioni's visually arresting 1966 thriller Blowup, showing with Displaced Person and Reverberation. Screenings begin tonight at 7 p.m. with Little Red Riding Hood and Bad Timing, and at 9:30 p.m. with Leash Men and Bad Lieutenant (also Saturday and Sunday) at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., S.F. Admission is $8 for a double feature; call (510) 528-2117.