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.
Get Smart Traffic jams be damned: The California Academy of Sciences is offering a post-work downtown lecture series on the ethics and practice of natural science. It begins with Dr. Harry Green's presentation "The Secret Life of Rattlesnakes," a look at blacktailed rattler behavior, based on Green's own research. The series continues with "Creation/Evolution/Religion/Science," Dr. Eugenie Scott's discussion of the heated, long-standing scholastic debate (March 14); "Amber Up Close," Dr. George Poinar's overview of the origin, discovery, and uses of the resin, in conjunction with the Academy's amber exhibit (March 28); and "The Ecology of the Hawaiian Islands," Dr. Peter Vitousek's lecture on the effects of volcanic activity on that area's ecosystems (April 4). All talks begin at 5:45 p.m. at the SFSU Downtown Extension Center, 425 Market, S.F. Admission is $10-12 for each lecture, $35-40 for the whole series; call 750-7100.
Celt of Personality Folk accordionist Sharon Shannon, a former member of the Waterboys and a sometime collaborator with U2's Adam Clayton, is principal among many musical attractions at the Sixth San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival, billed as the largest festival of its kind outside Ireland. In addition to two days' worth of music, the fest also includes workshops and master classes on Celtic music and dance, artisans and vendors, and the Historical Research Center, which helps festivalgoers of Celtic descent trace their genealogy through computer printouts showing a family's history and crest. The first day, which coincides with International Women's Day, includes performances by Shannon, Scottish folk duo the Wrigley Twins, and Canadian Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond (For a complete listing of International Women's Day events, see Page 28). Accordionist Joe Burke, fiddler Martin Hayes, the Kennelly Dancers, traditional music sextet Dervish, and Begley & Cooney (whose way with traditional Celtic music has earned them the moniker "the Irish Guns N' Roses") perform tomorrow. It all begins at noon (also Sunday) at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is free-$20; call 392-4400.
Girl Talk Whether biology is or isn't destiny, a woman's bodily functions still are influenced to varying degrees by perceptions of her social function. With that in mind, the film program "Woman/Body/Function" explores the cultural and political implications of women's physical experiences over time, from Period Piece, a documentary about menstruation in which Jay Rosenblatt and Jennifer Frame weave together '50s health films and mother-daughter interviews, to Cathy Cook's The Match That Started My Fire, a comedy about women's sexual experiences told through candid stories, to Wendy Levy's recent Sundance entry "swim, swim ...": Talking to Sperm and Other Desperate Acts, a short film on infertility and donor insemination. The screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Admission is $7; call 558-8129.
From the Ashes The Loma Prieta earthquake wasn't enough to ruin the Ebony Museum, although it did cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage; it was a chimney fire a year later that caused the most harm to the historic building and the collection of African and African-American pieces stored within. Although a second site opened at Jack London Village in 1991, six months after the fire, the museum has now returned to its original three-story Victorian home. As part of the rededication, an exhibit dedicated to the late abstract painter Elaine S. Crossley will present work by six California artists, including museum founder Aissatoui Ayola Vernita's Chittlin' Suite. Masks, beaded figures, statues, and other art and artifacts from Mali, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Senegal will also be shown as part of the Ebony Museum's permanent collection. It reopens at 2 p.m. at 1034 14th St., Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 763-0745.
Banding Together Dance defies physics at a benefit for aerial and rock-climbing dance company Project Bandaloop, who perform alongside such adventuresome peers as the Fellow Travelers Performance Group, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Scott Wells, Jo Kreiter, and others. If it doesn't bounce off the walls, fly through the air, or vault off someone's back, you're in the wrong building. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 621-7797.
Attack of the Lard-Eating Robot With carnitas, tamales, menudo, and other fatty food staples of his childhood in mind, artist Chico MacMurtrie examines the relationships among Chicano cultural identity, body, and mind with his robotics installation "Growing Into Your Cultural Skin." A highlight of the exhibit is a robotic figure -- made of metal, latex, and wood -- eating lard out of a bucket; as Mayan-style images projected onto a nearby wall reflect the robot's thoughts, the robot's skin begins to expand and threatens to explode unless something gives. (Kids: Try it at home!) The exhibit, the first of its kind at the gallery, opens at noon (and runs through April 26) at Galeria de la Raza/Studio 24, 2857 24th St., S.F. Admission is free; call 826-8009.