The Importance of Being Oscar "Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself." Oscar Wilde said it and American Conservatory Theater veteran Ken Ruta adopts it in the one-man show Oscar Wilde: Diversions & Delights, where he holds forth as the Irish scribe. Diversions playwright John Gay sets Wilde's story in Paris, where the author of Salome, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Picture of Dorian Gray lived in exile following his imprisonment for committing "acts of gross indecency with other male persons." Gay must have had a fairly easy time of it; Wilde, in addition to his genius for literature, was an animated storyteller, an incisive social critic, and a devastating wit, leaving actors and playwrights a wealth of material to work with. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 29) at the Stage Door Theater, 420 Mason, S.F. Admission is $18-30; call 788-9453.
Going Mental Insanity pops up in Dan Carbone's puppet piece Their Be Monsters!, in Nena St. Louis' solo performance Do You Want to Buy My Brain?, and in Mark Kenward's historically based whaling tale The Wreck of the Essex. At "The Feast of St. Dymphna," a performance evening dedicated to the Celtic patron saint of the mentally ill -- and the first in an occasional series of themed performance evenings -- these and other works are followed by a free potluck buffet party with door prizes and live music by Running Man. You'd be mad to miss it. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at Shotwell Studios, 3252-A 19th St., S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 386-6292.
Signs of Strain The enemies are much tinier and smarter than most, and the weapons to fight them are still in development, which is why virologist C.J. Peters and his contemporaries have to be even stealthier and more tenacious than a military officer trying to bed an unwilling cadet. Peters, the chief of viral special pathogens at the CDC, directed the unit that circumvented the Ebola virus outbreak in Virginia (inspiring the best-selling novel The Hot Zone), and has done battle with deadly microscopic agents in various parts of Africa, South America, and the United States. Dr. Paul Volberding of UCSF's Center for AIDS Research interviews Peters onstage at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
Super Mario Indecision didn't affect Mario Cuomo until he reached the high-pressure arena of presidential politics. A son of Italian immigrants and the Depression, Cuomo rocketed to the top of his law school class, and went on to become New York's secretary of state, lieutenant governor, and, ultimately, governor, a post he held through two re-elections and 12 years. But his potential presidential run, which generated a protracted "Will he or won't he?" debate, left him with the reputation for not being able to make up his mind. Cuomo, the author of The New York Idea: An Experiment in Democracy, shares experiences and ideas on politics and community in a benefit talk for the S.F. Jewish Community Center at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake, S.F. Admission is $25-36; call 292-1235.
Silver Scream The Mission is invited to turn out for "Anxiety," a collection of films reflecting, if indirectly, the neighborhood's most recently prevailing mood. The screening begins with event organizer Nathan Lehmann's film Anxiety, which follows one day's emotional ups and downs; Dominic Angerame's In the Course of Human Events, a documentary of the Embarcadero Freeway's demolition, and Danny Plotnick's cartoonish short Pipsqueak Pfollies, a foray into bad behavior and kids' attitude toward adults (set to a live score), are also included on the program. Acoustic jazz ensemble the Sandor Moss Trio plays live at a post-screening reception featuring spirits and snacks from local restaurants, and a post-reception party moves down the block to new Mission nightspot Liquid. "Anxiety" begins at 8 p.m. at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16 St., S.F. Admission is $8; call 554-0406.
A Hundred Years of Sisterhood Incredible as it may seem, the African-American centenarian siblings of Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years were real people; Bessie, a dentist, died in 1995, but her 107-year-old sister, Sadie, a former high school teacher, is still kicking. A play based on their lives and adapted from their best-selling book of the same name takes place over dinner preparations, as the sisters filter post-Civil War American history through the memories of their own experiences, from before Jim Crow through the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. Vinie Burrows is Bessie to Delores Mitchell's Sadie; Roberta Levitow directs. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through July 6) at Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison, Berkeley. Admission is $25-39; call (510) 845-4700.
Treasures Untold Eleven Peruvian cultures live again in "The Spirit of Ancient Peru," a collection of iconic art and artifacts on loan from Lima's Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. Two thousand years' worth of pottery, carvings done in wood, bone, and stone, and silver and gold regalia and ornaments inlaid with shells and semiprecious stones represent Andes-dwelling pre-Inca cultures. Mythological creatures and shamanism, along with scenes from the workaday world, emerge in these works, many of which were found at burial sites. To give viewers a sense of the unforgiving natural conditions people weathered and the belief systems that helped sustain them, the museum augments the exhibit with a virtual reality tour of 14 Peruvian archaeological sites. The exhibit opens at 9:30 a.m. (and is up through Aug. 10) at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 75 Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $2.50 plus the general museum admission fee (free-$6); call 863-3330.
Tales From the Dark Side Cartoonist Robert Crumb's brother Maxon is also an artist; Crumb viewers may remember him as the sibling who lived in a San Francisco residential hotel and spent his days parked on Market Street behind a spare-change cup, or holed up in his room, where he rested on a bed of nails and occupied himself with string. Things have changed somewhat for Maxon since the publication of Maxon's Poe, a collection of his illustrations for seven Poe stories and poems, including "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Raven"; the younger Crumb has found an unqualified match for his eerie pen-and-ink drawings in the late author's Gothic canon. Maxon discusses and signs copies of the book at 2 p.m. at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call CAR-TOON.
Earth Verse! Outgoing U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass enjoys one last ecologically sound hurrah at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, the third installment of a national environmental arts project he initiated. Featured poets Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, and Mary Norbert Korte will take the stage in between performances by Ohlone storytellers and singers and speeches by Bay Area naturalists and activists, while green and literary groups offer exhibits and activities at the "River Village." The event begins at noon at the Band Shell, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 528-5484.
Get the Lead Out New Yorkers Paul Boocock and David Latham, known collectively as full-throttle comic duo Premium Bob, apply old-school vaudevillian physicality to the screaming pace of modern life with a show that traffics in plastic yearnings. The plastic yearning, a shallow desire to look and live like those wholesome J. Crew models, for example, is artificially induced by advertising; just as Seinfeld satirizes overwrought catalog prose with the running J. Peterman gag, Premium Bob feeds all manner of pop culture references into a dizzying onslaught of sloganeering and imagery. Premium Bob performs at 7:30 p.m. (also Sunday) at the Transmission Theater, 314 11th St., S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-6906.
Road Warriors Besides Muni, what could motivate 70,000 people to run 7 1/2 miles together at 8 a.m. on a Sunday? Communal agony and runner's high, soloists and centipede teams in nutty get-ups, cash prizes, and a costume contest all help draw serious athletes and enthusiastic amateurs from as far away as Kenya and Russia to Bay to Breakers, now in its 86th year. Los Lobos fire up finish-line-crossers with energy to burn at post-race party Footstock, held in Golden Gate Park's Polo Field. For those of you about to walk (and run), we who relax with the Sunday paper salute you. The race begins at 8 a.m. at Spear & Howard, S.F. Registration is required ($15-20); call 808-5000, ext. 2222, for information. (Pre-race events include the Omni Healthcare Breakers Expo Friday at 11 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 5 Embarcadero Center, S.F. Admission is free; call 291-0900. A carbo-loading pasta party is held at 5 p.m. Saturday in Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Steuart, S.F. Admission is $9.95; call 788-1234.)
Put the Needle on Record Japan's apocalypse-inspired, animation-driven manga culture finds a local translation in "Cyberslam," an afternoon of wired diversions related to Kenji Yanobe's adjacent sculptural exhibit Survival System Train. Davka Publisher Alan Kaufman curates a poetry slam, Sony Playstation shows off new games, the International Turntable Federation presents a record-scratching competition, and Survival Research Laboratories' Christian Ristow and Chip Flynn throw robots into the mix. "Cyberslam" begins at noon at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 978-ARTS.
Spin Cycle Bike messengers and other local personalities will be modeling this season's aerodynamic threads and brain buckets at the Bicycle Commuter Fashion Show, a midday display of comfortable couture, classic cruisers like a Schwinn trundled out onto the runway by Mayor Brown, and the latest in bikes and equipment. Free refreshments will be served and a limited number of free boxer shorts will be passed out at this precursor to Tuesday's annual California Bike-to-Work Day; organizers hope visions of breezy vogue, coupled with the free Power Bars and beverages at strategically placed "Energizer Stations" on ride day, will prompt more commuters to ditch their cars. The fashion show begins at noon in Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Steuart, S.F. Admission is free; call 861-7665 for information on the show or group bike commutes.
Food Float Following the Bay Area's authoritative showing at New York's James Beard Foundation awards, local chefs lend their talents to "Taste of the Nation," a fund-raiser organized by national anti-hunger group Share Our Strength, which doles out all the event's proceeds to the San Francisco Food Bank, California Food Policy Advocates, and other local agencies. From Aqua to YoYo Bistro, restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and breweries will offer tastings throughout an evening that also includes a silent auction and raffle. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the docked Hornblower Dining Yacht, Pier 33, S.F. Admission is $85; call 495-2331.