You Must Remember This What did you do for Memorial Day weekend last year? Do you remember? The interactive exhibit "Memory" uses hands-on activities, films, and displays that tap all your senses and help explain why you can or can't recall. On the clinical end, teen-age "explainers" will dissect sheep's brains and compare them to human brains, while amateur biologists of all ages will learn more about the function of brain nerve cells by electronically firing a sea slug's brain cell and watching the subsequent changes. A jelly-bean tasting station tests how many flavors people can name, and a "smell memory" station illustrates the powerful pull of the olfactory with common childhood aromas. Activities like "Hoop Nightmares," in which a pair of prism glasses interferes with the physical memory of how to play basketball, prompt questions about how we learn and retain information. If you remember what you see at the exhibit, you'll leave knowing why you can recall songs and arguments but not phone numbers and what parts of the brain control explicit and implicit memory. Opening weekend features screenings of Dreaming Rivers (2 p.m. Sunday) and Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (2 p.m. Monday). The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and runs through Jan. 10, 1999) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is free-$9; call 563-7337.
Water World The blazing oranges and fiery reds typical of Carnaval's brilliant plumage may shift to cooler hues this year in accordance with the theme, "Creatures of the Sea." One of the year's most visually arresting parades morphs into a seaside fantasy land replete with elaborate floats and the requisite samba dancers and musicians; entertainers scheduled to play the pre-parade festival include Brazilian funk band Nobody From Ipanema, Afro-pop highlife band the African Rhythm Messengers, and salsa band Mazacote. The festival begins at 11 a.m. today (also Sunday) on Harrison between 16th and 22nd streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 826-1401. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Sunday and runs down 24th Street from Bryant to Mission, then down Mission to 14th Street and 14th to Harrison. Also free; call (510) 762-2277 for bleacher seat tickets.
Sunday Shuffle On Nov. 7, 1989, President George Bush signed into law a U.S. joint resolution declaring May 25 National Tap Dance Day, after Sen. Alfonse D'Amato helped shepherd the paperwork through the legislative process. The resolution recognizes the confluence of African and European cultures that produced the modern form, and rightly acknowledges its importance to the union ("Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression for Americans on both the professional and amateur levels"). National Tap Dance Day is officially observed May 25 in honor of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's birthday, but since Memorial Day also falls on May 25 this year, local hoofers have moved their concert up to avoid scheduling conflicts. Dorothy Toy, of famed tap twosome Toy and Wing, will accept a lifetime achievement award, and Sam Weber heads up the list of local tap dancers slated to perform. Viewers who bring their own tap shoes are invited to come up onstage for a shim-sham finale, and proceeds from the show, including donations of tap shoes, benefit the Community Rhythms Scholarship Fund. The show begins at 2 p.m. at the McKenna Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Avenue), SFSU campus. Admission is $10-15; call 338-2467.
Burn, Baby, Burn Carefully scripted pyromania doesn't come cheap, so to help defray the costs of the imminent Burning Man, the Purple Freaks camp is throwing the "Purple Paradise" benefit. The Burning Man Drummers Collective and the Firedance Ensemble will perform, along with local bands Tinkertown and Thoth, which features one loincloth-wearing, violin-playing BART station entertainer. The host venue will be transformed into a kind of mini-Black Rock City, minus the blazing heat and sandy grit in the eyes, with body painting and tarot card reading rooms, and dance floors where DJs CB, Kylen, Keith O'Reilly, and Polywog (back from her stint with the Jane's Addiction tour) take their turns at the turntables. The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Paradise Lounge and Transmission Theater, 308-314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15; call (510) 610-TWEB.
Wouldn't You Love to Love Her? While some people are out commemorating casualties of war, certain other people will be inside celebrating the birthday of Stevie Nicks at the third annual Belladonna Ball, a night of DJ'd music, "Stevie-oke," and a prize raffle featuring rare Stevie merchandise and perhaps that new 3-CD box set. The Fleetwood Mac diva was born in 1948 in Phoenix and studied speech communication at San Jose State, but Nicks nuts already know that; the real die-hards will also be able to answer questions like "Is Stevie really a witch?" (A. No); and "Did Stevie ever have a drug problem?" (A. Yes. She spent a month at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to treat her decadelong coke habit). The celebration, a timely kickoff to the summer solo tour dates Nicks recently announced on VH1, begins at 9 p.m. at the CoCo Club, 139 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $5; call 626-2337.