It's the Bon Lost love and the dearly departed make a comeback this weekend at the Bon Odori and Tanabata festivals. Japanese Buddhist families have welcomed the spirits of their dead ancestors for over a thousand years with Bon Odori, variously known as the Festival of Souls, celebrated in parts of Japan by lighting candles and sending them afloat in little boats, like the way Day of the Dead is celebrated in parts of Mexico. The Japantown celebration lacks boats, but it will have the Bon Dance, led by women and girls in yukata (bright cotton kimonos) and traditional silk kimonos, and men and boys in yukata or happi coats. Fans and scarves will be dispensed, and the public will be invited to follow along with the dancers, who will perform simple line and circle dances with lyrical gestures. Tanabata, which marks the annual reunion of heavenly lovers Shokujo (Vega) and Kengyu (Altair), may appeal to astronomy buffs. Myth has it that Shokujo, the Princess Weaver Star, and Kengyu, the Cowherd Star, were separated by the king of the heavens after they fell so deeply in love that they neglected their duties. They're supposed to be reunited once a year, visible in what astronomers call the summer triangle. Japantown will be decorated with bamboo branches hung with short romantic poems and good wishes and dramatic large ornaments with colored streamers in the lovers' honor. Dancing begins at 3:30 p.m. (also Sunday) at the Japan Center Peace Plaza, Post & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 202-0353.
July 19 Tread Marks The excitement that bubbled up over protease inhibitors at the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver two years ago evaporated some at this year's conference in Geneva, as doctors noted staggering international rates of infection and the limited access millions of people have to the expensive drugs, as well as new studies indicating that some patients aren't responding to treatment. The end of the conference happens to segue into the beginning of the 12th annual AIDS Walk San Francisco, which will benefit local service groups that focus on all aspects of AIDS, from prevention to expanded access to drugs and housing. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson (of Ally McBeal and ER) is among the celebrity guests who'll greet walkers at an opening ceremony, and a concert with Me Jane and Alphabet Soup follows the 10K course. Walkers can register in teams or individually, and volunteers are still needed to help set up the park and run the event. The walk begins at 9 a.m. at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free with pledges; call 392-WALK.
Space Cowboys Like the Cramps used to, Portuguese psychobilly band The Tedio-Boys sound more than a little unhinged, as if they spent too many late nights drinking cactus juice and eating lunch meat, and bathing in the pale glow of TV zombie movies. Their first U.S. release Outer Space Shit veers wildly from twangy cowboy swing, heavy on barroom piano and harmonica, to spooky surf layered thick with reverb. Lyrics and surfin' bird stutters are delivered in English, with Portuguese-accented Southern drawls and exuberant whoops. San Diego's Barnyard Ballers, who run with Deadbolt, join the Tedio-Boys for a late-afternoon hoedown; Misfits tribute band Plan 9 open the show at 4 p.m. at the Covered Wagon, 917 Folsom (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 974-1585.
High Spirits As long as it contains the sponsor's vodka, any beverage concocted by the 18 competing bartenders during the cocktail contest The Sky's the Limit is fair game. A panel of judges will choose the winning libation based on presentation, creativity, and taste, but guests get to sample drinks and vote for their favorites, too. The winning cocktail (smart money says it'll be some variation on the martini) will be dubbed SkyyDeck; party proceeds benefit the Little Jim Club, which supports pediatric and neonatal programs at the California Pacific Medical Center. Inebriated guests can snack on finger foods and enter a prize giveaway while they watch local mixmasters from hip joints like Aqua and Backflip work their magic. Winning bartenders will be treated to hot air balloon rides and trips to Vegas. The event begins at 5 p.m. at Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar, Promenade Level, 3 Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is $25; call (888) 737-5933.
Stuff, Stuff, Stuff Self-proclaimed "collectologist" Mark Sloan, a curator at North Carolina's mobile Meta Museum, walks the line between connoisseurism and pack rat-ism in his slide and video presentation "Obsessive Collections." Sloan focuses on people whose hobbies have evolved into all-consuming passions, and whose collections fall outside of the snow globe- and shot glass-souvenir mainstream. The collectors Sloan has collected include Unknown Museum curator Mickey McGowan, who specializes in TV culture paraphernalia ranging from lunch pails to Mr. Potato Heads and plastic Godzillas. (He stocks the museum's boys' and girls' rooms with toy tanks and bridal magazines, respectively.) Sloan also introduces viewers to Jeff Reed, a Southern hat collector who plans to open a hat museum, and Caryl Burtner, whose lipstick blot collection -- labeled with the date, lipstick color, who wore it, and on what occasion -- borders on excessive. The presentation is held in conjunction with the exhibit "Photo Backdrops: The George C. Berticevich Collection," an extensive compilation of those scenic and often cheesy studio backdrops that make family portraits so memorable. The presentation begins at 7 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 978-