Fookin' Grrreat, Man! Scotland's national poet, a famously hard-drinking philanderer and the son of a struggling tenant farmer, gets his due at Burns Night '99, a boisterous annual birthday party. Robert "Rabbie" Burns, himself a failed farmer but successful scribe, won the affection of his countrymen and the rest of the reading world for poems and songs that speak eloquently of hardscrabble living, natural beauty, love, and trouble. Beginning with Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, Burns' works celebrate local color ("Tam O'Shanter," "Auld Lang Syne," "Address to a Haggis") along with more universal themes ("My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose"). Bagpiper Harold Wilkes plays the party, where Burns' poems will be read, his songs performed, and a haggis presented with a great flourish. It all begins at 8 p.m. at the Edinburgh Castle Pub, 950 Geary (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $5; call 885-4074.
Ire Britain recently launched its second inquiry into the events of Jan. 30, 1972, the day a nonviolent civil rights march in Northern Ireland's Derry ended in chaos as British paratroopers opened fire on the participants, killing 13. In the aftermath of the shooting, which came to be known as "Bloody Sunday," family photos were culled for the newspapers. Trisha Ziff, a former Derry resident, has curated those photos, along with the victims' personal possessions and shots of the conflict itself, taken by Gilles Peress and other international photographers who happened to be in a bad place at a good time that day. The result is a touring exhibit called "Hidden Truths: Bloody Sunday 1972," which runs locally through March 21 and features related events like a panel discussion Feb. 20, a performance of the play Just Another Sunday March 11-13, and a reading March 20. Kevin Conmy, consul general of Ireland, and Sinn Fein representative Rita O'Hare are among the guests slated to attend the exhibit's opening reception at 4 p.m. at Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 820-3207.
This Is Not a Love Song Punk's not dead, but since Johnny Rotten turns 43 this week, we can safely say that it's getting closer. At the "Ballroom Blitz Johnny Rotten Birthday Party," DJs Shindog and Damon will be spinning the Sex Pistols and PiL, taking us back to that long-ago time when Sid was still alive and the boys were sneering at royalty and stomping on Bambi. Rotten, ne Lydon, did it his way all right, abetted by consummate PR man Malcolm McClaren and outre garb from his Sex shop. Speaking of which, "Ballroom Blitz" will be giving away punk prizes (a kick in the teeth, perhaps?) to the best outfits and hairdos, so fans will want to dig out those plaid pants and start ratting, bleaching, liberty spiking, and otherwise damaging what's left of their tresses. The party begins at 9 p.m. at the CW Saloon, 911 Folsom (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $4-6; call 339-8350.
On Fire That ring of authenticity in the characters playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith portrays comes from her unusual methodology: Smith tape-records interviews, then re-enacts those sessions verbatim, paying special attention to how people move and sound as well as what they say. A cacophony of voices emerged in her one-woman show Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities, in which Smith adopted the accents and postures of rioters, social commentators, community leaders, and relatives of the victims in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after racially motivated riots broke out between blacks and Hasidic Jews in 1991. She used the same painstaking approach for another portrait of racial tension in America, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, which dug deep into the experiences of blacks, whites, and Korean-Americans around the time of the Rodney King riots. Her most recent work, House Arrest, deals with national identity as reflected in presidential leadership -- it debuted last year at D.C.'s Arena Theater. Smith returns with a new lecture, "Snapshots: Glimpses of America in Change," which begins at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $17; call 392-4400.
Walden Out West From Vietnam to Newt Gingrich, political cartoonist Garry Trudeau has turned the unbearable into funny-pages material with Doonesbury. More political than daily strips, more narrative-driven than political cartoons, and too contentious for some editors' liking, Doonesbury has become a genre unto itself, where political leaders are lampooned with graphic icons (remember the beatbox for "Rapmaster Ronnie" Reagan?) and stock characters Mike, Zonker, and Duke have actually aged since their football-playing days at Walden, a fictitious Ivy League school reflecting Trudeau's alma mater, Yale. While other strips have made passing references to political and social issues, Doonesbury characters, though mostly left-leaning, have had actual dust-ups over feminism, welfare reform, gay rights, and the tobacco lobby. (It's vaguely ironic that Trudeau, who hammered on affirmative action in a series of strips about a college reunion, is speaking at the college where the debate has been most heated.) Doonesbury is the first comic strip to earn a Pulitzer and one of the few to have been rendered as a Broadway musical. Trudeau speaks at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is $8-16; call (510) 642-9988.