What's Love Got to Do With It?

Valentine's Day Amusements

In an age when television networks attempt to play both matchmaker and relationship counselor with "reality" shows, it's no wonder that cynics like myself feel obligated to pooh-pooh romantic love. Isn't love just some societal standard constructed to endorse monogamy, to provide guilt-ridden prudes with an excuse for having sex, more survival-of-the-species hype? Forget sentimentality; let's talk biology here. Those feelings of spiritual connection, intense arousal, and psychological affinity are just dirty tricks our brains play on us by firing neurons in strange patterns. Or, to put it in Wayne's World terminology, they're physical urges that make us go "schwing."

For some concrete proof that monogamy is for the birds -- or, more specifically, the cranes -- don't miss the S.F. Zoo's Valentine's Day Sex Tour, a guided train ride of animal mating hot spots. Much more effective than your typical birds-and-bees lecture, the journey offers those seeking tips on animal magnetism 90 minutes of beastly facts -- for example, lions like to get it on 50 times a day -- followed by champagne and truffles. Tours begin Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The afternoon version concludes with a special "Patagonian Passion" reception with live Argentine music and tango dancing. The tours continue Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18, at the San Francisco Zoo, 1 Zoo Road (at Sloat), S.F. Tickets are $50, or $100 for the special reception; call 753-7165. Reservations required.

Rumi, Poet of the Heart, Haydn Reiss' documentary about the 13th-century Sufi scholar and mystic, provides a little insight into human mating rituals. Narrated by Debra Winger and featuring interviews with Coleman Barks, the principal translator of Rumi, poet Robert Bly, and author Deepak Chopra, Rumi explores the poet's continuing popularity in the West -- he remains the best-selling poet in America today -- and examines why his timeless poems seem to transcend boundaries of culture, religion, and language. Screenings are Wednesday at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker, at the Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St. (at A Street), San Rafael. Admission is $4.75-7.50; call 454-1222.

All of you out there with personal ads on Craigslist (come on, admit it), here's your chance to meet your e-mail admirers at the My Craigslist Valentineparty. In addition to free desserts and a chance to meet Craig Newmark in the flesh, the event is hosted by a dominatrix who can dispense a little tough love, if that's what you're into. The party begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. and lasts until midnight at Big Heart City, 836 Mission (at Fourth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 566-6394.

We all know love hurts -- especially those who try that tough love option -- but it doesn't have to be so bad, particularly if the one you love is yourself. That's the message at 2001: Love Odyssey, a celebration of self-love hosted by spoken-word diva Aya de León. After an evening with special guests like wordsmith Paul Flores and songstress Kimiko Joy, you'll be brimming with Stuart Smalley-style "Daily Affirmations." The show begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck (at Woolsey), Berkeley. Admission is $5-10 sliding scale; call (510) 849-2568.

 
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