What could be better than a childhood dream come true? Plenty of popular movies -- including the Harry Potter and Spy Kids franchises -- are based on the premise. That's all well and good, but the Robot Fighting League 2004 National Championships (which seem an idea too good to have come from a grown-up's brain) will actually happen in the real world, with no special effects or computer animation. The event features serious mechanical expertise and an adult level of attention to safety, but other than that, it's just an 8-year-old's fantasy come to life.
From miniature-yet-deadly ant-weight fighters to the "awesome bot-shredding power" of the 340-pound super heavyweight mechanisms, it's all designed to make children very, very happy. Naturally, some of us adults never matured properly and don't want to, so we'll be there rooting for our favorites from the ROBOlympics, too. Taking it over the top is something organizers call a "special bulletproof robot fighting arena." If that didn't start out as a secret plan scrawled on someone's second-grade notebook, nothing did. The robots begin duking it out at noon both days in Fort Mason Center's Herbst Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$20; call 297-2789 or visit http://combots.net. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Freak Show Maddin's oddball oeuvre
David Lynch only wishes he could be as counterculture cool as Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, the subject of a major retrospective this month at the Pacific Film Archive called "Fiercely Primitive." Screenings include Maddin's latest, the autobiographical Cowards Bend the Knee, and last year's somber/silly The Saddest Music in the World. The Archive also nabs Maddin's favorite flicks for its Wednesday "Director's Choice" nights, at which the auteur demonstrates his love of classic cinema with selections by late, great directors like Tod Browning.
Tonight things get off to a rousing start with Maddin's screwball cult fave about odd goings-on in a turn-of-the-century institution. Tales From the Gimli Hospital begins at 7 with an introduction from the director himself at the PFA, 2575 Bancroft (at Bowditch), Berkeley. Admission is $8; call (510) 642-1124 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu for a complete schedule of screenings. "Fiercely Primitive" continues through Oct. 31. -- Joyce Slaton
Grab Bag Grope for bargains
If you're one of those people who think it's a damn shame that Halloween comes but once a year, make time this weekend to paw through the fabulous bins at the Sister Sindy Vine Memorial Pink Elephant Sale for boas, great drag outfits, sequined shmattes, and other finds. The fund-raiser's being put on by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for the late Sister Sindy Vine, aka Tommy Kohl, who became a "nun of the above" when she passed away in August. Uncover steals and deals starting at 10 a.m. at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, 4235 19th St. (at Collingwood), S.F. Admission is $3; booths cost $30-50 but are rented free to nonprofit organizations. For more info, visit www.thesisters.org. -- Gretchen Lee
You wouldn't want to take Grandma to the Power Exchange (unless she's a really unusual grandma), but how do you pick which city excursions fit your visitors' interests? Bonnie Wach, SF Weekly columnist and author of San Francisco as You Like It, spills the beans on customized tours for everyone from elderly relatives to wild bohemians at 7 p.m. at Get Lost Travel Books, 1825 Market (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 437-0529 or visit www.getlostbooks.com. -- Joyce Slaton