Art that attempts to give animals a voice is a noble endeavor, but these misshapen critters look like a Disney-loving kid's worst nightmares. "Why Not Eat Your Pet" is a series of exhibitions by artist Gale Hart, who clearly isn't interested in pandering to the warm fuzzies our lovable four-legged friends provide. Her works go beyond preaching the virtues of vegetarianism; she also investigates animal testing and the physiology of suffering. Through drawings, found objects, and cast resin sculptures, Hart offers a circus of images -- including Marvin the Martian poised to blow out Winnie the Pooh's brains with a shotgun and pigs with the heads of human babies -- that uncovers the barbarism lurking beneath our culture's innocuous portrayal of animals. Her darkly absurd parodies of anthropomorphized icons like Mickey Mouse reveal the hypocrisy inherent in finding amusement in fake talking mice while inflicting cruelty on the real ones that can't save themselves with a little song and dance. The show's opening reception takes place on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Varnish Fine Art Gallery, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 222-6131 or visit www.whynoteatyourpet.com.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
Proving election fraud
Did the right steal the 2004 presidential election? Of course they did; it's all there in the title of Mark Crispin Miller's book Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them). The name reads like a soundbite (albeit a long one), but readers who tackle the 364-page tome will be stunned by a blizzard of information supporting the thesis. Miller presents thousands of meticulously footnoted quotes highlighting the hundreds of cases of Republican chicanery, from messing with voting machines to strong-arming voters (most of which the media ignored after Kerry conceded; apparently reportage halts when both sides agree). You may feel bludgeoned by the facts, but Miller is clearly trying to make the book spin-proof; you can gauge his success by not only who reads it, but also who ignores it. Miller appears at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
Run, Barbara, Run
A good Time for a thriller
A Time to Run is a new novel, a political thriller whose protagonist is an outspoken left-wing legislator from California who's wonky, but also sexy in her way. Sound familiar? It should, since so many of you voted for the author, Sen. Barbara Boxer. The book follows the heroine (suspiciously similar to her creator) as she takes on the uncertainties of romance as well as the tangled web of national politics.
Boxer appears on the West Coast Live radio show with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, authors Lisa Randall and Kim Addonizio, musician Mike Greensill, and host Sedge Thomson at 10 a.m. at the Freight & Salvage, 1111 Addison (at San Pablo), Berkeley. Admission is $15-18; call (510) 548-1761 or visit www.wcl.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
The American Indian Film Festival, now 30 years old, is a premier vehicle for promoting Native American culture -- and for smashing stereotypes. Opening night features Trudell, chronicling the poet who organized the Alcatraz "Indians of All Tribes" occupation in the late '60s. It starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday (and the festival plays at various venues through Nov. 12) at the UA Galaxy, 1285 Sutter (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 554-0525 or visit www.aifisf.com.
-- Michael Leaverton