Properly viewing architecture can be a poor aesthetic experience: You might be arrested for home invasion, for one, or hounded during an open house about the correlation between your footwear and your financial holdings. This weekend, however, "AIA San Francisco's Home Tours" unlocks 11 residences for you to tramp through unmolested, meeting with project designers and trading bons mots about Le Corbusier and pocket doors. Richard Neutra's Schiff House is billed as a highlight, though it is, frankly, better reserved for those with a developed architectural sense; the home was built in 1937, in the eye of the modernist hurricane, which means the art is in the details, or lack thereof. Those who want to be sent ass backward off a cliff should sally up to the T House Residence, a modern wood-and-glass goliath whose entry could be accompanied by a voice booming, "Behold!" The home features wide-open spaces broken by wood columns and stairways, a blocklike double-sided fireplace, and an austere kitchen resembling the chambers of a wealthy monk. The tour meets at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of the French American International School, 150 Oak (at Octavia), S.F. Admission is $37.50-90; call 362-7397 or visit www.aiasf.org.
-- Michael Leaverton
The Crucible torches prices
As a pre-adolescent, I found my calling after seeing Jennifer Beals' hard-ass welder-by-day, dancer-by-night performance in Flashdance. I was riveted -- not by the idea of exotic dancing, but by oxyacetylene-torch cutting and fusing metal with my bare hands. While that career plan never panned out, I can savor my nostalgia at events like the "Mad Scientist Sale and Fix-a-Thon." Aside from the chance to buy the finest industrial-grade machines and tools, people can bring in broken knickknacks like unhasped jewelry and off-balance furniture and get it repaired for a fraction of the typical cost. Saturday's open house -- which includes neon demonstrations, a live bronze pour, and hands-on activities -- will be sure to inspire more original career choices.
The "Fix-a-Thon" takes place Saturday (and the sale takes place both days) starting at noon at the Crucible, 1260 Seventh St. (at Union), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 444-0919 or visit www.thecrucible.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
Paris Review falls on bad times
Are there people without problems? The title of The Paris Review Book of People With Problems insinuates that, yes, another category does exist. If the profusion of liars, vomit, bad sex, and totally evil violence found in the tales by Denis Johnson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Miranda July, and others sounds familiar to you, then you definitely have problems. If not, you may be among the fortunate. The introduction by bad-luck-loving composer Stephin Merritt somewhat bizarrely focuses on interior design, but in keeping with the rest of the book, it is excellent. Hear contributors Julie Orringer and Annie Proulx read at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
What's it really like? This is the salient question when it comes to the Peace Corps; the federal service-abroad program has both boosters and bashers, so it can be hard to tell. Get the lowdown from people with firsthand knowledge at the Peace Corps Cultural Festival at 11 a.m. in Golden Gate Park, Peacock Meadow (near Conservatory Drive East), S.F. Admission is free; call 977-8786 or visit www.peacecorps.gov.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser