I Dream of Jean She's done Moliere and movies, but to most of us, Jean Stapleton will always be the harried housewife Edith Bunker on the '70s TV series All in the Family. That's not a bad thing, necessarily: Stapleton inhabited that role so completely that she burned herself into our collective memory as one of TV's most sympathetic characters, with her drawn-out sigh of "Oh, Ahhhchie" and her bumbling gait. American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Carey Perloff will be asking Stapleton about that show and others in an onstage interview at "Lives in the Theater." They'll have plenty to talk about besides TV: Stapleton appeared in ACT's production of The Matchmaker, and next month she'll appear in ACT's North American premiere of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink. She was also in town recently to narrate the Women's Philharmonic tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, whom Stapleton portrayed in the film Eleanor: First Lady of the World. Listen for anecdotes about working with John Travolta and Stockard Channing as well when Stapleton speaks about her theatrical life at 8 p.m. at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center's Hoytt Theater, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael. Admission is $14-18; call 479-2000.
Good Girls Don't ... or Do They? The virgin/whore dichotomy is about to go a few more rounds during a public debate between Wendy Shalit and Carol Queen. The first debate that Solar Light Books has planned could be its most heated, as ideological opposites spar over a loaded topic -- sex. Shalit and Queen get 20 minutes each to speak or read from their respective books, followed by a two-minute rebuttal, and finally, an informal Q&A session with the audience. Shalit, a recent Williams College graduate and the author of A Return to Modesty, got her first major public exposure when her critique of Williams' coed bathrooms made its way into Reader's Digest. She is expected to argue that sexual restraint and a return to romantic ideals can preserve women from a host of ills ranging from eating disorders to date rape, a contentious idea aligned with the backlash against the freewheeling '60s and '70s. Carol Queen, a self-avowed whore and the locally based author of Exhibitionism for the Shy, Pomosexuals, and freelance work for Penthouse, hails from just that era and is likely to make the case for sex work and sexual freedom. The debate begins at 7:30 p.m. at Solar Light Books, 2068 Union, S.F. Admission is free; call 567-6082. Meanwhile, Romeo Void's Debora Iyall, who declared her own position nearly a decade ago with the lyrics "I might like you better if we slept together," reads her work at the Tip Top's Monday night poetry series. Peter Dunne and Kjell Cronn join Iyall at the reading, which begins at 9 p.m. Monday at the Tip Top Inn, 3001 Mission (at 26th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 824-6486.
Follow the Talking Dog Remember life before "Yo quiero Taco Bell?" Actor/comedian Carlos Alazraqui does: His one-man show, This Is a Size 6 ... and This Is Your Head, is all about it, in fact. Alazraqui is the voice of the pint-sized canine in the fast-food ads (for the record, the hungry pup with an eye for the ladies is actually a female Chihuahua named Gidget). He had a career before that, although not one that paid him so obscenely well to walk into a sound studio and knock out a few simple phrases. Alazraqui supplied voices for A Bug's Life and has done comedy clubs and Hollywood Squares -- prior to that, he was just a regular guy from Concord. Sort of. A first-generation American son of Argentine parents, Alazraqui learned a lot about difference and assimilation as a kid, which he parlays into a show populated by characters like Jon the Scottish soccer coach and Carl the Midwestern health club owner. The show, which plays in repertory with Dan Scopazzi's Outer Mission, Middle Class, another piece about a Bay Area childhood with immigrant parents, previews at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through March 7) at the Bannam Place Theater, 50A Bannam Place (at Grant), S.F. Admission is $15; call 281-0126.
Net Worth Basketball fans have already had a rough season and the season hasn't even started yet. Just after the protracted NBA players strike was settled with a controversial six-year collective bargaining agreement, the game's most revered player, Michael Jordan, announced that he was leaving the arena. With this year's shortened season and Jordan's departure, disaffected NBA fans may be more likely to turn to the relatively uncomplicated world of college ball and the Harlem Globetrotters. Former Globetrotter Mannie Jackson purchased the 73-year-old team in 1993 and gave it a major overhaul, adding music, a mascot, a new rival (the New York Nationals, who replace the long-suffering Washington Generals after 40-some years), and corporate sponsorship designed to stem the financial bleeding that had weakened the outfit in recent years. What hasn't changed are the trick shots, the physical comedy routines, and the familiar whistling theme song "Sweet Georgia Brown." See how the team's newest recruit, former University of Oregon guard Jamal Curry, stacks up against famous former players like Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon. The games begin at 7:30 p.m. in the New Arena in Oakland, I-880 & 66th Avenue, Oakland. Admission is $9.50-30; call (510) 762-2277.
Spelunker's Paradise Experienced cavers are used to dodging jagged limestone formations in clammy, dark, and sometimes narrow spots, but neophyte spelunkers won't know they've gotten too close until they set off buzzers inside simulated stalactites at the interactive exhibit "California Underground: Our Caves and Subterranean Habitats." Exhibits and activities illustrate how caves are formed, what they look like, what lives inside them, and how to explore them. The "Man in Caves" area lets guests experience the actual physical sensation of squeezing through tight spaces, and what equipment cavers use to clamber inside and map the area. Recordings offer the true stories of caving adventures, and cave photographers like Peter and Ann Bosted and Dave Bunnell provide color shots of the five "realms" of cave formation, including fire and ice, and slip and slide. A series of special events further illustrates what goes on in the thousands of caves in California and elsewhere: Opening day features live bat presentations and Bunnell's multimedia slide and music presentation on state caves, while "Caves Family Day" (March 14) offers rope tying and rock rubbing activities. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and runs through Jan. 9, 2000) at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street), Oakland. Admission is free-$6; call (888) OAK-MUSE.
Eat to the Beat After a couple of greasy chicken wings and a shot of JD at the Bottom of the Hill's weekly barbecue show, the Crosstops oughta sound pretty good. They're the cowpunk foursome who claim to have met in a Kentucky truck stop, and their four-song 7-inch Drinkin' Fightin' Fuckin' and Truckin' feeds the legend with a salute to big-bottomed gals and a swipe at Motsrhead's Lemmy in "Everybody's Making It Big But Me." Headlining San Diego band Furious IV will have to work twice as hard after a rip-snortin' set like that if they want to keep the crowd in the club. These boys, whose specialty is bouncy punk-pop, reportedly held their own on last year's Freshmaker and Warped tours, though, and S.D. neighbors Rocket From the Crypt aren't complaining about the frequent comparisons, so they must be doing something right. Jack Killed Jill kicks off the show at 4 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $5; call 621-4455.
Nattering Nabobs 60 Minutes viewers need no introduction to co-editor Lesley Stahl, who actually introduces herself at the beginning of the show. The lone woman in that wrinkled crew is used to it by now: Stahl began her career at CBS in 1972, when, as a young reporter with considerably less female company than she has today, she was assigned to cover a "third-rate" burglary at the Watergate building. Her appearance at City Arts & Lectures should yield a few good yarns about the major political figures she grilled as White House correspondent from 1978 to 1986. Stahl has hopped on planes with Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush, gone head-to-head with such imposing figures as Margaret Thatcher and Yasir Arafat, and gotten firsthand exposure to some of the biggest stories of the last two decades. KQED's Scott Shafer interviews Stahl onstage at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $17; call 392-4400. While Stahl was wrangling with politicos, fellow journalist Daniel Bergner was wrassling with the Louisiana Department of Corrections and Warden Burl Cain for access to Angola Prison, where inmates compete in an annual rodeo. Bergner eventually sued for, and against heavy legal odds won, access to the prison and the story there, namely how and why rapists, murderers, and robbers serving life sentences would attempt to better their lives under otherwise unforgiving circumstances. Writer Peter Y. Sussman will interview Bergner about his findings and the book they produced, God of the Rodeo: The Search for Hope, Faith, and a Six-Second Ride in Louisiana's Angola Prison. The talk begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Freedom Forum Pacific Coast Center, Steuart Tower, 21st Floor, 1 Market, S.F. Admission is free; call 547-4123 to RSVP.
Something Without Mary There's something disarming about Jonathan Richman: the weathered but still boyish face, maybe, or the guileless sincerity he projects. The lyrics are a big part of it, too; after his early '70s punk years with the Modern Lovers, he went acoustic and bared his soul with quirky tales of everyday living, lyrics best absorbed in an intimate venue. People who didn't yet know they were Richman fans got a dose of his talent in There's Something About Mary, in which he and drummer Tommy Larkins served as a stone-faced Greek chorus with Latin, punk, and folk accents. The movie could leave new listeners with the impression that Richman only does precious and/or silly, and many of the titles in his extensive back catalog, like "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," "I Eat With Gusto, Damn! You Bet," or "You're Crazy for Taking the Bus," would support that idea, but then he'll turn around and break your heart with a line like this one from his recent album, I'm So Confused: "People all over the world are starving for affection/ And to me, this ain't funny/ To me, this is real." Feel the confusion up close when Richman plays at 8:30 p.m. (also Wednesday and Thursday) at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $7; call 647-2888.