Hurricane Carl As an award-winning journalist for the Miami Herald, Carl Hiaasen has taken on dangerous doctors and drug smugglers. Hiaasen's skill at skewering sleazy characters also serves him in the world of pulp fiction; set in the wake of a disastrous hurricane, his latest novel, Stormy Weather, rips apart the construction and insurance industries. Hear him read from it at 7:30 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness, S.F. Free; call 441-6670.
Black Steel Why is Tricky's Maxinquaye the best LP this year? Sounds and phrases (ex: "different levels of the devil's company," "my brain thinks bomblike," "take a second of me") that conjure images of crumbling cities and minds; and an orphan's artistic ambition that violates rules of genre and gender, restlessly crossing racial, sexual, and cultural borders. Whether slurring Tricky's words or those of Chuck D (on a brilliant subversion of Public Enemy's "Black Steel"), vocalist Martine maintains a detached air, as if communicating "emotion" is too strenuous. With a follow-up to Maxinquaye (Nearly God, featuring cameos by Bjsrk, Alison Moyet, and Blur's babelicious Damon Albarn) already recorded, Tricky is taking to the road; the equally innovative Laika opens for him at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St, S.F. Tickets are $12; call 621-3330.
Night of the Living Fringe After two weeks filled with dozens of performances, the S.F. Fringe Festival is over. But the fest's most popular acts live on, via "The Best of the Fringe." The curtains part for Cindy Lou Johnson's The Person I Once Was (7 p.m.), Paul Benney and Myles Boisen's Whatever Happened to Baby John? (8:30 p.m.), and John Sowle's Horripilation! (10 p.m.) at EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy, S.F. "The Best of the Fest" continues through Sunday. Tickets are $12 per show; call 673-3847.
Trill-a-Minute Here are a few Stade-tistics about Frederica von Stade: She's among the foremost American bel canto voices in modern opera; she was last seen in S.F. in a production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses; and she doesn't throw nuclear hissy fits. Featuring selections from Berlioz's Roman Carnival and Les Nuit d't, Debussy's Nocturnes, and Varse's Arcana, the program pairs the mezzo-soprano with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the S.F. Symphony at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall, Grove & Van Ness, S.F. The program repeats Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are $24-68; call 864-6000.
Word for Word Writing is rarely a quick 'n' easy venture, and translating is often even more painstaking. Presented by Pen West, "The Art of Literary Translation" presents readings by some of the Bay Area's most distinguished multilinguists; they include Robert Hass (translator of Czeslaw Milosz), Chana Bloch (co-translator of The Song of Songs), John Felstiner (translator of Pablo Neruda and Paul Celan), Zack Rogow (translator of Andr Breton), and Thomas Christensen (co-translator of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate). The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck, Berkeley. Free; call (510) 486-0698.
Bust a Gut The S.F. International Stand-Up Comedy Competition celebrates its 20th birthday this year, and the list of past finalists is a Hall of Fame of hilarity: Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, Marsha Warfield, and more. Since Roseanne and Steven Wright didn't even make it to the finals when they competed, a case could be made for seeing as many comics as possible. The event's semifinals offer 10 hopefuls; chuckle at them and root for them at 8 p.m. at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $19.50; call (707) 546-3600.
Party Arty Intersection for the Arts is S.F.'s oldest alternative arts organization. Fittingly, it's celebrating its 30th anniversary with a month of creativity by visual artists, musicians, performers, and poets. The arty party begins with performance and tunes by Laurie Amat, Albert Greenberg, High Risk Group, Alice Hutton and Twyla Ruby, Reed Kirk Rahlmann, and Erling Wold at 8 p.m. at 446 Valencia, S.F. Performances continue through Oct. 24. Tickets are $10-20 (proceeds benefit Intersection for the Arts); call 626-2787.
We Show Short Shorts An open showcase for short shorts of the filmic -- not fabric -- variety, the Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival offers bite-size animated, horrific, political, comedic, linear, and experimental treats; all entries must be no longer than two minutes. Viewers' Choice Awards will be given to the artists based on audience approval, so feel free to boo or clap for entries like Anti-Christ Kitten. Hungry eyes can sample the cinematic snacks at 8 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, S.F. The festival continues Saturday. Tickets are $5; call 282-4316.
Brawny Lads and Rasta Men The three R's -- rock, reggae, and rugby -- are at the heart of Scrumfest '95, the latest example of a frightening trend: events that mix musical entertainment with monster sports. As brawny lads from America and Australia face off on the rugby field, Eek-a-Mouse, Undercover S.K.A., the Alley Boys, and more will perform songs from their new CDs. Also, body piercing and tattoo parlors will be on hand for the modern primitive set and interested gawkers. The cultural perversity begins at noon at Balboa Stadium, 2100 San Jose, S.F. Tickets are $10-15; call 586-9272.
Demon Seed Some people may think Mia Farrow married the devil, but once upon a time, she played a woman pregnant with the spawn of Satan. The year was 1968, the film was Rosemary's Baby, and eerily enough, its director -- Roman Polanski -- soon became (in)famous for his interest in young girls (much like Mia's last hubby). See Farrow, her stylish pixie cut, and a supporting cast that includes John Cassevetes and crotchety Ruth Gordon when Rosemary's Baby screens at 2:10 and 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro and Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
East Meets West Founded in 1959, the Central Ballet of China is the country's only national ballet company. While the troupe has mastered many of the great works in the classical and contemporary Western and Russian repertoire, they also perform contemporary Chinese works. Their first U.S. appearance in a decade includes a bit of both: the second act of the French Romantic piece Giselle and both acts of the Chinese piece The Red Detachment of Women. See it at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft and Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $18-32; call (510) 642-9988.
Make a Splash People who want to watch local artists perform and those who want to dunk local artists in a tank of water will come together at "10K," a sidewalk entertainment onslaught benefiting New Performance Gallery. The live music, dance, and theater lineup includes the Code, Amy X Newberg and Men, Ralph Carney, the Knittles, Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians, Hank Hyena, Stephen Pelton Dance Company, and more. Raffles, sidewalk sales, and a dunk tank round out the noon to midnight fun at 3153 17th St, S.F. Tickets are $5 (for indoor performances); call 626-6745.
Instant Beach Resorts A fund-raiser for LEAP, a program that incorporates art and architecture into public school curricula, the LEAP Sand Castle Classic teams up architects, contractors, builders, and designers with fifth-grade students in a sand castle-building contest. Twenty-five teams will compete this year; "celebrity" judges will separate the mansions from the shacks. The construction lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Aquatic Park, near Beach and Polk, S.F. Free; call 861-1899.
Stomping Grounds Grape-stomping and pizza-tossing amateurs and champions will square off at this year's Italian Family Festival. Food booths, arts and crafts, music, dancing, and bocci ball games are also on the agenda. The fest's second day lasts from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 3434 Tully, San Jose. Tickets are $3; call (408) 293-7122.
A Wiseman With 1967's Titicut Follies -- a visual document of "life" in an awful Massachusetts home for the insane -- Frederick Wiseman established himself as one of cinema verite's foremost practitioners. Frequently focusing on the interplay between individuals and institutions, Wiseman's vision doesn't aim for false "objectivity"; instead, it flashes a harsh but humane light on a number of institutions (hospitals, high schools, welfare offices, slaughterhouses, zoos) that other American filmmakers either mythologize or ignore. The first installment in Film Arts Foundation's "Meet the Mavericks" series begins with a lecture by Wiseman at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.
Bad Boys Get Spanked If Steven Spielberg were to make a movie about a kindergarten-age boy with sadomasochistic fantasies, it might look something like Todd Haynes' Kodak-bright Dottie Gets Spanked. (But it wouldn't be half as smart or sad.) The tale of a 6-year-old boy obsessed with a Lucille Ball-like comedy queen named Dottie Frank, Haynes' 30-minute film shows how, to gay boys, the tools of femininity often seem like the neatest toys. More subversively, it shows how queer kids skew social/educational devices (in this case, TV) at an early age -- at least until parents and peers bully them into "normalcy." Like his childish protagonist (played with heartbreaking conviction by Evan Bonifant), Haynes reveals the perversity in sitcomland and suburbia; originally screened as part of PBS's TV Families series, Dottie is part of "The Child Plays," a program of shorts about children's fantasy lives; Jennifer Montgomery's Art for Teachers of Children (a fictional examination of her teen-age entanglement with photographer Jock Sturgis) completes a double bill. "The Child Plays" screens at 7 p.m.; Art for Teachers of Children screens at 8:50 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Tickets are $5.50 for one program, $7 for both; call (510) 642-1412.
Jazz Guru Jazzmatazz II: The New Reality brings the "message raps" of Gangstarr founder Guru together with a huge cast of American and British talents (Chaka Khan, Branford Marsalis, Me'Shell N'Degeocello, Courtney Pine, Mica Paris, the superb vocalist Shara Nelson). Featuring "live" studio work by frequently sampled artists like Freddie Hubbard and Ramsey Lewis, the resulting collection mixes earnest sermons with rump-shaking grooves. Donald Byrd, Ruben Wilson, and a host of other musicians join Guru for a show at 9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.) at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Jazzmatazz II plays again on Wednesday. Tickets are $15-16; call 474-0365.