All the President's Pens Play spot the Secret Service when former President of the United States Jimmy Carter visits San Francisco to autograph copies of his "spiritual memoir" Living Faith. The peanut-farmer-turned-nuclear-scientist-turned-world-leader will grant a five-minute press conference, followed by an hourlong book-signing session. Due to the time constraint, Carter is not expected to read or discuss the book, or to socialize at length; the store holds approximately 200 people, so political stargazers are advised to arrive early. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. at Rizzoli Bookstore, 117 Post, S.F. Admission is free; call 984-0225.
Plates From Space What makes the earth quake? New satellite technology, including the Global Positioning System and synthetic aperture radar interferometry, is providing scientists with more clues by tracking the movement of large plates (or sections of the Earth's hard outer layer) that float across the planet's mantle. When rocks shift past each other, strain accumulates in the Earth's crust, which can eventually produce earthquakes. The new technology isn't able to subvert the forces of nature, but it can observe movement over wide areas and help geologists predict when we may next need to brace ourselves. Dr. Howard A. Zebker, associate professor of geophysics and electrical engineering at Stanford, speaks on a topic of particular interest to Californians, "Measurement of the Earth's Tectonic Motions From Spaceborne Satellites," at 7:30 p.m. at the Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $3; call 750-7127.
Doing Da Vinci Proud People wielding slide rules can find ways of relating to people sporting sketchbooks, if this month's "Third Thursday Salon" is any indication. Berkeley Art Center hosts a panel discussion with the topic "Collaborations: Artists and Scientists," with guest speakers who have worked together on six of the 80 books shown in the center's new "Science Imagined" exhibit. Pairs of collaborators will address questions about the divisions and connections between disciplines, and how scientists and artists use their imaginations. Speakers include Marylee Bytheriver and Sam Houston, who worked together on Weather Map, and Kathy Dybeck and Susan Sahl, the collaborators behind A Survey of Plants. The discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut, Live Oak Park, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 644-6893.
Baggage Claim Area 'Tis the season of baggage, Samsonite and otherwise. In honor of the holidays, the Luggage Store Gallery offers its fifth annual juried art exhibit, "psychic, spiritual, physical, and/or emotional baggage." This group show features mixed-media and intermedia work by over 65 artists, including Kenneth Huerta, Daphne Bernard, John Jehu, Terry Hoff, and Frederick Hayes. An accompanying "artluck," in which visual artists swap wrapped works, is slated for January. The exhibit opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and continues through Jan. 31, 1997) in the Luggage Store, 1007 Market, S.F. Admission is free; call 255-5971.
Patient Guy Arrives Anthony Minghella's film adaptation of The English Patient looks like a local hit, which bodes well for author Michael Ondaatje's appearance. Ondaatje, a native of Sri Lanka who resides in Canada, won the Booker Prize for his story of an amnesiac Hungarian burn victim and the nurse who cares for him in an abandoned Italian monastery at the end of World War II; fellow scribe Toni Morrison described the book as "profound, beautiful, and heartbreaking." Ondaatje -- also the author of Coming Through Slaughter and In the Skin of a Lion -- reads at 7:30 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670.
Broken Wings Moving Out Dance-Theater Company, founded in Colombia by Swiss theater artist Beat Rettenmund and Colombian dancer Beatriz Restrepo, draws on a wealth of cultural influences for its performances. The company toured Central America before settling into the Bay Area in 1995, and drawing up a working method that includes serious introspection and a nomadic lifestyle. As it has in past projects, the company uses music, poetry, and masks in Death of an Angel, its new movement-theater piece, which juxtaposes conspicuous consumption with the erosion of beauty. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Balazo Gallery, 2811 Mission, S.F. Admission is a $15 donation; call 920-0897.
Lens Revenge "In Front of the Lens: Portraits of California Photographers" is like a black-and-white family photo album for famous area photographers. Here are the images Willard Van Dyke captured of a hungover Ansel Adams lying on a couch; the Edward Weston portrait of a sinister-looking Johan Hagemeyer, who wore a cape for the occasion; and Imogen Cunningham's shot Lovers, of real-life couple Weston and Margarethe Mather. There are formal and casual photos in this collection, and self-portraits like Malcolm Lubliner's Me Too, shot against a shimmery mylar backdrop. There's also a considerable amount of overlap between models and artists in this exhibit, which chronicles photographers who worked and lived in California from the 1850s through the 1980s, from Man Ray to Judy Dater. "In Front of the Lens" opens at 10 a.m. (and continues through April 12, 1997) at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak, Oakland. Admission is free-$5; call (510) 238-2200.
Buy That Building a Book The cultural events, workshops, educational forums, and activities hosted by the Women's Building may enjoy a more secure home base after this weekend, when local bookstores donate partial proceeds from purchases to the women-owned community center's programs and services. The Mission-based building, known for its vivid and extensive exterior mural, is visited by over 100 groups and 35,000 people yearly. A Different Light Bookstore (498 Castro), Bolerium Books (2141 Mission), Carroll's Books (1193 Church), and Glen Park Books (2788 Diamond) are among the participating San Francisco booksellers. This is a one-day event; call 431-1180 ext. 17 for more information.
Unreel World All year long, the programs at Artists' Television Access have been scrambling viewers' brains like so many eggs, and the very last program of 1996, "New Experimental Works Night," isn't likely to be any different. Bryon Finch's double-projection piece Microloaf in the Meat Wave, Jesse Stout's Babysitter, and Mark Brecke's Urinal Confessional are just three on a bill that includes over a dozen film and video shorts. "Projector orchestra" trio Wet Gate, who create multimedia performance pieces by rearranging the audio and visual alignment in films, will be enlisting audience participation in a three-projector, 3-D optical exercise. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at ATA, 992 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890.
Flyin' Tykes The contortionist kids at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts may not shock parents, but they will no doubt delight their audiencebound peers. The young circus students will juggle and tumble, climb poles, and dive through hoops at "Children! Celebrate! Circus!" Trapeze instructor Elsie Smith describes the show as "much more slick than a recital," and says that the 25-odd kids (who range in age from 7 to 16) will fly through the air, borne by trapeze, trampoline, and the teeter board, a teeter-totter-type apparatus, in which one kid jumps on and the other kid goes flying off, except without the injuries sustained in similar grade-school escapades. And then there's the Web, a rope act in which kids do cool moves while they hang from their ankles and wrists. Don't try this at home. The show begins at 5 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $7.50-12.50; call 759-8123.
Once Upon a Time ... there was a nationally touring program called "Read Me a Story," which raised money for children's literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental, and got adults to pledge that they would read aloud to kids. The idea, on the 61-city bus tour, was to read a million stories and raise a million dollars. And so people suited up as well-known children's story characters like Babar, Pippi Longstocking, and Winnie the Pooh, and gave free musical performances promoting the joys of reading. The end? Not yet: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 56 percent of California's kids are below the basic reading level. The tour stops at 10 a.m. at the San Francisco Center, 865 Market, S.F. Admission is free; call 984-6298.
Catalogs for Computerphobes Take advantage of the holiday mass exodus by learning to navigate the new library's on-line catalog and database systems. Staff members will conduct a one-hour group orientation on how to find materials more effectively (although hands-on workshops are also available). Training begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium, New Main Library, 100 Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4400.
Eat! Eat! You're So Thin! You don't have to be Jewish to attend the "Fourth Annual Evening of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy"; you just have to be starved for entertainment and Chinese food. Solo theater artists Sherry Glaser (Family Secrets) and Josh Kornbluth (Red Diaper Baby), dragappella beautyshop quartet the Kinsey Sicks, and comic mistress of ceremonies Lisa Geduldig, Jewish performers all, celebrate the holidays big-city-style with kosher comedy and not-necessarily-kosher Hunan dishes (although the fortune cookies offer Yiddish proverbs). Proceeds benefit the Jewish Family & Children's Services AIDS Project and the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The dinner show begins at 6 p.m.; a cocktail show is held at 9:30 p.m. (also Tuesday and Wednesday) at the Hunan Restaurant, 924 Sansome, S.F. Admission is $25-40; call 863-3226.
No Place Like Home Soloist Madame Stolichnaya makes a special guest appearance at the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus concert "Home for the Holidays," one of the few really lively events our otherwise now-quiet metropolis has to offer people who spend their holidays here. Traditional musical numbers will be sung at this event, but surprise happenings and comic sketches, among them "The Twelve Astrological Signs of Christmas" and "The Starleluia Chorus" (a celebration of entertainment icons including Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, and Judy Garland), are also slated. Shows are held at 5, 7, and 9 p.m. at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro, S.F. Admission is $10; call 863-4472 ext. 4.