The Way Things Were Filmmaker Oliver Stone might consider using Henry Ford's oft-cited dictum that "history is more or less bunk" the next time he's accused of cinematic revisionism. Stone has been both revered and reviled for his portrayals of the Doors' Jim Morrison, former President Richard Nixon, and now Hustler Publisher Larry Flynt (Stone produced the recent The People vs. Larry Flynt). His next project, an adaptation of the Oscar-winning documentary Breathing Lessons, shouldn't give him as much leeway for reinterpreting the past, but you can find out for yourself when he appears at the panel discussion "Reinventing History: Reality on Film." In what could be a very animated conversation, Stone will be joined by In the Name of the Father screenwriter Terry George, documentarians Loni Ding (Nisei Soldier) and Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A.), film scholar B. Ruby Rich, and Eyes on the Prize producer Jon Else. The evening begins at 7 p.m. in the Arthur Andersen Auditorium, Haas Business School, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is free; call (510) 642-3383.
Seniority Reigns Little old ladies like harmonica player Olga Ramos rip up the joint at "Gray Cabaret: Talent Through the Ages," a variety show where 50 senior musicians, actors, singers, and dancers show the young folks how it's done. Tap troupe the Strutters (whose dancers are mostly in their 70s) share the stage with the likes of western line dance company the Shades, the San Francisco Downtown Senior Center Chinese Folk Dancers, and singers Carole Jan Lee and Gini Malaspina. The show begins at 2 p.m. at the Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, S.F. Admission is $7; call 978-ARTS.
From Russia With Love Wailing dance tunes and wedding songs, soldierly epics and romantic laments sung by 10-member a cappella group the Podserednie Ensemble give the touring Russian Village Festival, formally known as "From the Village Fair to the Stage: Rituals and Celebrations of the Russian People," part of its cultural flavor. The rest comes from the Northern Russian stories, traditional games, ceremonial dances, and folk songs performed on household utensils by the Northern Pearls; season-cycle songs of all-woman group the Dorozovsky Folk Ensemble; centuries-old Cossack songs sung by young folklore ensemble Volnitsa; and work by other groups. The show, a kaleidoscope of various regional, indigenous Russian traditions dating back as far as the 13th century, begins at 8 p.m. (Sightlines symposium "Russian Village Culture" begins at 2 p.m., and a pre-concert lecture begins at 7 p.m.) in Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $14-26; call (510) 642-9988.
Nuts to You Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw is a case study in the overlap between funny/ha-ha and funny/strange. Orton's premise -- that sanity is relative -- unfolds in the office of psychiatrist Dr. Prentice, whose seduction of his secretary turns into a series of disappearances and discoveries after he's interrupted repeatedly by his sex-crazed wife, a blackmailing bellboy, a government inspector with a God complex, and a policeman searching for missing parts of Winston Churchill. The Chameleon Theater stages Orton's famous farce, which opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 10) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., S.F. Admission is $8-10; call 626-6404.
What's the Word? Stand-up comedian Suzy Berger already recognizes the healing power of laughter, which she extends to her one-woman show The Talking Cure, the story of a straight woman, Jody, who gets to know her neighbor Gary, a gay man with AIDS. It's not an auspicious beginning (Jody thinks she has to hold her breath to avoid being infected), but the two become fast friends and confidants as time ticks away. This is a reprise of the Berger show, which local critics praised as witty and cathartic the first time around. Cure opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 27) at the New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 861-8972.
In Step The Lawrence Pech Dance Company's one-two combination of technical classicism and contemporary themes holds strong, as does Pech, a former American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet star who has thus far survived Baryshnikov, New York City, a bout with cancer, and artistic differences that caused his first company to fold. The troupe's second incarnation, featuring Oakland Ballet's Joral Schmalle and former SFB dancer Wendy Van Dyck, returns with Pech's new work about one family's twisted machinations, Tre Brata ("Three Brothers"); Antonio Castilla's The Games We Play; and Pech's solo piece about besting his illness, Blue Lair, which KQED filmed in '91. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $20.50-25; call 621-7797.
In the Hot Seat The five masked dancers of CORE (entertainment for the apocalypse) transform a game of musical chairs into a Darwinian metaphor in their new show, as each challenges the sitting dancer for the power inherent in the chair's possession. Since ski masks hide their facial expressions, the dancers fight an anonymous battle that relies solely on body language, like the sudden thrust of an arm. It's the kind of unconventional convention viewers have come to expect from this experimental performance collective, whose members include Jules Beckman, Keith Hennessy, and Jess Curtis, all late of the fantastically inventive, in-your-face ensemble Contraband, along with performance artists Stanya Kahn and Stephanie Maher. Bruising contact improv meets radical theatricality and live, punk-driven percussion here, as Kahn ends a crazed monologue with an impassioned cry to her love, and Curtis' plea "Don't let the bad things happen" goes unheeded in tiny man. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through April 27) at Brady Street Studio, 60 Brady, S.F. Admission is $10; call 922-2385.
Propping Up the Wall Over 30 artists, including Timothy B. Buckwalter, Lynn Beldner, Barry McGee, and Rubi Neri, contribute work as Four Walls celebrates its second anniversary with an auction the gallery hopes will generate a sorely needed cash infusion. Four Walls, which has played host to hundreds of exhibiting artists and filmmakers and some intriguing special events, receives no external funding other than what it raises through rummage and art sales and donations from organizers. Because of the gallery's dwindling budget, minimum bids will be honored; the anniversary celebration begins at 6 p.m. with a preview and silent bidding and continues at 8 p.m. with a party, slide show, and live auction at Four Walls, 3160-A 16th St., S.F. Admission is free; call 626-8515.
Super Cali Expect a festive madhouse at Cal Day as UC Berkeley celebrates 129 years with a slew of events including Springfest '97, a globally minded affair at which the kids learn French songs (quelle horreur!), the Algerian Trio lines up with the Royal Scottish Country Dancers and the Palestinian Dabka Group, and soul food represents America on a menu sporting Burmese, Korean, Peruvian, Italian, Iranian, and other ethnic dishes. The festival culminates in a fashion show of traditional and modern international garb. Springfest begins at 1 p.m. at the International House, 2299 Piedmont, Berkeley. Admission is free-$3; call (510) 642-9460.
Nautical ... Nice If the warm spring weather endures, the Citibank Spring Cup Regatta will be a fine place to spend a lazy afternoon, as five-seater 11:Metre sloops race up and down the San Francisco Bay. Former Olympians and winners from last year's regatta will compete in the six-mile course, set against the ever-scenic backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge. Races begin at noon (also Sunday) at Pier 39, Beach & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 705-5500.
Nurture Nature As those people driving cars with bumper stickers reading "Love Your Mother" remind us, defiling your mom just isn't cool. Three local Earth Day celebrations (and there are more forthcoming) help us make amends with Mom Nature: the Surfrider Foundation's "Earth Day Beach Cleanup" at Ocean Beach, beginning at 10 a.m. at the end of Lincoln Way (call 665-4155); the easy (and savory) Green Corps "Dine Out for the Earth" option, in which eateries ranging from Franchino to Kate's Kitchen will donate proceeds from today's orders to a redwood preservation fund (call 777-5288 for a list of participating restaurants); and "Berkeley Earth Day '97," where the live music ranges from Afro-Venezuelan to Cajun, the booths contain crafts and vegetarian food, and the activities include the StarLab, an Eco-Art area, and the Eco-Motion parade, a procession of stilt-walkers, walkers, bicyclists, and electric car drivers, beginning at 11 a.m. The fair begins at noon at Martin Luther King Park, Allston & MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 654-6346.
Dead Poet's Society A "living tableau of poets" -- Gary Snyder, Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, Mark Linenthal, Andrew Schelling, Robert Hass, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- will be paying tribute to the late Allen Ginsberg by reading his work and their own at a public memorial service. Ginsberg, whose famous "Howl" was originally published by Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books, was a prolific writer, a tireless activist, and a mentor to two generations of succeeding poets; he died of complications from liver cancer April 4 at his New York City home. A reception with refreshments will follow the service, which begins at 4 p.m. at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake, S.F. Call 362-8193.
Trust Us Whatever you may think about the music of trip-hopping London trio Morcheeba, you've got to appreciate the play on words that led to radio hit "Trigger Hippie" from their debut release, Who Can You Trust? Brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey were tooling around with '60s American rock influences like Bob Dylan and Marvin Gaye -- Paul from the mixing and sampling end, Ross from the blues and guitar-playing end -- when singer Skye Edwards supplied the missing piece to their puzzle. Morcheeba's ever-changing moods come through in modern tape loops and Moog synthesizers, and their optimism that love will prevail is tempered with the acknowledgement that the world is a lonely and dangerous place. Hence, "Trigger Hippie." DJs Andrew and Dark Money join in as the Grassy Knoll opens for Morcheeba at 8 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Admission is $10; call 474-0365.
Fun With Five Fingers In search of end-of-the-millennium visions tied to something other than comet tails? Turn to Five Fingers Review, which celebrates its 16th installment with a book party for Outward Openings: Millennial Writings Volume II. Contributors set their sights on the meaning and future of the written word as the 20th century closes in the first and most recent volumes of the journal, from Evgenii Bunimorvich and the late Nina Isrenko's collection of modern Russian poets responding to writing from the previous millennium to Peter Weltner's section on memory and remembering and Fanny Howe's compilation "Itinerant Writing." Howe and Weltner are among the featured readers at the party, which bids farewell to departing FFR Editors Thoreau Lovell and John High, welcomes new Editor Jaime Robles, and begins at 7:30 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $2; call 626-2787.