The Ol' Daughter-in-the-Tower Trick A little-known bit of Irish history: The opposing parties are the Formorians and the Tuatha De Danaan laborers. Balor of the Evil Eye is the Formorian tyrant who keeps the Tuatha De Danaan in check. When Balor's daughter is predicted to slay him, he locks her away in the tower. Naturally, she later encounters a member of the oppressed Tuatha De Danaan tribe, and much to her father's dismay, falls in love and bears a son, Lu Lamfada, "Lu of the Long Arm." The evil Balor throws the boy into the ocean and ... well, the best group to reveal the end of this tale is not the ruling Formorians themselves, but rather the Irish theater group Macnas. Macnas are best-known for their carnivallike street-opera parades. In their performance of Balor their use of mime, music, and movement captivates audiences even though they're not dancing in the streets. Directed and choreographed by Rod Goodall, Balor opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 2) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $17.50-22.50; call 621-7797.
Panic Shmanic In the event that this year's proximity to the millennium has you in a panic, never fear. The folks at Venue 9 offer their idea of a soothing evening of music, multimedia performance, videos, and installations and they're calling it "Y2K: Operation Calm." Local artists group Process is pulling out the big guns to fight the Year 2000 bug -- y'know, the one that is single-handedly going to ruin the country because our computers aren't able to recognize dates after Dec. 31, 1999. "Operation Calm" is driven by performers like vocalist Phil Potestio from Poetic Justice, guitarists Bruce Fraser and Mike "064" Freeman from the Artichokes, poet Michael McElligott, and cellist Alex Kort. But wait, there's more. Conceptual artists Ian Pollock and Janet Silk will show their installation Museum of the Future, which explores the future, history, and now. "Operation Calm" will also turn to the audience for participation, so be prepared to play along, and hopefully shed all fears of the looming millennium. The event begins at 8:30 p.m. (also Friday and Saturday) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 566-3646.
Don't Wanna Love Mark Morris Dance Group performs four, count 'em, four evenings of works set to music by Claudio Monteverdi, Henry Purcell, Jacques Ibert, and Lou Harrison. A unique compilation of dancers, musicians, and soloists collaborates to bring Morris' premieres of I Don't Want to Love and Lucky Charms, and repeat performances of One Charming Night and Grand Duo, to the stage. Love, set to seven madrigals by Monteverdi that are performed live by the Artek Singers, kicks off the program, followed by One Charming Night. Morris' Dance Group has an annual residency in Berkeley each season and in the past has performed with the likes of world premier cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The company begins its four-night run at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 2) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $24-48; call (510) 642-9988.
All Body and Souls Day The Body & Soul Conference conveniently takes place on All Souls' Day eve. For those trying to break away from the typical Halloween festivities and into something more grounding, the conference brings Maya Angelou to the stage. Angelou will host the opening night along with three Bay Area talents: singer and jazz storyteller Rhiannon, a cappella group SoVoSo, and folk tale-r Luisah Teish. The conference itself is an exploration of mind/body healing, spirituality, creativity, and social transformation. If you missed the Dalai Lama at the June Power of Nonviolence confab, this may be the next best thing. Opening night events start at 7:30 p.m. at Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California (at Jones), S.F. Admission is $25; call 392-4400. The conference runs through Nov. 2 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square. Full admission is $319; for more information, call (800) 937-8728.
Posters Children Pre-radio and -television, how did we advertise? Posters, of course. The International Vintage Poster Fair is coming to town to hang (and sell) cultural bygones. Rare posters from Poland, such as one for Wojiech Fangor's 1956 film Picasso, show how modern art was able to penetrate the Iron Curtain. Others, like Anton Lavinsky's 1926 The Shoes, illustrate the artist's desire to educate the Russian population of the time. On a lighter note, some of the '80s posters include a Bally's shoe ad and if you're lucky, they may have some '80s rock band posters (probably in the lower price range, too). The dealers will be out, so get to the fair early. The fair opens at noon (also 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) at Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $10 per day or $20 for a three-day pass; call 546-9608.
Psychobilly, que'est que c'est? "Squares always find ways to make a joke out of the things that threaten their lame lifestyle," spouts Cramps vocalist Lux Interior. Thank god for punk rock. The best way to describe the Cramps is by a term they coined themselves back in '76: "psychobilly." It's kitschy, kinky, carnival, and barely legal. Big Beat From Badsville is as bad as they wanna be and their show is not for the faint of heart or spirit. Demolition Dollrods and Guitar Wolf open at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market (at Sixth Street), S.F. Admission is $20; call 775-7722.
Halloween Parties See Calendar on Page 38 for listings.
Things That Go Punk in the Night More bad-boy, ass-kickin', hard-rockin', anarchist-lovin' punk for the soul. The Humpers' latest album, Plastique Valentine, is just what it sounds like: an ode to a relationship gone bad ... and wanting to blow her head off. Naturally. There's apparently an awful lot of heartache (and bitterness!) in Long Beach, the band's stompin' grounds. The Neckbones and the Loudmouths will warm up the stage at the Kilowatt for the club's second-to-last live show. It starts at 9 p.m. at 3160 16th St. (at Albion), S.F. Admission is $6; call 861-2595.
It's Crafty Folk art is older than the hills, but never seems to die, thanks to places like the San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum. This month the museum is bringing in "Straw Trails" to the main hall and "Navajo Folk Art" to the mezzanine. "Straw Trails" includes Asian rice straw objects, African coiled baskets, and Indo-European artifacts (like baskets and bonnets). It's the first exhibit of its kind. "Navajo Folk Art" is also a first, the first survey exhibition in Northern California. The show includes textiles, jewelry, dolls, rugs, pottery, and hand-carved wood figures -- some for trading and others for play. "Straw Trails" and "Navajo Folk Art" both open at 10 a.m. (and continue through Jan. 4, 1998) at the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Building A, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 775-0990.
On the Catwalk Get your felines gussied up for the the International Cat Association's Allbreed Championship and Household Pet Cat Show. (N.B.: Cats 8 months or older must be spayed or neutered to enter.) The new breeds this year are pixiebob and munchkin, but the tried-and-true -- Angoras, Siamese, Maine coon, etc. -- are more than welcome. Even household cats and kittens can enter. The more the merrier! The household pets will be judged on health, condition, grooming, purrsonality, and what each judge thinks is a purrty cat. The competition, which will bring together fiendish felines and their doting owners from across the United States and around the world, begins at 10 a.m. at the San Francisco County Fair Building (formerly the Hall of Flowers), Golden Gate Park at Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, S.F. Admission is $3-12; call (916) 889-0829.
Kul'cher An evening of champagne, hors d'oeuvres, and readings from George Bernard Shaw should bring the finishing school out in just about anyone. The Aurora Theater Company presents an evening of "Shaw and Champagne: An Inspired Folly"; John Argue, Joy Carlin, Nancy Carlin, Peter Donat, Penelope Kreitzer, and others will read from Saint Joan, Getting Married, Major Barbara, and Heartbreak House. Aurora is smitten with Shaw for his love of words and ideas; the company has performed four of his plays in six seasons. Proceeds from the tonight's program will help upgrade the upstairs ballroom of the Berkeley City Club for some of Aurora's larger-scale productions next season. "Shaw and Champagne" starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berkeley. Admission is $15.75; call (510) 848-7800.
No Ilk Like Johnny Dilks When Willie Nelson crooned to all the "mommas" out there not to let their babies grow up to be cowboys, he was not talking about Johnny Dilks. Having just finished backing up Charlie and Ira Louvin for their string of gigs at Yoshi's, Johnny and his Visitacion Valley Boys are hitting Bruno's Cork Club. Honky-tonk and western swing are their specialties, and how sweet they are. Hank Williams and Jimmie Rivers should be honored to have influenced Johnny and his Boys. Itchy Kitty open with their oh-so-chick sass at 10 p.m. at Bruno's, 2389 Mission (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $3; call 550-7455.
Literary Jeopardy Howard Junker, editor of Zyzzyva (the San Francisco-based journal of West Coast writers and artists), will be the Alex Trebek of the San Francisco Public Library's Literary Quiz Show to kick off the Bay Area Book Festival. There will be three teams: librarians, booksellers, and authors, all showing off their literary knowledge. Questions will run along the lines of biographical and historical data, spot quotes, and first lines. Although SFPL staff are actually preparing the questions, it says here that they aren't slipping the answers under the table to the librarian team members. Uh-huh. The Literary Quiz Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in the New Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin (Civic Center), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277.
Om-ing the Night Away Om recording artists Beth Custer, a 13-year Club Foot Orchestra veteran, and Christian Jones, the local jazz producer and engineer, are mixing their grooves in a new project, Eighty Mile Beach, that's touted as organic and primordial; not quite jazz and not quite dance music, but somewhere in that mix. Following their Oct. 25 debut show, they've set up ritual Tuesday night gigs (at 11 p.m.) for the month of November at Bruno's, 2389 Mission (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $4; call 550-7455.