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Past Pooches 

The history and mystery of dogs

SUN 7/13

If dogs are man's best friend, don't we owe it to them to know more about them than that they adore all treats and their entire species has a strange affinity for tennis balls? Canines have long had a mighty and magnificent bond with us humans. Sculptures illustrating dogs' domestication, dating as far back as 6,500 B.C., have been discovered in Iraq, and recent scientific studies have found that most of our poochy pals evolved over the last 10,000 years from "archaic ancestors" in southern Asia. The history and ancestry of the dog is a wild and woolly ride.

To find out more about Fido, Spot, and Rover, visit the Exploratorium this Sunday for the first in its Animal Magnetism series, "Ancient and Unusual Dogs from Around the World: Asia, Eurasia, the Middle East, and Australia." Hairy highlights include appearances by the "lion" dogs that once called the monasteries and royal courts of Tibet and China home, the hunters of the Middle East, and the sporting, herding, and domesticated dogs of Russia, Australia, and Japan. Those who feel their craniums becoming crammed with too much canine criteria may find relief with the pups from the Bay Team Agility Club, who show off their skills on a course that includes a jump, weave polls, a teeter-totter, and a tunnel. Get ready for lots of "oohs" and "awws" from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina, in the Palace of Fine Arts), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 561-0360 or visit
-- Sunny Andersen

Just Peachy

SAT 7/12

Overheard at the farmers' market: Passerby: "Nice peaches." Young lady at peach stand: "Thanks! I grew 'em myself." Many people think peaches are mysteriously both crunchy and mealy, but it doesn't have to be that way -- not in California in the summertime. The fruit at Frog Hollow Farms, for example, smells good enough to make a grown man cry, and after a single bite, people often need to sit down. At the Berkeley Farmers' Market Peach Tasting, gorge yourself and watch as top-notch chefs turn clings and freestones into peach galette and grilled peaches with prosciutto. The demonstrations begin at 11 a.m. at Center St. and MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 548-3333 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Fireworks En Français

MON 7/14

In France, July 14 is a day of riotous celebration, with parades, fireworks, and parties commemorating the historic storming of the Bastille that symbolically finished off the French monarchy. But with America having shot its partying wad on July 4, U.S. Bastille Day celebrations can be a bit wan. Not in S.F., however, where Belden Place and its continental eateries are stuffed with thousands of Bastille Day celebrants from noon to midnight. Both Belden and Claude Alley will be closed to traffic and open to revelers nibbling Gallic goodies, smoking Gauloises, and dancing to French DJ grooves. The free party is located off Bush between Montgomery and Grant; call 392-3515.
-- Joyce Slaton

First-Rate Films

MON-TUES 7/14-15

The biggest problem with the standard cinema experience is that no cocktails are served. As a secondary concern, too many films lack inspiration, innovation, or any relevance to the mind of observant, critical viewers like us. Fortunately, the "First Grade Film Fest" claims to be the antidote to these problems: The event is held in a bar, and the movies are, as the name implies, early works from directors who are in the first grade. No, no, just kidding; they're all grown-ups who make risky, thought-provoking films that defy genre. The festival begins Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission (at 21st St.), S.F. Admission is $7-9; visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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