SOMETHING FOR (AND AGAINST) EVERYONE: It’s tough to pin down what, exactly, Bill Maher is. He came up as a comedian and still ranks at a respectable 38 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time, though it’s his bits of political satire that are most widely quoted. He’s a filmmaker and a high-profile critic of organized religion-his documentary Religulous garnered all sorts of press last year-as well as the author of several books of humorous social commentary. He’s hosted two talk shows, Comedy Central’s Politically Incorrect and, currently, HBO’s Real Time. He’s gotten behind a veritable cornucopia of political causes, having professed support for such diverse presidential candidates as Bob Dole, Ralph Nader, and Harry Browne; he even holds seats on the boards of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the pro-science Reason Project, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Oh, and he’s done some acting, too. Perhaps the only way to grasp the man’s persona is to see him live, aggressively speaking his multifaceted mind. Fortunately, just such an opportunity arises at the Arlington (1317 State St.) on Saturday, March 21, at 8 p.m. Call 963-4408 or visit for thearlingtontheatre.com for details.
A MEETING OF THE PENS: Child Abuse Listening & Meditation brings back their popular Celebrity Authors Luncheon on Saturday, March 21. CALM, Santa Barbara County’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child abuse, has been staging these literary gatherings for 23 years, and the lineup of authors remains as expansive as ever. Among the people of letters to speak, sign, and be interviewed are Larry Wilmore, “senior black correspondent” on The Daily Show and writer for such sitcoms as In Living Color, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Office; Jacqueline Winspear, author of New York Times Notable Book Maisie Dobbs; and Leonard Downie Jr., former longtime executive editor of the Washington Post and author of The Rules of the Game, a study of journalism, politics, and lobbying. Also attending the luncheon and available to autograph books is a group of authors too large to even be listed within this space. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, with lunch served at 11:45 a.m. Call 682-3925 or visit calm4kids.org for more information.
POLITICS, MEET RELIGION: For 11 years, the Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation has sponsored UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and its efforts to bring lecturers from every region of the intellectual map to Santa Barbara to speak about their work and the Jewish experience. On Sunday, March 22, the IHC welcomes Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism of Washington, D.C., and author of Racing With God: The Use and Abuse of Religion in American Elections. His lecture, Being the Hands of God: Jewish Perspectives on the American Social Justice Agenda, begins at 3 p.m. at Victoria Hall Theater. Call 893-3907 or visit ihc.ucsb.edu for details.
EDGE OF ELEVEN: Newbery Medal-winning children’s author Susan Patron stops by Chaucer’s Books on Wednesday, March 25, to talk about and sign copies of her brand new book Lucky Breaks. A sequel to 2007’s The Higher Power of Lucky, the novel that won Patron that most coveted of all children’s book awards, and the second part of a planned trilogy, Lucky Breaks follows the continuing adventures of nearly eleven-year-old protagonist Lucky and her friends, the obsessively knot-tying Lincoln and the newly minted genius Miles, in the Californian hamlet of Hard Pan. Having served as a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library for over 35 years, Patron knows a thing or two about winning over a reading audience. She appears at Chaucer’s at 7 p.m. Call 682-6787 or visit chaucersbooks.com to learn more.