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Friday 15

What exactly is the point of the Anonymous Museum? Its founders say they want to "examine the relationships between art and the institutions that seek to promote it" by exhibiting work--paintings, performances, readings, film, and video--without revealing the authors or offering it for sale. The whole shebang is a temporary project that will be open through next June; you can decide whether this is a valid philosophical stance or just an excuse for some fun when the museum holds a free inaugural gala tonight from 5 to 8. The Anonymous Museum is on the fourth floor at 226 W. Ontario; regular hours will be noon to 7 Thursdays, noon to 6 Fridays and Saturdays. Call 787-1330 for details.

Photographer George Hurrell was the best-known portrait photographer of Hollywood's Golden Age; Sid Avery, active at the same time, specialized in a different kind of posed shot, one that tried to pretend it wasn't posed. Some of Hurrell's most famous portraits (like a luminous shot of Jean Harlow on a bear rug) and some of Avery's friendliest candids (like Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart with tot and mutts) appear in Hollywood: Inside and Out, showing at the Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 W. Superior, through December 21. An opening reception runs tonight from 5 to 7; the gallery is otherwise open from 10 to 5:30 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call 266-2350 for details.

Saturday 16

The University of Minnesota's David Smith, who has been negotiating with the government of Nepal to save the endangered sloth bear, threatened by poachers and the steady elimination of its habitat, is in town tonight to talk at a meeting of the environmental group Earthwatch. He'll show slides, describe his strategy for saving the sloth bear, and ask for volunteers to help him track down some of the few remaining bears and fit them with radio collars. The talk costs $5, $4 for Earthwatch members; it's at 7:30 tonight at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2001 N. Clark. Call Earthwatch at 708-964-5046 for more info.

"As Nelson would say, if you're a little short, come anyway." So says the Nelson Algren Committee about its second anniversary celebration tonight at the Bop Shop, 1817 W. Division. There'll be a bunch of Algreniana, including jazz from the World Beatnik Ensemble, Gene Coleman, and Jim Tomasello; speeches from former alderman Leon Despres and the Heartland Cafe's Mike James; poetry from Bob Rudnick, John Starrs, Mike Ware, and others; performance by Donna Blue Lachman; Mark Blottner's film of How the Devil Came Down Division Street; and more. Warren Leming of the Chicago Cabaret Ensemble emcees. It starts at 8 and costs $5, $3 for students and seniors; 342-8847

Sunday 17

Michael Lerner, who has turned Tikkun into one of the country's most respected journals, is in town for a daylong symposium sponsored by the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, 303 Dodge in Evanston. On the table will be "the religious and political responsibilities of American Jews, and the progressive intellectual approach to Judaism and Jewish spirituality." The program starts at 1:30 PM, and admission, on a sliding scale, is $20-$60. A vegetarian dinner is included; call 708-475-0551.

Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack has indeed been providing live-on-stage bad taste to unsuspecting audiences for one full year, so it's probably fair to let Torso Theatre founders Jim Casey, Billy Bermingham, and Ben Bodelson repeat the lofty ideal of their company: "a not-for-profit, not-for-the-timid, not-for-the-NEA producing entity dedicated to the eradication of soft, white, squishy, bloated, 'safe' art and its willingness to bend over for the hypodermic-funding-phallus of addictive helplessness." Cannibal's 201st performance is tonight; the theater is celebrating through November 27--the show's first anniversary--with everything from free beer and pizza for early ticket buyers tonight to door prizes on the 27th that include a pair of panties worn by the character Natasha. Show time tonight and every Sunday is 7 PM; it also shows on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8. Torso Theatre's at 2827 N. Broadway. Call 549-3330 for more info on the show and other anniversary activities.

Monday 18

The Arts Club of Chicago has been introducing Chicago and the midwest to the best in contemporary art for 75 years, most notably, the work of Brancusi, Chagall, Duchamp, and Picasso. As part of its anniversary season, the gallery will show 13 works by noted abstract painter John Walker, the British painter known for his large economy-size canvases and homages to Goya, Velazquez, and Miro; at 109 E. Ontario, through January 11. Gallery hours are 10 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday; admission is free. Call 787-3997.

In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Peter the Great Robert Massie traced the life of the despotic but westward-looking 18th-century czar Peter I; he told the story of Nicholas, Alexandra, Rasputin, and the fall of the czars in Nicholas and Alexandra. His newest book is Dreadnought, about the deteriorating relations between England and Germany that eventually led to World War I. Massie will be talking about these events in a lecture at 5:30 this evening at Roosevelt University's Sullivan Room, 430 S. Michigan, second floor. Admission is $5. Call 341-3510 for details.

Tuesday 19

The Muppets got their start in 1954 with Sam and Friends, a show created by an enthusiastic young puppeteer named Jim Henson for a TV station in Washington, D.C.; and despite Henson's death last year, viewed as a tragedy by the world, they live on. A retrospective on the beloved creatures continues at the Museum of Science and Industry through January. It traces the puppets' evolution from TV (Sesame Street, The Muppet Show) to the big screen (The Muppet Movie and more elaborate creations like Labyrinth) with videos, film clips, and oodles of the puppets themselves. There's a special admission fee of $2, $1 for seniors and kids under 13, for the exhibit, in addition to the usual museum charge of $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for kids (everybody gets in free on Thursday). The museum's at 57th and Lake Shore Drive and is open 9:30 to 4 weekdays and 9:30 to 5:30 weekends and holidays (except Christmas). Call 684-1414 for more.

You can learn a lot about chimpanzees tonight as the Chicago Academy of Sciences' extensive chimp fest The Nature of Chimpanzees continues at the Ambassador West Hotel, 1300 N. State. Tonight's show, "The Wonder of Chimpanzees," is a selection of film and video clips on the animal's behavior. Highlights: "nut-cracking behavior of wild chimpanzees on the Ivory Coast," "language and tools," and "sociosexual behavior of the pygmy chimpanzees." A discussion led by academy prez Paul Heltne follows. It's $8, $5 for members; Tuesday programs continue same time, same place through December 10. Call 549-0607 or 902-1500.

Wednesday 20

"I never met an M&M I didn't like," begins Jeannine Deubel's "M&M's," one of about 40 new poems in the new issue of Hammers--"an end of millennium irregular poetry magazine." There's also stuff from editor Nat David, the cream of Chicago's performance poetry crowd, and lots of others. The new mag is being feted at the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, from 5 to 7 tonight with a variety of readings. It's free; 708-328-7555.

Thursday 21

Tonight there's a free forum on the media in wartime at the John Marshall Law School: participating will be CBS News State Department correspondent Bill Plante (arguing earnestly for his right to film, and the public's right to see, the exploded heads and severed limbs of American servicepeople) and the chief midwest flack for the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sjordal (explaining, with a fascistic smile, how the military's choking restrictions on war coverage aren't a direct attack on the spirit of the First Amendment). The occasion is the fourth annual Baker & McKenzie Media and the Law Conference. It starts at noon at the law school, 315 S. Plymouth. Call 427-2737 for more.

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