The grand opening of the Fiery Clock Face, a new bookstore at 5311 N. Clark, is scheduled for 6:30 tonight and will include traditional May Day dances by the Ravenswood Morris Dancers, Irish music, and story telling. The store takes its name from an English folk tune and will sell used books of all denominations, as well as folk music records. Free; 728-4227.
Gilbert and Sullivan fans are in for a treat -- a rare staging of The Sorcerer by the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Chicago opening tonight at 8 and continuing tomorrow, Sunday, and the next two weekends at Saint Ignatius Auditorium, 1320 W. Loyola. It's one of their earlier collaborations, with a plot involving a village that falls under the spell of a love potion. Tix are $12.50; 932-7460.
It may have escaped your notice that today is the tenth anniversary of the last time Elvis Presley performed in the Chicago area, but more observant people have planned an Elvis fan reunion: it will include a convention from 10 to 7 and an Elvis show from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Berwyn Sokol Hall, 6445 W. 27th Place in Berwyn. $3 for the convention, $5 for the show, $7 for both; 484-7428.
Loyola's exquisite Martin D'Arcy Gallery is the setting for the seventh annual Flowers as Art exhibit, 11-5 today and tomorrow in Cudahy Library, 6525 N. Sheridan. A stunning display of flowers, fruits, and vegetables will be arranged to suggest the paintings of the Renaissance or to provide floral frames for art pieces. $1 admission; 508-2679.
Herb growers will teach visitors all about herbs from 1 to 3 today in the Illinois Pioneer Life Gallery at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark at North. Topics will range from planting and harvesting herbs to using them for cooking, decorating, and preserving. Free with admission to the museum: $1.50, 50 cents for children and seniors. More at 642-4600.
Their name notwithstanding, the Metropolitan Blues All-Stars hail from the coalfields of Kentucky, and they're in town to kick off a celebration of Appalachian arts presented by the Appalshop arts and education center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Studs Terkel, Ted Bogan, the Armstrong brothers, and others will join the group, and a preview of the film Long Journey Home will be shown, 8 PM at the Goodman Theatre Studio, 200 S. Columbus. $10, with reservations at 443-3800.
The Ryerson Woods Smith Symposium, a series of three Sunday nature programs scheduled to coincide with bird migrations and the blooming of wildflowers, starts with a bird walk at 7:30 AM, 21950 Riverwoods Road in Deerfield. Lectures on birds, animals, and flowers follow, with a lecture at 1:30 titled "The New Explorers: The Filming of Islands in the Jungle" that will feature Field Museum ornithologist John Fitzpatrick and WBBM TV anchorman Bill Kurtis. The workshops cost $5, which covers all three Sundays; the rest is free, but advance registration is requested: 948-7750.
Tour five northwest-side churches under the aegis of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. Check in at the Pulaski Park field house, 1419 W. Blackhawk; a lecture on the city's cultural history will be given at 1 across the street at Saint Stanislaus Kostka. Tix are $20 at the door, less in advance or if you're an LPC member; 922-1742.
The press release announcing the Chicago Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts' Down Memory Lane: A Pipe Organ & Dance Extravaganza indicates that the setting for the event, the Aragon at 1106 W. Lawrence, has been restored to its former glory: the psychedelia is gone, leaving a Moorish castle courtyard lodged peacefully under a starlit sky. Today's event is more of a tea dance, since it starts at 2:30; $8, $6 in advance, with details at 282-0037.
The 53rd annual fashion show of the School of the Art Institute will be staged at 2 and 7 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Professional models will parade in the always outre and often exciting designs; if your socks are knocked off by anything in particular, drop by the fashion sale from 11 to 4 tomorrow at the School of the Art Institute, Columbus and Jackson. The shows are $15 for the matinee, $20 for the evening; the sale is cash only. Info and tickets at 443-3790 and 559-1212.
The Temporary Theatre Company of Chicago presents Herstory, a "performance-art variety show" that will be performed only once, at 8 tonight, at the Second City E.T.C., 1608 N. Wells. More than 30 actors are involved in the entertainment, which will feature music, dance, poetry, comedy, drama, eunuchs, and Isadora Duncan. $5; reservations at 262-4453.
There is no question that the advent of plastic grocery sacks with handles has led to a precipitous drop in the bagging skills of today's supermarket employees, despite my attempts to keep that noble art alive by always requiring brown paper, double-bagged, all in one, please (it is infinitely easier -- on carrier and food alike -- to tote a single well-packed bag a few blocks than to haul two plastic ones with handles digging into one's palms and all the food getting smushed together). Thankfully, I am not the only person in the world to recognize the importance of this dying art: the American Paper Institute, whose interest may be tinged with economics, sponsors a nationwide annual Paper Grocery Sack Pack-Off, with the 1987 installment to be held at 10 today at Dominick's Finer Foods, 3300 W. Belmont. Don Drysdale calls the action; free, with info from Rich Simpson at 562-1000 ext. 2500.
Architect Paul Rudolph lectures on The Architectural Spaces of Wright, LeCorbusier, and Mies at 8 tonight at the Graham Foundation, 4 W. Burton. The exhibit Architecture in Context: Paul Rudolph, on view at the foundation through May 28, will also explore Rudolph's relationship to modern architecture. Free; more at 787-4071.
Alexander Cockburn, the media critic and gadfly whose columns appear in The Nation, the Wall Street Journal, and In These Times, speaks on U.S.-Central America relations at 7:30 tonight in Northwestern's Leverone Hall, Sheridan at Foster in Evanston. $3, $1 for students; 475-1294 for information.
Smithsonian magazine describes the Roadside Theater's style as "an Appalachian oral history carefully crafted into down-home docudrama"; National Public Radio called the traveling ensemble "whoppin' good storytellers." The troupe performs its blend of original plays, tall tales, and music at 7:30 tonight at MoMing Dance & Arts Center, 1034 W. Barry. Performances continue through this weekend and next, with tickets at $12.50, $10 for students and seniors, and $2.50 for a special matinee on Sunday, May 10. Reserve at 472-9894.
Today's fun fact: the Ford Motor Company once asked poet Marianne Moore to name a new car they were producing, but ultimately rejected her suggestions and called it the Edsel. A treasure trove of Moore-iana is the basis for Vision Into Verse: Marianne Moore and the Modernist Poem, which opens today and continues through July 3 at the U. of C.'s Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th; a supplementary exhibit looks at the poet's relationship with Poetry magazine. Opening festivities will be held at 6 PM, with a reading and talk by Maxine Kumin; free. Five poet-scholars will participate in a free two-day symposium on Marianne Moore to be held tomorrow and Saturday at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Exhibit details at 702-3349; more on the symposium at 413-2210.