The people who run the Garfield Farm Museum are alarmed: they say that two-thirds of a selected 7,000 post-Boomers (age 17) around the country were unable to correctly date the Civil War, and democracy as we know it is in jeopardy. They hasten to add that a trip to their living history museum for the fall festival will combat that danger: the 212-acre farm and inn has buildings that span the period between 1846 and 1906, and from 10 to 5 today, tomorrow, and Sunday it will become a hive of old-fashioned activity, with carriage rides, a farmers' market and bakery, lots of demonstrations, and an antique sale. $3 admission, $1 for kids 6-11; the farm is 40 miles west of the Loop, five miles west of Geneva off Route 38 on Garfield Road. Info at 584-8485.
The Amlings Haunted House opens today, from 6 to 9 PM, at 8900 W. North Ave. in Melrose Park. It's one of the most venerable, and, allegedly, 37 years of scaring the bejesus out of people foolish enough to pay money for the opportunity to be reduced to pudding make this one of the spookier such enterprises. Find out for yourself--or, better still, send the kids and ask them afterwards. The house will be open through November 1. $2.50 admission, with details at 850-5010.
Cajun bands File and D.L. Menard and the Louisiana Aces perform at 7:30 and 10 tonight at the Old Town School, 909 W. Armitage. Bayou Cookin' Restaurant is handling the refreshments, which are likely to be as spicy as the music, and a raffle for two round-trip tickets to New Orleans will be held. Admission is $10, $8 for members, $6 for children and seniors. More at 525-7793.
The Immaculate Conception Church, in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, will offer a celebration and blessing of pets at 1 this afternoon on the church plaza, 1431 N. North Park. All are welcome; advance word has it that an ocelot, horses, and a priest in Franciscan robes will be on hand. Information at 944-1230.
Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Stephen Deutch, Denise DeClue, and other friends of the author will participate in today's Nelson Algren Celebration, 3 to 5 at Guild Books, 2456 N. Lincoln. The cause for celebration is the rerelease of Algren's Somebody in Boots, Never Come Morning, and Chicago: City on the Make. There will be readings, refreshments, and plenty of reminiscing. Free; 525-3667.
The gingerbread house (of Hansel and Gretel fame) meets art nouveau and Hieronymus Bosch in the work of Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926), who lived and worked primarily in Barcelona. The buildings and parks that I've visited dazzled me, and apparently they had the same effect on Japanese film director Hiroshi Teshigahara, who is best known for his Woman of the Dunes. In the 70s he retired from filmmaking, later becoming head of a Japanese school of flower arrangement. In 1984, he filmed an homage to the architect, a 72-minute architectural tour, Antonio Gaudi, with minimal narration. It screens at 4 and 5:30 today, and again at 6 and 7:45 tomorrow, at the Film Center, Columbus at Jackson. $4.50: 443-3737.
The Chicago Imagists are reasserting themselves in Hyde Park with three exhibits that will run concurrently. The Chicago Imagist Print: Ten Artists' Works, 1958-1987 will be on view through December 6 at the Smart Gallery, 5550 S. Greenwood (702-0200); the Renaissance Society focuses on Drawings of the Chicago Imagists, on view at 5811 S. Ellis through November 14 (702-8670); and the Hyde Park Art Center, 1701 E. 53rd, hosts a tribute to Edward C. Flood: Retrospective 1967-1985, also through November 14 (324-5520). A joint opening reception will be held for the three shows from 1 to 5 today, with shuttle available between the galleries.
Steppenwolf presents the world premiere of Lynn Siefert's Little Egypt, opening at 7 tonight and continuing through November 22, 2851 N. Halsted. The play, commissioned by Steppenwolf, is set in a southern Illinois town and is described as a comedy. Tickets are $15-$22, with reservations at 472-4141.
Happy 40th birthday to the Chicago Transit Authority--a cause for a celebration that will begin at 11:30 today in Daley Plaza, Dearborn at Randolph. A 1940s big band will play and there will be vintage transit vehicles on display, among them a Green Hornet streetcar, as well as a fashion show of CTA uniforms. Free; the vintage cars will be on view all week. More at 664-7200.
Swell Pictures, in cooperation with the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Center for New Television, presents Video Playhouse, a two-part show that starts tonight with a reception at 7, followed by screenings at 8 at the Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted. Tonight's installment features Miroslaw Rogala's video opera Nature Is Leaving Us, along with a retrospective of earlier works, live performances, and live audio processing. The second part, a showcase of experimental video planned for Monday, October 12, will display the talents of Swell Pictures staff and other artists from around the city. $10 each evening, or $15 for both--a real deal for this up-to-the-minute video art event. Details at 348-4800.
If strangers frequently accost you on the street and ask for your autograph due to the remarkable resemblance you bear to, say, Robert Redford or Cybill Shepherd, this is not your lucky day. If, on the other hand, you are a dead ringer for Sophia Loren or Marcello Mastroianni, then you're wanted by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans for their Italian movie star and mogul look-alike contest (and you thought looking like Carlo Ponti would never get you anyplace in life), which will be held at 11:45 today at the Daley Center, Dearborn and Washington. Winners will ride on a float in the Columbus Day parade. More at 372-6788.
Deborah Sobol and Larry Combs, artistic directors of the Chicago Chamber Musicians, will perform an unusual program of rarely heard transcriptions for piano and clarinet at 12:15 today at the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Works by Mozart, Schubert, Scriabin, and Prokofiev will be heard. Free; details at 973-4513.
OK, you've tried everything short ol' lassoing cute guys on street corners: now it's time to get down to brass tacks (be honest--have you tried brass tacks?) and put your checkbook where your mouth is at tonight's Bid for Bachelors, an event benefiting the March of Dimes from 6 to 9 tonight at Ditka's/City Lights, 223 W. Ontario. $15 admission; you can always say you did it for charity. Information at 407-4007.
If you have just a few odds and ends to pick up before Christmas, surely some of the handcrafted items at the in October bazaar will fill the gaps, 10-3:30 today. (If you're looking at a complete void, as opposed to a few gaps, it's a good place to get started.) The bazaar, sponsored by the Church of the Holy Comforter, is part of a house walk of four homes and the parish house decorated for Christmas. Start the tour at the church, 222 Kenilworth Ave., or at the Kenilworth Club, 410 Kenilworth Ave., in Kenilworth. Admission is $18; information at 251-6120.
Thomas Riccio introduces the Organic Theater Company's new ten-member ensemble in Shakespeare's Titus Andrunicus, which opens at 8 tonight and continues through November 8 at 3319 N. Clark. The play is being staged in modern dress and carries as its cheery subtitle the phrase "Justice, Loyalty, Honor, Meat, Blood." If the kiddies start begging you to take them, it's probably because they've heard about the graphic violence and nudity promised. Tix are $12-$14, with a special student/senior "rush" price of $6; more at 327-5507.