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Friday 8

Peace is threatening to break out in Nicaragua now that the contras and the Sandinistas are sitting at the same table, but the land of Sandino may become the exception in this troubled region: its refugees are draining resources and sparking tempers in neighboring Honduras; the forces of Roberto D'Aubuisson, the right-wing radical alleged to have ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, just won a parliamentary majority in elections in El Salvador; the pock-faced general, Manuel Noriega, threatens to strangle Panama's economic and political life by refusing to step down. And while Central America alternates between a boil and a simmer, Washington politics continue. The story of the tragedy is stunningly told in Allan Francovich's Houses Are Full of Smoke, a documentary that begins its run at 7:30 tonight at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. The film's 176 minutes are well used, featuring interviews with most of the players, including D'Aubuisson and Romero. Tickets are $5, $3 for Facets members. For more, call 281-4114.

When a recent Oprah Winfrey show featured some lesbian separatists as panelists, the technical director insisted on identifying them to home viewers with titles that read "man hating." The separatists had repeatedly asked for something more in tune with their women-affirming philosophies. By the end of the taping, they were furious with what they perceived to be a strong prejudice on the part of Winfrey and her staff. One of the show's panelists, Pat Hoffman, will be sharing her experience with Oprah and Lesbianphobia at the regular 8 PM women-only lesbian program at Kinheart, 2214 Ridge in Evanston. It's $3 for members, $5 for nonmembers. More information is available at 491-1103.

Saturday 9

Superman sprang from the heads of two boyhood friends, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Since his creation, the Man of Steel has made others millions, but it wasnt until recently that his two creators--now old men living in retirement in New York--saw much of that fortune. For Supe's 50th birthday this year, a young whippersnapper, John Byrne, was brought in to rewrite the legend, which he has done to the fans' applause. You can compare the old and the new Superman today from 10 to 5 at the Comic Convention at Saint Sebastian's, 810 W. Wellington. There'll be hundreds of comics, special guests, and a raffle. Conferencegoers can also get their old comics appraised. Admission is $1.50 for adults, $1 for kids. Call 477-4685 or 281-6603 for more information.

In 1973, a handful of filmmaking students from the School of the Art Institute convinced N.A.M.E. Gallery to let them screen some of their experimental work. They discovered a surprisingly enthusiastic audience. These days, the network they started is known as Chicago Filmmakers, a successful but still modest bunch of celluloid artists headed by the enterprising Brenda Webb. They've been instrumental in bringing to Chicago 15 years of eclectic and provocative film fare. Tonight's arts extravaganza a features everything from electric mandolin playing to street poetry readings. This thinly disguised fund-raiser will be at their wonderful new space at 1229 W. Belmont. Admission is a suggested $8, students $6; show time is 8. Call 281-8788 for more information.

Sunday 10

Surveyors agree that Mount Everest is more than 29,000 feet tall, but disagree on its exact height. A British government survey in the middle 1800s set it at 29,002 feet. In 1954, the Indian government set its official height at 29,028 feet. Some books quote an official 29,141 feet. Who can you believe? Try international mountaineer and lecturer Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, who will talk about his First Ascent to the Unclimbed Face of Mount Everest. This tall tale is true and begins at 2:30 this afternoon in Loyola University's Mertz Hall at the southeast corner of Loyola and Sheridan. There's a requested $5 donation, $3 for students. For more information, call 421-5257 or 743-1522.

Monday 11

More than ten years ago, young Thom Goodman and his partner Leonard Pitt were doing strange and wonderful avant-garde mime on the streets of San Francisco. Later Goodman moved to Chicago and founded CrossCurrents, the late great cabaret that could, on any given night, feature a Jamaican voodoo glass walker, an Albanian folk music trio, or a lesbian feminist poet. Pitt has much of Goodman's style, as evidenced in his one-man show, Not for Real, a tour de force of mime, performance, operatic whimsy, and plain ol' weirdness. The performance opens tonight at 7 at the Organic Theater, 3319 N. Clark. It runs through May 8 with performances Wednesday through Friday at 8, Saturday at 7 and 9, and Sunday at 3. Tickets range from $12 to $14. Call 327-5588 for more information.

Tuesday 12

AIDS devastates more than the body it inhabits--it can wreck relationships, friendships, and jobs. Coping With AIDS is a new four-week program designed to educate friends and families of people with AIDS to help sufferers to maintain a life of meaning and dignity. It starts at 6 PM in room 3639 at Ravenswood Hospital, 4550 N. Winchester. Registration is $36, but there's a sliding scale for those who qualify. For more information, call 878-4300, ext. 1455.

Wednesday 13

"The principal value of a private garden is not understood," wrote Charles Dudley Waerner in 1870 in his My Summer in a Garden. "It is not to give the possessor vegetables and fruit . . . but to teach him patience and philosophy, and the higher virtues." Keeping that in mind, take a look at the Chicago Botanic Garden's classes for the indoor gardener. Today starts a two-parter on Growing Indoor Plants. The classes will teach you how to select the right plants to suit your lighting conditions and schedule. The cost is a mere $30; class starts at 7 at the CBG on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, one half mile east of the Edens. There's a sign on the interstate. Call 835-5440 for more information.

There was a time--1457 to be exact--when the Scottish parliament banned golf for fear that its popularity was threatening the national defense. Nobody was playing with bows and arrows, then the only way to defend the land in wartime. Though secret, golf's appeal was great, as evidenced by the sport's continuing popularity. Its strokes are deceptively simple, which is why people often hurt themselves. Today's sports-medicine seminar, The Golf Swing, should help. It starts at 7:30 in the Frank Auditorium of Evanston Hospital, 2650 Ridge in Evanston. It's free. Call 491-9400 for more.

Thursday 14

Everybody complains about property tax increases. The issue has become even hotter this year with the guv prepping to hit us up for a hike and new GOPer Ed Vrdolyak saying he shouldn't. Acting Mayor Sawyer's administration, however, is trying to make sure people understand what's going on with assessment and property tax relief. Tonight the city's Taxpayers Advocate Office will offer the Logan Square neighborhood information at a special free property tax workshop at Casa Puertorriquena, 3445 W. North at 7. Call 744-3292 for more information.

Paul Hoover, Angela Jackson, and Marvin Bell are the three featured poets at Loyola University's 11th annual Poetry Festival, a big-deal reading that in years past has featured some big-deal names like Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and John Frederic Nims. After the featured readers, an open mike will allow everyone and anyone to share their poetic visions. It's at 7 tonight at the Crown Center on Loyola's Lake Shore campus, 6525 N. Sheridan Road. It's a freebie. For more, call 508-2240.

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