Paula Tyler's talent for screaming has paid off handsomely for the last three years at the Illinois State Fair, where she's won the 1987, 1988, and 1989 titles for husband calling. Tyler's hubby won't be around today, but 1989 rooster-crowing champ Phil Bartz, 1989 Ms. Illinois Senior America queen Patti Barton, 1990 governor's baton-twirling hostess Jacinda Pettice, and a slew of hog callers, fiddle champs, and other award winners will join Tyler in entertaining the noontime crowd at today's free Illinois State Fair Preview at the State of Illinois Building plaza, 100 W. Randolph. The Marshall Putnam Stark Jazz Band and Show Choir will provide the music. The state fair runs August 9 to 19 in Springfield. Call 346-0777.
Fourteen dance and performance artists chosen from 23 who participated in open auditions will be featured at Dance & More for $1.98, MoMing's showcase for new and undiscovered talent. Most of the pieces that will be performed are works in progress, but they'll be treated with professional lighting, costuming, and props. The program, precursor to the more fully developed and staged "Best of Dance & More for $1.98," has uncovered some greats over the years, including Gus Giordano, Joel Hall, Amy Osgood, Jan Bartoszek, and Nana Shineflug. It's at MoMing Dance & Arts Center, 1034 W. Barry, tonight and tomorrow night at 8 and Sunday at 3. The program will run again next weekend. Admission is $1.98. Call 472-9894.
Imagine a baseball game in which there are no gloves and no regulation bats, the pitchers throw underhand, and the batters get to ask for the pitch of their choice. On top of that, the players wear knickers and bow ties and the umps top hat and tails. That would describe Our National Pastime: 19th-Century Baseball on Prairie Avenue, the game that'll be played today as part of the Prairie Avenue Festival, sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The game starts at 12:30 in the Prairie Avenue Gardens, behind 1800 S. Prairie. Come in through the iron gates on 18th Street between Prairie and Indiana. The Shoreliner Barbershop Chorus will do the national anthem, and the traditional peanuts and hot dogs will be for sale. The festival runs 11 to 4, and CAF will be offering tours of the Clarke House and Glessner House museums throughout the day. Everything's free. For more information, call 326-1393.
You don't have to actually see The Phantom of the Opera to regale your friends with interesting historical tidbits about the play and an insightful analysis of Andrew Lloyd Webber's music: Roosevelt University offers a $15 Phantom seminar. Individual sessions will be held today, July 18 and 21, and August 4, 15, 18, and 29. Saturday sessions run from 1 to 3, Wednesday sessions from 6 to 8. It meets at Ganz Hall, on the seventh floor at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan. Call 341-3636.
If you're one of those people who braced for the cicada invasion but has yet to see a single one of those bugs, check out the Field Museum's exhibit, 17-Year Cicadas of Chicagoland. There are photos, videos, larger-than-life models, dead cicadas, and depending on your luck when you visit, maybe even live ones. The museum, at Roosevelt Road and Lake Shore Drive, is open from 9 to 5 every day. Admission is $3, $2 for kids, seniors, and students with IDs, with a $10 maximum for families. It's free on Thursdays. Call 922-9410.
At the Chicago School of Massage Therapy open house today, students will demonstrate most of the basic techniques of Swedish Esalen massage on some of the visitors, and Robert King, one of the school's directors, will show sports-massage techniques developed in the last few years. Also featured: a video on massage therapists' work with victims of the San Francisco earthquake. The school, founded nine years ago, has an active outreach program that involves free massages at seniors centers, AIDS hospices, and other community agencies. It's at 2918 N. Lincoln. Today's program, which starts at 1:30, is free; 477- 9444.
Before the invention of movable type in the 15th century, calligraphy was considered by many to be an art even greater than painting. Though the art doesn't have the same significance it once did, there are still beautiful examples of historic-style calligraphy being produced today. The Letter, Not the Word, a juried exhibition of calligraphic art by the Chicago Calligraphy Collective's regional and national award winners, opens today in the R.R. Donnelley Gallery at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Gallery hours are 9 to 5 Monday, Friday, and Saturday and 9 to 7:30 Tuesday and Thursday. The show runs through August 31; admission is free. Call 943-9090, ext. 310.
There are about 250 kinds of sharks, and contrary to popular myth, only a handful are a menace to humankind. Most just hang around the ocean bottom quite harmlessly. In fact, many sharks tend to get along pretty well with other fish; in the coral reef tank at the Shedd Aquarium, two six-foot long nurse sharks live peacefully with more than 300 other tropical fish. They're gentle enough to be hand fed three times a day, and shark feedings--at 11, 2, and 3--are open to the public. Admission to the aquarium is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and kids under 17 (Thursdays are free). The aquarium, at 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is open 9 to 5 daily. Call 939-2426.
When German artist Gunther Forg was in Chicago two years ago to exhibit an installation of photographs at the University of Chicago's Renaissance Society, he became enchanted by a small courtyard off the university's divinity school. It was secluded, dark, and covered with ivy. When he got back to his native country, Forg began working on an installation inspired by the little courtyard. Today Forg's exhibit, The Stations of the Cross--14 abstract bronze-relief pieces representing Christ's condemnation to death, crucifixion, and entombment, along with 56 preliminary drawings--opens at the Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis, fourth floor. Tonight's opening runs from 5 to 7 PM. The exhibit runs through August 31; gallery hours are 10 to 4 Monday through Friday. It's free. Call 702-8670.
"My mother has become an expert at bulk mail, and Frank's mother is a stamp wiz," says Nicholas Pavkovic about his two-year old career in magazine publishing. Ever since Pavkovic and partner Francisco Caceres put out the first issue of their magazine, Pulp, in December 1988, their mothers have functioned as their circulation department. Pulp is heavy on arty graphics, and its loopy, eclectic content consists mostly of photography, fiction, and interviews with local artists. Tonight Pavkovic and Caceres celebrate their fifth issue by throwing a publication party from 8 to 11 at Pizza Hut, 109 E. Chicago. Their mothers will be there too, selling copies. It's free; details at 278-9211.
While the debate about a third airport site goes on, the Metropolitan Planning Council has a different idea about how to handle the local air-traffic jam. High Speed Rail: Flying Fantasy or a Glimpse of the Future? is the topic of today's panel discussion featuring transportation experts Suhail al Chalabi, Frank Koppelman, Fritz Plous, and Merrill Travis. They'll discuss the feasibility of high-speed trains in Chicago and take a look at the recent preliminary study of high-speed rail service conducted by Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The presentation starts at 11:45 AM in the Marshall Field's Wedgewood Room, 111 N. State. The $15 admission ($13 for MPC members) includes a box lunch. If you just want coffee, it's $5. Call 922-5616.
Nigerian superstar musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who's in constant trouble with authorities back home because of his controversial, often subversive lyrics, will play with Jamaican reggae singer Jimmy Cliff at Poplar Creek tonight. Show time is 8 PM at 4777 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates. Tickets are $18.50 for the pavilion, $13.50 for lawn seats. Call 708-426-1222 or 559-1212.