If you're going to celebrate National Pig Day, it's best to celebrate it with a pig worthy of the honor. The Brookfield Zoo's Oreo Ossabaw Island Pig well may be one. The zoo says Oreo can shake hands, fetch, and "distinguish objects by scent." Oreo will be doing all of these things, eating cake, and posing for pictures as part of the zoo festivities for the 19th National Pig Day. You can also meet Tango Yucatan Miniature Piglet, who's up for "adoption"; the $20 adoption fee helps feed her, and "parents" get a photo, a pig fact sheet, and some other stuff. The zoo, at 1st Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield, is open daily 10 to 5; admission is $2.75 for adults, $1 for children under 11 and seniors, free on Tuesdays. Call 708-485-0263 for details.
Two large collections of beautiful and varied Mexican children's toys--from the Museo Nacional de Artes e Industrias Populares in Mexico City and the Casa de las Artesanias in Michoacan--make up the more than 1,000 toys on display at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in an exhibit opening today. El Juguete Popular Mexico ("popular toys of Mexico") runs through June 9, with everything from string puppets to pinatas to musical instruments. Over the coming months, there'll also be a slate of Mexican toy makers in town for two-week stints to demonstrate things like pinata making and lacquering. Jesus Ramirez Rios is the first of these; beginning March 12, he'll demonstrate how to make traditional Michoacan toys Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 to 4, through March 31. There's an opening reception tonight at 6. The center is at 1852 W. 19th St.; admission is free. Call 738-1503.
The Curious Theatre Branch (The Weirdly Sisters, Looking Through Two Johnnies) used to use Theater Oobleck's storefront theater on Broadway. Now Curious has its own space at 1900 W. North. The group's grand-opening foofaraw is this weekend; tonight performance artists Paula Killen, Lynn Book, and Greg Allen go on at 8, with a reception following. Tomorrow is an evening of music with Maestro Subgum and the Whole (featuring Curious Theatre founders Beau O'Reilly and Jenny Magnus), the Wild Onion Rhythm Babies, and Jerry and the Luges; things get under way at 8:30. Admission both nights is $5. Call 421-3733 for details.
Henry Kaiser is a people-friendly guitar god whose extravagantly styled collaborations with everyone from Bill Frisell to Herbie Hancock to Bob Weir have labeled him both chameleon and wizard. Best known, perhaps, for his work with guitar superensemble French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson, he has the humor to also toss out a double album (Heart's Desire) that cheerfully includes an oddly evocative cover of the Dead's "Dark Star" alongside Stockhausen's Klavierstuck III. Kaiser is playing tonight with resident Chicago whiz Jim O'Rourke, as the pair prepare a new recording of guitar duets. They start at 8 at the Edge of the Lookingglass, 62 E. 13th St. Tickets are $6. The pair will also do a free shorter, acoustic performance at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway, at 2 PM. Call 939-4017 (Lookingglass) or 404-5080 (Reckless) for more info.
Food, cars, toilet paper, cigars, beer, condoms, and insurance are the stars of this year's Cannes International Film Festival Adfest, a collection of superior TV commercials from around the world--113 from 20 countries. It plays at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, through March 21. Showtimes are 7 and 9 PM Monday through Saturday, 5:30 and 7:30 Sunday. It's $5, $3 for Facets members. Call 281-4114.
Sunday March 3
Civil War Songs and Home Front Ballads is the name of today's concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music; performers include Art Thieme, Jenny Armstrong, Mark Dvorak, and the Ad Hoc String Band. Curator Paul Tyler will lead some old-time dances. The program starts at 3 at the school, 909 W. Armitage. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12. Call 525-7793.
Monday March 4
The PAP Productions Magic Lantern Film Fest--a weekly series combining films by experimental and independent local directors with found footage and performance pieces--starts tonight at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln. Tonight's program includes the films Waitress of the Damned, Judy Doll in Iceland, and several shorts. Emceeing the event will be local actor and director Billy Bullion, and there'll be an intermission performance by a performance group called PAPtarts of 1991. It starts at 9 and costs $3; call 549-5549 or 943-7023 for details.
Marvin Winans is the pastor of the Perfecting Church of Detroit; he's also the brother of Calvin, Michael, and Ronald, who together make up the Winans, the acclaimed pop-gospel group. Marvin is in town today to conduct a gospel master class under the auspices of the Chicago division of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. "Contemporary Gospel Songs: Singin' 'Em and Writin' 'Em" will be half lecture, half demonstration as Winans imparts his secrets for success to aspiring songwriters and singers. At the Harold Washington College Auditorium, 30 E. Lake, at 9 this morning. Admission is $10, $5 for students. Call 786-1121 for details.
One writer in a household is trouble looking for a place to happen; two are a recipe for disaster. The first in a series of PEN-sponsored talks on Couples Who Write is tonight at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Poet Alane Rollings, author of Transparent Landscapes and In Your Own Sweet Time, and her husband, novelist Richard Stern, will discuss whether writers in similar situations can work things out or should just give up. The program runs from 5:30 to 7:30; it's $3, $2 for PEN members. Call G.E. Murray at 856-8863 for details.
The Kids in the Hall are named after a group of aged comedy writers for Jack Benny; they're the latest Canadian comedy phenom. More cerebral and more abstract than their Saturday Night Live equivalents, the five-man band of writers and performers, whose half-hour show can be seen weekly on HBO, uses gender ambivalence (lots of drag and some other gay undertones) for some high-level assaults on sex, society, and culture. In one skit, a talky couple on a first date thoroughly deconstruct their evening--dinner, a movie, sex, guilt, and an uncomfortable good-bye--all in the space of about three minutes. The Kids make their debut appearance in Chicago tonight at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, at 7:30. Tickets are $15; call 929-5959.
Judith Jamison's version of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes to Chicago this weekend with four premieres. Jamison, one of Ailey's principal dancers, took over the company after the acclaimed choreographer's death in 1989. Early in her tenure she came under some press criticism for her handling of the famous troupe; this will be the first chance Chicagoans have had to see for themselves how the ensemble is doing. The group's four-night stand opens tonight with Ailey's well-known Revelations and a new piece, Read Matthew 11:28, set by choreographer Kris World to music by Bobby McFerrin. Other works over the next three days include pieces by Jamison and Lar Lubovitch; there's music by Steve Reich, Laura Nyro, Duke Ellington, and many others. At the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, tonight at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8, and Sunday at 3. Tickets are $17-$32. Call 346-0270 for information.
It's not easy being the third-best band from Manchester, England: Inspiral Carpets, more detached and less psychedelicized than Happy Mondays or Stone Roses, are a worthy band that have been somewhat overshadowed by their more celebrated townmates. But the band still has elements of the "Manchester sound": a heavy, somewhat acidified dance beat, throwback instrumentation (like a Farfisa organ), and a way with hooks. The band plays a cheap ($6) show at Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark, tonight at 7:30, and will be signing records downstairs at the Rave record store at 4 PM as well. Call 549-0203 for details.