Norman Loftis grew up on the south side, got an MFA in film from Columbia University in NYC, and now is a professor at City University of New York. His first film, made in 1988, was a low-budget picture of life in Harlem. Small Time, shot on the run on the streets of the city, tells the story of a neighborhood loser (Richard Barboza) and his crack-smoking girlfriend (Carolyn Kinebrew); in the years since its release it's been on the international art-festival circuit, picking up an award here, a commendation there. It opens a two-week run at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton, tonight at 7 and 9. The film plays weeknights at those times and Sundays at 5:30 and 7:30 through January 23. Admission is $5; call the theater for details at 281-4114.
Gone, which has extended its run at Theater Oobleck through January 25, is a loud and fast-moving melange of a whole lot of things: Philip K. Dick, Giles Goat-Boy, and Dickens, for starters. In the play's bizarre cosmology, humans are all students in an inescapable two-dimensional "university" whose administration is unreachable. (OK, that part's not so bizarre.) Four "students" escape--into an ultrasmall parallel universe where there is no digestion and their only fellow humans are a larcenous cockney family. Further events include an attack of scleroderma, a visit from a 20-foot worm (and lots of visits from normal-sized ones), and several chopped-off fingers. Complaints about the length of Oobleck's plays have kept this one trimmed down to a lean, mean 75 minutes; the efficiency of the pacing belies the fact that the group works without a director. Gone was written by and stars Mickle Maher: it shows Fridays and Saturdays at 9 and Thursdays at 8. Tickets are $4, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke." The theater is at 5153 N. Ashland. Call 878-4557.
Japanese photographer Yasumasa Morimura takes the work of famous Western painters (Rembrandt, Goya, Duchamp) and re-creates them using photographs, impersonating all the figures (both male and female) himself. You could probably call Morimura's work either spoof or homage; the Museum of Contemporary Art, which today opens an exhibit of it, calls it "trompe l'oeil photography." Options 44: Yasumasa Morimura runs through April 19; the museum, at 237 E. Ontario, is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5. Admission is $4, $2 for students, seniors, and kids under 16. Call 280-5161.
Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus are all visible this time of year, say the folks at the Chicago Astronomical Society, which is holding free outdoor viewing sessions (with benefit of telescopes) at three locations this weekend: tonight at 7:30 at Morton College, 3801 S. Central in Cicero; tonight at 8:30 at Triton College's Cernan Earth and Space Center, 2000 Fifth Avenue in River Grove; and tomorrow night at 7:30 at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. Indoor info sessions start one hour before outdoor viewing; call 725-5618 to check for last-minute cancellations due to weather.
Who is J.R. "Bob" Dobbs? What exactly is the Church of the Subgenius? We don't really know, but with a national Church of the Subgenius convention scheduled for September in Chicago, and the concurrent threat of thousands of church members from around the country converging on the midwest, it might be about time to find out. Arise!, the Ivan Stang-directed biography of the iconic Dobbs, is having its last public showing before it's released on video--minus a crucial half-hour of what church members call "top-secret rituals and belief." It's showing as part of the weekly doings of the Psychotronic Film Society, in the Avalon Niteclub, 959 W. Belmont, at 8:30 PM. The $6 admission gets you into the club's later goings-on as well. Call 738-0985 for more.
You might not have heard, but Chicago, claims the Chicago Sacred Harp Singers, has become a center for a revival of "shape-note," or "fa-sol-la," singing--sort of a folk sing- along where you sit in a circle, no one's in charge, and everyone's both performer and audience. The Sacred Harp Singers' eighth annual gathering is this afternoon from 1 to 5 in the field house of Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt. (There're no harps involved--Sacred Harp was the name of a mid-19th-century songbook.) It's free. Call 486-7400 for details.
For its production of Twelfth Night, the Goodman has brought in three-quarters of the experimental London theater group Gloria--four directors, writers, composers, and teachers who do theater, opera, mime, performance, and all sorts of other things. At a Goodman Artists and Issues Forum tonight, Neil Bartlett, Leah Hausman, and Nicholas Bloomfield--credited as director, choreographer, and composer, respectively, but who work collaboratively--will talk about their interpretation of the play, which is currently in previews and opens January 20. Specifically, they've given the work an all-female cast and set it on a stage whose main feature is a grand piano, which serves as the catalyst for the play's diverse transformations and disguises. You can talk with them and others who helped design the play tonight at the theater, 200 S. Columbus, from 6:30 to 8. Tix to the forum are $10, $8 in advance. Call 443-3757 for details. Previews of Twelfth Night run through January 19, and regular performances run January 20 through February 22. Tickets are $20-$33; call 443-3800.
If you liked Susan Faludi's Backlash, you might be interested in Flora Davis's Moving the Mountain: The Women's Movement in America Since 1960. Davis is a journalist and feminist historian who's written four other books; for Moving the Mountain she spent six years tracing the movement and interviewing activists. She'll be at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark, tonight at 7:15 to talk about her book and the outlook for women's rights after the expected repeal of Roe v. Wade this year. It's free. Call 769-9299 for more.
Now that we sort of understand what the point of the theory of relativity is and are just beginning to get black holes straight, we're faced with the prospect of "wormholes"--tunnels that in theory provide a means of space and time travel. Given NASA's recent track record, don't count on it happening anytime soon, but it might be good to be prepared. Wormholes: Express Lanes Through the Universe is the title of four weekly lectures by Fermilab's Dr. Fay Dowker at the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive; the series begins tonight from 7:30 to 9 and continues for the next three Tuesday nights. $25 gets you in to all four lectures. Call 322-0323 for details.
Asphalt buffs will like the Chicago Architecture Foundation lecture today; landscape architect Ruth Ann Buckley and Park District assistant superintendent Edward Uhlir will talk about the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive at 12:15 in the Archicenter, 330 S. Dearborn. It's free to foundation members, $2 otherwise; call 326-1393 for details.
"Mishuganismo" is a portmanteau combo defined by coiner Susan Nussbaum as describing the situation "when a Jewish woman goes crazy for a Latin guy." It's also the title of her play about the the lives and loves in the hyper-hyphenated world of a Jewish-socialist quadriplegic, the current offering from Remains Theatre, directed by Nussbaum's father, Mike Nussbaum. There's a benefit performance tonight for Access Living, the advocacy group for disabled people. It's $25; the show starts at 7 at Remains, 1800 N. Clybourn. Regular performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 2. Tix are $10, with reserved seats available at $15-$20. For info on the benefit call 226-5900; for other info call 335-9595.
Physicist Roald Sagdeev will relate his up-close-and-personal brush with the failed August coup in the Soviet Union at a lecture in Hyde Park tonight. Sagdeev, a former space-program chief and Supreme Soviet deputy, was a member of the People's Congress that met after Yeltsin faced down the generals. He currently teaches at the University of Maryland at College Park, and he'll talk on The Second Russian Revolution: Will This Be the Last One? in a free lecture at the Max Palevsky Cinema, in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., starting at 5:30. Call 702-9192 for details.