Sir William Walton's Facade, the full-length musical olio of classical, jazz, yodeling, and tango with accompanying nonsense verses penned by Edith Sitwell, earned brickbats when it premiered in 1923. But it's being revived tonight anyway, in a 70th-anniversary performance to benefit the William Ferris Chorale. Walton's widow, Susana Walton, will read the text; she'll be joined by British baritone John Shirley-Quirk and Chicago Pro Musica. William Ferris will conduct, even though the chorale will sit out the show. The ensemble will perform in front of painter Matt Lamb's Great Facade, a screen made up of 60 two-by-four-foot panels. The show starts at 8 in the Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; tix are $50. Call 527-9898 for more.
The latest Graham Foundation lecture addresses how language and architecture feed off each other. Speaker John Onians says the way we talk affects how we think about buildings, and how we think about buildings affects the way we talk. Onians, a professor of art history at England's University of East Anglia, has written two books, Art and Thought in the Hellenistic Age: The Greek World View and Bearers of Meaning: The Classical Orders in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The talk's tonight at 8 at the foundation, 4 W. Burton. It's free; call 787-4071.
Still have a dried-out fire hazard around the house? You can recycle your Christmas tree for free from 9 to 2 today at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2001 N. Clark. Last year the museum chipped nearly 10,000 trees into mulch and it's hoping for an even better turnout this year. They'd like the trees--sans ornaments and lights, please--brought around to the academy's back entrance, on Stockton Drive in Lincoln Park. You can watch your tree get chipped and even take home a free bag of mulch for the yard. Call 744-5000 for information or other tree-recycling locations.
In its never-ending attempts to subvert the workings of the modern world of art merchandising, the loose affiliation of underground galleries that calls itself Uncomfortable Spaces proffers The Random Access Show. The four participating organizations with openings tonight--from 5 to 7 at the MWMWM Gallery, 1255 S. Wabash; from 6 to 8 at Ten in One Gallery, 1510 W. Ohio; from 7 to 9 at Tough Gallery, 415 N. Sangamon; and from 8 to 11 at Beret International, 2211 N. Elston--selected the artists represented in their shows entirely randomly, by drawing names from a jug. "Some artists," the group notes happily, "did not want to apply for the show, feeling it is insulting to exhibit unless the curator appreciates their talents and accomplishments." They're all free; call 850-4610 or 489-0282 for more.
It's time for another Field Museum overnight. The plan is for families with kids in elementary school to head over after dinner to the museum at 5:45. The evening's activities include working on Egyptian hieroglyphics, measuring dinosaurs, story telling, and free time to explore the museum until 2 AM. You bring sleeping bags and toothbrushes, and the museum wakes you up in the morning for a continental breakfast. It's $35, $30 for kids. The Field Museum is at Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive; call 922-9410 for details.
Les Blank, the anthropologist-documentarian-filmmaker who in the past has examined everything from bayou musicians to garlic lovers to women with gapped teeth, will unveil some recent shorts and a new full-length documentary today at the Film Center, Columbus and Jackson. The shorts include Puamana, a look at Hawaiian composer Irmgard Farden Aluli; Yum, Yum, Yum!, another excuse for food lover Blank to delve into the glories of Louisiana cooking; and Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge, a sampling of stories from an Appalachian grandmother. The feature is Innocents Abroad, a very funny examination of the rigors of a 14-day, 3,000-mile, 22-city European package bus tour. The shorts show at 4, Innocents Abroad at 6; Blank will answer questions after both programs. Tix are five bucks, three for Film Center members. Call 443-3733 for more.
Two Chicago universities have Martin Luther King Jr. birthday activities on tap today. At Loyola Law School prof Norman Amaker, the NAACP staff attorney who defended King and other activists involved in the historic demonstrations in Selma and Birmingham in the 1960s, will give a talk titled "If Martin Luther King Were Alive . . . (What Would Martin Say?)" The free talk starts at 5 at the school, 1 E. Pearson. The Simpson Living Learning Center at Loyola's Lake Shore campus, 6525 N. Sheridan, hosts a free student conference on current race relations and King's legacy from 10 to 2:30 today as well. Call 915-6059 for details on the talk and conference. At the University of Chicago, Kenneth Clark, author of Prejudice and Your Child, Dark Ghetto, and Pathos of Power, professor emeritus of City University of New York, and a U. of C. trustee, will talk on "Reflections on Dr. King's Philosophy on Peace and Justice" at noon in the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn. Also on the program: the William H. Ray School Gospel Chorus, the University of Chicago Dancers, and the gospel quartet Heaven Sent. It's free; call 702-4195 for more.
The latest submission in the State of the Prairie Lectures--sponsored by the Chicago Academy of Sciences, North Branch Prairie Project, Nature Conservancy, and Openlands Project--is a five-week series called "Connections of Life and Landscape," which runs Tuesdays at 7 through February 16 at the academy, 2001 N. Clark. Tonight Scott Robinson of the Illinois Natural History Survey discusses "North-South Connection: Bird Migration and Conservation" and the protection of Illinois birds' winter homes in the southeast United States and in Central and South America. Each lecture is $6, $5 if you're a member of one of the sponsoring organizations. Call 549-0775 for more.
If you've been bugged by direct-mail solicitations, check out today's Symposium on Consumer Privacy, a forum from 8:30 to 12:15 sponsored by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing. Academics, direct-mail marketers, and consumer reps, including the Privacy Journal's editor, Robert Ellis Smith, will debate the issue and take questions from the audience. The forum is free, at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 S. Michigan, but you must call 922-0439 to make reservations beforehand.
The North Shore chapter of the Chicago Computer Society will present info on the latest software for backing up your system and virus protection at a meeting this evening at 7. You also get the society's usual tips session and open forum. It's at the VFW post at 7401 N. Lincoln in Skokie. It's free; call 708-498-0550 for more.
Live Bait Theater calls the new multimedia offering from the Loofah Method "part Wizard of Oz, part Airport 1993, and part Flying Nun." The show's creators, poet Cin Salach, composer and saxophonist Mark Messing, and video artist Kurt Heintz, will premiere Looking for a Soft Place to Land tonight at 8 at the theater, 3914 N. Clark; tickets are $10. The show will run Thursday to Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7, through February 28. Call for reservations at 871-1212.
Despite enormous advances in the last half of the 1980s, the suburbs are still maligned by some with imputations of cultural wastelandism. Not so, cry the folks at the Big Kahuna, the Arlington Heights nightclub. They've brought sumo wrestling to Illinois. Well, not real sumo wrestling by real sumo wrestlers. But they are giving agreeable barhounds the opportunity to climb into a foam-filled sumo suit, be diapered and wigged, and left to flop around in a ring. "It's a novelty attraction sure to hit the area by storm," they say. Decide for yourself while it lasts, Thursday nights from 8 to 10 at 798 W. Algonquin in Arlington Heights. Admission is free. Call 708-439-4594.