What do epitaphs at Graceland Cemetery, Stuart Rosenberg's eclectic-music shows on WBEZ, and Terrence Smith's (Joan Jett Blakk's) account of his (her) visit to the Republican National Convention have in common? They've all been adapted to the stage for this year's edition of Lexis/Praxis, Zebra Crossing Theatre's exercise in dramatizing the written word. (In Rosenberg's case, the "written" word consists mostly of transcripts from his shows.) Also included on the program are adaptations of a short story by Stuart Dybek, pieces by actress Paula Killen and comedian Aaron Freeman, and excerpts from the Culture Club, Lewis Lazare's column about the arts business published in this very newspaper. The seven short works were put together by different directors, most of them working in collaboration with the respective writers. Performances take place at 8:15 tonight, Monday, Tuesday, and next Friday and Monday at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets are $7; call 327-5252 for more info.
Could the current proliferation of sci-fi shows on TV--two Star Trek shows, a time-travel show called Time Trax, and one about an immortal alien who likes to sword fight called Highlander, to name a few--mean the genre is becoming more fashionable these days? Judge for yourself at today's Cy-Fi Con, a convention sponsored by several area SF clubs that runs from 10 to 10 at Christopher House, 2507 N. Greenview. There'll be makeup demonstrations, a costume contest, goods for sale, and even a session on how to write Klingon love poetry (probably the most oxymoronic event of the day, since Klingons, as any self-respecting Trekkie knows, are a warrior race). Admission is $6 in advance, $8 at the door. Call 708-383-0084 for details.
For his latest show, multimedia artist Douglas Philips wired discarded car mufflers to play the recorded sounds of ducks quacking and a voice talking about the trials and tribulations of love relationships. The show, Muffled Ducks and Sounds of DeFeet, also features sculpture adorned with paintings of feet and constructions that incorporate flashlights, puzzles, and Polaroid photos. But there is a common thread in the works: Philips says they all address the issues and problems of modern romance. The show opens at 7 tonight with a free reception at Idao gallery, 2324 W. North, and runs through May 11. Regular gallery hours are Tuesdays 2 to 7 and Saturdays noon to 5; call 235-4724 for more info.
As if 30 people blowing into 200 bottles wasn't enough, the Saint Luke's Bottle Band from Park Ridge also has an alpenhorn player, a bagpiper, and an accordionist in its lineup. You can see and hear it for yourself this weekend when the band, which has been around since 1980, plays folk and traditional music from around the world at the North Park College lecture hall auditorium, 3225 W. Foster. Show times are 8:15 tonight and 3 tomorrow; tickets are $12. Call 583-2700 ext. 4304 for more info.
The folks at the Cook County Forest Preserve District will tap into some of its 700-plus sugar maples today and make some syrup. From 9 to 4, the district's River Trail Nature Center will offer free demonstrations of tapping, sap collecting, and syrup and sugar making, the last using both Native American and early pioneer methods. There'll also be all-you-can-eat pancakes served until 3 for $4 a person, $3 for kids. The center is at 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Northbrook; call 708-824-8360 for details.
In the columns Langston Hughes wrote for the Chicago Defender during World War II on both the treatment of black soldiers and life for blacks back home, he frequently attributed his grasp of the common man's perspective to a "simple-minded friend." The friend quickly evolved into a full-fledged character named Jesse B. Simple ("jes' be simple"), through whose voice Hughes eventually wrote the entire column. Simple reappeared in much of his later work, including several books and a Broadway musical called Simply Heavenly. Actor-director Jaye Stewart brings Jesse B. Simple to life today in a one-man show called Simple Speaks His Mind on War. He'll perform it once only, at 2 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. Tickets are $8, $5 for Historical Society members, free for kids under 13. Call 642-4600 for more info.
Hear the latest news from Somalia straight from a native at one of several appearances Mogadishu resident Mohamed Abdirahman is making this week in Chicago. Under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee, Abdirahman runs two communal kitchens in Mogadishu, helps get food and medical supplies to two orphanages and a hospital in the nearby town of Afgoi, and assists a developing farming cooperative in Omaria, about three hours south of Mogadishu. He talks today at 12:15 at Roosevelt University's Congress Lounge, on the second floor at 430 S. Michigan; tonight at 7 at the Trinity United Church of Christ, 532 W. 95th St.; and tomorrow at 6 at Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn. There's a $15 requested donation at the Grace Place event; the others are free. Call 427-2533 for details.
The Transit Riders' Authority--a three-year-old watchdog group that does things like rate the conditions of el stations and monitor the CTA's performance on various routes--is holding a membership drive meeting tonight. Besides the above-mentioned ongoing projects, the group is also currently putting together a position paper on how the recent Howard-Dan Ryan realignment could have been done more efficiently, and the organizers say they need people to work on plenty of other projects. The meeting starts at 6:30 at the administrative offices of the City Colleges (which, the TRA would like to point out, is not a sponsor of the group), 226 W. Jackson, second floor. Call 404-0070 for more information.
It's a local-poet gold mine at the Greenview Arts Center tonight: Constance Vogel, Gertrude Rubin, Pamela Miller (winner of three Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards), and Effie Mihopolous (whose poetry is currently being adapted for the stage by Theater Wyrzuc)--all published by long lists of literary magazines--read at the center starting at 8. It's at 6418 N. Greenview, and there's a $3 admission fee; details at 508-0085 or 508-9400.
Award-winning flutist Mary Stopler and Melody Lord, midwest pianist for New York's Metropolitan Opera for the past 13 years, are the featured performers in a free recital today called A History of Women in Music. The two have put together a program of contemporary and classical music by women composers; a lecture and discussion on female composers, musicians, and teachers follows. It starts at 12:30 in the Chicago Rooms of the Chicago Illini Union, 828 S. Wolcott. Call 413-5080 for more info.
Dr. Bob Boxer, an allergist from Wilmette, will be honored with the dubious title of Punster of the Year at the International Save the Pun Foundation's eighth annual Punsters Dinner tonight. Besides dinner, there'll be guest speakers, and a story-telling pun-off. As usual, organizer Joyce Heitler is also encouraging the wearing of visual puns, a phenomenon best demonstrated by Heitler herself, who in past years has done things like tape Wrigley's Doublemint to her loafers (gumshoe, get it?). The event starts at 6 at the Midland Hotel, 172 W. Adams; the $37.50 tickets can be reserved by calling 973-3523.
With this year's Flo-Tilla--that daylong exhibit of floating sculpture that has made its way up the Chicago River for the past couple of years--only about a month away, organizers are promising works by architects, theatrical designers, musicians, and scientists. The third annual Flo-Tilla will also be part of the brand-new art exposition Art 1993 Chicago: The New Pier Show. There's a fund-raiser for Flo-Tilla at 10 tonight at HotHouse featuring music by Shrimp Boat, Squash Blossom, and the Texas Rubies and performances by Cheryl Trykv and Matthew Owens, plus food and drink. The cover is $10; HotHouse is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 235-2334 or 772-3879 for info.