The complex, playful, and twisted visions of composer John Eaton come to the stage tonight and tomorrow as the University of Chicago's new Pocket Opera Company presents two Eaton works. Let's Get This Show on the Road (An Alternative View of Genesis) and Peer Gynt feature the company working in concert with members of the New York New Music Ensemble and the Multiple-Touch-Sensitive Keyboard, a new supersynthesizer developed by Eaton and Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer. Show times are 8 tonight and 2 PM tomorrow at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis. Tickets are $18, $8 for students. Call 702-3427.
Queen of the blues Koko Taylor celebrates her seventh release on Alligator Records tonight at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison. Taylor has been nominated for Grammys five times and has won once: she's also won 14 W.C. Handy Awards, the "blues Grammys," in her 30 years in the biz. Her new record is called Force of Nature, and includes her take on "Hound Dog," a duet with Buddy Guy on "Born Under a Bad Sign," and a run at the Robert Palmer hit "Bad Case of Lovin' You." Things get under way at 10. Cover's $12. Call 327-1662 or 477-7469.
The 1993 Winter D-Tour is the latest gallery walk sponsored by the West Side Gallery District. Today and tomorrow from noon to 5 there'll be open studios at 25 locations roughly centered around the intersection of North, Damen, and Milwaukee. Besides seeing the art, you can play a sort of poker game by collecting playing cards at the different galleries and then registering your hand at Idao Gallery; the three best hands get prizes. For a map or more information stop by the Idao, 2324 W. North, during walk hours or call 235-4724. There's also a Winter D-Tour reception and party tonight from 8 to 12 at Layaway Visual Arts, 1947 W. North, with music from the electronic music group Lab Report. It's $3. Call 772-8059 for info on that.
Shakespeare Repertory's version of The Taming of the Shrew--a somewhat subdued but otherwise frank exposition of the play's rather unreconstructed view of male-female relations--is the work of director Barbara Gaines, who raked in the Jeffs last year for her King Lear. She'll talk about her vision for the play, which runs all month at the Ruth Page Theater, with Bard scholars Suzanne Gossett, from Loyola, and Richard Strier, from the University of Chicago, at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, at 2 today. A $3 donation is requested. Call 642-2273 to reserve a spot.
"She's black, she's good, she's coming to your hood!" Who else could it be but Santa Girl, hero of a puppet play for children written and performed by local poet Cathleen Schandelmeier. The story sees a young ghetto girl transformed into Santa Girl by an angel: she then goes into battle against an evil band of fallen Santa's elves called Greebies. The show plays at Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, at 2 today and next Saturday and Sunday, December 18 and 19. It's $6, $4 for kids. Call 708-766-4540.
Get a glimpse of a pioneer Christmas at the Sand Ridge Nature Center today. The Forest Preserve District center will have a group of log cabins open, where costumed volunteers will wander about dispensing info on how settlers handled the holidays as the kids pop popcorn, sing carols, make decorations, and eat. It's open from 11 to 3 and admission is free; the address is 15890 Paxton Avenue, in unincorporated Cook County territory just west of Calumet City. Call 708-868-0606 for directions or more information.
Admission to the Smart Museum of Art in Hyde Park is free today for its seventh annual Holiday Party. Here's the lineup: At 1:30 there's a guided tour of the ongoing exhibit "The German Print Portfolio"; at 1:45 there's music from the University of Chicago student singing group the Acafellas; at 2:45 another a cappella group, Unaccompanied Women, performs; and at 3 there's a guided tour of the museum's permanent collection. There'll also be various activities for kids and free cocoa and dessert from 1 to 4. The museum's at 5550 S. Greenwood; call 702-0200.
The many and contradictory faces of Malcolm X are explored this month in a multimedia exhibit at Columbia College called X-PRZ: JST BCZ UR PARANOID DNT THNK THYR NT AFTR U (MALCOLM X). It includes text, video, and music by a group called X-PRZ, which comprises artists Doug Anderson, Mark Pierson, Kenseth Armstead, and Tony Cokes. It runs through January 12 at the college's Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan, along with an exhibit of Dawoud Bey's life-size Polaroid photos. Museum hours are 10 to 5 Monday through Friday, 10 to 8 Thursday, and noon to 5 Saturday; admission is free. Call 663-5554.
More than 100 members of Chicago's legal community take the stage this week for the Chicago Bar Association's 70th annual Christmas Spirits Revue. This year's edition, "Juristic Park," features some of history's great legal minds, including Moses, Abraham Lincoln, and John Marshall, all back in action through the miracle of cloning. Jazzman Larry Novak conducts the 16-piece orchestra. It plays tonight through Saturday in the ballroom of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water. The $90 ticket ($85 tonight and tomorrow) includes dinner at 6:30; show time is 8. Call 554-2000.
Sometimes it's hard to find that certain something for that special someone. Tonight at the Chicagoland Discussion Group's holiday Bizarre Bazaar, more than 20 vendors will be selling leather and fetish fashion, whips, paddles, books, videos, jewelry, and all manner of kinky stocking stuffers. There'll also be a cash bar. It's at the Monte Vista Banquet Hall, 5154 N. Milwaukee, from 7 to 11. Admission is $5; the group suggests casual attire. Call 281-1097 for more info.
In a book group? How's it going? Need some advice or suggestions? Check out tonight's free talk by Ellen Slezak, the editor of The Book Group Book: A Thoughtful Guide to Forming and Enjoying a Stimulating Book Discussion Group. The book analyzes more than two dozen successful book groups from across the country and includes pragmatic tips on everything from stimulating discussion to attracting--or discouraging--new members. Slezak's talk starts at 7:15 at the Women and Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. Bring your group's reading list to discuss if you like. More info at 769-9299.
In connection with its exhibit "The Realm of the Coin: Money in Contemporary Art," which closes Saturday, the Harold Washington Library is showing Making a Dishonest Buck, a Nova special on the art of counterfeiting, today at 12:15 in the library's lower-level video theater, 400 S. State. Admission is free; call 747-4876.
News that a Saudi Arabian emigre entrepreneur is buying Kroch's and Brentano's makes today's luncheon address by Kroch's CEO Bill Rickman quite timely. His subject? Survival and Renewal in a Changing Marketplace. He speaks at a meeting of the Young Executives Club; it starts at 11:30 in the Empire Room of the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe. Tickets are $35, $20 for members. Call 853-0186.
Two authors of new books on jazz celebrate tonight at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life, by sometime Reader contributor John Litweiler, is the first critical biography of the out-there jazz improviser. Moment's Notice is a collection of prose and poetry by writers inspired by "the experimental and improvisational nature of jazz composition" edited by Art Lange and Nathaniel Mackey; it includes selections by James Baldwin, Ishmael Reed, Langston Hughes, and Amiri Baraka. Litweiler and Lange will be on hand to sign books starting at 7 PM, while the Fred Anderson Trio plays. Afterward there's music from the jazz trio Torque-tet, who are celebrating the release of their first CD. Cover is $7. Call 235-2334.