The tenth annual World's Largest Block Party, the annual street fair hosted by Old Saint Patrick's Church in the West Loop, features its biggest musical lineup yet. Tonight there's a bunch of local rock bands playing, including Material Issue, Catherine, Certain Distant Suns, and the Lupins. Tomorrow night, the mainstage program is headlined by Counting Crows and includes sets by Frente!, the Gig-o-lo Aunts, and Velocity Girl. There's also a lot of jazz and the usual oversupply of food and drink. The entrance is at Madison and Des Plaines. It costs $25 per night, which gets you the music plus beer, wine, and pop. You have to be at least 21 to enter. The party runs from 5 to midnight. Call 782-6173 for details.
"David Sutherland nukes the concept of the 'inspirational' film about a handicapped subject--and in its place substitutes something both more memorable and more compassionate." That's the Boston Globe talking about Out of Sight, Sutherland's documentary about blind California cowgirl Diane Starin. The film is part of the Film Center's New Directions Documentary Film Festival; it plays tonight at 6, tomorrow night at 8, and Sunday at 4 and costs $5, $3 for members, $2 for students. The Film Center's at Columbus and Jackson. Call 443-3733.
The characters in Friends With Fire Arms: A Farewell to Feminism are played by collaborators Paula Killen, coming off her recent show, The State I'm In: A Travelogue; award-winning filmmaker Katy Maguire, who directed Liz Phair's Never Said video; and composer Miriam Sturm, who's been repeatedly nominated for Jeffs for her scores for Goodman productions including The Baltimore Waltz and Black Snow. The show, written by Killen, tells the tale of three women "coming to terms with feminism in unique, highly idiosyncratic ways." The show opens tonight at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, and plays through August 28, with shows Thursday and Friday at 8, Saturday at 7 and 10, and Sunday at 7. It's $10, $8 for students, seniors, and members. Call 384-5533 for reservations.
Barat College is offering its annual dose of free Shakespeare under the stars this weekend and next. Its 1994 offering is Twelfth Night, the comic fantasy that sees shipwrecked and separated twins Viola and Sebastian experience all sorts of adventures, ranging from the romantic to the bawdy, and encounter such beloved characters as Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the court of Duke Orsino. The production includes actors from Chicago and Wisconsin as well as Barat students. Performances are tonight through Sunday and next Friday through Sunday at 8 on the front lawn of the college, 700 E. Westleigh in Lake Forest. It's free. Tonight there's also an opening-night gala before the show; the $100 ticket gets you a buffet dinner and two reserved seats for the show. Call 708-295-2620 for details.
The north side's slate of summer street fests hits a peak this weekend with two major events. The Lakeview East Summer Festival features sidewalk vendors, food, and music from 11 to 9 today and tomorrow on Broadway from Diversey north to Roscoe. Call 348-8608 for more. Farther south, there's the 26th annual Sheffield Garden Walk, the flower show cum garage sale cum street fair centered at Webster and Sheffield from noon to dusk today and tomorrow. The music stage begins at 1 PM each day. Southern rocker Webb Wilder plays tonight at 7; Sunday you can see acclaimed Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo at 5 and zydeco star C.J. Chenier at 7. A $4 donation is requested. Call 929-9255 for more.
It doesn't matter if you're the biggest star in the world: when your movie comes out, you've got to do the promotional tour. Lassie, star of the upcoming film of the same name, appears at the downtown Marshall Field's today to bark about the making of the movie and greet fans. The collie appears at the store, 111 N. State, from 12:30 to 1:30. It's free. Call 781-1000 for details.
The Guild Complex at HotHouse is proffering readings by three Latino poets this afternoon. Pena--A Circle of Friends features local poets Leon Leiva Gallardo, Olivia Maciel, and Raul Nino, who won the city's 1992 poem for Mexico City competition. The readings and discussion begin at 3 PM; there's also an open mike, hosted by Diana Solis. It's $4, $2 for open mikers. HotHouse is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 278-2210.
Boys in the Bathroom, the popular gay comedy troupe, is about to embark on a fall college tour. It's putting on An Evening of Gaiety to raise some cash for it. At tonight's expanded performance, the boys will share the stage with Kelly Lauren (Miss Continental 1989), the female comedy group Nude Coffee, and chanteuse Alexandra Billings. Hosting is Miss Honey West. There's a reception at 6:30; the show starts at 8 at the Improv, 504 N. Wells. Tix are $15, $25 a couple. Call 604-1626 for reservations.
Women in Film annually sponsors the script-writing contest Script to Screen. This year, four screenwriters or screen-writing teams have been given the thumbs-up by judges Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue, the local writers whose scripts include About Last Night and She's Having a Baby. Tonight the winners--Mary Caroff; Bill Reilly and Mark Yedor; Tony Rogers and Tom Peth; and Lennie Rose--will see ten-minute excerpts of their scripts read onstage. The event starts with a cocktail reception at 6:30 and concludes with a question-and-answer period. It's at Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted. Tix are $20, $10 for members. Call 467-0500 for details.
The only American showing of Goya: Truth and Fantasy, the Small Paintings continues at the Art Institute. Francisco Goya, who lived from 1746 to 1828, created some of the small paintings to get the go-ahead from patrons for larger versions; others, painted on tinplate, were done as he recovered from an illness; finally, there are some paintings on ivory dating from his exile in France late in his life. The show, comprising 80 works, some as small as two inches square, is up at the museum through October 16. Tonight there's a lecture by Art Institute prof Robert Loescher called "Goya in Place." It's at 6 in the Morton Auditorium and it costs $12, $9.50 for members, and $5 for students; admission to the museum is free on Tuesdays. The museum, at 111 S. Michigan, is open daily from 10:30 to 4:30, Tuesdays til 8, Saturday 10 to 5, and Sunday noon to 5. Suggested admission is $6.50 for adults and $3.25 for students, seniors, and children. Call 443-3600 for details.
What's ecotourism? Well, say the folks at the Savvy Traveller bookstore, it's "tourism that conserves environments, sustains the well-being of local people and has a positive effect on the natural areas of the world." A fuller analysis will be given today by travel writer Marcia Schnedler, who wrote The Seasoned Traveler: Tips for Those With Time to Explore and Country Roads of Illinois. She'll be giving a talk called Ecotourism: Can We Save the World While on Vacation? It's free at 5:30 PM, in the theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 263-2100.
The collective performance-art extravaganza called I'm Sweating Under My Breasts recently closed after a strong eight-month run at Cafe Voltaire. The show--written and performed by Rose Abdoo, Jane Blass, Cindy Hanson, Dorothy Milne, Clare Nolan-Long, Martha Sanders, Jennifer Tyler, and Pamela Webster--is showing one last time, this a benefit for the Chicago Women's AIDS Project and Sarah's Circle shelter for women. It's at 7:30 tonight at the American Blues Theatre, 1909 W. Byron. Tickets are $15. Call 868-4620.
Erica Jong's new book, Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir, is about "women who were raised to be Doris Day, grew to womanhood wanting to be Gloria Steinem, and are raising our midlife daughters in the age of Princess Di and Madonna." Jong, who sold 12 million copies of Fear of Flying in the 70s, reads at the Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark, at 7:30. It's free. Call 769-9299 for more.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications' Country Music: On the Air--a history of how country and western was disseminated over TV and radio--continues today with a seminar called "TNN: Then 'n' Now." It's a look at the Nashville Network cable channel. Michael Boswell from the Ultima Radio Network and US 99's Nancy Turner are moderators for a panel that includes TNN's Bill Turner and Shelley Mangrum, and concludes with music from the Texas Rubies. The panel is at 5:30 PM; earlier, at 3:30, Boswell and Turner will be taping a radio broadcast called "Country Flashback," and a live audience is welcome. The taping is free to the public, but the seminar is $25, free to members. The museum is at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 629-6000 for more.