If this summer's World Cup soccer games didn't thrill you, you may want to take in some Gaelic football. Similar to rugby but rooted in medieval Ireland, where rival parishes would compete in daylong battles, sometimes over miles of countryside, the game is unique to Ireland and Irish communities in the U.S. It was played with virtually no rules until the late 1800s, and even today enjoys a reputation as the roughest kind of football. This weekend Gaelic Park in Oak Forest is the site of the 1994 U.S. Championship, involving teams from ten cities. Action begins at 3 today with five quarterfinal play-off games on two fields. Play-offs will continue Saturday from 9:30 to 6:30, and culminate on Sunday with championships in four divisions, beginning with "ladies" football at 11:30. At Sunday's matches a bagpipe band will perform, and food, drinks, and souvenirs will be on sale. Admission is $3 today, $5 tomorrow, and $8 Sunday. Kids under 14 get in free all three days. Gaelic Park is located at 6119 W. 147th St. in Oak Forest. Call 708-687-9323 for more.
The improv comedy group Level 6 has put together The Armageddon Radio Hour, a musical comedy tribute to the live radio serials of the 1940s. The group, which includes veterans of ComedySportz and Moveable Feast Theatre, developed the material for this show--serial stories complete with news flashes, commercial parodies, period vocal music, and plenty of hokey sound effects--through improvisation. It opens tonight at 11:30 at the Body Politic Theatre, 2261 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $7. For more information call 549-4845.
Who's got time for tractor pulls and monster truck rallies when the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association is in town? Regional champions from Texas, Montana, California, and Ohio will be competing in the national championship today at Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 Laramie in Cicero. Gates open at 11 AM, but races don't begin until 1, when the jockeys mount their muscle mowers (with cutting blades removed for safety) and hit the track. Races will be held in stock, prepared, and factory experimental classes. The event will also feature toy mower races for children, a petting zoo, and the World's Fastest Lawn Mower, powered by a 150-horsepower engine from a military jet helicopter. Tickets are $5 ($1 for children under 12; toddlers free), and proceeds go to the ALS Foundation's work on Lou Gehrig's disease. For more information call 708-729-7363.
Babel of Tongues: The Voices of Language is the title of an interactive performance poetry installation running from 2 to 4 this afternoon at the Chicago Public Library's Logan Square branch, 3255 W. Altgeld. Performers include approximately 30 local poets reading in at least 20 different languages, including Vietnamese, Lithuanian, Spanish, Japanese, Hindi, and Nahuatl, an Aztec dialect still spoken in rural Mexico. Spectators will be able to interact with the poets and listen to recordings of multilingual poems translated by linguists and anthropologists. Bring your favorite short poem to be translated into Greek by the show's director, Effie Mihopoulos. Admission is free. Call 744-5295 or 539-5745 for more.
Local video guys John Schnepp and David Murray have spent the last two years developing a TV show that merges futuristic fantasy a la Star Trek with absurd comedy a la The Three Stooges. Their show, Mad Science, features twisted plots, wacky hijinks, fancy editing, and all sorts of computer graphics and sound effects. They've finished six scripts so far, and worked with an all-Chicago cast and crew to complete the pilot episode that will be screened tonight at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. After tonight Filmmakers will show the pilot Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, through September 17. Admission is $5, $2.50 for members. Call 384-5533 for info.
A synchronized display of fireworks and music will cap off the weekend at North Pier Festival Market, 435 E. Illinois. The free show starts at 8. For information call 800-386-7437.
AXIOS!, an organization of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from Greek and Eastern Orthodox backgrounds, is throwing a toga party tonight at 8 in the Pyramid Room at Cairo, 720 N. Wells. Entertainment includes appearances by performance artist Alexandra Billings and buffed gladiator-dancers Chad Parrish and Rico. There will also be a free buffet of Greek and Mediterranean food, a cash bar, and opportunities for Greek line dancing with AXIOS! members. DJs Psycho Bitch and Johnny "Greek Boy" Grammatis will spin dance music throughout the evening. The festivities will run until 4 AM, and yes, togas are the recommended togs. Tickets are $10, and a portion of the proceeds will go to AIDS Walk Chicago. Call 477-3097 for more.
Six days after signing the bill that made Labor Day a national holiday, President Grover Cleveland sent federal troops into Chicago to put down the Pullman Strike. A hundred years later Illinois is again the front line of American labor struggle. Over 700 workers are locked out of Decatur's Staley plant, and hundreds more are striking Caterpillar and Firestone. Today trade unionists and supporters will demonstrate their solidarity by marching in this year's Labor Day Parade, which, in honor of the anniversary, will be held in the Pullman neighborhood instead of the Loop. The parade is organized by the Chicago Federation of Labor, and starts at 11, at 111th Street and Cottage Grove, following an eccumenical service at 10 in Greenstone Church, 112th Street and Saint Lawrence. The march ends at Pullman's Arcade Park, also at 112th and Saint Lawrence, where there'll be a picnic and live music, including a 30-piece brass band playing the hits of the 1890s. Picnickers can buy food and beverages at the park; entertainment is free. For more information call 222-1000.
The complex and often tenuous ecological relationships that make life possible on this planet are the subject of a current exhibit at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2001 N. Clark. Our Weakening Web: The Story of Extinction, which runs through September 25, looks at the ways these relationships have been threatened or damaged, as well as what can be done to repair and strengthen them. Admission to the academy is $2, $1 for children and seniors. It's open from 10 to 5, seven days a week. Call 549-0606.
A film and lecture series examining the ways Hollywood has portrayed the mythology of the American west begins tonight at 6 at the Film Center, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Three silent films, The Great Train Robbery, Hell's Hinges, and the 1903 Tom Mix adventure Heart of Texas Ryan, will be followed by a lecture from Susan Doll, who has a PhD in cinema studies from Northwestern. Film Genres: The Western continues on Tuesday nights at 6 for the next 14 weeks. Admission is free for Film Center members, $5 per week for everyone else. Call 443-3737 for more.
The city will be unloading a bunch of its old banners today and tomorrow at a benefit auction for the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation. Banners honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and Mike Ditka will be on the block, along with banners from the blues, jazz, country, and gospel fests, the International Theatre Festival, and various zoo and museum exhibits. Serious bidders will hold out for the Bulls championship banners and the ones designed for the Chicago World Cup games. The auction starts at noon on both days in the Daley Plaza, at Dearborn and Washington. Admission is free. For more information call 744-3315.
Architect Fay Jones uses what he learned in an apprenticeship with Frank Lloyd Wright to design houses and churches that exist in harmony with their natural surroundings. His lecture about his experiences begins at 7:30 tonight at the First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St. in Oak Park, and will be followed by a reception at Wright's Unity Temple, just across the street. Admission is free. Call 708-848-1976 for more.
The poetry of Taehimba Jess centers around the theme of African American self-determination. A contributor to the recently staged play Blakk Love (Storeez of a Darker Hue), Jess will read poems from his book when niggas love Revolution like they love the bulls tonight, in a Guild Complex-sponsored event at HotHouse. He will be followed by Elysium, a six-member poetry band whose instruments include a cello and overturned trash cans. The program begins at 7:30; HotHouse is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. It'll cost you $5 to get in, $2 if you're talented or shameless enough to approach the open mike. Call 278-2210 for information.
The Luke Perry of the dog world is in town today pushing a new line of bottled pet drinks. While he's hawking Thirsty Dog! and Thirsty Cat!, Murray, the collie mix from the TV show Mad About You, will also be helping raise corporate bucks for the Anti-Cruelty Society. He'll be on hand to greet his fans (and maybe sniff their butts) from 11 to 1 at the society's Chicago office, 510 N. LaSalle. It's free. Call 280-2056 for more.
A Time for Witches, a new Polish film based on real events, examines how people cope with AIDS in a society lacking HIV medication, AIDS-related social services, and an open and organized gay community. It was directed by Piotr Lazarkiewicz, whose 1987 film I Love Movies was the inspiration for Oscar-winner Cinema Paradiso. Check out his new one tonight at 7:30 at the Music Box, in a screening to benefit the Gerber/Hart Gay and Lesbian Library and Archives. Tickets are $10, and you can buy them at the door or in advance from a number of local bookstores. The Music Box is at 3733 N. Southport. For information call 883-3003.