Dawn Clark Netsch and Jim Edgar put their struggle to prove who's toughest on crime on hold for one hour this morning to discuss the plight of our city's homeless women. They'll hash it over from 8 to 9 in a 16th-floor dining room at the law firm of Katten Muchin & Zavis, 525 W. Monroe. It's sponsored by Sarah's Circle, a north-side drop-in center for women going through hard times. Admission and a continental breakfast are free. Call 728-1014 for reservations and information.
Unless you live in the Wisconsin Dells, haunted house season only comes once a year. Old Town's facility at 226 W. Schiller opens tonight and runs weekends through Halloween, featuring 25 thrill-filled rooms and other scary activities. It costs $5 to get in, and the money goes to local charities. This weekend's hours are from 7 to 12 tonight, 6 to 12 Saturday, and 4 to 9 Sunday. Call 929-1709 for info.
With the end of the cold war, the Red Star Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble, a 120-member ensemble formed in 1979 to entertain Soviet Strategic Missile Force personnel, took their show on the international road, and they're currently in the middle of their second North American tour. You can catch them tonight only at Centre East, 7701 Lincoln in Skokie. Former cosmonaut Gyorgy Shonin will introduce the show, which starts at 8. Tickets are $24 and $21. Call 708-673-6300 for tickets and info.
Five historians from around the country discuss their work on the Pullman community today in a free seminar. Writing About Pullman, which kicks off a day of activities sponsored by the Newberry Library and the Historic Pullman Foundation, begins at 10 at the library, 60 W. Walton. The day also includes lunch at 1 at Pullman's Hotel Florence, 11111 S. Forrestville, a neighborhood tour at 2 with the historians, and a reception at 3:30 back at the hotel. Lunch and transportation from the Newberry to Pullman and back is $35; lunch alone is $15. Everything else is free. Call 943-9090, ext. 233, for reservations.
Any ethnic costumes lying around the attic will come in handy tonight at the 37th semiannual Fall Festival of International Folk Dance. It happens from 7 to 11, with coaching for beginners until 8:30, in the Warren Park field house, 6601 N. Western. Attendees are encouraged to wear soft-soled shoes and bring donations of ethnic foods. Admission is free. Call 708-232-0242 for more.
Chicagoans who support jobs, housing, and education as an alternative to the anticrime bandwagon that's running over entire communities host a panel tonight at 7 in room 154 of DePaul University's Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore. Legal, social-services, and prisoners-rights specialists will examine the media's treatment of the crime issue and discuss alternatives to runaway incarceration. It's sponsored by the Campaign to Confront the Racist Imprisonment Binge and the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The suggested donation is $3 to $10. Call 235-0070 for more about the panel and the demonstration planned for Wednesday, October 26.
At True Stories, an open-mike gabfest happening at 8 tonight at N.A.M.E. Gallery, the audience becomes the show, taking turns relating interesting stories or experiences. It's the brainchild of David Hauptschein, organizer of the Diary and Letters shows. Nothing is taboo except yakking for longer than six minutes. Audience participation isn't required, but reservations are. Call 554-0671. Tickets are $5.
Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, bass Samuel Ramey, and baritone William Sharp team up with tenors Placido Domingo, Anthony Laciura, and Jerry Hadley for a blowout tonight at 7 in the Art Institute's Rubloff Hall. The concert benefits Bonaventure House, which provides shelter and services for people with AIDS. The Jubilate Children's Choir of the North Shore also performs, and Channel Two's Linda MacLennan emcees. Tickets start at $50. For $150 you also get food and drinks at a postconcert reception. The Art Institute is on Michigan at Adams. Call 327-9921 for tickets.
For nearly 20 years, folk musicologist Alan Lomax has been working on Global Jukebox, an interactive CD-ROM encyclopedia that contains information about and audiovisuals of music and dance from over 400 cultures. His system would allow users to trace the Siberian migration across the Bering strait, for example, through changes in performance style. It should be available commercially next year, but you can check it out tonight at 7 at the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, where Lomax will give the first-ever public demonstration of his new toy. It's free. Call Julya Sembrat at 663-1600, ext. 652.
University of Arizona sociologist Paula England talks about gender-based pay inequity today at 1 at the UIC Theatre, 1040 W. Harrison. It's sponsored by the Students for Comparable Worth Committee and the Jane Addams College of Social Work, and admission is free. Call 996-2433 for more.
Since 1980 the chimpanzee population has declined by three-quarters due to habitat destruction. As our closest living relatives, they're vital to medical research. Experiments on primates led to the development of vaccines for polio and hepatitis B. Deborah Blum, author of The Monkey Wars, tackles some sticky ethical questions abut primates and research tonight at 7 at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2001 N. Clark. Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the door, and include admittance to a prelecture reception at 6. Call 549-0606, ext. 3050.
Women are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. prison population, and the majority of incarcerated women are mothers of minors. To explore how prisons are dealing with the health care needs of these women, and the wider impact of incarceration on families, the Chicago Foundation for Women and the Prison Action Committee have asked a lineup of doctors, social workers, and human-rights activists to lead discussions from 12 to 4 today at the Bederman Auditorium, 618 S. Michigan. It's free, but you need to call 862-0376 or 862-0488 to register.
America's obsession with the macabre is itself an obsession for David J. Skal, the author of The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. Tonight he'll put Frankenstein and Freddy Krueger in proper context with a slide-illustrated lecture at Harper College in Palatine. It gets under way at 7:30 in the Building J Theatre, 1200 W. Algonquin Road. Tickets are $5. Call 708-925-6100 for info.
Reader contributor Achy Obejas reads tonight from her new book We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? at HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $4, and it starts at 7:30. Call 278-2210.
Bother!, Peter Dennis's one-man show based on A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories, opens tonight at 7:30 at the Famous Door Theatre, 3212 N. Broadway. Regular performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 3 and 7, through December 18. Tickets are $15; $10 for students and seniors. Children under 12 will be admitted only to Sunday matinees and must be accompanied by an adult; they also pay $10. Call 404-8283 for more.
School of the Art Institute alums Ken Thompson and Ames Hall have performed together for four years under the name Atlas/Axis. In their newest show, a spoof of the hype surrounding sporting events, they claim to link the dearth of male synchronized swimming teams to fascism. Sync or Swim runs tonight and tomorrow night at N.A.M.E. Gallery, 1255 S. Wabash. The show starts at 8, and tickets are $8; $6 for students. Call 862-4515 for reservations and info.