At the 40th Annual Ginza Holiday, put on by the Midwest Buddhist Temple, you can eat Japanese food, learn the basics of Buddhism, see a contingent of Japanese dance and drum ensembles, and check out works by six master craftsmen from Tokyo, including a calligrapher and a candy maker. The festival runs 6:30 to 9:30 tonight, 11:30 to 9 tomorrow, and 11:30 to 8 Sunday at the temple, 435 W. Menomonee. The requested donation is $3.50, $3 for seniors. Call 943-7801 for a complete schedule or other information.
For her first novel, Spinsters, Pagan Kennedy--short story writer, fanzine publisher, and author of the whimsical Platforms: The Microwaved Culture of the 1970s--turns the road novel inside out with the story of a pair of middle-aged sisters who take to the road in a Plymouth Valiant and wind their way through the dangerous events of 1968. Kennedy, whose nonfiction account of her years in the zine trade (including eight issues of the now-notorious Pagan's Head) will be published this fall, stops at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th, at 7 tonight to read from and sign her novel. It's free. Call 684-1300 for more.
If you're one of those people who think a salon is where you go to read People with cotton balls stuck between your toes, you probably wouldn't have the best of times at Urban Art Retreat's Gertrude Stein Salon, where artists and friends get together to munch on refreshments and talk about the isolation of contemporary artists. The first of two August salons will take place tonight at the gallery, 1510 W. Berwyn, from 7 to 9; the second is next Friday, August 25, at the same time and place. A $3 donation is requested. Tomorrow and Sunday from 1 to 5 you can help Urban Art Retreat raise money for its upcoming move by attending a sidewalk rummage sale at its current location. In addition to all the usual rummage (books, clothes, furnishings) they'll be selling art at 30 to 50 percent markdowns. Call 275-1319.
Guys and gals in metallic outfits can get in free tonight to All That Glitters: A Shimmering Festival of Flesh & Fantasy, but for everyone else who attends this special edition of Berlin's Friday-night Millennium dance party, the cover is $3. The party starts at 10 at Berlin, 954 W. Belmont. Call 348-4975.
Senator Carol Moseley-Braun holds three town meetings this week. Her tour starts today at 11:30 at Grant Memorial AME Church, 4017 S. Drexel. After that she heads north for a meeting from 3 to 4:30 at Watts Center, 305 Randolph in Glencoe. Thursday she'll be at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren, from 6 to 7:30. Call 353-5420.
Still without a permanent home after its move from Wicker Park's Flat Iron Building, HotHouse is currently doing business at the Firehouse, 1625 N. Damen, just a block north of its previous home. Tonight at 10 the club presents the Chicago Samba School, an 18-piece ensemble that plays various native Brazilian musics in a carnival-type show. The cover is $6. Call 235-2334 for more.
Today's Russian Arts Festival will showcase the talents of some of the tens of thousands of recent Russian immigrants to Chicago. From 10 to 10 today at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, 3003 W. Touhy, you can see paintings by Rudolf Tokman and hear cantor Yana Myaskovskaya, 15-year-old pianist Yelena Koval, and poet Yefim Chepovetsky. It's free. Call 761-9100 or 708-675-2200.
Silis Muhammad, a soi-disant "great leader and warrior for the Black Nation" gives a free talk today in Hyde Park about the international movement for reparations for African-Americans at the Ramada Inn Lakeshore, 4900 S. Lake Shore Drive. Doors open at 1. Call 800-365-2346.
After Washington Square Park--the Gold Coast block across the street from the Newberry Library--was donated to the city in 1849, it became a center for political activity and a meeting place for the city's bohemian types, eventually earning the name Bughouse Square. To help raise money for the park's rehabilitation, the Washington Square Neighborhood Association presents a picnic and blues show tonight at 6. You can check out Willie Kent and the Gents and singer Bonnie Lee for free, but if you contribute $20 to the cause you get a box supper. Reservations are required for dinner. Call 944-2849.
Art of the T-shirt, an exhibit featuring T-shirts hand-painted and screen-printed by local artists, remains on view at the Edgewater Public Library, 1210 W. Elmdale, through September 16. The library's open 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 5 Friday and Saturday. Call 744-0718.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is getting in on Monet mania with an exhibit featuring contemporary and historical photos of the gardens and water-lily pond that inspired his most famous paintings. Monet's Garden: Photographs of Giverny will be up through the end of the year in the Museum of Floral Arts at the 385-acre garden, which is open every day from 8 AM to sunset. It's on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, one-half mile east of the Edens. Admission is free, but parking is $4. Call 708-835-5440.
Are your cross-examination skills a little rusty? Need a little more pizzazz in your courtroom delivery? The Chicago Bar Association's Summer Boot Camp for Aspiring Litigators may be just what the judge ordered. The six-and-a-half-hour class includes a lineup of prominent local barristers giving tips on opening statements, discovery, pretrial conferences, voir dire, cross-examination, and more. It starts at 9 in the eighth-floor auditorium of the Harris Trust and Savings Bank, 115 S. LaSalle. Fees are $80, $55 for CBA members. Call 554-2056 for details.
Call it QVC Unplugged. The home-shopping channel broadcasts live from Navy Pier this evening. Here's the hook: instead of just shilling overpriced junk made by anonymous manufacturers across the country, tonight hosts Kathy Levine and Dan Wheeler will be selling overpriced junk made exclusively by Illinoisans! Products to be sold include barbecue sauce and pooper-scoopers made in Chicago, ice cream from Aurora, cat jewelry from Champaign, vibrating tooth-flossing devices from Joliet, and gourmet pork, chicken, and beef samplers from Lockport. It's part of the network's mission to sell crap from every state in the union live on TV. Be there or be richer. It's from 6 to 9 outside the ballroom on the east end of Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. It's free to watch. Call 751-8878.
Reputedly one of the more draining film experiences at Cannes this year, Russian director Alexander Rogozhkin's 1992 feature The Chekist is the story of a postrevolution secret-police functionary whose job it is to interrogate and execute opponents of the Soviet state. The Film Center, which warns that some may find the movie's extreme violence disturbing, screens the film tonight at 6, Thursday at 6, and next Saturday, August 26, at 4:15 and 8. It's at Columbus Drive and Jackson. Admission is $5. Call 443-3737.
Restaurateur Dan Bacin--the man behind the Bacino's pizza chain--has turned half of his beautiful Bella Vista restaurant into an Italian-food tapas bar called Cafe Spuntini (that's Italian for "little bits"). To introduce the cafe to the neighborhood he's opening his doors from 5 to 8 today to distribute free samples cooked up by chef David Kozuh. Bella Vista is at 1001 W. Belmont. Call 404-0111 for details.
Since Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House press secretary, as well as the youngest, was let go by President Clinton last year, she's been in the news for driving while intoxicated and for cohosting a CNBC talk show with Republican attack poodle Mary Matalin. Today she's in town to give the keynote address at a Marshall Field's dinner and fashion show. "Challenging the Future: An Evening for Women" starts at 5:30 in the grand ballroom of Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. The $30 ticket includes a "light" dinner; no word yet on how heavy Myers's talk will be. Call 781-4777 for reservations.